Gainsbourg in photographs 

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Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin on the walls of La Galerie de L’Instant in Marais

Enigmatic, inspiring, fashionable and so very relevant persona in French pop culture, Serge Gainsbourg, is the subject of the photographer Tony Franck. La Galerie de L’Instant is exposing a series of photos of Serge Gainsbourg until June 22nd. This little gallery is not at all standoffish or intimidating but just the opposite very intriguing and welcoming. I would say that anyone looking a very special gift or a souvenir from Paris should have a look because the prices were quite affordable. And for people like me who are putting their money to train and plane tickets they also sell postcards!

La Galerie de L’Instant 

46, Rue De Poitou

Paris 75003

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Picasso Museum in Paris

Pablo Picasso. If someone got it, he did! One of my favorite artists and a very interesting persona. After many years of renovation the Paris museum opened again a couple of months ago. I have wanted to go for many times but last this Saturday, during the European Museum Night, I finally got the chance. It’s only 5 minutes with the metro from my house and because it was the museum NIGHT (no excuses about the opening hours and my work hours being not compatible) I got myself together, left the house and went to see if the line wasn’t too long. And it wasn’t!

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The building is just beautiful. I could go just for admiring the architecture. But of course it’s the work of Picasso that we go there. Classics and rare pieces, pictures and videos; it’s a real treat for any Picasso lover. They also host exhibitions and at the moment it’s the Miquel Barcelo ceramic sculptures that they have. It suits perfectly the space (also some pieces are in garden) and I discovered a new artist that I didn’t know!



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Musée Picasso Paris 

5 rue Thorigny 

75003 Paris

Pintxo week in San Sebastiàn

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View from the San Sebastian harbour

Last year in June 2015 we went to celebrate my friend’s the last unmarried girl’s week end in Spain. What a blast, nothing else to say. But what’s interesting in traveller’s point of view is that now I can recommend the Keler’s Pintxo Week!  The Keler’s Pintxo Week is coming up again in June which is a local beer and tapas festival with excellent prices for food and drink in the city’s best restaurants. Just by chance we happened to be there at that time and got to try and taste plenty of great restaurants with delicious pintxos and local beer.

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Keler Pintxo Week and hen night all together

We stayed in a Airbnb flat nearby the beach and could go everywhere by foot. There were lot’s of surfers, tourists and locals in the city to create a unique cool atmosphere. Other things to do  than eating pintxos there are two excellent beaches in the city and we could have stayed swimming  for all day in the Atlantic Sea. I really loved the relaxed small town vibe San Sebastián has. In the evening we found some excellent bars to go out and during the day we enjoyed shopping in the beautiful fashion stores. A perfect girl’s weekend I’d say!

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The beach in the city center

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Finnish Vikings in San Sebastián 

Dublin

Trinity College

 

Yesterday I got back from a 3 day work trip to Dublin. My first time in Ireland and a new kind of work assignment doubled my excitement for this city.

Dublin was sunny, historical, pretty, rough, original and kind. The kindness of the people really touched me and made me feel safe and relaxed there.


Irish ice cream at Murphy’s

After work I just went quickly to the hotel to get changed in more confortable shoes and then I went to explore the city. I walked along the river Liffey (and almost felt like in Paris), wandered through Temple Bar district with all the pubs and street musicians and was impressed of the Trinity College buildings and parks that made me wish I was a student again (almost).


Jury’s Inn hotel

I stayed in a nice hotel next to Christ’s Church called the Jury’s Inn and it was very easy to walk from there to the city center. I’d love to go back for a week end and really explore the city’s museums and historical sites. Also I didn’t get to taste any Guinness so definitely need to go back!

 Sunset at Christ’s Church Dublin

#tbt The world is your Splashdown

I thought it would be fun to go back in years and write down some of my best (or sometimes worst) travel souvenirs.

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Let’s start from my first trip abroad alone in 1989. I was 13 years old and I had gotten the permission from my parents to take part on a language course in Torquay in England. The course was 1 month long and I had studied English for 2 years. My language skills were non existant but I was eager to learn. I left alone to join a group of other young Finnish people and once in our destination we got to stay with host families.

I stayed with 3 other girls in a typical English house with an English family. During the day we had language lessons and the afternoons we did excursions. I loved the excursion part so much. We went horseback riding in Dartmoor national park, we visited beaches and old historical towns in Devon but the best of it all, we visited England’s largest water park.

