October 21, 2017

Less Crowded Options for European Summer Travels

School is almost out which means summer vacations are right around the corner. If you’re able to vacation any time of year, you might not choose summer to visit Europe but many vacationers only have summertime for a European family vacation.

So how do you beat the summer crowds in Europe?

In my local Sunday paper I found a list of travel options that are less crowded than the more popular destinations. Here are their suggestions for quieter summer destinations in Europe!

Budapest Hungary instead of Paris France

Danube and Parliament Building Budapest Hungary

Budapest by ** Maurice **, on Flickr

Paris is probably one of the most well known travel destinations in the world so it’s not surprising Paris is crowded during the summer! While Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, Seine River, the Louvre and the Champs Elysee bring people to Paris, Budapest also has its well known sites. People come to Budapest to see the Fisherman’s Bastion, Parliament Building, the grand boulevard Andrassy Ut and its Spas. Some even say Budapest is the most beautiful city in Central Europe and with the beautiful views over the Danube River I can see why Budapest has earned this label. Budapest and Paris both have long and tumultuous histories, grand architecture covering a vast array of time periods, beautiful cathedrals and gobs of cultural opportunities!

Korcula Croatia instead of Corfu Greece

Panorama of Korčula Croatia

Panorama of Korčula by Zupec on wikimedia

Korcula and Corfu are both stunning islands that offer warm weather, crystal clear waters and beautiful beaches but the comparisons stop there. Sitting off the coast of Greece, Corfu has been the playground for the rich and famous for eons. The island also has a rich heritage dating back to 1300 BC and is full of historic monuments and museums displaying archeological finds from the temples and ancients cities on the island. If you’re looking for a quieter vacation centered on water and beaches, then Korcula may be the perfect place for you! Relax on one of the beautiful beaches, kayak around some of the other islands or snorkel in the clear cool waters of the Adriatic. Korcula also offers great views back to the Dalmation Coast of Croatia!

Baltic Coast of Germany instead of Bavaria Germany

National Park Jasmund on Rugen Island Germany

National Park Jasmund on Rugen Island by Thomas Wolf on wikimedia

If Germany is your destination, you really can’t go wrong visiting either Bavaria or the Baltic Coast.  But if you’re looking for a quieter seaside trip, then the Baltic is an excellent option. When I wrote Warnemunde – A Baltic Beach Resort the number one comment I received was people were surprised Germany has beaches. Yes Germany has glorious beaches and Warnemunde is just one of them! The Baltic coast had been a popular resort area with the aristocrats for years and since reunification, this coastline is gaining in popularity but is still a peaceful respite from the summer crowds found in the more popular tourist destinations. Germany’s Baltic coast is full of long sandy beaches, rugged cliffs, sand dunes, popular resort islands, nature reserves and quaint seaside towns with centers that are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Baltic coast still maintains a very definite maritime feel and is a great place to relax while watching sailboats or enjoy a walk or bike ride along the miles of sandy beaches!

What other less-crowded European destinations can you suggest?

Humorous Gargoyle of Freiburg

Anyone traveling in Europe has seen Gargoyles staring down at you from high atop cathedrals like Notre Dame in Paris France.

Gargoyle Notre Dame Paris France

Gargoyle Notre Dame Paris France

They do have a menacing look to them and, in fact, part of their lore says they protect the churches from evil spirits. In actuality, they have a very useful function. Gargoyles are water spouts which keep rainwater away from the sides of the building where the forces of water would damage them in the same way rivers carve canyons.

Gargoyles on the Munster Freiburg Germany

Different types of Gargoyles look down on you in Freiburg!

Although we usually associate Gargoyles with medieval time they were used during other times until architects started using gutters. We also usually associate Gargoyles as being scary and grotesque but some Gargoyles depict monks, animals and some are even very humorous.

