Posts tagged TRAVEL

istabul-turkey-de-quelle-planete-es-tu-21Istanbul had been on my bucket list for quite some time. The land where east meets west, in my mind it was a Mecca of sweets, coffee and other wonderful things. The Turkish pop music only made me want to go more, the culture that was always said to be so hospitable and full of life.

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My friend Olivia and her free spirit and craving for travel and the discovery of culture, moved to Istanbul late last year. Louis and I thus had been dreaming of stopping by, so we spontaneously booked some round trip tickets for a long weekend. A whopping 3 hour flight from Paris, we made it to the land of bling and baklava. We were welcomed by freshly folded Turkish towels in Olivia’s love shack, topped with soap sporting Louis’s last name, which we quickly learned is a soap brand and literally means “pure”. Cherry on top.

A few tips on these cliché but fantastic places: Grand Bazaar and Spice Market, beyond worth it. You could spend hours in both. Accept the tea they offer you in each stall and don’t be afraid to bargain your eye candy. Grab some freshly squeezed pomegranate juice on the street to boost your body. Buy some Turkish delights to bring back home for friends and family, nuts or olives do the trick as well. Wander around and find secret rooftop cafés where you can sit and chat with a local, enjoy a random pastry.

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On a side note, one of my favorite parts of the trip was strolling in the neighborhood market to make our own Turkish breakfast (did you see my video of the Turkish breakfast Olivia and Elif made in Paris? Well, there will be a version 2 coming up). If you whip out your best “merhaba” the vendors will give you a big smile.

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As for our Saturday night in Istanbul, we kicked off the evening at the lovely Akin Balik (in Beyoğlu, reservations recommended). If possible, bring a Turk with you to make sure what you order is spot on, but regardless, order heaps of mezze, some Raki and enjoy. The main fish we shared at our dreamy dinner were leverk and çupra… unfortunately I don’t have the translation (cough, Sedat). This restaurant has hanging lights, Turkish music, Efes and the works. It’s all outside on the seaside, and to allure despite the winter chills they heat the tables by burning coal at your feet — which is initially hot hot hot but then you realize it’s pretty fantastic. We then wandered to the Karaköy area, followed by taxying (why not) up to Taksim to check out a nameless mysterious and trendy cocktail bar ran by a American fellow off of Istiklal Street.

Our Sunday, and last day, was filled with sunshine and was perfect for our touristy excursions. We strolled around the breakthtaking Blue Mosque and  Hagia Sofia, visited the rainbow staircases and strolled through the trendy Galata neighborhood with coffee breaks at adorable cafés. We finished off the weekend with a stop by the Bosphorus Brewing Company, for some Turkish beer action. I’m not sure we could have had a better 3.5 days in Istanbul. There is still so much to see, and we certainly plan to go back.

Tips on playing tourist in the city: Don’t be afraid of the public transportation. The metro and trams in Istanbul are easy to navigate and can get you to and from major points of interest (you can buy individual tickets at all stations, so keep your lira coins!) Taxis are a good deal if you’re not going far, but try to know where you’re going, as can happen in any city, tourists can get taken on the long route. Wifi is everywhere, so don’t fret about being connected and looking up places to go while you’re out and about.

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Akin Balik – Traditional restaurant on the sea, perfect for a dinner out. Mezze/seafood. Reservations recommended.

Bosphorus Brewing Company - Brewery / Taproom / Restaurant

Café Galata - Café / Sweets

Constantinople – Hagia Sofia / Blue Mosque

Grand Bazaar - Turkish Marketplace

Karakoy Gulluoglu
– Baklava heaven

Kavalti Evi - Turkish Breakfast (Order menamen!)

Mavra - Café / Restaurant / Concept Store

Miss Pizza – Italian Restaurant / Pizzeria

Spice Market – Enough said

Unter – Restaurant / Bar (with music at night)

Velvet Café - Trendy Café / Snacks

 

Greece - De quelle planete es tu -4A few years ago, my best girlfriends from Uni and I went to Mykonos for Spring Break.

It was our last Spring Break all together before some of the girls moved across the oceans. For our last hurrah, we were off to the land of feta and mini churches. When I think about this trip I feel like it was yesterday. I miss these girls.

We were, and still are, adventurous souls, and wandered the pastures of the island and danced the night away in clubs that were close to empty. We wandered paths through the white Greek buildings and got lost between mindwills. Our season was slightly off, but having the island to ourselves made the trip even more exciting.

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Amsterdam - De quelle planete es tu : 1I was so lucky to get to spend a weekend in Amsterdam with some girlfriends not too long ago. Boy, do I love Amsterdam. The city is filled with so much charm and character.

Things there are clean, and cars don’t honk at bikers (cliché, everyone knows that) but it was refreshing. And did I mention that the cheese they put on everything is fantastic? I am in gouda heaven whenever I’m there.

