Paris, always a good idea!

I remember being in Paris for the first time: I was six and I immediately fell in love with this city.

Since that time I have come back to the French capital in different occasions, and I had the opportunity to explore this amazing city.

Exactly one year ago, I came to Paris with my boyfriend to celebrate our first anniversary together and, even if it could sound like a clique, Paris is not only an incredibly romantic place to spend time with your love one, but it’s also a city that offers everything you could wish for: good food, cultural exhibitions, amazing walks and entertainment.

TRAVEL TO PARIS – FRANCE

  1. AIRPLANE to Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport (airlines such asTAP or British Airways flight there)
  2. TRAINto Paris (from London it is about 2 hours and it costs between £60/75€/85$ and £120/150€/$170)

From the airport to Paris

  1. TRAIN RER BFROM Paris CDG Airport to Paris takes around 45 minutes and it costs £7.90/10€/$11 (adult fare)

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Whatever you’re looking for Paris is always a good idea, and here there are some tips to enjoy a three day trip in one of the most inspiring cities of the world:

FIRST DAYLouvre museum (ticket: £12/15€/$17), Notre Dame (ticket: £2.4/€3/$3.40 full price/ under 26: £1.6/2€/$2.30) and Les Marais.

Breakfast at Angelina

Angelina is an elegant café situated in Rue Rivoli, very close to the Louvre museum. This is the perfect place to start your first day in Paris. The breakfast menu is very rich and it is not easy to decide between pastries, omelettes and croissants. I suggest you to try the hot chocolate (one of their specialties): it’s the best way to fully enjoy a Parissienne breakfast experience!

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Berthillon: the best ice-cream in the city

Enjoy a nice 20 minutes walking from the Louvre to Notre Dame and you’ll reach one of the most suggestive places of Paris: “Ile de la citè”, a small land surrounded by the Sienna River. Especially in the summer, you cannot miss what it is considered the best gelato place in the town: Le Berthillon. Be prepared to queue outside, but I assure you it will be worth it: I’ve tried the vanilla and raspberry flavors and it was one of the best ice-creams I have ever had!

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Romantic evening at Le Pompidou 

Museum ticket price: £11/13.80€/$15.50/ reduced: £8.7/€11/$12.30)

Le Pompidou is the most famous museum of contemporary art in Europe and it is interesting to visit it also for admiring its particular architecture. Le pompidou is located in Les Marais, a place where is nice to have a walk to enjoy the suggestive atmosphere of the city by night.

 

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Le Georges restaurant: In the last floor of the museum there is a restaurant that offers an amazing view of the city: the ideal place to enjoy a romantic cocktail with an amazing view!

Chez Omar, the best couscous in town: Chez Omar is a small Moroccan style restaurant located in Le marais.

SECOND DAY: Disneyland Paris (ticket price: £51/64€/$72 – one day ticket) 

Make your dreams come true and enjoy a magical experience surrounded by Disney attractions. Walking inside the princess’s castle and flying with Peter Pan made me feel like a child for one day.

The park is full of different attractions, shops, restaurants and various exhibitions that take place during the day.

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TRAVEL TO DISNEYLAND

From Paris to Disneyland

  1. TUBE – it is the best way to go from central Paris to the Park. The stop is Marne La Vallèe-Chessy and it takes about 45 minutes. Price: £6/7.50€/$8.50

THIRD DAYTour Eiffel (Lift entrance ticket (valid to 2nd floor): £8.7/11€/$12.3 Lift entrance ticket to top: £13.4/17€/$19 Stairs entrance ticket (valid to 2nd floor): £5.5/7€/$8), Montmartre and Champs-elysèes.

A walk through Montmartre: This place is surrounded by musicians, stands and tiny shops. Get lost around the streets since you find the basilica of Sacre-Coeur, situated at the top of a hill from where the view of the city is amazing.

Champs-elysèes: Have a walk through one of the most famous avenue of the world, here you’ll not only see the Arc de Triomphe, but you’ll find also cafés, restaurants, luxury shops and theatres.

Tour Eiffel at sunset: enjoy an amazing view of the the most iconic symbol of the city (metro stop: Trocadero)

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Paris, France – take a note

Paris is the capital and most populous city of France. It is located on the Seine River in the place known as “région parisienne” (Paris Region). 

