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One of my favorite things to visit in Barcelona is the world-famous Sagrada Familia. Among many other things I love about it is how the ceiling looks like a beautiful kaleidoscope - you adjust your viewpoint even a bit and the whole scene changes. A true architectural and cultural masterpiece that's not something to be missed on any trip to Barcelona.
The Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, or La Boqueria, is a must-stop for all foodies visiting Barcelona. The covered market consists of more than 200 stalls selling all sorts of seafood, meat, vegetables, and fruits. Those with weak stomachs should avoid the meat section where butchers (many of them women) hawk all sorts of exotic cuts from pig's trotters to tripe. I felt just a tinge of guilt when I ordered a few slices of jamón ibérico and looked down to see these cute piggies starting at me through the glass butcher case.
My husband had to make several trips to Barcelona this year for work so I tagged along for his April trip. What an amazing place - the perfect walking city! On any trip to Barcelona wandering down La Rambla is a must. You'll see everything from jugglers to performance artists and flower stands with beautiful offerings like this one. Barcelona remains one of my favorite cities to visit, any time of the year.
Aside from the amazing Northern Lights, which topped everything else for me, Iceland's famed ponies were my favorite thing on my January trip to this one-of-a-kind country. Only three-quarters the size of a standard horse and with a sweet, laid-back disposition, Icelandic ponies are a hearty breed able to live easily through harsh, frigid winters. You'll find these endearing ponies everywhere in Iceland, so stop along the road and say hello. My favorites were the brown ponies with gorgeous blond manes and tails that glowed when the sun hit them. Iceland is a magical place. From its brilliant Northern Lights and dramatic sunsets to its fascinating bubbling mud pots and stunning ponies, Iceland has something for everyone!
Going to Paris is always great but this time the weather was just miserable, only at the end of the day we were able to go out a bit. The sun came up and brightened Notre Dame making for some nice dramatic shots. By the time we got to Notre Dame with the hop on, hop off bus, it was already closed :-(.
The Louvre is at once spectacular and intimidating, and for art novices, the sheer size of its collection may even prove anxiety-inducing. To avoid shuffling through each corridor aimlessly, it's wise to visit armed with an itinerary, or even a guide, to create a tour according to what you'd most like to see. Thanks to one New York expat, there's now a third option. Daisy de Plume (yes, a pseudonym!), art fanatic and entrepreneur, launched THATLou (Treasure Hunt at the Louvre) as a way to give purpose to touring the museum (and make it fun!). She runs a hunt open to the general public on the first Sunday of each month and several thematic hunts throughout the month. Beyond its value as a unique way to explore pieces of history, THATLou is a great way to meet new people. Note: some tours are bilingual, others are all in French. Consult the "Menu of Hunts" for more information.
A lazy afternoon picnic quickly became a lazy evening under the Eiffel tower and we were rewarded with this beautiful view. The colours in this photo haven't been manipulated at all - it was really this spectacular. One of my best evenings in Paris.
I planned a girl's trip to Santorini and discovered Riva Villa for rent – a cheaper stay than splitting two hotel rooms by the sea. We knew it would be difficult to leave after as we arrived to discover its beautiful, private patio overlooking the caldera–a water-filled crater. Many speculate that the volcanic eruption that formed the caldera is the spot where the mythical lost city of Atlantis once stood.
One of my favorite things to visit in Barcelona is the world-famous Sagrada Familia. You could spend a whole day in the church and still not see all the beautiful details it has to offer. I especially like this colorful chandelier hanging over the altar and the gilded golden dome that funnels gorgeous light down onto the altar. La Sagrada Familia is a true architectural and cultural masterpiece that's not to be missed on any trip to Barcelona.
So, you think you know Paris? There are hundreds of memorable streets and boulevards in the City of Light. But, for my money, Rue Montorgueil is the best. It is compact, only 3 blocks long, with a Metro stop on each end. In between you have dozens of the kinds of places that symbolize Parisian culture: cafes, high end restaurants, cheese shops, chocolate shops, wine stores, patisseries, a couple of neighborhood type groceries, all topped with classic Parisian apartment buildings. And, what makes it even more unique, it is a pedestrian-only street. For my wife and I, who have always stayed in smaller hotels in years past, it was a throwback to the Paris we first saw 40 years ago. In fact, this street is just off Les Halles, where the heartbeat of Paris was once found in the colorful and vibrant market district. The old Les Halles is now gone, moved to the suburbs. But, there are a few places where the old self-contained neighborhoods still exist, and Rue Montorgueil is the finest example. You won't see many tourists with cameras here. Most are a few blocks away at the Pompidou Center or a short metro ride away at the Louvre or Notre Dame. What you will find is Stohers, the oldest Patisserie in France, where baba au rhum was first made, and eclairs that are world famous. And, this is just one of many gourmet surprises. We just spent a week in an apartment on this street, and fell in love with Paris all over again.
