Visiting Three Monarchies, Part 3: Stockholm

“Vacation” is usually not the first association when you hear “Stockholm.” On our itinerary this city got by chance: we live so far away from Europe, that there is a limited number of direct flights between us and the Old World. Barcelona did not have any, so to get back home we’d have to do a plane change. If you were to add an extra flight and a couple of hours for transfer, the trip would easily stretch for 17+ hours – something that I try to avoid whenever possible. So while planning the vacation, we decided we’d do a couple of days’ stopover in one of the direct-flights-reach cities. Stockholm was the one with the best combination of schedules and fares. The fact that all three destinations were monarchies had dawned on us much later – at Livrustkammaren (The Royal Armory in Stockholm) as we were discussing that not a single Royalty has acknowledged our presence in any of the visited countries…

Accommodations

For a change, for that last part of the trip we went for a hotel room. It was a pleasant hotel decorated in the style of Roaring Twenties. Our room was quiet, had heavy curtains and a very comfortable bed, in which we finally had a good night sleep (the first night we slept for 12 hours straight).

Haymarket Hotel Stockholm

It was rather cold (+14C after +26C in Barcelona) and raining; we discovered that Stockholm was a very practical and minimalistic city, even its old town part; but somehow it felt very comforting and friendly. The first evening as we walking in the rain enjoying clean and orderly streets, we came across a small park inside the Art Nouveau building of Stockholm’s Central Pool (Centralbadet) built in the beginning of the previous century. It was an absolutely magical experience: beautiful lilacs and other blossoms in the drizzle of evening rain. I felt happy.

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Three days that we spent there was a delightful coda to our vacation.

Perfumes I took with me

Following the idea of bringing to this vacation only perfumes local to the destination, I packed a couple of decants and a sample from the only Swedish brand I had in my collection – Byredo. La Tulipe was just amazing, and I might re-consider wearing it only as a summer perfume: it was wonderful in the colder weather. Pulp was predictably good. I hope these both perfumes are still available once I finish the decants I have. Bal D’Afrique, which I brought with me for further testing, was nice but not enough for me to go for a bottle.

Perfumes I tested

After my London and Barcelona perfume escapades, I didn’t plan to do much more perfume testing but I still managed to visit a couple of perfume spots – a perfume department in the luxury department store NK and a standalone perfumery Insanto.

Both places had interesting selection of perfumes but not too many of the brands not available elsewhere, and I concentrated my testing mostly on those brands, to which I do not have an easy access.

Insanto Stockholm

Perfumes I didn’t buy

Perfume prices in Sweden do not impel spontaneous perfume purchases. Also, there weren’t that many Swedish brands – so most of the tested perfumes did not fit the original intent to get “souvenirs” from the countries I visited. But several perfumes that I liked while testing on skin are worth mentioning: were they “Made in Sweden,” I would have considered buying one of these.

I love and own two perfumes by Keiko Mecheri but because this brand is not available where I live I’m not too familiar with their line. That’s why I was interested to try at least some of the perfumes – even though I didn’t think I’d buy them there. I thought that Bois Satin smelled very nice, and I hope to be able to test it again soon.

For a long time I stayed away from Xerjoff: even though I tested occasionally some of their perfumes that came my way one way or the other, I didn’t make any conscious attempts to follow their new releases, and of those perfumes that I tried before I didn’t warm up enough to any to go even for a decant. They clearly like Xerjoff in Sweden: I saw it in both stores where I tested perfumes (and I want to remind you that one of them was a department store). So I gave up and tested some of the perfumes. I liked several on paper and then one on my skin. I don’t know why I happen to like the one that is sold out almost everywhere – XJ 1861 Naxos. Now I’ll have to locate a sample to test it again before I start scavenging eBay and FB groups for a bottle.

I’ve never heard of either the “famous Costes Hotel in Paris” (Fragrantica) or the eponymous perfume that Olivia Giacobetti created for that hotel in 2004, but when I tested Costes for the first time, I liked it. I’m not completely sure yet how I feel about perfumes that perfume shops create under their own brands – let alone perfumes for hotels, so I will try Costes again if I come across it somewhere but I won’t probably be actively looking for it.

