Ciao Roma!

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I had the privilege of traveling to Rome with American Airlines for the first time earlier this month. It was my first time in Italy and I was beyond stoked to learn about the culture and visit all of the different monuments. Here are a few travel tips and recommendations if ever you’re thinking of going to Rome soon!

Planning & Preparation:

Download an Italian language app for your smartphone. What’s great about these is that you can use them without data/wifi, so if ever you’re stuck somewhere and you don’t know how to communicate, it’s easy to just pick up your phone and look up a few words. Here are two app recommendations: Italian, Italian LT. To have the extended app version, you have to pay a fee, but I realized that I did just fine with the free version. Plus you end up just picking up words by being there.

Book your TGV tickets in advance. If you’re going to be taking the Trenitalia, which is a TGV (fast-speed train) that goes to just about every big city in Italy, I recommend booking your tickets in advance just because you’ll save a lot of money if you do so. The Trenitalia website is in both English and Italian, so no worries if you haven’t brushed up on your Italian before leaving. I booked my train tickets 1-2 months in advance, and I got a really good rate to get from Rome to Naples. It was 19 Euros a person per way. The train is a really good traveling option if you don’t want to pay too much and also have some bigger distances to do. I went from Rome to Naples, which is approx 230 km apart in an hour with the TGV. Plus they also have free wifi onboard and at the train station. If you already have your ticket purchased in advance, just bring it with you on the train, and a controller will scan it once you’re onboard. You don’t need to arrive more than 30 minutes in advance because sometimes you won’t even get your track number until 10 minutes before departure.

Think of using Airbnb. Airbnb is pretty much the only way we travel now. It’s most often cheaper than renting a hotel room plus you’ll end up getting either a full apartment with kitchenette, balcony, etc. or just more space for yourself and the people you’re travelling with. Also, it’ll help you get away from the tourist areas and stay more where locals live, which is to me, the best way to do it. That way, you get a much better sense of the every day life in the city you’re traveling to.

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Tips for while you’re there:

Don’t tip. Tax & tip is included in everything you pay so you don’t need to leave tip to a cab driver, at the restaurant, bar, etc. Italians love tourists because most of them don’t know that and they always end up leaving tip. You can obviously leave a bit extra if you’ve received outstanding service, but that might be few and far between.

Watch out for cab drivers. Cab drivers are renown for screwing over tourists in Rome. A trip from the airport to downtown Rome should cost you 49 Euros, not more! It’s a flat rate. Also, make sure you show them the exact address you’re going to, or they may drop you off at the wrong place and leave you stranded there (it happened to us!). Make sure they also don’t hide their meter if you’re going to take a cab while you’re going from place to place in the city. They tend to try anything they can to add more fees to the meter (luggage fees, random extra fees… anything really!). The taxicab should have its rate written on the side of their door outside or inside the cab. Also make sure they take you to your final destination… like all the way. Some of the streets in Rome are really tiny but most cars can still pass through. We had one of our drivers, just drop us off and tell us she couldn’t go further, when we first got to Rome with our suitcases. It turned out to be complete bs!

Keep an eye out for your belongings. Though I found Rome to be a lot safer than most places in France, if you’re going to be spending time in train stations or going to tourist attractions, just make sure you always keep an eye on your wallet, purse, phone, etc. Being aloof might result in you losing some of your personal belongings. That said, no need to get paranoid. Just be more vigilant than at home.

Don’t ask for bread. They’ll charge you for it! If you’re from France, Canada or the US, usually when you go to a restaurant, if they bring a bread basket to the table, without you asking they won’t charge you for it. Even if you ask for it, they usually don’t charge you for it (unless you’re at some of those new ultra hipster restaurants in Toronto – lame!). In Rome, whether you ask for bread or not, if the server brings you some to the table, you will most likely end up paying for it, and sometimes up to 4 Euros, which is insane because that’s $6 CAN. They’ll also charge you for your water, since tap water isn’t recommended, you’ll end up paying for water bottles in restaurants.

Ask for wifi. Pretty much every restaurant or bar in Rome have what they call “wifi zones”, which basically mean they have wifi in their restaurant for tourists. So just make sure you ask them for the network and password when you sit down. They may want to type it in themselves so that you don’t know the password and don’t share it with the rest of your friends or family you’re traveling with.