Horse Gargoyle Munster Freiburg GermanyHuman Gargoyle Munster Freiburg Germany

I ran into a humorous Gargoyle while visiting the Munster in Freiburg Germany.  As I was looking up at the church, I noticed many Gargoyles dotting the sides.  Then I ran into this one.  After a double take, I realized I was right.  This Gargoyle seems to be mooning everyone!  Since it rained while I was in Freiburg, I actually got to see it work too : )

Humorous Gargoyle Munster Freiburg Germany

Look closely at the Gargoyle on the left, it is mooning you!

Have you seen a humorous Gargoyle?


These pictures are part of Travel Photo Thursday! For more great pictures,make sure to check out Budget Travelers Sandbox.

Epicurean’s Guide to Europe: Delicious Dishes You Have To Try!

As I mentioned in German Food Traditional & Tasty, food may not be a reason I visit a city but it is definitely something I look forward to!  Here is a guest post exploring more of Europe’s cuisine.  Enjoy!

 

Epicureans will travel the world to experience masterfully created flavors. When visiting Europe, epicureans simply must put these countries at the top of their lists.

 

Spain 

Tapas in Spain

Tapas by Ben Sutherland, on Flickr

Spain has many wonderful regions that foodies will want to explore. If you have to focus on one area, though, make it Basque Country where you will find a lot of variety to satisfy all of your cravings!

The Basque Country has earned a reputation for serving some of the best tapas in Spain. In this region, though, they usually serve tapas on bread with a “spike” through the ingredients so it all holds together. They call it pinxto, which takes its name from the word for “spike.” Expect to find pinxtos containing olives, cured meats, cod, stuffed peppers and regional cheeses.

Turkey

Turkish cuisine can vary significantly depending on where you travel. The region near the Black Sea, for instance, uses a local anchovy that offers a distinctive flavor. No matter where you go, though, you will find homemade recipes that have been in families for generations.

When in Turkey, look for dishes carefully built around grilled meats, dates, pistachios, lentils and eggplant.

If you have recently been in other parts of Europe when you visit Turkey, you will immediately notice that Turkish cooks use spices more sparingly than those in other countries. As an epicurean, you need to experience how wonderful this simplicity can taste. It will show you that amazing food doesn’t necessarily need a complex recipe.

France 

Pot de Creme Dessert France

Pot de Creme by arnold | inuyaki, on Flickr

One could argue that excellent European cuisine began in France. The country’s chefs maintain a long tradition of technical skill and innovative flavors that should put it right at the top of your list.

When visiting France, pay careful attention to two things – dessert and wine. Some desserts to include are:

  • Tart tatin (an upside-down tart with apples)
  • Flaugnarde (a large pancake filled with various fruits)
  • Pot de crème (a potted custard)
  • Koign-amann (a kind of puffed pastry)

If you find a really good restaurant (which is easy considering that Paris alone has about 100 Michelin-rated restaurants), then a sommelier can pair your dessert with the perfect wine.

Italy 

Branzino all'acqua pazza Cuisine Italy

Branzino all'acqua pazza by 10Rosso, on Flickr

You probably think of pasta when you think of Italy. You can certainly find plenty of pasta dishes throughout Italy, but the country really excels when it comes to seafood. Only an Alaskan cruise excursion could give you access to fresher seafood!

Some dishes to look for include:

  • Cappon magro (a large seafood salad with a thick sauce)
  • Acqua pazza (poached white fish)
  • Cacciucco (a fish stew)
  • Scampi in the shell

To really get a thrill, visit an open-air market in the morning. You will see gigantic fish that still have their heads attached but don’t let this have a ruin your afternoon meal! In Italy, every part of the fish gets used to make some of the most delicious soups and sauces you will ever taste.

Germany

Germany’s epicurean fame typically comes from its commitment to excellent beers and processed meats. It has that reputation for some very good reasons. In fact, breweries around the world still use the Bavarian Purity Law from 1487 to make high-quality beer with only the most essential ingredients.

When you venture into Germany expect to find plenty of meat dishes including those made of: lamb, goat, duck, turkey, pork and beef.

You’ll swear that you can live off sausage alone once you’ve toured through Germany.


Europe has diverse cuisine that not only varies from country to country, but city to city. For the true epicurean, every European destination lies somewhere on the list of must-visit places.

