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A LOVE AFFAIR WITH PARIS

In a Heart to Heart with Goa’s lifestyle writer Ethel Da Costa, Goan winner of the Blenders Pride Magical Nights Fashion Selfie Contest, Dr. Linoshka D'Silva — who chose Paris as her fashion destination — recounts her dream come true, living a holiday of a lifetime!

 

DREAMS DO COME TRUE

''I had the most magical time in Paris! Truly a trip of a lifetime! I remember exactly about a year ago watching the movie, 'The Holiday' and thinking to myself, 'Wow! How great would this be! To be on vacation in a completely new place where you don't know anyone, just like Kate and Cameron in the movie. Or, like Julia Roberts in 'Eat, Pray and Love'.' I remember immediately after the movie I checked out the website shown in the film for exchange homes, except I knew in every cell of my body exactly the place I've always wanted to go — Paris! I checked out the small chalets people offered on rent, checked the airfare, got in touch with my friend who attended a one—month exchange program to teach in Paris. I was all fired up! However, somehow I got caught up with work and life and time seemed to pass on… until once again the Universe decided to give me a gentle reminder with an even bigger opportunity. 

 

A LUNCH CHANGED IT ALL

My fiancé took me and my mum out to lunch in Panjim, and afterward, we decided to just hang out at Caculo Mall. I can never forget that moment. I read 'Blenders Pride Fashion Selfie Contest' with my favourite Bollywood celebrity Priyanka Chopra elegantly poised on a billboard. It read, win a trip to one of the fashion capitals — London, Milan, Rome and OMG - PARIS!!! Can this be true? I just stopped in my tracks and thought to myself and distinctly remember saying to my fiancé too, "Oh My God! This is it! This is how I'm going to Paris!" I hesitated for a moment, but with their support went forward to enquire about the details of the contest. From then on, the journey began! 

 

PERSEVERANCE ALWAYS PAYS

The number of times I went with my fiancé to the store to get the code for the contest which was available on purchasing the Blenders Pride whiskey! All worth it. I began using the Blenders Pride whiskey to whip up my batch of homemade Irish cream which is everyone's favourite. I knew the contest would be a while, but in the mean time on my third entry, I had won a trip for two to Kolkata to attend the Blenders Pride Fashion Tour at The Oberoi! My mum and I thoroughly enjoyed the fashion show and the whole trip. The star of the evening was, of course, the very glamorous and beautiful Sushmita Sen! This boosted up my hopes even more! I continued posting my selfie entries ranging from desi, summery and cowgirl to Christmassy, one even with a Santa Claus in the background getting boozy with Blenders Pride whiskey. I put my best smile forward as I waited eagerly for the results. Finally, when the day came and I saw my photo announced as one of the two winners, I started jumping for joy! My excitement knew no boundaries! My dream had come true! 

 

LOVE AFFAIR WITH PARIS

I've been in love with Paris ever since I spent five years learning the romantic language of Français. The city of love, light and fashion awaited me! I was on top of the world… and so eager to get there. The entire team was so great; they all worked so well to make my trip smooth, hassle free and the most magnificent, with special thanks to Puneet Gautam, with whom I had most of my interactions on behalf of the company, and Rakesh Dhareshwar and Vivek Satam. I packed my bag a month and a half earlier as I awaited my visa and got ready to have the time of my life! A close few were a little apprehensive about my solo travel, but I knew this one had to be by myself; after all, I had worked it out in my head a hundred times earlier. I knew I would find my answers in Paris — I didn't know how, but I just knew! There were definitively times when I felt nervous and excited at the same time, given that this was my first to Europe. Nonetheless, I can't imagine anything else spicing up my adventurous journey ahead than a few nerves. I bid farewell to my folks and I was off! I recall vividly as I took off Goan soil looking out my window seat feeling emotional and teary eyed, in complete awe of what the Universe gifted me — my trip of a lifetime — Paris, here I come! 

 

PARIS HERE I COME

Travelling solo is something else entirely — everything from meeting the kindest strangers along the way to eating a delicious meal while flying over myriad countries... it's a love affair with yourself and I'd highly recommend it to try it at least once. By the time I cleared the hustle bustle of the Charles De Gaulle Airport, I met my driver who was the first Parisian I had ever met and had a great long conversation with in French. But of course! She understood me and I understood her! When you study academically and when you actually converse with a native with layers and layers of that French accent I love so much, it was just magical, I tell you! It gets mundane later on, but that very first conversation… that's the one that gives you butterflies in the stomach and the reassurance that all those years studying and topping the State exams did not go in vain. Paris from the very first moment had me in a love spell!