Things to do & where to eat/drink:

The Pantheon, Forum, Trevi Fountain, Colosseum & Piazza di Navona – are just some of the amazing landmarks located in Rome and that are all worth visiting. What’s great is that you can see most of these attractions without paying a dime. You’ll also get a lovely view of the city if you go up to the forum. What baffled me was just how many historic buildings are in Rome, each corner you turn more appear. Most of these buildings are also accompanied with description plates so that you can know what era they’re from and the history behind it.

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Espresso – The famous $1 can definitely be found in Rome and it’s strong! The best way to accompany it with is with one of their nutella or custard filled croissants. Absolutely the best way to start the day.

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Piazza Della Pacce – a great little area located close to Piazza Navona, but a lot less touristy and that has a lot of great restaurants to choose from.

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Frigidarium Gelato – hands down the best place for gelato in the city. There is always a big line up around the corner for this place. It’s located not to far from Piazza Della Pacce. You can get a HUGE cone with two different types of freshly homemade gelato and free white or milk chocolate dipping for a whopping 3 Euros. The owner will even suggest flavor combinations. Just make sure you don’t order Baccio and Limon together, it’s apparently frowned upon hah!

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Tapas – between 5 and 7 pm, a lot of bars in the city serve free tapas to their customers. They serve anything from olives to pizzas, potato dishes, etc. Most of them are really yummy. If you’re looking for a cheap way to eat dinner, this could definitely be an option.

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Cul De Sac – located close to Piazza Navona, hands down the best local restaurant in Rome. It’s been around forever and serves tapas style shareable plates, have a great selection of wine and cheese and a really cute atmosphere. The restaurant is relatively cheap but make sure you either reserve in advance or show up pretty early or it’ll be packed and you will have to wait for a while before getting a table.

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Madonna Dei Monti – the upcoming hipster area of the city. This area isn’t too big but it’s filled with lot’s of cool shops, small boutique hotels, arts markets and bars.

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Hope you enjoyed this blog! Stay tuned for my next travel post on – Capri!

New SoCal Faves

Last month, I was able to spend a few days in my favorite place on earth – Southern California. It’s always so lovely seeing all of my friends, discovering new places to eat and shop as well as spending time surfing at the beach. Didn’t do too much shopping on this past trip, so the following post will be more of a #foodporn post. Like I did with my last travel post (see here), here are some of my new favorite things about SoCal.

1 – Ace Hotel – When I went last month, the hotel had opened a few weeks prior. The Ace Hotel is a small chain of hotels, they can be found in New York City, Palm Springs, Portland and most recently Los Angeles. It is located in the historic United Artists building in downtown LA. I had the pleasure of going to their new bistro LA Chapter. Not only were the food and drinks incredibly tasty, the atmosphere was very chic yet also laid back and also we had the funniest waiter. The menu was original and fairly priced. After dinner, I took a tour of the hotel. I loved all the books and music in the lobby, everything about the building was absolutely beautiful. I highly recommend checking out the hotel, if not for a stay then for a brunch, lunch or dinner. You can make reservations easily via Open Table.

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2 – Urth Caffé – Alright, this place isn’t a new place but it’s become a staple when I’m in Los Angeles. I purposely plan my day around the different Urth locations in and around Los Angeles. Honestly, the perfect spot for breakfast, lunch and even dinner. It opens super early in the morning and stays open until late at night. Some of my Urth favs: Almond Milk Green Tea Latte, the Urth Salad, any of their croissants, the Coconut Pound Cake and their homemade granola. My mouth waters, as I write this post. I think I’ve developed an addiction to Urth Caffé!!

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3 – Veggie Grill – Is a chain of vegetarianvegan and gluten free restaurants that serve food cafeteria style. I knew one of their latest locations had just opened up in Carlsbad, so I took the opportunity to pay them a visit. They have a very extensive menu, great homemade drinks and pride themselves in only serving healthy food that is good for the mind and body. I ordered the Crispy Chickin’ Plate as well as a side order of their Mac N’ Cheese. Both plates were very filling and all tasted pretty good. You can get a good meal for under $15. My favorite was their cauli mashed potatoes!