Stockholm Blotters

Speaking of hotel perfumes, the only perfume I was seriously considering on this part of the trip was perfume sold in the hotel’s gift shop: No 1 Haymarket Eau de Parfum. The scent is described as: “Velvetly vanilla, powdery ambergris, and smoky sandalwood united with modern and surprising tones of bergamot, citrus and a hint of pepper.” For a couple of days I would be stopping by the gift shop to apply this perfume and then would keep smelling my wrist… for the next couple of hours while perfume was still discernible. I thought it was nice. It was local. And it wasn’t even expensive (less than $30 for a 30 ml bottle). Why didn’t I buy it? I realized that with all the great perfumes that I already had in my collection (and several more that I might be considering after more tests), I would just never have time for this pleasant but nondescript little number – no matter how warm I felt about that hotel that sheltered us in the final part of our turbulent vacation.

Haymarket Hotel EdP No1

Just in case you got drowned in the endless parts of my trip: it was the last one, and in the next post Rusty and I will finally reveal what perfumes I brought back with me.

 

Images: all but the last one – my own; No 1 Haymarket EdP – from the hotel site.

Visiting Three Monarchies, Part 2: Barcelona

“Oh, Barcelona…” or “Barcelona? Why?..” – those were the two most common responses I was getting from people with whom I spoke about our upcoming vacation’s destinations (nobody questioned London though).

I cannot explain why we had chosen Barcelona. I guess, we’d heard it was a beautiful city and thought of visiting it one day. Looking from here, Barcelona seemed really close to London – so we decided it was a good combination.

Since on that trip I didn’t have any fellow-perfumistas to rely upon their account of events, this part shapes to be a longer post.

Gaudi Casa Battlo

Accommodations

I’ve spent disproportional amount of time trying to find a nice place to stay: though it was a couple of months in advance, there were almost no vacancies in the suggested areas; and owners of those several acceptable apartments that I found were not responding in a timely manner (I have to mention that with the London flat everything worked like a clockwork – through the same sites). Finally, I rented something that seemed like a good choice.

We had a late flight in, so to the arranged place of meeting with the owner we got closer to midnight. We got from him keys and instructions to our taxi driver as to where to take us; and that was when we learned that we’d need to walk to the apartment since it was on a pedestrian street.

The taxi dropped us off next to some church in the old town. Night, small groups of people walking around or finishing their drinks is empty street cafés. Narrow dirty streets with graffiti-covered shutter doors. Google Maps app sending us into a different direction every 10 steps we attempt to take. Two of us with two suitcases trying to figure out how to find the address we need…

I don’t know how it is in areas where you, my readers, leave but in both countries, in which I have experience living, a neighborhood that looks like that would not be considered safe by any stretch . So we didn’t feel safe at all.

I think we looked so miserable that a group of young tourists passing by took a pity on us and helped us to locate the building we were looking for.

Once in the apartment that looked exactly as described in the ad and depicted in photos but still felt uninviting and soulless (IKEA at its best and worst): a loud portable A/C on, quick shower, A/C off and out to bed around 1:00 in the morning. A couple of hours of dripping A/C, humming in-unit water heated replenishing hot water and occasional excited tourists walking by… Between 6 and 7 in the morning unmercifully loud metal shutters of the local shops going up just under our windows and across the street…

Around 8, when we gave up the attempts to get any more sleep, my vSO announced: “I want to go home.

After a quick search confirmed that there were no vacant hotel rooms guaranteed to be quieter (and I didn’t even check how expensive it would be to come home a week earlier), we decided to give it a chance…

That was the lowest point in our trip, and from there it went kind of up: we were still sleep-deprived because of the combination of all the above-mentioned factors, plus remains of jet lag, plus a heavily walking neighbor above us, but we were impressed with this city’s architecture (and I’m not talking just about Gaudi), figured out that the area where we lived (El Born) was quite safe, and found things around to enjoy. On the picture below is the nicer end of the street where we lived (it was closed by the gates during the night and on weekends).

