There is Never Any End to Paris

Hemingway knew about Paris and how it infiltrates you, once you’ve been there. He understood the ever-present need one has to return there, like a salmon running upstream and fighting against the current to return, to return, to return…for Paris gets into you, and calls you back. For Paris is a moveable feast hard to ignore, hard to stay away from. Hard, even, to turn away from.

A Moveable Feast, a book I return to again and again…
My treasured copy of Shakespeare and Company: A History of the Rag & Bone Shop of the Heart purchased at Shakespeare & Company in October, 2021. My favourite book!

We are returning to the magical city! Our passage is booked. We will spend a little of our September (2023) walking the streets of Paris once again. Two weeks this time. We will see the places we’ve already seen and some we missed. We will venture daily from our hotel on the outskirts of Le Marais this time. Nothing against the 9th Arrondissement (where we stayed in 2021) or Île Saint-Louis in the 4th (where I stayed in 2014)! We loved staying so close to the Moulin Rouge and Boulevard de Clichy! And I really enjoyed staying down the street from Notre-Dame! But it will be nice to stay in a different neighbourhood…experience a different vibe yet again. Besides, the Saint-Louis is only a stone’s throw from the Marais!

But this is still months away. 225 days, to be exact. Not that I’m counting. But let’s just be honest…I’m counting.

Having just disembarked from Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas not quite two weeks ago, I am already counting down to our next adventure with a degree of desperation.

Many of our mornings and nights in October of 2021 were spent walking into and out of our neighbourhood…which meant crossing the Champs-Élysées repeatedly. Look! There’s the Arc!

As we map out our stay in Paris, I already worry about our itinerary. Will we see everything we want to see? Will we forget something only to remember it when we’re on the plane on the way home? Will we have enough time? I’m already experiencing FOMO!

On our last night in Paris in October, 2021, we ran up the street from our hotel for one last view of the Moulin Rouge. Our last selfie in Paris that year. (PS: The bus did not hit us!)

This trip’s itinerary will have a mix of overlapping items with the last trip, as well as a lot of new items. There are some things I want to see during every Paris trip. Some of the new ones will be Paris Disney and Mont-Saint-Michel. As well as a few other sights we missed. I’m dying to visit Montparnasse!

We have 2 walking tours booked with Emmanuel’s Hidden Gems (Link is for his Instagram…he can also be found on Facebook). We’ve heard so many good things about Emmanuel’s tours in the Paris Facebook groups we’re in. We have to try him! We booked Montmartre and Le Marais, two places I adore.

Also, though a picnic was on our itinerary for 2021, we didn’t quite make it. It is my goal to do it this time around. It was great fun with the Left Bank Writers Retreat in 2014! Maybe somewhere in or near Square du Vert-Galant! That is the goal, anyway! We’ll get a baguette, some cheese, a little wine…it’ll be magic!

There are so many museums in Paris, that we only saw a fraction of them during our last visit. We’ll hit a few that we missed and probably do one or two that we have already visited. It would take a month to see all of the Louvre. It is impossible to see it all in one visit. Also, what’s a trip to Paris without going to Shakespeare & Company?! I couldn’t imagine it! I also want to go to their new(ish) coffee shop next door. I don’t know why we didn’t think to go there on our last visit.

One of my favourite days in Paris in 2021 was our DAY OF THE DEAD! This turned out to be a thematic day filled with all things dead, from the Catacombes, to Père Lachaise Cemetery to the Panthéon. It would have been the perfect Paris day, had the booked tour through Père Lachaise been unceremoniously and without warning cancelled. We had to wander through that city of a cemetery on our own. We still managed to find a lot of the graves we wanted to visit, but without the tour we felt we did not do it justice. Hopefully, now that we’re further along in this forever-pandemic, the tour we book this time won’t be cancelled at the last minute. I want context with my stroll through the cemetery.

La Closerie des Lilas, a must when in Paris for me!

The list of restaurants is growing so quickly, I’m afraid we won’t have enough days to visit all the ones we wish to see. We will be narrowing it down in the coming weeks. One I like to return to is La Closerie des Lilas. It’s not incredible, but it has an incredible literary history. It draws me to it. Maybe just a cocktail next time? Maybe with an appetizer?

From my June 2014 trip with Left Bank Writers Retreat…new writer friend, Nina! Atop the Arc.

If we miss anything, I suppose we can always do it on our NEXT trip after this one. There will always be a next trip, right?! There is never any end to Paris!

Only 225 days to go. That seems like a lifetime when there are several inches of snow on the ground and a cold-snap is threatening to overwhelm us. The countdown is on…

Paris or bust!


I’m also an author. Pick up my short book 7 – Paris at Sunset and Into the Night, and Other Stories at Amazon. 7 short stories, some of which are set in Paris, for less than $1!




Porto – Before and After the Camino! Part 2: After

We thought we would be returning from the Camino bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. We were wrong. All three of us had foot issues. There wasn’t a non-limper among us. But we were still up for continuing our adventures in Porto. Maybe just a little more slowly…

The Half Rabbit! Little ole’ me at the Half Rabbit, R. de Santa M.nha 5-39, 4400-290 Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal.


  • Vila Nova de Gaia
  • Half Rabbit
  • Port Wine Tasting
  • Eat With
  • Livraria Lello
  • Burmester
  • 6-Bridge Douro River Boat Tour
  • Douro Valley Wine Tour

One of the first things on this nerd’s list was the HALF RABBIT! I just had to see it! In person!

We walked across the bridge and entered the world of Gaia. The Douro separates the city of Porto from the city of Gaia. And we quickly found out that Gaia was just as happening a place as Porto! It was in Gaia that I needed to find my half rabbit.

If you look at the pic above, you’ll see just how huge this sculpture truly is. I can hardly see myself in the photo. I wanted it for perspective. This rabbit is HUGE. Ever since I first discovered the Half Rabbit, it has fascinated me. It’s made from trash and recycled goods collected by the city of Gaia. Created by Portuguese artist Bordallo II (animal art out of repurposed materials is their thing), the Half Rabbit serves as a critique of society’s wasteful ways. I think it’s fair to say it’s also a call to sustainability.

