Reliving my Childhood at Disneyland Paris

Reliving my Childhood at Disneyland Paris

When my employers offered to let me take Zoe, their youngest daughter, to Eurodisney for the day, I jumped at the chance. Because… Disneyland!

I, like most small Midwestern children, visited Disneyworld in the 90′s and had the time of my life. My little brother and I carried around little blue books soliciting signatures from Disney characters, and my mom slathered sunscreen all over our sun-deprived, Midwestern skin to protect us from the searing Floridian sun. (more…)

Eurodisney

But as you might have guessed, this visit to Disneyland was a bit different. First of all, it is no longer 1998 (which is quite unfortunate, may I add). And secondly, the Parisian sun is never searing. The weather, per usual, was overcast, drizzly and more than a little depressing.

Upon entering the park, we immediately spotted Mickey, who was actually being chased by small children. As in, he seemed to be running away.

Eurodisney

Does anyone else remember running around the theme park asking the poor people dressed up as cartoons for autographs? Now that I’m an adult and have worked as a cater-waiter, I really, really feel for them.

We ran into some other familiar faces… or should I say, 101 of them.

Eurodisney

The benefit of visiting Disneyland in December was that the ride lines were only two or three minutes long. I also noticed that despite featuring my favorite movies, such as The Lion King or Aladdin, most of the rides incorporated characters from Disney’s Pixar days like Monsters Inc. and Finding Nemo.

Disneyland Studios

At right- a jellyfish warning from Finding Nemo. Which I have to admit- was a really good movie.

Our first ride ended up being the best ride of the day; the Tower of Terror.

Eurodisney

Despite the hotel being haunted, the lobby was actually quite inviting.

Eurodisney

Once they strapped us into the elevator compartment, we were dropped eight stomach-turning stories and then shot right back up the shaft. And in flagrant disregard of the no camera policy, I hastily snapped a picture when the elevator doors opened- because even the views are magical at Disneyland.

Eurodisney

The best ride ever was followed by the worst ride ever. We waited for 40 minutes in the company of screaming toddlers in order to ride a bouncy ride that lasted about 90 seconds.

Disneyland Studios

Eurodisney

I kind of felt like the oldest child or the youngest adult at the park- just check out the amount of strollers!

Eurodisney

Eurodisney

After exiting Walt Disney Studios we thought we had seen the whole park. But little did we know, we had a whole other park worth of childhood memories left to be explored.

To be continued…

My Local Eats: New York

My Local Eats: New York

Welcome to My Local Eats, a guest post series in which foodies from around the globe share their favorite local places to eat and drink. Today we will be learning about what to eat in New York, and so far the series has already covered Paris and Seoul.

Today the series makes its foray into North America with Ashley Hufford’s favorite spots in New York, New York. Ashley, apart from having a very cool first name (cough), writes See Ash Run, a blog that chronicles her life and photography in New York.  (more…)

Ashley Hufford

Hi, I’m Ash, a New York Native/Travel addict who’s currently traveling around the world via New York neighborhoods. I can go from Paris to Italy, from Brazil to Spain, from China to Africa all for the price of a subway ticket. And for the adventurer who can’t afford to adventure right now, this is a decent tradeoff. Ashley Abroad (it was weird when I just wrote Ashley) gave me the opportunity to share with you some of my favorite New York City “Travel” destinations.

 Tea and Sympathy  

Lets start off in jolly old Londonland!

What to Eat in New York

When Nikki Perry came to New York from London, she was deterimined to find a home for British cuisine and that was what she did by pretty much creating Little Britain with her now staple restaurant, Tea & Sympathy. This tiny restaurant could be easily over looked when walking down Greenwich Ave. But, especially on a weekend morning, you won’t miss the swarms of people waiting for a seat inside this 23 person (max) restaurant. Tea & Sympathy is the quintessential British Tea Shop, with over 25 different tea flavors, scones and (almost) authentic clotted cream, the actual clotted cream is banned in the US for pasteurization laws, but this stuff is fantastic.

