“Beside Paris, where else are we going in Europe?” That was Anne asking. While I would have happily stayed in Paris with my folks for 3 weeks, it would have been a shame to travel all this way and not see more of Europe. So after a few brainstorming sessions, some destinations scratched of the list ( London due to Brexit concerns, Italy and Spain because we already sailed there, Poland is too far…) we settled on cities that met the following criteria: they had to be new to all of us, easily accessible by train, enjoy an interesting food scene, and have at least one place of interest for each of us ( being an multigenerational family that means pubs for Mr T, museum for me and fashion shops for Anne ). That’s how Amsterdam in Holland and Munich in Germany made the cut for our one week European escapade.

Amsterdam for 3 days? Here’s what went down.

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June in Sydney means 2 things. Winter and the VIVID festival.

Now in its 11th year, VIVID was started as a Smart Light festival, a Music festival and a Talk-Fest all at once apparently to boost winter visitors numbers to the city. It appears to have worked, as every year, we are battling increasingly big crowds around Circular Quay to interact with light structures of all sorts of shapes and sizes. The program changes every year be it for VIVID Light, but also VIVID Live ( the music fest ) and VIVID Ideas ( the talk fest ) and I like how there is something for everyone. In the past the kids and I attended a talk show with film maker Oliver Stone, Symphonic Dance Anthems concert, and I even dragged my parents for a stroll in the bitter cold for one last look at Sydney before their flight home to France!
Mr T is not keen on wandering in the city, nor is he into modern art however he loves having a drink and trying new things, so coercing him to come along for a VIVID night out is easy, as long as it includes a pub crawl and a staycation. Which is just what we did last week.

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Once I was French. 

Actually I still am, but having spent more than half my life either in Australia or floating on the seven seas, I feel that I have absorbed so many traits from other cultures that my Frenchness is rather a technicality these days. Yes, I speak fluent French, I have a french passport, I can vote, travel freely to and from France, cook french dinners with my eyes closed, and I never miss the opportunity to attend the Sydney French Film festival every year. 

But, transport me back to Paris, with Australian husband and kids in tow, and suddenly what I remember fondly as a young Parisian I now see thru tourists eyes, and foreigner’s at that! 

It is 6 years since we were last in Paris, for a short visit over Christmas when we were still cruising. This time, we plan to stay for 3 weeks and attend my father’s 80th birthday, with a large family gathering planned. Because we’re here just in time for spring and Easter, I expect the weather to be mild enough so that we can wander around town, enjoy some sightseeing and even explore some of Europe.  I may have organised rail travels and accomodation for a week’s excursion in Holland and Germany, but we’re pretty much winging it while in Paris, allowing for late breakfasts, long lunches spent sitting at the family table or impromptu rendez-vous with friends. 

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How is your year going so far?

2019 is flying by, autumn is sneaking up this first weekend of March ( not that you would know, since the weather is still quite warm in Sydney ).

Summer is officially over in Australia, and let me tell you what a summer it has been. January seems to  be the time when folks from the Northern Hemisphere decide to head south for a bit of austral sunshine. Who can blame them really when faced with a polar vortex or humid gloomy skies.

Just before New Year’s Eve I received a surprise message from a girlfriend I used to go to Business School with 30 years ago in Toulouse. We had lost touch for a long time ( probably my fault, as I pretty much departed France for Australia shortly after graduating ) but thanks to the magic of Facebook and Instagram, Natalie found me and asked if we could catch up during her upcoming visit to Sydney, in 4 days. 4 days?! She may as well have showed up on my doorstep unannounced. Once I recovered from the shock of hearing a voice from the past, I got quite excited and organised to meet with her in Bondi. The reunion was as enjoyable as it was intense, since she only had 24 hours in Sydney before embarking on a road trip up the coast with a friend. How do you catch up on 30 years of someone’s life? By bringing them home, make them comfortable with a drink, a home cooked meal, introduce them to the family and drive them around while  (both of) you talk, talk, talk…until it is time to go and you promise to not take so long before the next visit.

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As the year comes to an end I find myself slightly panicky realising all the things I set out to do a few months ago, thinking there was plenty of time and now facing half-started jobs with little chance of completion until sometime in January or even later.  

That  goes from the repainting of our guest bathroom to the cleaning of my photo files, or the sorting of the thousands of notes taken during our travels waiting to be turned into stories and posts. Many of them are still in dot format due to me being busy with other ( more pressing ? ) projects. I have been procrastinating for a while, writing posts in my head and believing it would only be a matter of remembering  and putting pen to paper at a more convenient time.

Except that by the time I manage to sit down long enough to write, weeks or months have elapsed, papers are piling up and I can’t decide which story to tell.

Take restaurant reviews for examples. Not that I see myself as a reviewer as such, but if I find a memorable eating place, I like to share the experience. And this year has been full of them, we have been fortunate enough to drive and fly around the East Coast of Australia, finding some gems along the way. Though I haven’t gotten around to post about them this year, there are at least a dozen deserving of a mention, ranging from Special occasions treats, to Casual finds and Local haunts. So in a last ditch effort to write my final post for 2018, I decided to give you my 3 stand outs in the Special Occasions/Bucket List category. Some are pricey others not so much, some are in a stunning location others not quite, but all offer fantastic food, showcasing  the best of Australian produce ( and that is coming from a French girl !! )

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