0 Krakow connection

Traditional Polish costume... I used to have one of these!
There's a little part of me that always feels like it's coming home when I land in Krakow. I relax easily into the cadence of the language, am soothed by the rhythm of the words and wrap the culture around me like a warm blanket. I stuff myself full of pierogi*, eat as much szarlotka* as I can get my hands on and fill what little room I have left in my stomach with icecream and thick hot chocolate from Wedel.

My favourite thing to do in Krakow is to wander through the 'Rynek' – the main square in town – dodging the horse and carriages, meandering down side streets and admiring the graceful old buildings standing sentinel around the perimeter of the square. I'll take a seat at one of the many outdoor tables that spring up during the summer, lazily watching people go past, letting the sound of the language wash over me – hearing, but not really listening to the babble of a hundred different conversations.

The Rynek Glowny (main square) with the Kosciol Mariacki (St Mary's Basilica)
in the background (left) and Sukiennice (Cloth Hall) on the right
Flower stalls and feeding pigeons in the Rynek... ah, fond memories

Wedding photos in the doorway of the Kościół św. Wojciecha (Church of St Wojciech)
When it gets too hot in the square, it's time to walk the 'Planty', a leafy path running around the edge of the Rynek, marking where the old castle walls used to stand. In the cool shade, couples stroll slowly, grandparents rest gratefully on benches and children play in the gardens. And then Kazimierz calls – the old Jewish Quarter, which is undergoing a renovation and revival. Think winding, cobblestoned streets, cozy cafes, quirky stores and funky people. It's also home of the most fantastic icecream in Poland (and possibly the world). I somehow always walk away with at least four (!) scoops of icecream, finding it far too difficult to choose between the flavours.

Icecream sundae at Camelot in the Rynek... try the Szarlotka there!

The beautiful streets of Kazimierz
My four days in Krakow flew by way too fast – my wonderful family sent me packing on my way to Madrid feeling loved, full of food and excited by the promise of a reunion next year in New York.

From Krakow, with love xox

* Pierogi are like a Polish version of ravioli  stuffed with cheese and potato, meat or cabbage and mushroom. Szarlotka is closest to an apple pie... but much, much better!

0 Wind down and dress ups in Florida

We spent the weekend in Orlando, Florida, more commonly known as Walt Disney world. The days were hot and the nights were balmy, the drinks were long and icy and the pool was cool and inviting.

Lovely husband C. and I decided early on not to do the theme park thing, so we settled in for a day of serious relaxing, involving a stack of books (metaphorically speaking that is, my e-reader doesn't quite have the same hefty feel as a literal stack) and plenty of quality time by the pool, punctuated by trips to the day spa for massages and facials.

But it wasn't all about relaxing. No, we had theme parties to attend. The first night was a beach theme party and the invite said to come barefoot, or wear "flip flops"*. Being Australian, I was pretty sure I had this look nailed. I threw on my denim cutoffs, white tee, a pair of crystallized havaianas and my straw boater and set off for the venue, accompanied by a boardie clad husband. We walked into a room full of women in cocktail dresses and jewelled sandals or high heels and not a hat or pair of boardies in sight. Turns out beach theme for a crowd of New Yorkers is worlds away from the laid back look we go for on the real beaches down under. Luckily lovely husband C. hadn't had time to find zinc to draw white stripes on his cheeks as he'd been planning...

The second night was a white theme. Being a quick study, I paired my cute little white Zara dress with peep toe high heels while lovely husband C. worked a European look… light cream chinos rolled partway up his shin and a button down white shirt with the sleeves pushed up. This time, we fit right in.

Birds of a feather... Orlando
The Swan Resort... 
Flying Fish on the Boardwalk
We're on our way back to NYC now, and tonight lovely husband C. flies out to Krakow, Poland. I'm looking forward to joining him soon, and can't wait to see my wonderful family and celebrate my cousin's wedding in Polish style.

From Orlando, with love xox

* While trying to remain resolutely Australian in my vocabulary, accent and spelling, this is one word I have to change. Wondering aloud to lovely husband C. where my thongs were elicited scandalized looks from those around us.

4 Summer shopping

The night before we moved out of our house in Melbourne, I was in tears. Trying to fit the contents of a three bedroom home into three suitcases and two carry-ons was daunting. In fact, I'd say it was downright traumatic. Tempers were frayed, stony looks were exchanged and short words were spoken. For every three items I put into the 'to take' pile, lovely husband C. moved two into the 'to ship' pile (aka arriving in three months pile).

My summer wardrobe (despite my optimistic attempts to pack it) was put firmly in the 'to ship" pile. Sensible really, as the average temperature in New York in April peaks at around the level of a mild winter's day in Melbourne. However, now we're in June and the last couple of weeks have also been mirroring Melbourne temperatures… in the height of summer. And here I am, waiting for the 'to ship' pile to arrive, without a flirty dress or a peep toe shoe to my name. And the container with the 'to ship' pile in it? At last check two weeks ago, it was still on a Melbourne dock waiting for a ship.

With an ocean between me and my summer clothes and a couple of days in sunny Florida scheduled for next weekend, I dragged lovely husband C. around Soho today on a mission. And for once, a targeted shopping trip was successful. I ended up with the following:

1 x Fedora from Urban Outfitters
1 x pair of Burberry peep toe ballerina flats
1 x pair of Hugo Boss Orange Aphrodites sandals
1 x pair of denim shorts from American Eagle
1 x pair of silk shorts from American Eagle
1 x pretty white sundress from Zara
1 x white tee from White House, Black Market

And… 1 x pair of Chanel Aviator sunglasses (because they were just way too cool to walk by!)