What to Eat in New York

Although known mostly for its traditional English Breakfast on Saturday and Sundays, Tea & Sympathy is also filled with delicious sandwiches, tasty dinner pies and melt in your mouth desserts. My recommendations? The Traditional English Breakfast Tea, the Welsh Rarebit, a savory cheese and toast dish that may change your life, and the rhubarb pudding! (Ms. Perry also owns two other British themed stores on the block, A Fish and Chips restaurant called “A Salt and Battery” and “Carry on Tea & Sympathy” a British convenience store which sells British goods and food.)

What to Eat in New York

Welsh Rarebit

One thing to note, this restaurant has very strict rules like there is a required 10-12 dollar minimum per person (depending on the time you go) and they will not seat you until your entire party is there, some people find these overbearing, I think it adds to the charm!

Location:

Tea and Sympathy 108 Greenwich Avenue Manhattan (212) 807-8329  Metro: Anything that stops on 14th is in walking distance. Open Weekdays 11-10, Weekends 9-10

 

Fatty’s Cafe

Now I may be a bit biased because I live there, but Astoria, Queens is one of the most diverse and authentic neighborhoods in New York and is pretty much untouched by tourists. Astoria is known for its Greek food and people, but also has vibrant Moroccan and Eastern European influences as well. My favorite restaurant in Astoria is none of these three things. In fact, we will half to take a little hop over to Cuba.

What to Eat in New York

If you’re looking for tasty Cuban cuisine and probably the best mojito in the city, hike out to Astoria, Queens and take yourself to Fatty’s Cafe. It’s a small, brightly colored restaurant during the day and a fun, musical bar at night, with two of the kindest owners in New York, Sue and Ferd. Anyone who’s a Fatty’s patron knows these two, because they’ll make an effort to know you the second you walk through the door. Besides its atmosphere, the food is delicious, I have eaten almost everything on the menu and there is nothing I don’t like. On weekends they have a fantastic brunch and for only 15 dollars you get a meal and a drink, which is probably the best deal you’ll find in New York. My recommendation is the Chorizo Tacos and their mojito. (I am a huge mojito drinker and this one is the best I’ve ever had.)

Note: In the summer they have the greatest outdoor area, which lights and bamboo coverings. I promise the trek to this restaurant is worth it.

Location:

Fatty’s Cafe 2501 Ditmars Boulevard Astoria (718) 267-7071 Nearest Transit Station: Astoria – Ditmars Blvd (N, Q) Hours: Mon-Thu 2 pm – 11 pm Fri 2 pm – 12 am Sat 11 am – 12 am Sun 11 am – 10 pm

 

The Tuck Shop

Our last stop on our adventure is down under.

What to Eat in New York

When Americans go to a baseball game, we eat hotdogs. When Aussies go to a football match, they eat meat pies! At least according to “The Tuck Shop,” the Australian Meat pie restaurant, located in 3 different locations around Manhattan. It’s open late so its the perfect spot for an after-drink bite. The menu is incredible simple, cheap and full of yummy pies. Don’t worry veggies, they have food for you too!

What to Eat in New York

What to Eat in New York

Whenever I go I meet awesome travelers and hear hysterical stories, plus they have a book exchange where you can trade in your old guide books and get another. Oh did I mention they also home make all of their own sodas which is pretty awesome and quick tasty. My recommendation is the BBQ Pork Pie with the Cole Slaw and an Elderberry soda!

Location:

The Tuck Shop: A Great Aussie Bite For any information you need on any of the locations check out their website.
Ashley Hufford is a blogger and video editor living in New York City. She spends her days writing, playing the ukulele, drinking tea, babysitting and freelancing, but not always in that order. To read more about her post grad, caffeine fueled, New York City adventures check out her blog www.sheclimbeduntilshesaw.com or follow her on Twitter @AshleyHufford.

What are your favorite things to eat in New York?

Breizh Café – Paris’ Best Crêperie?

Breizh Café – Paris’ Best Crêperie?

Breizh Café – the Parisian café revered for having best Breton crepes this side of Rennes. I had heard about this place for ages from the likes of trusted Paris food bloggers such as David Lebovitz. But the best crêpe in Paris? Let’s find out. (more…)

Breizh Café

First off, I have to give a nod to the café’s ambiance; it was warm and bright, crowded and convivial. I had to make reservations and there were certainly a lot of tourists, but I get it- this café has quite the reputation.

