Finding my Footing

The ins and outs of day-to-day life have now found their groove and I’ve immersed myself into the, “I’m living here,” mentality that is necessary when you call a place “home”. My weekdays have routines that include several dog walks, hours dedicated to work, the daily grocery run (I’ve become appreciative of buying what you need and keeping space for what you’ll really use or eat), and the dinner prep while watching Netflix show reruns. While routine sounds mundane, I’m actually loving every single day as if it were my first here.

Part of that love comes from feeling grateful. My life at this moment is better than I could have ever imagined and I am happier than I’ve ever been. Not only do I have a partner who loves, honors, respects, and supports me with a relationship that is beyond easy, is filled with healthy communication and compromise, and who I don’t remember arguing with on more than one occasion, I am living in a beautiful, safe, inspiring city on a continent I dreamed of, and I have time in my day to dedicate to me, my passions, and taking care of my little family. Who could ask for more?

In the process of establishing myself over here, I have been posting less on WordPress. I mentioned to a friend that I don’t think people want to hear about any ol’ day in the life of Claudia and he mentioned that I need to write it in a way that makes people want to read it. But at the same time, I’ve been distancing myself from sharing my life on social media because I’ve noticed that happy people make other people resentful. It’s one of the reasons why I no longer use Facebook or Instagram; it is a strange thing to watch someone’s life from the sidelines and hate them for their happiness.

My life is genuinely filled with happiness, no conflict, beautiful days (other than this killer summer cold I’m fighting), colour, light, passion and pleasure. I am truly living a life that some people can only imagine, and smiling until my cheeks hurt. Every day my beautiful boyfriend asks me, “Are you happy?” and every day I answer, “of course!” How could I be anything but happy?

In other news, I’m really enjoying how I am expanding my cooking repertoire. The fresh ingredients from markets or even the grocery store make for food that leaves you sighing as it touches your tongue, flavours that burst with every bite, and a smiling partner who sits across from me, declaring, “This is amazing,” at every opportunity.

Some absolutely beautiful rose mushrooms from the market made the most outstanding, creamy mushroom soup I’ve ever eaten. Fresh avocados and tomatoes were the key in a tapas style Friday dinner (that was apparently so good, it needed to be used for Saturday breakfast, as well). And then the local restaurants have yet to let me down where meal after meal is just phenomenal and a pleasure to devour, particularly the truffle mushroom pasta from the Italian restaurant that is always overflowing with customers, locals and tourists.

We are coming up on a month of me having lived here (where does time go?) and despite getting into that every day groove, it’s still unbelievable to me that I should be living here, building a life here, and having the opportunity to be with my little family in the gorgeous city of Strasbourg, France.

Apologies, this is where I end the blog. My brain is foggy, my nose is stuffed, and I have some mushrooms to chop up for a truffle mushroom dish made with fresh pasta I bought off the cheese vendor – it was market day outside the apartment; my favourite day.

Never mind – every day is my favourite day. Life is swell.


Nightfall & Rainfall

I was told that I would get sick of the church bells but I still look forward to each quarter when they ring.
I was told that once the city becomes familiar it will stop being exciting, but I still smile each step out of my apartment door.
And I came with the intention to walk everywhere, but the discovery of the simplicity of the tram system has me changing my mind.

Ah, yes. That’s a Galleries Lafayette you see in those top photos. Strasbourg has one of it’s own. But that’s really where the similarities of Paris and Strasbourg end.
It’s a much quieter city. It feels safe at all hours of the day. There always seems to be a market happening on some street you walk by. The people are far more patient, polite, and enthusiastic about your presence (whether in a shop, restaurant, or just walking down the street – you get a nod). The tram (as opposed to the metro) is spotless, plays music at each stop, and just seems more organized and accessible (good luck getting on a metro in Paris if you’re handicapped).

Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m not bad-mouthing Paris. I love my city. Yes, my city. It will always be my city. But I’ve said it before – it’s disorganized and can feel unsafe and is tainted in many ways. It’s no less fabulous or fantastic, it’s just different. And as I’ve also mentioned in ye old blog of past, when you live in a city, it’s a totally different experience than visiting as a tourist. I am feeling what that truly means by having lived in both Paris and, now, Strasbourg France.

Here, in Strasbourg, I’m living in France, experiencing clear French lifestyle and culture, but it is all drowning in that provence mentality (much like a Southern Italian mentality that I am very familiar with). It’s a mentality of knowing what it means to live your life, to cultivate happiness, and not letting small problems turn into big worries. It’s about cherishing those apero moments with your loved ones and friends and using the weekends as they’re meant to be used: slow strolls, lazy lounging on terraces, and lots of delicious wine and cheese.

Paris understands all that as well, it’s just moving at a bit of a faster pace and already thinking about Monday on a Friday evening, if you know what I mean!

These are the first pictures I’ve taken of Strasbourg at night. The photos don’t even capture the beauty of it in person. I’m using my phone camera, keep that in mind, and it can only grasp so much. These were taken city-centre on a Saturday night, and you can see how quiet it is. But! Still very much alive! Restaurants and bars are packed – we almost had difficulty getting a seat for dinner.

