Thursday, 7 April 2016

from venice with love

It's starting to dawn on me that my blog is called the unpretentious blog to paris and I'm moving to Washington DC in a few months... which gives you an insight into the kind of problems I'm dealing with as a blogger. Still, I need to find a new name. I've already been cheating quite a few times by posting travelling pics that have very little to do with Paris. And so I've asked myself if this is really the right time to write a blog post about Venice instead of Paris. Like I said, tough decisions as a blogger. (Also I like to repeat the word blogger as it's been more than a month since my last post.)

But Venice it is, because it's such a beautiful place and it doesn't matter if everybody says so and you've heard it thousands of times before. It's still true. You just need to work your way around the city to avoid the tourist crowds. Makes it easier to pretend you're not a tourist but a traveller. It also helps if you're not walking around with a selfie stick.

g i u d e c c a

Speaking of being away from the crowds, the island Giudecca is the best place for an evening stroll while you're watching the sun set over Venice.

s a n  m a r c o  i n  t h e  f o g

Well clearly I can't guarantee the legendary Venetian fog during your stay. Trust me I would if I could because nothing quite beats that magical misty ambiance running through the streets and canals of Venice. But no matter the weather, if I could give only one advice regarding Venice it would be to get up insanely early one morning to experience Piazza San Marco all empty, see the sun rise and feel the city slowly come to live.  

b u r a n o

I have a thing for muted colours and faded pastels which is one of the many reasons why I fell in love with Venice, but you should definitely take a boat and visit the island Burano where all the houses are painted in bright and vivid colours. Our Vaporetto driver told us that once there was only one big fisherman family living on the island and they all had the same name. In order to tell them apart the women started painting the houses in different colours: one family became the ones from the purple house, another the green family etc. I'm afraid this isn't true at all so I've resisted looking it up on Wikipedia and suggest you do the same.

Other than that, just get lost. In the good sense of course by strolling around and seeing where you end up, have a few Spritz, get the view from San Giorgio Maggore if you can, walk into a few churches and for the rest just admire all the beautiful facades.

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Monday, 29 February 2016

rive gauche strikes back

c u i l l e r   c o f f e e   h o u s e   -   p a r t   2

Coffee revolution in Paris is still going strong. I've talked about it before here & there. I've even mentioned the Cuillier Coffee House in another blog post right here but that was in Montmartre. Because all these new places popping up across the city seem to concentrate around the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 10th, 11th & 18th arrondissement, basically rive droite - the right bank of the Seine - while not much is happening rive gauche a part from Shakespeare & Company's newly opened cafe. And happily this new Cuillier place that I'll tell you more about.

Why? I don't have the answer but that's not going to prevent me from putting forward a theory, one that is highly unscientific, based purely on assumptions. Because what's the fun in having a blog if you can't do that. The short version would be that the Hipsters won over the Bohemians, but it's a little more complicated than that especially since I'm not even sure there are any Bohemians left in Paris..

The Seine river divides Paris in two parts, rive gauche - called the left bank in English - is the southern bank while rive droite - right bank - is situated on the northern part. But the terms are more than just geographical descriptions. When you mention rive gauche to Parisians and people familiar with the city's history, the term is associated with a particular era where all the artists, writers in particular, philosophers - Hemingway, Sartre, Rimbaud, Verlaine and the list is long - as well as painters such as Picasso used to live in this part of Paris. At this period of time bohemianism, art, creativity, literature, free love & anti-establishment where the characteristics of this area.

The right bank? Establishment, classicism, wealth. A caricature would say money versus culture. But that was once. Not anymore. Parisians used to debate which side their heart belonged to, I don't hear these discussions anymore and so many changes have happened since that it's become difficult to draw a clear line between two parts of Paris based only on the separation by the Seine.

A city evolves and what was once young & dynamic on the left bank somehow turned into something different: expensive & aristocratic (dare I say bourgeois...) Too expensive for a lot of young people and so it seems to me that the new place for creativity & novelties has moved to the right bank where arrondissements such as the 10th, 11th & 18th are more affordable. Yesterday's left bank bohemians might just have been replaced by the right bank's hipsters, today's term for those who claim not to be following the cultural mainstream (what mainstream is and whether this is actually true is an entirely different discussion).

But as I said, Paris is changing constantly and maybe rive gauche is finally waking up again? Perhaps Cuillier Coffee House is just one of many new cool coffee shops that will open on the left bank taking the coffee revolution across the Seine?

At this point you're probably thinking oh come on, she went to have a few muffins & we get a demographic essay? So yes kinda, I like to point out just how intellectual this blog is. Or B): maybe there are no limits to what I will write to justify a large intake of cake.

And cake there was, delicious muffins. We chose one with pistachio and although it had the shape of a muffin it very much resembled a financier in its texture, not too sweet & rich in pistachio. The other muffin was even better: coconut & orange. Not your usual muffins and great to finally try something different than blueberry & chocolate muffins. Supplied by Broken Biscuits patisserie I strongly suggest you try one of them when you go or why not two like we did...

Since we went there for breakfast we also had a bowl each of their delicious granola, a cappuccino for me and a latte for my friend Ying. As you might have noticed by now I'm not a coffee expert. Apart from cappuccino I only drink tea so you'll have to check that part out for yourself. The friendly staff will help you choose the right coffee I'm sure, so nice to be served by baristas not taking themselves too seriously. Bonus: walking away with a few good addresses to try out in Paris.

What was left once we finished. Actually not true, somehow that last bit of muffin disappeared too.

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