Updated: Dec 6, 2020
The last trip of the year. No more traveling after that. Promise.
Since July, it was Singapore, Paris, Budapest, Mauritius, South Africa, Reunion.
So for the last time in 2019, on Corsair. 12 hours from Reunion to Paris.
This time I checked in to a comfortable AirBnb in central Paris close to the Stalingrad station.
For Paris, I never advise people to go to the hotels unless its for holidays. For most working trips, I go with AirBnb. 85euros a night, one bedroom, kitchen, huge living room. Reasonable ain't it?
I desperately needed some help with Schumann. So I decided to go play for my Master Jean Marc Luisada. The only problem was that he had another concert in Lithuania, and had to leave Paris the next morning. The only solution was to have our lesson at 8pm.
Honestly, I don't know what to say. I am so grateful.
After every lesson it feels like we always have something to celebrate to.
I played through the first movement, then we had dinner at a really cozy Italian place downstairs.
- We came back to finish up the last 2nd and 3rd movements after dinner.
Lesson till midnight.
I was dead tired after the 12 hours flight, and he had a plane to catch the next morning.
What a life!
Extremely thankful for this lesson. Now I feel like I could confidently play this concerto the way I really wanted it.
Spent 3 days practicing at school..
Went to Pho 18, a craving since 2012 (YUM)
Rue Philibert Lucot, Paris
I missed those satay noodles! Had them often when I was studying here. The perfect winter dish.
In those 3 days of practicing, Odile offered to give me some advise on the concerto.
She invited all her students to come watch the lesson. And she basically sight read through the entire accompaniment.
Always feels good to perform with second piano before rehearsing with orchestra. Helps with learning the parts, and hearing the inner voices.
Thank you Odile for your time, and for always being so supportive!
Took a day off as well hanging out with Singaporeans in Paris :)
Surprised to see so many Singaporeans in Paris for the first time! It was the first Sunday of the month. In Paris, many museums are opened to the public (free of charge). I had a friend who was going to perform at the Cite de la Musique at 2.30am!
They call it the Nuit Blanche here.
Since the metro was operating late, we stayed back a little to do some karaoke.
The next day at around 2pm, I flew from Paris to Nice.
There was someone at the airport holding a huge sign-board with my name on it spelled incorrectly. Oh well they always put the u before the y.
Conyug, Conugy, Conygu.
I don't know anymore.
Funny arriving in Nice airport, people around usually go asking like - Taxi? Taxi?
Here in Nice, you hear - Taxi? Helicopter? Cruise?
Haha, maybe next time!
Picked up Maestro Grigor at the next terminal and we were on our way to San Remo.
Throughout the trip to Italy, the views were stunning.
I checked into the hotel right next to the concert venue.
Best Western if i'm not wrong.
This concert invitation I got from my new Italian manager Alessandro was very well organized.
The orchestra got me a really nice room with a balcony facing the main square.
I took the first day to walk around the city.
There isn't much to do in San Remo but the views here were simply breath-taking.
The houses were built along the steps. I decided to get lost, go as high as possible to catch the sun set.
Overall I thought this was a pretty little town.
Let's get onto the next part, FOOD.
On the first evening, Grigor and I decided to have dinner to speak about Schumann and to get to do a little introduction. So we just booked a table at the restaurant in the hotel. I ordered squid ink gnocchi (this was the best gnocchi I ever had).
I would come back here just for the gnocchi. Serious.
Everything they served there was perfect. Fried squid - pasta dishes. Oh that seafood pasta....
I'm not really a breakfast person, but when I travel - I always oblige myself.
Look at that view!!
Later in the day...
Our first rehearsal at the Casino.
The Steinway D was a beauty. Wonderful wonderful instrument! One of the best Steinways I've played on.
Hey! They got my name right this time! :)
Strange thing to be called Maestro everywhere you go. Feels so old fashion.. I prefer Monsieur!
No wait, actually I prefer Congyu.
Sorry about the 3rd movement. The video stopped in between.
Yah yah yah I know. The 3rd movement was too fast.
I was really nervous here no idea what to expect ;)
There were 2 rehearsals scheduled initially. The first at 4pm, and the second the next morning.
As usual, there always needs to be some drama..
The rehearsal the next day was canceled, so yeah we rehearsed again in the evening at 8pm.
Well at least we got 2 rehearsals!
Did some alone practicing the next morning.
I thought 17h00 on a Thursday was bad timing for concerts. Normal people usually go to school or work. This wasn't normal - The concert was fully booked!
By the way, I discovered another wonderful restaurant the day before.
Decided to go back for lunch again before the concert.
Amazing service - Katie (manager/server) and Francesco (chef) are a dynamite wife and husband team. They relocated from Canada to San Remo for this restaurant. Nothing better than THAT Passion for cooking.
