Hello Paris!

Guys. I’ve made it.

I’m back in my most favourite city in the world and I’m so happy to be here!

After my last post, things continued to go sideways and I honestly thought I’d end up institutionalized before I’d ever get on the plane. Keeping myself together was all that I could manage. Blogging was furthest from my mind – so thank you for all of you messages and support. I shared something I’d never usually say online, and immediately regretted it. But the kindness I’ve been shown really means a lot to me.

My travel day was exhausting and long and by the time I checked on yesterday afternoon, there was no way I could do anything besides order room service, watch some television and go to bed. After 7 hours of sleep (which doesn’t sound like much, but it’s more than I get in my regular day to day), I woke up at 3am. At 5am I finally tiptoed downstairs (kidding, I totally galloped down those stairs) on the hunt for caffeine. So here we are. It’s 5:08 and I’m back in my room sipping my cappuccino.

Excuse the blurry photo.

My best friend arrives later this morning and I’m so excited to see her – and Paris! The next couple of weeks are going to be good and I’m looking forward to sharing what we get up to with you.

Check back, and often.

I Used to Love Packing

Once upon a time, packing for a trip was almost as exciting to me as the trip itself. I’d start with well thought out lists categorised by suitcase and carry-on, which were further broken down by clothing, toiletries, electronics and extras. I’d have lists of things I needed to do before I left, things that I hoped to buy while on holiday and a growing list of bookings for travel, accommodations and activities. My approach has never been minimalistic, but I’ve been realistic in that I can’t bring everything with me for any eventuality. Worst case is that I buy something while abroad if I found that I absolutely needed it and hadn’t packed it. I’m borderline OCD and took great pride in my very organised style.

I’ve collected various travel items over the years to make my life a little easier from secure day bags and baggage to packing cubes to an array of zippered pouches to organise. Normally just the sight of these things excites me. And perhaps that’s because I got great joy out of using them in the before times.

But we’re no longer in the beautifully blissful before times, are we?

This time I’m stressed the fuck out. My anxiety creeps up higher and higher as my trip gets closer.

Normally I travel when the weather is nicer, which means that I can pack lighter clothing and not worry about freezing to death while abroad. Perhaps that’s slightly dramatic but I’m overwhelmed so please forgive me. Warmer clothing means heavier clothing. Baggage weight allowances and space in my suitcase for purchases I plan to bring home means that I’ve packed and repacked my suitcase 4 times over the past week, mentally going over each item to make sure it’s justifiably being lugged with me. To the point of insanity. For hours today I played table tennis in my mind trying to decide if bringing my iPad was a good idea or not. I’m still undecided.

The same lists I’d use with pride feel overwhelming. On top of the usual to-do items, I’ve got to consider health passes, proofs of vaccination, Covid insurance, declarations of being symptom free and booking a PCR test for my return to Canada. Plus I check almost daily to be sure that the regulations haven’t changed so I can be prepared and not be barred from boarding any flights. Oh, and I’ve had 2 separate flights cancelled on me. So that’s been fun.

Work is a shit show (I work in international ocean transportation which, if you watch the news at all you’ll know Vancouver is currently facing pandemic related congestion strains on an under-equipped infrastructure that have never been seen before .. oh God why am I thinking about that during my weekend?!) and I have to make sure my desk is up to my standards before I hand it over to my Manager. All while fighting the growing urge to quit and hide in a blanket fort with my cats. In those moments, travel should be an escape for me but it’s become equally panic-inducing.

It’s been A LOT.

And because I have panic disorder and my anxiety levels continue to rise, I feel myself shutting down. Breathing exercises are child’s play at this point. The thought of packing (for the 5th time) overwhelms me. I’m starting to worry that I’ll be such a mess once I arrive to Paris that I’ll be unable to function and/or leave the hotel room. It wouldn’t be the first time. But this time is during a global pandemic. I’ve been working from home for 20 months, have given up socialising and seriously limit interpersonal interactions. Why did I think my first outing being in one of the busiest cities in the world was a good idea. Yes I love Paris but have I lost my damn mind?

