Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Today is my last day in Nice - tomorrow I am coming home :)

Of course, I will do a long post detailing the entirety of my trip, but for now, I will show you my absolute favourite place in France. It is a picturesque, charming little seaside town on the French Riviera between Nice and Monaco, called Villefranche-sur-Mer. As I walked through the cobbled streets, I was picturing myself living in one of the little apartments, writing my novel at a desk overlooking over the harbour. It is simply gorgeous.
(photos via Riviera Experience)

Thursday, January 7, 2010


When we focus our energy towards constructing a passionate, meaningful life, we are tossing a pebble into the world, creating a beautiful ripple effect of inspiration. When one person follows a dream, tries something new or takes a daring leap, everybody nearby feels that energy, and before too long they are making their own daring leaps and inspiring yet another circle.

heaven on earth

Librarie Galignani, Paris

P.P.S. I forgot to mention that I am onto my fourth/fifth book. After Foreign Tongue - which I loved except for the slightly disappointing ending - I started on another French novel, The Elegance of the Hedgehog, which I received as a Christmas present from my lovely father-in-law (I say father-in-law, but what I really mean is my longterm boyfriend's father; father-in-law is easier). It is very funny and interesting - but as it happened, I was about one-quarter of my way through when I discovered what is probably now one of my favourite places in the world, Librarie Galignani (a librarie is a bookstore in French) on the rue de Rivoli, as I was walking home from the Louvre. And, of course, I couldn't help but to buy a few more books (although how I will fit them into my suitcase, I have no idea), including Elizabeth Gilbert's newly released Committed, which I just had to start straight away and, of course, I am now captivated. I started Eat, Pray, Love with an unfairly cynical attitude, but then I reached the Bali chapter (after skipping most of the India chapter, sorry Liz) and I fell in adoring love with her writing style, worldview and Liz herself. I don't agree with everything she says but I so relish reading her cogent arguments and ideas. She also makes a very compelling case for legalising gay marriage - as does this New York Senator, Diane J. Savino:

To quote a wise man (Josh Thomas, comedian): "If you don't like the idea of gay marriage then don't marry a gay. It really is that simple".

NB: I discovered the video via Jason Mraz's blog Freshness Factor Five Thousand which I read regularly for his insightful thoughts and inspiration :)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


So I have been in Paris for four days and it is still irresistable.

On my second day I visited the Louvre, which is magnificent. I am not an artist and haven't been educated (or educated myself) in art history or appreciation, however I was awed and fascinated by the amazing artworks. Panini's Galerie de Vues de la Rome Moderne and Galerie de Vues de la Rome Antique, Caron's The Massacres of the Triumvirate and Reni's The Abduction of Hélène were some of my favourites. The palace itself is so lavish and grand, like nothing you would ever see in Australia! I loved the way the artworks gave insight into the way people lived their lives throughout history (although, of course, it was restricted predominantly to the elite, ruling classes and how they wanted the world to be portrayed). I also loved the way that some of the artists, commissioned by rich aristocrats, secretly added their own subtle messages to the paintings and sculptures.

The Massacres of the Triumvirate by Antoine Caron

The Abduction of Hélène by Guido Reni

Galerie de Vues de la Rome Moderne by Giovanni Paolo Panini

Yesterday I climbed the Eiffel Tower and visited Musee D'Orsay, which I loved even more than the Louvre. I found it easier to connect with the modern art (particularly since I knew of a lot more of the artists!), and I adored the museum itself, which has been converted from a gorgeous old train station. The Impressionist paintings were amazing especially, of course, Van Gogh and Monet. My favourite was Monet's Femmes au Jardin, which is just so pretty and elaborate. Of course, like all the paintings, you have to see them in person to truly appreciate their mastery!

