Love is in the air…

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It’s Valentine’s Day and what is more romantic then Paris? There are many places within the city that scream romance, like the Eiffel Tower. Then there are some places that are a little less obvious, because yes, I find a cluttered old bookstore named after Shakespeare romantic! Plus it’s just across the Seine from Notre Dame and churches have become one of my favourite travelling pastimes.
My second photo shows the padlocks of a love lock bridge. The lock is initialed by the couple and the key tossed into the water, to symbolized unbreakable love. On a side note: As romantic as it sounds and as neat as they all look, the weight of the locks is damaging to the bridge structure. So I wouldn’t actually recommend doing it yourself.
Not pictured but equally as romantic is the The Paris Opera. This girl absolutely adores the ballet and wishes all the time that she could have been a ballerina. I guess I’ll just settle for pretending I am, as I dance around my living room. Seeing the costumes, stage and just the beauty of the building was a dream come true!

What are your favourite romantic spots to visit in Paris? Or anywhere for that matter? Comment below, I’d love to read them 🙂

Happy Valentine’s Day!

June 14-17, 2013

Start to Finish

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Today is a special day because it is exactly one year since I left Toronto for Paris, France! I wanted to tackle Paris this week but as it is with life, things come up. So I’ve decided to instead give you a list of everywhere I actually went on my trip. Until now I’ve only written about certain places I’ve gone, so I thought by giving the whole list then you could request a place to hear about. Sound good?
So here it is! In order from start to finish:
1. Paris, France
2. Giverny, France
3. Mont St. Michel, France
4. Geneva, Switzerland
5. Montreux, Switzerland
6. Verona, Italy
7. Rome, Italy
8. Florence, Italy
9. Positano, Italy
10. Cinque-Terre, Italy
11. Nice, France
12. Cannes, Italy
13. Eze, France
14. Monaco, France
15. Lyon, France
16. St. Tropez, France
17. Antibes, France
18. Munich, Germany
19. Prague, Czech Republic
20. Berlin, Germany
21. Copenhagen, Denmark
22. Amsterdam, Netherlands
23. Bruges, Belgium (stopover in Brussels)
24. London, England
25. Edinburgh, Scotland
26. Dublin, Ireland
27. Marbella, Spain
28. Seville, Spain
29. Barcelona, Spain
30. Bilbao, Spain
31. St. Julian’s, Malta (including Valletta and Gozo)
32. Athens, Greece
33. Santorini, Greece
34. Crete
35. Ayia Napa, Cyprus
C’est tous!
So let me know if there is anywhere specific you want to hear about next week! This truly was a once in a lifetime adventure filled with incredible experiences and amazing new friends. I lost my father almost 3 years ago and it hit me incredibly hard. I was just sort of floundering; at a loss for what was next. It sounds silly but this trip put me back together. I feel more like myself again; I feel joy again. Of course I still miss him terribly, that never goes away. June 4th was his birthday and with Father’s Day, it is tough. Today, at the one year mark, I am feeling sad and nostalgic. Right now I’m sitting at work and wishing I was on a plane instead, but I’ll be off again soon enough. Until then, I have my blog to keep my memories vivid and my photos to reminisce over. No matter where life takes me, this trip will always be one of the best times in my life. It could not have been any better if I had dreamt it, even the weather was perfect. I know how lucky I am and I hope I’m half as lucky in the future.

June 13, 2013- October 1, 2013

(Photos above: Eiffel Tower and me in Cyprus. The start and finish of my trip.)

The Palace of Versailles, France (Part 2)

I’ve decided to post another video this week (well, 2 actually) in honour of next week being the one year anniversary of me leaving on my travel journey. I know I’ve posted about Versailles before so please look at my previous post for more details. This time however, I’ve chosen to discuss the gardens, which are vast and stunning. The pale dirt paths are in stark contrast to the greenery and the fountains and statues are incredible. Definitely pay the extra cost to visit the entirety of the palace. There are maps available to navigate the grounds, which are divided into sections. Walking around it’s difficult to imagine people actually living there once upon a time and I think that lends to its appeal. The videos I chose are of the musical fountains, which until this visit; I had no idea even existed in this world. I was so in awe that I watched the whole show 2 full times. I got some fresh orange juice from a nearby cart and sat on one of the stone benches and just watched. It was a welcomed rest from the extensive walking but also really neat to see live. It was the first moment on my trip where I just took it all in and felt content and grateful to be where I was. I had many moments after this but sitting on that bench is a vivid memory for me that I cherish deeply.