Barcelona Street

Perfumes I took with me

I discovered that I didn’t have that many Spanish perfumes in my collection that I wanted to wear or to test on this trip. Carner Barcelona El Born, which I brought also thinking about the possible bottle purchase, smelled better than the namesake area where we stayed, but I’ll need some time to disassociate these two to start enjoying this perfume again. Ramon Monegal Impossible Iris was just perfect, and I enjoyed wearing it but I already have a bottle of it. I’m not sure why I didn’t bring any other samples of Monegal’s perfumes that I have: I’m sure I could have worn Cuirelle or Pure Mariposa but somehow I didn’t think of them. But I compensated not bringing enough perfumes to wear with testing.

Perfumes I tested

Before I came to Barcelona, I didn’t realize how many good perfume shops that city had. I visited three exceptional niche perfumeries, and each of them was worth the time spent. Even if one comes from such place as London!

Perfumeria Regia

Situated in the extremely touristy place (a minute walk from Gaudi’s the Casa Batlló, it feels more like a perfume department in a luxury department store than a true niche place: though it carries a lot of niche lines, SAs are not too personable, and the space looks impassive. But I managed to test many perfumes, including the line I hadn’t had a chance to test before – Memo. I liked at least several “leathers” and plan to buy some samples to get to know those better. One more line, about which I haven’t heard before – Rosendo Mateu Olfactive Expressions. I liked a couple of their perfumes on paper – No 2 Lavender Spicy Chocolate (Fragrantica chose to put commas between all three ingredients in the name, and I wonder what they thought “spicy” meant in this enumeration) and No 3 Neroli Iris White Musk, but didn’t get a chance to try them on skin.

Perfumeria Regina is also a home for the Perfume Museum. There’s not much to tell about it but a lot to show – so I’ll do a separate post to share pictures I took there.

Regia Barcelona

The Perfumery

This small shop in the Gothic area of Barcelona was probably one of the most surprising perfume shops I’ve ever visited: by rough estimate, I didn’t recognize 80% of everything they had to offer. From what I could surmise, they do not present the complete line from the brands they carry but rather handpicked fragrances. All of them are offered to smell from the funnel-shaped glass testers, which was more convenient that sniffing the sprayers. Either my perfume tastes did not coincide with tastes of their collection curator, or I’m just not prepared to discover a diamond in the rough with that number of potential diamonds but while I liked many of perfumes I smelled, especially their masculine part of the collection, I didn’t love any of them enough to put on skin. Two that I tried on my vSOs wrists I liked but not enough to even write down the brands or names properly.

Barcelona The Perfumery

La Basilica Galeria

The gallery claims to have the biggest selection of niche perfumes in the World. I don’t know if anybody questioned that statement but for all I know it might be true, especially if we talk about stand-alone perfume shops.

Once we came there, I dispatched my vSO to the relatively comfortable armchairs where he could wait for me and started methodically sniffing through the collection presented via sprayed crystal bell-formed testers, marked on top red, navy or half-and-half for feminine, masculine and unisex fragrances.

Barcelona Galeria Test Bells

After I’d been through a couple of cases, a very friendly SA asked me if she could help me to find what I was looking for. Hopefully, in the same friendly manner I informed her that I was just going to sniff my way through the collection (I didn’t feel bad because I wasn’t even spraying any of the perfumes, all bells were already pre-sprayed). “Are you going to go through all thousand and <I don’t remember the exact number> perfumes?” – I won’t try to describe the tone, with which she asked that, but you could probably imagine it. I was completely unflappable: “I’ll skip those, with which I’m familiar” – and I returned to my exercise.

I think that La Basilica Galeria has a nice selection of niche perfumes with a good mix of more and less popular brands. But the way they present perfumes isn’t suitable for finding perfumes on your own. As I discovered when I tried to spray one of the perfumes in its bell to refresh the scent and get top notes more prominently, I wasn’t supposed to do that: they spray those perfumes on some schedule, writing it down and checking for how long those lived on the glass. The SA proudly told me that some of the perfumes were sprayed once a week… While I agree that perfume should not be judged only by its top notes – the way that mass market perfume industry would like us to do, 2-3 days old leftovers on glass surface definitely isn’t what any perfume should be judged by either. At that point I realized why most perfumes I tried by then weren’t “my cup”: my favorite floral top notes just do not live that long. After I asked, I was given some paper strips to test those perfumes that I wanted to try fresh but I could test only those, base notes of which survived nicely and were to my liking – which probably also wasn’t the worst criteria for choosing what to test on paper or skin.

