Category Archives: Travel

Two Perfect Days in Yokohama

Yokohama harbor For a quick birthday get-away, my husband and I decided to head down to Yokohama, only about an hour’s train ride from Tokyo. We stayed at the Hotel New Grand, an 88-year old hotel located near Chinatown. (I have a thing for historic hotels.) The dark, stately Sea Guardian Bar II serves wonderful cocktails…

drinks

…while Le Normandie offers a nice breakfast buffet with gorgeous views overlooking the harbor. (Picture below courtesy of Hotel New Grand.)

La Normandie

Our first day was spent wandering around Chinatown and the Motomachi/Yamate district (or “The Bluff”), where expats built beautiful homes and embassies in the late 1800s/early 1900s. I was especially intrigued by the ruins of the home of the French consulate, destroyed by fire in the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923. The ruins sit right in the middle of a park with ivy and plants growing over the bricks.

ruins

Dinner was at Aqua Olivine, a French restaurant near the hotel. From the amuse-bouche (who knew seaweed jelly with tuna, crab, & avocado could be so good?!?) to the New Zealand beef, each dish was delightful.

The next day, we spent time at the Yokohama Silk Museum, which was probably the highlight of the trip (to me). They’ve really focused on helping visitors to understand how silk is made, dyed, and crafted into beautiful garments. Among my favorite displays were the live silkworms (I’ll spare you the picture) and an interactive display where you can weave together silk strands straight from the cocoons.

spinning silk

The display showing natural dyes was also really interesting.

silk dyes

Our final stop was the Yokohama Ramen Museum, which is really more like a ramen food court. While my dish was quite good, I can’t say that I would make an effort to return.

ramen museum

Overall, it was a great little get away and I can’t wait to return in warmer weather to enjoy the many gardens, piers, and walkways!

Back to Work

walking

I’m off to Texas for work and I’m noticing, as I go through security or board the shuttle bus, that my interactions with strangers are a little different: more eye contact, more enthusiasm in my “hello,” closer attention to the needs of others.

Is this a result of having just returned from a wonderful vacation or is this some of those Parisian manners rubbing off on me? When addressing others in French – regardless of their role – it is considered polite to add “Madame” or “Monsieur” to the beginning or end of your sentence. Throughout our nine days there, we had countless interactions where we greeted people, thanked them, and said our good-byes, all accompanied with the equivalent of “Ma’am” or “Sir.” While I would sound rather silly literally adopting French speech patterns in English – “Good day, sir! Thank you very much for taking my luggage! United Airlines, if it pleases you!” – I think the respectful tone has been integrated somewhat into my speech. Perhaps that’s the difference that I’m noticing.

I am also noticing a rejuvenated love for what I do for a living. I considered many careers prior to choosing education – interior design, journalism, ballet, marine biology – but ultimately decided that serving was what I wanted most to do. It is easy to forget that this is the driving force of choosing such a profession. We get resentful, frustrated, even dulled to the power of what we do. Yet after a week of being surrounded by the most stunning architecture, artwork, design, music, and food, I have the sensation of having been recharged or refilled, and thus, am able to return to work with contentment for my life and enthusiasm for my chosen profession.

May 2013 bring joy to you & yours!

Travel

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” – Mark Twain

seine

My Moveable Feast

macaroons“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” – Hemingway

Christmas & New Year’s in Paris

VersaillesWe are at last back from what I believe is the most amazing vacation my husband and I have ever taken. Far too much for one post, I plan to capture highlights of our vacation under future themes of parks, history, food, architecture, etc.

There were moments on this trip when I actually got teary. Sublime moments I never want to forget:

 

 

One: A pre-dawn stroll in Versailles to Marie Antoinette’s hamlet, watching sheep graze, a Charles Shultz-looking sky break into periwinkle, rose, and peach, then realizing what time it was and sprinting back to the main Chateau for opening at daybreak.

sheep

Two: standing on the Rue Royale with other “low-key” revelers (the true partiers were on the Champs Élysées, pictured below during our earlier walk through the Christmas market), sipping a glass of champagne, surrounded by countless nationalities, ringing in the new year as the Eiffel Tower sparkled. Passersby in cars honked and yelled “Bonne Année!”

parisMarket

Three: Watching a string octet perform Pachelbel’s Canon, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Bach’s Ave Maria, and more in La Madeleine, a 400-year old church where Saint-Saëns once played the organ, where Chopin’s funeral was held, and (more grimly) where Louis XVI’s body was carried after his execution. The music and the surroundings brought chills. I could revisit that point in my life again and again and not tire of it.

I will post more later. For now, however, I am so happy to be back among sunshine, normal sunrise hours (8:45 is hard to get used to!), and a job and life that I love.

12 More States to Go!

map

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Boston Restaurant Highlights

Oak Long Bar + Kitchen

Oak Long Bar + Kitchen

My husband and I spent our anniversary in Boston last summer, checking out several restaurants and sights. For a recent conference, I had the opportunity to go back and revisit a few favorites as well as try a few new restaurants.

I almost didn’t recognize the stately, leather-chair, old-school-Bostonian Oak Bar located in the Fairmont Copley Plaza. It has undergone a huge renovation and is now hip, vibrant Oak Long Bar + Kitchen. I had the tagliatelle with lobster, short ribs, and zucchini soffrito. Oh. My. God. The poor bartender had to gently pull my empty bowl away when I was done. I will most certainly be trying to copy this recipe very soon. While I can appreciate the restaurant needing to appeal to a larger, younger crowd, I will miss the Old World elegance of the Oak Room. An after-dinner stroll through their amazing lobby makes me look forward to seeing Versailles.

A second night, I decided to try Lucca Back Bay, a sister restaurant of the original located on the North End. I had the bolognese pappardelle with a side of brussels sprouts, copying one of my favorite after-work dinners that I often have here at Piatti of Denver. It was very nice, as was the service.

Some favorites that I didn’t get to see this trip: Top of the Hub (gorgeous views) and L’Espalier (if you’re in the mood for a decadent and very expensive dinner. They have a Fromager, if that’s any indication.)