 

What is your favorite European cuisine or food?

 

This guest post was brought to you by Miles Young,  a freelance travel writer who specializes in all things outdoors. Whether it’s biking, vacations, cruising or just exploring the city, Miles has done it all. When he’s not out conquering the world he’s geeking out on tech or attempting to play the piano. You can reach Miles at mrmilesyoung@gmail.com.

Capturing the Colors of Europe

I enjoy both color and looking at wonderful photographs so when I first heard about TravelSupermarket’s Capture the Colour competition I was excited to see all the beautiful photographs that would be submitted.  Then Vi at Short Travel Tips suggested I enter and I thought “Yeah sure”!  A little later I got the official invite from the good folks at EasyHiker and EurotravelogueNow I couldn’t ignore my friends so I decide to give it a try!


So here are some of my favorites shots and entry into the Capture the Colour competition. . . Enjoy!

 

Blue

Mittenwald Germany is known for it’s beautiful painted facades.  The paintings have all kinds of colors in them -red, green, yellow and white – but not much blue.  I finally found one that had blue in it and it’s on one of my favorite streets!Mittenwald Bavaria Germany

Yellow

While visiting the Hofburg in Innsbruck I found a real resemblance to my own personal home so I had to share my favorite golden chandelier!Chandelier in Hofburg Innsbruck Austria

White

Do you have pictures you just love but don’t really know why?  Well, this is one of those for me.  While wandering Vienna Austria I ran into this lovely statue who’s motto is “By Virtue & Example”.  That is one of the definitions of white, isn’t it?

Virtue and Example Statue Vienna AustriaRed

In Paris, one of my favorite spots is Montmartre. Red seems to be the color of Montmartre from the Moulin Rouge to the easels of the artists!

Painters in Montmartre Paris France

Green

From the dramatic Alps to these beautiful rolling hills, Switzerland is one beautiful country! Plain and simply, I love this picture.  Taken as I was walking up the hill to Gruyeres Switzerland, this photo can make me feel calm on the craziest of days! Green Hills of Gruyeres Switzerland

 

There you have it, my entry into the Capture the Colour contest!  Here are five more nominees whose photo’s I’d love to see!

Quirky Travel Guy

On the Go Europe

Used York City

Tips for FamilyTrips

More Kids than Suitcases

 

InterRail: A Book Review

As I said in Four Reasons to Use a European Rail Pass, I think we all want to travel around Europe by train.  In the book “InterRail” by Alessandro Gallenzi the main character, Francesco, lives all our dreams.

As a young adult, Francesco decides to leave his home in Italy to travel around Europe using an InterRail pass. During his rail trip he meets quite a few people, some even become lifelong friends, and has an adventure full of intrigue.

Munchen Skyline Bavaria Germany

Munchen by Andrew Bossi

His first stop is Munich, Germany where he meets an interesting con man named Pierre who is the catalyst for most of Francesco’s intrigue and adventures.  It was during a party hosted by Pierre that Francesco’s intrigue begins when he is asked to deliver a package to someone in Amsterdam by Pierre’s wife.  Even though he did not know what is in the package, he agrees.

Francesco visits cities that are on many of our own itineraries:  Berlin, Amsterdam, Paris, London and Rome. As he travels through Europe, the intrigue follows him and continues to build.  It heightens when an event in Amsterdam lands Francesco in the hospital and during a secret meeting with Pierre’s wife in the Père Lachaise Cemetery while winding his way back to Italy via London and Paris.

OudezijdsKolk Amsterdam Holland

OudezijdsKolk Amsterdam by Massimo Catarinells

While the intrigue of the book kept me reading, the parts that stood out for me was his ability to travel with only the clothes on his back, his trust of strangers, and the guts to show up at a station without a destination in mind taking the next departing train!

Now I don’t see myself traveling with only the clothes on my back and I don’t think I’d ever be quite as trusting of strangers as Francesco but I really like the idea of showing up at a train station without a plan and taking the next departing train.  In fact, that is on my personal bucket list.

