Kong: A taste of Sex and the City in Paris

I can’t speak for all the women out there but I’m sure many of us wish we could get a little taste of the Sex and the City lifestyle. Carrie Bradshaw and her friends turned many establishments into major hotspots. An American Girl in Paris Part Une and Deux were the final two episodes filmed in Paris. In the Part Deux episode, it started with the scene at a restaurant. It was at Kong, a chic, luxurious, and uber trendy restaurant within walking distance from the Louvre. Visiting the restaurant gave me a little taste of a Sex and the City lifestyle in Paris!

If Carrie Bradshaw was a real person, it’s sad to think that someone like her wouldn’t probably be friends with someone like me. As much as I adore her, our lifestyles do not match. First of all, I don’t have a shoe collection worth $40,000! While she’s rocking her $400 five-inch Manolos in Manhattan, I’m in my Uggs, driving an SUV in the suburbs. It’d be a miracle if I met up with all my close friends once a month for lunch, she goes to brunch with hers on a weekly basis. On Friday nights, she’s most likely drinking cosmopolitans at a posh bar, while I’m in my pajamas sipping a hot chamomile tea watching Netflix.

I can’t speak for all the women out there but I’m sure many of us wish we could get a little taste of the Sex and the City lifestyle. Carrie Bradshaw and her friends turned many New York City establishments into major hotspots. Tour companies capitalized the show’s huge success and ran tours visiting some of its iconic locations. I’ve actually been to several locations such as The Boathouse in Central Park where Carrie and Big met for lunch and unintentionally swim. And in one of my trips to NYC with my older son, I took him to Buddakan, a trendy and upscale Chinese restaurant in the Meatpacking district. It was the venue for Carrie and Big’s rehearsal dinner in the series’ first movie. (By the way, my son hated this place. He described it as pretentious and mediocre food.) 😊

An American Girl in Paris Part Une and Deux were the final two episodes filmed in Paris. In the Part Deux episode, it started with the scene at a restaurant where Carrie met  Juliette (her Russian lover’s ex-wife) for lunch. It was at Kong, a chic, luxurious, and uber trendy restaurant within walking distance from the Louvre. Carrie praised the restaurant but Juliette  called it (especially the chairs) hideous!


After spending a couple of hours on top of the Arc de Triomphe, staring at the Eiffel Tower, and saying my heartfelt goodbyes, I wanted to have a memorable lunch in Paris on my last day there. Kong was in my list for must-visit restaurants but I was having second thoughts. What if the place is too chic for me? Will the people intimidate me? Ah, what the heck, I’m going anyway! 

From Champs-Élysées, it was only a few metro stops to Pont Neuf. It didn’t take long to find the building address for 1 Rue du Pont Neuf. From the entrance, I took the elevator to the 5th floor where I was greeted by the hostess.



I told the hostess I didn’t have a reservation but it didn’t seem to be a problem. She asked me to follow her upstairs and we both walked up to the green stairs to the restaurant.

The top floor is a stunning indoor rooftop glass terrace and the Philippe Starck decor is inspired by the ultramodern Franco-Japanese designs. The chairs were designed with three faces representative of the Kong spirit–a geisha (which is also on the ceiling), one that resembles Audrey Hepburn, and a more modern anime-like face.


img_1037The restaurant has magnificent views of the Seine River and Pont Neuf Bridge (if you are lucky enough to get a good seat near the window) and the abundance of natural light makes the restaurant even more spectacular. And by the way, I disagree with Juliette, this place is far from hideous!

 The two servers were both very attractive. The waiter who first served me wore a black suit and the waitress who later came to give me my tea and check wore a mini skirt and a cross body bag (I was actually surprised that she was the server and initially assumed she  was a customer).

 I ordered the dim sum platter and a glass of red wine. I didn’t specify which wine assuming he’d give me the house wine but later was shocked to learn that he gave me a very expensive glass (it cost me €18!). But I have no complaints because the wine was excellent!



There were only a few people in the restaurant when I arrived and patrons who came later were mostly Asians. Sex and the City must have been popular in Asia too! They were well dressed, just as you would expect. But their selfie taking was irritating the two gentlemen seated near the window, rolling their eyes at every selfie pose.