Breizh Café

And of course no French café is complete with out the omnipresent chalkboard with the specials du jour, now is it?

Breizh Café

I was excited to meet up with Kate, from Adventurous Kate, for the first time. And I knew I was in good company when we immediately agreed to order a carafe of hard cider. Being as my host family in France owns an apple farm, I’m no stranger to apple juice in all of its wonderful and fermented forms, and this cold, apple-y concoction did not disappoint.

Breizh Café

Next came the galette de sarrasin (just an fyi- a galette is basically a savory  crêpe made with buckwheat flour). I ordered mine as a a galette complète which comes packed with jambon de pays (country ham), a fried egg and gooey gruyère cheese. For a fall touch I also ordered mushrooms on top.

I hate to sound like a snarky food critic, but the galette was a dissapointment. First of all, the fried egg was completely cooked through. And really, is there anything better in life than a runny, golden yolk? So that was already strike-one for this yolk-lover. Also the texture of the galette was very dry and the ingredients were just decent.

Next, it was time for dessert. When I suggested to Kate that we split a dessert crêpe to save a few euros, she politely declined- and I will be ever thankful for that.

Breizh Cafe

When I tasted the salted butter crêpe with apple filling and vanilla ice cream, I practically forgot my name. It was ah-may-zing. Salty plus sweet plus creamy plus cold = taste bud nirvana.

Breizh Cafe

So my final review of Breizh? Delicious crêpes worth writing home about (or on your blog about, ha) but only so-so galettes. And the prices rapidly increase if you order your galette with anything but cheese and ham. Another downside is you have to make reservations- something that kind of annoys me when you’re eating at a crêperie, the most casual form of eatery on the French restaurant totem pole.

So here’s my advice; have lunch beforehand, and then come here for dessert and order apple cider and crêpes. The café is located in one of Paris’ best neighborhoods, Le Marais, so walk off the crêpes after by exploring a trendy neighborhood full of Jewish bakeries, street art and hipsters.

Psst! Here is my personal recommendation for the best galettes in Paris, Crêperie Cat’Man. And you don’t have to make reservations.  

Location:

Breizh Café 109, rue Vieille du Temple (map) 01 42 72 13 77 Breizh Café is closed Monday and Tuesday, but open continuously throughout the day the rest of the week. Reservations are highly recommended. They also have a café in Cancale (Brittany) and Tokyo.

Did you love Breizh? Am I totally off-base? Feel free to tell me how wrong I am in the comments!

My Local Eats: Seoul, Korea

My Local Eats: Seoul, Korea

Hi! Welcome to the second edition of My Local Eats, a guest post series in which foodies from around the globe share their favorite local places to eat and drink.

Today’s guest post comes from Jessica Wray, an American who is currently residing in Seoul, South Korea. Jessica writes one of my favorite travel blogs, Curiosity Travels, which chronicles her sometimes crazy and always delicious explorations into Korean life. Here she shares some serious food porn of what to eat in Seoul that is actually making me consider moving to Seoul.

(more…)

Curiosity Travels

Hi, I’m Jessica. I teach English in Seoul, South Korea and have been living here for almost two years now. While I’ve been here, I’ve become very fond of Korean food and it’s part of my everyday diet.  I love how social Korean food is, as many meals are shared, and some are even cooked at the table in front of you.  In February, I’m starting a five-month trip which begins in India and ends in Cambodia.  Before I leave, I’ll be trying to enjoy some of my favorite Korean foods as much as I can.  Below are a few I’ll be sure to fit in!

HBC Galbi

What to Eat in Seoul

Going out for galbi, or beef BBQ, is the quintessential Korean food experience.  Raw, seasoned or marinated beef is brought to the table, and cooked right in front of you on a small grill.  Once cooked, and cut up into bite sized pieces, you dip the meat in ‘gochujang’ (Korean red pepper paste), top with assorted side dishes and wrap in lettuce.  It is common to have galbi with friends before a night out, and beer and soju bottles usually surround the grill.