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4 – Los Feliz – Is a new area I got to explore on this past trip located just west of Hollywood. It’s a beautiful neighborhood with lot’s of pretty homes as well as a little “downtown” area located on Vermont Street with plenty of super cute shops, bookstores and yummy restaurants. I checked out the French bistro Le Figaro for brunch. They offered all the best typical French specialties and also had a counter section, where you could buy baked goods and desserts to go. I wish I could have spent more time in the area, it’s definitely on my list of places to go back to on my next visit.

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5 – Laurel Hardware – Is a trendy relatively new restaurant and bar located on Santa Monica Blvd in Hollywood. I met up with friends there for dinner one night. There are two rooms and an incredibly big patio at the back. The first room is quieter and has a more “dinning room” vibe where as the back room has a lot more of a “bar” feel to it. Lot’s of local models, musicians and young entrepreneurs have been seen flocking to this place. The night I went, the place was definitely filled with lot’s of young and beautiful people. Small but solid food and drink menu. The menu contained lot’s of sharing plates including many vegetarian options. I loved their open kitchen concept as well as the fresh flowers and candles that were on each table.

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All in all, another incredibly memorable trip with tons of new discoveries!

Till next time SoCal!

Miami Vice

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I got a much needed with break from winter last month when I spent a few days in one of my favorite long weekend destinations: Miami. As expected, the sunshine and heat was there to welcome us. Here are a few things worth your time on your next visit:

1 – Standard Miami Beach

We spent our first 24hrs at the Standard Hotel located on one of the islands in Miami Beach. I loved their remote location because it was far removed from the noisy south beach strip yet still close enough to restaurants, entertainment, etc. I absolutely loved everything about my experience at the hotel. The lobby was beautiful (loved the ping pong and foosball table), the room was simple yet super comfy, the gardens were lush, the pool had a superb view as the hotel is located right on the water, the restaurant (especially the brunch!!!) was delicious, the spa was super relaxing, the juice bar was a nice little touch and I loved all the activities they had available for guests (SUP, Yoga, etc.). I recommend booking a spa treatment with them even if you’re just going for the day. You’ll be able to do their steam rooms, saunas, etc. afterwards and will also have access to their pool. It’s also really fun to walk around from one island to the other since you’re already on one of them (Belle Isle to be exact!). It’s so fun to see all the beautiful homes and boats on each island.

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2 – Joe’s Stone Crab

Make sure you check out this South Beach institution, whether you’re a fan of stone crab or not, it’s totally worth the experience. It’s first come first served so either show up right at 5pm or be prepared to wait 2-3hrs, which is what we did but was well worth it. The restaurant is absolutely humungous and so is their food. But everything that they make and serve is made in house or caught fresh. I recommend ordering some stone crab, wearing the bib, also ordering a few side dishes and a homemade dessert to enjoy the full experience.

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3 – Renting a scooter

Everyone rides around in a scooter in Miami. It’s a super cheap way to get around not only South Beach but also Miami Beach, Bal Harbour, North Beach, etc. There are many places to rent scooters, we rented ours from Beach Scooter Rentals, on Washington ave. just below 14th ave. They have more than one location in South Beach. We got a cool looking Vespa for $80 USD for 24hrs that came with two helmets (no one wears a helmet in Miami!!) and a lock. We even got to take it to our apartment overnight. What’s amazing about having a scooter is that it costs $5 to fill up the tank of gas! Having a scooter allowed us to explore the area a lot more!

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4 – Miami Watersports Paradise

@Offner and I are always looking for fun activities to do when we travel. For a while now, he’s been wanting to go wakeboarding and while we were at Otentic (the best French restaurant in Miami! Check out the dessert platter below – bonjour le Café Gourmand!! You have to go check out their new location!!), the owner told us about a buddy of his that owned a watersport company right at the pier. So we hit him up for a two hour session. What’s great is that you don’t really need to bring anything other than your bathing suit. He gives you a life jacket, the board and teaches you how to do it. He’s really patient and super friendly. Not only did we get to do some amazing wakeboarding (it was my first time and I’m now hooked!!), he also gave us a super cool tour of the islands in his boat. It was really special because it was just the instructor, Offner and I! He also offers wakesurfing classes, tubing, etc. So much fun!!