They were actually entertaining to watch and gave me something to laugh about. It was like a scene in a comedy show. Towards the end of my meal, I noticed that the restaurant hadn’t been crowded the entire time I was there. I suspected that since it was Sex and the City that made it famous, perhaps it is now in its decline? I looked at my watch and didn’t realize it was already 3pm (which explains the almost empty restaurant).

When I left Kong, I was glad to have had the opportunity to follow one of Carrie’s footsteps in Paris. Walking along the Pont Neuf bridge, I realized my time in Paris rates as one of my most favorite travel experiences. I was afraid that in my solitude I would get lonely or bored, but it turns out I loved every minute of my time alone, and more importantly, my own company.

I’ll always have Paris… 

“I need to move around a bit. To shuffle my surroundings. To wake up in cities I don’t know my way around and have conversations in languages I cannot entirely comprehend. There is always this tremendous longing in my heart to be lost, to be someplace else, to be far far away from all of this.”

My life had its share of ups and downs. It has seen a lot of heartaches and disappoitments. After my son’s relapse with cancer, life hasn’t exactly gone back to normal. Life at home is just as stressful as it was. Besides tending to my younger son’s medical and everyday needs, my husband has been suffering  from anxiety attacks. I used to think it was just a once-every-few-months occurrence but lately the attacks have  been occurring with increasing frequency. They often strike out of the blue without any warning even when the atmosphere is relaxed. I also worry about my older son. He recently came out and it was revealed to us in his blog that he’d been bullied in high school. Since this revelation, I’ve been worried sick about him. I’ve been concerned about his happiness and finding love, as I’ve been made aware by my gay friends that a homosexual lifestyle can be very lonely. I think about him a lot and sometimes I make myself sick by overly agonizing about his well-being. And as for me, I believe I still have PTSD. I’ve had countless of sleepless nights drowning  in sorrow. I have done everything to help alleviate the loneliness. I walked. I hiked. I wrote. I read. But no matter what I did, there’s always that feeling that something was still missing.

Perhaps I needed to take time away for myself to recharge my batteries and travel somewhere I’d always wanted to go. In a city where I could do as I wished without regard to what a traveling companion wanted to do. Where I was entirely alone and free. And to be far away from all of this.

I’ve always had this fantasy of being in Paris alone. To wander in the city, without any destination in mind. To go where the moment takes me. To stop rushing from place to place. I want to experience Paris. I want to take chances and have adventures. To learn the art of talking less. To take my time and savor each Parisian minute. To stay at a cafe and survey the scene. Take pictures of anything and everything that catches my eye. To contemplate. To have Paris all by myself, my way.

And I did just that….and more.

I also got to do some of the (touristy) things I missed out on in my previous visits. I have stood in front of the Eiffel Tower many times before  but never got the chance to climb it (that’s because none of my companions wanted to).
And so it was the very first thing I did on this trip.

I didn’t only climb the Eiffel Tower but treated myself to a wonderful lunch at the 58 Tour Eiffel.  For about $50, I had a three course lunch with wine and tea. Was the food good? It wasn’t spectacular. Was it worth it? Absolutely!

I also learned to use a tripod, and taught myself to be self-indulgent by taking a lot of pictures of me. I loved it for a change!

Like the Eiffel Tower, I have never made it on top of the Arc de Triomphe in my previous visits.

And so once again, I climbed another famous structure! The benefits of solo travel!

I took a million pictures of the Eiffel Tower in various filters. Regardless of how many times I have seen this tower, I can’t get tired of it. It never gets old. Paris never gets old.

I wanted to get lost in the moment, to go anywhere without a destination in mind, to walk around aimlessly, and…I did! My wish, granted: I wandered, got lost, but found my way back. Now I know what it means when people say do not be afraid to get lost!

But once again, I got lost…this time in the company of books at Shakespeare And Company,

Someday I’ll remind myself these words by Hafiz: I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being.

And to also remember that little things can instantly bring a ray of sunshine such as a free bench.

I went for a walk at Jardin du Tuileries, to contemplate life…

and to admire the beauty of the autumn leaves.

Reminding myself once again that no matter what life brings, it is still beautiful just like those flowers in bloom…

To always stop and appreciate the moment. To look around me in awe and be grateful at how lucky I am to be surrounded by such beauty.