I have given full rein to my brand-love tendencies. Australian friends, take note – my Burberry and Hugo Boss shoes cost the equivalent of a pair of ballerina flats from Witchery (a favourite until my gorgeous designer friend M. moved on from there).

So that's it, my summer wardrobe is done. Ready for a trip to Florida and then a week in sun-drenched Europe. Hopefully I'll come back with a tan worthy of my new summer fashions.

Outfitted for more European summer days...
From New York, with love xox

1 Yesterday, in Chicago

Abruptly jolted from pleasant dreams when my alarm buzzes… insistently... multiple times. I snuggle deeper into my fluffy pillows and ignore it harder.

A soft drizzle turns into a downpour, accompanied by thunder and lightning. I decide to treat myself and take a cab the 500m to work. Much better than lugging my suitcase, laptop, coffee and umbrella across roads and through gardens - my beloved Paul Smith high heels with the pretty pink bows were most grateful.

Play facilitator in back to back meetings all day. Convince, coax and cajole and eventually get my way, smiling the entire time.  

Catch a cab to airport. Run in 30 minutes late but it's ok as the flight is running 30 minutes late too. Breathe a sigh of relief.  Stand in security line for 45 mins. Get undressed, x-rayed and finally herded through to gates. So looking forward to getting home to lovely husband C.

Board plane, taxi to runway and wait. I take advantage of the no laptop, no blackberry time (bliss) and snooze. Then the Captain announces a ground stop at destination NYC and turns off the engines.

Make idle conversation with the couple sitting next to me. He has three phones and looks like a successful oil tycoon. She looks like she rides pretty horses all day. I secretly covet his turquoise ring.  

The Captain apologises as we near the three hour limit and the plane taxies back to terminal… in Chicago.  Ravenously scoff a Dallas Dog and cheddar fries and wash it down with a bucket of coke. Feel my cholesterol spike to dangerously high levels and so resolve to eat healthier, exercise more and sleep 8 hours a night.

Wait another 30 minutes. Oil tycoon's wife and I joke the flight has been cancelled, only to find the flight has been cancelled when the car service in NYC rings me to rearrange my "limo"*. Exchange wry glances with oil tycoon's wife – looks like the joke's on us.

See a man walking through the airport. His large bunch of sunflowers make me smile. Decide he must be waiting for his girlfriend, who is a successful designer, returning from a long trip away for work. I'm sure she'll smile when she sees him too, happy to see the flowers because it means he's been thinking of her and even happier to see his face.

Smiley sunflowers in a drab airport, Chicago
From somewhere in the air between Chicago and New York (24 hours later), with love xox

* Sounds fancy, doesn't it. Really just a normal black sedan with tinted windows, no stretch.

4 The shoes are in the oven

I woke up on Saturday morning to the faint sounds of a piano playing, sunlight streaming through the window and a breeze blowing gently across my face. Bliss. A warm day and a whole weekend of setting up our new home and discovering the West Village ahead of us.

Our New York Home. I love it. It's a small, light filled space on the fifth floor of a walk-up in the heart of the West Village. The use of the term walk-up is literal… it's a walk up 65 stairs to our apartment. Yes, 65 stairs. Good for deterring thieves and cockroaches. Not so good if coming home after a few glasses of wine. That aside, being on the top floor does have many other advantages. The view from our bedroom window is green and leafy. I can see the sky across the low roofs of the other walk-ups and the spire of the Empire State Building is visible through our lounge room window.

Part of our home, sweet (New York) home...

Lovely, leafy views out of the bedroom window
Although furnishing the house isn't complete yet, it feels like home. My (new) vases are filled with flowers, my Bally poster is on the wall and I have gloriously scented candles in every room (all three of them). All we need now is lovely husband C. to finish assembling some more Ikea* furniture and our art, which has just left Melbourne despite the moving company packing it all up nine weeks ago.

We are so enamored with our little piece of the West Village that it doesn't even matter that we have no storage… my shoes are in the oven, which to me is an eminently sensible solution as I don't know how to use the oven anyway!

From New York, with love xox

* Just in case you’re wondering, we caught the ferry over to Ikea this time… definitely the best way to get there given our last experience

3 Twilight City

I decided on my way home from the airport today that dusk is my current favourite time of day in New York. The view of the city from the East as the cab speeds along is breathtaking. The sun hangs in the sky skimming the tops of skyscrapers as if suspended. The horizon is layered with an array of beautiful colours, from deep pink to dusky purple and inky blue. Everywhere, as far as the eye can see, there are lights twinkling in windows like the stars have been plucked from the sky and put in small boxes to shine brightly.

Each time I see the view, I realise anew that I'm actually in New York. That what I've seen in countless movies and photos and heard about in hundreds of songs is actually real and I'm now part of it. We're slowly carving out our own piece of Manhattan. This week I came home to the West Village for the first time, to our new apartment. Lovely husband C. met me on the steps of our walk-up, cooked me dinner and then meandered with me to Magnolia Bakery for dessert, visiting my current handbag crush at Mulberry on the way. A perfect evening to end a long week of work in Chicago.  

A twilight sail on the Hudson, Hoboken in the background
Seagull resting at twilight near Chelsea Piers
So West Village...
I'm looking forward to getting settled in our new home this weekend. I know another trip to Ikea is imminent, however, this time we're going to catch the boat over. We're quick learners after our last experience, which I wrote about here.

From New York, with love xox