Femmes au Jardin by Claude Monet

With all this talk of female body image lately, I have to say that visiting these art galleries has been eye-opening. It is only in recent times that the portrayal of women in the media has been restricted to those who are thin, with symmetrical features and strong bone structure. Countless artworks I have come across on this trip - the majority of which, of course, were created by men - have depicted women, who are not at all "beautiful" (at least by today's standards), in such a celebratory, yet frank and sincere, way. The curves and softness of a woman's body is emphasised, and they did not shy away from depicting exposed breasts, legs or stomachs. Breastfeeding was also painted beautifully and lovingly. Hair is natural (frizzy, mousey-coloured hair was common), skin is pale and faces are often not what we would consider "pretty". I suppose the message is twofold: premièrement, beauty is subjective and our perception of what is beautiful has shifted dramatically across time and cultures; ensuite, perfection has not always been - and should not be - revered and aspired to despite what contemporary media would have us believe. These tender, honest depictions of women looking beautiful because they are real is so enlightening and reassuring to me.

"It's on the strength of observation and reflection that one finds a way. So we must dig and delve unceasingly."
— Claude Monet

P.S. Two of my favourite bloggers, Tom and Lorenzo, have just posted Elle Canada magazine's stunning editorial featuring the beautiful Crystal Renn: http://is.gd/5ONzd. Please take a look :)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

first impressions

Okay, you guessed it, j'adore Paris! We arrived yesterday afternoon via the Eurostar and it was love at first sight. I am staying in the 7e arrondissement, by the Tour Eiffel. The area is incredibly charming, with so many little food stores, a gourmet market down the street, and lots of restaurants and cafés. Last night we ate at a lovely brasserie (I had delicious Normandy style veal scallop) and then bought dessert at an adorable pâtisserie on the way home (a to-die-for chocolate crème éclair).

Today I walked the streets of Paris. It was absolutely freezing (the temperature was 2 to -6) but I was so excited that I didn't feel cold (although I will need go shopping for some more layers tomorrow!) I saw the Musée du Louvre, Pont Alexandre III, Palais Garnier, Arc de Triomphe, Avenue des Champs-Élysées and, of course, the Tour Eiffel. I will revisit each of them individually during the week to explore them further. I did delve into the breathtaking Notre Dame. There was a mass in progress and although I am not at all religious, I was riveted. The architecture is magificent, especially the exquisite stained glass windows, which invokes both tranquillity and awe.

I was warned that Paris is not as beautiful as it is in pictures; that it is dirty and the people are unfriendly. Well, I respectfully disagree - Paris is just as striking, picturesque and welcoming as I could have imagined. Each of the landmarks I have encountered are amazing, and the buildings in between, although not so grand, are, in the least, quaint and charming. I have not found Paris to be dirty at all - it is not spotless (and people do not seem to clean up after their dogs' public messes) but its cleanliness is comparable to most other cities I have been, including Perth, Melbourne and Sydney. Definitely nothing to complain about! I have not found the people unfriendly at all; the waiters are all extremely lovely (a lot more so than in Australia!) and the shopkeepers, although none I have encountered speak English, were very patient and gracious toward my family.

Quite simply, Paris is the perfection I expected it to be, and I am hopelessly* in love!

* Or helplessly? Hopelessly sounds too morbid, yet helplessly just doesn't sound right! Insert the correct word here, please. I should know this!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

last days

Today took the Eurostar from London to Paris! Although I have so been looking forward to Paris, I truly loved London. I can definitely see myself returning and hopefully living there sometime in the future.

On my last days in London, I visited the beautiful Kensington Palace and quaint Notting Hill; ate the most beautiful grilled salmon at my favourite London café, Gran Caffe, in Knightsbridge; watched the truly awful 2012 in Leicester Square; froze outside the impressive Buckingham Palace; ate "the best fish and chips in London" - but my humble local spot in Perth is better!; rode on the London Eye; and, of course, watched fireworks at midnight on New Years Eve from the Westminster bank of the Thames River.

london still

Being in London reminded me of this lovely Australian song.

happy new year!

Last night I braved the freezing cold to watch the gorgeous fireworks display at the London Eye and, just as the clock chimed midnight, it began to snow! What a perfect start to 2010.

Friday, January 1, 2010

beauty in the world

“… But it’s hard to stay mad, when there’s so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I’m seeing it all at once, and it’s too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that’s about to burst… And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can’t feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life.”
— American Beauty