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5 – The Beach

No matter how many times I go to Miami, the thing I love the most is the beach. The clear warm water, the tropical fish you see when you’re swimming, the long stretches of sand, the boardwalk… it’s perfect! Even in mid-February, the water was in the high seventies. A little chilly to get in, but once you’re in, it’s super refreshing. Swimming in the ocean has always been my favorite thing to do ever since I was a kid. I would spend my entire day in the water playing games, paddling around, swimming laps, etc. I think I’ve always stayed a kid at heart because the ocean still brings me so much joy. If you’re going to Miami, the beach will most likely be where you will want to spend most of your time. You will also definitely want to invest in either buying, brining or renting a parasol if you’re going between April-November. It gets REALLY hot on the beach!

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The more I go to Miami, the more I love it! Yes, there’s the very show off, lound music, crazy side to the city but there’s also a much quieter, local kind of vibe that you get if you explore a bit. Can’t wait to be back!!

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France, je t’aime! pt 2

When traveling to France, the two things most people have in mind are: shopping and eating! Here were some of my favorite places to shop and stuff my face in Paris, Lyon, Les 2 Alpes and Bretagne from my recent trip to France!

Cool shops

Obviously France is like the shopping mecca of the world, so these are some of my recent favs:

Springsioux, Paris – the raddest up and coming rock n’ roll Parisian brand. They’ve got badass jewelry, tees and accessories and also carry some incredibly unique pieces from young designers from across Europe. They have a dreamy shop in Le Marais and hold events at least once a week, which usually either includes champagne or Caesars! WHERE: 4e arrondissement.

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The Kooples, Paris – you may have heard of this shop before. @Offner first introduced me to the brand last year. They have such beautiful pieces. I love the entire concept behind the store… Now if only I had more money!! WHERE: There are shops located pretty much in every arrondissements in Paris and shops also in Lyon.

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Les Galeries Lafayette, Paris – a classic if you’re in Paris. Basically, it’s like an enormous Holt Renfrew that carries the most high end brands and that is always beautifully decorated all year round! WHERE: 9e arrondissement

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American Retro, Paris – a super rad shop that carries edgy fashion pieces that are usually very colorful. They’re trendy with a twist. WHERE: There are a few different shops in Paris.

Auchan, Lyon – you won’t really find any clothes there but it’s my favorite spot to buy groceries!! They have such a HUGE selection of fresh products, cheese, vegetarian options, cookies, etc. Each time I go to the store, I want to buy everything! Think of a Costco with lot’s more fresh products and selection and a lot cheaper!! @Offner even found a friend there!! WHERE: everywhere in France!

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Where to eat

Let’s be honest, France has probably the most amazing food EVERYWHERE, so here are just some of places I liked on this past trip:

Tata Burger, Paris – they’ve got the biggest burger made to look like a penis! Yup! The food and atmosphere is pretty wild and super fun! WHERE: 4e arrondissement

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LA Favorite, Paris – very trendy and beautiful looking bistro in the 4e arrondissement. They had the best vin chaud! Yummy salads and desserts! WHERE: 4e arrondissement

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Casa San Pablo, Paris – a Spanish tapas restaurant that’s incredibly cheap and super yummy! Loved the traditional decor. WHERE: located in the 4e arrondissement, right by the Place Sainte-Catherine.

L’épicerie, Lyon – My favorite spot for lunch or for the “goûter”, they’ve got the best tartines and homemade desserts. Yum, I can almost still taste it in my mouth! WHERE: Bellecour, on the presqu’île.

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Pique-Nique en ville, Lyon – A super small and quaint restaurant that serves a great “formule midi”, otherwise known as an appetizer, main and dessert at a fixed price, which is very common throughout France. Absolutely loved their pasta and wine selection. WHERE: Presqu’île

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Abel, Lyon – one of the oldest bistros in the city that was founded in 1928. The place is also called a “bouchon Lyonnais”, which is a place where they serve traditional Lyonnais food, including the Quenelle, etc. WHERE: Presqu’île

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Le Cellier, Les 2 Alpes – For the best “montagnard” food, ie. the food of the mountains, the specialty in that area. They serve an amazing tartiflette, raclette, gratin de crozets, fondue, grilled meats, etc! I love their traditional ski chalet type decorations!