June 16, 2013

Souvenirs

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As a way to commemorate my trip (other than my spoon collection) I opted to collect bracelets. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get them from every single place because that would have been a lot to wear and I was packing light. The collection actually started in New York City in 2012 with my first Alex and Ani bangle. Right before I left home I added to my arm with NTIO bracelets I purchased online and a Brave collection (all of which ended up falling off). A special gift to ward off evil from a dear friend completed the look before I even got on a plane! I wore these bracelets everywhere, even swimming (except for a select few that would tarnish) and to bed. Growing the collection as I went; I added piece by piece, losing some and gaining others. By the end I was kind of over the weight on my wrist, but every time I look down at them it brings a smile to my face. This trip was so life changing and special; I love having little souvenirs to remind me of that time. Along with the bracelets and spoons, I did get some magnets and a few knick-knacks. Most of these extra souvenirs were sent home from abroad, the lack of luggage space was a challenge to say the least. I will say, every time I had to climb stairs or lift luggage overhead though, I was utterly grateful for my carry on. Now, each time I hang my keys on my Barcelona key rack or open my fridge or look at the Oia glass decoration in my bathroom; I remember this great time in my life. And every time I wear these bracelets it brings me back to places I saw and the amazing experience I was lucky enough to have. There is something to be said for souvenirs.

June 13- October 1, 2013

Left to Right: Florence, Nice, Antibes, NTIO company, Paris, Dublin (Alex and Ani), NYC (Alex and Ani), Gift from friend, London, NYC (Alex and Ani).
Others that are not pictured were from: Athens, Popeye’s Village, Brave Collection, Switzerland, Barcelona.

Giverny, France

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I happen to really like this photo. It was taken at Monet’s house in Giverny, France. This is one of the places I had always wanted to go, so while in Paris I made a side trip. Turns out it is not the easiest place to get to from Paris, with regards to train timetables and connections. I had only half a day so I went very early in order to make the first bus connection to the house, ended up meeting a girl from Korea and sat for close to 3 hours in a little cafe. There is a market on Saturday morning I wanted to go to but ended up not for fear I’d get lost (something I am good at). All hopped up on cappuccinos, we caught the bus and took it all of 10 minutes to Monet’s house. It’s a bit of a walk from the bus drop off and people boogie to be first. The line up was long but luckily I had pre-purchased my ticket and went right in. I only had about an hour and a half at this point before for my train back to Paris so I did rush a bit but I got to see it all. His house is quaint and pretty inside (no pictures allowed) with gorgeous views of the garden. That garden was so special; I’ll probably do another post just on flowers in it. La piece de rĂ©sistance, for me, would be the pond with its water lilies, weeping willows and bridges (yes I took a picture on one). His home inspired so many of his materpieces, it’s surreal to witness the beauty in real life. I was blessed with a perfect, sunny day to see the historic home of such a gifted artist and I feel special to have been there. Now, the story of my adventure to get back to Paris… I left with the intention of taking a taxi back to the train station; however I did not know to call before I left Monet’s. So after getting to the bus area and seeing no taxis, I opted to try and walk. That brilliant plan lasted 5 minutes as debris filled my shoes while I struggled down the side of a dirt road. I tried to get a hotel to call me a taxi but no one was around. About 10 minutes later, I stumble upon a restaurant with a bus outside; but again no one is around and it’s closed. Now I am panicking, convinced I will miss the train. Then a car pulls up. Inside is a woman, who happens to be the owners’ wife and her two daughters, I ask if she can call me a taxi and she offers to drive me. This is the only time in my life I ever hitchhiked (if you’d call it that). She owns a B&B in a neighbouring town and was so friendly and sweet. They saved the day because I made my train and got back to Paris in time. I am so grateful to her. On a side note, the nearest station is Vernon; that happens to be the inspiration of some of Monet’s paintings. One such painting my dad had hanging in our dining room since I can remember, and even though it looks nothing like that now, it was neat to be there in person.

June 15, 2013

The Palace of Versailles, France

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I love, love, love Versailles! I happen to have a diploma in Interior Decorating and studied the palace for school; which is why I was so obsessed and made it a must see on my list of places to go. I first went on my European trip back in 2010. I was only in Paris for 2 full days and on my second day (being horribly jet lagged) dragged myself out at 7:30am and made my way to the palace; about 40 min. outside the city centre. Since my time in Paris was so short and I had another important monument to see after, I only stayed about 3 hours. Note to anyone wanting to go, which is NOT enough time. I rushed through and barely got to see the gardens before leaving to get back to the city. That is why this time around I stayed longer in Paris and gave myself an entire day. Even though I bought my tickets ahead (a must in high season) the line through security took forever. I got my headset though and listened in depth to almost all the descriptions, taking my time going room to room. I also stopped at the fancy dining room and had French onion soup, tea and macarons; the soup was the best I've had to date. Then I made my way to the vast and exquisite gardens and made a point to go to every single section. I even took in 2 musical fountain shows, which were really neat to see. I didn't stay the whole day as planned, because that's just a bit much to be honest, but I did get to see it all. It was a dream come true and I was so proud of myself getting to go back and get a redo at one of my most favourite places. Everything is so pristine that seems fake when you're walking around and it's so hard to imagine how people used to live here. It's quite remarkable and something I highly recommend to visit, just make sure to get there early!

June 16, 2013