Posts Tagged 'travel'

Refilling the Well + Return to France*

Any guesses where I am? It *is* a return to French territory.

Any guesses where I am? It *is* a return to French territory.

Right after my writing residency at the Kerouac House I went on a road trip. It only seemed fitting after spending a full season in Jack’s house.

From New Orleans to Baton Rouge, NYC to San Juan, I’ve had a lot of fun before finally returning to French territory…though it’s probably not where you think.

400 palm trees line L'Allée du Manoir

(Literally) on the road: 400 palm trees line L’Allée du Manoir

I bounce between periods of recording life in my notebook and of living it. Rather than worry as I used to when not putting pen to paper consistently (maybe I’ll never write again!) I instead embrace these periods as an important part of the process.

I just enjoyed 3 months of uninterrupted solo time to focus on my creative work. What I’ve done since is travel, experiencing new places, meeting old friends and making new ones. Planting the seeds for new stories. Refilling the well.

It’s a lot to encapsulate, but here are a few snapshots:

Continue reading ‘Refilling the Well + Return to France*’

Parc Floral de Paris

“Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break
Into blossom.”

-from “A Blessing” by James Wright

Lake and red and yellow flowers at the Parc Floral, Paris

Lake and ambitious flowers at the Parc Floral, Paris

This past weekend I stumbled into the Parc Floral. It was something of a spontaneous trip; it was not the original destination, but then it just appeared.

It seemed a bit of serendipity, too, as it had been suggested by the winner of the Quiet Paris giveaway. (Thank you everyone for entering and for your great ideas!) I’ve been to the Bois de Vincennes before, but for some reason never wandered to that part.

It was indeed quiet – an oasis! I think it may have helped that it was chilly again (witness the winter clothes in the photos) so not many people were out. Add that to the tips for finding tranquility: brave the gray and cold!

Presenting the Parc Floral de Paris

Presenting the Parc Floral de Paris

Despite the weather, I do feel as if I’m blooming again. So many new things are happening; I’m holding tight to see how things evolve.

Last week I started a new job; it’s only a short-term contract for a couple months, but I’m full time in an office again. It’s been a few years! I’m excited about the content project, but I see long days ahead. Because of course as soon as I’m back to the 9-5 I have a million creative projects clamoring for my love.

May is a great time to start work, though – there are four holidays in the month! First one is tomorrow. Vive la France!

Flowers at Parc Floral

And so, already the weekend, and what a wonderful surprise it turned out to be. I went wandering with my new beau (yes! more newness!) and think the Parc Floral may now be a favorite.

TropicalParcFloral

It was lovely and lush, even with full spring still lagging behind. My favorite part: the trees. At certain moments I felt as if I were in a magical forest.

MagicalWoodsParcFloral

There were waterfalls and waterfowl, totems and bonsai trees. Even peacocks which I never knew sound like strange distressed cats (meow!)

Continue reading ‘Parc Floral de Paris’

Long Weekend in London

Sion Dayson in London phone booth

Well, hello there

Paris is so well situated that jetting off is always tempting. You know how much I like getting away.

Somehow, though, I had never taken advantage of the easiest escape route ever: the Eurostar!

I’ve now rectified that oversight.

In less than two and a half hours I was whisked from the land of wine and cheese to the one of fish and chips.

Of course, London offers much more than that. Between my taste for offbeat adventures and an unconventional guide, I had quite a random visit. Here are a few highlights:

I stumbled into London Fashion Week!

Kokon To Zai fashion show - London Fashion Week 2012

Kokon To Zai fashion show

London Fashion Week

Somerset House

Browsed in Europe’s largest bookstore! (Foyles)

Foyle's Bookshop in London

Continue reading ‘Long Weekend in London’

End of Summer Mantra (and the Return to Paris)

A decorated street during Festa Major de Gracia

Paris has welcomed me back with sunshine. It’s warm and glorious and everything it wasn’t when I left. This makes my reluctant return after nearly 2 months in Spain easier.

I offer this idyllic image first because my journey home last night looked like this:

Continue reading ‘End of Summer Mantra (and the Return to Paris)’

A Spanish Fourth

Hooray palm tree!

Happy Fourth of July to those in the States!

I’ll admit I nearly forgot it was Independence Day. I’ve been in Barcelona since Sunday (where shouts of GOL! greeted me upon arrival; Spain won the Euro 2012 championship) and been deep into Spanish fever (in the good way) since.