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Crêperie, Bretagne – While you’re in the region, you’ll want to order a freshly made sweet crêpe or even a savoury crêpe otherwise known as a “galette de sarrasin” usually filled with veggies, cheese and or meat, accompanied by a “bolée de cidre“. You’ll also want to order a “Flan Breton” or “Far Breton” to get an authentic dessert. They are so delicious and buttery! WHERE: There are crêperies located in every small town in Bretagne and are all equally tasty.

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Paul – a chain of patisseries that serve all sorts of yummy goodness! They’re now even located at rest areas on the highway and in train stations, they’re like the tim hortons of France but without all the chemicals and crap in their food. They serve salads, sandwiches, quiche, desserts, yummy drinks, etc. WHERE: Anywhere in France

Any patisserie or boulangerie in the area you will be staying will serve you amazing fresh bread, pastries and cakes. The perfect and cheapest place to have breakfast in the morning!

Also, I highly recommend getting cheese from the weekly market or some of the amazing local shops that always feature cheese made from the region. You can get great quality cheese for very cheap and encourage local producers.

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If you like macarons (for some reason, I just can’t get into them!), you’ll want to stop by Pierre Hermé, the best macarons in Paris! WHERE: Several locations across the city.

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*NOTE*: If you’re a vegetarian like me, I hope you like cheese, bread, pastries and salad because as I’m sure you know, a lot of the French cuisine revolves around meat. So you’ll need to find substitutes to meat for your meals. Even when you ask for a vegetarian salad or sandwich, from experience, they have the reflex of offering you fish or seafood. That said, you can survive! I’ve never eaten so much and so well in my life as I have in France!

Well there you have it! Hope this travel post was insightful! Let me know if you have any food or shopping recommendations for my next trip to France!

Writing this blog makes me miss France even more!! Can’t wait to return!

France, je t’aime! pt 1

This blog post was long overdue! I can’t believe that Offner and I have been back from Friday for almost two months now. It seems like just yesterday I was getting ready for this three week long adventure.

My trip was a little different this year. Since we had more time, we decided to explore more places than we had last December. On the itinerary: Paris, Bretagne, Lyon, Les 2 Alpes & St-Etienne. Here’s a little resume of our amazing adventure as well as tips for any of you going to France soon!

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Getting there

Because we were able to book our flights almost four months in advance we were able to find a super cheap deal with Orbitz for multi-destination trip with Air France. I really enjoy using Orbitz as a search engine when booking flights as they always have good selection for Europe, you can easily compare prices with other airlines and they’re booking is hassle-free, no hidden fee bullshit! We flew from Toronto -> Paris direct and on the way home we did Lyon -> Paris -> Montreal (It’s impossible to get a direct flight from Lyon to Toronto/Montreal). I was really excited to fly with Air France again since I hadn’t flown with them since I was a kid. I know the airline has made great strides in improving the quality of their service in the last couple of years, especially since that unfortunate crash in 2009. I was able to organize everything before my flight easily on their website. I was able to chose our seats, my vegetarian meal as well as get our boarding passes all sorted out before even arriving at the airport. The in-flight service was top notch! I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of my vegetarian meal as well as Offner’s fish selection. I appreciated the fact they gave us quality wine and champagne as well a balanced meal. Air France also had a great selection of movies and entertainment options available that made the 7hr overnight flight a lot more bearable. Leg room was decent, the only negative comment I’d have was that the seats were really hard, they could have been a little more cushiony.

Traveling while in France

We opted for different modes of transportation to get to the different areas we were traveling to. We took the TGV from Paris to get to Rennes, where we spent two days with my family. I highly recommend using this mode of transportation for quick, painless travels across the country. I had booked the tickets online in November and they were 29 Euros per person for the one-way. They also have complimentary wifi on the train and at the train station while you wait. Instead of taking us 4hrs to get to Rennes by car, it choped the travel time in half.

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One thing you need to remember is that if you’re renting a car, most places will be closed on Sundays, so since we were arriving on a Sunday in Rennes, we had to find a car at the airport. It was a 20 Euro cab ride from the train station to the airport in Rennes and the car rental place only opened at 1:30pm (more like 1:45pm France time :p) and was open for 4hrs. That said, we had tried to get a car through a website where individuals rent their personal vehicles (a cheaper option and worth looking into!) but unfortunately that fell through.

