Thursday, October 22, 2015

More blogging to come

I wish I loved blogging as much as I love traveling.

2015 has been a rewarding year in terms of travel experiences - four vacations, six countries - not too shabby for someone employed full-time. 

Looking forward to blogging about 2015 travel experiences - no more hiatus! More blog posts coming soon!

Arc de Triomphe

During our honeymoon in Paris last December, we visited the Arc de Triomphe twice. We rode our vespa on the roundabout and did a 360 around the monument thrice during the daytime. When night fell, we walked back to the Arc de Triomphe. We marveled at the structures. We tried to read the names of the French soldiers that were inscribed on the walls. We read its history as described on wikipedia. And finally, we were ready to climb the steps to get to the top of the building.

Long story short, the Arc de Triomphe honors those who fought and died for France during wartime.

For those of you that opt to purchase the Paris museum pass, it would cover the entrance fee for the Arc. My Husband and I opted out of the museum pass because we didn't want to feel pressured to make the most of it or risk putting it to waste. Some people find great value in getting the museum pass, but we decided to opt out of it and just pay the face value if and when we decide to visit a museum. Other than value, another advantage of the pass is that you get to skip the lines and go straight in. Fortunately for us that day, we only waited 15 minutes to purchase the tickets.

After purchasing the tickets, we climbed 284 steps to the top of Arc, where we enjoyed a 360 view of numerous avenues of Paris. It was a semi-foggy night, but we were able to see the Eiffel Tower in all its glory. Comparing the Arc during the day and at night, I personally prefer the night view.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Notre Dame Cathedral and Shakespeare and Company Bookstore

The Notre Dame Cathedral is a breathtaking piece of architecture.

There are so many beautiful buildings and cathedrals throughtout Europe that made My Husband and I stare in awe - we'd have to pick up each other's jaws as we'd be completely mesmerized by the different styles and artistry used for each structure.

The Notre Dame Cathedral was one building that I couldn't stop staring at whether from afar or up close.

While we were in Paris, we ended up visting the Notre Dame Cathedral twice - the first time, our vespa tour guide led us past this cathedral and helped us take a photo. We came back the following day after lunch nearby to take a tour of it.

We awoke around 10AM - it was going to be a easy, relaxing day for us. By the time we left our hotel and arrived around the area, it was nearing noon, so we decided to have lunch first. We went to have lunch at Le Bar a Huitres Saint-Germain. Very modern decor and not so many people for on that Monday afternoon. They provided excellent service and their seafood was fresh and delicious.

We both started off with half dozen oysters. Unfortunately I had difficulty understanding where they were from, but it sounded like French places. Nevertheless, very fresh and in my book, superior to its Pacific Ocean counterparts. Oysters are a popular dish to be had during the holidays for the French. Lots of restaurants showcased their oysters.

Mashed potatoes as our side dish - this is really truly mashed potatoes - not a hint of cream or butter - if you like potatoes, this is for you!

I had the seafood risotto. Delicious, but nothing crazy here.

My Husband had the salmon - I had a few bites of it and it is surprisingly delicious. I thought this piece of fish wouldn't be anything out of the ordinary, but I was wrong. It was so fatty, fresh and was cooked and seasoned just perfectly.

Dessert for each of us to finish off.

After our nice a little over two hour lunch, we moved onward for the main attraction of the day - the Notre Dame Cathedral!

Inside of the cathedral

The stained glass windows were amazing. As we are not religious, we were not aware of the story the pictures were depicting.

After Notre Dame, our next destination would be the Eiffel Tower. While we were walking on the road to get ready to flag a taxi, I saw and accidentally found the Shakespeare and Company Bookstore!

This bookstore is popularized by Triumph in the Skies II, a Hong Kong drama produced by TVB. Since I watched that drama, I was excited to get a glimpse of it.

Pretending to read - heh heh
Inside - there are two stories - the first floor are brand new books for purchase and the second floor are old books for reading. They have chairs and benches in different areas and people can sit and relax with a book in hand.

This partcular area had tons of notes on its bulletin board left by people who visited this bookstore.
My Husband found a book to look at as well!

We were short on time, so we had to leave this quaint little bookstore. But I couldn't leave without leaving a message for it! My Husband caught me writing.