 

FOOD, FASHION, MAGIC. JE’T'AIME PARIS

The drive was amazing with vast stretches of beautiful green and the perfect chilly weather of 12C while the sun shined brilliantly. I arrived at my hotel — Villa Royale Montsouris based in the 14TH arrondissement of South Paris which was comfortable, cozy and just a two minute walk away to the nearest metro station, Porte d' Orleans. The hotel had beautiful blue Moroccan styled decor and a courteous helpful staff. As I walked onto the street, it was like walking into a postcard. For some strange reason, I felt perfectly at home. The metro is super easy, fast and convenient to commute in Paris. Within minutes I found myself walking onto the street of Rue des Pyramides, where after confirming with the travel office I headed out to the famous Café Angelina on Rue de Rivoli. I ordered their renowned Chocolat Chaud (hot chocolate) which is so velvety rich it took me to heaven the moment it kissed my lips. It's literally molten, very good chocolate! They even serve it up with a small cup of whipped cream to thin it out for those who can't handle the richness! After the last sip, I knew what lay ahead was even more magical and magnificent! La Tour Eiffel in all her majestic glory!!! There is something so romantic about cruising along the River Seine… gazing at the beauty of this magnificent city and the mesmerising architecture! The sun sets pretty late during Spring Summer in Paris, which I used to my full advantage, while I listened to its history along the night city bus tour. Then La Tour Eiffel by night, and when she glitters for the first few minutes of every hour — Oh Mon Dieu! It is something I cannot describe in words… you have to be there while onlookers gasp as she brilliantly shines over Paris. And what's more lovely — to climb onto the floors of the tower with a spectacular bird's eye view of the City de la Lumière (City of Light). 

 

I accomplished a lot on my to-eat list while in Paris. The croissants, pain au chocolat and pain au raisin particularly I still crave for! The amount of layers of delicious butter is truly sinful. I was determined to eat la glace (ice-cream) from La Maison de Berthillon, even if it meant finding my way around the city in four-inch boots (just trying to blend in this super chic house of fashion). It was worth every step, as I ticked off another list off from my food list — Croque Monsieur. As the church bells rang from the small café I sat across directly adjacent to the very beautiful Notre Dame, I looked into the beautiful blue skies and admired the gothic architecture and onlooking gargoyles from high above. Fuelled and charged up again, I made way to Berthillon, only to find a jolly young group of musicians performing on a tiny pont (bridge) just across from the Berthillon. Everyone enjoyed the music and cheered on as I felt warm and fuzzy inside my heart. I knew very well the effect of this particular song on me because my fiancé sang it to me on our engagement (*blush**blush*). Yes, I loved the solo travel, but there were loads of moments when I missed him so much because it's such a romantic beautiful city — you see couples everywhere — hugging affectionately or kissing! I finally made it to Berthillon where I had the most amazing melt-in-the-mouth passion fruit and salted caramel ice-cream of all time! I continued exploring the city by myself as I walked across Pont Neuf, where it is tradition in Paris for lovers to plant a lock onto the bridge with their initials and throw the keys into the river! I was even luckier to be here since a few days later, the locks were removed by the government as it causes the bridge to crack with the weight. Lucky me, so I've been told. Later, I headed to the Versailles Palace to admire the beautiful architecture, paintings and history. I also found my way around Sacre Coeur (Sacred heart), Montmatre, L'Arc de Triomphe, the shopping streets of the famous Champs Élysées dotted by several stores of Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Dolce and Gabbana, Monoprix etc. Ah! City de la Mode (House of Fashion)!! I truly met some incredibly sweet friendly people all throughout my trip. I even managed to get a picture with the good looking French police outside the Louvre Museum. Men in uniforms! Sigh! Now, my fiancé would say, I was probably missing him since he dressed as a cop last Halloween. I had lots and lots of fromage (cheese) in Paris and boy, it was incredible! As was the other things I checked off my list — soupe de l'oignon (onion soup slowly cooked in a delicious tenderloin broth and covered in a blanket of cheese), foie gras (a French speciality made from duck liver paste), jambon (French ham) and baguettes (French bread). By now, you already know what a foodie I am, but my real weakness is dessert and I satisfied all of my sweet tooth cravings — Nutella crèpes (a-must-eat in Paris ), tart au citron (lemon tart), clafoutis aux cerises, tart aux fromboises (raspberry tart) and even tart aux fraises (strawberry tart) for celebrating Mother's Day in Paris! And not to forget, the macaroon addict that I am only from the best, Ladurée where I enjoyed the most exquisite, exotic, mouth-watering flavours! I made sure not to forget a ton of Eiffel Tower souvenirs for everyone back home and goodies as well! 

 

Every moment of the trip was an adventure! I met the nicest people all throughout and all the way I was thanking the Universe for this incredible experience! My love affair with Paris, the food, the fashion, the beauty, the magnificence of it all! And as I took off Parisian soil — I promised her, "I'll be back soon avec mon mari" (with my husband).

 
ETHEL DA COSTA
 
16-JUNE-2015
 
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1 Comments
 
17-JUNE-2015 Pietyz
Superb... very well written about a classic experience of a lifetime...!!!
 
 
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