A Postcard from Undina: From Vienna with Love

 

Vienna holds a very special place in my heart: that was the very first European city I’d ever visited and I was completely enchanted by it. Since it was just an overnight plane change (back then hotel was included into the plane ticket) we didn’t plan anything. My vSO and I hopped on the bus at the airport and went to the downtown.

It was a wonderfully warm June evening. Almost everything was closed but we didn’t really care because we had no money to spend anyway. We walked curved narrow streets with old but well-preserved buildings, wide boulevards and well-maintained parks and felt as if we were transported into one of those historical books we’d read as children. By that time we both had been to Moscow, St. Petersburg and even New York but somehow Vienna stood out of all the previous experiences and was just magical.

Vienna St Stephen's Cathedral

A year later on the same route we decided to stay in Vienna one extra night, which meant paying for both since by staying longer than necessary we were forfeiting the stay paid by the airline. It was too expensive for us but we loved Vienna so much and wanted to spend more time there.

Vienna met us cold and rainy and everything was a little off: the room (in the same hotel!) wasn’t as nice as the one for which we didn’t have to pay a year earlier; on our walk in the downtown we kept looking for places to get warm so architecture outside had less appeal; and parks were much less attractive under grey skies and gloomy rain.

We still managed to get something from the trip but it wasn’t worth the money we paid for it. So even though I still thought of Vienna as of a magical city somehow for more than ten years our trail didn’t go through it.

I wouldn’t have stayed there this year as well if it weren’t for my long-time wish to meet Birgit of Olfactoria’s Travels. Our original plan involved repeating the perfect experience of an overnight stay in Vienna with a dinner in a pleasant company as a culmination. At the last moment circumstances changed and the dinner was canceled. But luckily there was the second negative – air controllers strike in France, my next destination, – so a double negative has resolved to a positive: Birgit, Sandra, my vSO and I met the next morning for a breakfast (it was lovely) and a quick perfume sniffing tour (an added bonus that understandably wasn’t planned for the dinnertime).

The weather cooperated and we had the most wonderful time – walking the streets and parks, dining at restaurants with Austrian cuisine and maybe even finding a new perfume love. Vienna is a wonderful city! Oh, and I have to say that none of the pictures Birgit showed to us do her justice: she looks even younger and more beautiful in real life.

Vienna Hofburg Palace

I wish most negatives in your life to resolve to positive!

 

With Love,
Undina

 

Images: my own

A Postcard from Undina: From Ukraine with Love

 

This year in Ukraine summer started earlier and it’s unpleasantly hot and humid. But as an upside to that I’ve finally got to smell blooming linden again. Normally linden blooms in July; it’s even reflected in the name for that month – Липень (in Ukrainian linden – липа). But thanks to the weather it’s in full bloom now.

Linden Blossom

I’m not sure I can find the right words to describe this scent. All I can say: it is even more beautiful than I remembered and was longing for!

Early summer of my High school graduation year. Blooming linden trees in the downtown of the city where I lived. Bitter-sweet scent fills the air. Bitter-sweet feelings overflow me […]
I remember walking the streets, inhaling the bitter scent of linden blossom and wanting to be happy… It was a very abstract thought. I didn’t define what exactly “happy” would mean, I didn’t have any specific wishes; I just wanted to change that one component of my life. I was longing for a combination of a warm evening, problems left behind, wonderful bitter scent of linden and a feeling of a complete happiness.

Yesterday I went to my high school class reunion. It was an informal party picnic that left a rather pleasant impression. On my way home, as I was breathing in gorgeously gentle sweetness of blooming linden trees, I realized that I’ve got my wish granted: I am happy. Often people avoid saying something like that – not to jinx it. I’m saying it to acknowledge my appreciation for where I am in my life now. I’m grateful to everything and everybody who contributed to that feeling of happiness. And that “everybody” includes you – my friends and my readers. I took the picture for the postcard below thinking of you.

Uspenskiy Sobor And Linden

May your most special wishes come true!