One of the great pleasures of being in Paris, that is truly très magnifique, is the art of cafe-sitting. And no one can deny that this city is a gastronomical dream!

I had tea at Mariage Fréres.

I indulged on a cup of rich hot thick chocolat at Angelina.

They say, “To err is human. To loaf is a Parisian.” My daily petit dejeuner were croissants and baguettes.

I drank wine. Every. Single. Day.

But I also ate light on some nights and had this fantastic Salade Nicoise with tuna at a bistro near my hotel. It was so good I went back twice.

I looked up at every building and swooned over the architecture,

and took pictures of whatever that caught my eyes.

I declared that my most favorite metro station is the Abbesses,

and spent a whole afternoon in the Bohemian and artsy Montmartre.

And there, in Montmartre, I found the wall. No, not Donald Trump’s wall, but a wall where love comes together in every language: Le mur des Je t’aime,

I love you wall.

Although Paris is the city of love, it is the perfect place to be alone. It is perfect for strolling by yourself without the constraints of pleasing somebody. Since I usually travel with my family I didn’t realize that this adventure gave me the opportunity to be completely selfish–something I don’t normally get to be when I’m at home. I almost forgot what it felt like to not have to worry about anyone but myself.  It took a lot for me to finally take a step and just go. I left feeling lost, lonely, and wanting to escape life. I was hopeful that during my alone time, I would find myself in the mystery of a new place.

I pondered each night on how much I learned about myself on this trip. I wrote journals with pensive thoughts: what had happened, I wrote, to the woman who loved spontaneity and great adventures? Had she disappeared?

Somehow, when I disconnected myself from the usual habits, I reconnected with myself. Perhaps this is what traveling alone usually does: you rediscover and reconnect with yourself.

Oh, but then again, I wasn’t completely alone. Paris was there with me the entire time–to accompany me on my journey of self discovery. And whenever I start to feel lonely again, or feel that life is passing me by, I will remind myself that I’ll always have Paris.


Heaven on earth: Touring the Provençal Villages

Provence, when I think of you, I’m overcome with emotions. For five days you filled my life with unforgettable memories. I fell in love with your magnifique qualities. You are the nearest thing to heaven on earth I had ever seen.

When the Good Lord begins to doubt the world, he remembers that he created Provence. ~Frédéric Mistral

I’m not a big fan of organized tours but I decided it was the best way to maximize my last day in Avignon. To see more of the Provence region, I booked myself a one day Best of Provence tour. I was expecting a big tour bus but it turned out it was a van with only three couples plus me and the guide. I was disappointed to see that a man was already sitting in the front seat so I sat in the middle row next to the man’s wife. Immediately I smelled something awful. The wife (actually both husband and wife) smelled like they haven’t showered for days!


How on earth will I endure this smell for the next eight hours?

Couple #2 arrived and they sat at the very back of the van. We picked up couple #3 at their hotel, and I volunteered to move to the back so they can both sit together (also hoping to get away from the smelly lady lol). Unfortunately my misery didn’t end there.

The husband at the back of the van was either sick or he had a really bad habit of making loud breathing noises! No exaggeration, they were explosive snorting sounds every. few. seconds! I was so close to losing my sanity and was tempted to jump out of the van!


They say when you’re in Provence all your senses are awake. Unfortunately, at that moment,  I wanted to shut down my senses of smell and hearing!  But as soon as we reached our first destination, all my troubles suddenly vanished. Thank god for the other sense: sight!

Pont du Gard is the highest and best preserved of all the elevated Roman aqueducts.  And yay an additional UNESCO World Heritage Site on my list! For centuries the aqueduct functioned as a bridge and travelers were charged toll by using it to cross the river. Today its only primary function is a tourist destination. The aqueduct bridge has three tiers of arches. Our guide told us that when he was a child he used to play and run around the aqueduct but it is no longer permitted today.

However when we got there we were surprised to see people on the bridge. We figured something was lost in translation. The guide forgot to mention that the middle part of the bridge was kept open to the public and it was actually on top of the highest arch that is now prohibited for use.

img_0480 Back in the van, we drove another half hour or so to the village of Les Baux-de-Provence.  Yeah, I know, I was just there! But I was happy to be there to get a second perspective on the village. Les Baux is so beautiful that I didn’t mind visiting again.