I'd love to come back to Paris again and sit in here for hours with a book or two. It felt especially wonderful to be in that bookstore that afternoon because it was starting to sprinkle outside. I'd recommend it for any book lovers - seems to have a very large selection.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Eiffel Tower

Note: the below post was written more 10 days ago and wasn't published. 
We are currently sitting on the Italia Rail train on our way to Florence. We just spent five days exploring the ancient city of Rome - we loved how the city is so full of history and character. It's a bigger city than I imagined and it's filled with hustling and bustling tourists and locals. I can't imagine how crowded it must be during the summer when tourism season is at its peak!

It feels so very lovely to sit in this comfortable and warm train - My Husband is sitting across from me as I stare out into the window mesmerized by the Italian country scenes that pass us by. Time is passing by way too quickly... I've had the opportunity to see so much and I want to document and share every moment of it.

So... Paris! The Eiffel Tower! It's a majestic scenery. I purposefully booked our hotel within walking distance of the tower (15 minutes). It was a joy to see the Eiffel Tower each time we left and returned to our hotel.

We strolled to the Eiffel Tower after lunch at Angelina. The anticipation was building up as the Eiffel Tower grew bigger and bigger...

If you're interested in going up the tower, I would highly recommend that tickets be booked in advance. We booked ours online and it was quite easy to do so. You pick the day and time slot and just line up for the elevator. I saw people lining up to buy tickets and the wait time was 45 minutes - I imagine it to be even longer if you visit on a spring or summer day. 

Unfortunately, we were a day early. My mistake - when we arrived, we were right on time, but wrong day. They are quite strict with the tickets and wouldn't let us go. So we reluctantly left and came back the following day. 

At the top of the tower - it was very foggy the next day.. Didn't really get to see the view. 

A better view on the second deck.

The Eiffel Tower is even prettier at night. When in Paris, it's definitely worth a visit!

Monday, December 22, 2014

A Parisian Lunch - Angelina

With the ice cold wind blowing across our faces while we were on our vespa tour, Terry (our tour guide) recommended that we have hot chocolate from Angelina to warm ourselves up. He told us that the best hot chocolate in Paris would be from Angelina. He thoughtfully ended our tour near this restaurant, which was located in the area of the Louvre.

Angelina is popular. They're famous for their smooth and rich hot chocolate, their desserts (mainly the mont blanc as I witnessed most tables order at least one) and apparently for lunch as well. As such, both locals and tourists were waiting in line for a table in the restaurant.

Since it was around lunchtime, we decided to have lunch at here. The wait wasn't too terrible, we were seated in about 30 minutes. My Husband purchased a cup of hot chocolate for us to enjoy while we were waiting - and it was the most delicious hot chocolate I've ever tasted - so smooth, so rich, so chocolatey and thick. It was as if every sip I had was a piece of dark chocolate melting in my mouth. I wish I had a cup right now!

As soon as we were seated, we ordered two more cups of hot chocolate - we both like chocolate, not huge fans, but we certainly enjoy a piece or two - anyhow, there was no way that I'd pass up the opportunity to have more of this chocolatey wonder in a cup.

For lunch, My Husband ordered their set brunch menu and I ordered the beef tartare - the French are certainly generous with their beef tartare portions! I love beef tartare - I don't always see it on the menu in Los Angeles, and when I do, I usually try and order it. Restaurants in LA completely skimp on their beef tartar portions perhaps because it's a delicacy? Or it's hard to prepare? I probably only get a quarter of what I was given here. It's also usually an appetizer, which I generally share, so it leads to only a few bites of it. It appears that beef tartare in France is generally an entree, so it's a good-sized portion. My Husband's brunch menu was also delicious; unfortunately, we neglected to photograph his seemingly endless plates of pastries. His brunch menu started off with a croissant, some more pastries, an egg and sausage patty, and more pastries. His meal ended with french toast (very different than what I've had previously), which I helped him finish. His meal was a total carb overload!

Lunch lasted over two hours. Actually, all our meals lasted over two hours in Paris. The French are strict with dining etiquette and are extremely respectful of the time you may need to order or enjoy your meal. Food presentation appears to be key - we haven't been to a restaurant where the food wasn't strategically placed on the plate for us. And we haven't once been presented our bill without asking. I've read that once you're sat at a table, the French assumes that the table would be taken for the entire afternoon/night. It took us some time to get used to taking it slow because My Husband and I are like monsters with our food, especially if it's delicious. It's almost like a race to finish first. And if it's extremely scrumptious, there's no time for conversation because we are so busy stuffing our faces. We've learned to eat slower, but if it's delicious, I can't help but quickly stick another bite in my mouth! Ah! Definitely room for me to be more lady-like with my food - I'll improve on that as I'm on my honeymoon.