I need to go lay down. But before I do, does anyone else who’s traveled during the pandemic – or has plans to – feel the same crushing anxiety? Do you have any tips or advice on how to calm down and get perspective back?

I so miss the before times. Le sigh.

Paris – A Pastry a Day Challenge

Yesterday I invited you to take part in a Paris Photo Challenge. Today I’m sharing another fun challenge I’m looking forward to do on my upcoming trip to Paris.

Because life is too short to skip dessert!

But Marla.

A pastry a day!?

Yes! Hear me out!

You’ll be out pounding the pavement each day, visiting museums and galleries. You’ll get your steps in, so why not treat yourself? You’re on vacation after all!

Everyone knows that Paris excels when offering up delicious desserts and pastries. On a short visit, it would be impossible to enjoy everything. So instead, pick an handful to try and choose a different one for each day?

Why not print out the above suggestions list and take it with you on your next visit? If you do, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram with photos of your favourites!

Paris Photo Scavenger Hunt

When I was a kid, my sister and I used to play a game in the car. We’d each pick a different colour and then spend the entire ride desperately searching for vehicles in “our” colour. Whoever had spotted the most when we’d arrived at our destination would be crowned the winner. That was all fun and games until we realised that a city works yard nearby had a parking lot full of white vehicles. It then became about who would shout out first that white was their colour. Usually a fight would ensue and I’m pretty sure our Dad started to take a different route just to avoid the white vehicles all together.

But I just don’t see why being an adult means that the fun has to stop.

Since then I’ve taken part in many fun (albeit dorky) challenges like counting wildlife on a cross-province road trip, or excitedly pointing out monkey trees on drives through the neighbourhood. Since moving closer the the countryside, finding decrepit old barns is a new favourite.

One time in Paris, my best friend and I decided to do a photo scavenger hunt of typically Parisian sights. It was a perfect way to really pay attention to our surroundings. So I’ve made a similar list of things to look out for on your next visit to Paris.

Feel free to print this page and bring it with you. And once you’re back home, you’ll have an album of quintessential Paris photos.

If you decide to take part, tag me on Instagram so I can see your photos!

Thursday Doors – Paris

While looking through my various Paris photos, I realised that I’d never posted about the classical music concert I attended at Sainte-Chapelle. Which is strange, as it’s up there with some of my most memorable experiences. So I’ll have to get on that sooner than later.

In the meantime, here’s a small taste. Starting with front portal of the upper chapel with its statue of Jesus flanked by doors.

It was through the open door that I entered for the concert.

And here’s a quick peek inside of the 13th century chapel with its stunning (and mostly original) stained glass windows.

I’m gearing up for my next Parisian adventure (15 days to go!), so if you’d like to see what I get up to why not follow me on Instagram? Let’s be friends!


Thursday Doors is a weekly event facilitated by Dan. If you’re interested in participating, check out Dan’s blog.

Paris’ Grand Cemetery – Père Lachaise

It might seem a bit odd to search out a cemetery when travelling, but in Paris it’s an enjoyable way to spend some time. Hear me out! Gone are the crowds. It’s like walking through a beautifully landscaped park. Tombstones vary from grave to grave, some simplistic while others are intricately detailed. And don’t even get me started on the history. If you’re needing a break from galleries, consider a visit to a Parisian cemetery.

The first time my best friend, Stephanie, and I visited Paris together, we thoroughly enjoyed a couple of hours wandering through the Montmartre Cemetery.

So while in the planning stages of our next recent trip (this time with the guys in tow), we decided that making the trek out to the Grand Père (ahem) of them all was a priority.

Trek sounds quite dramatic but most visitors to Paris focus on the city’s central area and rarely leave it. It was my fifth time to Paris and only my first visit to Père Lachaise. But in reality our “trek” was an easy bus ride without transfers. Before the pandemic and working from home, it took me longer to get to/from work each day!

In my research I learned that Emperor Napoleon I inaugurated the cemetery in 1804. He mustn’t have been overly confident, as he arranged to transfer the remains of French playwright Molière and famous lovers Abelard and Heloise to Père Lachaise in order to up the prestige factor.

