Morocco meets India Henna Party

February 27th, 2013

Its always fun to create Henna and Sangeet  parties because there are so many colors and  themes you can do. For this party we used  traditional Indian colors of yellow and red and  brought in a few tents and low wooden  furniture and lanterns to give the Moroccan  feel. The tents were made to look like bazaars  and the guests were able to go inside to  discover a plethora of fruit, arabic tea served  and henna artists ready to design beautiful  patterns on the ladies hands.

Paris, Day 2

February 12th, 2013

[caption id="attachment_5455" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Cold and Rainy day"][/caption] 11am:  When we came out of the hotel, it started drizzling and that drizzle turned in to steady rain. [caption id="attachment_5439" align="alignleft" width="259" caption="St Augustin church"][/caption] 11:30 am-  We decided to skip breakfast and went for lunch at Le Carre’.  The restaurant is two Michelin Star and is located right by the famous church St. Augustine.  We were given a window seat and it was almost surreal to watch this amazing and imposing structure that was more than 300 years old.  People were walking at a fast pace with umbrellas, smoking, riding bikes and some carrying groceries. Parisiannes definitely do not like rain and cold weather as we heard a lot of people complaining incessantly.  I wanted to savor the sights and take it all in and therefore just sat at the window analyzing the difference in life style, culture and people between Paris and LA.  Lunch was a huge disappointment considering the fact it is such as famous restaurant. Perhaps it was the particular food we ordered or they just believe in very bland meals, needless to say my husband was very unhappy. [caption id="attachment_5446" align="alignleft" width="540" caption="Le Grand Palais"][/caption] 1pm:  Decided to walk towards Champs Elysees to see Grand Palais.  I had been infatuated with the Chanel Fashion Show "From Paris to Bombay" that had taken place at Grand Palais a few years ago and wanted to check out the museum from inside. Luckily there was no line and we were able to go inside very quickly.  The Petit Palais houses a significant collection of decorative murals and artwork created between 1903 and 1925.  We spent a couple of hours looking at the sculptures, paintings, furniture and walking around the museum and had a lovely time. Since there was no agenda and we were just discovering the city, we came upon Museum of Fragrance by House of Fragonard.   This was something I had to go and see.  They have been producing perfumes, eaux de toilette and perfumed products in their labs using the traditional methods of French Perfumeries.  The exhibition was very interesting and showed in great detail how House of Fragonard has been making perfumes since 1926. It was a very informative trip and the shop downstairs has all the perfumes, soaps, lotions and candles etc for sale.  The museum also happens to be right across from L’Opera which is a stunning building. [caption id="attachment_5454" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Fragonard Boutique"][/caption] From here, we walked to Place Madeleine which is one of my favorite churches.  Not only is the architecture from outside and inside is awesome, it is also located on one of the most busy and beautiful boulevards of Paris. Upon ascending the stairs, you have the full view of the beautiful street dotted with designer boutiques and in front is Place de la Concorde.  The inside of the church is also very impressive from inside. [caption id="attachment_5468" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Place Madeleine"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_5469" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Inside the church"][/caption] 4pm-  We continued our walk and came upon a tea house which has branches in other parts of the city.  One thing different in Paris is if you are going to be ordering to eat at the establishment the price is different vs: take out price.  We got our hot tea, sandwiches and dessert and climbed upstairs to relax and enjoy.  Upstairs was packed with people chatting, reading paper, visiting or plain relaxing. When I looked outside the window,  I realized Galeries Lafayette and Printemps were across the street.  We had walked quite a bit.  Galries Lafayette is located in the heart of Paris, the flagship store on Boulevard Haussmann is considered a the second most visited attraction after the Louvre, but also the world’s leading  department store, with more than 100,000 visitors per day and 70,000 square meters of sales area. [caption id="attachment_5440" align="alignleft" width="254" caption="Galeries Lafayette"][/caption] Graced by a 100 year old neo-byzantine dome build in 1912, Galeries Lafayette offers a large selection of items in every segment, from fashion to accessories, from beauty to home decoration and fine food.  This was a perfect place to shop for gifts and souvenirs for family and friends. [caption id="attachment_5453" align="alignleft" width="319" caption="One of our favorite restaurants "][/caption] We spent a couple of hours going to various stores in search of the "perfect gift" that was requested specifically by our grand kids.  By now, we had worked up an appetite and my husband wanted to go to his favorite Pakistani/Indian Restaurant that he knew was located somewhere very close to Galeries Lafayette.  Without address, it was impossible to find the place so we decided to walk towards a hotel to inquire about the address.  As fate would have it, I looked up on our way to the hotel on one of the side streets and there it was “ Le New Bilal," the restaurant we had been looking for.  I guess it was meant to be.  The owners recognized us and welcomed us with huge smile.  We had a sumptuous meal and dessert and realized how exhausted we were around 9 pm.