I had never seen a water park as glorious as the Splashdown was and we had a blast with my room mates and other students sliding down the tubes and slopes. Once the others started packing and heading back home I said no. No I wanted to stay and because I didn’t have my parents to tell me to hurry up and get out of the pool nobody else said nothing either! So I stayed there alone and once I finally got fed up with it I had this realization that I didn’t actually know how to get back home. And these are the moments that you can be grateful of only crossing nice helpful people and that everything went well. First I had to find the right bus but because I didn’t know which one to take so I just stopped all of them and asked “Torquay?” with my fantastic Finnish accent. The nice bus drivers tried to ask me where in Torquay I was trying to get but I couldn’t answer them because my English was so bad. I finally managed to get into a bus that got me enough near to my house where I could recognize the streets and find my way back home. I must say I was pretty exhausted once I got back to my room.

These kind of experiences define you as a traveler. How to manage in strange surroundings by yourself and how to connect with people when you don’t have a common language. And that’s the whole charm of it all I think. To get out of the comfort zone, trust yourself and trust others as well. That’s when you realize that with a right attitude the world could be your Splashdown!

 

 

Feeling good in Palolem

When we were choosing the destination in South Goa everyone were telling us how wonderful Palolem is. So that’s where we went,  we hopped into a taxi, left Ashwem and headed to the South.


I had booked a cottage from Ourem Palace which is situated on the cliffs next to the beach . I thought it would be nice to try something different and stay in a cottage on the rocks, but once we got there my first impression was quite awkward. First of all the rocky hills lacked colors. After our beautiful lush garden cottage from the previous days the contrast was drastic. Also the hills were home for ravens that were croaking from the coconut trees and it felt more like a Hitchcock movie than Eat Pray Love. And once inside our cottage I discovered that we had a wonderful view on old abandoned toilet seats that were actually quite far from us but because of the altitude we could see all that beauty from our room. So now you must wonder why the title of this blog is “Feeling good in Palolem”, well it happens the first impression doesn’t always count! We actually loved Palolem and the neighboring town Patnem!

Palolem had a nice mix of foreign and Indian vacationers enjoying the beautiful beach and laid back atmosphere. People there were less party oriented and more into wellbeing. I loved the fact that a guy next to us in a raw food cafe just casually meditated at his seat while waiting for his breakfast or that we could just hop into an Ayurvedic center and get massages on our way to the beach. We stayed two nights and saw two beautiful sunsets, one of them from the warm Arabian Sea where we swam when the sun went down. And I had the best sleep in our Ourem Palace cottage!  FYI I couldn’t see any abandoned toilet seats from the bed.

A haven in North Goa, The Jamboree Creek

Our perfect little home in Ashwem

You couldn’t imagine the feeling of relief and happiness once we arrived to Jamboree Creek in Ashwem. It was only a few kilometers from our first place in Arambol but it felt like we had arrived to another planet. But you need to know that we both suffered from a quite severe food poisoning that had started the night before and traveling (even it was only few kilometers) in that state was quite interesting to say at least… 

The cottage was cozy and it had the best open air bathroom that was protected with a mosquito net 

The cottages were surrounded by a kitchen garden growing tomatos, peas, pineapples and so. It felt refreshing to see some greenery around us and while B was recovering from the food poisoning inside the cottage, I was reading next to the pool in a hammock or on our porch.


Garden and pool area where I could spend all day

Even though I thought I could never eat food again (I couldn’t even hear the word food pronounced without feeling sick and referred to the subject just saying the letters F O O D if I had to) luckily The Jamboree Creek had a café/ restaurant inside the resort. It served simple fresh food that they cooked according our wishes and they literally brought us back to life meal by meal and smoothie by smoothie. 


Detox breakfast platter was my go to meal in the mornings 

The resort was In Ashwem, a quite chic North Goan village, and the beach was just incredible. We had a private acces to the beach through a little nature path and  a bridge that crossed a small bay. Just going to the beach was really lovely. 


The way to the beach by our private bridge

We had reserved two nights at first on Airbnb but decided to stay a third night before heading to the South Goa. We didn’t really go to the Ashwem village, but I did go see the chic beach stalls next to the French restaurant La Plage. Jade Jagger has a boutique there and of course I had to go and see how it was!

Ashwem had a more sophisticated feel to it than Arambol for instance. The beach was very clean and not crowded which I liked a lot. Again we found this place to have it’s own unique atmosphere. Living in Europe we are so used to mass market, chains, trends and fashion to be the same everywhere that I was surprised to see each Goan town so different from one another. A traveler’s bliss! 