But he didn’t need to worry, as Père Lachaise houses approximately 300,000 graves and consistently has a waitlist for people to be buried there. It’s also one of the world’s most-visited cemeteries. In fact, hundreds of thousands of people stroll its beautiful grounds each year.

Most people arrive with a map and list of graves they want to visit, and we were no different. The grounds of Père Lachaise are huge so it was a fun scavenger hunt to find them all. Here’s our list in order of graves visited ..


Oscar Wilde
Irish Writer
October 16, 1854 – November 30, 1900

You’ll note the glass around Wilde’s grave? It was put there to prevent people leaving lipstick kiss marks all over the stone. Not only was it gross, but Wilde’s family had to incur the costs of repeated cleaning.


Victor Noir
French Journalist
July 27, 1848 – January 11, 1870

Monsieur Noir would be interested, I’m sure, to know that his grave is probably the most popular in all of Pere Lachaise with female visitors.

Move over Oscar Wilde!

According to Wikipedia, “Myth says that placing a flower in the upturned top hat after kissing the statue on the lips and rubbing its genital area will enhance fertility, bring a blissful sex life, or, in some versions, a husband within the year..

.. As a result of the legend, those particular components of the otherwise verdigris (grey-green oxidized bronze) statue are rather well-worn and shiny.”

No, not awkward at all.


Edith Piaf
French Singer, Songwriter and Performer
December 19, 1915 – October 10, 1963

Her nickname La Môme Piaf (“The Little Sparrow”) comes from the fact she was only 4’8″ tall. Her colourful life was marred by tragedy from the very beginning. Love, loss, sickness, addiction.. and the French public wrapped their arms around their beloved chanteuse.

I read that while she had been denied a funeral mass by the Roman Catholic archbishop of Paris because of her lifestyle, her funeral procession was followed by tens of thousands of mourners. It was apparently the only time since the end of World War II that Parisian traffic has come to a complete stop.


Jim Morrison
American singer, songwriter and poet
December 8, 1943 – July 3, 1971

The bottom of the plaque is inscribed with ΚΑΤΑ ΤΟΝ ΔΑΙΜΟΝΑ ΕΑΥΤΟΥ, which literally translates to “according to his own daemon, i.e., guiding spirit,” to convey the sentiment “True to Himself.”

Next to the grave there is a gum tree. As in, a tree covered with chewed gum. I don’t understand the significance, but kept a safe distance. Because germs.

Gross, non?

One of the last public places that Jim Morrison was seen alive is a bar called La Mazet which, incidentally, was also the last place all four of us were seen together in Paris before my husband and I headed for Normandy the next morning.


Frédéric Chopin
Polish pianist and composer
March 1, 1810 – October 17, 1849

Chopin was one of music’s earliest superstars, who sadly died of tuberculosis. He reportedly requested that his body be opened after death (for fear of being buried alive) and his heart was returned to Warsaw where it rests to this day.

One of the strangest things I’ve learned about Chopin is that while on his death bed it was apparently said that “all the grand Parisian ladies considered it de riguer to faint in his room”.


Héloïse & Abelard

Héloïse d’Argenteuil
French nun, writer, scholar and abbess
1090/1100–1 (?) – May 16, 1164

Peter Abelard
French scholastic philosopher, theologian, and logician
1079 – 21 April 1142

The romance and letters of these two eternal lovers remain legendary almost a century later.


Georges-Eugène Haussmann
Prefect and urban planner
March 27, 1809 – January 11,1891

We can thank Baron Haussmann for the Paris we see today, with its beautiful parks, impressive wide boulevards and tidy buildings complete with intricate wrought iron works – not to mention its essential sewage system. Interestingly, while he’s celebrated the world over, he wasn’t very popular with Parisians themselves.


If you’re interested in seeing the rest of my photo album, check it out here. Of course, I’ve only just scratched the surface – there are so many more beautiful things to see at Père Lachaise. Have you been? If so, what were your favourites?