Makes you think. It’s beautiful, but it really makes one think about the amount of trash we accumulate, the landfills filling up all over the world.

The Half Rabbit is in the same neighbourhood as all the Port wine companies that dot the riverside on the Gaia side of the Douro. Our next stop, of course, was a quick tasting…

You can get tastings at various different restaurant patios in Gaia. This one we had was 5 for 5 Euros deal, which, come on…is exceptional value. You really can’t beat that. And the Port was fantastic.

On to the next thing! Wherever you go in the world, do yourself a favour and check out what’s happening there on EATWITH. Eatwith have everyday people in the cities you visit offering to host you at their house for a meal. It’s also a great place to check out other eating related events in the area you’re staying, like food tours and special offers, etc. I’ve been excited to try them for a while now. I was not disappointed! We booked an evening called THE PORTO STORIES: ON CITY, COD AND PORT with hosts Manuel and Jelena. Our hosts were entertaining and gracious. They made a fabulous meal and told wonderful stories about their city, cod, and much more. It was a thoroughly entertaining evening, accompanied by wonderful food and drink. So glad we booked it! Wherever you go, if EATWITH is available in the area, you will find so many interesting things to do. Check it out!

My only wish is that we had given ourselves another day to recuperate from our recent travels prior to booking this evening. We were all walking zombies by the time we arrived at Manuel and Jelena’s house. We thoroughly enjoyed it, but the exhaustion had us dragging a bit at the end of the evening.

The next day…drumroll please! The moment I’d been waiting for! Livraria Lello! Such a beautiful interior in this historic bookstore. And I had only been able to see it on Instagram and YouTube. I’m a huge fan of bookstores in general, and if you’ve read any of this blog you will know I have a favourite and that it’s in Paris and a stone’s throw away from Notre Dame. But this one? I’ve been dying to get inside.

Even if you book a time online prior to your arrival, you’re going to have to wait in a line. The frenzy to get into this one is even more grand scale than it is at Shakespeare & Company.
An historic plaque outside the bookstore.
The stained glass ceiling. “Decus in Labore”, which means “Dignity in Work”

The store, as seen from above at the top of the staircase.
It was almost impossible to get a shot that wasn’t a little bit blurred. It was constant motion in that store. Such a different vibe than Shakespeare & Company. People are here to SEE the store. People are at Shakespeare to FEEL the store.

Bookstore selfie!

It was a wonderful store and I grabbed a couple of books. One for myself as a souvenir and one for the grandboys because that’s what I do…I buy them books.

I got myself a special Livraria Lello edition of one of my favourite books, Gatsby.

After the bookstore, we decided we were not yet finished with Gaia. We had a Port wine tour booked and we needed some lunch. The riverside on the Porto side is filled with restaurant patios. But it’s good to remember that so is the riverside on the Gaia side. We had seen some nice restaurants over there and wanted to give them a go!

First! It was time to once again attempt to save the world. I did this in Lisbon in 2019 and nothing seemed to happen. Thought I’d try again…

Off to Gaia!

A quick stop at the FANTASTIC WORLD OF PORTUGUESE CAN made me realize maybe us Canadians don’t put enough stock into our canned goods?

Oh, and did I mention the Casa Portuguesa Pastel Bacalhau? Once you’ve had one of these lovelies, you will understand the need to have a huge emporium erected just to showcase their yummy goodness. Step inside and have a bite! There’s a LOT to see in Gaia!

For lunch, I highly recommend Faberninha do Manel.

I’m not going to suggest which of the plethora of Port cellars in Gaia you should visit. Do the research and decide which one you should go to. Or go to two or three or many. It’s up to you. We chose Burmester, which is the first one you come to after you cross the bridge from Porto (it’s right at the foot of the bridge if you cross over on the bottom span). The tour guide was lovely and we had a great time.

We arranged our Burmester tour with the 6-bridge Douro River boat tour. Get both together in a package with a discount.

The 6-bridge tour was next and we had to return to the Porto side for that. It was nice…I’m glad we did it. It wasn’t the Seine, but it was well worth it for the experience.

The last planned event on our itinerary was an all-day affair. We booked a tour of the Douro Valley that included lunch, a vineyard tour and tasting, and a boat-ride. Before we even set out, I have to say I was feeling a bit over-vacationed. I think we were all feeling a little exhausted and warn out, but we kept on trucking. This was to be a highlight of our trip.

Only, it wasn’t.

Don’t get me wrong, it was great. We just didn’t anticipate how mind-numbingly over it we were when it came to travelling. By travelling, I mean…we spent a lot of our day in a bus. Do the tour. It’s great, really. But be prepared for bus time.

The Douro Valley is beautiful, and worth seeing. Maybe do it at the beginning of your trip when you’re still fresh.

Photos from our day in the Douro Valley:

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For all intents and purposes, that was the end of our Porto (and beyond) adventures. We had the next morning, but then we were off. It was time to return home to Canada.

These were just a few of the things you can do while in Porto. It’s an amazing city and it shouldn’t be overlooked when planning your European vacation.


Porto – Before and After the Camino! Part One: Before

As the city of Porto is one of the beginning points of the Caminho Português, we decided to stay a couple of days here prior to setting out on our Caminho. We would check out the city a bit while getting over the flight and adjusting to the time change. We stayed at Hotel Peninsular. It seemed to be in the heart of the city, but far enough away from the river that we wouldn’t be gauged for the views.


  • São Bento Train Station
  • Porto Cathedral
  • Sandemans Free Tour
  • Francesinha
  • Livraria Lello
  • Dom Luís I Bridge
  • Centro Portugues de Fotografia


Turned out it was about three minutes away from one of the places on our Porto bucket list. The São Bento Train Station was just down the street.

The station’s walls and ceilings are covered with 22,000 tiles – azulejos – by Jorge Colaço, painter, caricaturist and potter. It has a reputation for being one of the most beautiful stations in the world.