Parliament at Sunset London England

Parliament at Sunset London England

“InterRail” is a work of fiction based on the InterRail trip taken by the author, Alessandro Gallenzi.  It’s a story about a young man who had enough courage to step out of his comfort zone to find himself and live the life he chose.  By stepping out of the safety of his home to travel he was able to gain the confidence and clarity he needed to make the choices that shaped his life.

How has travel helped shape your life?


Although I was given the book InterRail by Alma Books and asked to review it, all opinions are my own. Alma Books is also giving away a free InterRail pass to EU residents and there is still a couple days left to enter.  So mosey your way over to Alma Books to enter!

Oh La La, La Seine!

It is no mistake that most of the world’s largest cities are located along major rivers. As our ancestors explored new areas they settled along rivers which offered them food, water, transportation, trade and more.

Among these grand European rivers are the Thames, the Danube, the Volga, the Rhine and madam La Seine!

Seine View Paris France

Seine View by polarjez, on Flickr

The 2nd largest river in France is 482 miles long and traverses through some of the most wonderful French landscapes before reaching the English Channel.  The Seine’s humble beginnings are about 19 miles northwest of Dijon deep in the Burgundian wine area. From here it meanders through or near Troyes, Fontainebleau, Paris, Giverny and Rouen before reaching the 6 mile wide estuary separating Le Havre and Honfleur.

Giverny France

giverny 2009 by ho visto nina volare, on Flickr

Outside of the large cities, a journey along the Seine passes Gothic cathedrals, battlefield remnants of past wars, tiny hamlets, forests that were the playground of Kings and rolling countryside with superb scenery.

The Seine is navigable by ocean vessels 75 miles inland to Rouen, by commercial river boats to Burgundy and can be enjoyed for recreational purposes along most of the length.

A series of locks keep the Seine at an even depth of 9 ½ meters and helps avoid catastrophic floods like the one in 1910.  However, even with these precautions, severe storms can cause the river to rise threatening villages, farmers and the billions of dollars of artwork located in Paris.

River Seine Paris France

vue Paris depuis Notre-Dame by Myrabella

At times the Seine has been described by historians as an “open sewer”.  Today the water quality has improved but the sewage system of Paris can experience failures during heavy rainfall allowing untreated sewage to seep into the river.  Despite this, in 2009 the Atlantic salmon returned to the Seine!

Even though the Seine passes many villages and cities, it seems to be synonymous with the capital of France, Paris! Just about everywhere you turn in Paris is a reminder of the importance the river has played in the city today and yesterday.  From the cathedral of Notre Dame to the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Musee d’Orsay and many other priceless wonders, history abounds near the river! So important is the Seine to Paris, that in 1991 both the Rive Gauche and Rive Droite were added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites in Europe.

Pont-Alexandre-III-et-Invalides Paris France

Pont-Alexandre-III-et-Invalides by Benh

In Paris alone, there are 37 bridges that cross the river. The Pont Neuf, the oldest, dates back to 1607.  I’m sure every visitor to Paris walks across at least one of these beautifully romantic bridges!  Or even passes under them during a wonderful tour along the Seine.

The Seine has been the subject for many artists including Claude Monet.  From his home in Giverny, Monet drew upon the Seine for his inspiration. Many of these important artworks can be seen in the cathedral at Rouen.

Rouen is another important city along the Seine.  Not only famous for its display of artwork inspired by the Seine but for being the site of the execution of Joan of Arc whose ashes were said to be thrown into the Seine after her fiery death in 1431.

Pont de Normandie Le Havre Normandy France

Pont de Normandie by François Roche

Finally at rivers end is the Seine estuary which is flanked on either side by Le Havre and Honfleur.  Here is another of the many bridges spanning the Seine.  Pont de Normandie, one of the longest cable-stayed bridges in the world, stretches between the two cities.

Pont des Arts River Seine Paris France

Pont des Arts Wikimedia Commons by Benh

Although we tend to view the Seine as a tourist attraction, you can see that this river is still important to France today!

 

How have you enjoyed the Seine?

