travel

Paris!

IMG_1483
Looking back at the Travel section of FatFreeFashion, I realized there are some pretty blog-worthy destinations I failed to blog about. First up? My trip to Paris! These pictures are almost two years old, but Paris is a grand old lady who hasn’t changed much in the last century, so I think they’re still pretty relevant. Fashion, food, culture, history and the fabulous sights at every turn, make Paris a must-see on any Wanderlust Wishlist. My husband and I spent eight awesome days in the City Of Light, and honestly, it still wasn’t enough to see everything!

IMG-20121023-00684

FOOD 

Dining out in Paris is a real treat. Obviously the French food is great, but I found that the quality of even take-out places far surpassed anything I’ve encountered in North America. Below are a few that left an impression.

Restaurants:

Paul amazing pastries, coffee and people-watching.

Le Bonaparte Forget standing in line for Les Deux Magots and walk a short block to this lovely cafe instead. Unbeatable people watching, and the food is delish!

Roger La Grenouille Frogs legs, anyone?! If the thought of that repulses you, don’t fret! Plenty of other tasty dishes in this utterly charming old restaurant.

Le Coupe-Chou Hand-down the most romantic restaurant I’ve ever been to. There’s a fireplace inside. Just go!

IMG_1565

 The Seine

ACCOMMODATION 

Paris hotels are insanely expensive. We stayed in a tourist apartment right in the heart of the Latin Quarter, and loved coming back to “our place” each night after eleven hours of straight walking (no joke!) to drop-dead on the comfy queen bed. We also loved having a little kitchen to wash fresh fruit, cheese and snacks. Skipping the grocery stores and markets in Paris is a sin, so make sure you have a fridge to store your goodies.

IMG_1582

 Sunbathing On The Seine

IMG_1513

 1st Arrondissement

IMG_1677

Cemetery In Montemarte

IMG_1500

 At The Base Of The Eiffel Tower: Each Country Has Its Own Bear

 SHOPPING 

I won’t insult you with the obvious (Champs-Élysées, Le Marais, etc) but must make mention that Paris’ department stores are worth a half-day visit alone! If you’re short on museum money, visit Printemps for the most stunning glass dome ceiling you’ll ever see!

Any serious shopper must visit Le Bon Marchethe world’s visit department store! Try the cafe on the top floor for a seriously amazing lunch and a stunning panoramic view of Paris. Take me back!!

Ed Note: Strolling the streets of Le Marais is a must-do, and shouldn’t be undermined by my opening sentence. Charming, beautiful and open on Sundays!

IMG_1622

 Printemps

IMG_1626

 Printemps

IMG_1691

 Tourist Alert! By the end of the week, it was absolutely FREEZING (5 degrees) and I only packed my leather jacket. Wearing at least five layers here (accessorized with a bright red nose!)

IMG_1639

SIGHTS & MUSEUMS 

Covering all the noteworthy sights and museums Paris has to offer in one blog post is futile. There are simply too many! Below are some that are worth the time/trek.

IMG_1729

 Vincennes

Les Invalides  (The Military Museum) Truth? I was dragged here by the Hubs, but was admittedly amazed by the incredible exhibits at this massive museum. A must-see!

Musee d’Orsay Not into the Mona Lisa? Cross the river and head to this stunning museum, instead! Musee d’Orsay is a converted train station that now houses art mainly from 1848-1915. Think Monet, Van Gogh (amazing!!!), Cezanne and Renoir.

Versailles No introduction needed. Sickening opulance one must see to believe!

Ponts des Arts (Love Lock Bridge) Just because. Tres romantic.

IMG_1594

Les Invalides

IMG_1530

 Sacre Coeur

Sacré Cœur Love architecture? Then pull on your walking boots and head up to basilica Sacré Coeur in Montmartre. Worth the hike to the top for panoramic views of the City Of Lights.

Chateau de Vincennes Ever seen a castle? Hop on the metro, ride to the end of the line, emerge and feast your eyes on this stunning beauty.

Musee de Cluny (Middle Ages Museum) I’ve always had a fascination with the Middle Ages. The plague, witchcraft, folklore and the cultural deterioration that occurred after the fall of the Roman Empire are both tragic and mystifying to me. Really enjoyed this one.

IMG_1536

 Sacre Coeur

IMG_1555 IMG_1608

Centre Pompidou (Modern Art Museum)

IMG_1650

IMG_1654Versailles

IMG_1548

 Musee Cluny (Middle Ages Museum) These heads were discovered in someone’s backyard in the 1970s!

IMG_1708

 Pont des Arts

IMG_1701

 Love Lock Bridge

Have you been to Paris? What is your favourite arrondissement? Restaurant? Attraction? I’d love to know! 

Have a fabulous weekend, Lovelies!

Advertisements

ITALY- Venice, Naples and The Amalfi Coast


Venice 2

Buongiorno!