I’ve been zipping all over town trying to get my bearings as I’ll soon be playing tour guide. I already have the crazy tan lines to prove all my trekking (yay, sunshine!)

I’m also speaking a strange mix of FranSpanglish (French + Spanish + English) as my brain tries to get up to speed. I was surprised when our faculty meeting this week was conducted almost entirely in Spanish – and even more surprised that I actually understood most of what was going on. Wow, it’s been 14 years since I studied in Mexico; I haven’t used Spanish much since. Words long buried are starting to rise up again.

Still, I open my mouth and French is the first thing on my tongue. It’s always interesting to return to the limbo of linguistic confusion.

Tomorrow I wake up bright and early to welcome students at the airport. I can’t wait to meet the students in my class!

Not sure how often I’ll be checking in this month, but just wanted to say hello. And send some sunshine your way in case you need it.

Bright colors in La Boqueria

Taking in art at the MACBA

Parque de la Ciutadella

Gardens at the University of Barcelona

University of Barcelona

Can’t get over those palm trees

There and Back with a Bang!

Sunny Central Park and Jumping Girl with Umbrella

Paris! I’ve returned!

Yes, after a month’s sojourn Stateside I’m back in the City of Light.

But just what was I doing away for so long?

Well, falling back in love with my American home, to be honest.

Late Night Mexican Street Food on the Lower East Side

The trip stirred up a lot of feelings for me. Just when I thought I was settled (and incredibly satisfied!) in Paris, New York had to go and work her old charm on me.

Oh, this. THIS.

That was my reaction as soon as I stepped back into the city. I was flooded with my overwhelming love for the place: the energy, diversity, the possibilities just teeming in the streets.

Never thought a bagpipe could be a viable “jam” instrument, but I was proven wrong in Union Square. I have video, too!

Continue reading ‘There and Back with a Bang!’

From Picturesque Streets to Pickpockets – A Long Weekend in Prague

While I love Paris, one of my favorite parts about living here is the number of possibilities for leaving. In under two hours I can find myself in a totally foreign city, an adventure in a new destination awaiting (Barcelona! Berlin! Rome! Madrid!)

That’s how last weekend I found myself in Prague, walking its cobblestone streets and confronting the most confounding language I’ve heard yet. What’s even cooler is that I got to meet my parents there, thus continuing our tradition of planning reunions in worldly cities (last year it was Istanbul).

The flight to Prague was only an hour and twenty minutes. I arrived safely after chatting with my very interesting seatmate (former nightclub promoter now dealing in “African commodities,” anyone? Hmm…there’s a lot more to that story).

I’ve gotten so used to the convenient euro zone, I had to remember to change currency. Conversion to the Czech crown took some calculation (1 euro is about 25 crowns; 1 dollar about 19). Easy enough to exchange, though, and even easier to make my way into the city. I love straightforward public transport! A bus directly in front of the terminal dropped us directly in front of a metro – it’s speedy and clean!

And when I came out from underground…well, I was kind of in a wasteland.

Continue reading ‘From Picturesque Streets to Pickpockets – A Long Weekend in Prague’

In Love with Istanbul

Cruising along the Bosphorous

Sometimes when I travel I feel as if I’ve just lived an entirely different life. Of course, we travel for new experiences and to immerse ourselves in other cultures.

But I mean there are a few instances where I sink into the new place so deeply it feels as if it’s become my whole reality. An inexplicable feeling grabs hold; I’m full with the sense that some part of me belongs even as everything is also foreign and unknown.

Ceiling of the Blue Mosque

On rare occasions – Paris was such a case – this feeling does presage a new life.

It’s been awhile, though, since I’ve felt thus transported.

Well, add Istanbul to the list. I can’t believe I was only there for a week; it felt like its own small lifetime. It helped, I’m sure, that 1) I was with my family so I truly was with people from my “real” life and 2) we had an extraordinary homebase that made us feel like we already had family there.

I don’t usually stay in hotels when I travel. I couchsurf, stay with friends, do apartment swaps – these feel like they put me in closer connection to the true city.

For our reunion, though, I wanted to join my family where they were comfortable and we chose a modest hotel in Sultanahmet in the Old City. We couldn’t have chosen better.

View from Hotel Peninsula

It’s no luxury experience. No. It’s a basic hotel but it has Ruhat at reception who by the end of the week was part of our clan. When I had to move for the final day, in fact (I stayed an extra day alone and the hotel was full), I still used Hotel Peninsula as my base and felt as welcomed as if I lived there. The man who served breakfast each morning literally told me I was family now. He looked as if he was going to give me a hug when I left.