It was a nice surprise to accidentally stumble upon the station immediately after leaving the hotel.

It really is quite stunning. And finding it just like that gave us hope that the rest of the city would just as easily open up to us. And it did.

Once we oohed and awed over the gorgeous tile work inside the station, we were ready to continue our First Day walk. And right outside the doors of the station, Porto Cathedral (Sé do Porto) came into view! It was just another short walk away. This historic cathedral is the starting point of the Caminho if one is starting in Porto (you can actually begin the Caminho Português in Lisbon). There’s a rough and confusing history of the Roman Catholic Cathedral itself, but if you dig for it you will find that they broke ground on it in 1110 and it was completed in 1737. But you will also notice that there were changes well into the 1700s, the 1800s, and the 1900s. Not quite the work in progress at the Sagrada Família in Barcelona, which has literally been under construction since the mid 1800s and is not yet completed. Porto Cathedral is more of a fixer upper project that has undergone changes. Whether you’re in Porto for the Camino or as a tourist specifically to see the city, you shouldn’t miss the cathedral.

A quick heads up, though. This is not your typical cathedral. It would not be difficult to get turned around and find yourself lost in and around this sprawling cathedral.

We toured around the periphery for a while, climbing stairs, coming out into courtyards, finding room after room to explore. We even found a tower to climb up into, where we discovered the first of many perfect locations to find the breathtaking views of the city we discovered on social media prior to our visit.

We arrived in this location from a series of walkways and stairs found within the cathedral.
The cathedral quickly became a series of arches, stairs, and passageways…each opening onto something new and exciting. Finally, we found a tower to climb…

The views from the tower made us excited to get down there, and into the city…into the lively riverside neighbourhood we already knew to be bustling with excitement… but we hadn’t even seen the ‘church’ part of the cathedral yet. Where was the narthex, the nave, the transepts, the apse, the ambulatory, where was the ‘church’ in all of this rambling architecture?

A few more twists and turns, and we were there. And then it was time to continue our walk throughout the city. Our First Day walk of discovery. The city was opening up and letting us in. It was so much more than a starting point on an adventure that would have us walking away from it. I was glad we had decided to spend a few days here AFTER our Camino was over. You can tell at first glance that a day or two wouldn’t be enough time to give to Portugal’s second largest city.

We quickly got ourselves down to the river, where we knew we would find places to eat. We were famished.

It was time to finally try the sandwich created in Porto and made internet famous on YouTube and Instagram. It was francesinha time! After watching YouTubers diving into this sandwich for months on end while researching the city, it was finally our turn! 

What is the francesinha sandwich? Ham, steak, two types of homemade sausage, bologna, and cheese between two thick layers of bread. It’s often topped with a fried egg. THEN it’s smothered in a beer gravy and served surrounded by fries. Basically, it’s literal heart-attack on a plate…and worth the trip to Porto for. I don’t even like steak!

Plus, whatever outdoor patio you choose to eat at…you’ll have a great view of Dom Luís I Bridge and the Douro River. Built from 1881 to 1886, this double-decker bridge is a gorgeous work of art…and the views from the top are stunning (just be careful when you get up there–the city metro line crosses through the centre of the open top span…right beside the pedestrians…without a safety barrier between them)!

There is a lot to see in Porto. Having just arrived from our trans-Atlantic flight, though, we were ready to call it a night. One more day of discovery ahead of us before waking up the following morning and heading out on our journey along the coast and up into Spain.

Does every city in the world have these signs now?
Just a quick walk past Livraria Lello this time! We would save the inside for after our Camino, when we were back in the city for a longer period of time!
Clérigos Tower. We never did go inside, but quite the sight to see it.

It was in this neighbourhood, near the Clérigos Tower, that we found a fun free museum. It was a building just standing there with the door open. I had to walk inside, I had to see what it was…

Centro Portugues de Fotografia

It was the museum of photography, and it was absolutely free to enter. The Portuguese Centre of Photography is found inside an old prison, and it has a spectacular collection of cameras dating back to the 19th century.

It’s rather foreboding as you enter in past the reception, all cells and iron bars and repression. But it opens up into several floors of fascinating photographic memorabilia! If you love cameras, it’s a MUST SEE stop on your Porto visit. FREE!

Wherever we are in Europe (Brussels, Lisbon, Madrid, Paris, etc), we plan for at least ONE Sandemans tour, the FREE one. We’ve never been disappointed. It gives you a great sense of the city you’re visiting, the tour guides are ALWAYS spectacular, and they give you an overview of the paying tours that they have on offer. Please note that the FREE tour is technically free…but that tipping the guides is encouraged. Once you finish your tour, no matter the city, you will happily tip your guide. PORTO FREE TOUR.

The guide walked us throughout the city, entertaining us with historical facts and showing us some of the awesome little side-streets and architecture.

We enjoyed the FREE tour so much, we booked for another tour immediately following it with the same guide. This one cost a nominal fee, and took you through a different part of the city. We always want to see as much as we can!

We ended our second day by the river, with food and drink…

In the morning, we would leave for our Camino adventure. We had a really good sense of the city we would return to after our Camino adventure was over. We still had a huge Porto bucket list, but it would have to wait a couple of weeks for our return!






There’s Something About Paris – Remembering the City…One Year Out.

It’s been almost a year now since we last visited Paris. An entire year! Each time I go, it becomes more dear to my heart. More than any other of my sacred places in this world, Paris is the closest to my heart. I know, without even contemplating it all that much, that I could live there in an instant.

Hamming it up atop the Arc de Triomphe at the end of Av. des Champs-Élysées, Paris, France. (Oct. 2021)

Despite my oft repeated promise to myself that I would not visit a place more than once because there are too many places to visit, I find myself planning for the next Paris trip. Having just returned from there in October, 2021, we are indeed going back in 2023.

Paris truly is a moveable feast!

What we saw of beyond the city last year has me wanting to tour the entire country of France. Even as I dream of my next hike on the Camino de Santiago, I consider the pilgrimage path known as Chemin du Puy. Le Puy looks as stunning as the rest of France. To begin a walk in Le Puy-en-Velay? The mere idea is dreamlike. Walking through all those tiny French towns? Heaven.