Barcelona La Baselica Galeria2

Perfumes I didn’t buy

Though between the three major perfume shops I visited, I sniffed my way through about 650-700 fragrances, there were just several that interested me enough to consider for a catch from my trip to Spain.

I considered buying Gaudi de Codibel perfume for the whole 15 seconds that it took from me spotting it in the gift shop of the Casa Batlló to locate a test strip, spray and smell it. Had at least the bottle been a little more imaginative or better quality, I could have bought it just as a souvenir since we both quite enjoyed this museum. But both the scent and the packaging were beyond the exploitation of the famous name.

Gaudi Perfume

S-Perfume 1499 smelled very pleasant (jasmine sambac, myrrh, labdanum, olibanum, vanilla and amber – what’s not to like, right?) but everything else worked against this perfume: brand being either American (created) or Japanese (located now); the name is as non-descriptive as they come when the brand that isn’t Chanel decides to use numbers; and finally the bottle design just doesn’t suggest the price point, at which they position themselves.

I liked Paul Emilien Premiere Danse but since it’s a French brand, with which I wasn’t familiar before, I decided I’d look for a sample and test it more.

A Bulldog in the Atelier from a Spanish designer Teresa Helbig seemed like a good fit for the purpose of my search. Why didn’t I go for it? I got distracted by the Memo line, perfumes from which I didn’t plan to buy in Barcelona, and didn’t get a chance to test it properly. So with me not being a fan of that breed, it felt like I needed more time with this fragrance before exposing Rusty to it (though I liked the name).

Both my vSO and I liked Ramon Monegal Next to Me but I got confused with the name: judging by the list of notes and packaging, this one isn’t the same as Dubai Next to Me but, other than on Fragrantica, I cannot find any information about this one… And I’m not a huge Monegal fan (Impossible Iris is the only perfume from the brand that I like and wear).

The last two perfumes seriously tempted me despite the wrong country of origin and stupid names: 1831 and 1926. For those of us who is not versed in music history: I’m talking about 1831 Norma and 1926 Turandot by Histoires de Parfums. I tried and was completely enchanted by these two in the parfum extrait version. They both smell to me like classic perfumes. My vSO and I had different preferences for these two (I liked Norma a little more), it is a French brand, and they were more expensive than I felt comfortable spending on the spur-of-the-moment bottle. But only a coupon code, which I hope to get in e-mail soon, stands between me and the Order button on one of the decanter sites for these samples.

HdP 1831 Norma

Barcelona leg of our trip was … trying. On the first morning we were ready to cut the losses and try to find our way back home. On the sixths morning, as we were leaving, we didn’t feel sad. But in between we had some positive experiences, and we both agreed that this city was worth re-visiting one day – provided we can find some more modern and soundproofed lodging. Until then I have perfume to remind me about the good, the bad and the ugly of this vacation. Which one? I’ll tell you soon.

 

Images: my own

Visiting Three Monarchies, Part 1: London

London is one of my top three favorite cities in the World, so I dreamed of going back there since my last visit 7 years ago. And since from this city my travel down the niche perfume rabbit hole has started, perfumes played a big part in this vacation.

Tara (A Bottled Rose) with whom I finally met and Vanessa (Bonkers about Perfume) who managed to get to London to spend time with us described our excursions in great details (see here, here and here), so I won’t repeat their wonderful reports but add to them some of my perfumed stories.

Accommodations

After the last visit’s fiasco with a “studio apartment” that turned out to be a tiny hot mansard shoe-box, I paid an extra attention to choosing a place to stay. We got a very nice and quiet flat, 2-minutes’ walk from the underground station and 4-minutes’ walk to the Hyde Park. On arrival we’d got a little scare from the nearby church clock’s Westminster Quarters chiming. But, as we discovered to my vSO’s relief, they would go silent during night. So we got as much sleep as jet lag would allow.

