Monday, 31 March 2014

Paris - Day 3 ... relaxing with cats and flowers

Remember how I told you yesterday that I should start to take some lessons on how to learn to slow down a bit my crazy march of the beauty of Paris, as the fatigue was beginning to take its toll?
Well, now I would have liked to write something type "Nah, after a night of restful sleep and I am totally reborn and ready to go for a new marathon walking till Versailles!" ... but of course it is not exactly what happened.
Let's say that today my "slowdown" lesson was a must, because I was definitely knackered and sore in almost any part of the body.
So the theme of today's post will be "How to enjoy a day of complete relaxation in Paris" ;-)

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Montmartre et le Chat Noir

Montmartre doesn't belong to the metropolis, Montmartre stays on its hill and overlooks the city from above with that slight sense of superiority that, more or less, all the artists have.
Montmartre isolates itself because it already is out of time, as anyway art has to be, and it dresses up with streetlamps, cobble-stoned alleys and pastel colors houses.
Montmartre is a bohémien artist, he hangs around with an old coat and contemplates with melancholy the skyline with a cigarette sliding from his lips.
Montmartre makes your soul dance with the sound of an accordion, paints a scene on your heart, makes you feel a bit like a Poète Maudit, seeking for something you will never find, and a bit like Amelie Poulain, trying to grab with your wide eyes and your shy smile all the beauty surrounding you.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Paris - Day 2 ... and its positive sides

Well, with the previous post, in fact I have been a little too whiny.
My second day in Paris was actually anything but negative, so, to do a sort of counterpart to the previous complaints, I guess I should now proceed with the positive aspects.

[*] Not all Parisians are necessarly snobbish 
First thing, as a sort of counterbalance to the annoying guys of Montmartre with their bracelets, I want to tell about a random act of kindness by a stranger, who, seeing me being a bit lost looking at the map at the exit of the Metro, has asked me if I needed directions.
And it's actually the second time that something like this happens to me, and by the way alway in Paris.
So here is my official disclaim against the stereotype of (almost) all the Parisians being stuck up!

Friday, 28 March 2014

Paris - Day 2 ... the whines of a Grumpy Cat

Might it be that being tired makes me whiny like a baby who needs to sleep - and I confess that, maybe age is beginning to overwhelm me, but after exploring a large slice of Paris relying solely on the energy of my feet, I  DO feel very tired ...
In any case, I decided to spend the day today to talk a bit about some negative sides this time.
Yeah, I know that I had made ​​a boy (girl? cat?) scout promise to to force myself to focus always primarily on the positive ones, and actually to always go pick them, to look proactively for them. I think I almost always succeed doing it, and believe me, it was not easy to discipline and self-form me in this, since I am not born nor I have been educated to do so.
Well, but now my digression sounds a bit too much mélo: after all the negative sides of a vacation in Paris cannot be so dark and hard to bear!
Anyway I think that a little bit of healthy criticism every now and then can be just as useful as enumerating what is beautiful and pleasant.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Paris - Day one... with 10 things that have made it special

If three is the magic number, then four surely has something special too about it, because I guess I can say that my 4th time in Paris has been the one I've enjoyed the most.
And the first day has been the most enthusiastic one.
I had almost had forgotten how beautiful this city is - kinda put it aside in some boxes in my memory. Ok, it hasn't stolen my heart like London has, but still it makes it beat - quite fast in some enchanting corners.
It's both royal and cosy, and I don't know how it does such a trick. Well, I should, perhaps - as anyway it is something that all the cats are very good at doing, at being both majestic and cute. So - do I have to say that? If a cat was a city, then it would probably be Paris.
I guess that's why I've always considered it a bit foregone, kinda taken for granted? Or, well, I guess it's also because it somehow looks similar to Turin. That's a similarity it strikes me more and more every time - and earlier today I was flipping through my pictures on my phone being a bit absent-minded and for a second I hadn't realized I had finished Paris photos and I was actually looking at Turin's ones.
But ok, that's the similarity between two cousins, of which Paris is the filthy rich, unfairly stunning one - while Turin is a pretty girl, but she has to work in a factory for a living, and she has calluses on her hands. Yet, when I go to Paris I'm just not able to get surprised, as I notice the familiar features, something vaguely recognizable, if not totally similar.
Still, I've always made efforts in order to notice beauty in the everyday, and since I've become a blogger I've refined this skill to the top - so this time I've got totally striked by how much familiarity can be stunning as well.
Paris is made of gold and stone, of gothic and liberty, and all its facets - the romantic one, the posh one, the elegant, the cosy, the dark... just melt into an unique mixture.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Hello St. Paddy, I'm the Lucky Black Bog Cat!

