Berlin Berlin!

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Back in Berlin! It’s all the well-known streets, the restaurants and the cafés, the for all I know unique calm of the city (given that it is a metropole). I’m back to work and to the ordinary, and while it was great to have a time off, it also feels good to have everyday life back. Friends, collegues, language, urban landscape, food (I’ve devoured my first slices of “real” wholegrain bread with Gouda and Brie yesterday), so many things you realize are part of who you are in this moment of your life. Spring is already here, first green and flowers and soft air and our northern sun. I’m looking forward to the weekend and to long hours in a café with my friends (and no waiter asking if you’re finished and want the check…) and to cycle around in the parks and avenues, and to go the Philharmonie and the museums and the shops. I’ll keep you posted what’s going on here! (spring / summer are great seasons to visit). xxSol

7 hours in Paris (presque)

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Seven hours in Paris – that would be very very nice, if it weren’t at the airport, and if the Paris airports weren’t so far outside the city, and if I hadn’t all the luggage of six month in Canada here on my trolley. Three jackets (one of them a huge canadian winter thing), two scarfs, hand luggage, handbag, laptop. Looking like a yeti. And hoping that Air France Hostesses will be nice and not comment on the extra handbag I’m not really allowed to carry, I’m afraid. But even if it’s only the airport, somehow it still is Paris.. grandiose architecture, little cafés here and there, magazine shops with all the french magazines, le ciel gris de Paris (today it’s really grey and overcast, but still something like 20 degrees warmer than yesterday in Montreal).

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I have arrived straight in european spring, it seems, and I have to admit, the moment we began flying over France, arriving in Europe, there was some serious coming-home thing going on. Europe is my home, however interesting the Americas may be, I’ve always known that (not so much of a continent traveller) and know it even more now. And Paris is one of “my” cities, together with Cologne and Berlin. It’s nice to have this intermezzo here before really going back this evening. I’ve done part of my studies here (and the best year of studies for sure!), have been over again and again, have met some of my best friends, and I always regret I haven’t managed to live here longer or to somehow manage to partly work in Paris. (Even if there must be some reason all those young french-parisian families come over to live in Berlin, maybe I’m just too idealistic about it).

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Still. I love this city and think it is the most grandiose and splendid one I know. When Caro of penseesbycaro posted her 10 favourite places in Paris in february, I was carrément homesick – some of them are mine, too. And when Aznavour sings “Ma France”, I can almost be moved to tears (I know, pathetic, but). So, I now take a tea in a small café on Charles de Gaulle airport, read Madame Figaro and Elle, look at elegant people, woman dressed with finesse, legs in fine nylons (haven’t seen this in month.. Montréal is more the Yeti look in winter), and at the sky of the île de France. Merveilleux. I’ll be back in May for four days, looking forward already, maybe I’ll give you my favourite places in Paris then.. Au revoir, bisoux, xx!

The photos I took last september, when I passed four days in Paris on my way to Montréal.

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Spring! … Camellia garden in Tuscany

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Spring!! Even in Montreal, snow is melting, birds are singing, sun is hitting the eye like 1000s of Watt. People are getting crazy sitting around on terraces at about 2+ (C). Glorious. Those days when spring comes around are just so special, tickling out all your wishes, laughters and longings, and the need to walk in the sun and to go out and dance and drink and talk a lot in the evenings. To celebrate. So, for some celebration on the blog – here are some pics from last year’s March in Tuscany: My friends over there took me to a hidden-away little village in the mountains around Lucca, to a vast beautiful garden full of Camellia –  hundreds and hundreds of Camellia on descending terraces. From the tea Camellia (yes, tea leaves are actually from a Camellia plant, the Camelia Sinensis) to Camellias from all over the world. The word paradise comes to mind, even more so because it was just us, the flowers, and the forests around (and thousands of bees having the time of their life dancing aaround pink, red, white blossoms).

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5 things I will miss about Montreal

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6 days, and I’ll be gone from Montreal! Back to Berlin, where I’ll hopefully be welcomed by 20+ (Celsius), by my friends and lovely flat and so many other things – but that’s for next week. Now, it is all about saying good-bye to Montreal, and the things I loved here. To sum it up? This is what I’ll miss most:

The light. The very special bright light and sunny days of Motreal, even in worst winter. German winter may not be as cold, but it is way more dark, overcast, DEPRESSING. Here, it often is winter out of fairy tales, and now in march even if there is still snow, the light is already that of italian spring. Because that’s the grand trick: Montreal is on the same latitude as Venice!! So, a nortern city, southern light. Very intriguing contrast.

The amiability of people in public space. America. Everyone who knows Berliln knows that this is really not something we can pride ourself with, in general. Welcome back subway pushers, harsh bus drivers, arrogant or simply not up-showing shop assistants. Not to forget the whole frustrated, and very openly bahaving so, after-work-crowd in trains and stations. I’ll miss my good-bye-and-thank-you-to-the-driver!

The big river – I love cities that gather around an important, importing river, port cities, connected to the world by a stream – this is the case of Montreal as well as of Hamburg or Antwerpen, and it was great to have the large St. Laurent waters, the big bridges and the islands and the Old Port and all the history of a port and commerce city just some footsteps ago.

The Bixie bikes – Public bicycles, same system as in Paris or New York, powered by the city (and not, as in Germany, only by private companies). You subscribe for a small fee for the whole season and have a 30-minutes free ride everytime you take a bike (you can also simply switch bike after 30 minutes). Bicycle stations are everywhere in the city, love the independence to have a bike whenever and whereever I want!

Grown-up bars – bars with a mix of all ages, from well-dressed after-work pals to youngsters just going out, all that in a stylish ambiance – in many Berlin districts it still is all about VERY different publics in different places, and most places are rather youngster-ish, second-hand-style or, to the contrary, just too posh – difficult to find the thing just in-between.