Saint Valentine – Love is in the Air

                                           Lovers always remember romantic moments in their life; a gondola ride in Venice, a candelight dinner on the Piazza Navona in Rome, a waltz at the Emperor’s ball in Vienna or a glorious sunset at Punta Karena on the island of Capri. My notion of romance is stealing kisses in Paris, along the Seine, in the shadow of century-old doorways, on a bench in the Gardens of Luxembourg, or in the back of a French Café.  

Several years ago, while walking the streets of Paris, I came across a little book entitled Où s’embrasser à Paris, “Where to kiss in Paris,” by Thierry Soufflard. This charming booklet gathers places, times and seasons during which it is pleasant to kiss in the Capital. Train platforms are the most romantic places where kisses get lost in the crowd, masked by moving trains. Faculties and schools are perfect grounds too. Lovers kiss between lessons.

My favorite place is at the tip of the island de la Cité, in the Parc du Vert Galant, named after king Henri IV. He kissed at least a dozen mistresses there. Next time you visit Paris, stroll along the park. The view from this spot is also memorable.  

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The Amazing Amalfi Coast

It is certainly no secret that the Amalfi Coast in Southern Italy is one of the most beautiful places in Europe. Timeworn villages clinging to vertical cliffs, scores of hairpin turns along the SS163 Costiera, deep blue Tyrrhenian waters lapping against secluded beaches and glorious romantic sunsets are a few of the vivid memories I have of the area. And, of course, the wonderful people I met during each of my visits. Many have found their way into my book Gelato Sisterhood on the Amalfi Shore.

I will present the book and the Amalfi Coast from 7 to 8:30pm, Thursday, February 9, at the Tigard Public Library, 13500 SW Hall Blvd. Books will be available for sale and signing. In the meantime, you will find Gelato Sisterhood on the Amalfi Shore at Annie Bloom, Graham, Powell’s and Wallace bookstores as well as on Amazon.com.

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Negotiating Roundabouts

Happy 2012!

I hope everyone had a great start to the year. I’ve been a little delayed in posting as I had to readjust myself to the West Coast time difference.  9 hours to be exact. It takes me about a week. I have also been busy with new travel reservations.                              This morning I could not resist taking a picture of my neighbour’s house. Winter arrived Sunday. It snowed again last night and they announce more snow tomorrow. I love the white carpet against the green of the pine trees. It looks like a black and white photo.

Since my return from Brussels, I have driven a few times to meet with clients at my favorite restaurant La Provence.  On my route are two Roundabouts. I have noticed time and time again that people don’t know how to signal at the intersection.

Roundabouts are found in many European countries. In France alone there are hundreds of them. The most famous one is in Paris, around the Arch de Triomphe. The Parisians called it l’Etoile, for seen from the sky, the intersection resembles a Star.

Roundabouts are designed to make intersections safer and more efficient for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists. There are two types of Roundabouts: single-lanes and double-lanes.

Here are the rules:

– Slow down as you approach the roundabout and watch for pedestrians in the cross walk.
– Continue toward the roundabout and look to your left as you near the yield sign at the entrance.                                                                                                                                               – Yield to the traffic already engaged in the Roundabout.                                                            – Once you see a gap in traffic, enter the circle and proceed to your exit. If there is no traffic in the roundabout, you may enter without yielding. 
– Do not switch your turning signal on as you Enter the roundabout (the driver behind you knows you are turning). Instead turn it on when you EXIT. This will inform the driver who is about enter that you are exiting. I see so many people doing the opposite.
– In a two-lane roundabout, to go straight or right, get in the right lane. To go straight or left, get in the left lane.

In Ireland, since people drive on the left side of the road, go clockwise at Roundabouts and give way to traffic coming from your right. Signal left when you are exiting.

Keep Safe.

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New Year’s Day in Belgium

In Belgium on New Year’s Day, le jour du Nouvel An or Nieuwjaarsdag, children offer greetings of good health and best wishes to their parents and grand-parents for the upcoming year. A heart-shaped vanilla cake, filled with a buttery cream and decorated with marzipan, nuts and chocolate, is traditionally eaten on the first day of the year.

Etiquette dictates the gift of a box of chocolate pralines or a small tray of vanilla cookies, topped with candied fruits, to your hosts if invite on New Year’s day. Those will be shared with freshly brewed coffee. What a splendid way to start 2012.

    Happy New Year!