Helpful tip:
If you’re lazy like me jetlagged, do yourself a favour and enter the cemetery from the top of the hill through Porte Gambetta. By doing so, you’ll make your way leisurely downhill (rather than walking uphill), eventually arriving at the main entrance, Porte du Répos.

Thursday Doors – Paris

This week I’m taking you for a tour around the exterior of L’église Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois, a Catholic Church located in central Paris.

But before we begin, I should warn you to take a seat. If you’re into historical architecture and design as much as I am, this church might just take your breath away. I know that it did mine. Mostly because there was so much to take in. I didn’t know where to look.

The church we see today was mainly built in the 15th century, although the site saw previous variations dating back to the 7th century. Back when the nearby Louvre was home to French Royals, L’église Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois was the Royal parish church.

While not as well-known as Notre Dame, this church does have the honour of hosting the former’s church-goers while it’s being rebuilt after the devastating fire of 2019.

Do you notice the figure holding his own head on the column above? That’s Denis, Patron Saint of Paris and France. He’s a common sight across the city. You may remember him from my earlier post.

L’église Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois butts up against the Town Hall for the 1st arrondissement (district), with this pretty walkway separating the two. I now wish I had taken a stroll to see where it leads.

I really like the main entrance to the church. From the curved archway and decorative porch ceiling, there’s so much to marvel at.

Did you see my post last week about why I love Paris? I recommend you check it out if you didn’t. In that post, I shared a photo of a plaque under the Pont Neuf which relates to the Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Day (1572) when a targeted attack by Catholics murdered 4000 Huguenots.

The start of the Paris attack happened here at L’église Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois with the ringing of the church bells setting off the craziness. Many high ranking Huguenots were in town for a wedding, so it made sense for the Catholics to strike then. I’ve heard of weddings getting a bit out of hand but this .. this is next level. Yikes.

Founders of the church, from left to right, King Childebert, Queen Ultrogoth
and Deacon Vincent.
Saint Germain of Paris, Saint Geneviève
and an Angel carrying a torch.
Virgin and child.

I’ll be back soon with a tour of the inside of L’église Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois. Be sure to check back, or sign up for email notifications so you never miss a post.


Thursday Doors is a weekly event facilitated by Dan. If you’re interested in participating, check out Dan’s blog.

Parisian Onion Soup – La Jacobine

Ooey-gooey Comté, melt-in-your-mouth caramelized onions, perfect and comforting homemade beef broth.. if you’re in Paris looking for a delicious bowl of cheesy onion soup (soupe à l’oignon, en français), head over to La Jacobine in the covered walkway of rue Saint-André des Art.

My best friend and I discovered La Jacobine on our first trip to Paris together, years ago, and I’ve made a point to return every visit since.

Oh hello, lover.

Do yourself a favour and leave room for dessert. Everything I’ve ordered has been delicious, but this pistachio raspberry tart is definitely a favourite.

While you can’t make reservations online, you can save your table by phone call – or by stopping in a couple of days beforehand. Sure, you could always turn up with fingers crossed but, with a packed restaurant and others with the same idea, you might end up waiting for quite some time.

Which reminds me. Try to sit facing away from the windows if at all possible. Seeing people lick the glass out of the corner of your eye can be a tad distracting.

If you haven’t tried La Jacobine, run – don’t walk. You can thank me later.

Pont Neuf – Paris’ New Bridge

Pont Neuf – or New Bridge, en français – is ironically named given that it’s actually the oldest of the 37 bridges that span the Seine River in Paris.

For most of my visits to Paris, it’s been my bridge. The one I cross most frequently. A comforting landmark as I’ve made my way back to my temporary Parisian home at the end of each day.

It was back in 1578 that the first stones were laid, though Pont Neuf had a scandalous reputation even before construction was completed in 1607; resident gangs, robbers and murders, hustlers, pickpockets, prostitutes and even tooth pullers. Oh my! It even apparently had its own gallows for a time.

See those funny faces? They’re called mascarons and are replicas of the original stone masks that originally adorned the Pont Neuf.