...hiking along the mountainous coast of the Ligurian Riviera on a hot afternoon, through vineyards with the occasional shade of lemon and olive trees, with the promise of a gnocchi dinner at trail's end in a Mediterranean port--if this is 'roughing it,' then give me more! After sunset, sipping limoncello and looking up at the stars while grandparents play with their grandchildren in the background...
by Samuel Fromartz “People can either be over-the-top romantic about Paris, or they think life is ridiculous here,” says David Lebovitz. “I try to strike a middle ground.” Lebovitz, an American, worked for 13 years in the pastry department at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California, then moved to Paris to launch a second career as a writer, blogger, and occasional culinary tour guide. The author of six self-referential cookbooks, Lebovitz most recently published The Sweet Life in Paris, a collection of recipes and stories about life in his adopted city. During a day off from my tour of duty with Arnaud Delmontel (read “Time to Rise“), I wandered through Paris with Lebovitz to pick up some foodie tips. We met at Du Pain et des Idées (34 Rue Yves Toudic, 10th arrondissement, 33/(0) 1-42- 40-44-52), an artisan boulangerie founded by Christophe Vasseur, a fashion executive turned baker. For bread, Lebovitz’s other favorite boulangeries include Eric Kayser (85 Boulevard Malesherbes, 8th arrondissement, 33/(0) 1-45-22-70-30; plus other locations around Paris) and La Boulangerie par Véronique Mauclerc (83 Rue de Crimée, 19th arrondissement, 33/(0) 1-42-40-64-55). As we walked and talked, Lebovitz insisted we stop for an afternoon snack of chouquettes, palm-size cream puffs covered with sugar and baked until brown. We picked up 10 of them, studded with chocolate chips, at the pâtisserie Aux Péchés Normands (9 Rue du Faubourg du Temple, 10th arrondissement, 33/(0) 1-42-08-47-73). When I asked Lebovitz about the most pleasing pastry he’s had lately, he mentioned Alsatian kugelhopf, a semisweet confection somewhere between a cake and a bread, spiked with rum and almonds. It’s available at Vandermeersch (278 Avenue Daumesnil, 12th arrondissement, 33/(0) 1-43-47-21-66). “The only problem is that they just make them on weekends, so I have to wait all week to get one,” he said. And his favorite morning pastry? The bostock, a disk of light almond cake topped with crackly almonds, which Lebovitz picks up at Ladurée (75 Avenue des Champs-Elysées, 8th arrondissement, 33/(0) 1-40-75-08-75). Photographs by Brian Doben. This appeared in the premiere issue, 2009. Read “13 Tips for Visiting a Paris Boulangerie.”
While in Florence in May, my husband and I visited the world-famous Ponte Vecchio. I loved the vibrant colors and varied textures of the bridge and they way things like these shuttered windows and pastel walls came together so well to make the Ponte Vecchio the beauty it is.
Towering at height of 700 feet above the Atlantic ocean, the Cliffs of Moher, located near the charming town of Doolin in Co. Clare Ireland, offer a truly enriching experience for the brave and adventurous at heart. A popular tourist attraction and a vision that had mysteriously beckoned to me for many years, I could not pass up the chance to visit these majestic cliffs during my stay in Ireland several years ago. The cliffs can be quite windy so be careful if you're taking pictures close to the edge! One interesting fact -- these majestic cliffs also appeared as the "Cliffs of Insanity" in the fabulous movie, "The Princess Bride."
When it comes to ice cream, there is still only one place in Rome. It has been the best since 1900. I love Giolitti not only for the great gelato, but also because it hasn’t changed since I was a little girl. 39/06-699-1243. By Pepi Marchetti Franchi, as told to Elizabeth Minchilli. Photo by Andrea Wyner. This appeared in the November/December 2012 issue. Read about Pepi Marchetti Franchi’s favorite neighborhood in Rome.
There is nearly always a line at Angelina's on Rue de Rivoli, but you don't have to wait to enjoy her luscious pastries, certainly not when the Jardin des Tuileries beckons you from across the street. Step through the crowd, walk about to the glass, pick your fancy and head out to the garden to people watch as you enjoy your patisserie made in heaven!
The historic Androuet fromagerie has been sourcing and maturing exceptional cheeses since 1909. Their shop on rue Mouffetard is staffed by friendly English-speakers who will be happy to explain and vacuum-seal your selections, including the utterly charming manager Patrick who grew up on a goat farm. He wrote a book called "Allo les Chèvres!" (Good Morning Goats!) and makes his own fromage fort (strong cheese paste) on site. 134 rue Mouffetard, 33/(0)1-4587-8505. Photo courtesy of Parisbymouth.com
If you were in Brussels last weekend, you were lucky because the city had laid down the flower carpet in the main square. This is done every five years and I decided to head up the road to have a look since it had been some time since the last one. It is made from real flowers and with the tropical weather that Belgium is having it wouldn't last more than the 4 days that were allotted for the display. Roll on 2017!