This time I was able to walk for an hour around the village. Although I spent a good afternoon here the day before, I still found new areas to explore.

I went inside the stores where nougats and cookies were abundantly sold. I also treated myself to a pistache gelato but nothing can beat the gelato I had in Amalfi (Italy), still hands down my favorite gelato of all time.

From Les Baux, we stopped for a couple of hours in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence for lunch. I asked the guide if we were going to explore the town, but he said there’s not much to explore. From all the things I read about Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, it’s one of the must-see places in Provence but according to our guide, it’s only famous for restaurants and shops. Well, okay then, this is why I can’t stand organized tours.

While others went on their own, I had lunch with the guide and Karen (she was from couple #3). Our guide found a crepe restaurant whose owners were from Brittany. I ordered a savory crepe and was expecting a saggy crepe filled with mushrooms, cheese, and ham, just like the way they make it in in America, but instead I got a crispy one. Self-proclaimed foodie that I am didn’t know a savory crepe is called a galette. My ego was quite hurt, I had to order a carafe of rosé!  

After lunch, we proceeded to one of the most impressive villages in France. It is situated in the Luberon, at the foot of the Monts de Vaucluse, Roussillon is a must-see for everyone visiting the Provence region.

The village of Roussillon differed from the other villages we’ve been to with its infinite combinations of colors of yellow, orange, and red. The red cliffs, contrasting the lush green trees surrounding it, were magnificently breath taking.

Strolling around the charming maze of streets, I could see myself spending a few days here. I’ll most likely find a charming restaurant where I can sit for a few hours enjoying the gastronomy, drinking a glass (or two) of rosé, catching up on my reading, and totally immersing myself in the culture. Now I know where to spend a few days, if I am again given the opportunity to come back.

I was still dreaming under the vivid blue Provençal sky and admiring the subtle earthy colors of Roussillon until the  guide told us it was time to go. I wanted to protest to let us stay for a few more hours, maybe days. Heck I haven’t even had the chance to fully absorb the village’s charm. I felt cheated. I was almost in tears getting back on that van.

Our next stop was Gordes. Gordes is one of the most expensive villages of Luberon where many movie stars and artists have made it their home. We were all still awestruck by Roussillon’s beauty and couldn’t find ourselves to admire this new village and its usual colors of white and gray stones.

We were dropped off at the main square and on the corner, we were welcomed by an extremely loud music with glittering colorful lights. We then realize it’s for bumper car rides. How inappropriately out of place especially in Gordes’ expensive real estate. But just like any Provençal village, we eventually warmed up to Gordes and found its charm despite the shock from that initial tacky greeting.


Our last stop was Fontaine-de-Vaucluse. Our guide told us that in the summer months, it is one of the most visited places and the streets get very crowded hence the many tourist shops around. It is known for the spring that comes from the high cliff and flows down the river that engulfs the village. Poets such as Frédéric Mistral were captured by the magic of Fontaine-de-Vaucluse.

It was almost six in the evening when we headed back to Avignon. I started to feel sad on the drive back, already longing for Provence. It’s strange to feel this way. I haven’t even left yet. But knowing that same time tomorrow, I will no longer be around to admire this beautiful landscape.

“A beautiful day”

Provence, when I think of you, I’m overcome with emotions. For five days you filled my life with unforgettable memories. I fell in love with your sexy, irresistible, and magnifique qualities. You are the nearest thing to heaven on earth I had ever seen.

I will miss you terribly.

A Feast for the senses: The picturesque village of Les Baux-de-Provence 

“Everyone who comes to visit, always asks me to bring them to Les Baux-de-Provence!” Michel told me. I can understand why. Beauty is not only something that pleases the eyes, but also pleases the other senses and this is how I describe Les Baux-de-Provence.

