Category Archives: Europe

Potsdam, Germany

Neues Palais (New Palace)

What a week it’s been! Meeting new people from our other offices, walking tours, conference meetings and lots of food were all a part of the itinerary.

We flew into the Berlin – Tegel Airport and then made our way to Potsdam. Our accommodations were at the Dorint Hotel Sanssouci Potsdam and it was huge! There were several dining rooms, restaurants and quite a few amenities. It was a very comfortable stay.  The breakfast buffet was delicious with lots of options.

I was very glad to have stayed in Potsdam instead of Berlin because the pace of life was slower and more peaceful. During the day we did walking tours around the city and it’s beautiful. The architecture of buildings with the vast amounts of green space gave me a sense of relaxation. It was very inviting to go for a walk and just explore. We walked through the Sanssouci Royal Park and saw an array of buildings and palaces. The Sanssouci Palace is on top of the hill, overlooking vineyards and fruit trees. It was former summer palace of Frederik the Great, King of Prussia. Our guide explained that there weren’t any female servants or guests, making it the ultimate “man cave” in my opinion.

How could you not love this place with sights like this?

 

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Euro Trip Reflection

Happy Easter everyone! I’m very glad it’s a long weekend because I’m finally sitting down to catch up on my blog and have some relaxation time.

I’ve been wanting to create a map of all the places I went to in Europe and finally did that today. Now that I see it all in one picture – it’s a bit overwhelming to think that we visited over 30 cities in 13 countries in only nine weeks!

Euro trip places

List of Europe destinations from my trip

I remember this time last year, I had just resigned from my job and was still planning for our Euro trip. How quickly a year goes by. Looking back on things, I’m really glad I took that leap of faith and made my dreams for travelling a reality. It was a very hard and scary decision to make since I would be going into the unknown. Questions like these popped into my head constantly:

  • What if I ran out of money while on the road?
  • What if something happened to me and I got sick and couldn’t come go home?
  •  What if something happened at home and I had to cut my trip short?
  • What if I got in a fight with L? How would I handle travelling with her for the rest of the trip?

The “what if” questions kept of going and at some point, I realized I was asking myself the wrong questions because we had planned for the unexpected as much as we could. Money was budgeted and there was an emergency fund. We had gotten travel insurance for any medical emergencies and travel interruptions. We knew where we were staying and had gotten directions and maps ahead of time.

The planning took away a lot of the scary unknowns and I began to get more excited because I could start asking questions like:

  • What are we going to see in each city?
  • Who I’m going to meet in hostels?
  • What are my friends’ addresses? I want to send them a postcard!

I am very grateful to have had a travel buddy. It made doing everything and going to different places a lot more fun – whether we had gotten lost or we found some delicious local food. There was always someone to share the experience with.

From the places we visited to the people I had met, it was a very memorable trip and I can’t wait to go back to Europe in just over a week (even if it’s just for work).

What has been your most memorable trip? Let me know in the comments section.

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Berlin, here I come!

I will be travelling to Berlin and Potsdam next month and I’m super excited! The need to get on a plane has been strong over the last couple of months. Working with a European company is allowing me to make this trip where I will spend 5 days/4 nights at a company wide conference – details haven’t been sent out yet but my flight has been booked 🙂

I can’t wait for the food and beer in Germany again! Below are some of the foods I tried last time: pretzels, schnitzel, beers, currywurst, and apple strudel, Japanese (in Berlin), deep fried shrimp (in Munich) and so much more. I am ready for round 2.

German Food

German Food

 

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Day trip to Mont Saint-Michel

Mont Saint-Michel is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is located in the Normandy region of France. It is an island commune with a small population of permanent residents that boasts more than three million visitors a year. It becomes an island when the tide is high – also extremely dangerous to venture alone into the bay during these times.

L and I booked a day trip through Viator.com.  An early departure time of 7:00 AM from Paris got us into the town outside of Mont Saint-Michel at 11:30 AM. I have never been more excited to be on a bus for that long because when you drive towards the island, it slowly appears on the horizon and all of a sudden, it’s within reach.

Before taking the shuttle to Mont Saint-Michel, we stopped off for lunch (included in the tour price) at Restaurant Relais St-Michel. We dined on a three course meal starting with the famous local dish: omelettes. It was super fluffy and light but we weren’t sure what to make of it since it was served as an appetizer. The main course was salmon with vegetables and rice and then followed by dessert, blancmange with red berries. It was probably one of the better meals that we had had since arriving in Paris.

*Side note: restaurant meals in Paris were really expensive.

After eating, we were ready to take the shuttle bus to the island. For more information on other ways to access the island, click here. Having looked at beautiful pictures of the island for so long, I couldn’t believe we had arrived and was getting the opportunity to explore it for a couple of hours. It started with a one hour guided tour of the Abbey and surrounding areas. Everything was beautiful. We walked around the town after the  tour and took in the views. There were people in the bay, that looked like they were on a guided tour. The views were spectacular!

