Heading to the eternally chic City of Lights this past fall, I wanted to make sure that I didn’t stand out as a tourist. Parisian women are known worldwide for their particular brand of style and I wanted to do my best to fit in with them. So what did I pack?
It’s no secret that Valentine’s Day and I don’t get along. We started off ok, then hit some major bumpy spots. We mostly just exist separately these days. But this year I thought I would make the world my Valentine and write some love letters to all the places I’ve loved before.
I wanted to eat well in Paris. I really did. Sometimes I failed – too many ham and cheese baguettes. Sometimes I did ok – like Boeuf Bourguignon and a French red while sitting at the next table over from a couple of industry women in town for Fashion Week. And sometimes I hit it out of the park. Like the night I ventured, almost on a whim, to the 9th arrondissement to check out Bouillon Chartier. Zut alors!
If there was one iconic image I had of Paris, it was cycling through the streets on a cruiser bike. The image would be made perfect by a flouncy midi skirt, Breton striped boat-necked shirt, and an effortless chignon. Of course there’d be a baguette sticking out of the wicker basket. While the outrageous stereotypes of this dream sequence didn’t happen – I wore printed ankle pants with a grey v-neck and there was no basket or baguette – Fat Tire Bike Tours did make the rest happen for me.
I thought I’d want to stay close to Las Ramblas when I was visiting Barcelona but after one visited I actually wanted to stay far, far away. Thankfully my Devour Barcelona food tour introduced me to a whole new neighbourhood. Gracia is only a mile away but world’s apart from the tourist traps.
Paris strikes me as a lady of a city. Elegant and refined. Not gaudy and loud. Not overly showy or pushy. When I think of hotels in Paris I think of cozy, elegant rooms mixing heritage buildings and fine fixtures. Of hushed conversations and real tea drunk from china cups, not paper. On the border between the 8th and 9th arrondissements sits the newly opened Hotel de Seze, which embodies all of these qualities.
One of my aunt’s has called me Mona Lisa for many, many years so it was pretty special when I got to stand a few feet from the real deal this fall. It could also be why I find the bit of trivia I learned about her so interesting. She’s been called the best known, the most visited, the most written about, the most sung about, the most parodied work of art in the world. But why is the Mona Lisa famous in the first place?
A lot of people will claim that their favourite smell is freshly baked bread. Boutique hotels are starting to get on with having a unique fragrance in their lobbies. What do the two have to do with each other? At the Praktik Bakery Hotel in Barcelona they combine a scented lobby and the smell of fresh baked bread. Except this scent doesn’t come from a factory. It comes from the real live bakery in the lobby, producing bread and sweets all day, every day.
After rescheduling once, my next adventure is almost here. When WestJet announced that they were starting a direct route between St. John’s and Dublin, complete with a stupidly awesome seat sale, I booked a ticket first and planned later. So where will I be going?….
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Even though I just landed in South Korea I couldn’t pass up the chance to reminisce about my time in Dublin, Ireland in 2011. The only plan for every evening was to find a pub and hopefully some live music. Thankfully, both are about as easy to find in Ireland as sheep. Trust me, that’s easy. I couldn’t decide on just one photo since it seems like a good number of my favourite memories involved both beer and tunes. It was a special moment when I was invited up to play bodhran with the pub’s musicians. My knees were shaking and my mouth went dry but I think I got away with it without embarrassing myself. I learned how to pull a proper pint at the Guinness brewery. I’ve since put this skill to use in airport lounges. Doing shots of Jameson’s with my dad on…
My day trip to Mostar included a short stop in Počitelj, Bosnia and Herzegovina, a small town on the Neretva River with a mix of medieval and Ottoman elements. Tour groups routinely make stops here so there were plenty of locals selling fruit and trinkets. These colourful wooden toys caught my eye while I wandered through the town. I wonder if anyone would take me seriously if I brought that giant teal pencil in to client meetings?
In honour of London Fashion Week, VisitBritain Shop has asked bloggers to put together their perfect London shopping trip. Being the aspiring fashionista that I am, a shopping trip to London would be heaven. On this magical trip I would put together a perfect outfit featuring British designers and shops: Burberry, Stella McCartney, Lulu Guinness, Harrods and more!
The night air was warm in Dubrovnik as I walked down the Stradun. The streetlights made the polished marble streets shine as if they were still wet from a washing. The cruisers had all gone for the day and the old town had quieted down. A brief respite from the hustle and bustle. It would all repeat the next day but for now it was quiet. One night in Dubrovnik listening to men sing folk songs to entertain themselves helped ease the jaded feeling about the town that had crept up on me. Sometimes you can find those little nuggets of authenticity that restore your faith in a destination where and when you least expect it…and it makes all the difference.
My dad and I were racing, well, anxiously puttering – I didn’t dare go above 65 km/hr – through the twisty, turny road over the Kerry Mountains in Ireland trying to get to Killarney before dark but as we crested a hill I had to stop and try to capture the setting sun streaming through the clouds. Between driving on the left, sheep grazing on the side of the road and this landscape I had one of those “Oh my God, I’m actually in Ireland!” moments.
War Photo Limited is an exhibition center of war and conflict photography in Dubrovnik’s Old Town that tries to lift any romantic veil from war and show how it really is. It’s an uncomfortable visit but it’s one that I think everyone who visits Dubrovnik should make. I challenge you to visit and leave unaffected. The more I travel, the more I realize that we’re all more alike than we are different.
2012 was another year full of travel. I visited five new countries and even circumnavigated the globe like a boss. I pushed my limits and had some incredible experiences. I worked on learning some new languages and tried lots of great new foods. I can’t wait to see what 2013 will have in store for me.