You may have noticed I’ve been MIA recently-or not, but lets stroke my silky, smooth-oh-so-gooey, burrata mozzarella-coated ego for second, shall we? 😉

Yes Fashaloonies, I recently returned from 10 beautiful days in Italy, with Venice, Naples and the Amalfi Coast headlining the travel itinerary. Although I had pre-scheduled posts for my absence, the sometimes spotty Wifi made publishing no easy task. So instead, I ate (a lot). I walked (a lot). I hiked (a little). I travelled by plane, train and (white knuckled!) automobile, and managed to take some pretty incredible pictures to share with you afterwards. If Italy is on your travel bucket list, may I suggest booking a ticket as soon as you’ve finished reading this post? You won’t regret it! Let’s begin in Venice.

Venice 3

We started our journey in Venice, the fabled city steeped in rich maritime history. If it weren’t for the massive cruise ships that continuously dump hoards of day-trippers (34,000 average daily!) onto the islands and the exorbitant prices on everything, one would think they stepped back in time. I think Rick Steves said it best when he described Venice as “a Disneyland for adults”. Breathtaking architecture, museums, gelato and of course, the famous canals make Venice the perfect destination for a romantic getaway.

Venice 1 Venice 4

 

Amalfi 1

Um, wow. After extensive research on where to stay on the Amalfi Coast, we decided on Maiori, and couldn’t have been happier with our choice. Although the coast gets its namesake from the town of Amalfi, the insane amount of tour buses blocking the seafront makes Amalfi town proper a less appealing place to base yourself in for your visit. Maiori, Minori or Positano are definitely where it’s at for a relaxing stay on this breathtaking stretch of coast.

Amalfi 2

So, what to do? Depending on your mood, plenty or absolutely nothing. Hike the 1500 steps up from Minori to Ravello for panoramic views of the coast, take a boat trip to Capri for some truly incredible beaches, or simply sit back and enjoy the ambiance at many of the restaurants and cafes that abound this rocky stretch of heaven on earth.

Amalfi 3

 

Amalfi 4

 

Capri

Ah, Naples. One of the most ancient cities in Europe (founded in 470 BC!), this big, noisy, manic, beautiful, (and yes, appallingly dirty) city is a place that you’ve got to see with your own eyes, at least once. Divine Renaissance buildings covered in graffiti, romantic twisted lane ways strewn with garbage and dog shit and beautiful balconies and terraces crumbling to the brink of decay. You wonder how the citizens can stand it, but the fact is, the city itself is sadly cash-poor, with no budget in place for maintenance, let alone restoration projects. Oddly enough, it’s a charming place to explore.

Naples 1

The pizza is outstanding, the seafront is lovely with gorgeous views of hilltop castles and Mt. Vesuvius and the people- despite the warning of pickpockets and muggings- are as pleasant as you’d encounter in any metropolitan city. Go for the pizza and the chaos, explore for the day, rest for the night and head further down the coast for a bit of tranquility. Naples is unforgettable.

Have you been to Italy? What regions did you explore? It was really hard to narrow down where to go for a first time visit. After a long, cold, dark winter in Toronto, spending the majority of our time in the mid-southern region seemed the most appealing. An early Spring visit meant perfect weather for sightseeing. Visiting before peak season also meant lower accommodation prices and the benefit of way fewer tourists who haven’t yet embarked on summer holidays with family in tow. We never had to make a reservation at any restaurant (impossible during July and August) and pretty much had the city and seaside towns to ourselves, less the few eager travellers who booked with the same mindset as us. Perfetto!

Next on the bucket list? Milan, Cinque Terre and the beautiful Northern Lake District. Arrivederci!

Vacation Idea: San Francisco

San Fran- Golden Gate Bridge

On this dreary, snowy (SPRING?!) day in Toronto, I am seriously California Dreaming. If anyone else is craving a little much-deserved sunshine, may I suggest San Francisco? I had the pleasure of visiting this fine city a few years ago and hope to return someday soon. Sooo much to see! I didn’t take many pictures (too absorbed in my surroundings), but here are few of my favourite memories.

Enjoy! x

Above: If you visit San Francisco and don’t make the (wildly windy!) journey across the Golden Gate Bridge, there’s no hope for you. A touristy must!

San Fran- Chinatown

Did you know that San Francisco’s Chinatown is the oldest in North America? It’s a fascinating place with lots to see, shop for and marvel in. Get lost in the narrow back streets for the  afternoon. You won’t regret it!

San Francisco The Haight

I’ve always been fascinated with the 1960’s. It was a time of rapid cultural and political change in North America (free loving hippies, protests, human rights battles) and The Haight personifies this era in San Francisco. Sip a coffee and take in the wacky ambience of this virtual time warp.

San Fran- Telegraph Hill

The beauty of Telegraph Hill is literally breathtaking- it’s a steep 17.5 degree angle climb to the 275 ft top of the street! Take a hike and you’ll be rewarded by the sound of chirping feral parrots that live amongst the gorgeous bushes and trees.