My favorite galbi spot is located in Haebonchon (HBC).  It is small, inexpensive and offers some of the best meat I’ve had.  The marinated galbi is the best, and I usually find myself ordering more and more.  Unlike most popular galbi places, this one is pretty small.  Sometimes there is a wait, and when there is, I head up the hill to Phillies for a beer to pass the time.  Most Korean meals are meant to be shared, and BBQ is no different.  After you order the type of meat you want, and the amount of servings, everyone at the table digs in and also splits the bill.  With beer and soju included, I’ve never left spending more than 12,000 won (about $11).

Location:

About a 5 minute walk from Noksapyeong Station. Take exit two and walk straight. Stay to the left and pass the kimchi pots. Keep walking until you see the BBQ restaurant on the right side of the road. It is small and the restaurant opens out to the street. 서울용산구용산동2가 46-5번지

Yoogane (유가네) Dak Galbi in Hongdae

What to Eat in Seoul

Not to be confused with “galbi”, “dak galbi” is a spicy chicken dish.  Though also cooked at the table and shared, it is entirely different, being closer to a stir-fry than a BBQ.  Vegetables usually come with the spicy chicken, and from there you can add other items to it.  I always choose ramen noodles and cheese.  The mixture is cooked in the middle of the table, then washed down with beer to sooth burning lips.

I usually frequent the same spot in Hongdae, one of the university areas around Seoul.  It can get pretty crowded from 8pm on, so I usually try and get there earlier.

Location

This restaurant is closest to exit nine from Hongik Univerisity Station. Taking an immediate left out the exit, walk two blocks until turning right onto the tree lined walking street. A few blocks down the restaurant will be on your right, a block before the Starbucks. 서울마포구동교동 163-11번지

King Bone Haejangguk in Mokdong

What to Eat in Seoul

Though coined the “hangover soup”, to me, this Korean dish doesn’t require a hangover for it to be satisfying and delicious.  One of my favorite Korean foods, haejangguk is a flavorful stew which bubbles and boils around a large pork spine.  When arriving at the table, the first thing to do is to shred all the meat off, discard the bone and add it to the broth.  Though the traditional version is made from coagulated ox blood, the most popular kind around Seoul (and my favorite) barely has the blood noticeable because it is dissolved into the broth.

On chilly days, or when I’m looking for a hearty meal, I head to the “King Bone” haejangguk house near my boyfriend’s apartment.  For 6,000 won ($5.50) you can get an individual bowl, or with a larger group you can get a big pot to share.

Location

This restaurant  is a 5 minute walk from Sinjeong Station exit three. Walk straight for two and a half blocks until you see it on your right. This same restaurant has a few locations all around Seoul. You can find the other locations on their website. 서울양천구신정동 988-3번지

Street food around Hongdae What to Eat in Seoul

Sometimes I just don’t feel like a full meal accompanied by side dishes and rice.  When I just want something quick and filling on the go, I stop by one of the many orange tents scattered around Seoul to get my street food fix.

Just by pointing and saying “hana” (one) and “du-gay” (two) I accumulate a delicious assortment of fried goodies.  My favorites are the fried shrimp, octopus and dumplings.  I then ask for the spicy red “dokbokki” sauce on top.  These orange tents have many different treats on offer and I usually choose from what looks good at the time.  Other times, I stop by the smaller tents offering meat skewers.  Vegetables and chicken in a teriyaki sauce are always a tempting snack.

Ordering an assortment of items is always cheap and filling, and only paying a few thousand won (a few dollars) can get you a filling meal.

Location:

Most orange tents pop up in areas with a lot of foot traffic. Shopping areas and areas with a lot of nightlife can guarantee a slew of orange tents. I usually stop by the ones near Hongik University. Most tents can be found next to exit nine and exit eight from the station.
Jessica loves seeing new places and trying new things, whether it is abroad or in the kitchen. This wanderlust brought her to her current location, Seoul, South Korea, where she currently teaches English. Soon she will be taking off on a big trip to see (and taste) more of Asia. You can follow all of her global adventures via her blog, Curiosity Travels. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.
10 Travel Necessities That Make My World Go Round

10 Travel Necessities That Make My World Go Round

So in light of the recent holidays, I wanted to take time to reflect on some of my brand new travel-related gadgets I received (thanks, Santa!) as well as the tried-and-true products I’ve been using for years. Every single one of the items listed makes my travels easier in some way – from protecting my skin and electronics to allowing me to dance around the kitchen to my favorite tunes. (more…)

Favorite travel products

1. iPod Touch

Gone are the days of combing the streets for sketchy internet cafés and waiting for ancient hostel computers to load; my iPod Touch has made traveling so. much. easier. I use it to take notes, listen to music on the metro, snap photos, surf the web, set my alarm and translate words into French.

