greetings from Puglia

I slept until 10 a.m. this morning in my cozy dwelling here in Polignano a Mare, a coastal town in the heel of Italy overlooking the Adriatic Sea. I arrived yesterday from Lecce on the local train. I guess you could say that I’m slow travelling, to use the jargon of the day, though I never thought of it that way when I set out. My intention was to avoid plane travel if I could for two reasons: ecological reasons, and also because flying is such a stressful experience. I mean, having to weigh your suitcase at home, measure it and your carry-on with a tape measure, and then stand in line at the airport to be frisked, scanned and publicly scolded for deviant behavior (eg, packing a plastic bottle of suntan lotion in your carry-on) is not my idea of a good time.

Whereas train travel is. From Rome I took the train down to Lecce (5 hours). I have taken many photos, but cannot post them right now because I’m writing this on my tablet.

So what exactly is slow travel? I found one definition on the internet: a fully immersive experience and connecting with the locals (while being more ecological-minded.) I guess that crossing a street in central Rome and nearly getting myself killed while the driver of the vehicle screamed “Vaffanculo!!!” out the window could qualify as connecting with the locals. Oh, and this was at a pedestrian crossing. Geez, I thought the French were bad. (I won’t translate that swear word, it’s too rude.)

Another fully immersive experience would be sitting in a pizzeria watching the European election results on the TV screen, and learning that the majority of Italians had just voted for Matteo Salvini’s far-right, anti-immigrant, nationalist party called LEGA (the League.) Meanwhile, in France the far-right, anti-immigrant party scraped a narrow win (led by Marine Le Pen).

Other than that, I have encountered lovely people along the way and, as usual when I’m in this country, am thoroughly enjoying myself. From here it’s onwards to Bologna (by train) for 24 hours then up to Milan to connect to another train to Nice while leaving myself lots of time between train connections. Another definition of slow travel is to not rush around like a crazy person.

All my bookings were made via Trainline.

Ciao for now …







Paris street shots and birthday dinner at 404 Moroccan restaurant


So I went over to Monique’s apartment last evening for a celebratory glass of sparkling wine before heading out to the well-loved 404 located in the Marais district. It was her birthday. You definitely need to book ahead to get into this restaurant. I snapped some street shots along the way.

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Bonjour! Can I join you for a drink?

There’s a lot of tasty-looking men in this district, many are gay. Here’s the restaurant below. We got there early and the doors hadn’t opened yet. There’s a story behind the name, 404. I’ll tell you at the end of this post.



Monique and me.

I had the lamb and artichoke heart tagine. Monique had the vegetarian couscous. A tagine is an earthenware pot with a flat base and conical lid, used in North African cooking – most famously in Morocco. In French, it’s spelled tajine.


For dessert, M had a plate of sliced orange drizzled with orange flower water and cinnamon. I had a warm date pastilla topped with cream and something crunchy, slivered almonds probably.


OK, now for the story of the restaurant’s name. Owner and restaurateur, Mourad Mazouz, otherwise known as Momo, called it 404 as a tribute to the model of the old Peugeot cars that North African families drove during their summer returns to the home country. Mazouz also owns the insanely trendy and expensive restaurant in London’s Mayfair district, Sketch, as well as the Mayfair Moroccan restaurant, Momo.

Back in Paris, here are two other well-known couscous restaurants. Moroccan and Tunisian cuisine is big in France:

Chez Omar, 47 Rue de Bretagne, 75003 Paris (fun and popular in the Marais district)

Le Sirocco, 8 Bis Rue des Gobelins, 75013 Paris (more staid and serious and kinda out of the way)

Photo of London’s Sketch restaurant:


my local Sunday morning market and the opening of the new EATALY market in the Marais

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Markets are the soul and substance of France. All over the country, usually on a Sunday morning, French citizens flock to their local markets to barter, socialize, stroll and stock up on weekly provisions. My market is a 20-minute walk from my apartment and takes place on Sunday and Wednesday mornings. Here are some scenes.

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Plump scallops on the half shell, glistening sea bass, and scampi:

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This scene below cracked me up. The customers, engaged in animated conversation with the vendor, are seemingly unaware or unperturbed by the fact that a dead piglet is hanging ignominiously from a hook in front of them (This little piggy went to market…)  It’s called a cochon de lait which means suckling pig, so we can correctly assume that it was snatched from its mother’s teat then slaughtered. Also below are skinned rabbits.

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Goose eggs, fresh oysters from the Atlantic Coast, sausage and sauerkraut, mangos from Africa, tulips and hyacinths from Holland. An embarrassment of riches, and sometimes it feels embarrassing when you think of all that we have, and others who do not.

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Some friendly gazes and some not so friendly.  

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Yikes, look at those glacial stares. This market is in a fairly well-heeled district as you can probably tell by the fur coats and supercilious air of some of the denizens.

Laden with produce, I repaired to the nearest café for a tartine and espresso. A tartine is half a baguette spread with butter. I wouldn’t have minded a dollop of raspberry jam, but they were all out.

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Speaking of markets, EATALY has just opened in the Marais district. All Italian, I can’t wait to go. Here are some beautiful photos in the link below: