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Christmas Markets 2016

NYC & Berlin

Some of my earliest memories took place in New York City, especially at Christmas time. I was born and lived in the Bronx, and my father’s business was on 35th Street in mid-town Manhattan, the part of the city that I’ve known and loved all my life. It wasn’t until I was older that I discovered Soho, the Village, Central Park, Museum Mile, the High Line, and all of the other places I grew to love. For me, 30 West 35th Street was the center of New York. It was the perfect location nestled between 5th and 6th Avenues, next to the back entrance of Orbach’s department store. Orbach’s is long gone, (it’s now a Banana Republic) along with B. Altman’s, Gimbels, and FAO Schwarz, the toy store with the foot piano featured in the movie BIG. 30West.jpg
Every year at Christmas my family would visit all the windows. Very few are left: Macy’s, Lord and Taylor, Saks Fifth Avenue and a couple of others remain and are worth seeing, especially now with all the available technology. Now, the windows are interactive and dazzling. Back then, we would visit the windows, shop, leave our packages at my father’s store and go to eat. Our favorite restaurant, also long gone, was Mamma Leone’s where we would eat until we could not eat anymore. And then we would have warm zeppole, dripping with powdered sugar. To this day, no one has ever made it better, in my opinion. ChryslerBldg.jpg
Just a few blocks away from 30 West 35th, I met Patience and Fortitude, the stone lions who still guard the greatest public library in the world. Near the library is Bryant Park, which was not someplace to go back then. It harbored homeless people and drugs and just wasn’t safe. Now, it’s a destination. Every year the park hosts one of the city’s holiday markets as well as an ice-skating rink and a tree. It’s become part of my new traditions, in addition to visiting the amazing Rockefeller Center tree.
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Last week, I went to Bryant Park to the Christmas market. Inspired by the European markets, the vendors there have a wide array of hand made and home made products and you never know what you're going to find. If you go, you are not only supporting small businesses and artisans, you can find unique products like the truffle honey I found.

A few days ago, one of the Christmas markets in Berlin was attacked and shoppers were killed. There was talk of closing all the German markets for the rest of the season. They decided to reopen and yesterday wary shoppers returned. As someone who lives close enough to NYC that I saw the cinders and ash from the Twin Towers when they fell, and as someone who was in Paris during both the Charlie Hebdo and the Bataclan attacks, I’ve thought about fear and terror quite a bit. Fear is real. All over the world there have been irrational, horrific, sometimes random attacks in unexpected places like Nice, a beautiful beach town. Whether I go to New York, to Paris, or to a movie theater, I have decided that if I stop traveling, if I give in to fear, they—whoever they are—-have won. If markets close, if I cower in my home, if I choose fear, then I lose out on so much. And that is not acceptable.

Posted by teethetrav 08:17 Archived in USA Tagged paris berlin nyc macy's christmas_markets bryant_park charlie_hebdo orbach's fao_schwarz bataclan mamma_leone patience_fortitude b.altman's lord&taylor Comments (0)

Pray for Paris

November 13, 2015

As by now everyone knows, Paris was assaulted last night by cowards who murdered and maimed innocent people. As an American who lives a train ride from NYC and watched that city change forever, I know there are no words to say today that will make sense or make anyone feel better. But Parisians are tough birds, like New Yorkers. They are out this morning doing their Saturday chores in my neighborhood, which is not a touristic part of the city. They are not hiding in their homes and cowering in fear. If they do, the terrorists win. The mood is somber, but determined.
Everywhere I've gone during the past month I've been here, people have spoken about their concerns over ISIS and world events. The conversations didn't prevent what happened, of course, but at least people here don't pretend everything around them is fine when it clearly is not.
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Posted by teethetrav 04:48 Archived in France Tagged paris terror Comments (1)

Paris Markets: Part 6

Sundays in Paris

Another Sunday; another market to explore. I'm going to run out of Sundays long before I run out of markets. To add to my challenge, next week many of the Christmas markets will open. No big surprise, but I have a list of my must visit markets. Even if it doesn't feel the least bit like Christmas is near since the weather has been go-out-without-a-jacket warm.