The past few days have been raining, which is my favourite way to explore a city. Streets are emptier, the air feels renewed, and there is something so calm and beautiful in the sound of rain hitting pavement. This morning was a thunderstorm which is simply the best. It was so cloudy that we had a chance to open up our eastern facing balcony windows, which usually have a hard hitting sun that heats up our place and can’t be opened before 14h. Thunderstorms, a fresh breeze, a delicious cup of coffee, and a good book – who could ask for more?

I hope the universe is treating you as beautifully as it is treating me. Happy Friday! I’m looking forward to an uninterrupted weekend with the love of my life.


Glimpses into Life Overseas

Just another beautiful few days with my beautiful man, my beautiful dog, in my beautiful city.

I actually walked to city centre and back without a GPS so I’m already getting my bearings! I went shopping downtown yesterday, and today was the market on our street. I headed out early enough and lucked out with fresh, homemade pasta (agnolotti) made by the usual cheese vendor I visit.

I have begun to recognize market vendors and have made it a habit to visit the same ones today, so they start to recognize me, too (though, tattoos always help with this). I went to the same cheese vendor, same fruit stall, same artisnal bread vendor, and same old Greek olive vendor (he always sneaks me in some extra olives). Tonight’s dinner will be an array of cheese and the fresh pasta with leftover sauce that I made on the weekend. But first: apero with fresh olives!

There is a kind old lady who lives on the 4th floor of our apartment who I see every other morning when I bring Rukia out to pee. She is so, so kind! She always greets Rukia with, “SALUT MA BELLE!” and cuddles her, pets her, gives her kisses, telling me how much she misses having a dog since hers died. I have grown rather attached to this woman… I look forward to running into her.

But the best part of living in this city is waking up to my best friend, every morning.

Life is perfect and I am so blessed.

Weekend Joys

What I love most about weekends is being able to spend them with Jordan. No work separating our time together. Just me, my love, and occasionally the baby (dog) if she is feeling energetic enough to join.

This weekend we went quickly to Kehl, Germany (eight minutes from the apartment) for some errands, and then drove to Colmar which was about 50 minutes from Strasbourg. We drove through the villages along the way, rather than taking the highway, and it was endlessly spectacular. Colmar is so, so stunning. Truly a fairy tale city. It was very much like being in the Beauty & the Beast story. It was absolutely packed with tourists but was no less enjoyable.

We took the trip just the two of us because Rukia was sore and exhausted from a long walk the day before. She did so well on her own – we have a camera to watch her and she slept the whole time she was in the apartment. I am so proud of my baby and how well she is adjusting.

The photos below begin with Friday evening apero by yours truly, followed by dinner at an amazing vegan restaurant around the corner from us. And then progresses through to Kehl, the medieval village (Seleste I think?) and finally a gorgeous castle on the mountain before the Colmar pictures. Jordan is texting my mother in the cell phone photo…Haha buddies!

Outstanding, isn’t it? Honestly, the pictures do this city no justice. It’s even more spectacular in person. Every single corner of this city had me pulling out my phone to take more photos.

Our blue skies turned grey and we left before an afternoon rain, I’m sure, but it was the most lovely day. The restaurant we went to was reasonably priced for a tourist hotspot and was very delicious.

If you’re ever in the Alsace region, a visit to Colmar is very necessary. I understand why Jordan said it was his grandparents’ favourite city. I cannot wait to go back.

Hope you are having a beautiful weekend, wherever you are reading from!


Strasbourg Life

Here are a few meals I’ve made over the last few days:

All fresh market purchases: spinach, red pepper, and mango salad (in a white wine dressing), bruschetta made by me on some artisnal bread, and garlic eggplants wrapped around roasted peppers and rockfort cheese with basil.
Spaghetti tossed in a white wine, cherry tomato, and chevre (goat cheese) sauce, and then some lightly cooked spinach thrown in at the end.
Moroccan carrots (a favourite dish of Jordan that I tried for the first time), Alsacian flam with the best caramelized onions of all time, fig, goat cheese, arugula (rocket) salad, and drizzled with balsamic glaze.
This particular meal received the comment: “I could honestly eat these two things, every day, for the rest of my life.”

And there is nothing quite like walking to the terrace of a brasserie and relaxing with some Rosé for the evening. Even Rukia has taken to French life, being exceptionally behaved while at the terrace, and walking off leash through the city, trotting along happily. Strasbourg looks good on her.

Honestly, it is still difficult to believe that I’m back in and building a life in France. When I was taking the train from Strasbourg to Paris (to get Rukia), I was reminded of the beauty of Europe. Farm land, beautiful, old farm houses, medieval towns scattered along random hillsides… I fall more and more in love with what this country shows me.

We are planning to go to Colmar tomorrow, which is part of the Alsace region and about an hour drive away. It looks absolutely stunning. I can’t wait for our first family weekend.

As for tonight; dinner out for Shabbat at a vegan restaurant down the block. Shabbat shalom, friends.