 

With Love,
Undina

 

Images: my own

In the Search for the Perfect Linden, Take 2

 

I’m not much of a spontaneous person, if you haven’t noticed yet. I try to plan most things in my life. It gives me the feeling of comfort and control. But, as with many other things we crave because we do not have them – straight/curly hair, lighter/darker skin, etc., from time to time I wish I would do something on an impulse, without going through every detail in my head first.

My vSO is even less spur-of-the-moment man. So when a couple of weekends ago he told me: “Let’s go to Santa Cruz mountain wineries!” in less than an hour we were on our way there.

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I just couldn’t pass by a small boutique named Scentsations# – a tiny soap and cosmetics shop. An older gentleman, most likely an owner, peeked over the newspaper he was reading to greet me. A usual small shop small talk (as I keep sniffing different soaps):

– It’s a nice day. What are you doing today?
– Yeah, it is. We’re here for the wine tasting.
– Are you even old enough to drink?
– (I laugh: I know I’m old enough to have a kid of a drinking age but since he’s old enough to be my father I do not feel bad about his obvious flattery) Thank you, I appreciate it.
– Where are you from?
(my habitual answer to such questions) I live in the Bay Area, my accent is from…
– I thought so. You should try this one…

He hands me a bar of soap. It is tender green and smells of linden. On the paper wrap it says “Tilleul” and “Made in France”. How could I not buy it?

Linden Soap And Rusty

In my last year post I told the story behind my affection towards linden blossom and reviewed briefly perfumes that I tried while looking for the perfect linden-centric perfume: French Lime Blossom by Jo Malone, Linden by Demeter, Tilleul by Provence Sante and Zeta by Tauer Perfumes. I didn’t find the perfect perfume then so I kept looking.

Waltz No. 14 by Tokyo Milk – notes include linden, honeyed rose, wisteria petals and white musk. To my nose it’s a bitter green scent. I can smell what is supposed to be a linden note (it’s not a bad representation of linden if smelled alone without comparing to other takes on the same scent). I do not smell rose in Waltz – honeyed or otherwise. It’s nice and crisp on my skin for the first 10-15 minutes but then gets a little soapy for a while. Like most Tokyo Milk’s perfumes that I tried it doesn’t stay for too long. The sample sent me by Victoria of EauMG (thank you!) will stay in my scents library. Read her real review for Waltz.

Tilleuls au Vent by L’Artisan Parfumeur isn’t really a perfume, it’s a room spray but it usually doesn’t stop a real perfumista in the search for a perfect scent (thank you to Vanessa of Bonkers about Perfume for sending me this sample). What can I say? It’s a room spray. Tilleuls au Vent is a very pleasant scent but it’s too single-dimensional and lacks depth.

La chasse aux Papillons by L’Artisan Parfumeur – created by Anne Flipo in 1999, notes include linden blossom, lemon tree blossom, orange blossom, jasmine and tuberose. I tested it for several times and even though I couldn’t smell too much linden in it, I enjoyed the scent. And then I read Victoria’s (EauMGreview for La chasse aux Papillons and now I cannot help smelling in it tuberose to which I didn’t pay attention before. I do not like tuberose and now it haunts me in this perfume. I’ll try to test it again in a while but for now a sample in my scent library is all I need.

Linden Soap And Rusty

Unter den Linden by April Aromatics – created by Tanja Bochnig in 2012, notes include linden blossom, mimosa, frangipani, honey extract, bergamot and gardenia. I haven’t heard about this brand until I read Asali’s (All I am – a redhead) beautiful review for Unter den Linden. Asali was very generous and sent me a sample. I’m very grateful to her but I’m not sure if I’m glad that I’ve got to try it. It’s a very pretty perfume and I take back my original impression that Unter den Linden smelled like a more lemon-y version on one of my favorites Jo Malone’s French Lime Blossom. Unter den Linden is lighter, more refined and blended more seamlessly than French Lime Blossom (I still like the latter though). What makes me unhappy is the price: however beautiful, this perfume isn’t unique enough or using really expensive and rare ingredients to justify to me $7/ml price for EdP. But if it weren’t for that I’d love to add a bottle of Unter den Linden to my collection. I still might.

