This is where I will be posting updates on my everyday adventures on this journey called life.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Paris and Versailles in December


We arrived back in Paris on December 14, 2016.  We headed to our airbnb near Bastille, which was a fun area to be in and explore!  During the next few days, we stopped by La Pyramide du Louvre, La Tour Eiffel (though closed due to a union strike), Trocadero, Notre Dame de Paris, Basilica du Sacre-Coeur de Montmartre, and even caught the late show at the Moulin Rouge.  It was everything I imagined it would be and more!  "Feerie" was an incredible show, and I would highly recommend it for a splurge.  

I also had an amazing confit de canard not too far from our airbnb, as well as les macarons, les escargots, and les cuisses de grenouille.  We also took time to explore the different neighbourhoods in Paris, including the Latin Quarter and Chinatown.  Every metro station was decorated by a different artist, and each neighbourhood had its own charm.  Parisians were actually quite nice while we were there, and fairly understanding despite my rusty French.  Though we had purchased week passes, the Metro was free for two days while we were there, which was helpful for my sister who had joined us for the last few days.  

The last full day we were in Paris, we made a day trip out to Versailles.  The estate is enormous and we explored most of it.  I had purchased tickets ahead of time and so we were able to visit with ease.  The gardens were beautiful in their barren state, so I can only imagine how breathtaking they would be in full bloom.  We walked from the Versailles Palace to the Trainon Palaces and the Estate of Marie Antoinette on the other end of the property.  Let me assure you, that this was a trek in itself.  It was hard to imagine people actually living in these estates, due to the sheer size and ornate features.  

Overall, it was a successful trip to Paris, and I am beyond excited to see what new adventures await in 2017!

Venetian for a Day (or two)


The weather was gorgeous when we arrived in Venice, Italy.  This was a city that had been on my travel list since I was 12 years old, so I was really excited to finally visit!  It was warm and sunny when we arrived, a nice 12 degrees.  We took a waterbus to Ca'D'Oro, where our airbnb was located in the Cannereggio district.  After settling into our airbnb, we began our walk towards Piazza San Marco, with a stop by Ponte di Rialto.  We passed by a Gelateria and of course, had to go get some gelato.  This was by far my favourite gelato place during our short stay in Venice.  Ponte di Rialto was lined with businesses with a gondola station right in front.  Unfortunately, we didn't get a chance to go for a gondola ride while we were there - but that just means I'll have to go back sometime!  We continued on to Piazza San Marco which was overrun with obese pigeons.  We arrived just as the sun began setting which brought out the gold flecks on the Basilica di San Marco.  The Basilica had tall gold ceilings, which were lit up by the rays of the setting sun.  This was an incredible time to be in the basilica, and I'm so glad we were able to witness it.  We also paid to climb up the Basilica and took close up pictures of the murals on the the outside, as well as the surrounding view of the Piazza.  We later found out that the clear, sunny skies were an anomaly as typical Venetian days in December are incredibly foggy.  Guess we were lucky!

We enjoyed a nice Italian dinner of pasta and wine in a local restaurant in San Marco district, and did some souvenir shopping before returning to our airbnb.  By this time, it was incredibly foggy - especially around Ponte di Rialto.  I bought a nice bottle of limoncello in a beautifully ornate Venetian bottle, and we made another gelato stop at our newly discovered gelateria before retiring for the evening.

The next day, I had arranged for a free walking tour of Venice.  We grabbed a quick breakfast at a local cafe where we had espresso and a sandwich (or two).  For those who may be planning a trip to Venice, keep in mind that there is often a "sit-in" fee if you decide to sit and enjoy your meal as opposed to taking out or eating/drinking at the bar!  It was a foggy December day, and we ended up being the only group on the tour.  This was nice because it was much more relaxed and our guide was able to tailor it based on our preferences.  She was extremely knowledgeable and took us around the various districts in Venice.  We explored small alleys, various canals, and she showed us the different facades for various buildings.  One of my favourite stops was the Libreria Aqua Alta, which is one of the oldest bookstores in Venice.  Because of the frequent floods, this bookstore stores their books in bathtubs and boats.  In the back of the bookstore, the owners had built a staircase out of books that were damaged in previous floods.  If you are ever in Venice, I do recommend a visit to this one of a kind bookstore!

Our guide left us in a nice local restaurant where we enjoyed some "cicheti" (essentially Venetian tapas).  This was a delicious and affordable treat, and surprisingly filling!  We also stopped by Gelatoteca Suso, the best gelato place in Venice.  Our guide had recommended a few places for us to visit, however even with a map, we found ourselves getting lost quite often... it was a lot of walking, however we did manage to visit all of the places on the map.  Unfortunately, half of them were closed (despite the fact that they were supposed to be open!) but it was an adventure nonetheless.  After a long day of walking and exploring, we returned to the airbnb to rest for a bit before heading out for dinner.

We went to a local favourite in our neighbourhood, Trattoria Ca d'Oro alla Vedova.  We started with polpette (Venetian meatballs) and had fresh pasta.  The food was delicious, and the service and ambiance were more than I could have asked for.

With our stomachs fed and hearts full, we retired to the airbnb to rest up before our early morning trek back to the airport.

A Night in Paris, France

Hi everyone!

Last summer, I was fortunate enough to find cheap round-trip tickets to Paris, France and I ended up buying them on a whim.  We flew overnight to Paris and landed around 10:30am on December 11, 2016.  It was my first time flying with Wow Air, and it was basically what you would expect from a budget airline.  A word to the wise: fill up your water bottle at the airport airside (after security) because they don't serve water on the plane!  Also, keep in mind that layover times are incredibly short but they seem to work for the airline.  Though you may feel rushed, you can rest assured that the plane will (most likely) not leave without you.

I had booked an airbnb near Porte Maillot because our airport bus to Beauvais was leaving from a nearby parking lot the next morning. It was a bit of a struggle to get into our airbnb, which is why we ended up at McDonalds (sad to say but I needed wifi!).  However, after a bit of a struggle, we managed to find our way into our airbnb.  It was fairly large for a Parisian apartment but it was perfect for our first night in Paris.  After a quick nap, we headed towards l'Arc de Triomphe.  It was actually quite incredible to see in person, and though we didn't climb up, we spent a lot of time around the outside.  We even crossed into the traffic median in the middle of the street to take better pictures!

Afterwards, we made our way down the Champs-Elysees, which was lit up with holiday lights.  The street was lined with shops and restaurants, and it was alive with the hustle and bustle of tourists.  The Christmas Market lined the Champs-Elysees and was so much fun to walk down.  Stands were lit up with holiday lights, and the smell of mulled wine was in the air, all leading to a giant lit up ferris wheel at the end.  After exploring the market, we made our way toward the Eiffel Tower - after all, you're not really in Paris unless you have a picture with the famous Tour Eiffel!  We got there just around 9pm and were fortunate enough to see the tower sparkle!  I must say, it was smaller than I imagined but it was impressive nonetheless.

By then, we were hungry and were on the hunt for a true Parisian meal.  We ended up back at the Champs-Elysees and had dinner at an outdoor restaurant.  I ordered the boeuf bourguignon, which was saltier than I had liked but good!  After which, we made our way back to our airbnb to retire for the night as we were flying to Venice the next morning :)