Flat in London

Perfumes I took with me

How does one choose, which perfumes to bring on a vacation? Any criteria are good – as long as they make sense to the wearer. This time I had an idea that I should bring only perfumes from the brands local for the countries on my itinerary. Also, since I ran out of decanting supplies, my choice was limited by perfumes, for which I had decants, travel bottles or at least samples. For the U.K., I brought English Pear & Freesia and White Lilac & Rhubarb from Jo Malone and Ta’if, Ormonde Woman, Vanille d’Iris and Sampaquita from Ormonde Jayne. I enjoyed wearing the first three (especially Ta’if, my love to which was born 7 years ago in London); Ormonde Woman unexpectedly didn’t work for me (though it might have been a side-effect of the sudden allergy attack I suffered that day); Vanille d’Iris was very pleasant but not enough to warrant a bottle purchase (determining that was the reason for bringing the sample with me); and Sampaquita was a straight-forward scrubber (initially I thought that the sample was off but on return I checked my notes and discovered that I had the same thoughts when I tested it on the previous occasion – and that time it was a different sample vial).

Perfumes I tested

Having visited Liberty, Harrods (including Salon de Parfums), Selfridges, Les Senteurs and Ormonde Jayne, I smelled at least a couple of hundred frarances. Of course, for most of them it was a quick “sprayer sniff”: I know that it is far from ideal but while on a testing spree, you need some approach to discriminating between perfumes that warrant a paper test or even your valuable skin “real estate” and those that should stay safely in their original vessels. So I want to mention just several perfumes that attracted my attention enough to get at least on signed blotters.

Salon de Parfums in Harrods

Out of all Ormonde Jayne perfumes I tested this time, I thought I liked Ambre Royal and Jardin d’Ombre but both happened to be more interesting and lasing on paper than on my skin. Tauer’s Amber Flash, which is times less expensive (and less exclusive!) than Ambre Royal, was so much more pleasant and unique that I almost feel obligated to buy a bottle of it. White Gold caught my attention, mostly, because it was Selfridges’ exclusive. But I wasn’t even tempted to try it on skin.

As I discovered when I returned home, I have previously tried Caron Parfum Sacré and didn’t like it then. But when I tested it this time, prompted by Vanessa who loves it, I liked it. I should probably dig out my sample and try it again.

I also tried a couple of Parfums de Marly fragrances, the names of which I kept reading in male-dominant perfume swap group on FB – Layton and Pegasus. I liked them very much, and I see this brand in my vSO’s future.

Perfumes tested in London

Perfumes I didn’t buy

Strictly speaking, I haven’t bought all those 200+ perfumes that I tested. What I mean is that since I had a plan to bring back with me perfume from each of my trip’s destinations, while sniffing and testing, I narrowed down the list of the favorites that I considered as candidates to accompany me back to the U.S. In the end I decided not to buy them – for different reasons.

By Killian’s Black Phantom – Memento Mori caught me by surprise: I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. Lucas in his review of this perfume mentioned that he disliked “the presentation with a skull on a lacquered case.” That made me thinking about why it didn’t affect me the same way; and if I were to venture a guess, the answer lies in where I encountered Black Phantom for the first time: it looked quite àpropos amid exaggerated luxury of the Harrod’s Salod de Parfum. And it was presented by Kilian’s replica (if you haven’t yet, take a look at the picture in Tara’s post linked above). Though I liked Black Phantom, I decided to test it more first since it is kind of available where I live. Besides, By Kilian isn’t the U.K. brand.

By Kilian Black Phantom

Partially for the same reason (not a local brand) I decided not to buy Isabey Fleur Nocturne. But I liked that floral chypre (with the stress on “floral”), and I plan to spend more time testing it since I got a sample from Les Senteurs.

By Kilian’s Midnight in London, which I liked a lot from the first sniff on paper and through its development on my wrist, could have probably fit the bill despite the brand’s origin: it is a limited edition perfume, specific to the place. But Midnight in London takes the notion of “limited” to the extreme: according to Kilian’s double, there is just a single set of that perfume created (see the picture below), and once it is sold, there will be no more produced. In the conversation I heard the price as £50,000. Later Tara assuaged me that the price was mere £15,000 – had I but known!