And that’s sort of how the whole week felt: like an intimate, familial gathering – no matter that we were strangers.

We stayed mainly in our area, which, yes, is very touristy. We barely scratched the surface of the big, sprawling city. But when the Blue Mosque, Aya Sofya, Topkapi Palace, and the Grand Bazaar are all a stone’s throw from your hotel, it’s hard to get further out at first – so much to see on every corner!

None of those sites are what did it for me, though. (To tell the truth, I had to flee the Grand Bazaar and felt a bit let down by Topkapi). No, it was the vibe of Istanbul that drew me in. Laid-back, friendly, international, intriguing.

We hopped on a ferry to Asia one day in what has to be the easiest inter-continental commute in the world (and only 1.75 lira to boot). Cats roamed everywhere – over ancient ruins, rooftops, cobblestone streets. The Muslim call to prayer rang out 5 times daily, punctuating time with a strangely beautiful soundtrack.

Business, socializing, wooing were all conducted over tea – I can’t count the number of complimentary cups I was offered.

A grungy, cosy nightclub with a view played French, Spanish, American, Turkish, and gypsy music and a relaxed international crowd (no dress code) got down. Bustling crowds at Taksim Square bristled with energy. This might be the easiest way to say it then: Istanbul is alive.

Continue reading ‘In Love with Istanbul’

Aix and Back

Still flowers in October down here

When I last left you with my continuing saga of foiled travel plans, I had not yet made it down to Aix-en-Provence due to a cancelled train. (Rule #1 during a strike: prepare to change original itinerary at a moment’s notice).

I was able to get on a train easily the next day (along with the entire waiting area of Gare de Lyon apparently). However, 5 minutes from pulling into Aix’s train station, we stopped abruptly. “A man on the tracks,” we were informed. A half hour later, the conductor further explained that the man was “putting himself in danger.”

Authorities from first the SNCF, then the police, then the firemen were called “to reason” with the man (wow, the euphemisms!) An hour and a half of reasoning later, people on the train were starting to lose it, too. Continue reading ‘Aix and Back’

Keeping Count

Not that we’re keeping track or anything, but tomorrow will be the fourth day of strikes/protest against French pension reform in a month’s time. On a personal note, it’s the second time in a month that my travel plans have been foiled because of it. (Ok, maybe I am keeping count).

I do realize that the world doesn’t revolve around me, but really? What is up with my choosing departure days that ultimately mean I cannot depart?

No, no, really. I don’t mind. Aix-en-Provence? Who needs it?

Gare du Nord (I refuse to be stranded again!)

So my train has been cancelled for tomorrow. On the upside, at least I already know about it. And I have options! I was on an iDTGV, which is supposed to be like the younger, cooler version of the TGV. (You know, like there are DJ’s or something – even speed dating on some routes! I’m kind of not kidding, either).

Anyway, I’ll give them props for letting me know ahead of time – and for making sure I don’t need to lift a finger to get reimbursed. It’s automatic. Ok, this I will applaud.

There are other trains running that day and I’m allowed to try to get on any of them for free either Tuesday or Wednesday.

Honestly, folks, I don’t really feel much like trying to make my way to the train station on a strike day and “hoping” I can board another one. Or waiting around said train station if one is full and hope for the next. Or waking up at 5 AM to catch the early train that no one else wants to catch.

I think I will just wait until Wednesday – or just go some other time. It’s an easy trip (um, when there’s not a strike, that is).

Plus, I should not admit this, but here goes: I have an electrician coming tomorrow now and I’m waiting for some important documents in the mail, so it kind of works out. Yes, I’m choosing domestic drudgery and a postal delivery over Aix-en-Provence. This is what it has come to.

I do feel much better that I am returning to the original spirit of this blog, though. This is my glam life in Paris, folks. Jealous yet?

Bookmark and Share


paris (im)perfect?

Sion Dayson is paris (im)perfect. Writer, dreamer, I moved to France on – no exaggerating – a romantic whim. As you can imagine, a lot can go wrong (and very right!) with such a (non)plan. These are the (im)perfect stories that result.

Share the love!

Bookmark and Share

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 3,996 other followers

Follow siondayson on Twitter


easyJet Holidays Paris City Break
Expat Blog website
Expat Women website
Protected by Copyscape Plagiarism Checker
Worldette – Ignite your travel life, make a difference, have fun!
© 2010-18 Copyright Sion Dayson ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

%d bloggers like this: