Monday, April 29, 2013

My favorite parts of Centre Georges Pompidou are the stores

On my last trip to Paris, I was with some friends who were visiting the city of lights for the first time. This meant that some of the places they wanted to visit, I've already seen, so when we went to the Centre Georges Pompidou, I told my friends that I would gladly meet them after they went around, preferring to kill time at the Museum Shop and Book Shop instead, my favorite part of any museum.

The imposing structure of Centre Georges Pompidou.
The line was so long to get inside, the wait was at least an hour.
You can actually see the queues outside the building from inside.
While my friends were looking around,
I was happy enough to do the same at the Museum Shop.
A Museum Shop is like what cliff notes is to a Novel.
You see all the collection highlights in the form of souvenirs.
They also have stuff for the home that will pass as Modern Art.
School Supplies in bright colors.
Alessi Magnets
Noteooks and Magnets of some of the work inside.
Cuff or Watch?
I always get tempted by the paper things for kids.
These lamps remind me of the SG$5 lamps in Ikea,
but I am guessing that these are more unique and pricier.
Gaspard et Lisa in front of the Pompidou and the Tour Eiffel.
While the shop was fun, the Book Shop was heaven.
I was so tempted to buy this for Sofia!
And this too!!!
But I walked away because they were expensive,
and we already own a lot of stamps (and we have thumbs!)
This artwork was inspired by the pictures above from Pompidou.
They had one whole paper section on anything Paris.
The Origami Collection can rival bookshops in Japan.
There were so many kits, I was so tempted.
But again I walked away because we owned a lot of similar things.
They had a big Washi Tape section, with Washi Tape Books!
Even in Japan, I don't remember seeing books.
They also had puzzle versions of the collections.
My favorite Museum Books were always the copy
 the painting books, but Monet was out of stock.
They also had a lot of Children's Activity Books in French.
Again, I was tempted by Charlie.
But then, we are still looking for Wally
in the many books I've already bought.
They had a Paris Cut and Fold Book.
Again I said no, because I remember we did this for free here.

If you love paper and all things Paris like I do, make sure you schedule a trip to the Museum Shops of Centre Georges Pompidou. You may be able to enter through the book shop entrance on the side (to skip the queues) but I am not sure. I definitely enjoyed it more than my visit to the actual museum many years ago. just saying.

Centre Georges Pompidou
19 Rue Beaubourg  
75004 Paris, France
Closed on Tuesdays
+33 1 44 78 47 99

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Eric Kayser, we meet again in Manhattan!

Our first day in New York was totally a foodie day. We had the orgasmic (according to When Harry met Sally) Patrami on Rye from Katz's  Delicatessen for lunch, the Shack Stack from Shake Shack for dinner and on the way home we passed by Maison Kayser for their artisanal baguette for breakfast tomorrow. I was so excited to visit Maison Kayser here so I bought other stuff as well.

Lunch at Katz's
Early dinner at Shake Shack

Over-indulging today didn't stop us in planning tomorrow's meals.
I was so happy to see Kayser!
The store had the same look and feel as his stores in Paris.
The artisanal baguette here is called Baguette Monge.
I am guessing inspired by his rue monge branches.
Sofia and Ady wanted pain au chocolat but there was none,
So I ordered the pastry with chocolate chips instead.
I couldn't resist ordering the lemon meringue tart.
It tastes just like the pie we bought from rue monge!
The filling was rich and creamy and not too tart.

I can't wait for breakfast tomorrow. I can already imagine the chewy baguette going really well with the liverwurst we had this morning. just saying.

Maison Kayser
1294 3rd Avenue
New York
Open 7am to 11pm

You can read about Eric Kayser in Paris here.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

New York Day 0 and Tokyo Stopover

Hello from Greenwich, CT!

I think we traveled for a full day, give or take a few hours. We took the 930am ANA flight from Manila with a quick stop-over in Tokyo that gave us just enough time to eat and buy some snacks.

The service in ANA was good enough but the meals were really bad. The best part was the rice, and I normally avoid carbs like hell.

The first thing I did in Narita was look for food.
I had chashu ramen with tamago and gyoza.
Sofia had 2 pieces of huge tempura with rice.
Ady ordered Soba with Ebi Tempura.