I can’t find the source now but if memory serves correct, the below is a door that offered access to control the fuel for the once-upon-a-time gas lamps that lit the bridge. Anyone?

Minus the bird poop, I really like the ornate bases of the bridge’s lamp posts.

The Pont Neuf also has built-in benches which offer a place to give your tired feet a break while taking in the views.

Not much longer! Really looking forward to revisiting Pont Neuf.

Why Paris?

People often ask why I keep returning, and it’s simple. I love the vibe and culture. But since that doesn’t really explain it to someone who’s never been, I thought I’d compile a list of 10 reasons why I love Paris.

Food

Food, for me, is a massive factor for travel so I’m putting it first on my list. Whether you’re looking to enjoy the quintessential meal or discover a new to you cuisine, Paris has you covered. The options are endless, from starred Michelin restaurants headed by famous chefs to cheap and cheerful offerings at a local crepe or falafel stand. Sometimes after a long day of seeing the sights, it’s also nice to picnic in your hotel room – munching on delicious purchases you’ve made at the small specialty shops that dot every arrondissement.

History

Paris is old. Old old. 12,000 years old remnants from the Stone Age kind of old. The city was later known as Lutecia after it was conquered by the Romans before eventually changing hands to French Kings in the 5th century and being renamed, Paris. Throughout history Paris has seen a lot. Wandering the city I’m always amazed learning the stories of what makes Paris, whether it’s bullet holes in the sides of buildings thanks to WWII or beautiful churches that are older than my country by centuries. Everywhere you look there’s something to learn from. Keep an eye out for plaques like this one on the Pont Neuf bridge, which references the Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Day (1572) when a targeted attack by Catholics murdered 4000 Huguenots.

Architecture

Stained glass and church spires and grand Haussmann buildings – oh my! Paris’ architecture is famous the world over. One of my favourite examples is La Conciergerie, most known for being where Marie Antoinette was imprisoned for the last weeks of her life before literally losing her head. The above space, known as Salle des Gardes (The Hall of the Guards) was built in the early 14th century and its craftsmanship blows my mind.

Art

World class art can be found in the many museums across Paris. Fancy getting up close to the largest collection of Monet paintings? Perhaps taking that selfie next to Rodin’s The Thinker sculpture is more your jam? And of course one of the most famous ladies in the world, da Vinci’s Mona Lisa charms countless people with her mysterious smile. Paris has you covered with these works – and so many more. A newer option is the digital immersive productions at Atelier des Lumières. The Van Gogh exhibition was really impressive, and I’m very much looking forward to the one focusing on Dali & Gaudi when we visit next month.

Street Art

But art in Paris isn’t limited to galleries and exhibitions. Paris enjoys a vibrant street art scene with works dotted across the city. Some by famous graffeurs and many by others still trying to make a name for themselves. One of my favourites – so far – is this beauty by artist Gregos which was created to recognise Women’s Day is 2004. You can find more information here.

Terraces

Sitting on a terrace in Paris is a pastime enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. It’s a wonderful way to spend time people watching over a cup of coffee, or catching up with friends over a bottle of wine. Whether you’re simply looking for an excuse to rest your feet or enjoy a café or glass of perfectly chilled rosé, a terrace is the perfect place to do so.

Green Spaces

Being a Vancouverite, where we’re used to being surrounded by nature, it’s a welcome sight in Paris to come across one of the city’s many green spaces. Jardin de Tuileries and Jardin Luxembourg are the most famous, but there are so many more of varying sizes to enjoy. One of my favourites is above, Jardin du Palais Royal.

Walkability

Paris ranks as one of the top walkable cities in the world. The Metro and bus systems are efficient but there’s something to be said about experiencing the city by foot. It’s a much more immersive experience, with Paris feeling like countless little villages strung together. Walking gives you the option of dipping into little shops or churches that catch your eye, stopping for a photo when the mood strikes or taking a break at a café. Even during my last visit, injured and forced to wear the ugliest of footwear, I still opted to walk as much as I possibly could.

