Wednesday, November 27, 2013

When In Rome. . . Do As The Romans Do

Hi My Friends, 

I am sorry it has taken me so long to post something.  We walk all day and as much as I like blogging, by the end of the day my mind isn't as alert and witty as usual.  So I am now in Geneva Switzerland, by myself, on a solo trip, and since my hotel has English television I am able to blog like at home.

We just left Rome after six glorious days and I will miss it.  Lucking out on the weather with only one day of pouring rain, Kristina and I explored Rome from end to end.  Each ancient Roman ruin, we saw it and as a Canadian it is amazing that the buildings, statutes and remnants of ancient Romans is 2500 years old, existing before Christ, as Canada is only 125 years old.

Our first day we headed over to the Pantheon, a domed temple built during the reign of Augustus, with a peak of the dome opened all year round, letting Mother Nature in each and every day.  It had started to rain while we were there and as it fell into the Patheon it was so serene and beautiful allowing me to understand why they left it open!!   We stepped out into the light rain and began strolling through the endless streets of restaurants, shoes stores and shopping for everything and anything you would like.  Definitley finding some amazing deals at a street market and got a feel for the history this city has to offer. As the rain picked up I bought an umbrella and we decided to head back to the hotel but by then it was too late we were caught in a torrential downpour and just to make it interesting, we decided to stop and get groceries; Salad, salad toppings and 80 lbs of bottled water.  Not the finest of ideas in the pouring rain as we fought our way through crowds of people and umbrellas carrying the heavy water and all our shopping bags.  For the last few blocks we had had enough of it and Kristina yelled MOVE to anyone in her way with me hobbling slash jogging behind her.  We made it back to the hotel soaked, hungry and exhausted.  We went upstairs, hung our clothes to dry, had a bath and made salads in our room! 

We had met a kind man on the plane who advised us we should go to Florence if we have the time, 6 days booked for Rome, I think we could squeeze in a trip to Florence.  So we booked our train tickets for Saturday and lucked out on a two for one deal saving us 160 euros!! After a long day of roaming we went back to the hotel and made salad, relaxed as we had a journey to Florence the next day.


This little city amount the countryside of Italy was absolutely stunning.  We arrived to Florence with ease and made our way to to the meeting place of the free walking tour we found.  Arriving a little early we walked through the streets a little and got some bearing but travelling with the queen of maps (Kristina) we would never get lost!  We arrived at the meeting place looking lost as ever as there was no sign of a tour guide waiting or groups gathering.  Being the people we are, willing to talk to everyone and anyone, we noticed a few small groups standing around and then stopped two guys who seemed to be looking too and we all stood together, one other girl joined us and then another big group who were waiting as well.  And with that we had found our tour but without a guide.  As we all chatted and introduced ourselves we kept looking at the time, all of a sudden, a scraggly late 40s man appeared with a sign saying free guided tours, we all looked at each other and slowly made our way over, hoping that wasn't our guide.  He was and at the end of the day, he wasn't the best guide, but it allowed us to see the city and meet some new friends.  After the tour, Kristina, myself and our new friends Aditya and Aniket headed to a pizzeria for the most amazing pizza any of us have ever had, EVER.  Straight out of the wood burning stove these pizzas were fresh, hot and delicious!!  The best meal we had in Italy by far!  After a bottle of wine (drunk mostly by Kristina) we headed out to roam the streets of Florence, once we began to shop, the guys left us as they had another tour to catch, but we made plans to all go to the Vatican the following Tuesday as they would be travelling to Rome.  Our friends are students on an exchange from India, studying management in Paris while taking trips on their days off!  We spent the rest of the afternoon touring around Florence and made our way back to the train station early for our hour trip back to Rome.  Exhausted we headed back to the hotel to relax!

