And just like that, summer 2017 is over. Every summer feels more poignant now that the girls are older. These days, it seems that I’m always counting how many more years I’ve got with them before they leave the coop. This way of thinking may be a bit harsh and melodramatic but it’s my way of of facing the sad truth — that the remaining time I have with my daughters is brief and I should make the most of now.
The girls started school this week, both of them at the end of a milestone — grade school and middle school. But before we headed back to the rhythm of things and harsh realities, we spent Labor Day weekend in Mystic, Connecticut. To those of you who are familiar with Mystic, the photos here will be familiar with scenes of ships, boats and Mystic Aquarium.
Hope you’re having a great week!
An old Viking ship
Place of worship
Charles Morgan, a true whaling ship that sailed from 1841-1921. Actually got to go inside this vessel!
Typically, before we head back to the US after our monthlong sojourn in France, we spend a couple of days in Paris. The girls now deem it as a tradition before returning back home. The trip usually includes going to a favorite Indian restaurant and seeing an exhibit at one of the museums, though I must say we just keep going back to Centre Pompidou in the last few years with their exciting focus on modernist artists such as Twombly, Klee, Magritte and Lichtenstein. In order to keep things fresh, we also try to bring the girls to a part of Paris they have not been to during prior trips so they can get to know the city further.
As the girls get older, I start to wonder how they’ll feel about Paris when they are in their 20s and 30s. Will they see Paris the same way their parents do? Will they feel that they leave a part of themselves behind whenever they return back to the US? Will they come back to Paris and Normandy we stop footing their travel expenses? Hmm, I guess time will tell…
One of my favorite towns near us in Normandy is Honfleur, a place I’ve written about quite often on this space. Its early association with artists like Claude Monet, Eugene Boudin and Erik Satie continue to this day as the town carries on the tradition of featuring innovative artists in its galleries and lively musicians on its streets. A few Saturdays ago, the town hosted “La Nuit des Artistes” or Artists’ Night where all sort of performances, most at no charge, were available to the public. There were gospel choir singing, opera on one of the main courtyards, pantomiming as well as sculptures and artwork in plein air. I think there’s no better way than an event like this to make art less intimidating and more accessible to everyone — young and old, novice and experienced alike. The more access we all have to art, the more it will be a part of our daily lives. Do you agree? Wish we have more events like this one in the US…
We recently spent a week in Formentera, Spain. Not as popular as its flashy island sister, Ibiza, the island of Formentera has been some sort of creative haven since the sixties and seventies. The island had been refuge for Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell at different points in their artistic lives and architect Philippe Starck has a house near Cap de Barbaria.
The thing that I love most about Formentera is its rugged beauty that refuses over commercialization. You won’t see hotel or retail chains on the island. Most of the shops and restaurants that we went to have that artisanal feel that’s rare in most summer beach destinations.
Here are some highlights of our vacation….
Hippie Market at El Pilar de Mola
View from the Blue Bar
Lighthouse from Cap de Barbaria, southernmost part of island where Africa isn’t too far away
Church in Sant Francesc, one of the main towns
Some of the things we did that I recommend doing while in Formentera…
- Seeing sunset at Sa Sequi restaurant, one of the best views on the island
- Eating at the hippie chic Blue Bar where the food is yummy and the view is amazing
- Renting a boat and going to Illa Espalmador, only accessible by boat and has the clearest water I’ve ever seen
- Going to Platja Migjorn for the beach and Illetes for the scene
- Seeing the lighthouse in Cap de Barbaria and hippie market in El Pilar de la Mola
- Shopping in Sant Francesc’s town center
We’re slowly settling back to our house in Normandy. It’s funny how things have gotten easier over the years as we develop our habits and ways in going about our time here. After 14 years, we now know where to go for mundane things we take for granted at home in the US like where to get the best produce, bread, pastries and even simple things (think nails and paint) to mend the house. The good thing about settling in fast is the we’re also able to enjoy all the great things that Normandy offers.
One of the first things we did when we got here is visit the city of Le Havre, which is celebrating its 500th year. Imagine that…500 years! Much has happened in the city’s history but one of the most critical ones is the devastation Le Havre encountered during World War II. There’s much hype about the movie Dunkirk right now and its role during the war but Le Havre is also another French town that played a major role during that period. It took architect Auguste Perret’s great modernist vision post-war to develop what the city is today. Le Havre indeed feels like no other French city with all its modern buildings and architecture. I used to hate its utilitarian sort of feel but it’s only through learning Perret’s vision vis-a-vis the city’s history that I learned to appreciate this place.
Most of the art installations below were created for the city’s milestone anniversary…
MuMa Le Havre
Street Art by Vincent Ganivet
Le Volcan designed by Oscar Niemeyer in 1982
Art at St. Joseph church designed by Chiharu Shihota that symbolizes spiritual awakening
Work by Lang/Baumann to resemble doors that open to the sea