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Paris was founded in the 3rd century BC by a Celtic people called the Parisii, who gave the city its name. In the 12th century Paris was home of the University of Paris, one of the first in Europe. In the 18th century the capital of France became an important centre of finance, commerce, fashion, science, and the arts, a position it still retains today.

Paris is home of the most visited art museum in the world, the Louvre and along with many other famous museums it is also covered of contemporary art and many notable architectural landmarks. Paris is also known for its fashion, particularly the Paris Fashion Week, and for its high quality food having some three-star restaurants.

In 2014 Paris received 22.4 million visitors, making it one of the world’s top tourist destinations. 

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Sofia Casotto is back with us and on tomorrow’s post she is going to tell us all about her romantic trip in the city of Paris! Check out all the suggestions and ideas she has for you to do in the city as well as to where to eat and stay!

“You know, I sometimes think, how is anyone ever gonna come up with a book, or a painting, or a symphony, or a sculpture that can compete with a great city. You can’t. Because you look around and every street, every boulevard, is its own special art form and when you think that in the cold, violent, meaningless universe that Paris exists, these lights, I mean come on, there’s nothing happening on Jupiter or Neptune, but from way out in space you can see these lights, the cafés, people drinking and singing. For all we know, Paris is the hottest spot in the universe.”

From the movie Midnight in Paris (quote chosen by Sofia Casotto to describe Paris)

Country: France

Country’s capital: Paris

Official language: French

Currency: Euro (£1 = 1.29€; §1 = 0.90€ )

Population:  117,170 inhabitants

Total area: 105,4 km²

Easter break suggestions

Easter is just around the corner and with it comes some days off for you to enjoy anywhere you want! So have you already thought where is the special place you will spend your Easter break? Here are my top suggestions!

1.Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam is beautiful city and it gets even prettier when Spring comes because it is the time when all the tulips fields gain their colors. Along with a beautiful landscape there is a lot to visit in Amsterdam during Easter time such as Paaspop festival in Schijndel and Zieuwent festival in Gelderland. It is also common to see their traditional camp fire which they light up during Easter time. There is also their fantastic and diverse Easter market to shop! There is a lot of things to get entertained!

The easier way to get there is by airplane. Amsterdam has an airport (Amsterdam Airport Schiphol) which is only 20 minutes way from the city centre by train.

tulipas amesterdao

 

2.Madeira, Portugal

Madeira is one of the two Portuguese islands located in the Atlantic ocean. Just like Amsterdam the island gets especially pretty when spring comes because all nature gets greener and the flowers gain bright colors.

If you are religious Madeira is definitely a great choice! During Easter there is religious parades to watch in the streets such as the recreation of Jesus suffering in the streets and where people can participate. For example one person from the audience  carries the Cross and enacts the crucifixion. On the Good Friday there is also a special mass in the church dedicated to Easter. On Sunday, Easter day, there are many religious parades and some small stalls selling local pastries and sweet breads. Make sure to try the honey cake and also the caco cake!

To get to Madeira you can take an airplane to their airport (Santa Cruz Airport) and then from there a taxi which takes around 20 minutes to Funchal.

madeira

3.Berlin, Germany

During the Easter week the capital of Germany has a lot of cultural activities to do and also specific events dedicated to Easter such as the big fire camp of Britz Garden and the Easter Market in Breitscheidplat. For the little ones there are thematic activities in Tierpark, one of Berlin zoos. If you have some free time from the Easter activities ther is also many monuments in Berlin to visit such as the Parlament or the Wall of Berlin.

To get to Berlin you can take a flight to Berlin airport (Berlin-Schönefeld Airport) which is about an hour way by train from the centre.

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4. Disneyland Paris, France

Easter also means family time and what better way to spend some family time than in Disneyland? The Disney themed park is a fantasy world for everyone, from kids to adults everyone will be surrender to its magic once you pass the main gates!

“From the 28th March to the 12th April 2016 Disney will welcome you with magical Spring parades, friendly smiles and fairytale fun.” – Disney website

Disneyland has a variety of Disney hotels with different themes where you can stay at. If you go on a longer vacation you can also take some time to visit the capital of France which is about 40 minutes from Disneyland.

Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport is the closest to Disney so I would recommend flying there and from the airport take shuttle or taxi which will arrive at Disney land in about 30 minutes. The shuttle stops at every Disney hotel making it very easy for you if you have chosen to stay at one of them.

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5. Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is considered by many one of Spain prettiest cities! If you have never been there Easter is a great time to do so. With the Spring coming the weather will warm up in the city which will make it look even prettier!