I barely slept on the 12 hour flight to New York but at least my stomach was happy for first half of the flight.

We arrived as scheduled, and it was a pleasant surprise that clearing immigration and customs was a breeze. Auntie Celita picked us up and as soon as we dropped of our bags operation Spoil Sofia had begun. 

My little girl is in heaven because Lola Celita already took her to 2 playgrounds and bought her 2 pairs of shoes with lights and bling.

More on that next time as our official itinerary starts tomorrow. Need to catch some Zzzzzz's.

Just wanted to blog using my new Samsung Galaxy Tab from my dad.
Thanks Papa!
Typing is a bit difficult, but it can be done! Maybe I'll be able to blog while vacationing.  just saying.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Mall in Florence has the best selection of Outlet Shops

Aside from all the eating I planned to do in Paris, my only other main destination in Europe was The Mall, the Luxury Outlet Shopping Center, in Florence. I have been a loyal visitor of La Vallée Village in Paris, I've even gone crazy shopping for the hour I was there last year (you can read about that here), but even that pales in comparison to The Mall, mainly because they have a really good selection of stores in one place. 

The Mall is 30-minutes away from Florence, in the green Tuscan Hills (as quoted by their website). It is easily accessible by direct bus from the SITA or Busitalia Station across the street from Firenze Santa Maria Novella (Main) Train Station. 

We arrived just in time to buy return tickets
 and board the bus,
(Euros 5 one-way, Euros 10 for return) 
We were aiming to catch the 10:00am bus,
but we made it just in time to catch the 9:30am one.
It's a nice 30-40 minute drive through the Tuscan Countryside.
I was so excited when the bus passed in front
We go dropped off right in front of the shops.
I was hungry when we boarded the bus,
but my hunger disappeared as soon as we arrived.
I only wanted to shop!
This is the store line-up.
Since I did my research on-line.
I just headed straight for Tod's first (It's way at the back).
The early bird catches the worm because I was able to grab this last
pair of Tod's shoes in my size.
I was also able to grab this bag for my friend.
It was the last piece and a Japanese couple had their eye on it.
They would get it every time I put it down,
but I just told them I was getting it.
I also bought the D-Styling 2 Manici  for myself in Nicotine.
The Sales Assistant was nice enough to bring the bag out
of the store so I could see the color in Natural Light.
It was only after I bought our bag did I realize that it was an "it-bag"
carried by Jennifer Garner, Blair Waldorf and the girl on Scandal.
I was so happy my shoes went well with my bag.
I finally gave in and got some nourishment at the cafe
to fortify myself for shopping in Prada.
I think the Cappuccino was only 1euro. Even the cafe was cheap.
I just had to take a picture before entering.
When you enter Prada,
the door man gives you a number.
You'll need to show this number every time you want
something, then they'll hold it for you.
When you're ready to pay,
you just give the number to the cashier.
The Prada Store was so big, it was a bit overwhelming, so you should have an idea where you want to start because the store is overflowing with Asians grabbing everything. You need to stay focused, go for what you've come for (because things run out fast), then browse leisurely afterwards. 

My first stop was the shoe section and I realized that Rumors of Euro50 Shoes in Prada is not just a Rumor or a Myth, it is TRUE. They have Euro50 Shoes!!! 
The shoes were actually MiuMiu
but these Nude Slingbacks were 50 Euros!
The wedge heels were really nice.
I also got this strappy bronze pair.
The Kitten Wedge Hell was also very sexy.
It really pays to go early because I was able to get the shoes I wanted in my size. I felt like I won the shoe lottery. They also had Prada shoes in Euros 75 and Euros 100 price points but the one I wanted was two sizes too big.  

After shoe shopping, I moved on to buying the stuff my friends asked me to get for them.
MiuMiu iPad Case and Prada Pouch
Prada Wallet in Cobalto Saffiano Leather
When I got this there were so many colors to choose from,
but after lunch, there was nothing left.
Prada Men's Wallet

The atmosphere in the store is one of urgency, with a fear that things will run out if you don't grab, so it gets expensive if you're competitive like me.
I impulse bought a Prada Gaufre Nappa Wallet
because I heard the magic words "That's the last one."
Since I wasn't sure I wanted a short wallet
(heck, I didn't even plan to buy a wallet)
I also bought a long MiuMiu wallet on impulse, this time because
the magic words were "It's on Special, Additional 50% Off"

The real reason I went to Prada, was because I wanted to buy a bag. 
The bag I wanted was the Prada Gaufre Nappa Bauletto.
But they only had it in baby pink.
Thanks, but No Thanks!