Shopping

While you probably won’t find me perusing the expensive luxury brand shops on Rue Saint-Honoré, you can expect to find me shopping for food, homewares and random souvenirs to bring home for myself and those near and dear to me. I look for less crowded and unique options, like specialty shops or little brocantes (flea markets with a specialised focus) like this one in Le Village Saint Paul.

Doors

Paris is a treat for door lovers. If you’ve been following along on my adventures, you’ll remember this door as being my first entry into Thursday Doors. And you’ll also remember me mentioning I almost got run over when I foolishly stepped out onto the road to take this photo. Not my finest moment, but a good example of how much I love the beautiful doors of Paris.

There you have it, my very short list of reasons I love Paris. Obviously there are many many more, but I hope you’ve found some inspiration in the above to visit or return to Paris yourself.

Thursday Doors – Paris

Normally for my Thursday Doors posts I share images of full doors and entrances. This week I thought I’d do something a little different. I’ll share close up shots of the smaller details that I’ve fallen in love with while walking around Paris during my many visits.

Let me know in the comments section below which is your favourite.

This last photo was taken at Le Grande Mosquée, which is one of my favourite places to visit in Paris. To see my full post I previously wrote, click here.


Thursday Doors is a weekly event facilitated by Dan. If you’re interested in participating, check out Dan’s blog.

Paris is Always a Good Idea

The past 18 months have been A LOT.

It’s almost hard to remember the before times, when we were all blissfully unaware of what was coming.

The first lockdown happened shortly before a booked solo trip to Croatia. Later in the year my then-fiancé and I had an elopement to Scotland planned. Between the two, there were several short cross border getaways booked. When everything started, in those first optimistic days, it looked like the pandemic would be in our rearview mirrors after a couple of weeks of buckling down (after people panic bought toilet paper and flour, of course).

But we now know that that’s not the way things would unfold. People around the globe have suffered immensely, whether it be through loss and grief, stress and anxiety, life changing struggles.. it’s been A LOT. Added to that is politicizing of the pandemic, vaccinations and even masks. I’ve stopped watching coverage as I simply cannot handle any more bad news.

I know that I’m sitting in a place of privilege. Both my husband and I are fully vaccinated and didn’t have to pay for our doses. We’re still employed and our basic needs are met. Anyone I’ve known personally to have contracted the Coronavirus has recovered mostly unscathed. As an homebody, staying home hasn’t affected my mental health like it has others who thrive on social interaction. I’ve tried typically pandemic things like macrame, sourdough and even roasted my first ever chicken. Plus, cats! We adopted two senior very good boys.

All this to say that things haven’t been too bad for me personally. I’m incredibly grateful for this. Aside from not being able to travel, which has slowly sucked the life out of me.

Cancelling that first trip to Croatia happened as late as I could hold off. In my then-blisfully ignorant mind, I really believed this would be over before it really began. As time passed, booked holidays were cancelled further out as I realised this shit storm wasn’t going to end any time soon. Each time physically hurt. The fear of never being able to travel again is something that kept me up many nights.

My best friend, Stephanie, and I both love Paris. The more time passed, the more insistent we became that we’d head over as soon as health regulations would allow it. Our first holiday would obviously have to be a girls’ trip to Paris. I’m happy to announce that today we’re officially one month out from heading back to Paris!

To celebrate this milestone and our upcoming trip, I’ve decided to share several posts about Paris that have been stuck in drafts for months, when the thought of editing them was more than I could emotionally handle.

So check back frequently for more Paris content. And if you’ve not yet signed up for my newsletter there’s an handy sign-up box at the bottom of this post. By signing up you’ll always know when a new post is published. If you’re on Instagram, I can be found at @marla.on.the.move   Let’s be friends!

Paris Street Art: Rue de Seine

Konny Streding is a popular urban contemporary artist originally hailing from Berlin. Her works can be found across Paris and regularly feature women. The technique, called paste ups (or wheat-pastes), has been discussed here on MOTM before and you’ll probably recall my post on Lavalet.

If you’re interested in seeing more of Konny’s works, check out her website.