Honey Blossom by Aftelier Perfumes – created by Mandy Aftel in 2010, notes include linden blossom, orange blossom, ambergris and benzoin. It is not a linden perfume. For my nose it’s a very sweet honeyed floral bouquet, warm and soothing scent. I like smelling it from my wrist but I do not want to wear it as a perfume. It makes a perfect sleep scent for me though. So once my small parfum sample that I’ve got from Mandy via Natalie (Another Perfume Blog) – thank you both – is gone I’ll probably buy the next one. For a real review read Victoria’s (Bois de Jasmin) Aftelier Honey Blossom : Natural Fragrance Review.

Ma Plus Belle Histoire d’Amour by DSH Perfumes – created by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz in 2012 for the YSL Retrospective Collection, notes include bergamot, lemon, ozone, Bulgarian rose absolute, Dossinia orchid, French linden blossom (accord), honeysuckle, linden blossom absolute, lily of the valley, sambac jasmine, wisteria, ylang ylang, Australian sandalwood, civet, East Indian patchouli, musk and vanilla. This perfume got me by surprise: it was the last perfume in the collection and I didn’t expect it to be a linden scent. I like it. Will Ma Plus Belle Histoire d’Amour become a full bottle in my collection once I’m done with the sample sent to me by Dawn (thank you!)? I don’t know yet.

Linden Soap And Rusty

I still can’t say that I found the perfect linden perfume but I will suspend my search until I get a chance to smell a real blossoming linden tree to re-acquaint myself with the aroma of my youth. On my recent trip to Baltimore I saw those pre-bloom linden trees and almost cried – two more weeks and I could have smelled something I hadn’t smelled in 15 years. Maybe next year…

If you are looking for a linden-centric perfume definitely give a try to Unter den Linden and Ma Plus Belle Histoire d’Amour and judge for yourself. You might just fall in love.

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# Address for Scentsations: 402 Ingalls Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, (831) 423-8900

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Images: my own

WTD, Episode 3.4: In the Search for the Perfect Linden

Early summer of my High school graduation year. Blooming linden trees in the downtown of the city where I lived. Bitter-sweet scent fills the air. Bitter-sweet feelings overflow me: I’m done with all the tests and school is almost over; he doesn’t love me anymore and isn’t coming to my graduation party. Even though I asked him to do it as a favor from a friend; even though I wasn’t creating any drama and behaved very mature (well, that was how I imagined behaving mature): most of our mutual friends had no idea we broke up more than two months ago, we didn’t want to complicate the group’s dynamic.

My heart was broken; it felt like the end of the world. And at the same time I fully realized it wasn’t the end of the world. But I hurt and it felt lonely and empty at the moment.

I remember walking the streets, inhaling the bitter scent of linden blossom and wanting to be happy… It was a very abstract thought. I didn’t define what exactly “happy” would mean, I didn’t have any specific wishes; I just wanted to change that one component of my life. I was longing for a combination of a warm evening, problems left behind, wonderful bitter scent of linden and a feeling of a complete happiness.

Many years later, while I still knew almost nothing about perfumes other than that I enjoyed using them and a couple of the most known brands and names, I thought it would be great to get a perfume that smelled like linden. You can imagine how much luck I had in late nineties asking SAs in department stores for this specific note in perfumes. Several years later I tried running Internet searches for that scent and again didn’t succeed.