My favorite apps: Google Translate, TuneIn Radio, Feedly, and okay, I can’t help but love Instagram. I also like iMessage for texting friends both in Paris and back home.

Tip- there’s almost always free wifi, and air-conditioning, and bathrooms, at Starbucks or McDonalds. Don’t hate.

2. Classy leather notebooks

I actually use three different notebooks when I’m traveling: a lined notebook for diary entries, a pocket-sized book for writing down new words and important information and the recipe journal to document new recipes I learn.

3. Pepper Spray

Call me crazy, but as a girl who often travels alone, carrying a small, discreet can of pepper spray gives me a lot of peace of mind.

4. My Passport External Hard Drive

My Passport

At left: my most essential travel necessity, obviously. At right: the external hard drive which is actually smaller!

Another thing giving me peace of mind? My external hard drive. As an avid amateur photographer and travel blogger, I love having an external hard drive that fits in the palm of my hand. I bought the WD My Passport Portable with 1 terabyte of space because I shoot in JPEG and doubt I’ll ever need more space than that!

5. Kindle

Now that I have an e-reader I have no idea how I functioned without one before. In my pre-Kindle days, I used to waste about a third of my suitcase for books and spend precious travel time hunting down English-language bookstores. Now I simply click “download” and English books appear on my e-Reader like magic! I have the older Kindle Keyboard 3G which I like because the battery lasts about a month. No, for serious.

Also, I would advise paying extra for the 3G – it is really helpful to be able to use the web on it in case of emergency, and unlike the iPad there is no extra charge.

6. Mini Speaker

The X-Mini Capsule Speaker is my go-to Christmas gift for loved ones of all ages and genders because everyone loves it. For a speaker so small it has surprisingly great audio and a battery that lasts 20 hours. You really can play it anywhere; a hostel bathroom, a beach… I play it all the time when I’m cooking or working out at home.

Thank you Susan from Travel Junkette for writing about this amazing creation and thus bringing it into my life!

7. Little locks and big padlock

I use little locks to lock my backpack or suitcases while on the move and a big padlock to lock my luggage in those caged hostel luggage cubby thingies.

8. Jo Totes Camera Bag

Favorite travel products

I love, love, love this bag. After seeing it featured on about a million blogs I finally bought one- and it is the best camera bag ever. The leather is faux but so, so soft (plus you don’t have to worry about water damage) and the interior compartments allow for a camera as well as several lenses. Jo Totes makes beautiful, affordable and high-quality bags… I really can’t say enough good things about them!

9. PacSafe Portable Safe

Okay, I admit I haven’t had the chance to put my new safe to use just yet, but so many travel bloggers rave about it that I couldn’t help but buy it. I already know that I can fit my MacBook AND huge dSLR in it (I checked) so I’m already pleased!

10. Moisturizer with sunscreen

I’m admittedly kind of crazy about my skin, but really, everyone should wear sunscreen. I’ve used basically all of them at the drug store and department store and I would still have to recommend Olay. With SPF 15, mind you.

Disclaimer – if you buy from some of the links above, I will get a small commission. But these are all products I honestly love so don’t worry – I wouldn’t steer you wrong! Also I was in no way compensated by any of these companies.

What are your favorite travel products? 

Saturday Snapshot 15

Saturday Snapshot 15

Hey everyone! So for today let’s just pretend this is called the Sunday Snapshot… at this rate I may just need to rename the whole series, haha.

So this week I continued with my normal schedule of wander around Paris, meet up with bloggers and take photos. But there was one twist- it snowed! (more…)

Photo A

Place Saint-Georges

On the way to met Kristen from The Kale Project at the Hotel Amour (how romantic! haha) I came across the very charming Place Saint-Georges. Sometimes I come across new areas in Paris and it reminds me that I live in an absolutely beautiful city.