I realized that bag shopping at the Prada Outlet must be done at a leisurely pace because there were just so many nice bags all within the same price range, so it's really hard to choose just one. But if you take the time to look at each and every one, you'll know it when you find the right bag for you, because it will feel right, and you'll get a feeling that you absolutely must have it, which is not the case with all the other nice bags there.

That's how I felt when I saw the Prada Bauletto in Soft Calf Leather.
I swear, it was love at first sight. It's very similar to the style I wanted,
but because of the classy gold detail, it didn't feel like I was just settling.
I thought I got a classic alternative to the beautiful rusched bag I wanted.

The lines were quite long when I finally finished my selection, so I made friends with the handsome door man and I asked him if I could go for lunch first before I paid for the things I had reserved with my number and he told me to go ahead.

There was still a few minutes left before I had to meet my friends for lunch so I checked out the Lanvin store first. Both my friends were believers that Lanvin makes the most comfortable shoes on earth, well worth their exorbitant price tag. So while I wasn't willing to pay the price of Lanvin in Paris, I was totally willing to check it out at outlet prices.

The Lanvin store was quite small compared to
Tod's and Prada.
I walked out with a pair of black toe capped light pink flats in python skin.
The only catch is they only had it in 36 so it was a bit snug.
(and that was cold weather!!!)
I tried wearing it to work once and I was exhausted after wards
because my left foot was killing me.
In fairness, the right foot was fine. I tried to have it stretched,
but the shop just advised me it will stretch with use.

While some of my friends wanted a proper lunch, all I wanted was a quick bite to eat at the Cafe so we could go back to our shopping.
Tim and I had salad and pizza to share for lunch.
After lunch, I dragged him back to Prada with me so he could check out all my impulse purchases before I swiped my credit card. Hahaha.
Most of the shopping was mine, but some of the bags were Kim's.
I'm so happy Tim helped me carry some of my bags,
or I wouldn't have been able to buy more.
The girls outside Prada after lunch with our half-day haul..

After spending more hours in Prada, looking around in case I missed something the first time (which I didn't), I was almost ready to call it a day. My heart was already happy, and my credit cards have already been well-used. But out of curiosity, I wanted to take a peak inside Balenciaga where I looked for a bag for another friend, and YSL where I wanted to see if they had the bag I had a crush on.

I swear, I didn't plan on buying a third bag,
but they had they bag I wanted, in the size and color
I wanted, and they had an additional 30% off
only for 3 days, including the day I was there.
It was just meant to be mine.

After that, I was really ready to call it a day, so Kim and I just did our Downtown Tax Refund, where you can get cash back on the spot from the Tourist Refund Center at The Mall, as long as you leave the EU within and send back the tax refund form stamped by customs within 21 days. They will get your credit card details because they will debit your card with a 50% penalty if you fail to send in your stamped form.

Here are the details of the Downtown Cash Refund.
OC person that I am, I took a picture of my stamped forms just in case.
While waiting for our friends, Kim and I just had cake and coffee at the
cafe. It's a good thing we did because we stayed until closing.
It sure felt like I was running on coffee and shopping the whole day.
We caught the 7pm shuttle back to Florence.

It was really the best outlet shopping experience I've ever had. Just imagine, all the expensive bag brands in one shopping center - where all the stores sell what are normally expensive shoes and bags at NOT expensive prices. It was really shopping Heaven!!! The only catch is I probably need another expat stint, or a new job if I want to keep coming back because you can't buy just one. You have to be fair and buy all the good deals. Hahaha. just saying. 

THE MALL Outlet Centre
Via Europa 8
50066 Leccio Reggello (FI)
Open: Mon-Sun 10:00am-7:00pm

Daily service connects the centre of Florence to The Mall Outlet Centre and viceversa.
Departure: BUSITALIA/SITA depot  
Via Santa Caterina da Siena 17, Florence (near the central train station).
One-way ticket cost: 5.00€.