Nikki’s travel diary Paris: Day 1

February 1st, 2013

On Jan 2nd, my husband surprised me with two tickets to Paris.  We were scheduled to leave on Jan 13th to make it for my birthday on Jan 14.  I was beyond excited as Paris happens to be one of my most favorite cities, if not most favorite in the world.  I was also looking forward to practicing my French that had become quite rusty due to not practicing.  We boarded the plane on the 13th for an early morning flight and  arrived in Paris on Jan 14th at 9 am. By the time we retrieved our luggage and got the taxi to go to the hotel, it was 11 am and I did not want to waste any time so out we went

Day 1

We had no specific agenda but to just discover the city on foot.  We started our walk towards Champs Elysees which was about a ten minute walk from our hotel.  The weather was cloudy and cold but it felt good to do a brisk walk.  We started by Arc de Triomphe  and walked all the way to Place de la Concorde. Since Hotel De Crillon happens to be my favorite hotel in Paris and we have stayed there on numerous occasions, we wanted to check it out.

[caption id="attachment_5358" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Hotel de Crillon"][/caption] It just so happened that the concierge recognized us and welcomed us warmly and graciously.  We decided to take our first break for tea.  The gentleman that was serving us happened to be a tea connoisseur and was not only a comedian but a very animated person.  He served us two different tea flavors, one was orange blossom and the other lavender.  We enjoyed our afternoon at De Crillon with flavorful tea and gourmet sandwiches in the most relaxed manner and hung around the hotel for a couple of hours [caption id="attachment_5359" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Tea Time at the Crillon"][/caption]

From there, we walked towards the Louvre Museum where there are tons of shops as well as my all time favorite hot chocolate spot, Angelina. This

[caption id="attachment_5361" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Angelina"][/caption]

bakery/boulangerie/brasserie has been there since early 1900's and was Coco Chanel’s favorite spot to hang out and sip hot chocolate and definitely serves the best hot chocolate.   The line outside is always very long and being that it was cold, I prayed for them to seat us quickly.  Luckily a few people decided not to wait in the cold and line became shorter.  We were seated rather quickly.  Sipping the ultimate decadent hot chocolate in the cold weather was just the right recipe and it was lovely to people watch. One amazing thing I always notice about French people is the fact they never seem to be in a hurry and can linger at brasseries, cafes for hours on end.

After an hour or so, we exited Angelina and walked back towards Hotel de Crillon to go to Rue St. Faubourg/St. Honore. This is where all the fashionable boutiques are located and the street is always buzzing with activity.  Our first stop was Hermes and I literally stopped and gasped at the window displays.   The windows had not been changed from Christmas displays and they were truly spectacular. Spot the beautiful bags, jewelry and scarves in these windows!

[caption id="attachment_5375" align="aligncenter" width="440" caption="Hermes Window"][/caption]

After Hermes, we walked and looked at some other window displays, walked inside at some of the shops in the most unhurried manner and looked at their spring/summer fashion displays.  One store I always like to go to is the flagship Louis Vuitton Store and we continued our walk towards Ave George Cinq which is where this stunning store is located.  What a magnificent building and what amazing displays!!

The location is perfect and you definitely cannot miss it. We spent some time inside and saw quite a bit of the store.  By now, we were exhausted so headed back to the hotel. On our way back, we came across the famous Laduree on Champs Elysees.   Who can resist the yummy macarons and café au lait at Laduree?  This was our last stop of the day and needless to say the pistachio and chocolate macarons with some other delicacies did not disappoint. [caption id="attachment_5386" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Tower of Macarons"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_5390" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Freshly baked every day"][/caption] Off to the hotel to rest....stay stuned for Day 2! Thank you for joining me on my travels Love, Nikki

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