Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Favorite cities revisited: London and Paris

I dont want this blog to become a repetition of the same thoughts over and over. But it is so wonderful to be able to feel the same way now than I did 15 or 20 years ago!

My 'romance' with Paris and London -- definitely my favorite cities in the world-- continues. And on the trip I just took (my plane was the LAST to be able to leave Heathrow airport on Thursday April 15th at 10am. barely 1 hour before the airport was closed for 6 horrible days -- thus averting a terrible end for my vacation!) I once again realized that if I had the money and the freedom to do it, I would live in both cities...Maybe 4 months in London....4 months in Paris...2 months in New York ..1 month in Miami...and 1 month discovering new places.

What a glorious life that would be!

Since I cannot do that ---a trip to London and Paris at least once a year is such a necessary pleasure! Now I dont have to 'do the tourist sites' anymore (although I sometimes do) --and can spend my time a little more laid back and relaxed.

Like when last week I sat for 1 hour in a great leather chair at Claridge's amazing Art-Deco lobby, as I waited for my daughter to join me there after a business meeting she had with some English lawyers. It was heaven! First because my daughter was such an accomplished professsional which fille me with pride -- and second because I was surrounded by such beauty and refinement and seing such elegant men and women around me. I sat there, stylishly (and discreetly) dressed with my Burberry jacket and quite undisturbed enjoyed each minute of my wait.

We later had amazing tea at the tea room at the rotonda, admired once again its green and white striped china and its rare center lamp- and afterwards visited the beautiful art/deco bathroom off the hotel lobby -- which is a real jewel! -- and said hello to sweet Constanza, the portuguese attendant whom I see on every visit. We then left through the side hotel door into the street, the one with the awning that says "Gordon Ramsay Restaurant" -- and soon we were (mostly) window shopping on nearby New Bond St. where MC bought herself a gret black Burberry trench and a fabulous pair of gold shoes reduced to 69 pounds!

Although I have stayed at magnificent London hotels like The Dorchester, The Lanesborough and The Mandarin --for some reason I have never stayed at Claridge's --but make a point to visit it every year. It is the most exquisite hotel in London by far.

Why do I like London and Paris so much, some might wonder? First of all, I travel on British Airways Club Class and this makes all the difference in the world. Punctual, polite, with such professionalism and great service, it never fails and it's the perfect beginning for any vacation.

Later, when I arrive in London and Paris I love the deep sense of refinement and culture that is at the core of both cities.

New York is great but lately I find it has deteriorated a lot --and the people seem to be loud, brash, rude and lacking genuine qualities because when they are refined and cultured, many times they are just too snobbish --plus superficial and fake. It is sad to feel this way but these feelings have been happening to me in the last year.

London is much more 'organic' and so great when one loves History. And the buildings talk to you about centuries passed in such a natural way. All is just 'there'...I feel it as a 'masculine' city --with old world style, tradition and a sober grayish palette in every stones, interrupted by the greenest of parks --and the most amazing new art galleries and trendy restaurants...And Paris is so very beautiful! Amazingly femenine and coquettish. Everything one buys is beautifully wrapped with bows and sweet little boxes. This is such a treat! A perfect city to walk, to wonder around, to sit and watch the people. Lots of young people it seems!

Although I love to walk in the more artistic and quaint St Germain and the Marais, I love staying in the Right Bank, near Place Vendome, at the gorgeous Le Meurice, with its silver and white new decoration by Phillipe Starck hand in hand with its old world elegance. The hotel has become such a great looking place -- and without any doubt, is the best hotel of Paris. For me is a 'privilege' to stay there. Actually, I wish I could 'live' there!
I always tell my friends that if they cannot afford to stay in these amazing grand hotels, they should definitely visit them and have tea or a drink in the late afternoon. Le Meurice's Dali Room is perfect for that --and a visitor could understand 'the experience' just sitting there for one hour ---as one sips tea or a cocktail.

These small experiences are the 'moments' that make cities and travels so deliciously wonderful. I treasure all of them. From the most refined and stylish, to the more simple ones --as it is eating the best fallafel in the world at As du Fallafel in the Marais --which my daughter and I do, without fail, on each visit to Paris. And to me, these very special moments --is 'the idea' behind travelling. The reason to leave home, embrace a new sense of adventure -- and enter a new world, if only for a few days.