Happy St Patrick's Day everyone!!
No, we don't celebrate it in Italy: I guess they do something in some random pub, but that's nothing like "real" celebrations. I usually wear green on this day, but, since it's something I like doing on a regular basis, I guess nobody really notices that it's made on purpose.
Then, here, March 17th (besides being my best friend's birthday) should be the birthday of our country as a nation, since Italy got unified on this day in 1861 - but nobody cares about this either.
But - well, since I usually like boasting around telling that I have Celtic blood in my veins (I have no evidence of that, besides my pale skin, my green eyes and the way my heart skips a beat whenever I reach what I call my homeland - but who needs scientific proofs after all?), and since Irishs have a legend about a big black cat wandering around their bogland who is supposed to bring a very big amount of luck to whomever meets him (and living in a country where black cats are ignorantly considered as a symbol of bad luck, I can't help but being grateful about it); here I go, following the flow and doing what every single travel blogger on the planet is doing today - an Ireland related post!!
I guess this should have been part of the "Down the Memory Lane" section, since it's been since 2005 already that my paws don't step over the Emerald Island's soil (OMG); but to me it still feels like yesterday, so here we go with some random impressions and memories about some of the places that I've liked the most.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Down the memory lane - Le chat noir à Paris

In exactly one week my paws will be wandering in Paris - a city where black cats do have quite a reputation.
Even if it will be my 4th time, I am already utterly excited, just as if it was my first one - because it will be my first time with the eyes of a blogger.
I have already set my itinerary and have plenty of ideas, but I guess it will be more interesting to share them real time!
Today, as it seems that it's in the nature of a black cat to be a bit nostalgic, I'm going to share with you some of my memories about my previous visits to the Ville Lumiére - just some bits & crumbles, more connected to an emotional point of view rather than a touristic one.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Salem - as I am a black cat, after all...

Salem is a pretty and cosy city.
It has beautiful Georgian wooden houses, pebbled alleys and a fané allure that makes it feel as it's been preserved since the Pilgrims times.
So it could be actually a quite well known touristic spot even just for this, for being almost a sort of open-air museum of the American colonies of the 17th century, but without any kind of stiff or fake impression.
And it could have belonged anyway to history for its sea commerce with the Far East.
There are still plenty of evidences around about this: the vessel Friendship moored at the harbour, for example, or the Peabody Essex Museum that hosts art works, crafts and peculiar stuff collected by the local traders during their voyages in those lands.

Peabody Essex, Salem
Meet mr Peabody Essex!!

Or it could be famous just for having given birth to the writer Nathaniel Hawthorne, and attract people just to witness that the House of the Seven Gables described in one of his novels actually exists, and that it reflects indeed the gloomy puritan atmosphere by which the society of those times was haunted...
But the real reason for which it is world-wide famous, for which Stephen King has decided to dedicate to it one of his most famous novels, for which quite some movies and TV series have been set here - and for which, I admit, Tabby Cat & me had decided to inclued it as a "must" visit during our last summer's trip along the East Coast, is quite another.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Chester - A coffer of Medieval treasures

I've started studying English at school at the age of 11, like almost everyone of my generation in Italy.
English immediately became my very fave subject, also because I was learning it with pleasure, without doing much effort.
I surely had a very good teacher, but I guess my most vivid memory about those lessons was the book she had chosen for us pupils. The book was called "Dear Penfriend" and was based on the formula of presenting English habits and places through letters of imaginary girls and boys: each chapter started with a short letter of presentation by someone, and then the place where this imaginary teenager was living was being presented, together with some costumes & traditions hints.
I truly loved that book. Besides the interesting contents, it was also very colorful and catching, and I used to read it over and over again - not only when I had to study stuff from it, but just because. I was keeping on daydreaming all the time about visiting those places one day...
I actually blame that book for two of the biggest passions in my life nowadays: penpalling & UK.

Chester was one of the places presented in that book.
I was finding it so charming from the pictures displayed on the pages, with its medioeval appeal and the trallis buildings. Maybe I should blame the book also for my soft spots about these two aspects!

Monday, 3 March 2014

What do you travel for?

We travel not to escape life

I once read on the Facebook page of a friend something saying, more or less, "Instead pf dreaming about your next vacation, start building a life you don't want to escape from".
Although this thing totally makes sense, in a way, and although I cannot deny I've been welcoming my travels even more than usual in certain peculiar periods of my life when I *just* needed to run away from everything for a while - I just cannot agree with this saying.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Brittany: my Top 10 dreamland places

I've always felt a strong, compelling attraction for the Celtic world.
Always, like since forever, because I had found out later that my favourite fairytales as a kid, the ones I wanted to read or hear over and over, because I loved so much what they were making me daydream of, were actually derived from Celtic folklore and legends.
Like every strong and genuine passion, I am not able to explain rationally what exactly is that I like so much about it. I mean, of course I could recount a pretty long list of charachteristics of the Celtic culture and civilization that I find appealing - like their love and respect for nature, their communion with it, or the fact that they use to give a same and equal importance to the masculine and feminine principles - but, all in all, the biggest and sheerer reason for my attraction is quite obvious and simple.
I feel dragged to it. I feel I belong to this culture, to this world: I mirror myself, my inner soul there, and, during the years, I've found some important answers.
When I was younger I was even totally and genuinely convinced that I must have been a Celt in one of my previous lives. Nowadays I no longer ask myself this kind of questions; but still I reckon the strong feeling of homecoming whenever I visit any of the areas where the Celtic tribes used to settle.

Among the Celtic homelands that I've seen, Brittany is the one where I've felt the strongest sense of arcane, of something primordial - a sort of magic that is wild and very powerful.