The scenery from Avignon to Les Baux was truly unforgettable–passing through vineyards, Sycamore tree-lined roads, olive fields, and hilltop chateaus. It somehow didn’t feel real. It’s like watching a scene in a travel show or in a movie. Except I was in it. I read somewhere that travel can sometimes feel like a dream. When you’re jet-lagged, it can be hard to tell whether you’re actually awake. A good hard pinch is often the only way to know for sure. I think I have pinched myself quite a few times during this trip. 😜

Perched on the top of the rock, Les Baux-de-Provence is located in the foothills of the Alpilles mountains. It is listed as a heritage site that has won titles such as “one of the most beautiful villages in France.” Before going up to the village, both Michels mentioned we were going to an “art show with music” first but with their limited English, I couldn’t visualize such description. My expectations were low but what I didn’t anticipate was I was about to experience a mind-blowing, out-of-this-world, totally immersive and exhilarating experience!

 Carrières de Lumières is a sound and light art show in a magnificent setting–in a limestone quarry! The art of world famous artists, with the use of numerous video projectors and 3D audio, are projected onto the quarry’s floors and walls accompanied by enchanting music. I have never seen anything like it!

This year’s art were of Bosch, Brueghel, and Arcimboldo’s. After forty minutes of mesmerizing visual and sound, I was still in a dreamy state when we walked up to the village of Les Baux. (Visitors must park in the lower part of the town and walk up to the historic village).

Wandering the old cobblestone streets, visitors will find charming cafés, souvenir shops, and art galleries. This dreamy, medieval, semi-ruined Provençal village is definitely well worth the visit especially for its picturesque setting and breathtaking views.

Michel suggested to go to La Reinne Jeanne for lunch, a French/Mediterranean restaurant that has gotten excellent reviews. Unfortunately we couldn’t get a table. It’s really too bad because the food seemed delicious and the restaurant had a nice view.

We could another restaurant that wasn’t too crowded. As we sat, the owner/server explained what’s in the menu, then she suggested (speaking in French) that “the mademoiselle can have a burger.” The three of us laughed once she left our table. First, she called me a mademoiselle (ahem, I’m maybe too old to be called that). Second, she suggested for me to have a burger. “Perhaps she could sense you’re from Texas!” Michel laughingly said.

The Dejeuner du Jour were explained to me as follows: lamb, duck, beef, and fish. I asked for fish since I rarely eat meat  (except for chicken and occasionally pork). Somehow something was lost in translation because my fish turned out to be squid. It’s a good thing Provençal cooking is delicious. My squid was perfectly cooked, not rubbery at all.

On the drive back to Avignon, we stopped at a perfume “museum.” I wasn’t overly impressed with it and probably the least of my favorites among the things I did/see in the Provence area. I wish we had gone to a winery instead! 😜

My pictures couldn’t capture the beauty of Les Baux-de-Provence but it was definitely one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to. I just wish it wasn’t very touristy but when a place is this beautiful, France has no choice but to share it to the world.

Exploring Provence: Medieval Avignon

Michel asked me what I wanted to do today. I told him I want to explore Avignon by myself, something that I wasn’t able to do the last time I was here.

That’s because the last time I was here with my cousin, she insisted on going to Nice and Monaco while we were in the south of France, to try to see as many cities within the very short time we were there.

I can explore Avignon in the morning, he told me, but I should come back to his house for lunch (his house is only a ten-minute walk from the city center). I suddenly had a flashback of that time we were together in Nice.

While we were driving around Nice looking for a place to eat, my cousin and I got really excited to see a McDonald’s. So we told Michel and (his partner then) Alain, that we wanted to try eating at a McDonald’s in France. I remember seeing the horror in their faces but reluctantly ate there anyway.

Imagine that! We were in one of the most sophisticated cities in the world and we freaking ate at McDonald’s! What could possibly be going though our heads?? I really hate sharing this story because it’s so embarrassing and I cringe every time I remember it!

I told him I didn’t need to come back to his house for lunch. I’ll just find a place to eat somewhere in town and promised him I won’t go to McDonald’s! He burst into laughter. Perhaps that’s the reason he asked me to come back for lunch to his house, he was afraid I’d eat at McDonald’s again! I told him that my cousin and I  were young and naive then and that we are much more sophisticated now! LOLOL! 😂😂😂
The medieval city of Avignon is entirely enclosed by a wall. Most of Avignon’s principal attractions are located within this wall, except for the Avignon Bridge. Michel told me as long as I don’t go outside the walls then it would be difficult for me to get lost.