 

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Noel in Brussels, Belgium

Brussels’ most famous symbol is dressed for the occasion.  Manneken Pis poses proudly for onlookers from all over the world who gasp at his size and laugh at his behavior. One of the legends associated with the toddler recounts that he had gone missing. He father found him peeing in the woods nearby.  In souvenir shops, tourists, in the capital for the holidays, purchase memorabilia of the little man on postcards, towels and pillow cases or in chocolate, marzipan and in an assortment of sweets.

 

Festivities are in full swing with the Nativity on the Grand Place, in front of the Gothic City Hall surrounded by guildhalls and with the Christmas Market in the adjacent streets.

 

 

Joyeux Noel, Gelukkig Kerstmis, Feliz Navidad, Buon Natale and Merry Christmas to all from Brussels, Belgium.

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Ciao Amalfi Book Review

Thank you so much Laura for the fantastic review you posted on your blog Ciao Amalfi.

Here is a copy.

The beautiful Amalfi Coast, travel stories, history, traditional Campania recipes and, of course, gelato – I think I fell in love with Chantal Kelly’s book Gelato Sisterhood on the Amalfi Shore before I finished reading the back cover. It was a joy to dive into the story and join Chantal Kelly as she takes readers along with her on a seven day tour in Campania, with stops in some of the region’s most iconic spots like Capri, Sorrento and the villages of the Amalfi Coast. Along the way Kelly shares a nice balance of historical details and personal anecdotes from her previous travels in Campania.

The book opens in Rome where her group of 10 women arrive to tackle jet lag while discovering some of the city’s ancient and modern treasures. On their transfer to the Sorrento Peninsula in Campania, the group stops off for a visit to explore the ruins of Pompeii. The next day they’re off to discover Campania’s ancient Greek heritage at Paestum. A brief stop at Vietri sul Mare gets the ladies in a flurry of ceramic shopping excitement, but it’s not until their third day in Campania that they get the first full taste of the Amalfi Coast’s beauty by visiting Positano.

As their travels continue to Capri, Sorrento, Ravello and Amalfi, with wine tasting in Positano and a morning cooking class in Sorrento, readers are also enticed to fall in love with this special part of southern Italy. I enjoyed reading Kelly’s stories from her travels, and loved how they reminded me time and time again of my first trip to Campania in 2007 with my mother. One of her descriptions of the Amalfi Coast particularly hit home with me, and I imagine it will for anyone who has visited here.

“The Amalfi Coast is simply spectacular, divine, stunning, fascinating, splendid and breathtaking. These adjectives are often used to describe this stretch of the Campania coastline, considered one of the most impressive in Italy, if not all Europe. However, dazzling words cannot begin to arouse the feelings that only a visit can inspire. On site, you will simply succumb to the alluring charms of the Amalfi Coast just as I did, and your sojourn, after you leave, will linger forever in your memories as one of the most wonderful in your life.” – Chantal Kelly from Gelato Sisterhood on the Amalfi Shore

One could say I’ve made a career out of doing just this. Trying to capture in words—which somehow always seem insufficient no matter how “dazzling” they are as Kelly describes them—that way in which the natural beauty and particular qualities of the Amalfi Coast change something inside of you. There is a shift, sometimes imperceptible in the moment, that you feel has changed you forever. In my case, from the moment I stepped on the tourist bus in Amalfi that sunny February day in 2007, I felt how this place had already begun to stir something deep in me that I am still discovering day by day.

Inscribed at the beginning of Gelato Sisterhood on the Amalfi Shore are the wise words of Thomas Jefferson, “One never really knows how much one is being touched by a place until one has left it.” No place in the world does this ring truer for me than the gorgeous landscapes that you’ll find on the Amalfi Coast, on the coastline surrounding Sorrento and the island of Capri. These are places that seem somehow just too beautiful to be true when you first see them. The American writer John Steinbeck captured this sentiment perfectly in an oft-quoted description of Positano written in 1953, “Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.” 

Nearly sixty years later, Kelly’s book proves that the Amalfi Coast’s allure is as strong as ever. Whether you’ve always dreamed of coming to this stunning part of southern Italy or you’ve been time and time again, you’ll enjoy joining Chantal Kelly on her journey to Campania in Gelato Sisterhood on the Amalfi Shore. And just to tempt you a little more, here’s the lovely book trailer to enjoy.

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New Book!

Check out the Gelato Sisterhood on the Amalfi Shore.  Informative and practical, filled with Chantal’s personal stories and recipes, this book will mesmerize anyone who’s ever been tempted by the undeniable charms of Italy…

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