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We then flew from Rennes to Lyon. It was a 1hr flight. Though Rennes doesn’t have a very big airport, they have a few flights every day going to different areas in France and even to other countries in Europe. We took Air France’s regional jet HOP!, not only was the flight cheaper than the TGV but it also reduced our traveling time from 8hrs to 1hr. It was really a no-brainer for us.

While we were in Lyon and Paris, we also used the subway system a lot. It is super efficient and cheap. Also, you can use Uber taxi in Paris if you’re looking to get somewhere rather quickly but be prepared to dish out quite a lot of cash for cabs in Paris!

Where to stay

Offner and I are really lucky because we get to stay with family and friends while we’re in France. That said, we didn’t want to spend the entire three weeks crashing on people’s couches so we opted for our favorite type lodging: Airbnb. We spent one night in a Campanile, which is a big chain of environmentally friendly hotels that you can find across France. They’re a cheap alternative if you’re on a budget and hotels are more your thing. Though we could have stayed in a handful of different hotels, we opted to stay at cute little lofts/apartments in the neighbourhoods that we really liked. In Paris, we opted for Le Marais and in Lyon, La Croix Rousse. Both are safe and beautiful areas with lot’s to do and amazing food to eat!

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Some must-see spots from my trip

Paris

Le pont des amoureux

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Le Marais

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La Place des Vosges

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Le Louvre

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L’Île St-Louis

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Notre-Dame de Paris, the Eiffel Tower (duh!), les Champs Élysées, Place, Sainte-Catherine, etc.

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Lyon

Vieux Lyon

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Place Bellecour

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L’Opéra de Lyon

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Place des Terreaux, presqu’île de Lyon, Croix Rousse, Confluences, etc.

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La Bretagne – I may have a little bias towards this region of France because it’s where my mom’s family is from but it’s a beautiful small region that has much to offer. If you’re going to make the trek up there, I recommend you visit the following places: Dinard, Dinan and St-Malo. All three historic towns with beautiful scenery. While you’re there, you gotta eat “galette de sarrasin” the best salty crêpes on the planet as well as a bowl of traditional cider and my favorite dessert: le flan Breton! Also, if you like butter, you’re in for a treat! They put butter on EVERYTHING! Make sure you bring an umbrella with you, as it tends to drizzle (they call it “crachat breton”) quite a bit there.

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Les 2 Alpes – everything about this ski village and station is amazing! Unlike most Intrawest or big ski stations, Les 2 Alpes has kept the old school small village feel. It’s not too loud and too touristy. Though there are people that ski there from all over Europe, the people it attracts are a little older or families. That said, there are really cool bars in the small town, local wine and cheese producers, markets, a small cinema, amazing restaurants and all the ski equipment your heart desires! The daily lift ticket is 42 Euros and includes insurance in case you get hurt or something happens, which is incredibly cheap for such a huge resort as compared to lift tickets here.  Recommendation: Stay an extra day to go hiking in the mountains beside the village, it’s breathtaking. Also, you can ski at Les 2 Alpes almost all-year-round. In the summer, you can ski on top of the glacier and then go golfing or swimming in the nearby lake. Sounds dreamy!

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Stay tuned for Pt 2 of my France travel blog featuring some of my favorite places to eat and shop in France. Coming soon!!

 

 

Stowe

Last month I had the opportunity to return to one of my favorite little towns in the north eastern United States: Stowe, Vermont.

As a kid, I loved going to Stowe because it was where the Von Trapps (oh yes, from the classic movie The Sound Of Music) had ended up when they immigrated to the United States. Also, it was magical because we used to stay at the Sun & Ski Motor Inn (now renamed the Sun & Ski Suites) and they had a beautiful reading room with a fireplace, a bunch of teddy bears and board games that my sister and I would always spend our nights playing. We’d go probably go to Stowe once a season because it was just two hours away from where I grew up!

What’s amazing about this quaint little area is that it’s beautiful all year round. Being in Stowe is all about being outdoors, enjoying nature, the mountains, the lake and relaxing. I was therefore really excited to be back for another visit.