We spent Sunday sleeping in and touring the Roman Forum and the Colleseum.  Unfortunately we couldn't get into the Colleseum as they closed early so we Romed around, a little shopping, picked up some pizza and headed back to our hotel.  The next morning we woke up early and set out to the Colleseum, we wanted to get there early enough to make it inside and that we did.  With it being low-season we walked right in, bought our tickets, which allow you into other places within the forum, and made our way to where we would wait for our guided tour.  Kristina and I had opted for guided tours in most places that we went, it allowed us to learn, well for Kristina to learn and for me to learn what I am taking pictures of.  We also were able to interact with other people who spoke English, which was nice.  Something I am missing as I have to ask people if they speak English everywhere I go.  The Colleseum was amazing, is amazing, and a definite must see if you are going to Rome, I absolutely loved everything about it and the guide painted the perfect picture of what it had looked like when it was all intact.  Many people do not know this fact about the Colleseum and the gladiators that faught within its walls; Gladiators did not fight to the death, they fought for freedom.  If a gladiator had won his match then he would go out the exit to freedom, if he had lost, he left through the losers door and awaited his next fight in hopes of freedom.  The only people who died within the walls of the Colleseum were those who were criminals and then they would be slaughtered by animals, naked and hand cuffed torn to shreds by lions or tigers.  Yes it would have been gruesome but it was a thing of the times and everyone loved it.  After our tour Kristina and I walked around the Colleseum soaking in the history and antiquity that was left.  We spent the next part of our day walking around and through the Roman forum after about 8 hours of walking my feet had had enough, I couldn't bare the aching any longer and we made our way back to the hotel, stopping for a surprisingly good dinner.  I soaked my feet, rubbed them as we relaxed knowing that the Vatican City was the next day and that was going to involve a lot of walking.  

The Vatican City can only truly be shown to you in another post as it is one of the most magnificent places I have ever been to.  I will be posting this tomorrow with as many pictures possible, which do not do it just it at all.

Have a great day my friends

**any suggestions on iPad photo collage apps would be greatly appreciated! not loving what I am using**

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Athens at a Glance

Hi my friends, 

Today was our first full day in Athens and it consisted of a little fighting, just as sisters would do, going out and finding a wedding dress for my bride to be bestie at the Pronovias sample sale, touring the ancient city of Athens and finding me a winter jacket!!  A successful day if I must say so myself!!  Tonight we are trying to keep our waists slim as there is a wedding coming up soon, so we found this organic restauranunt with amazing prices and amazing food!  This day has renewed our faith in Athens as when we arrived our hotel wasn't ready at 530pm and Kristina frantically tried to use the internet as it is pretty slow for about 5 hours with no success.  
Who knows what the day will bring us tomorrow as there is more to see and buy here! 

Have a great day!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Just when I thought Paris was my favourite...

I came to Nice.  Turquoise water and 20 degree weather in November, YES PLEASE!

Hi My Friends,
I apologize for the delay on my blog post, I have come down with a really bad cold and my brain hasn't been too foggy to be my funny usual self.

I can't even begin to explain how beautiful Nice, France is, this French Riviera city is a must see!
After a loooong day of travelling from Paris and missing our flight, we finally made it to Nice and it was love at first sight!  The turquoise water caught my eye right away and I felt like I was in a dream. We were in Nice and I couldn't wait to see it all!

Our first night was spent relaxing as we had booked a tour for the next day and our travel had been horrible.  We found an amazing bakery, picked up some groceries and headed back to our hotel room to relax and watch our favourite movie, Pretty Women!

The next morning, not knowing what to expect from the tour we had booked, we dressed in our runners and tank tops for a day in the beautiful sun. We made our way to the lobby and outside where we were greeted outside by our tour guide, Guy Alfonsi, who personally gives private tours, excursions and transfers all year round.   Because of the low season we were the only ones on the tour for the morning, which was nice.  We were able to get to know each other as we drove through the west of the Riviera to Cannes.  Guy was able to show us places that a mass touring company could not and we felt comfortable and safe with him.  He is truly is the BEST tour guide Nice and the French Riviera has to offer, he was so knowledgable and patient and took us up and down the French Rivieria with ease.  From Cannes to Monaco, with his friendly demeanour he showed us all the places we would never have seen and some breathtaking hidden Gems.  If you ever go to Nice, contact Guy and book a tour with him, you won't be disappointed.  Kristina and I were not wowed with Monaco as most but were with a small village Eze.  This small medieval village is famous for its beauty and charm so rich in history which exists today with it's cobblestone roadways and buildings.  Propped at the top of a mountain, the view of the sea is impeccable. Of course we needed to find the bathroom and what we stumbled upon could never be expected.
 The most amazing, calming, beautiful view I have, we have, ever seen. 
So instead of touring this little village we decided to relax in the sunshine and treat ourselves to a drink, no matter the cost.  LOL.  Let me tell you, it was the most delicious mojito I have ever had as it should be for 20 euros (30 Canadian dollars).  Yep a jaw dropping price but for a once in a lifetime experience, Priceless.