Apparently in this part of the region, Trofie is the specialty.
Quite particular for a pasta shape... I thought it was quite nice :)
Pity I couldn't find someone to take a video of my performance, I only have videos from the rehearsals.. I stayed back to listen to Grigor conducting Brahms 3rd Symphony.
To celebrate our evening, we went to an amazing restaurant opposite the Casino.
I ordered a truffle pasta, a fish dish and Panna Cotta for desserts.
We even got a nice bottle of Ligurian wine!
Now time for a short break in Nice :)
Checked into Residence Lamartine the next day
Pretty ok place for a short stay I suppose. Good location.
The most famous stretch of seafront in Nice is the Promenade des Anglais, which got its name from the English expat patrons who paid for it in 1822. You may have heard of this place from the famous truck attack in 2016.
Here are some photos from walking around the city.
Getting lost among the dark, narrow, winding alleyways of old town was really fun.
Colline du Château
For the best views over Nice’s red-tiled rooftops, climb the winding staircases up to this wooded outcrop on the eastern edge of the old town. It’s been occupied since ancient times; archaeological digs have revealed Celtic and Roman remains, and the site was later occupied by a medieval castle that was razed by Louis XIV in 1706 (only the 16th-century Tour Bellanda remains). There are various entrances, including one beside the tower, or you can cheat and ride the free lift.
Notre dame de Nice
The basilica, built between 1864 and 1868, was designed by Louis Lenormand and is the largest church in Nice
Its construction was motivated by a desire to frenchify the city after the County of Nice was annexed to France from Kingdom of Sardinia, and at the time Gothic buildings were supposed to be characteristically French. Its most prominent features are the two square towers 65 m high, which dominate the east front together with a large rose window
Had a pretty nice dinner in nice :) no pun intended
It was just next to the hotel, I only went there for convenience sake.
I think it was called Chez Moi
Since this was going to be a one night staycation.
I absolutely had to visit the famous Nice market!
Tried some of the street food.
Socca is something you got to try if you ever visit Nice.
Bought some souvenirs to bring home with me. Ligurian Olive Oil, French Truffles, Sausages, Wine, Mustard, honey. Darn.. I think I have to pay for extra luggage.
Did an early check-out so I could go for a last tour in old town and to look for the best restaurant for Lunch.
Before coming to Nice, I had read so much about Chez Palmyre and Chez Acchiardo. Unfortunately they were both closed on Saturday afternoons.
I went to Le Panier instead.
Oh it was so darn good I promise next trip I'll bring Julie here!
I took Uber to the airport. The driver was completely insane. Perhaps he was high..
So there was it, flight back to Paris.
One more event to attend -
movie premiere of Une barque sur l'océan.
Tomorrow at 11am
Got hungry again at the airport, so I went to Jamie Oliver's. Surprisingly good!
- Back in Paris again the next day.
The metro wasn't functioning due to an annual marathon traditionally happens in October. I woke up early and walked from the Eiffel Tower to the Max Linder panorama.
Since this was an - avant premiere, only the producers, actors and crew were invited.
If you read my Bali Blog from last year, you would have noticed that I accepted a really wonderful offer to be the hands of Hari Santika (Eka, the guy in the movie).
Go read the Bali blog :)
Earlier in February this year (Valentines day). I literally flew on a Friday night at 11pm and arrived in Paris on a Saturday morning, and took a Saturday return flight at 7pm back to reunion. The air stewardess thought I made a mistake.. I did 2 back-to-back 12 hours flights - just to be in Paris for less than a day.
It was totally worth it! I made that day feel like a week.. Dropped of a heart shaped macaron at my god-parents', then went on to record for the rest of the day.
Behind the scenes...
Honored to be part of this project - It was a real eye-opener for me to be working in this set-up. These professionals, they knew exactly what they needed. The precision, the obsession to keep perfecting each scene - they are from a different universe altogether.
Arnold de Parscau is one of the most talented producers. Check out some of his other works!
Movie Plot - Eka is a 25 year old Balinese boy living in a small remote village in the north of Bali. Out of love for Margaux, a beautiful piano student living on the island with her French family in a luxurious villa, Eka decides to learn and pursue a career in music.
Anyway hope you'll be able to catch it next year!
With the main star - Dorcas Coppin
She might look familiar to some of you.
If you fly with Air France, you would have noticed they have a pretty cool safety video.
At the end of this trip, I spent most of my time catching up with old friends.
Going to my favorite places.
A really cool place for musicians to hang out is Place de la Contrescarpe.
Traditionally on week-ends, musicians will jam on the main square. They are usually very good!
Best way to get there is by metro and get off at Place Monge.
And the best hang out for bubble tea in Paris
That's it for this trip!
See you on the next blog if I make it back home alive :)