Unique Architecture of Les Invalides

To say there are a lot of significant sights to see while in Paris is a complete understatement.  One of these is Les Invalides.  On a trip a few years ago we spent some time wandering this sight famous for being the home of Napoleon’s tomb.

Courtyard and Dome Les Invalides Paris France

Courtyard and Dome

The dome, which can be seen for miles, is one of the tallest monuments in all of Paris.  Under the dome is where you will find Napoleon.  While viewing the tomb don’t forget to look up.  If you do, you’ll miss one of the most beautifully painted domes around.

Allegories under the Dome Les Invalides Paris France

Allegories under the Dome

Besides Napoleon there are many other war heroes from France buried here.  The complex at Les Invalides also houses the Musee de l’Armoree.  Touring this museum you will find many weapons, uniforms and other war materials and weapons which includes an amazing display of armor used throughout the eons.

Soldiers watching over Les Invalides Paris France

Soldiers watching over

The Baroque architecture of Les Invalides is also quite amazing and full of great details, one of which is this ornamentation.  Looks like soldiers are still securing Les Invalides!

Cascable on a French Canon Les Invalides Paris France

Wonder what he is thinking?

Distributed throughout the grounds are many canons.  What I found extremely unique and interesting is this Cascabel on this French canon.  What do you think this is all about?

Dome Les Invalides Paris France

Dome

Yes, there are many sights to see while in Paris and, in my opinion, that list should include Les Invalides!

 

What are some of your must sees in Paris?

These photo’s are shared as part of Travel Photo Thursday.
For more great pictures, make sure to look into Budget Travelers Sandbox.

Maybe I’ll see you there.

Bucket List – European Style

Ah, the infamous Bucket List.  When Michael from EasyHiker asked me to share my “Bucket List” I was, honestly, a little overwhelmed.  Yes, overwhelmed because my list is quite large and I’m sure you don’t want to spend that much time reading this post.  How to cut it down?  Instead of sharing countries or cities I’d most like to visit I whittled it down to some European adventures I’d most like to enjoy.

In no particular order, here is a sampling of my Bucket List – European Style!

While thinking about my Bucket List, I realized I’ve actually shared quite a few of these already.  In Springtime Yearnings I shared my desire to Hike in Black Forest, Canoe along the Dordogne plus bike and taste wine near the Moselle River in Germany.  Italy’s South Tirol is still one of the places I would most like to visit.  The Dolomites are just too dramatic and picturesque to not see in person.

Here are more European adventures I’d most like to enjoy:

Bastille Day in Paris

Sharing this day of celebration with the Parisians would be fabulous.  I can only imagine the pageantry of the military parade down the Champs Elysees and the beauty of the fireworks with the Eiffel Tower as their back drop.

Bastille Day Fireworks Eiffel Tower Paris France

Bastille Day Fireworks by Lauren

Oktoberfest

Let’s see, I love Bavaria, Munich is one of my favorite cities and, in my opinion, beer is a food group.  So why wouldn’t I need to experience the Granddaddy of all beer festivals?  One thing I wouldn’t miss is the opening day parade. I hope they still roll barrels of beer down the street!

Cruising the Greek Isles

A lot of folks cruise the Greek Isles and while I want to join their ranks, I want to rent my own sail boat so we can steer our ship around the Aegean as we wish!  Enjoying the blue water, culture, sunsets and ruins while reliving mythology from the bows of our own little boat seems quite luxurious.

Samos Greece in Aegean Sea

Samos Pe-Sa

German Christmas Markets

About 2 months ago I shared one of my fondest birthday wishes in All I Want For My Birthday.  At this point in time, I can’t imagine a better way to celebrate my birthday than being in Germany visiting some of the magical Christmas markets!  Gluhwein, German trinkets and beer. . . need I say more?

Viennese Ball

Gliding and twirling across a dance floor at one of the amazing balls during Imperial Ball season in Vienna is one of things this girl dreams of.   Of course, I’ll be dressed to the nines in a full length formal gown complete with gloves and I will float across the dance floor thanks to those dance lessons I desperately need to take!