I guess all of France has me. I’m still living the memories of our quick visit to Giverny to visit Monet’s home and gardens. Even in October, the blooms were plentiful. The house was a fairy-tale one can easily imagine falling into and never leaving.

Monet’s kitchen…a wonder of its own.
Just to peek out a window in Monet’s house, to see what he saw? The colours of the rainbow. It was sheer magic!
Though not in Paris, I cannot think of Paris without also thinking about the fascinating locations just a short ride away from the City of Light.

In 2023 we plan on staying in the Marais. We merely skirted this historic district of Paris during our 2021 visit. With so much to see, you always miss something…you always have a reason to go back.

We raced to see all that we could in the week we allotted ourselves to see it. From my favourite neighbourhood of Montmartre…

…to my favourite bookstore in all the world, Shakespeare & Company…

The facade of the world famous Shakespeare and Company bookstore (the second incarnation).
Shakespeare’s cat…

There’s just something about Paris. I feel comfortable there, more myself. The way it’s a walkable city, the way it’s a city of cafes and museums and art galleries. The way even the dead have their place and relevance… significance. The way a bonjour is expected and a picnic is encouraged. The way history can be found in layers upon layers as you walk its streets. It’s just fully mine in a way that no other city is.

Paris is a city that belongs fully and completely to all of its adoring fans. It is so multifaceted that there’s enough to go around, enough for everyone to love and feel a special connection to. There are as many Parises as there are people who adore Paris. Or, without bastardizing the English language by attempting to pluralize Paris, your Paris is different from my Paris.

We’re currently planning all the things we will visit that we missed–or walked right past–on our last visit. But we’ll definitely be revisiting a lot of places. There are places in Paris that I can’t imagine not visiting every single time I’m there.

These must visit places include, but are not limited to, Shakespeare & Company, Rue Saint Louis en l’île, the Tuileries, Jardin du Luxembourg, and more. These are necessary places in my Paris. Even the overpriced La Closerie des Lilas feels like a necessary stop for me. Even with the indifferent waiter we had during our last experience there. My Paris just needs to include certain places.

Can we go to Paris without going to the Daru Staircase at the Louvre, where Audrey Hepburn iconically posed in front of the Winged Victory of Samothrace?! I think not!

We’ll be making a list over the next year, and checking it twice. If you have any favourite places in Paris that are off the beaten path…something you might think travelers overlook…drop the info in the comments section. I’d love to discover something new that’s not already on my radar. The list of places we haven’t visited yet is surprisingly quite extensive, considering the places I’ve already checked off the list during previous visits. But I’d love to find something new to love about my favourite city!

The places we visited in 2021 are favourited on this Google map. We covered a LOT of ground, but not enough. We still have so much to see!

Drop your suggestions in the comments!

Come on, 2023! —– Paris or bust!



Senda Litoral Route – Caminho Português – September 2022 – Day 2

Day 2! Vila do Conde to Esposende

We all began Day 2 of our Caminho Português with foot ailments. The blisters had begun! My third Camino and my first blisters. On a route I thought would be a breeze compared to the Camino Frances. The thing is, we were walking too many KMs. 36 on our first day. The terrain might have been easier, but the grueling pace we gave ourselves proved in the end to be too much.

Minutes after leaving our albergue in Vila do Conde, we were back at the ocean’s edge.

Portugal is famous for its beautiful blue and white tile art. There was no end to examples of it along the Senda Litoral route of the Camino…

One of the things I couldn’t wait to see on this Camino route was the famous old windmills found along the beaches of Portugal. Some are small and abandoned. Others, larger and saved from extinction, have been transformed into summer cottages. Soon after leaving Vila do Conde behind us, we came upon our first windmill.

Windmill still intact.

There was a lot of boardwalk on this second day. And not that many places to stop for food and drink. We past one along the way, thinking we’d come to another soon.

If you come across this beach bar, it might be a good idea to stop. There are only two more places after this for a while. One is a few hundred feet off the path.

As we walked along the boardwalk hoping for a place to stop, we came upon a parking lot. Beyond it, there was one cafe and a small supermarcado. A few hundred feet from the boardwalk. We decided not to take any chances on coming upon something closer to the path. Good decision.

Glad we found this place on a day where places were few and far between.

After a much needed break, and some amazing fuel, we were off to return back to the endless boardwalk of Day 2.

It went on and on and on and on…
3 peregrinos!

On day 2, we have to go away from the beach for a while to walk around a rather large golf course.

The golf course that forces the Camino path away from the ocean.

Somewhere during this time, we accidentally left the Senda Litoral for a bit. The Camino Ninja was showing that our route was a couple hundred feet away and we couldn’t figure out where we went wrong. I think I narrowed it down to a house we passed after circumnavigating the golf course. There was a boardwalk going back in the direction of the ocean right before we came upon the house. It wasn’t marked, but the way beside the house was marked with yellow arrows. I think this is a place where two routes converged. We assumed we were following our route, but we accidentally crossed into another. The boardwalk would have been the Senda Litoral, I believe, but it wasn’t marked as such.

The house where, I suspect, we momentarily left our route for another one.
Right before we passed this house, we walked by a boardwalk that went in behind it…because the arrows pointed us away from it. We followed everyone else and avoided the boardwalk. The Senda Litoral route is not as well marked as the others.

Off the route, we were back onto the foot stabbing cobbles. Each step would send sharp pains into our feet. The blisters were growing and multiplying.

But we smiled anyway.

It actually didn’t take us long to get back onto the Senda Litoral. The Camino Ninja app, we were discovering, was going to save us time and time again.

A cool house that would be amazing as a tourist attraction Haunted Mansion.

We were soon back to the boardwalk and back to the windmills. This time, they were the converted cottages we had seen on YouTube.

We were close to the end of our second day. Esposende was within reach.