Chic shopping on the Ashwem beach

Hippie style in Arambol

Sunset in Arambol 

Arambol Beach

Our Goa trip started in Arambol. We were exhausted after the long flight and the 1,5 hour drive from the airport and when we finally arrived to our room and got changed we started to realize that we’re on vacation. The whole process of preparing the trip was a bit stressful for me with the visa applications and vaccinations (I’m completely allergic to any administrative work and doctors) so I was happy to finally have my feet on the Goan sole. 


View from the Noname Guesthouse  

Way to the village

I had chosen The Noname Guesthouse for the first 3 days and it was conveniently  next to the beach, clean, with internet (which worked on and off ) and we had really nice neighbors too. Only problem was the extremely loud music from the restaurants next door but actually the first night we were so exhausted that we didn’t hear anything, the second night we were maybe a bit annoyed and the third night we both suffered from a food poisoning and the loud music was the least of our sufferings, so in our case the music wasn’t an issue.

The feeling when we finally arrived to our destination 



The dwell at the back of our guesthouse 



The Arambol beach is quite animated with a lot of restaurants, tourists, cows and dogs. We had a lovely candlelit dinner on the first night on the beach, breakfasts we took at the German Bakery and for lunch we headed to a Tibetan beach shack with a lot of Russian customers. But the best thing in Arambol was the beach during the sunset. Artists, hippies, tourists and locals gathered there to spend time, sell jewelry, snacks and all sorts of things relevant to a hippie lifestyle. When thinking of Goa I have this a bit romantic idea of an alternative lifestyle, exotic beauty of nature and magical atmosphere and maybe I could have got a glimpse of that during the Arambol  sunsets! 

 

Sunset in Arambol Beach 

A trip to Goa

goa panorama

This winter B and I went to discover Goa in India for the first time. This destination has been in our travel bucket list for a very long time and I’m so happy we finally made it there!

Goa is the easy going relaxed destination in India. The weather is warm, people are nice and we felt safe during the whole trip. It was a perfect two week getaway from the European winter.

The itinerary

Paris – Mumbai – Goa with Jet Airways

Arambol – The Noname Guesthouse

Ashwem – Jamboree Creek garden cottages

Palolem – Ourem Palace

Agonda – Harmonium Resort

Bogmalo (Goa airport) – Silk Cotton Resort

Our days were filled with long walks on the beach, swimming in the sea, discovering the local markets and shop stalls and eating out. Each town had it’s own vibe and it never got boring. I’ll get more in detail of each place, what we did, what we liked and what not so much, but in general WE LOVED GOA!

Goa map

 

Les Brassins, Belgian bistro in Brussels


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Four years ago B and I were both living and working in Paris, going on our little week-end trips around France and never even giving a thought to our neighboring country in the North. Then B started going quite often to Brussels for his work bringing back home chocolates from Pierre Marcolini or biscuits from Maison Dandoy and my interest started growing towards this city of french fries and art deco. Soon after I booked a week-end trip for us to spend the Valentine’s day in Brussels. As usual we went there without a specific plan or even a map and just wandered around admiring the architecture and tasting local specialities. In the evening it was very cold when we stepped out from our hotel and started to look for a restaurant. Nearby we found Chinese restaurant, another Chinese and an Irish pub… Not good. B started to be cranky because I wanted to keep walking in the dark hoping of finding something even a bit interesting and obviously I didn’t have a clue where we were going. We ended up in some dark back streets of Avenue Louise, at this point B had stopped talking to me, when suddenly I saw a dim light far away on a side street. And there it was, Les Brassins, a Belgian bistro exactly as we like it!

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The restaurant is cozy and I love the decor with old beer ads on the walls. The customers are a mix of locals that look like they’ve been going there for generations and some tourists too. The menu is perfect with a good variety of traditional dishes such as shrimp croquettes or rabbit in a cherry beer sauce and modern bistro food like filet mignon or Brassins burger. The beer menu is wide and the draught beer is called Silly!

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Ever since this restaurant has become the place where we often take our guests visiting Brussels or when we want to celebrate special occasions. And of course each time we think about that Valentine’s day 4 years ago and the fact how we didn’t have a clue that a year from it we would have a second home in Belgium!

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Les Brassins 

Rue Keyenveld 36
1050 Brussels
Belgium
+32 2 512 69 99