After an amazing day of touring Guy dropped us off at the entrance to the old city, where Kristina kept saying, once again, how much she loved the old city.  We walked through the old city with all its cafes and little shops hidden throughout the millions of streets and alleys.  Believe me, one could get lost here and spend a lot of money but we found some good finds and the best gnocchi I have ever had!
This leg of our trip was meant to be relaxing so we slept in and didn't start our day until noon the next day, which is very hard for Kristina to do, but she did it and I'm proud of her.  After enjoying the lounge chairs at the pool, we got dressed and took the bus to the old city and walked around buying trinkets and gifts for our friends and families back home.  We ended our trip in Nice with a picnic on the beach that Kristina was dying to have.  The picnic consisted of wine, brie and bread and our ipads so I could write my blog.  We headed back to the hotel room when I saw a rat on the beach and almost ran off screaming!  We then packed up for our next destination; Barcelona!

The only downfall of Nice was our hotel room and hotel location.  We stayed at the Radisson Blu hotel which was located on the other side of the beach.  None of their rooms have air-conditioning during the off season, which at 20-22 degrees each day, makes for a very warm sleep and the rooms definitely need an update.  This hotel charged a lot with receiving a little and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.  Choose something more central if you want beach front.  I hope our stay in Barcelona is a lot nicer!

Barcelona here we come!!

Have a great day my friends!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

J'Adore Euro Disney eh Paris

Bonjour Mes Amis,

Yes, I am picking up the language quite well! Bonjour and Merci is about the extent of it lol.  And before I continue to write, the eh in my title is a play on words because I am Canadian and we say eh a lot!

I write this blog to you from the beach as Kristina wanted to venture down at night and watch the waves and planes take off!  A beautiful sight from right outside our hotel in Nice.

We spent a whole week in Paris and it still wasn't enough time to see all the museums and famous landmarks that the city has to offer! If you are planning on going to Paris and seeing everything in one trip that may be impossible, as so much detail is in each place that you will spend more time than you think and if you plan too long of a trip you will get sick of the rude Parisians that inhabit the city.  

Paris in itself is amazing, the Eiffel Tower should be on everyone's bucket list! We bought tickets to the top and the views of the city are magnifique, it truly takes your breath away!  Another favourite on our list was the Garnier L'Opera House (see our fun pictures below) it is beyond beautiful inside with all the details in every crevasse of the building and home to famous ballets, operas and more!  We then toured the city of Paris by foot yep bring your most comfortable shoes as I now need a foot transplant!  And we lucked out on weather with the sun beating down on us every moment for the first few days!  Our last day in the city of Paris before moving onto Disney, was spent shopping, where I purchased my first Louis Vuitton with the support and encouragement of Kristina! 

We then headed to our hotel right by Disneyland, Val D'Elysees.  This is the perfect hotel for Disneyland as it is located right by the train station and a HUGE mall and outlet mall (now we're talking).  The staff there were friendly and helpful and stored our bags as our room wasn't ready when we arrived.  We then proceeded on the free shuttle to Disney.  Kristina and I were like little kids again so excited to see Mickey and Minnie Mouse and go on all the rides! (Check out the pictures below) We booked our tickets online so we wouldn't have to wait in any lines, which there weren't any.  In fact there were no lineups at all the whole two days we were there, our maximum wait was 5 minutes for each ride which allowed us to enjoy every single ride the park has to offer.  We started with Space Mountain which I was so excited about and Kristina, well she yelled at me the whole time and came off looking like a ghost.  But she was a trooper and went on every single ride with me except the Aerosmith Roller Coaster, which was okay with me!  Euro Disney was a blast and I am pretty sure I bought the place out.  We were lucky we went during the slow season, right in between Halloween and Christmas, and I would highly recommend anyone going to any Disney park to choose a time when it's the low season, it's worth it!  Also you need at least two days to do the parks, as there is two and if you have kidlets, they will wear our fast! Euro Disney was a great experience and everyone at the park was friendly and helpful and loved talking to us Canadians.  We were even told to audition for casting roles, ie princesses etc.  lol could you picture that?!! Lol lol, me hopping around the park singing? well okay maybe it would fit.

Our next stop is Nice and my sneak peak for you all that it is amazing, beyond belief.

Bonne journee mes amis!

Be sure to follow me on Instagram for up to the minute pictures of my trip @ohsolindsay

If you plan on visiting Paris a few things to note: Buy your tickets online for everything first and take the bus or train everywhere.  There were huge lineups for all the museums and exhibits but the option to buy online for reserved tickets is the same price so I highly recommend it!   Paris is a busy city and the traffic is insane as people stop whenever and where ever they like, so I suggest bus and train everywhere, even to the airport as our shuttle took us over three hours and we missed our flight! Lesson learned.