By Kilian Midnight In London

Compared to that, Roja Dove’s semi-bespoke chypre No 5, which I unexpectedly liked after dismissing most of the brand’s creations as “not me,” seems almost a bargain. And it is a real British brand. But even if I had rumored £1,000 to spend on perfume, that commitment would have required more than just a cursory sniff. Since I didn’t plan on spending that much, I didn’t even go for a skin test for this No 5 (about which I slightly regret now).

Ormonde Jayne Rose Gold would have been a perfect choice: perfume from the brand that played such an important role in my perfume life! I think I tried to persuade myself that I liked Rose Gold. But the truth was: while I liked it probably the most of all the new perfumes from the line that I’ve tried, after wearing it a couple of times, I realized that it wasn’t perfume I needed. It’s with sadness that I have to conclude that Ormonde Jayne’s  new “luxury” undertakings leave me cold.

Ormonde Jayne Rose Gold

Tom Daxon Magnolia Heights stayed on my list for the longest time. I knew nothing about the brand until Vanessa and I discovered it at Les Senteurs with the perfume in question, as Vanessa had noticed and commented, placed appropriately on the top shelf in the store. I liked it, tested several times and seriously considered finding space for it in my suitcase: I have a soft spot for floral perfumes, if you haven’t noticed it; Tom Daxton is a brand from the U.K; and to get it I wouldn’t have to part with any of my extremities. Magnolia Heights seemed to tick all the boxes but in the end I decided not to buy it. Why? It might sound strange but that was what happened: at some point I thought that it smelled similar to my other favorite – Guerlain Cruel Gardenia, so I went to the store to do the comparison. While I proved to myself that I was wrong: Magnolia Heights gave me a similar vibe but it smelled different, at the same time I realized that I liked Cruel Gardenia so much more that it didn’t make any sense to buy Magnolia Heights when I could just wear Cruel Gardenia more often.

Tom Daxon Magnolia Heights

It was a great trip, and I enjoyed it immensely. Tara and Vanessa made it even more special than it was shaping out on its own. My vSO and I love London even more now, and we’ll be back there, hopefully soon. Oh, and if you were wondering, I did buy perfume in London. But it won’t be fair to it to introduce it in the end of the long post – so I’ll do it in a separate post after I finish with the other two stops on my trip.

 

Images: my own

Best of 2016 and Welcome 2017!

I have never done a traditional “best of” perfume post before. Mostly, because as a result of my “no reviews” blog moto I do not really try to judge any perfumes – be that old or new releases – objectively, weighing their strong and weak points, but rather satisfy my curiosity, figure out whether I like perfume or not and move on. And if there is no story in it for me, there is nothing to tell on my blog.

So why am I doing this post, has anything changed? Not really. But as I was checking out the list of 2016 releases (I’m going to post my regular year round-up statistics post early in January), it occurred to me that this year I could safely name my Top 10 perfumes of 2016 since there were exactly 10 perfumes that I actually liked. So even though any list would be subjective, in this case I wouldn’t have to justify for myself why I put one of the perfumes on the list while leaving others out.

Candles

Puredistance Sheiduna – warm, spicy and addictive, this perfume will most likely join my collection when I’m done with the travel spray graciously sent to me by the brand.

Jul et Mad Secrets du Paradis Rouge is cheerful, with a perfect combination of fruity and floral notes. I can see it as one of my evening tropical vacation perfumes.

Two perfumes from Jo MaloneOrris and Sandalwood and Orange Bitters – made it up for me for the disaster that their limited Garden Collection was. I’ll probably be fine without the iris one (I have enough great irises in my collection) but I’ll enjoy wearing Orrange Bitters while my decant (thank you, hajusuuri!) lasts.

Since mimosa is one of my favorite scents in nature, I’m constantly in the search for the perfect mimosa perfume (to which three takes in my Single Note Exploration series can attest). So it’s not a surprise that two mimosa scents made it to my top 10 list this year. Once I got over the fact that Atelier Cologne Mimosa Indigo has nothing to do with mimosa (instead, it’s a very delicate, if you can use that characteristic for the material, leather perfume), I fell in love with it and welcomed a small bottle into my collection. Prada Infusion de Mimosa is much more about mimosa but this variation still maintains the backbone of the Infusion line, which I happen to like. I got to try this perfume thanks to Lucas (Chemist in the Bottle) but it is not available in the U.S. yet, which might be partially a blessing: at this stage of my perfume hobby, I do not need 100 ml of any perfume (though, it might have been easier to buy a decant had Prada brought the perfume to the market here).

