Sunday, August 3, 2014


First, let me tell you that my niece is not your typical sullen 16-year old.  She is delightful, smart, and curious about everything.  I wasn't nervous about this trip until a good friend of mine asked if I was stressed about being in charge of my niece's safety.  Umm, no, not until right now, I thought.

Last night in London - hotel splurge - loved it!

And, I really wasn't.  I'm a seasoned traveler and raised by two parents who were very safety consciousness.  I say my prayers and then try not put myself in tricky situations.  Meaning, I don't walk down dark streets, hang my purse on my chair in restaurants, stand too close to subway/tube doors, stay out too late (mostly because I'm an early to bed, early to rise girl), etc.  Of course, bad things can happen no matter what you do to take precautions, but so far so good in my travel experience.

A no agenda day in London

I looked for the least stressful way of doing things on this trip.  For instance, we flew non-stop from Phoenix to London which, while more expensive, was easier than a connecting flight.  And instead of flying to and from Paris out of London, I knew it would be less stressful and far more fun to take the train.

Nancy Mitford Plaque on Curzon Street
We also stayed at hotels which included breakfast--a huge time saver and made for an easy start to the day.

Typically when I travel, I'm all about getting up early and hitting the road.  This time I booked later trains, didn't rush through breakfast, spent one day in London and one day in Paris without an agenda.  This all helped reduce stress and tiredness.  And I wanted my niece to experience the joys of wandering through neighborhoods and parks without a schedule or plan.

James Purdey & Sons holds the Royal Warrants for guns and rifles 

My niece also needed a break from a lot of decision making, so I made a rough outline of our trip based upon her interests, and presented her with just one or two daily choices.  First trips to Europe are overwhelming so I tried to keep her her head from spinning too much!

Last night in London dinner at Rules
I booked ahead special restaurants for first and last nights in London--The Wolseley and Rules (a family favorite).  Favorite Paris restaurants were booked once we arrived in that gorgeous city (although my favorite, Cafe Constant, doesn't take reservations).

Fortnum and Mason window shopping

Last night visit to Fortnum & Mason
A joyful trip to two beautiful cities with a delightful traveling companion.  I really couldn't have asked for more.

Saturday, June 14, 2014


We headed out to Versailles for a look see.  The temps plummeted that day and we were not properly wrapped up.  But, hey, we were at Versailles so who cares?

         I must have taken 20 pics of these gorgeous halls and ceilings so I will share a few with you.

                           No matter which way you look, gorgeous colors, designs, texture, art...

      Clean lines in cool colors in the entrance halls and then a bit more embellishment once inside...

                                                      I love these window latch details

It was freezing--not kidding.  Our teeth were chattering so we quickly posed and then headed back to Paris.

                    The rest of our trip was spent wandering the streets of Paris, going to museums,

                                            eating French delights, and people watching.

                                               And, a trip to Berthillon's is always a must!

                                                    Love the doors in European cities

For our last night in Paris, this brave 16 year old tried escargot (snails).  She didn't love it but she's glad she tried it.  I ate them up--they were served in a pesto sauce--so delicious.

           Now, back to London for one more night and then home.  Our trip wrap-up is up next!

Sunday, June 1, 2014


                  After four nights in London we were off to Paris!  This girl was excited.

We immediately left our hotel, the always wonderful Hotel Relais Bosquet and walked straight to the Eiffel Tower.

                                                                   Happy, happy!

              The next two stops were for me--Angelina's for thick, creamy hot niece doesn't care for chocolate.  I know, right?

And then to Longchamp to look at this gorgeous bag (which I later bought at my favorite Paris department store, Le Bon Marche.)

I mentioned that I added one new place to visit for myself on this trip so we are walking to

the Musee Marmottan which is found in a little neighborhood on a pretty street--it was raining so I was lucky to get this quick snap.  What a spectacular permanent Monet exhibit--worth the visit.

            Of course, the Lock Bridge is now a must-see.  Can't remember what the actual name is for this bridge.  Note:  Thanks to Mary and to my niece, the name of the bridge is Pont des Arts.

                                                The Code of Hammurabi - The Louvre
The Code of Hammurabi was on my niece's must-see list.  I'm sure you know exactly what it is--I'm embarrassed to say I had never heard of it or at least I didn't retain the information if I had studied this way back in the day.  It is a code of laws dating back to around 1754--before Christ.  Pretty cool. This is tucked away in a part of the Louvre that I had never been to.

No, we didn't share three ice creams--we met up with a friend of my niece who is lucky enough to be doing a study abroad in Paris.  Wouldn't that be fun?

                                                        Back later for Paris II.....

Monday, May 12, 2014


It's another beautiful London day so let's start with a walk to Kensington Palace.  I've been to London a dozen times but never toured Kensington--odd, right?

We walked from our hotel and stopped at this darling flower corner--

Passed by this cute sign....

But wait, first we need to pop in to the L.K. Bennett shop....look at those gorgeous bags!

But, I digress.  Back to the Palace.

And, voila, there she is.  Kensington Palace.

Of course, I've been to the gates of Kensington Palace, but never toured the place.

So, of we go....

       I loved the various exhibits at Kensington.  All were well put together and cleverly laid out.

             Sitting in the window sill you could hear a little audio about court gossip--very fun.

Up the King's Grand Staircase darling lanterns are posted with little characters representing the various staff members of the palace.

                       Here are a few of my favorite imaginary must-have household staff...

                                   Lady of the Bedchamber....all around assistant to the Queen

                             The Chocolate Maker...every home/palace needs one of those, right?

                                                   The absolute must.

                                                                   Loved this clock!

                  Aren't these silhouettes a pretty way to discourage people from getting too close?

                   Snapped this pic through the window--crowns atop all of the outside lanterns.

                         My niece noted that the UK has much cooler restroom signs than we do.

                Back outside for a bit of a stroll...

Always a bench photo...

And this is the only picture I took of the Victoria and Albert Museum--we had lunch outdoors after touring the pearl exhibit.  I was not on my picture-snapping game!  But nice to prove there was a bit of blue in the patchwork skies.

We were then off up the street to Harrod's and had dinner at a pub for more fish and chips. I wore a pedometer on this trip (always say I'm going to and never remember to grab the pedometer, this time I did)--we averaged around 22,000 steps a day.  Probably the reason we slept so great every single night.

         Here is what greeted us in our pretty hotel lobby at St. Ermin's.  So many little details.

The tea room at St. Ermin's--I regret we didn't take the time to have afternoon tea.  But we shall return!

And this, my friends, are the beehives kept by the hotel to produce delicious St. Ermin's honey, which we had at breakfast.  Isn't this the coolest?  One of the staff members took us on a little tour of the hotel and then brought us to the rooftop to see their beehives.  Love this.  Perfect hotel for our trip.