Photo B

Paris in the snow

A few days later I revisited the Place Saint-Georges but this time it had undergone a slight but quite exciting change – snow! I had never seen snow in Paris (I’m told it’s a very uncommon occurrence) so it was fun to experience the city in a new and wintry way.

Photo C

Gustave Moreau

I also visited the Gustave Moreau museum this week. Moreau was a French symbolist painter who loved mythological and biblical figures- as a self-admitted Greek mythology nerd I enjoyed finding my favorite myths in the paintings.

Photo D

Paris in the snow

While wandering Montmartre I would spy the Sacre Coeur peeking out from around corners like this one…

Photo E

Paris in the snow

and this one!

So which picture did you like best?

The Delicious Truth behind German Cuisine

The Delicious Truth behind German Cuisine

So as I have mentioned before, we have all been completely wrong about German food. Seriously. It’s good. Really good.

Don’t believe me? Let me take you through just one day of lecker German food in Cologne.

After climbing 509 steps up the cathedral and 509 steps down we felt we deserved a nice, hot meal at the brauhaus, don’t you agree? (More than 1000 steps in a day- who am I, Jane Fonda?)

After a hurried walk around town, we settled on Peters Brauhaus, a cozy, old-fashioned, and kind of adorable brauhaus. The first order of business was ordering Kölsch, Cologne’s local beer that is ever cold, frothy and golden.

Brauhaus

My only complaint about Kölsch is that it is served in tiny, tiny glasses. What happened to the gigantic beer steins that I had to lift with two hands in Munich? Have they been banned since I was last in Germany?

Cologne Christmas Market

The second order of business was gobbling up a hot bowl of soup. We let the delightful Julika from Sateless Suitcase order for us and soon we had steaming bowls of Rheinische Kartoffelsuppe mit Speck, or Rhineland potato soup with speck.

Move over pancetta, speck is my new favorite pork belly product. When I tasted the soup I turned to Marina and said with a straight face, “This is the best soup I’ve ever had in my life.” I don’t remember her response because she had ordered the same thing and we were really past words.

German Food

After we sadly parted ways with the brauhaus, the next stop was the Heimat der Heinzel Market, which is a Christmas market that is supposed inhabited by magical gnomes.

The little house gnomes (Heinzelmännchen) are said to have done all the work of the citizens of Cologne during the night, so that the inhabitants of Cologne could be very lazy during the day. According to the legend, this went on until a tailor’s wife got so curious to see the gnomes that she scattered peas onto the floor of the workshop to make the gnomes slip and fall. The gnomes, being infuriated, disappeared and never returned. From that time on, the citizens of Cologne had to do all their work by themselves. – source

Cologne Christmas Market

As I quickly learned in Germany, the first stop at any Christmas market is the stand that sells hot alcohol; it’s essential to imbibe a hot mug of Glühwein while standing outside in the German winter.

Our hot beverage of the day was apfelpunsch, or apple punch. To accompany our rum-laden apfelpunsch we ordered baked Bosch apples stuffed with cinnamon granola and covered in strawberry jam and vanilla sauce.

Cologne Christmas Market

Why aren’t all apples stuffed with cinnamon granola?

Baked Apple

This really was an enchanted market; just look at the Travelocity gnomes hanging out on the roof!

Cologne Christmas Market

Cologne Christmas Market

On the way home I forced everyone to stop at we decided to visit a little Germany bakery with loaves upon loaves of dark, grainy, nut-studded bread. I enjoyed the sweet hazelnut bread, but the real stand-out was the smoky, earthy flavor, perfectly crusted walnut bread.

I didn’t even toast or butter it because I didn’t want to taste anything but its smoky walnut-y flavor. And I toast and butter everything.

German food

On a completely unrelated thought; I really regret not buying that gnome mug.

Cologne Christmas Market

But gnomes aside, I found Germany in December to be a very magical place. With lots of magical food as well.

 Do you enjoy German food? Am I alone here?

Summiting Cologne’s Gigantic Gothic Cathedral

Summiting Cologne’s Gigantic Gothic Cathedral

Cologne’s Cathedral, also known as the Dom Cologne, is Germany’s most-visited landmark- and it’s certainly impressive from the ground, but even more impressive from the top.