This Sunday I went to the Marche Raspail, also known as the Marche Biologique since each food vendor has to be certified as only producing and selling organic products. I went with low expectations, but ended up thrilled. This is one market I have to come back to. Since it only exists on Sundays, that presents a problem if I'm to visit all the markets on my list. So many markets. So little time.
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The market is several blocks long and has a wonderful array of food and clothing vendors. There are no bargains here, as you can find at some other markets. But the clothes are beautiful with an array of hats, cashmere scarves, linens, and beautifully made baby clothes. The colors of the flowers and the vegetables make me wish I knew how to paint.
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As I walked through the stalls, the aromas were seductive. Fresh crepes, breads, olives, the usual chickens slowly turning on the rotisserie, sausages, sun-dried tomatoes, quiches, fresh pasta, and the always tempting cheeses. My favorite stand had olives, tapenade, fresh pasta and an assortment of artichokes.
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I go early to the markets to avoid the crowds and to leave the rest of the day for wandering. Sundays, it seems, there is always something going on and something new to see. Last Sunday, the same day as the New York marathon, there was a race through the streets and along the Seine. There were also people showing off their roller skating skills, including this Bill Murray look alike.
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It was a lovely, clear day and the view of Notre Dame and its flying buttresses (I love that phrase) from the Pont St. Louis was spectacular. Sundays go by quickly. Although, at the end of the day I have all that amazing food I bought at the market waiting.
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Posted by teethetrav 03:39 Archived in France Tagged paris notre_dame pont-neuf paris_markets bill_murray raspail_marche marche_biologique Comments (0)

Perfume in Paris

Fragonard Perfume Museum

I adore perfume. I find scents seductive and, of course, they are designed to seduce. We all seem to be attracted to different types of fragrance; florals, orientals, fruits and naturals for example. To make perfume even more interesting, scents smell differently on each person due to body chemistry. I have no idea what attracts me to a perfume. There are many scents which I can barely tolerate. But the few scents I'm attracted to are addictive. And I love discovering a new scent.

If you are a perfume lover (or eaux de toilette for men) The Fragonard Perfume Museum is a perfect way to spend an hour or so, in my opinion. Across the street from the Opera Garnier, the Museum is entirely free. At the end of the tour, you are invited to sample scents and make purchases at factory prices, but there is no obligation to buy. Of course I did, but several people in my little group left without sampling the scents and no one was made to feel guilty.operahouse.jpg

Guided tours are provided as soon as anyone shows up. They are given in English, French, Chinese, and I suppose in whatever other language you may speak. The museum is now is its new location where it opened in October, 2015. Your guide provides a brief history of perfume, bottles, and an explanation of how perfumes are made, beginning with how the flowers are cultivated. Many are still picked by hand which explains why perfume is so costly. Of course, there are different levels of scent ranging from perfume--the best--down to eau de cologne; the weakest. Most perfumes are kept in beautifully designed glass bottles. According to my guide, glass only keeps the scent for up to two years. Fragonard uses metal which, they claim, keeps the scent up to six years. I'm sure I'll use mine up by then, so I'll never know. There are fascinating artifacts and old perfume bottles inside the museum, but you are not allowed to take photos inside.
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One fascinating detail I learned about was the job of the "nez". There are only 50 expert "noses." Most are in France. These all people who have an instinctive heightened ability to smell different scents, but their gift must be trained for up to six years.

You can only sniff about five scents at one time before your sense of smell gets lost. For me, the clear stand out was Belle Cherie, one of the florals. 90_mychoice.jpg

Posted by teethetrav 05:14 Archived in France Tagged paris nez the_nose fragonard museum_of_perfume free_things_todo_in_paris Comments (0)

Paris Markets Part 3

St. Eustache Les Halles

Les Halles was a legendary market that no longer exists. It was once the most popular and thriving market in Paris. The area now is a combination of old and new. The architecturally controversial Pompidou Center straddles one side of this district and an enormous construction project is smack in the middle of Les Halles across from the ancient St. Eustache Church which dates back to the 1500s.
I caught the market on a quiet afternoon. Many of the stands were open, but the vendors weren't even visible. There were clothes stands, fish and meat, and a cheese stand that had a wonderful sample of many different hard and soft cheeses. Of course I bought some along with my baguette. This market is not far from my apartment, so I'll go back for more cheese and see if there are more vendors on a different day. This seemed sparse considering the history and reputation of the original Les Halles.
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The beautiful window displays at E. Dehillerin, an amazing cookware store, were my favorite part of this walk. Sadly, I can only look not buy. But I'm wondering if they ship. I think a copper pot would look perfect in my kitchen.

Posted by teethetrav 05:10 Archived in France Tagged markets paris les_halles paris_markets st._eustace_church st_eustace_market Comments (0)

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