Category Travel Europe

Oh Barcelona

A native man sang in a foreign tongue,
I still ache to know the song that he sung,
Barcelona…

It’s no wonder why a lot of people like the idea of getting lost in Barcelona.  A city thriving with culture, history, and delicious food and merriment, I myself would learn Spanish to stay in the city.

With thousands of years of history’s worth buried beneath its old houses and streets, it’s a mystery what stories are yet to be discovered.  On one afternoon, as we were walking along the historic center of La Rambla, we stopped outside a building that housed an ongoing excavation project.  Believe it or not, ruins of a Roman city that once stood there can still be found, underneath normal looking houses today.

Now that I’ve been to Barcelona, I cannot separate the city with the works of Gaudi, in my head.  Everywhere I look a snippet of Gaudi’s inspiration can be found.  From La Sagrada Familia, to commissioned family houses, to Park Guell, and even to tiles that decorate walls and plates, they all remind me of the artist’s work.  He lived a truly extraordinary life that is a great source of inspiration for artists all over the world.

I don’t even know where to begin with food… every small plate of tapas led to another until our hearts were full and content.  The explosion of flavors in our tongues was just heaven.  And of course we could not resist having paellas almost every other day.  My favorite will always be Paella Negra with squid ink, and it never seems to fail.

Locals do so many things that is almost unheard of in other countries.  Closing shop everyday after lunch for siesta sounded strange to me.  Having dinner at 9 or 10 also sounded too late to me.  But once you’re there, you’ll find it easy to fall into the same pattern as what locals do.  And it’s almost romantic how the culture can charm and enchant you, with sincere serenades from a Spanish guitar. 

European Escape

Ahh summertime in the French – Italian Riviera… having scoops of delicious gelato while multitasking ourselves to people watching and getting suntanned on the beach.. What could be better?  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I vacation in this area every summer, but once in a lifetime is an experience to remember, especially while you’re young and without much worries still…

It may be my third time in Europe, but a first to visit Italy – why I didn’t visit sooner is something I have yet to ask myself.  We did as normal tourist would do, visit Rome, Tuscany, Venice, Milan, and even make a sidetrip to see the beautiful Cinque Terre.  My brother was also vacationing in Côte d’Azur at the same time so during our three weeks in that region, we took a train ride from Italy to France to visit my brother in Nice for a few days.

What happened in our vacation? Scroll down below to see what we saw (or ate), and hope you’ll enjoy the visual ride as much as we did.

Our first stop was of course, the capital ROME.  We stuffed ourselves with carbs and washing it down with good coffee, at the end of the day we always felt happy.  The best coffee I have ever tasted, would have to be from Italy.  There is something different to the way they make it there which brings out all the flavor, amazingly.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16171819202122232425262728293031323334353637383940414243444546474849505152535455565758596061

More than a Midnight in Paris

Paris was everything as I imagined it to be.  My first time to visit was in November 2013, and all the photos in this post was from that visit.  So many things have happened since that time, and now I feel that if I go back it would probably feel so different.  It’s hard to imagine that one day Europe will cease to exist as a continent, if we are to believe war and prophecies of the EU falling apart, as well as Baba Vanga’s prophecies of Europe being Muslim occupied in a few years time.

Instead of thinking about the dim future, I would like to remember Europe with its old charm.  The music that plays in the streets, the pastries, beignets, coffee cups, stranger’s smiles, that general lightness in the air.

I was so excited on my first visit to Paris, I wanted to see so many things and I remember there was even a Paris Photo exhibit at the Grand Palais exactly at the same time when I was visiting.  Although at that time I was more excited to just be in the city with my then boyfriend than really any architecture or art in Paris itself, we still managed to see so many things and I’ve grown to appreciate them more after some time.

Traveling is amazing that way, sometimes you don’t see the beauty of something until much after, like when you accidentally see those old pictures and remember what it felt like during that trip.