After walking a short bridge across, I believe, the Cávado River, we were in Esposende and on our way to the Esposende Guesthouse.

The bridge that brought us to the end of our second day.
Almost there! Thank god. Blisters, blisters, blisters.

If you end your day at Esposende, it would NOT be a bad thing to end it at the ESPOSENDE GUESTHOUSE (the link is to their website, but we booked through booking dot com). We loved this little place. Soon after check-in, the proprietress left the property and all the pilgrims were left to their own devices. We had restaurants nearby, and a little town complete with the all-important farmacia! We were ready to have all the first aid requirements of the deeply blistered pilgrim!

Fully functioning kitchen at our disposal. BUT…restaurants down the street. Easy decision for tired pilgrims.
This was definitely a super cute albergue!
The rooms were clean and we had a little balcony!
When you’re a pilgrim, a clean bathroom is everything. A good shower is everything. The Esposende Guesthouse hit all the marks!

Now, remember for a moment that I said the proprietress leaves the albergue after the pilgrims have all been checked in. Now, imagine a level of trust you’ve probably never experienced in North America kicking into action.

At the end of a long and tiring day of walking along the coast of Portugal, we settled into our evening, glass of wine in hand, and sat out on the patio of our home for the night. A beautiful evening, even though we knew the rain was coming…

A perfect way to end a magical day…

I’m not saying you should work your Camino around to land in Esposende so you can stay at the Guesthouse. But I am saying if Esposende is one of your stops, the Esposende Guesthouse is a great place to stay.

Click here to jump to DAY 3!

I’m also an author. One of my novels, a young adult story, is set on the Camino Frances route of the Camino de Santiago. THE CAMINO CLUB. It follows six teens on their journey from Ponferrada to Santiago de Compostela. The teens walk with court appointed counselors in a juvenile delinquent program that will see them free of their records once they make the journey to Santiago…a clean slate. Think of a more diverse The Breakfast Club, but on the Camino de Santiago over two weeks instead of in a school library on a Saturday. Give it a look! It’s available wherever books are sold. Here’s the Amazon USA link.


Our Day of the Dead in the City of Light

Whoever said you can’t walk everywhere in Paris hasn’t met Michael and I. Last October we proved all naysayers wrong by the power of our own four feet. One of the best days of our week was the one we named our DAY OF THE DEAD.

No, we didn’t die that day. Trust me, it was a thematic name choice.

In Paris, we stayed in the 9th at an unassuming little hotel called Hôtel de Paris Saint Georges. We don’t go big on hotels, because they’re only for sleeping in when your goal is to take in every inch of every city you visit. The hotel is not important, as long as it’s clean.

Our first goal on the Day of the Dead was to make our way to Père Lachaise Cemetery all the way over in the 20th arrondissement. Google Maps told us it was a mere 5.2km away. A walk in the park that would take us 1 hour and 8 minutes, according to Google. Google also doesn’t know us. We knew we could cut that number down to an hour.

My first time in Paris was action packed with Left Bank Writers Retreat stuff, so I didn’t get to see Père Lachaise. The days were too fully planned out to sneak away, and the cemetery was closed at night. Who closes a cemetery at night?! The nerve!

I had several graves on my visiting wish-list, and we booked a walking tour at the cemetery to make things easy for us. It’s a huge cemetery!

Unfortunately, our Day of the Dead was going to begin with a fail. Not surprising, since we were still dead in the middle of the pandemic. The tour didn’t sell enough tickets, so it was cancelled. The worst part was that the tour company didn’t tell us it was cancelled. Michael and I stood by the designated Metro stop waiting for the guide to appear for far too long. After doing several somersaults and finally contacting the tour guide people, we discovered we had been waiting in vain. We were on our own.

Even though we didn’t see everyone on the list, we did manage to see a few of the famous people I wanted to visit. Having waited decades to see this historic cemetery, I was not disappointed. Sure, it would have been a hundred percent better with the accompaniment of a guide, but it was still an amazing morning!

Oscar Wilde

We saw Wilde, Piaf, Proust, Moliere, Balzac, Chopin, and Morrison, among others. Then we accepted our defeat and put Père Lachaise onto the bingo card for our next visit to Paris. Next time, hopefully, we will have a guide. There’s still quite a few people on my wish-list that we missed. Take my word for it, if you’re going to visit Père Lachaise, get a guided tour. You may think you can do it alone, but it is really overwhelming once you’re there. Even with a paper map or Google Maps. I was just too overwhelmed to remember half the names I wanted to visit. And we did some crisscrossing we could have avoided. GET. A. GUIDE.

Marcel Proust

With our mad dash throughout the cemetery over, we were off to our next stop! Did somebody say Panthéon?! And how does the Panthéon work into our Day of the Dead, you might ask if you’re not familiar with the building in the heart of the Latin Quarter. Off to the 5th arrondissement we go!

Panthéon, temple to all the gods. Sitting atop Montagne Sainte-Geneviève, the Panthéon (Built from 1758-1790), once a church, is now a mausoleum for the remains of France’s most distinguished citizens. This incarnation of a mausoleum could very well be the building’s last and eternal purpose.

Once we made the brisk 4.1km walk from Père Lachaise, with a quick stop at a yummy Indian restaurant we stumbled upon along the way, we were ready to meet more of history’s illustrious dead. 

We visited almost everyone resting there. From Voltaire to Zola.


A highlight of the visit, for me as a writer and reader, was Emile Zola, Alexandre Dumas, and Victor Hugo.

Emile Zola
Alexandre Dumas
Victor Hugo

Since we were in the neighbourhood (the Latin Quarter in the 5th arrondissement), we also visited Saint-Étienne-du-Mont, which is just behind the Panthéon. This church was made newly famous after appearing in the movie Midnight in Paris. I had visited the church back in 2014 when the Panthéon was closed for some restorative work. We took an iconic (to us) photo of ourselves on the church steps where Gil sat in Midnight in Paris, right before he was whisked away into the Paris of the 1920s.

The 2014 Left-Bank Writers Retreat. Look it up, it’s an amazing retreat for writers. Takes place in Paris every year.