But to get to the top? One must endured 509 lung-burning, steep, positively medieval steps packed to the gills with other tourists. (more…)

The Dom Cologne

At first I thought, “No big deal, I used to own the Stairmaster in college.”

But by about step 100, I was muttering, “Fake it ’til you make it,” under labored breath. At least I was burning off some latkes from the night before.

When we finally made it the top, we were able to catch our breath long enough to enjoy the festive vistas of the snow-covered city; from the icy Rhine River to the cheery red-tented Christmas markets.

Cologne Cathedral

The Dom Cologne

The Dom Cologne

I made this journey to the top of the Kölner Dom with Marina, my Couchsurfing host from Corfu, as well as Julika, a fellow travel blogger/history buff from Sateless Suitcase who is studying to become an art historian. (Might I just add that I will never visit a medieval church sans the company of a well-trained and personable art historian ever again?)

The Dom Cologne

Being as this was a girl’s only trip to the top of the cathedral, we made sure to take lots of artsy portraits.

The Dom Cologne

The Dom Cologne

Due to Julika’s impressive knowledge of the cathedral, we learned lots of fun facts we would have never learned otherwise. The white tower at right was built in the 1950s (to great controversy in the art world) after the Allied Forces bombed Cologne during World War II.

Cologne Christmas Market

Once Julika mentioned that, I noticed that the tower did stick out garishly from the rest of the medieval architecture.

Then we made our way inside to see the cathedral’s enormous the bell, which clanged LOUDLY right next to our poor, unprepared ears.

The Dom Cologne

The Dom Cologne

Cologne’s cathedral took more than 700 years to build, and is in fact the largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe (it has room for a congregation of 20,000!). And it was built well; during World War II the cathedral suffered hits from seventy bombs but stood tall while the rest of Cologne was flattened.

The Dom Cologne

Later we explored the interior of the cathedral (which I have no pictures of because I am still stupidly using my camera’s built-in flash.)

“This cathedral is considered very special because it has five naves,” said Julika. Um, English may be my first language, but uh… what’s a nave? (Here’s the definition in case you were wondering; I’m still not entirely certain.)

So if you’re ever in Cologne, definitely visit the Dom Cologne cathedral- your shapely thighs will thank you later.

What is the coolest cathedral that you’ve seen in Europe… or beyond?

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My Local Eats: Paris

My Local Eats: Paris

Welcome to the first edition of My Local Eats, a guest post series in which foodies from around the globe share their favorite local places to eat and drink.

Today’s guest post comes from Edna Zhou, an American sports media journalist who is currently living in Paris. You all may know her from her excellent travel blog, Expat Edna. Edna is a good friend and fellow foodie so please, if she tells you to go to a restaurant and order a certain dish, just do it- she knows exactly what to eat in Paris. Also helpful for finding delicious grub in Paris is her post, 10 under €10: The best places to eat in Paris on a budget. (more…)

Without further ado…

 

Le Nemrod: The classic French brasserie

What to Eat in Paris by Expat Edna

Le Nemrod is where I take every visiting friend and family member to get a proper first taste of Paris. The decor, from the tables to the bar to the indifferent waiters, seems quintessentially Parisian — but more importantly, they serve the best croque madame I’ve found in the city. Ham, tomato, egg and warm melted cheese draped over over a large slice of poilâne bread: welcome to Paris. Can you pass the dijon?

Location:

51 Rue du Cherche-Midi, 75006 Metro: Rennes Open every day 7:00 am – 12:00 am www.lenemrod.com/

 

Sapporo: The Asian fix

What to Eat in Paris by Expat Edna

Baguettes and pain au chocolats are all well and good, but I start withering whenever I go too long without Asian food. I have favorite joints for each craving: Vietnamese, Korean, Thai…but when I’m particularly in the mood for Japanese, I get my fix at Sapporo on Rue Saint-Anne (an area also known as Paris’ Little Tokyo). The Japanese curry with kimchi is just what the doctor ordered on a gray and dreary Paris day.

Location:

37 Rue Sainte-Anne, 75001 Metro: Pyramides or Palais-Royal–Musée du Louvre Open every day 11:30 am – 10:30 pm

 

Breizh: Crêpes. Crêpes. More crêpes.

