The past few posts saw me being in a bit of a pensive mood so it is probably no surprise that during this past week… I celebrated my birthday! And with so many people wishing me that “all my dreams may come true”…what better way to let my imagination run wild than to imagine that on my birthday one of my biggest dreams finally became a reality? Yip, hubby and I can at last teleport to anywhere our heart desires! So, with these abilities, just what would an ideal birthday day look like…?
How about waking up, being able to look out over the Mediterranean? On Italy’s Amalfi Coast, of course. It will be a peaceful moment, hubby and I getting out of bed and sitting on our balcony; me quietly reflecting on the year that was and being grateful for all the good things in my life. In the background we will hear the faint sounds of the waves gently breaking on the shore and we will watch the old fishermen pushing their little boats out to sea. Their faces, weathered but content, for they are leading the life that they want. And in this quiet time I would aspire to do the same during the coming year.
But what is a birthday without a special breakfast, so out the door we’ll go and step onto the streets of Paris. Stall holders will be packing out their fresh produce while cheerfully chatting away, and the air will hold a sense of anticipation for a great day ahead. The streets will still be quiet… Quiet enough so that I can run into the middle of the road to get a perfect shot of the Paris Opera house at last! Breakfast would be in a quintessential little side street cafe with a great view of the Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral, while Parisians quickly rush in for their morning cup of coffee. What’s for breakfast? Croque Monsieur! But it must be the same croque monsieur hubby and I once had in the train from Narbonne to Avignon! Yes, it was on the a normal train from the national French railway and we ordered it from the canteen…. but of all the croque monsieurs I’ve ever had in France, it was THE best one! (Who says I can’t teleport a sandwich?!) And of course it would be delivered to the table with the same French flair reserved for announcing the arrival of a Michelin starred meal or just a simple piece of bread – voila!
Breakfast done and dusted and definitely time to appear on the steps of the Sacre Coeur (Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris). Not only because from its steps you have breathtaking views over the city, but because I would hope to hear the same choir sing as we did when we entered the church late one evening. It honestly did sound like a heavenly choir and it was a real spiritual experience. So on this day of celebrating my birth it would be the appropriate time to give thanks and to pray for wisdom, guidance and blessings in the year to come.
Now with both tummy and spirit satisfied, it would definitely be time for site seeing, and what better place to start than one of the new 7 natural wonders of the world! As we arrive at the bottom of Table Mountain in my home city of Cape Town, it would be a perfect blue sky day, ensuring that we will have uninterrupted views of across the city. Excitedly we will wait at the lower cable car station to make the trip up by cable car (it is a huge thrill going up that I would definitely choose the old fashioned way of going up in lieu of my new teleporting abilities just placing us at the top!). The floor of the cable car turns around as you go up, giving 360 degree views of this natural wonder. The closer we get the top of the mountain it seems inevitable that we will end up crashing against the sheer rock face, but just as I wish that perhaps we took the teleport route, we safely make it all the way into the upper station. And what greets us is the most amazing views, no matter in which direction you look. Down the city, over the Cape Town Stadium built for the 2010 soccer world cup or across the ocean towards Robben Island… breathtaking! Standing on top of this mountain I would realise how small a person is in this big world and I would also be thankful that I can call this place home.
But what woman would not want to feel like a princess on her birthday?! So to fulfil my regal fantasies hubby would transport me from the top of Table Mountain to the beautiful Loire Valley in France, which is a UNESCO world heritage site. The valley is filled with beautiful chateaux, fit for a fairly tale. Hubby will choose to take us to Chateau de Chenonceau. We would have time to explore the castle and its beautiful grounds and I would stand on the balcony, hand in hand with my prince charming! It is hard to believe that people could live in such opulence! Oh well, I can’t complain. I have always been treated like a queen in my own home!
I’m sure that by now we would have worked up quite an appetite, so for a real splurge we would pop up in the lobby of the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park in London…with lunch reservations at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal! Hopefully this time I would be better prepared than 2 years ago when hubby took me there, coincidentally also for my birthday. At that particular occasion I was so gobsmacked by where we were that it took me 30 minutes before I could even order water! It was a fantastic meal, and the highlight was ordering one of Heston’s tricks of the mind – ‘meat fruit’. What appears to be a beautiful little mandarin is in fact… chicken liver parfait! The orange colour is a little jelly that is transformed to look like the skin of a mandarin and it wraps the parfait beautifully. Amazing! And so was the special little dessert they sent out for me. Yip, we would do it over again and make toast to good food and good health!
After lunch it would be time to soak up a bit of culture. Call me a nerd, but I love museums! So seeing that we are in London we would head to the British Museum. We’ve been there twice already and we have not yet managed to get through the whole thing. The first time I loved the Egyptian section and spent the better part of three hours there. More recently I didn’t get sucked in by the Egyptians again, but this time got stuck at the Aztec section! Every time I experience a bit of history like that I feel truly blessed that I have the opportunity to look back in time. It also puts our lives into perspective and on this day, marking another year of my life, it will make me think about what legacy our generation will leave and what my part in it will be. It better be a good one!
A birthday is sometimes also a perfect excuse for those once in a lifetime treats. So next stop? Why not the playground of the rich and famous – Monaco! We’ll be teleported to a place that was never even on my bucket list because it never seemed a reality that I would ever set foot there. But unlike last year, when we managed to walk on the hallowed F1 street tack, we will trade the red city bus for a red Ferrari and cruise the streets in style! We would park up in front of the Monaco casino and sit down in one of the beautiful cafes and sip French champagne – because you only live once! And as we sit back and take in the multi-million dollar yachts in the harbour, the strings of sportscars driving by, I will be reminded to dream big dreams, as I can achieve anything I set my mind to.
And as dusk slowly settles on an amazing day, we’ll be transported to a gondola on the Grand Canal of Venice. With romance and wonder in the air, our gondolier will sing Italian love songs and hubby and I will look lovingly in each others’ eyes and stare in amazement at the splendour that is Venice. Dinner would be at a romantic restaurant on the Grand Canal and as we watch the lights of Venice glitter in the water we will sip on some prosecco and say cheers to my birthday. Main course for me would definitely be some seafood pasta – probably a vongole, simple pasta with mussels and clams. And we would stay there until just about all the tables are empty.
But the last stop on our day would also be the best stop – home. Where we will light a fire in the fireplace, have a last glass of wine for the night, snuggle on the couch with the dogs, and maybe catch the last bit of House Hunters International…! Because here is where real life happens, and I am truly grateful for the wonderful year that was.
Here is to a great new year ahead in which I believe that I can achieve anything I set my mind to. (And that someone out there will now just develop this teleport thing already!)