And here’s the facade of the church. The steps made famous in the movie are on the left hand side of the photo below.

Saint-Étienne-du-Mont, October, 2021.

After visiting the greatest of France’s late citizens, we were off to visit the bones of some of Paris’s late great cemeteries. Say that ten times fast. Anyway, Catacombes de Paris in the 14th arrondissement were the next stop on our Day of the Dead.

If you can, always get your tickets online in advance. You will avoid a headache, or even the possibility of being turned away at the door.

The Catacombes were another place I missed on my last visit to Paris, and, therefore, a must see during this visit. We made the 2.7km walk in no time, even with the quick detour through the Jardin du Luxembourg in the 6th arrondissement! We couldn’t walk by this treasure when we could almost as easily walk through it!

The very modern entrance to a very gothic dungeon-like attraction.

Getting down to the dark underbelly was a feat in itself. The spiral staircase brought back memories of climbing the never-ending staircase to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, or the just-as-deadly staircase to the top of the Basilica of Sacré Coeur de Montmartre. Paris sure does love the spiral staircase!

Climb down into the underbelly of Paris, via the endless spiral staircase…

The Catacombes were everything we hoped they would be. Death made creepy by darkness and dirt, with a little dripping wetness thrown in for good measure. We were under Paris, surrounded by the bones of millions of long-dead displaced Parisiennes.

Watch your head!

After the staircase comes a very narrow passageway with a low ceiling and damp darkness…

The Catacombes holds the remains of over 6 million people. It is something to see. If you’re visiting Paris and have no problems with mobility issues or claustrophobia, I highly recommend it. I will say, however, that it is probably a one and done. There are many places in Paris I will visit again and again. The Catacombes, incredible as it was to experience, probably isn’t one of them.

You really do become overwhelmed with the sheer volume of bones you see. And what is open to the public is merely the tip of the iceberg.

The crazy wide-eyed expression?!

The parts of the Catacombes open to public are roughly 1km in length. You’ll never guess where one arrives after climbing the almost identical spiral staircase up out of the dungeons of Paris. That’s right! A gift shop! All of the world’s attractions and rides now deposits its adventurers off into the coveted gift shop. A sure sign of Commerce Above All Else!

After our tour of dead things, we capped off our day at my restaurant of choice in the hopes of having a chance encounter with a ghost from Paris’s glorious literary past. Between the Catacombes and the Jardin du Luxembourg, you will come to one of Paris’s most famous literary restaurants. That’s saying a lot, as quite a few of Paris’s restaurants were made famous by the patronage of many of its literary elite from the time of the Lost Generation.

The one I chose was La Closerie des Lilas, which was a mere 850m from the Catacombes.

We had a lovely (if overpriced) meal outside on the patio while I imagined Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald tucked away in a corner making literary chatter and writing away in their battered journals while drinking light aperitifs.

And just like my son Jacob used to do whenever we visited a new restaurant when he was a little boy, I made the excuse to use the facilities so I could snoop around some.

At the bar, if you look closely enough, you will see a tiny brass nameplate screwed into the bar top at one of the available chairs. It says ERNEST HEMINGWAY. This is where Ernest sat at times.

With dinner over, so too was our day at its end. Almost. In Paris, the day is always only almost over…

La Closerie des Lilas, near the end of the daylight…

Now, we only had to walk home! And you bet we made some stops along the way. The dead things may have been behind us, but there was still a lot to see!

The Pantheon at sunset is quite stunning. So majestic.

After stopping to visit the Seine, we decided to make a little side-trip to Rue Saint-Louis-en-l’Île on the island, where I stayed during my first visit to Paris. Here’s to another 2.5km!

Can one even walk across the famous bridges of Paris without stopping to pay homage to the river that runs through it. Her majesty…

We had our meal at Closerie, but it was time for dessert! Where else but Amorino Saint Louis?! What else, but gelato?!

Amorino Saint Louis

Rue Saint-Louis-en-l’Île will always be one of my favourite places in Paris. When I stayed there in 2014, I loved to wake up early and get out into the tiny street and watch it come to life! Such simple magic!

Next! 750m to The Lady. Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris. I mean, it was right there! We couldn’t NOT visit. I know it’s closed, but just to walk by it…

Our Lady of Paris…

This concluded our Day of the Dead. After another 3.8km of walking through the nighttime streets of Paris, we were back at our hotel. It was time to sleep, to recoup and prepare for our next day of conquering the streets of Paris one footstep at a time!

My step counter for this day showed 35,173 steps, or 27.6km. Just a stroll in the big scheme of things. How often do you get to wander around the streets of Paris seeking out dead things?!

Our Triangle of Death on the Day of the Dead. (And, yes, all the hearts are places we visited during our week in Paris. All the best places! And not a single taxi, metro, bicycle or uber!)

I’m also an author. One of my novels, a young adult story, is set on the Camino Frances route of the Camino de Santiago. THE CAMINO CLUB. It follows six teens on their journey from Ponferrada to Santiago de Compostela. The teens walk with court appointed counselors in a juvenile delinquent program that will see them free of their records once they make the journey to Santiago…a clean slate. Think of a more diverse The Breakfast Club, but on the Camino de Santiago over two weeks instead of in a school library on a Saturday. Give it a look! It’s available wherever books are sold. Here’s the Amazon USA link.

Paris in Autumn – Ooh, to Live Deeper in the City of Love and Light!

Shakespeare & Company, my favourite international “local” bookstore. 37 Rue de la Bûcherie, Paris, France. Me, sitting on a bench in one of my sacred places.

We just returned from Paris after a week in the city of light. I always feel changed after Paris, as though the light has somehow found a way to get inside. Paris is food for the soul.

The last time I visited Paris was with the Left Bank Writers Retreat. It was just as magical this time around. I wonder if one sees Paris for the first time every time one visits. I intend to find out! I hope to go back again one day…

A poem I wrote after my first trip to Paris, with the Left Bank Writers Retreat. Nina and I became fast friends and went out to explore Paris together in our free time! A moveable feast it was! This poem was included in the beautiful yearbook created by LBWR faculty member Travis Cebula.