I love the that the buildings are tilted slightly forward, and that they all have hooks at the top. I love that going out can easily consist of a night in a rock ‘n roll pub that is not lame, or sitting on the canal in good company. When I’m there I can feel that it’s a smaller community than Paris. And let’s face it, the Dutch are awesome. I can find all those random cooking ingredients and superfoods in Amsterdam. It’s just so refreshing.

This time up with the Dutch, I discovered some new extraordinary spots, and was lucky enough to spend a dry summer weekend…. and it all started with breakfast at De Bakkerswinkel, my favorite spot.

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Newly discovered favorite spots:

Brouwerij de Prael – Brewery

Two for Joy – Café

You can see my full Amsterdam guide here.

Soaring In - De quelle planete es tu 1Last week Louis and I went to Hawaii last week for some total relaxation. We are lucky ducks.

After a long flight over the Pacific, we finally got a glimpse of land from above. I found it to be so beautiful and almost unreal. These islands are so beautiful from above, and I bet they were just as charming when they were first discovered.

Breathtaking.

Having grown up in a landlocked state, the ocean always seemed so far and so exotic. Almost a luxury. Boy, did those tones of blue make me want to get my suit on and go for a swim with the sun rays coming down.

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Lyon - De quelle planete es tu ::1I went to Lyon for the first time  a few weeks ago.  A friend of mine with whom I went to high school with in Normandy moved there, so with a girlfriend also from my high school in Normandy, we went down to visit her to have a little reunion.

Something about “small” cities really hits home for me, being from Denver.Lyon - De quelle planete es tu ::2 Lyon - De quelle planete es tu ::3 Lyon - De quelle planete es tu ::4 Lyon - De quelle planete es tu ::5 Lyon - De quelle planete es tu ::6 Lyon - De quelle planete es tu ::7 Lyon - De quelle planete es tu ::8 Lyon - De quelle planete es tu ::9 Lyon - De quelle planete es tu ::10 Lyon - De quelle planete es tu ::11 Lyon - De quelle planete es tu ::12 Lyon - De quelle planete es tu ::13 Lyon - De quelle planete es tu ::14 Lyon - De quelle planete es tu ::15 Lyon - De quelle planete es tu ::16 Lyon - De quelle planete es tu ::17 Lyon - De quelle planete es tu ::18 Lyon - De quelle planete es tu ::19 Lyon - De quelle planete es tu ::20Lyon, or Lyons in English,  is located in the central eastern France somewhat close to the Swiss border, in the Rhône-Alpes region. It is France’s second biggest city. We took the TGV there from Paris and it was super-duper quick & direct. It was immediately so refreshing… as getting out of Paris often is. It was calmer and less hustle-bustle. The rhythm just seemed different. It’s always so wonderful discovering a new city.

Lyon’s center is around where two rivers meet: the Rhône and the Saône creating three sections of the city with le presqu’Île in the middle. Cute concept, right?

That Saturday we roamed all of the different districts. I found it particularly interesting that Lyon also had  numbered districts (9 to be exact) like Paris (apparently other cities do too… oops didn’t know that…). The buildings have pastel tints which add a bit of color even on the coldest and grayest of days.  Like Paris, Lyon also has a famous landmark on a hill, accessible by a funicular: the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière which is just magical, it looks like it’s straight out of a fairy tale. From the hop there is the most stunning view with the Alpes far off in the distance. But enough  of comparing Lyon to Paris, it really just was a fantastic city booming with little cafés, kitschy shops and eye-candy strolls. Lyon is also a gastronomical capital, hon hon hon! I didn’t have the chance to taste some quenelles, but they’re supposed to be the bomb diggity. And sausage everything.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the author of Le Petit Prince (1943) was born in Lyon. On the western side of Bellecour, there is a statue in his honor with him sitting on a little tower and the Little Prince standing next to him. As this is the book with which I started to learn French, I was thrilled to be able to visit the statue and admire the engravings of quotes from the novella around it. Fun fact: it’s also the book from which comes the title of mon petit blog.  Have you read the Little Prince? It’s one of those books that everyone should read.

My favorites in Lyon:

Café Cousu - Café/Restaurant/Brunch

Café Juliette – Cocktail bar

Candy Cookie Boulevard – Sweet shop

Chez Guillemette – Salon Gourmand*

Chez les Morues – Vintage shop & Café

Chez Valentine - Tarte Shop

Chokola - Chocolate Shop

Croque ‘N Roll - Croque Monsieur Restaurant

Little - Cupcakerie

Mamma - Italian Restaurant

Portobello - Juice/Tapas Bar

. . . . .

You can also find oodles of fab spots on My Little Lyon.

For more info if you’re planning a trip, you can also find out more here or here.

Lastly, don’t forget the typical pastry in Lyon: Brioche aux pralines. It’s basically a big brioche with sucre rose. YUM.

*This was recommended to me by one of my readers, Laurence, and I am so bummed I found out about it after I had left! But now I’ve got a reason to go back to Lyon! ^^