You've probably seen images of the Blue Lagoon all over Pinterest and in travel ads - in Seattle you'll see Iceland Air advertisements on the sides of buses and on big billboards. Those ads are why we scheduled our 20 hour layover adventure in Iceland and planned the Blue Lagoon as our final stop. While your actual experience in the pool won't be exactly like the photo above - it's pretty darn representative of how I felt about my experience there - FANTASTIC! This photo is taken outside the complex where you can walk around these gorgeous pools and view the pretty colors without any people in them. If you're at all into photographing pretty things, it's a must do either before or after your visit.
When deciding where to stay on my first two week trip to Paris, I had some very stringent criteria. I wanted the local experience and felt that a flat was more likely to offer that. So I eagerly began my search for something in a very safe and central location. When I spotted such a flat on I'le Saint Loius, I was sold. The island is located in the middle of the Seine and just across the bridge from I'le de la Cite, the very center of Paris. I'le Saint Louis is the perfect location to explore all the wonders of Paris. What I didn't expect was the wonderful small village charm of the island. You can literally find almost everything you need on this tiny piece of real estate. Patisseries, boulangeries and fromageries abound. There are dozens of boutiques, cafes, creperies and bistros. The plethora of ice cream and gelato stores is enough to put one into a diabetic coma. The island even boasts its own exquisite church and the tiny colorful florist shop above. I'le Saint Louis became my home away from home for two glorious weeks, while I lived my Parisian dream. For two weeks I lived among both locals and tourists and came to know the shopkeepers by name. I have no doubt that staying on this little piece of heaven made my trip a more memorable one... It could do the same for you.
Beyond the chance to turn back time and peer into the lifestyle of an earlier era, one of the joys of visiting Zaanse Schans is the chance to escape urban buzz. While it's less than an hour away from Amsterdam by train, this replica of a 17th century Dutch village is worlds apart from the Dutch capital's edgy culture and incessant hum. Situated in Zaandam, a town in Noord-Holland on either side of the Zaan River, Zaanse Schans provides jobs for many of Zaandam's nearly 73,000 residents. In a green, bucolic landscape, families enjoy a semi-rural lifestyle that recalls simpler days in Dutch provinces during the country's Golden Age. In outdoor scenes, Zaans Museum exhibits and shops throughout the village, see how people in the Netherlands keep 400-year-old traditions alive.
Gaudi's ceramic tile work is absolutely stunning. Around each turn in Parc Güell you will discover something new. Come back and do the same walk and you will discover something else. Every angle has purpose with Gaudi so make sure to look at his work from all directions. The panoramic view of the entire city is also spectacular. If you only have one hour in Barcelona, go to Parc Güell.
If visiting a miniature version of a country the size of a postage stamp makes no sense to you, stay away from Madurodam, a top tourist attraction in Den Haag featuring historic Dutch towns, ports, canals, roads and monuments re-created on a 1/25 scale. On the other hand, if you fancy learning about the history of a nation that would be underwater were it not for Dutch ingenuity, by all means visit this interactive park that tells the story behind the battle against water, as well as many historic venues that still exist in Holland today.
I decided to take a day trip to Sintra; which, I was told was kind of touristy, but worth the trip. So my expectations of the place were pretty low. After a short 40 min train ride from Lisbon and we arrive just in time to walk through the Pena Palace before they stop admitting people at 6:00pm. The 434 bus took us on a jolting, spiraling, blood rushing ride to the top of the mountain before letting us off at the entrance. Once we entered the giant stone gate, we were blown away by the breathtaking views, decorative details and bright colors. The architecture of the place varies from Neo-Gothic, to Islamic and Renaissance styles. I honestly could not stop taking pictures. Beyond the Pena Palace, there is so much more to check out in Sintra. Check out some of the gardens or the National Palace of Sintra.
I fell in love with Venice at Burano. All right, truly I fell in love the moment we stepped out of the train station and saw the vacation postcard in 3D. Funny, to immediately adore a city I had always considered too cliché to want to visit. But I have a perpetual passion for islands, so I wanted our Venice visit to include as many of the outlying islands as I could hop a vaporetto to. Sadly, due to time constraints and a transportation strike, that number ended with four. Burano, reached late in the day as the sun set behind its tower, insisted we stay far longer than we could. It seemed surprised we were there at all; at a time when all the other tourists had left, we were just showing up. The vibrant daylight colors of Burano become richer in the twilight, the water seems stiller, the time even slower. Venice enchants—Burano quietly receives.
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