I was recently asked by one of my fave YouTubers (LivDeeper10x–check out their channel here!) what was ONE thing I was going to do this month to LIVE DEEPER. My first response was VISIT PARIS. But visiting a place isn’t enough, is it? That doesn’t bring us deeper. Not in and of itself. It is not going to a place that brings one deeper. It is what we bring back of the place that causes us to live deeper, is it not? And I don’t mean the trinkets and bits and bobs.

I carry with me now such memories!

Michael and I decided early on that we would rely only on our feet to take us to all the places we wanted to see in Paris, to immerse ourselves into the Paris streets and see all the things along the way to those places.

After clocking close to 180km on foot, I think it’s safe to say we accomplished what we set out to do. We did not see it all, we did not do it all. But we found magic in the things we did see and do.

On our first evening there, we visited Sacré-Cœur Basilica…the sacred heart of Paris, up on the hill in Montmartre. After climbing it’s impossible spiral staircase to the top, we took in the city from its lofty heights. It spread before us like a treasure waiting to be explored!

I cannot decide my favourite neighborhood of Paris. They all clamor for attention and adoration. But I do know Montmartre holds a special place in my Bohemian writer/painter/artist heart!

We wandered slowly up to the city’s sacred heart, in order to take in some of the beauty along the way…

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Such a unique neighborhood! But then again, they are all unique.

Our first full day in Paris, we booked the Tower and the Louvre. We hadn’t seen the tower yet, so we made our way there by foot.

This shot taken shortly after Michael’s first glimpse of the Tower on his first trip to Paris!
Trocadéro, in the shadow of the Tower, from the top of the Tower.
Atop the Tower together for the first time!

It is not the going to a place that causes one to live deeper. It’s what you get out of the going. It’s the memories you create and cherish. I will probably be talking about Paris for a while here on the blog. We covered a lot of ground! We carried back a lot of memories with us. We went deep! From the Tower to the Louvre to the Arc de Triomphe to the Catacombes to Père Lachaise Cemetery to Les Deux Magots to La Closerie des Lilas to Jules Verne Restaurant to Musée d’Orsay to Musée de l’Orangerie to Versailles to Giverny and Monet’s house and gardens to the Moulin Rouge to Sacré-Cœur to Notre Dame to Shakespeare & Company to Luxembourg Gardens and beyond! We walked the walk. We stood breathless in front of Monets and Picassos and Manets and Renoirs and Van Goghs. We held our breath in front of Rodins and lost our breath on spiral staircases going down below the city and up above it!

Paris will always be a city that inspires all to LIVE DEEPLY. You cannot take it in without being changed by the experience. My one thing that I did in October to live deeper? I carried an entire city across a vast ocean and continue to carry it close to me now.

We each contain multitudes of universes. They are there inside us, waiting always to be pondered and re-experienced. This is why we carry those universes with us. For those quiet moments we need amidst the hectic ones. If we stop the noise and the chaos of our everyday workaday lives for just a moment–just long enough to breathe a little deeper–to sigh alongside a memory of walking the banks of the Seine with the one you love…then you have an oasis inside of you from which to draw your strength. We live deeply in the moments so that we may always revisit them when we need to refill the well.

Going places is the easy part. Bringing places back with you? As long as you remember to do so, you’ll have them with you always. This is the living deeper part…stopping to capture those moments for future ponderance, epiphanies and joy.

Until our next adventures, we’ll always have Paris!

Don’t know what we were looking at here, but this is Paris! Accidental Photography, happy moment…
Monet’s Garden in October…still breathless to see in Autumn.

Visit Youtubers LivDeeper10x to discover their living deeper vlogs as they travel the world!

Categorized as Paris, Travel

When Paris is Possible – A Journal of Paris…

When I want to manifest something, I first bring it to life on my blog. For those paying attention, I always do this. I’ve become predictable, even.

Sometimes these notions I have first appear in my Twitter feed. And then I feel the need to solidify them by writing about them on my blog. It’s called accountability and it’s a way to hold myself to task. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t.

Dollarama has such cute journals!

This is how my last novel, The Camino Club came about. At first, I dreamed it. Then I tweeted about my idea. And then, while I was preparing to walk my first Camino in 2014, I blogged about it. It was a kernel of an idea. So in order to hold myself accountable, I put out into the world that I would write a YA novel set on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage path.

That novel was published by Duet Books, the YA imprint of Interlude Press, in 2020. Ask me about launching a book during a pandemic. You know what, on second thought…don’t ask me. Nobody should have to do that!

Anyway, I’m also famous for digressing. Today I want to hold myself accountable for a new idea.

My dream this time is to release a journal of our upcoming short trip to Paris. It will only be a week in Paris…but a week is enough if you’re fast of your toes. Paris is a moveable feast. But it’s also a well constructed easily traversed city that’s perfectly laid out for the hiker and consummate walker. That happens to be what Michael and I are. We will take that city by storm, one footstep at a time…and we will cover it all!

And I will keep a daily journal. And if all goes according to plan, I will publish it. The only other thing I ever self-published was my short story set on the Camino called Light Near the End of the World. So this will be my 2nd journey into that world.

My short story set on the Camino.

I don’t have a plan, but I will write about the places we visit in Paris and how we got to those places. And I will write about food and restaurants and cafes and macarons and baguettes. I will cover everything that strikes my fancy. We’ll see how this goes.

I will probably start writing in the journal before I even get to Paris. This will be a personal account of ONE JOURNEY. We’re traveling during a pandemic and we’re getting to Paris via Iceland. I mean, anything can happen, right? We’ll see if we get there…and if and when we do, I’m sure I’ll have lots to write about.

I’m ready. With my Dollarama journal and the lovely bookmark I picked up somewhere along the way as its traveling companion, I will take notes on our Parisienne travels.