Expect the Unexpected

Once upon a time, flights were booked through a travel agent. You’d give them your travel dates and they’d find the best available fares. Easy peasy. Nowadays it’s not as simple but, in my opinion, it’s a lot more fun.

I love travel research. Hunting for the best fares, with the routing that matches my preferences is like a game. Do I book now or wait? Do I want to connect in this city or that one? Perhaps I can take advantage of a built in layover, and see some sights. Or wait.. that airline has direct flights!!

I usually start with flight search engines before moving directly to the airline websites, once I know which of them offer flights on my travel days. If my trip schedule has a bit of wiggle room, I’ll compare flights for different days.

It’s like a puzzle but better, because when it’s completed you’re left with a trip to look forward to instead of cleaning off your dining table and cramming little cardboard pieces back into a box.

And that moment you put your credit card details and complete the purchase? For me it’s such a rush. My trip has gone from being hypothetical to real!

Several months ago I went through this process, and booked flights to Paris. My best friend and I are desperate to get back there for a girls’ trip. We’ve registered with the France government for our Covid health pass, and have started booking activities. It’s coming together and we’re both beside ourselves with excitement.

Until this morning when I received an email from Air Transat, who I had booked with.

A gut punch moment. The kind that knocks the wind right out of you.

My immediate reaction wasn’t pretty. It felt like the ground had dropped from beneath me. A string of words not appropriate to share here flew from my mouth. Was Paris cancelled?

It doesn’t have to be.

This isn’t the first time I’ve run into a situation like this. Many years ago I had tickets booked with another airline, coincidentally to Paris as well. A month before we were set to fly out, the airline folded and we were left scrambling. Ironically, we booked with Air Transat – the same airline who cancelled my flights today. Shortly thereafter, there was a massive fire in the Eurostar which connects France to England by tunnel. In the exact train carriage we were booked to be in a month later.

But in the grand scheme of things, what started off as a major panic ended up being okay. Flights were rebooked and we enjoyed our trip. The train tickets were exchanged and we were crammed in like cattle to make our way across The Channel. What felt like the end of the world at the time proved to be nothing of the sort. My point, as the title says, is that we need to expect the unexpected – and roll with it when we’re faced with challenges.

Remembering this helped me take a much needed breath, calm my nerves and refocus. I started a new search online, going through the usual steps until I found new flights. It turns out they’re even better flights. Direct with extra legroom for almost the same price as my crappy seats with Air Transat (that had connections in each direction).

Now my only conundrum is trying to decide if I want to pay to take advantage of the airport lounge. Not exactly a bad problem to have.

Robbie the Robot

The night before we left for our short getaway, an article popped into my newsfeed about a restaurant in Victoria with a robot server.

Umm, what?

Obviously I made us reservations for lunch, perfectly timed with the ferry arrival and our drive into town.

With the ongoing pandemic, the owners of Mantra Restaurant were looking for a way to attract customers back to the restaurant as well as getting help with simple tasks.

Aside from knowing about the robot and the fact that a lunch buffet was available, we didn’t know what to expect.

Mantra Restaurant is modern and clean, with the necessary Covid-19 precautions in place. Our (human) hostess was warm and welcoming.

The buffet itself wasn’t extensive but it means that food doesn’t sit around for long periods of time before it’s replenished. A nice selection of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian is available.

Curiously, one of the offerings was tater tots – which I love but don’t associate with Indian cuisine. I can now confirm that curry and tater tots are a perfect combination.

The only thing missing from our meal was naan bread, and that’s where Robbie the Robot comes in.

Out of the kitchen she rolled through the restaurant towards our table. While I squealed with delight. I may have totally clapped with excitement, much to the mortification of my husband.

Once Robbie arrived, we removed the hot naan bread from the lit shelf and pressed the “done” button before she returned to the kitchen.

Not only does Robbie make a perfect employee (robots don’t call in sick or complain!), she also gives you a cute cat smile and meows when you pet her ear.