The next two perfumes were everybody’s favorites, so I’ll just mention that for the last couple of weeks I keep testing and liking Masque L’Attessa and Hiram Green Arbolé Arbolé. It’s too early to say if I’ll go for any of these two beyond testing but I’ve been enjoying the experience.

Amouage Myths Woman has restored my faith in my favorite brand. For a while none of the new releases really moved me, so I almost accepted that I’d have to stay with my classic favorites from the line. Myths is not just beautiful and happy perfume, but it’s also one of a few from Amouage that I want to wear not in cold weather (the other one is Dia). A decant of Myths I bought in a split should do for now, but I plan to stalk this beautiful purple bottle and get it eventually.

As to perfume #10… It’s getting late so I’ll tell its story (and run a small giveaway) in one of the January posts. Not that I think that you, my friends and readers, need any special incentive to come back next year.

Happy New Year 2016!

Happy New Year to all of you! Whether 2016 was good to you or not so, I wish the new one to be better. Please make a wish at 12 (or before you go to bed, if you do not plan to stay that late), and I wish it to come true for each of you who remembers to do that.

Images: my own

Small Things that Brighten Life. Literally.

It is my favorite time of the year, and many things around me bring me joy. Recently we visited a local street that is known for its Christmas decorations. It’s funny that I lived close to it for more than a decade but have never heard about it until two co-workers from my previous job with whom I met to exchange holiday presents told me about it. We’ve worked together and been friends for years but until this year it just had never come up in our numerous holidays-related conversations.

Over years I saw many decorated houses in the area but I’ve never seen so many lights on private houses on one street before. I loved it! In the neighborhood where I live there are just 5 houses with some kind of outside decorations (including our house, even though Christmas isn’t our holiday). And now we’re thinking about getting more of holiday decorations for our house for the next year: not even close to the extremes we saw on that street but we hope that maybe our festivity will be contagious, and more neighbors decide to follow the suit.

Pictures do not properly reflect the atmosphere of the street but I want to share them with you anyway.

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This Saturday we’ll celebrate the Christmas Eve (it’s not our holiday, but we live here – so why not to celebrate it?), the first day of Hanukkah (it’s not entirely our holiday but every year for this holiday I lit candles on that not the most conventional menorah on the picture below that I bought as a gift from my grandmother Rosa – it will be the first year without telling her about that) and Rusty’s Birthday (we don’t know his exact birthday, but when we got him, we decided that he would be our Christmas cat; he is turning 8 this year, and he doesn’t discriminate any of the holidays either: he equally battles Christmas ornaments on the tree and Hanukkah candles on menorah). I’m going to wear my all-time favorite perfume Climat by Lancôme to make the day even more special.

I invite you to virtually join me in any or all of these celebrations regardless of where you live or what your religion beliefs are. Enjoy this day if you are happy now, or find something to brighten it even if you’re not currently in the best place in your life.

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Rusty’s Birthday to all of you, my friends and readers!

Merry Christmas & Happy Hanukkah!

Last Week the President of the U.S., my vSO and I visited Seattle

With the workload of the last five months both my vSO and I needed some change of scenery, and Seattle seemed to be a perfect destination for a three night trip.

It’s just a 15-minutes’ drive to the airport but you can’t predict how bad the traffic will be, so we left 15 minutes earlier. There was no traffic.

We had just carry-on bags and checked in a day earlier but with the recent situation with TSA you can never know how long the security check will take, so in my calculations I allowed 60 minutes before boarding time for waiting for the privilege to take your socks (but not shoes!) through a full-body scanner. It took us only 15 minutes.

The boarding had started just 15 minutes later than it was supposed to, but it was well-organized, and “a full flight” (lingo used by flight attendants to scare people into checking in their carry-on bags) managed to play the luggage puzzle game in a record time and without odd pieces.