Visit Here
Mont Saint-Michel
50170 Le Mont-Saint-Michel, France
+33 2 33 60 14 30
http://www.ot-montsaintmichel.com
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Farmers’ Market in Paris

We were lucky to be in Paris on the weekend because there was a farmers’ market that I wanted to check out near the Bastille metro station. It was a nice change to get fresh food and meet locals. We got strawberries, a shwarma and a bottle of freshly squeezed juice. Sitting in the middle of market made me feel at home, since there are plenty of farmers markets in Toronto. I can’t wait for the markets to open up again in the summer.

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Exploring the Underworld in Paris

Paris, a place that people speak of when I think of romance, wine, cheese and baguettes. At least that’s what I thought until L mentioned to me that we could visit the Catacombs. I wasn’t familiar with the idea of it but decided it would be worth a visit. L likes places that are darker and more grim.

On the morning of, we woke up late and got to the Catacombs around 11:30am. Apparently this is the wrong time to arrive. The line-up was so long that it wrapped around the corner and we ended up standing there for two hours! However, it was worth the wait and the €10 admission fee (€8 for concession). The underground passage ways were well preserved and the bones were stacked in a respectful way. It seemed like the perfect resting place for them.

To get to the Catacombs, you need to climb down 130 steps and only 200 people are allowed to be down there at a time (that’s also why the line-up took so long – it depended on how fast people walked through there). The Catacombs were created because cemeteries were being closed due to the public health risks in the late 18th-early 19th centuries. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I found it peaceful and quiet down there.

This was definitely an experience that I will cherish. How often can you say you visited an underground cemetery?

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Eiffel Tower at night

Some of my favourite photos from visiting the Eiffel Tower at night. What a magical place – L was great company but I wish the bf had joined me.

 

 

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Kissing the Blarney Stone

We took a day trip to Cork and Blarney so that we can go kiss the Blarney Stone 🙂

We were picked up early in the morning by a bus from Extreme Island Tours.

For our first stop, we arrived in Cashel and visited the castle and church. It was a beautiful morning unlike the one we had in Carrickfergus.

Next we stopped off in Cork for lunch. Cork was a beautiful town and I wished we had more time to explore it. We saw Saint Finn-Barrs Cathedral (didn’t go in because there was mass happening) as well as going up to the bell tower. We got to ring the bell and had a great view of the town.

After spending time in Cork, we headed to Blarney to see the Blarney Castle & Gardens. The Blarney Stone was at the top of the castle. When we got to the top, L decided she didn’t want to kiss it because we had to lie on our back, reach over the hole and lean out to kiss it. It was quite the experience and then I thought about how many people had kissed it before me and it probably hasn’t been washed in a while, or for that matter, ever. There are many myths that surround the origin of the stone but many make the trek to kiss the stone to gain the gift of eloquence. Read more about it here.

After doing that, we wandered around the beautiful gardens, the poison garden, wishing steps and the witches kitchen. I can imagine how pretty it looks in the summer time with all the flowers in full bloom. Overall a fantastic day 🙂

Would you kiss the Blarney Stone?

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Can’t leave Dublin without visiting the Guinness Storehouse

This was on the list of must-do’s before leaving Dublin. Since the bf couldn’t make it to Europe, I tried to take as many photos as possible so that I could show him afterwards (he likes beer!).  We got to also pour our own pint of Guinness, which was awesome. I have a certificate to prove it!

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Exploring Dublin

From Belfast, we took a bus to Dublin that took only two hours. It always amazes me that in Europe, you can take a train/plane/bus and within a couple of hours, you can be in a completely different country.

We stayed at the Barnacles Templebar House Hostel in a six bed female dorm.  It was very well equipped with a bathroom within in the room and each bunk had their own outlets – something that we have learned are a commodity when sharing a room with others. It’s right next to the famous Temple Bar!

L really wanted to take a look at Trinity College so on an early morning, we made our way over and ended up going on a tour of the campus. The tour led by fellow a Trinity student was a delight. He had humour and interesting facts that kept the tour light and fun. That’s where we also met a older German couple who lives in Brampton: Helga and …… The husband saw my Canadian flag on my backpack and asked where in Canada we were from. We started chatting and I found out that they were originally from Berlin and had moved to Canada 30 years ago. Since we were going to make a stop in Berlin, I asked them what they would recommend that we see. What a lovely couple. We spent most of the time with them on the tour and eventually split up at the end. I love meeting new people and L just lets me talk to them, so she doesn’t have to most of the time.

After only being away from home for two weeks, I was really craving burritos. I had searched online for a place and came across the “Little Ass Burrito Bar” located close to Trinity College. We got there the first time and it was super busy so we didn’t get one. I was determined try a burrito but the second time we went back, it wasn’t open for another 30 mins. We couldn’t wait because we had to make it to the airport to catch a flight. While travelling, food was the one thing I didn’t expect I would crave so much. I guess I’d have to wait until another place to get a burrito 😦

I’m missing veggies. Since we’ve been on the road, we have been eating lots of pub food (especially fried stuff) or some variation of meat and potatoes. Restaurants in Dublin seem to also be overpriced so we decided to go to the grocery store and make our food. Pasta with veggies isn’t so bad when you make it yourself.

What do you miss the most when travelling?

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