San Francisco North BEach

Only one picture was taken in the North Beach neighboured of the San Francisco. Why? Because I was too busy stuffing my face at all the delectable Italian cafes and restaurants that are abound in this ‘hood. Go- and bring your fat pants! You’ll need them. #NomNomNom.

 

Have you visited San Francisco? What are your favourite memories?

 

Vacation Idea: Key West

When I think of Florida, the usual Sunshine State images come to mind: Disney World, sandy white beaches, Nascar, weird crimes , All-You-Can-Eat buffets, South Beach, outlet malls and of course, more Snowbirds than you can shake a cane at. Having never been to Key West, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I had plenty of time to ponder it on the 4 hour (breathtaking!) drive from Miami to the Southern Most Point in America.

Despite being part of the US, Key West has an undeniable “edge of the world” type feeling to it. Did you know it’s less than 200km to Havana? Pretty cool.

Accommodation: We chose Parrot Key, which is located a bit of out the downtown core, but we simply couldn’t resist the good reviews and stunning pictures of this tranquil, romantic resort. It didn’t disappoint- superb service, mouthwatering cocktails and perfect poolside ambience. Love this place!

Key West parrot key1

Old Town: Duval Street is the main drag of this funky seaside town, but we found most of the worthwhile action was located on the many side streets that make up the dense downtown core. Beautiful marinas and piers await you at every turn, so it’s definitely worth extending your treks to discover each one. The island is a renowned haven for artists, eccentrics and free-roaming chickens (!) that take to the streets to remind you that you’re definitely, certainly far, far from home. The best!

Food: Tropical paradise? Yes! Foodie paradise? No. Like any beach town, the dining options are limited. Expect burgers, fries and tons quasi pub food (try the conch fritters!) and you’ll be a happy (if bloated!) camper.

Key West Old Town

Beaches: Not a fan of white, powdery, perfect beaches? Stay far away from Key West. This place is perfection! Lots of people watching, beach bars and remote beaches to be discovered. To see the most, rent a bicycle from the many shops around town and get exploring. The whole town can be easily biked in one day- the entirety of Key West is only 19.17km!

Key West beachesandpiers Key West exlporingjpg

Have you been to Key West? What was your favourite discovery?

Weekend Destination: Quebec City

Quebec City

Me and the hubs decided to take a little getaway to a place that’s been on my bucket list for some time: Quebec City.

This 400 year old fortified town holds the title for the oldest city in Canada, with impressive examples of 16th and 17th century French architecture at every turn. It really does feel like you’re strolling through a beautiful European town, with a distinct Canadian flavour (maple syrup lollipops on ice, anyone?!).

lower town architrue

FOOD: Dieting and Quebec City is a recipe for misery. Flaky croissants, artisan breads and maple-sugar-coated-everything is practically futile to resist- so why try?! As a bonafide foodie, I was really excited for the gastronomical adventures that are abound here. Let me tell you- it didn’t disappoint!

The cafe culture in Quebec City is alive and well. Despite temps dipping to a crisp 5 degrees at nighttime, there were plenty of people seated on (heated) patios enjoying a candlelit dinner- whilst bundled up tightly in winter coats, scarfs and toques. We skipped this ritual for the charming bars and cozy restos, like the highly recommended Le Lapin Sauté. The cafeteria-esque plate the meal was served on doesn’t do the dish justice- it was incredible! Moist rabbit pie served with a massive salad and apricot side dish…nom nom nom. Every meal is served with complimentary crostini and olive tapenade, so skip the appetizer and splurge on their decadent desserts. Worth every caloric penny.

rabbit

WALLED TOWN: Call me ignat, but I wasn’t aware that the entire Upper Town is completely walled in (a defence wall left intact since the 1600s). The wall has strategic entrance points around the City, making entering and exiting a breeze. Old Town is divided in two parts: Upper Town and Lower Town.

Upper Town is home to most of the historic attractions like the Citadelle (worth the admission) Plains Of Abraham (free), the imposing Chateau Frontenac (the most photographed hotel in the world) and plenty of mostly Canadian (Le Chateau, Bedo, Simons, Roots) high street shopping.

Lower Town holds most of the restaurants, cafes and bars, peppered with galleries, museums and a spectacular waterfront. We visited the Musee de la Civilisation (interesting exhibits, striking building and gorgeous courtyard) and the Naval Museum (très boring) but were happy to discover both had free admission. The reason why was totally lost in translation, but coming from Toronto (where a $25 admission fee is nothing to blink at) this was an extremely rare (and much appreciated) discovery. Vive le Quebec libre!

histroy

THE VIEWS: Bring on the trite proverbs! The best things in life are free, and strolling around Quebec City is the perfect example of this- the views are spectacular! Climb to the top of the hill at the edge of Lower Town for a sweeping view of the waterfront, or burn some major calories and hike up Grande Allee for an afternoon drink and a stroll though the hilltop Plains of Abraham.

views

DETAILS: I love capturing the details that make a destination decidedly different from home. Simple, chic…so quintessentially French.

details

Have you been to Quebec City? What are your standout memories of this historic town? I’d love to know…