It was supposed to be a two-hour flight. “An hour and a half once we’re flying” kept repeating our captain while explaining first that “a technical crew needs more time to go through <inaudible>”, then “it’ll be at least another hour” and then “it looks like we’ll need to change planes.”

We landed in Seattle almost 2.5 hours later than scheduled and 15 minutes after the gourmand tour, for which we had tickets, started.

But from this point on everything went just perfect: nice hotel, great food, a couple of pleasant evenings with friends who live in Seattle. We even got to see some rain (we loved it!) and the President’s Motorcade (we had to wait for it to pass to get to the hotel).

Mr President

I brought with me enough perfumes to change them twice a day (I didn’t) and I planned to do some perfume sniffing (I did). But if I had to name just one scent/note that lingered over my stay in Seattle, it would be lavender.

If you were wondering, no, we didn’t visit any of the lavender farms near Seattle, we stayed mostly within a short walk or taxi drive from the downtown; the picture below is from one of my trips to the local wine country last year. But lavender somehow sneaked into our urban retreat.

Lavender

It started the first evening when after dinner at a seafood restaurant I was brought a bowl of water with lavender and lemon to wash my hands. It smelled divine and turned my thoughts towards the Chanel counter at the flagship Nordstrom store nearby, which, as I remembered from the previous visit, had Les Exclusifs line, and where I hoped to try their new perfume featuring that note… So there we went.

An SA at the Chanel counter was very nice and completely went along with “smells-interesting-but-I-need-a-sample-since-I’m-wearing-something-else-now” (I was!), and Boy Chanel sample landed in my purse.

I like both lavender and rose that I can smell in the Boy Chanel‘s opening. It is unmistakably Chanel, and I felt a surge of that excited feeling: “Is this the one? Will I love it?” But within half an hour it develops on my skin into a soapy but strangely dry scent. I dislike it at that stage but mercifully it goes away in the next 30 minutes. Unfortunately, together with the rest of the perfume. I won’t say that Boy Chanel has the worst longevity out of all Les Exclusifs but it will be a close competition with some of them. Robin (Now Smell This) in her review of this perfume wrote: “Boy would make a great no-brainer summer cologne if you needed such a thing” – clearly not for me: I wore it on a mildly warm day of leisure walk in Seattle and each application lasted barely a couple of hours.

Boy Chanel wasn’t the only or the best lavender perfume I came across during that jaunt, so I could have probably made a sequel to the last year’s In the Search for the Perfect Lavender episode if I hadn’t tried to sneak Mr. President into the title. But since I couldn’t resist, I will probably leave my other lavender discovery for the next post.

 

Images: my own

From the Cutting Room Floor: Perfume? What Perfume? Where??!

Initially I planned to use this series for sharing with you pictures of Rusty that I made for my posts but ended up not publishing because I had more good pictures than I needed. But Scented Hound’s comment “Where’s Rusty??!” on my recent post gave me the idea to show you why it is tricky to get a good shot with both Rusty and perfume in one frame.

First, here’s the only one more or less sharp picture of Rusty and perfumes that I managed to take that day:

Rusty and Climat, Chamade and Chanel No19

After that he uncooperatively laid down on the chair and fell asleep completely ignoring all my attempts to attract his attention. I was rearranging the bottles, making noises and even pretending that I had some food in there – it didn’t work. To test a suspicion that it was Climat that cast a sleeping spell on him (the last time I was taking pictures of that perfume, Rusty also ended up napping – see the proof below), I removed that bottle and ended up with just Chamade and No 19 in the post picture, but it didn’t interrupt Rusty’s beauty nap.

Rusty and Climat

And even on those occasions when Rusty would get curious enough to get closer to a perfume bottle I was shooting and not fell asleep, he would keep turning away, checking out the walls behind him or the ceiling above as if asking “Where did you say that perfume was??”  I swear he doesn’t do it “in real life” when camera is not present.

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And one more of my cat’s favorite poses, with which many of you are already quite familiar, is his back to the camera:

Happy Mother's Day 2016

Happy Mother’s Day to all my U.S. readers!