I started my exploration inside the Palais des Papes, or the Pope’s Palace. The palace is actually bare and none of the artifacts from the 14th century were retained. However, they usually have special exhibitions by contemporary artists.

Philip IV of France was the force behind Clement V’s election, a Frenchman, to the papacy in 1305, an unpopular outcome in Rome. The result made Clement’s life as pope stressful. To escape the oppressive atmosphere in Rome, in 1309 Clement chose to move the papal capital to Avignon. There were seven “Avignonese Popes” who resided here until the papacy found it necessary to return to Rome.

The palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is now primarily a tourist site. It is also used for cultural  events and concert venues. Make sure to buy the entrance ticket for both the palace and the bridge.

The garden next to the palace has breathtaking views that overlooks the Pont d’Avignon and the Rhône River. People go there to read, eat lunch, or have picnic with friends.

It took me a a few hours exploring the area surrounding the palace, finding alleyways or stairs that led to interesting places.

I was looking forward to crossing the Pont Saint-Bénézet, best known as Pont d’Avignon. Also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is a famous medieval bridge in Avignon and the inspiration for the song, Sur le Pont d’Avignon. The bridge is not long and you can easily walk all of it in ten minutes (one way). This year one of my goals and challenges was to cross bridges which I did in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge and in New York’s Brooklyn Bridge. Pont d’Avignon is hands down the shortest and the easiest bridge.

After crossing the bridge, I went to the square to look for a place to eat lunch. I remembered the McDonald’s fiasco again and reminded myself to be a much better traveler (the crazy thing is I don’t even eat at McDonald’s or fast food places in America). I wanted to prove to Michel I really am much more sophisticated now.

So this is what I had for lunch…

Oh boy! Whatever happened to “I’m much more sophisticated now”? But, hey, at least I had a rosé with my lunch (that is sophistication in my book).

By the way, that pizza was so darn good!!!

From London to Avignon: a six hour journey via Eurostar 

After spending a night in London, I was ready to embark on my next adventure—a detour to Avignon before going to my final destination (Paris). Eurostar. the high speed train to Avignon is approximately six hours from London’s St. Pancras International. What an incredible train ride this was!

After spending a night in London, I was ready to embark on my next adventure—a detour to Avignon before going to my final destination (Paris). The high speed train to Avignon is approximately six hours from London’s St. Pancras International. Knowing I would be sitting for that long, I decided to get a premiere standard seat. I was, in fact, willing to splurge and tried to purchase the business premiere (I promised to spoil myself in this trip 😜) but too bad they were all sold out!

There are three direct routes to Avignon from London weekly (Mondays, Fridays, and Saturdays), otherwise you’d have to stop in Paris and transfer from Gare du Nord to Gare de Lyon. Not exactly what I wanted to do.

My seat was facing another seat and fortunately no one showed up or we would be touching toes the entire trip. The train was half empty which made it a relaxing trip. As I settled comfortably in my seat, the stewards brought my petit dejeuner—a tray with croissants, jam, yogurt, bottled water, and tea. Trains are so much more enjoyable than airplanes, unless of course you fly first or business class and it’s unfortunate we don’t have the option of high speed trains in the United States!

I wanted to stay awake, hoping I wouldn’t miss the beautiful scenery outside. But jet lag took control of my body and ended up snoozing pretty much the entire time. I was awoken by the sound of the cart being pushed around.  “Madam, would you like cheese bake or chicken?” the steward asked me. I was getting lunch too??? I thought the meal service ended with the breakfast! The $185 (one-way) I paid for this ticket was definitely worth it. In fact, it’s much cheaper than most one way plane tickets within the United States! (It cost us over $800 round trip from Dallas to Hawaii and all we got were peanuts and drinks for eight hours!)

I chose the more familiar dish (chicken) since I don’t know what a cheese bake is. Bristish food perhaps? The chicken actually tasted good! The lunch also came with a choice of wine—red, white, or rosé—but I opted out from drinking anything that’ll put me back to sleep.

I checked my watch and we were two hours away from destination. I thought of the time I went to visit my friend Michel in Avignon twenty-something years ago. I met him on a New York flight I worked as a flight attendant and we kept in touch by exchanging letters. Since then he’s moved to a different house, broke up with Alain (the partner he was with at the time), met Jacques (but unfortunately cancer took his life), then met another man (whom he is currently married), and has traveled the world (he was in Nepal during the massive earthquake in 2010). I wondered if we would recognize each other when we see each other at the TGV station.