What to Eat in Paris by Expat Edna

If I lived in the Marais, I would be at this little crêperie every day. Breizh serves up galettes, cider, and salted butter caramel all in the Breton style; a meal here is simple yet filling and a party your tastebuds won’t soon forget. You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, but I’m especially a fan of the artichoke galette followed by a plain salted caramel crêpe — accompanied, of course, by a carafe of their dry artisanal cider.

Location:

109 rue Vieille du Temple, 75003 Metro: Saint-Sébastien–Froissart Wednesday-Saturday 11:30 – 23:00 Sunday 11:30 – 22:00 Closed Monday and Tuesday http://breizhcafe.com/fr-breizh-cafe-paris.html

Tuckshop: For a chai and wi-fi

What to Eat in Paris by Expat Edna

A new find near Republique, Tuckshop is the latest in a string of Australian coffeeshops in Paris. What makes this one stand out though, is the chai lattes on offer, as well as the typically Aussie “avo on toast” (avocado, that is). Add in their scones with strawberry jam, rustic decor, and space for more than fifteen people to sit, and Tuckshop has quickly become my new favorite café to meet a friend or catch up on some work.

Location:

13 Rue Lucien Sampaix, 75010 Metro: Jacques Bonsergent or Republique Monday-Friday 9:00-17:00 Saturday 11:00-19:00 https://www.facebook.com/tuckshopparis

 

La Pompadour: The neighborhood boulangerie

What to Eat in Paris by Expat Edna

And in the truest sense of “My Local Eats,” La Pompadour is my local boulangerie, where I go a few times a week to pick up a demi-baguette, or the occasional tarte or espresso for breakfast. They were the fourth place finisher in the 2012 Grand Prix de la Baguette, and have the best pain au chocolat I’ve ever had in Paris. Best of all, because it’s out in the 16eme, I’ve never seen a tourist in there. I couldn’t ask for a better boulangerie as my ‘local’.

Location:

110 Rue de la Tour, 75016 Metro: Rue de la Pompe Monday-Saturday 6:30 – 20:00 Closed Sunday

Originally from Pennsylvania, Edna got her first taste of expat life at 18 and has been permanently abroad since graduating in 2010. She spent three years working in media and journalism in China and Singapore and has been based in Paris for the past year. When not freelancing in sports media, she’s writing about her travels at Expat Edna. You can also find her on facebook, and on twitter as @ednacz.
Saturday Snapshot 14

Saturday Snapshot 14

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Hey everyone! So I’m officially back in France, and I have to say it’s been hard re-acclimating. I’m homesick and wish I had stayed in the U.S. a bit longer – I’m finding I really miss my family and my puppy.

That being said, there have been a few highlights so far, most especially seeing the Edward Hopper exhibit at the Grand Palais; we booked those tickets two months in advance and it was worth the wait! I couldn’t choose my favorite picture this week so which shot do you like best? (more…)

Photo A

Hopper Exhibit

The Hopper exhibit at the Grand Palais was fantastic; I’ve loved Hopper’s work since I was a little kid so it was a treat to see many of his paintings.

I also love single-artist exhibitions because you can see the full evolution of the painter’s style, as well as learn about his life story. Fun facts I learned? Hopper was nearly 6’5”, lived in France for a time and spoke fluent French and received lots of inspirations from the Dutch masters, whose use of light particularly inspired him.

Photo B

Trocadero

The return of my Parisian partner in crime also cheered me up. This is the view from her subway stop – jealous? I am.

Photo C

Galettes des Rois

In January in France you will see les galettes des rois, or king’s cakes, in every bakery window. The tradition is very fun and involves hiding until tables – post soon!

 Photo D

Zinc bar

I am writing a travel column for a local Detroit newspaper and thus have been running around Paris reviewing restaurants and cafés. With the chalkboard, zinc bar and Perrier in this shot, it struck me as very French. I guess I really am back!

Also I wanted to share with you a video that really inspired me. I think it might inspire you too.

“Forget the money. If you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you will spend your life completely wasting your time. You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living that is to go on doing things you don’t like doing. Which is stupid.”

How was your week? How are you handling the post-holidays blues?