A year in Europe followed by a move to Bangkok

Life In Bangkok

Moving from the US to Bangkok has been a pretty incredible experience.  If is funny because sometimes I stop and think that I could easily be in the US (like when sitting at one of Bangkok's many Starbucks).  And other times I feel like I am in an entirely different world (usually when walking down the street).  Here are some things I've learned and observations I've made about life in Bangkok.

My Impressions of Amsterdam

We got off to a bit of a rocky start in Amsterdam.  It is funny because whenever I told someone that Jake and I were going to spend nearly two months in Amsterdam, they would inevitably make a comment warning me about the prevalence of drugs or the red light district.

A Visit to Bangkok's Largest Flower Market - Pak Khlong Talat

Four dozen roses for $1.50?!?  Yes!  Doesn't that make you rethink all of your past flower purchases? However, the catch is that you have to first get yourself to Bangkok, and then make the trek to the Pak Khlong Talat flower market.

Normandy: A Few Favorites

There is something about Normandy... the landscape is lush, the colors are vibrant and the air is crisp.  From our hotel, we could drive 15 minutes and arrive in the chic seaside town of Deauville, or head 10 minutes in the other direction and be in Honfleur, a perfectly preserved fishing village.

Deauville, France

With Deauville's fabled history filled with movie stars and royalty and its reputation as a playground for France's elite, I was expecting the snooty factor to be off the charts. Instead, I found Deauville to be welcoming and a lot of fun.  Deauville came off as an almost impossibly chic seaside town brimming with pride. From the manicured gardens to the beautifully kept historic buildings and clean streets, the town of Deauville takes obvious care to ensure that its past glories continue into the future.

Burgundy: Beaune, France

Beaune was the perfect halfway point to spend the weekend during our drive from Provence to Normandy. Located in the eastern part of central France about 30 miles south of Dijon, Beaune is the wine capital of the Burgundy region and a quintessential French town. Jake said that before he visited France, this is what he pictured it to be like.  It reminded me of the French village in Disney's Beauty and the Beast.

Bangkok: Honey Toast, Goats and Mango Sticky Rice - A Walk Down Thonglor

Thonglor is one of the nicest parts of Bangkok and a lot of fun to explore.  This area seems to attract some of Bangkok's best and most creative restaurants and cafes, leading to lots of great places to try out.  Located right off of the skytrain, Thonglor is easy to reach.  Hint: Thonglor Road is also called Sukhumvit Soi 55...

Provence: Verdon Gorge

We left Cotignac a week early and got a head start on our drive to Amsterdam.  We turned it into a French road trip, with stops in Southern, Central and Northern France.  First up:  the Verdon Gorge.

Provence: Cotignac, France

I thought of three alternative titles for this post:  "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly", "It was the Best of Times, it was the Worst of Times", or "All that Glitters is not Gold."  Perhaps this offers a glimpse into my feelings about Cotignac, a picturesque Provincial village tucked in the south eastern corner of France.  I spent just under two months in Cotignac (Jake was with me for about half that time).  While I treasure my gorgeous photos of one of the most beautiful villages in France, I take comfort in the fact that I never have to go back...

San Sebastian, Spain

San Sebastian is a city of contradictions.  Sophisticated yet laid back, grand yet intimate, upscale yet unpretentious, traditional yet innovative.  San Sebastian is also one of those rare cities blessed with both natural and man made beauty, creating a stunning synergy. While the beach beckons, the true star of the show is the food.   
Around Town
The promenade along La Concha (shell) beach is charming.  There is something about a beach plopped down in the center of a city that brings with it a unique energy.  Notice the statue (of Jesus) on the hilltop.  We hiked toward this statue, but never quite saw Jesus (walking uphill is hard!) although we did see some magnificent views of the city and ocean.

48 Hours in Madrid - Day 2

I began day two by impressing Jake with my knowledge of Madrid's subway system, the Metro. I proudly showed him how to use the ticket machine, get his ticket stamped, and find the right train. Madrid's Metro system is pretty easy to use, however my biggest challenge was finding my way out of the stations.  Some are many stories underground.  At the height of my confusion, I exited a subway car, followed the signs to the exit, walked about 15 minutes through the station, and ended up right where I started.  Twice.  I made it out on my third try. The second time I went to this station, I made it out on my second try.  Progress!  However on this day with Jake, we got off at the Opera stop which didn't even pose a challenge.  I spotted that exit from a mile away.  Off to a good start.

First stop: the Royal Palace (or in Spanish, the Palacio Real).  

48 Hours in Madrid - Day 1

Jake was away for work while I stayed in Madrid and upon his return, we had two days to spend together in Madrid before heading to Provence. While he was away, I had seen and learned so much about the city, and I wanted to show him everything!  

Dinner at Gastromaquia in Madrid

A tapas adventure is the best way I can describe our dinner at Gastromaquia.  The tapas were unique and creative.  The staff could not have been nicer.  The owner came to our table and translated the entire menu into English for us, which was above and beyond.  The menu was huge, so translating the entire thing was no small undertaking.

Afternoon Tea at the Ritz in Madrid

I have always loved afternoon tea.  Miniature pastries?  Beautiful china?  Bite sized sandwiches?  Sign me up!  So, when Jake agreed to have afternoon tea with me at the Ritz in Madrid, I couldn't wait to introduce him to the ritual.