Stowe is easy to get to! From Toronto, you can take a 1hr direct flight with Porter Airlines to Burlington. Once you get to Burlington, you can either drive 30mins or get a shuttle from one of the resorts to pick you up. If you’re coming from Montreal, it’s also only a 2h30 drive.

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Here are some of my favorite things about Stowe:

Mount Mansfield: The highest mountain in Vermont (4,393 ft or 1,339 m) located at 10 minutes by car from the Stowe Village. It’s not only a beautiful mountain by amazing ski resort. It’s decked out with the latest lift and ticketing technology, has several rad snowparks, great skiing conditions and an amazing view from the top!

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Black Cap Coffee: Located in the Stowe Village, this coffee shop is relatively new in town and it seems to be where everyone now comes to get their coffees. What I loved about this place is not only did it serve great drinks (they have super creative versions of of hot apple cider, Snickers Bar lattes, etc.) but they’re also a place where people can make crafts and by crafts I mean jewellery and pottery. They also serve some in-house snacks and sell a few local products at the front. Everyone there is also super friendly and laid back!

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Depot Street Malt Shop: A Stowe classic. It’s been around ever since I can remember. Though my mom never really let us eat junk food at home, she was definitely  fan of this 50s Elvis-inspired diner. I would always have their sandwiches with pickles and chips or some of their amazing sundaes or milkshakes. They play lot’s of Elvis music and the decor is super cute and authentic.

Recreational Path: It’s an internationally renown 5.5 mile paved greenway where people walk, jog, bike, cross-country ski, snowshoe, etc. all year. It runs along little rivers and has spots where you can even go for a swim. It’s the perfect spot to pinic, relax, bounce rocks, take photos and even take naps. Everyone on the path always says hello and always seems to be in a good mood. I’ve taken the path countless times and always find it so beautiful!

Free shuttle service! That’s right, there’s a few shuttle that goes around the Stowe village, to all the hotels, bed & breakfasts, to the main streets and also all the way to the mountain

Cold Hollow Cider Mill: A classic as you’re driving into Stowe from Waterbury. It’s where you’ll find a ton of local products: jams, mustards, spices, hot sauces, all the maple syrup products and of course apple products. What’s amazing about this shop is that you can taste everything they’re selling and you can also see at the back where they make their fresh apple cider. They also have the best apple cider donuts! They are to die for!

TopNotch Resort: They just spent the past couple of months completely renovating this beautiful hotel and resort. They’ve got amazing tennis courts, beautiful outdoor pools, jacuzzis, new fire pits and brand new state of the art and relaxing spa, two new restaurants, new condo units, etc. I had never stayed at the resort before but was really surprised with not only all the great facilities but also their proximity to the mountain, the good food and overall relaxing atmosphere. If you’re to book a night there, you must use their spa facilities, they’re fantastic!

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Other good lodging options are:

Golden Eagle Resort if you’re looking for something a little less fancy or the Sun & Ski Suites

Stowe Mountain Lodge is the most beautiful mountain resort I’ve seen in a while. The lobby is so beautifully decorated. They’ve got an amazing outdoor pool and spa open all-year-round, are right by the mountain and have great restaurants! I really hope to be able to stay there at some point longer than just a few hours!

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Von Trapp Family Lodge for the super duper traditional Stowe experience. They’ve got great wine tasting activities, sports and the Von Trapps still make all the baked goods apparently!

Other things you can do while in Stowe: visit the Ben & Jerry‘s ice cream factory, rent rollerblades from AJ’s ski & sports (I used to do that every summer as a kid!), go swimming at The Water Hole, check out a show or film at the new Spruce Peak Performing Arts Centre, go canoeing at the reservoir lake, etc.

Also, if you’re driving to and from Stowe, it’s always a good idea to stop in Burlington on your way there or back home. It’s a beautiful typical New England town located right on the Lake Champlain. As a kid we’d take a ferry over to New York from Burlington. It’s got great restaurants and bars, a lovely waterfront bike path and some cool museums.

So happy to have gone back to Stowe! Can’t wait for my next visit!