I hope this goes well! I’m so passionate about Paris. It appears in many of my short stories, and I am also currently writing a YA novel that takes place there. Wrapped somewhere in the reasoning for returning to Paris–one of my favourite cities in the world–is the excuse of doing some extra research for my novel in progress. But honestly, I just love it there so much. I want Michael to see it…and I want to see it again for the first time, through his eyes.

My Paris journal, with a Camino bookmark I received with an Etsy purchase.

Just over 40 days before our departure. Let’s hope the Delta Variant doesn’t keep us from our already postponed (we originally planned Paris for September, 2020) trip to the beautiful city of light!

Paris on Foot, by Hook or by Crook

100 Days.

That is the amount of days between US and our Paris arrival.

If the universe allows it, that is.

Michael and I are booked.

In today’s pandemic times, of course, ANYTHING can happen between now and then. Especially with this new special fuckery known as the Delta variant.

As of this writing, borders are open to double-vaxxed travelers and re-entry is allowed. Is it wise? That is the question I keep asking myself. Over and over and over again.

But by hook or by crook, we are destined for Paris.

And this excursion will include miles and miles and miles of…WALKING. Our hotel is about halfway between the Arc de Triomphe and Sacré-Cœur. This gives us hikers immediate walking access to all of the Paris must-see locations. We have one week to visit everything! Our feet got this! WE got this!

Paris is one of those cities–planned or accidental–that are absolutely PERFECT for walking. There’s so much to see in such a tight little circle of interest. We plan to cover every masked-and-socially-distanced inch of it.

The Eiffel viewed from atop the Arc de Triomphe.

I can’t wait to be back there! Since my first trip in 2014, I just feel like Paris is one of those magical places that resonate with me so completely. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I could live in that city and call it home. I’m sure a lot of its visitors say this very same thing. But that’s because it’s true. It’s just one of those cities.

Luxembourg Palace

I intend to take copious notes this time around. Who am I kidding? I ALWAYS intend on taking copious notes…I just never do! This time will be different. I need this information. Both for a novel in progress I’ve been working on…and for another (non-fiction) project I’m tossing about. So this TOTALLY 100% SIGHTSEEING PLEASURE TRIP is going to have a dash of incidental research on the side.

Shakespeare & Company Independent Bookstore

And you can bet your sweet bippy I will be visiting Shakespeare & Company and spending some cash in their store! We all must do our part to keep the Shakey Pear & Co afloat! I want it to be there after the pandemic. You know, you can actually do your part from afar. They did put out a call during the pandemic that they could use support. Here’s a link to their ONLINE STORE. You can even become a member. I will definitely be spending time there, and bringing home a few Shakespearean things with me!

100 Days & Counting. Fingers are crossed for receding numbers in cases and advancing numbers in fully vaccinated people. I can almost smell those cafe au lait and pain au chocolat mornings!

The countdown is on!

Clipped Wings – When Wanderlust & Disappointment Collide

Just as I have this deep desire to write a travel memoir, or something along those lines, my ability to travel has been hampered. I was so looking forward to traipsing around Paris this September. I fully planned on journaling everything with the intention to write something of a little memoir of our experiences, too. Just as I had every intention of writing a memoir of our upcoming Caminho Português.

I suppose both are still possible, with the passage of time and good fortune. It would depend both on the pandemic being over and my surviving it. For now, I am just standing here on the corner of Wanderlust and Disappointment–Nowhere to go and a deep unsettling urge to get there.

But I’m not a patient person. I was gung ho to finally dabble in the world of travel memoir that I have fallen so deeply in love with. I planned to cover all my tracks in Paris this year. And to fully record every step of our Camino experience in the less traveled Portugues Way next year. And now it’s gone…for now. Lost to this coronavirus that will not go away.

I know these are first world problems, that we should be happy enough just to avoid infection, but as the day of our intended departure nears it is a pain made more raw. We were to fly to Paris on Friday September 4th. We were to be in the beautiful City of Light for my 54th birthday on the 13th. I was to scrawl our experiences with intention, possibly while sitting in the shadow of Notre Dame…or in the company of Shakespeare and Co. No matter the frivolity of the loss, it is nonetheless a loss.

Shakespeare And Company – Antiquarian Books. Paris, France.

Now, what happens? Do we push Paris forward a year and hope the pandemic ends? Do we walk the Camino next year and bump Paris? Do we plan something altogether different? Do we make no plans and hope only to survive?

Au Marché de la Butte – Paris (France) as featured in the movie Amélie.

There will be no travel memoir writing, at any rate. Not while our wings are clipped and we are stuck on the ground. This is my whiny post of negativity. It’s been a long time coming. People are dying and I’m complaining about not being able to write about the sunset in Paris, or how the books in the poetry section of Shakespeare and Co smell. Or how a macaroon always tastes better in Paris—when it carries with it that extra O, and the meringue is made in France. I’m bitter about my inability to partake in travel-writing while others deal with heartache and despair.

A chandelier I found in Napoleon’s Apartments inside the Louvre. Paris, France.

Is it just me, or is everyone getting tired of this pandemic? I’m glad to be healthy, and to have avoided it thus far. And I’m glad that nobody I know has gotten sick. If we all do our part and practice social distancing and mask wearing…who knows? Maybe it WILL pass. Maybe there will be travel inside the World of After. It seems so bleak right now, our future. Sometimes I feel like I was just getting started. And now that I have the desire to talk about it, to write it down…I am unable to move.

Sacré-Cœur, Paris, France…in the heart and the summit of Montmartre.

I know Paris will be there. And so will the coast of Portugal. With any luck, so too will I. And if and when the time comes that we once again board a plane and disappear into adventure…a journal will come with me. And I will tell it every little thought I have while I’m away.

Standing at the top of Arc de Triomphe. Paris, France. 2014.

In the meantime, I suppose it’s time to cozy up with a book that has already been there among the wanderlust and roaming. There are plenty of books on travel out there, just waiting to be explored. No tickets or packing needed.

“When the wind is blowing and the sleet or rain is driving against the dark windows, I love to sit by the fire, thinking of what I have read in books of voyage and travel.”— Charles Dickens