Ball Vienna Austria

Ball by moritz.schmaltz, on Flickr

Live in Europe
One of my fondest dreams is to live in Europe for at least 3 months.  I want to experience the culture and history that Europe offers.  I haven’t figured out where I would spend my time but I have a feeling a lot of it would be spent in some little Bavarian village!

Wachau Valley Danube River Austria

Wachau by jay8085, on Flickr

Somewhere along the way I will also stay in a Castle or Chateaux, enjoy a Tapas Crawl in Spain and wine taste in the Wachau Valley!

Well those are a few of the items that have made it to my European Bucket List.

 

Tell us a few of the items that have made it to your list!

My Travel ABC’s

Before Thanksgiving I received an invitation from Katherina  of 1000 Miles Highway to participate in the A to Z survey about travel called The ABC of Travel!

Thanks Katherina for including me!

Now, European Travelista’s ABC’s of Travel.

A: Age you went on your first international trip: At 23 I made my first international trip to Europe which was also my first solo trip and is still my favorite!

B: Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where: The best foreign beer I’ve had was at Stiegl Keller in Salzburg.  If I’m honest, I’m not sure why it is my favorite but I think it might have something to do with the amazing views of Salzburg or the fantastic meal I enjoyed. Whatever the reason, it was memorable!Schnitzel at Klosterbrau Bamberg Germany

C: Cuisine (favorite): Mexican Food!  I love it spicy and could eat it for every meal.  While in Europe, my favorite cuisine would have to be German.  Can’t get enough of schnitzel, spatzle, sausage and sauerkraut or goulash soup 🙂

D: Destinations, favorite, least favorite and why: Bavaria Germany holds a special place in my heart!  This was my first stop on my first trip and Bavaria just feels so comfy to me.  I can’t seem to get enough of the mountains and tiny Bavarian villages. My least favorite would have to be Budapest which just left me feeling Bleh!  Although I am going to give it another try.

E: Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”: This summer I had the unexpected opportunity to witness Lederhosen clad goat herders bringing the goats back to the barn! An event I thought only lived on in books.

F: Favorite mode of transportation: Ooh that’s hard.  I actually like all modes of transportation and have used them at different times.  Trains, buses, cars are all amazing and offer different perspectives.  I guess my favorite mode is via an airplane because when I get on an airplane it means I’m going somewhere!

G: Greatest feeling while traveling: The feeling of awe when seeing amazing scenery, experiencing the peace and serenity of mountains, flower bedecked houses or realizing how old the city or building really is.

H: Hottest place you’ve traveled to: Ixtapa, Mexico during July!

I: Incredible service you’ve experienced and where: Once we were eating at a café in Paris and we had a great waiter.  He would joke with us (yes it was Paris France) and when we asked what type of Dijon mustard they had on the table he gave us a bottle!  It’s the little things that make a difference to me.

J: Journey that took the longest: Driving through Austria and Switzerland during my 2 week honeymoon!

Kathe Wohlfahrt Rothenburg Germany

In Front of Kathe Wohlfahrt Rothenburg Germany

K: Keepsake from your travels: I love buying Christmas ornaments from any where I travel because I get to relive my travels while decorating the tree with my family!

L: Let-down sight, why and where: The Terror Museum in Budapest. This museum left me wanting more. . . much more.  Upon entering you hear intimidating music, see an old Soviet tank and busts of some of the more notorious characters of the soviet period in Budapest.  I was expecting many more items of torture and not the narration in Hungarian I got.  The museum was really very stark without many exhibits of actual devices of terror.

M: Moment where you fell in love with travel: My first trip to Europe in 1981 filled me with a love of Europe that has lasted to this day!  I love traveling anywhere and am the one that does all the research and planning for trips no matter where we are going.

View from room at Palace Hotel Lucerne Switzerland

View from Palace Hotel

N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in: My personal budget doesn’t include luxury hotels very often but I do enjoy luxury when I get it.  The nicest hotel I have ever stayed in would have to be the Palace Hotel in Lucerne Switzerland!  I had a corner suite which had amazing views of the lake and mountains surrounding this lovely city.  My next choice would have to be the Hotel Del Coronado in Coronado, California. I love old historic hotels and my room in the old portion of this beauty was perfect.

