Wednesday, March 7, 2012

My obsessions

I can be a bit obsessive, it's true. A lifetime of obsessions ranging from scouring flea markets to collecting children's books (even before I actually had a child, *blush*) to inspecting every single stall of the farmer's market seem to have come to a head here in Paris. It seems like just about everything I obsess over is right here in front of me or a short search away. A couple of weekends ago, we went to the old book market at Porte de Vanves, a former butcher's market. I wasn't looking for anything in particular, but it was so dreamy to just wander from table to table, waiting for something to call out to me. And, of course, soon enough, I came across a bilingual French-Russian volume of Soviet children's stories. Ah, the Soviets, one of my strange obsessions- maybe because I am a child of the 80s, maybe because I am fascinated by the strange impact of the Soviets on Cuba in their heyday, maybe because I am just weird. I walked away from the book and kept thinking about it, through the rest of a lovely afternoon at the Parc George Bressons next to the book market, through a trip to an outpost of amazing French bakery Poilane, through the eating of an entire bag of beignets. So I went back, afraid that maybe someone else had snapped up that random children's book in the few hours that had elapsed or that perhaps the proprietor had realized its true value and suddenly tripled the price! Or decided not to sell it! (Ah, the inner workings of the obsessive mind.) But no, there it was, mine for the taking for just two Euros. The children's reading primer, all in Russian, that was lying beneath the story book, however, I left there. And I have been thinking about it ever since...

Some of the other things I've been obsessing over are French cooking magazines and French children's books. Luckily, they're both quite useful to have around when I have to feed a family daily and read a minimum of three books at bedtime to Malanga Girl, plus at least another one or two during the rest of the day. There's no other adjective but charmant (charming) to accurately convey the lure of French children's books. Our shelves will be groaning and sighing under the weight of so many books before we leave this country. And our bellies will be full of French-cooking-magazine goodness.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Sevilla tiene un color especial...

We couldn't resist a jaunt down to Sevilla for a few days during Malanga Girl's school break. Did you know that French children get a TWO WEEK vacation every six weeks? Well, neither did I. Good thing I was able to come up with a quick plan to get us some fun and sunshine.

Not sure what to do in Sevilla with a small child? If strolling around the beautiful Parque de Maria Luisa isn't enough, you're sure to run into a playground while you wander the streets. There is at least one right inside the Parque de Maria Luisa (we spent such a long time there, I never got to see if there was another one within the large park's confines). There's another lovely one in the Prado de San Sebastian, right off of Avenida del Cid, where the bus from the airport drops one off. We also discovered one in the Jardines de Cristina (near the Puerta de Jerez) that was designed for two-year-olds, but was a lot of fun for my almost-four-year-old.

The big draw for us, however, was flamenco. Eyeing the shop windows on Calle Cuna alone was a treat, since every gorgeous dress, fan and sparkling hair comb is out on display during these weeks leading up to the April Feria. The real deal dresses cost several hundred euros, but luckily the tourist shops around the Cathedral sell kid-sized dresses in your choice of pink and black polka-dots, red and black polka-dots, or red and white polka-dots for about 10 Euros each. (Shop around as the prices can vary a bit from store to store, as well as the size and color selection.) Malanga Girl stocked up on a matching fan, hair combs, hair flower and shoes as well and was quite excited to stomp away in her new shoes in our hotel room every evening.

The Museo del baile flamenco was worth a visit. The interactive exhibits were a lot of fun for both Malanga Girl and this Malanga Mama. The highlight of our "ruta del flamenco," however, was a show at the Casa de la Memoria on Calle Ximenez de Enciso (Barrio de Sta. Cruz). While they don't technically let small children in, I smooth talked our way in and Malanga Girl was perfectly behaved for the whole 1 hour & 10 minute show, even though it was way past her bedtime. She was absolutely transfixed by the fancy footwork on stage.

And now we're back in Paris, where things are starting to feel a little more like "home."