Plus just like Madeira, Barcelona is a very religious city and there is many Christian celebrations and parades also. They have the “Semana Santa” (Holy Week) which goes from 20th of March until the 27th of March (Easter Sunday) and it marks the end of Lent and commemorates the death and rise of Jesus. Barcelona, as part of Catalunya, is traditionally less religious than other parts of Spain. However, it still has its fair share of celebrations during this period. Holy week begins on Palm Sunday, when a procession traditionally takes place around the cathedral with people holding palms. A week of religious ceremonies follows, ending on Easter Sunday. Barcelona looks beautiful during this period. The sun is beginning to return to the city and chocolate and cake shop windows are filled with every sculpture imaginable made out of chocolate.

Barcelona airport the only 25 minutes by train or taxi from the center making it the quickest and easier way to visit Barcelona.

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Bruges, for the best chocolate at the best view

Brugge (how is written in Dutch) is a small picturesque town in Belgium. It is a beautiful place, with the canals and gardens and plazas and chocolateries. It is great to walk around, enjoy the stunning views, and have a picnic.

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My boyfriend and I went there in the winter, so it was cold and dark early, but it was still an amazing trip. A little advice: if you visit it in the winter, go prepared for the cold.

TRAVEL TO BRUGES – BRUSSELS

  1. AIRPLANE to Brussels Airport (airlines such as Air India or Jet Airways flight there)

From the airport to Bruges

  1. TRAIN – it is the best way to travel to Bruges. It takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes and you can take it at the Brussels-South Railway Station (20 minutes away from the airport also by train).

We stood at De Vijf Zuilen. A little inn owned by a really nice and welcoming couple which we totally recommend. The decoration is really unique, and every room is different from the other. The owner, Ginette, serves you a fresh breakfast every morning, and you can take the leftovers for lunch or as a snack if you wish.

De Vijf Zuilen Inn

Prices from: £31.8/40€/$45 per room and per person

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The inn was just outside the city centre, but it was a perfectly walking distance, even in a rainy weather like we had. The city has countless beautiful corners, gardens and plazas so walking is definitely the best way to move around.

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If you like chocolate, Brugge has a LOT to offer, there are chocolateries everywhere. We tried three different ones, but I’m sure they are all delicious.

And there are the waffles! Along with chocolateries, you can find little waffle shops everywhere. But try them outside and not in a coffee, their better and cheaper.

About restaurants, we tried Bistro Du Phare by recommendation of the De Vijf Zuilen’s owner and had a delicious pasta dinner. There were other options, all looking delicious, but pasta was the most budget friendly. This is considered a cheap restaurant in Brugge.

Bistro Du Phare Restaurant

Prices in average: £12/15€/$17 per person (like most pasta restaurants)

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Places to visit I recommend Belfry of Bruges (Belfort van Brugge): it is a medieval bell tower with a beautiful view to the city and surroundings. It costs £6.3/8€/$9 (if you are under 25 years old)

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The City Gates, quite pretty also!
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It is a small city but all parks and canals are worth seeing also!
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Bruges, Belgium – take a note

Bruges is the capital and largest city of the province of West Flandersin, the Flemish Region of Belgium, in the northwest of the country.

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The historic city centre is a prominent World Heritage Site of UNESCO since 2000. Bruges has most of its medieval architecture intact. It is a oval-shaped  city which is sometimes referred to as The Venice of the North for its many canals. Bruges has a significant economic importance thanks to its port and was once the chief commercial city in the world. Bruges is well known as the seat of the College of Europe, an elite university institute for European studies.

Something curious about Bruges is that its most famous landmark is its 13th-century belfry, housing a municipal carillon comprising 48 bells. The city still employs a full-time carillonneur, and you may want to take a note of this – he gives free concerts on a regular basis.

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Joana and Rodrigo, a couple of engineers who enjoy traveling, went to Bruges on a weekend escape and they have best suggestions and plans to do in Bruges. Don’t miss out tomorrow’s post where they will share it all with us!

“The city has countless beautiful corners, gardens and plazas and if you like chocolate, Brugge has a LOT to offer, there are chocolateries everywhere.”

