What a lucky lady I am! One of my Turkish colleagues recently got married in Istanbul and invited me to come along! How could I say no?

Instanbul reminds me a lot of New York City: a little bit gritty, full of hustlers, charming, exciting, and full of beautiful things.

It took me 2 hours in stop and go traffic to get from the airport to my hotel. I was shocked to find that traffic was so bad, there were multiple people standing in between the lanes selling water, pretzels, and flowers. Happily, I didn’t have to do any other driving while I was there.

instanbul traffic Continue reading


Nantes is the 6th largest city in France, located near the west coast where the Loire River empties into the sea. It has been an important port and point of entry into Europe by sea for many years, with bustling trade and boat building activities. As the economy has shifted, Nantes has changed too, redeveloping the Ile de Nantes as the city centre with loads of great shops, restaurants, and fun things to do (like the famous, mechanical elephant).

nantes mechanical elephant

The 40 foot tall mechanical elephant lives in a big open barn type building and walks out each day to take a tour of the grand plaza on the ile, carrying up to 50 lucky passengers with him. Unfortunately, he was resting when we went to visit, so we only got to look up at him from the ground. Still quite impressive and unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

Nantes is filled with this kind of whimsical art that is a little bit surreal and a whole lot of delightful. We stayed near the Jardin de Plantes (creative name) that features loads of art installations. This one was a particular favourite (yes, those are regular, little, old ladies under that enormous bench and sleeping bush-bird):

nantes garden bench contemporary art

We also spotted things like this enormous tape measure Continue reading