French Lime Blossom by Jo Malone – created in 2005, notes include bergamot, tarragon, French Lime Blossom and some generic “floral notes”. This was the first Jo Malone’s colognes with which I went beyond samples. I bought a small 9 ml bottle of it. I do not remember if I liked it the most out of all I tested then or if I just happened to get a good deal on it, but I got it and enjoyed it … for a year (or even more) before I learned that the perfume I liked was actually based on the note I was looking for. I had no idea that French lime blossom and linden blossom were synonyms. I won’t even claim English not being my mother tongue because as I’ve learned since then many natives think French Lime is just some variety of citrus. Does it smell citrus-y? Not at all. But I wasn’t analyzing the scent, I liked it and wore often. I didn’t recognize it but after I knew what it was supposed to be, I could agree that it somewhat reminded me of a linden blossom. French Lime Blossom has an average sillage and a surprising tenacity – it stays on my skin for more than 8 hours with a very distinct smell, not just the remaining base notes.

This month I again decided to combine my Weeklong Test Drive and Single Note Exploration posts, so here are several more linden-centered perfumes I had a chance to test.

Linden by Demeter – as many Demeter’s creations this one is a soliflore. I couldn’t find any information on when it was created. All I can say, it’s an uncomplicated, slightly chemical scent that survives for two-two and a half hours on my skin. It’s too simple for me to want to wear it alone but I found at least one interesting combination for it.

Tilleul by Provence Sante (EauMG – thank you for the sample) – no information on notes or creation date available. This perfume doesn’t work for me. On my skin it smells too sweet. For some reason when I smell it I think of pollen. Tilleul lasts for about three hours and then goes away leaving just that slightly nauseating sweet scent. Since I read many good reviews of the perfume I assume it’s my body chemistry to blame.

When I first read about the upcoming release of Andy Tauer’s linden blossom theme perfume I was very excited. I didn’t have a good reason to expect to like it (since so far I found just one Tauer’s perfumes that works for me out of five I tested) but I had a hope. I was lucky to win a sample from Scent less Sensibilities (Tarleisio, thank you – I enjoyed the excercise) and was waiting anxiously for it to arrive, I even postponed this post to allow myself to wear it two-three times before reaching a verdict.

Zeta by Tauer Perfumes – created in 2011, notes include lemon, bergamot, sweet orange, ylang, orange blossom, neroli, linden blossom, rose, iris root, sandalwood and vanilla. The first time I applied it I was very disappointed: it smelled nothing like linden blossom to me (I’m not sure why I was surprised since for the life of me I cannot smell lily-of-the-valley in Carillon pour un Ange). But I was insistent. I kept trying it again and again – alone and alongside with other linden perfumes. I still do not smell enough linden but I rather like the scent than not. It’s the best perfume – as a perfume – among all I tested for this post. It’s very complex, unique and fascinating. As many (all?) Andy’s perfumes are. I like it as a scent that I test. I’m not sure if I want to wear it as a perfume. And I am sad: I like that green pentagonal bottle and really hoped I would love the scent enough to warrant a full bottle purchase. I didn’t. In addition to everything said, Zeta completely dies on my skin after just four hours of wearing. All five previously tested Tauer’s creations “wore me” (I don’t remember who was the author of the phrase but when I read in some blog “I wasn’t wearing the perfume; the perfume was wearing me” I felt it described exactly how I felt for most Andy’s perfumes and especially those that didn’t work for me).

I haven’t found the perfect linden perfume yet and I’ll keep looking. But recently I bought a nice tea with linden. It reminds me of the linden flower tea that my grandmother used to harvest from the linden tree in her garden. In my childhood it was used as an herbal analog of Theraflu.

Read more: French Lime Blossom review at I Smell Therefore I Am, Tilleul review and Loving Linden from EauMG; reviews for Zeta at Perfume Shrine, the Non-Blonde, Perfume Posse and WAFT.

Image: my own

As always, feel free to post a link to your blog’s post(s) related to the topic.

See all episodes:
Weeklong Test Drives, Season 3: Jo Malone
WTD, Episode 3.1: Kohdo Wood Collection by Jo Malone
WTD, Episode 3.2: Tea Fragrance Blends by Jo Malone
WTD, Episode 3.3: Nectarine Blossom & Honey, Lime Basil & Mandarin and Pomegranate Noir by Jo Malone
WTD, Episode 3.5: Orange Blossom by Jo Malone