O: Obsession—what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?: I’m not sure I have an obsession but would have to say amazing views usually from or of mountains!

P: Passport stamps, how many and from where? Oh if only they consistently stamped my passport!  Many places in Europe including London, Paris, Biarritz, Toulouse, Frankfurt, Munich, Vienna, Zurich and Copenhagen.  Add in Mexico and Tahiti.

Biarritz Seaview France

Biarritz

Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where: The Alligator Farm in Buena Park, California.  I loved this spot as a child since those alligators were really scary but alligators right across the street from Knots Berry Farm?!!

R: Recommended sight, event or experience: Spend a day in Auvers sur Oise (outside Paris) reliving Van Gogh’s last days, then visit the Orsay museum to view his art work!  This will make an art lover out of anyone!

S: Splurge; something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling: Local food, but not at trendy fashionable restaurants, including beer, wine or local cocktail!

T: Touristy thing you’ve done: A tour including the Changing of the Guard in London.  Couldn’t see a thing but I went back early in April and was able to visit on my own and see the entire procession without any one in my way!

U: Unforgettable travel memory: Visiting Zermatt Switzerland for the first time!  This charming village took my breath away.  Explore the village and mountains during the day and then enjoy an exquisite meal of fondue that night.  It is so warm and comfy!

V: Visas, how many and for where? To date, I haven’t need any visas 🙁

W: Wine, best glass of wine while traveling and where? So I don’t remember what type of wine we had  but my husband and I had some great Italian red wine in Stresa overlooking Lago Maggiore!

Hohenschwangau Bavarian Castle

View from Hohenschwangau

X: eXcellent view and from where?: Ooh there are a lot of great vantage points.  How about the amazing views from Neuschwanstein castle or the top of Mt. Pilatus?  Or the view of Paris after climbing the stairs at Notre Dame!  Or locally, the view of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge from Fisherman’s Wharf.

Y: Years spent traveling?: I have traveled my entire life if you include some vacations.  Unfortunately, my life has not afforded me the opportunity to spend years abroad . . . yet.  That is on the bucket list!

Z: Zealous sports fans and where?: I am not a zealous sport fan but my first ice hockey game was very memorable.  My friend got tickets about 4 rows from the glass which makes for an exceptional game.  I didn’t know I had so much testosterone in me!

 

Well that’s my ABC’s, I would love to read the ABC’s of these fine bloggers:

Inside Journeys
Devour the World
Adventures with Ben
A View to a Thrill
EuroTravelogue

Five of the Best Sweet Treats to Try in Paris

Sweet Treats in Paris France

Sweet Treats in Paris by Canon s3

When strolling along famous Paris streets like the Champs-Elysées and Rue Royale, your nose will be assaulted by delicious odors wafting from some of the greatest bakers, confectioners and chocolatiers in France.

Don’t be tempted by imitators – when in Paris, go for the original and best creators of world-famous sweet treats. See the top five places to satisfy your sweet tooth and your sense of occasion below…

1)  for bonbons: l’Etoile d’Or

Bernachon chocolates Paris by Ricardo

Bernachon chocolates Paris by Ricardo

Denise Acabo’s knowledge of chocolate is the stuff of local legend and though the French may passionately debate about which type is their favourite, everyone agrees that the perfect delivery system for her chocolate masterpieces are her heavenly bonbons.

Although retired now, Denise’s enthusiasm for making the most delicious sweet treats in Paris still rules her shop, and those seeking the ultimate chocolate experience continue to make a beeline to her door despite all the competition this epicurean city has to offer.  Many chocoholics confess that l’Etoile d’Or is their first stop when they get to Paris to get their bonbon fix and last stop before they leave Paris so they can stock up!