Grand PalaisGrand Palais ParisPhoto ExhibitParis PhotoParis Photo exhibitSacre CoeurSacré-Cœur BasilicaFrench streetArc de TriompheChamps-ÉlyséesParis skylineEiffel TowercarouselParis landscapeNation station parisstreet fashionflower marketParisian buildingParis street signcultural dancersyellow flowerEiffel tower and notre dameFrench flagcute bicyclelittle girl chasing pigeonsvandalismLe ConsulatMagical ParisLouvre museumLouvreLouvre ParisPont des ArtsPont des Arts ParisLove lock bridge ParisColorful ParisMontmartreSeine RiverRomantic Parisjardin du luxembourgjardin du luxembourg ParisInvalidesCannons of Les InvalideTour EiffelVersaillesPalace ParisPalace of VersaillesSun God emblemVersailles ParisVersailles mirror hallFrench historyBlack and white tiled floorPalace VersaillesAutumn gardengrand palacehuge gardenscultpuresAutumnCornerAutumn leavestwo swansserene lakeflock of sheepsheep

Best of the French Wine Regions

Dalai Lama quote

“There is no one who is born under an unlucky star, there are only people who don’t know how to read the sky” – the Dalai Lama.

This travel post may be a bit late but I thought it would be unfair not to share because of the story behind it.  I wasn’t always traveling and I didn’t have that much passion for traveling until the first time I stepped into Europe.  It wasn’t so much the destination, I think.  It was the mere fact that this was the first place I traveled more than 15 hours by plane to, ON MY OWN.  It scared the hell out of me of course.

I guess I can be called a late bloomer, I started traveling long haul alone only when I was 23. And I can still remember how my flight went like it just happened yesterday.  I was traveling on a semi-mutilated passport which I freely blame to the poor quality of passports being issued in my country.  I knew I could get into trouble and I was praying non-stop to reach Europe.  And while on a stopover in Moscow on my way to Paris, the immigration officer told me this was illegal! I must have looked so pitiful that in the end they just let me through, and I reached my destination without any more questions.

French food

From Paris I took an RER train to reach Dijon, the capital city of the Burgundy region in the Eastern part of France.  You may have heard of one of their most famous products – the dijon mustard.  It was a beautiful time when I went, even though it was late November and the weather was starting to get cold.  I saw everything through rose tinted glasses, La Vie en Rose, since it was my first time to fall in love and be in Europe.

Dijon tower

My boyfriend at that time who was a local in Dijon, took me around everywhere.  I thought everything was wonderful, except for the part where my French was limited to “ça va bien, et toi?”  But aside from my vocabulary, everything else felt magical in my newbie eyes.  Don’t get me wrong, I had traveled to different parts of the world before, but just not on my own.  So this was the first time I felt traveling independently.

Like many European cities, Dijon had a lot of history and retained it’s historic charm.  Many of the houses in the city center kept the old facade, as you can see in the photos here.

Dijon skylineFrench streetMusée des Beaux-ArtsArtist at workDijon travelFrench architecture

I had the chance to experience how local life was, we made meals at home, and even tried making macarons.  Even though the macarons didn’t end up looking as good as was in the shops, it was still pretty delicious.

homesnoopyfailed macaronsdijon museumschurchcatholic churchtravel photographyDijon FranceAu Clos Napoléonescargotmushroomsfresh market

Bourgogne was not too far from Dijon, so we set aside a day where we drove out into the countryside. There we were greeted with beautiful vineyards and vast greenery.  Sad to say I have very strong “Asian genes” when it comes to drinking alcohol – what people know as a form of allergy to drinking in that your liver can’t filter down the alcohol as well as other people.  I turn extremely red with a few sips! So I’m not a big wine drinker, but if you are, Bourgogne would be a delightful stop.

BourgogneFrench countrysideBeaujolaiswine regionvineyardsBourgogne vineyardsburgundy

I would recommend if you’re planning to travel to these regions, to get a local guide or host so you’ll be able to enjoy your trip more. Remember, a lot of things you’ll see won’t be translated, and having someone local to tour you around just makes the experience more enjoyable.