Eventually it was time to leave Mantra Restaurant, stuffed to the gills, and head for the hotel to check in. But we’ll definitely be back for another tasty lunch and (obviously) to check in on our new friend, Robbie.

Victoria’s Moss Lady

We’ve just returned from several days away in Victoria, where we celebrated our one year wedding anniversary. Near to our hotel is the popular Beacon Hill, a 75 hectare park popular with locals and visitors alike.

Short on time, we weren’t able to see much other than this impressive art piece aptly named Moss Lady.

Created by gardener Dale Doebert, and a team of Victoria city employees, Moss Lady is tucked away in a shaded area of Beacon Hill Park.

At approximately 11 metres, she’s made of a mix comprised of boulders, cement, chicken wire, metal piping, clay-based soil and locally sourced cat-tail and club moss. Her “hair” is flowering crocosmia plants.

I particularly enjoyed Moss Lady, and the dreary weather certainly added to the experience.

While we intentionally sought her out, I can’t help but laugh when imagining how startling it would be to be wandering through the park minding your own business when you turn a corner and BAM, you’re face to face with a giant coming out of the ground.

Thursday Doors – Paris

This week we’re in Paris, close to Notre Dame Cathedral. Earlier this week it was announced that the safety work done since the devastating fire of 2019 is complete, and the restorations can now begin. It’s exciting to think that visitors might be able to return as soon as 2024!

For now though, Notre Dame remains surrounded by protective walls. Which means an up close and personal look isn’t possible. It was while I wandered the neighbourhood, catching glimpses of the cathedral between rooftops, that I turned up the curved rue Chanoinesse and noticed her.

This is the kind of door that means business. Old (17th century old), sturdy and dotted with studs to get its point across. I love stumbling across doors like this because I can’t help but wonder what secrets hide behind them.

It turns out the 12 rue Chanoinesse is a residential apartment building. 15 units are spread over the building’s 4 floors. And sadly, none of them belong to me.

Le sigh.

While investigating the address I discovered a new (to me) website that mentioned part of this building was once rented to the Aga Khan and his family. Seriously? Either that or he owned it. Explanations vary from source to source.

Also interesting is that the road itself was the main artery of the Notre Dame cloisters, and its name is a nod to the many clergymen (canons) who lived here throughout history. I love learning fascinating tidbits like this.


Thursday Doors is a weekly event facilitated by Dan. If you’re interested in participating, check out Dan’s blog.

Oh Happy Day!

I woke up this morning like I do every other work day – bleary-eyed and cursing the alarm on my phone.

But today was a little different though.

Because today I noticed an alert at the top of my screen saying that I’d received an email from Ministère de l’Europe et Des Affaires Étrangèrs.

They’re the fine folks who received my application for my French Covid Health Pass, which will give me access to restaurants and museums – and pretty much anywhere a tourist like me hopes to visit during my upcoming visit to Paris.

I’ve been approved!

I’m so relieved! And excited (so excited!) because it means that I’m one step closer to returning to my favourite city.

66 days to go!

Thursday Doors – Victoria

This week we’re taking a look at a couple of doors at Hatley Castle, a National Historic Site located on the grounds of Royal Roads University.

The property of this historic site includes several buildings and formal gardens, as well as first and second-growth forest where one can find large Douglas fir and western red cedar.

Unfortunately, at the time of our visit we were unable to tour the interior or visit the gardens. But that’s fine, because the entrance and exterior were worth the stop.

The first door we’ll look at is at the covered main entrance. There are several things going on, from the old iron hinges to the decorative archway with its faces.

Here’s a closer look at the intricately detailed door handles, and the borderline creepy door bell panel.

The second door feels a bit like a secret, hidden back from the main facade of the castle and up a few stairs.

I like the mix of stained glass, carved wood and impressive handle.

Fun fact..

Hatley Castle is a popular location for filming, and has been used in many movies and television programs – Spider Man, X-Men, The Professor, Smallville, Supernatural, MacGyver.. just to name a few.

Have you visited Hatley Castle? Comments below.


Thursday Doors is a weekly event facilitated by Dan. If you’re interested in participating, check out Dan’s blog.