Joana & Rodrigo

Country: Belgium

Country’s capital: Brussels

Official language: Dutch, French and German

Currency: Euro (£1 = 1.29€; §1 = 0.90€ )

Population:  117,170 inhabitants

Total area: 138.40 km2

5 European Beaches to visit this summer!

Yet there is still a few months left for the summer if you want to plan a great and on budget summer vacation my advice is – start planning now. Can’t wait to have your feet on the sand and the heat of the shinning sun caressing your body? Then get excited planning your beach holidays to one of this amazing European beaches. Below I suggest the 10 best beaches to visit this summer. Which one is your favorite?

1. Ses Illetes, Spain

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Neighbor of Ibiza, this beach is located in Formentera which is a county of the the Spanish Balearic islands. With only 85 square meters it has beaches like Ses Illetes which is considered by many the Caribbean of Europe. Best time to go is between June and September – these months are the warmest with temperatures reaching 30ºC and a sea temperature that goes up to 25ºC in August!

Formentera has no airport, the best way to get there is catching a boat from Spain mainland – either Barcelona, Valencia or Denia. There boats will take you to Ibiza and from there catch another ferry to Formentera. In the summer months there are direct ferries between Denia and Formentera. Otherwise you can also fly straight to Ibiza and then take the ferry from there. From Ibiza to Formentera it takes only about 30 minutes by ferry.

Staying wise the island offers a variety of hotels– mostly small and in the one and two-star categories. There are also many small apartment developments. Camping is forbidden on the island. In peak season, advance booking for hotels is absolutely essential

Formentera is usually quieter than Ibiza having no much more than a series of wood-built beach side restaurants. If you like it simple and beautifully heavenly you will like this place. Yet quitter than Ibiza you may find also a lot of tourists here during the summer time.

2. Cala Gonone, Italy

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Cala Gonone is in the island of Sardinia, Italy, also in the Mediterranean just below the island of Corsica. It lies on its Est border and the nearest airport and port is Olbia, about 1 hour and an half from Cala Gonone by car. To get to the island itself you can either fly from Italy – Milan or Rome to Olbia or also take a ferry from Civitavecchia (Rome’s cruise port), Genoa or Livorno as they all stop at Olbia.

The best months to enjoy this beautiful and relaxing beach is between July and September where the temperatures reach 30ºC.

For your stay if you do not want to worry about anything I suggest the Hotel la Favorita otherwise if you enjoy camping the island offers friendly comaping conditions – Camping CalaGonone.

3. Saleccia, Corsica

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This beach is located in Corsica, an island in the Mediterranean Sea that belongs to France.

From July until September is when you will find the best temperatures with an average of 25ºC with a very unlikely chance of raining specially in July.

To get there I suggest taking an airplane to Nice, France. From here the simplest and fastest solution is the NGV (High Speed Boat). The trip takes around 3 hours and the closest NGV stop to Saleccia is at l’Ile-Rousse. If you are not a fan of boats there are also ferries available both from France and Italy. Airplane is another way to reach yet it is also the most expensive option and the flights are not very frequent. The closest to Saleccia is Bastia airport. Once you get to the airport, the boat or ferry station the best way to get to the beach is by renting a car. Public transports are not very developed in the island.

The island has a variety of nice hotels to stay close to the Saleccia beach such as Le Relais de Saleccia or U Santa Peru.

4. Arrifana, Portugal

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Being a Portuguese myself and someone passionate for my country this one may be a bit suspicious but I truly think you will enjoy this one or any other Portuguese beach!

If you want to enjoy the 30ºC between July and September is the best time to go. If you like to relax in a calm place this is a good choice compared to the crowded touristic places from the South such as Vilamoura.

Best way to get there is flying to Faro airport in the South of Portugal and then from there it only takes a 1 hour and half car drive. You can rent a car for a good price at the airport which will be easier if you want to visit more then just Arrifana. Otherwise there are also buses you can take in Faro to Arrifana.

There is a variety of hotels and hostels to stay or another good idea is to rent an house or apartment which you can find for great prices. Check out Trivago website where you can find a variety of deals for all pockets!

5. Brela, Croatia

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My final beach suggestion is in Croatia. For this one no boats or ferries needed. Simply take an airplane to Split, the closest Croatian airport to Brela, and from there a taxi or a bus.

On this beautiful beach where the deep blue ocean meets the peaceful green of mother nature thanks to all the trees surroinding the beach the climate only makes the picture even better with a 28ºC average temperature during the months of July, August and September.

Bluesun Hotel BeruliaSunčeva postelja Hotel, Bluesun Hotel Soline and Villa Paulina are some of the hotel suggestions I recommend while staying in Brela.