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Holiday Adventure

Today is the day I leave for my month long adventure with @offner! So grateful to be traveling with him again! Excited to be visiting three different countries during this upcoming trip. We’ll be spending the first two and a half weeks in France, followed by a few days back in Canada then off to the US for some snowboarding!

I will be taking a little blogging break during my trip but will post as many updates as a can while on the road. I will also have a full recap with some of my favorite hot spots when I get back, so stay tuned!

Wishing you all a wonderful start to your holidays!!

xo

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T – 7 #DailyOutfit

Yup, only 1 week left before my trip to France. Thrilled! That said, I will miss my city while I’m away. Yesterday, I had the chance to going to an event located at the Steamwhistle Roundhouse, which is right beside the CN Tower. I’ve always been fascinated by this enormous structure. When I first moved to Toronto, it would always help me orient myself in the city and find my way home, something I really appreciated. I also love that they light it up in so many colors all-year-round. The thing you learn from traveling a lot is to really appreciate the time you’re at home and your city. I never had that feeling while I was living in Montreal, I used to get panic attacks when my airplane would be circling over the city to land but in Toronto, I always have a sense of comfort whenever I get back. So I will miss you Toronto!

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For today’s outfit, it’s black and burgundy with some silver accessories. I don’t have nearly as many silver jewels as I have gold jewels but once in a while, I like wearing only silver for the day.

So excited for the Song Of Style for eLUXE event tomorrow evening! Will I be seeing you there?

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 Photos by @Offner

Anine Bing boots with silver studs (get them here)

TOPSHOP Moto Wine Supersoft Skinny Leigh Jeans (get them here)

Uranium White Stripes tee

Verameat Mermaid Sword Yes silver necklace (get it here)

Springsioux Horns Ring (get it here)

Springsioux Lady Muerte ring (get it here)

The 2 Bandits large Naja bangle (get it here)

Karl Lagerfeld ’7′ Beveled Bezel Bracelet Watch (get it here)

 

Thank you Toronto!

4 years ago today, I made the best decision of my life thus far – I packed my bags in Montreal and moved to Toronto in search of a more fulfilling life and I’ve never looked back. To my family and friends, it may have seemed (and still does!) like a spurt of the moment decision (I got rid of my apartment, sold all of my furniture, found a new job and found an apartment in Toronto in less than 3 weeks) but for me, it was something I was longing to do for a long time. I’ve learned that in life, sometimes you just have to go for it. Though you never know where the next adventure may take you, if you don’t try you won’t know. Life’s too short, not to risk things. At what’s the worst that can happen anyway? You fail? That’s a part of life… at the very worst, it’s a good learning experience and you grow from it. Luckily for me, the move was even better than I had anticipated!

Thank you Toronto for having been my home during these 4 amazing years. I’ve learned and grown so much from being in such a multicultural and vibrant city. I’ve also met some of the very best people. You’ve changed my life for the better and I’m forever grateful!

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Purple & Grey #DailyOutfit

Best tweet read this morning: “Wow, I love Mondays. Said no one ever.” This couldn’t be truer! Mondays are always so hard, no matter where you work! I think the cold weather is also making me want to hibernate even more.

I’m staying motivated knowing that I have an amazing trip coming up in just over a month. In December, I get to go back to France for over two and a half weeks. I’ve always loved going to France and seeing my family but now my trips are even more special since I have a French boyfriend. On this upcoming trip, we’ll be going to Paris, Bretagne, Lyon and Les 2 Alpes. Can’t wait to celebrate the holidays over there! So exciting!! I will be blogging about our trip while we’re there and upon my return. Stay tuned!

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I also can’t wait to go shopping in Paris again. Any new shop recommendations? Looking forward to adding unique Parisian pieces to closet again this year. The long sleeve shirt I’m wearing today, is one I got on the Champs Élysées last year. I love the faux leather shoulder pads!

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Zara long sleeve shoulder pad shirt

Biko Jewellery Kyma Neckkace (get it here)

Forever 21 accordeon pleated purple skirt (similar one here)

Urban Outfitters knee high socks

Helloberry mini smoothie bracelet (get them here)

Bing Bang Wanderlust cuff (get it here)

Vanessa Mooney Little Ways Gold Bracelet (get it here)

Biko black chainmaille bracelet (get it here)

Zara laced ankle boots with block heel (get them here)