I decided to go to Avignon because I wanted to see Michel again. Also, I didn’t get to see much of the Provence region when I went. My cousin came with me and she insisted on going to Nice and Monaco as well. Big mistake. That’s what happens when you travel with other people—you get easily manipulated by their plans and you often give up what you wanted to do. That’s why I’m doing this solo travel, because it’s time for me to do what want to do.

When I arrived in Avignon, I immediately spotted Michel waiting on the platform. He told me I haven’t changed much (I’ll take that as a compliment 😊). He introduced me to his partner/husband whose name is also Michel. He didn’t speak much English but thank God for google translation! We arrived at their house and fell in love with its Provençal themed decor (it’s at least how I envisioned a home in the Provence region—warm, cozy, colorful, and charming). I felt right at home.

I’m in a New York state of mind 

Working as a flight attendant on a trip assignment to New York, I can still remember my excitement as our plane started its descent. Looking down from the plane’s galley window, I saw magnificent views of undulating Manhattan skyscrapers. I felt butterflies in my stomach, that same feeling you get when you’re on a first date with the boy (or girl) of your dreams. I was eager to get off the plane, and as I strapped my seatbelt before landing, my anticipation tremendous. I could already feel the energy in Manhattan that night, waiting for me to uncover. It was my first time to set foot in the city and I was young, curious, and restless.

It was also on that same flight when I met a Frenchman named Michel, who I’m still in touch with up to this day. On my first trip to France, he invited me to visit him in Avignon, a city in southeastern France’s Provence region. En route, my cousin and I had quite the adventure via the three-hour TGV ride from Paris, filled with a lot of laughter and memories we will forever treasure together. When Michel picked us up at the station, he told me he lived with his partner, Louie. “I’m a om-seshual,” he told me. Unable to fathom the words he just uttered, I curled my nose, the thing I do when I have no idea what people are saying, and asked,”what do you mean?” He asked me if it was a problem, if it bothered me that he’s homosexual, it was only when I understood what he said. I laughed and told him it did not bother me one bit. It is, however, strange to me that homosexuals have to “confess” about their sexual orientation when heterosexuals are not subjected to the same expectations, so why should they be? It would be like me saying to someone I first meet, “hi, I’m Boots, I’m heterosexual!” Honestly, it’s no one else’s business who people choose to love. (Last I heard Michel and his new partner were trekking the Himalayas).
Since then, I’ve fallen madly in love with New York and have made lasting memories each time I visited. I’ve also lived there for a year, flying back and forth from JFK and La Guardia airports in 1995, before I moved to Tokyo with my husband shortly after our honeymoon in Italy. The time I was based in New York was probably the highlight of my airline career. The most memorable was a trip to Athens, Greece, where I was asked by the scheduling department, as a favor, to cover the assignment due to shortage of staff. Glad I did because on our way back to the States, the second officer accidentally opened an armed door and blew a slide. As a result, we stayed another night in Athens and had to share a hotel room with two other flight attendants, something out of the ordinary. But that’s not what made that trip extra-ordinary. Once we found out we were there for another night and none of the first class meals were consumed, our crew bagged everything up, from the caviar to the champagne. We brought all the goodies with us to the hotel and had a feast by poolside. If cellphones were already available then, we probably would’ve all been in trouble.

More recently, in the years 2012, 2013, and 2014, I went back each summer— for three years in a row—yet still couldn’t get enough of it. I have an inexplicable love affair with New York and if you ask me about a soul mate or a true love, I will tell you it’s not “who” but rather “where”.

This year, after exactly three years of being apart, I’m back to celebrate a milestone birthday. I normally don’t like celebrating my birthdays, and I never spend it away from my husband and two sons, but this year I felt I needed to be in New York , the city where I feel most alive.

It is after all the day of my birth, when I should feel most alive! So on that day, I crossed the Brooklyn Bridge! Because the next chapters of my life is unknown as life is always unpredictable. So I ask myself what happens next? Well, I’ll just cross the bridge when I get there. 😜