Where: 30 Rue Pierre Fontaine

2)  for hot chocolate: Angelina Cafe

glorious angelina's hot chocolate Paris France

Glorious Angelina's Hot Chocolate by Ingrid

Even though it’s known as a tea salon, that is not what put the quaint little Angelina’s Cafe near the Jardin de Tuileries on the list of “must taste” treats in Paris – it is, undoubtedly, the hot chocolate.

You may wonder what is so special about this hot chocolate, but when it arrives at your marble top table on a gleaming silver tray with a separate cream decanter sporting a silver spoon, you’ll start get the picture. Chocolat L’Africain (African chocolate) is what made Angelina’s Café famous, which is why the recipe is still a closely guarded secret that you have to come all the way to Paris to try for yourself.

Even though the cafe offers delicious pastries to nibble as well as breakfast and lunch delights, true aficionados want nothing to interfere with the experience of savouring what many consider the most satisfying hot chocolate in the world.

Where:  226 Rue de Rivoli

3)  for a glazed croissant: Pierre Hermé

Pierre Hermé Croissant Paris France

Pierre Hermé Croissant by Michal

Often compared to a religious experience, the glazed croissants made by Pierre Hermé are described in decidedly ecstatic terms by visitors who have tasted the perfect blend of flaky pastry wrapped around a pate of rose essence covered with a delicate confectioner’s sugar glaze.

Almost too pretty to eat, the infamous glazed rose croissant with its crowning touch of candied rose petals is such a work of art that it is often photographed thoroughly by delighted visitors before it is cheerfully devoured.

But it gets even better, there are lots variations with subtle hints of almonds, raspberries and, of course, chocolate – giving the rose croissant experience the potential to take your taste buds to you to the realm of the profound.

Where:  185 Rue de Vaugirard and 72 Rue Bonaparte

4)  for ice cream: Berthillon

Berthillon ice cream Paris France

Berthillon Ice Cream by Maki

If you’re wrestling with the concept of “healthy ice cream”, head for the little island in the middle of the Seine where the Berthillon (don’t pronounce the “h”) Ice Cream Shop can be found and you will understand it makes perfect sense.

Known as the luxury ice cream of Paris, this sweet treat is not mass produced but only made locally for patrons who walk in the door. Using top-quality organic milk, eggs and cream is just the first step, adding in the right blend of unexpected fresh fruits like apples, oranges, pears and even grapes is their secret to concocting what are unanimously considered the most delicious ice creams and sorbets in all Paris – and that’s saying something.

Even if your taste is more to the plain vanilla variety, you’ll find your dream ice cream waiting in this deceptively ordinary atmosphere. The selection of rich flavours, creamy textures and delicious ice cream dishes have a magical quality that is so spellbinding it keeps you coming back for more, but to avoid disappointment don’t show up on Monday or Tuesday when the shop is closed – even ice cream wizards have to rest!

Where:  29-31 Île Saint-Louis

5)  for macaroons: Ladurée

Ladurée Paris France

Ladurée by Leo

The epitome of the restaurant for ladies who lunch, the famous Ladurée macaroons are what sets this little café chain apart from all the others.

Described by some as what happens when Willy Wonka meets Marie-Antoinette, this delicious decadence is as pleasing to the eye as it is to the palette. Presented in a rainbow of colours that coordinate with the filling’s taste, these one-of-a-kind macaroons are crisp on the outside, smooth on the inside and bursting with flavour.

Ladurée macaroons are not, however, served fresh from the oven but sit patiently for two days so the creamy ganache filling sandwiched between two crispy cakes can achieve the optimum blend of texture and flavour – they’ve obviously got this down to an art.

Sweet-tooths beware, they have positioned their shops within walking distance of each other in the heart of Paris because they know once you’ve tried their macaroons, you’ll be drawn back for more like a moth to a flame.

Where:  75 Avenue des Champs-Elysées, 13 Rue Lincoln, 6 Rue Royale and 64 Boulevard Haussmann

About the Author: Lela Lake writes for AnyTrip.com, the Paris budget travel specialists. Check out AnyTrip’s collection of cheap Paris hotels, or check out their Love Paris competition for the chance to win one of four trips to Paris (until 30/09/11).