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Posts Tagged ‘holiday’

How can you not love Paris? It’s a city I’d return to in a heartbeat although I must admit the recent terrorist incidents have made me wonder just how keen I’d be to return at the moment. Not to mention a lack of actual funds or time off.

I first visited Paris in 1989 with a couple of friends who were living in London. We picked a busy weekend (sporting event? soccer I think?) and when we arrived (I think we flew?) hotels were scarce. With my high school French we managed to find a hotel with three sagging beds with dodgy chenille bedspreads. We couldn’t risk not taking the room because there was a trail of tourists with the same idea following us.

Well, that could have been my first visit, or my second; I managed to visit Paris three times across a four or five week period during my first big European adventure in 1989. I had intended to visit with one of my best theatre friends but when I arrived in London she was broke.

So I ended up doing a Contiki tour that took me to Paris, Florence, Venice, Switzerland, Austria, and Amsterdam. We stayed in budget hotels, backpackers and even some chalets in the woods somewhere along the line.

The third trip was with my now less-broke friend, and I am pretty sure we flew. I have no idea where we stayed. We bought interesting brocade jackets and tunics. We went to Marche aux Puces de Saint-Ouen which I seem to recall had thoroughly appalling toilets.

Visit two was with my husband in 1998, en route to a wedding in Scotland. It was May and unseasonably hot. We picked a hotel that ended up being not far from Sacre Coeur but somewhat too close to the Sexodrome.

Our last visit, in 2007, was as a family en route to a wedding in Amsterdam. We arrived via Eurostar and spent a couple of days in Paris before heading to Disneyland Paris. We then returned for a final few days before taking a Thalys train to Amsterdam.

For the first few days we stayed at the Hotel Valadon. By the looks of the website it has had a serious makeover since then. We chose it due to the proximity of the Rue Cler markets which I had read about in a Rick Steves guidebook. I think that was the start of my habit of basing hotel locations on their proximity to restaurants and markets.

On our return we stayed at Residence Les Gobelins, the website for which doesn’t seem to be working at present but Gobelins seems to indicate it is still open. It was a budget hotel, close to the Rue Mouffetard markets and restaurants, and we had a family room with three beds. The breakfasts were simple – croissants and baguettes with coffee.

I remember painstakingly researching all of these hotels over and over – this was probably the early days of TripAdvisor from memory – and perhaps emailing inquiries to half a dozen about rates and room set ups…

In all of these visits I have never made it to the top of the Eiffel Tower, given my fear of heights seems to get worse, not better with age. I think I made it to level two on my second visit. Last time, the family went to the top while I ate a baguette by myself on the first level.

It’s my aim to brush up on my now very rusty French and visit Paris and New York for my 50th. Watch this space (for a few more years!).

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On Friday I developed a bad case of Friday-itis. Post holiday blues. A reality check.

We had been home for a week after a month on vacation in the US. The bags were unpacked. The washing was done. The credit card bills had arrived. I was back at work.

So where was I going to find time to download and organise my photos? Print the photos? Scrap book all the receipts, menus and flyers? Post reviews on Trip Advisor? All the things I still haven’t done from our 2009 trip (or any small trip since!?!?)

Aarrrrrrgggghhhhhh…

Life guard station, Venice Beach, California

Life’s a beach

So here is my first step, which, embarrassingly, is also my first post for the year. Lucky I didn’t make a public new year’s resolution to post more often!

I’m going to post a couple of photos a week (that’s the aim) and a few snippets. And I am going to make a conscious effort to post reviews of all the hotels we stayed at on TripAdvisor – a site to whose members I shall forever be indebted, having used their reviews to choose pretty all the hotels we have stayed in since 2007.Pastry counter, Jean-Philippe at the Bellagio

Of course it wouldn’t be a post without the obligatory food photo. This one is of some of the delectable sweets at the pastry shop of Jean-Philippe Maury at the Bellagio in Las Vegas – home to the world’s biggest chocolate fountain. Somehow, if I can work out what I ate over 28 days (by looking at my iPhone) and document it all, a sort of travel diary may write itself!? I take my hat off to all the food and lifestyle bloggers who hold down day jobs and manage to post regularly. Most nights I slip into the familiar family dinner and TV groove and time disappears. However I am determined not to let all my photos, observations and notes go to waste. I also owe some reviews to Urban Spoon, Yelp! and OpenTable – all sites (and apps as the case may be).So between, here, there and everywhere (let’s not forget Instagram and Pinterest) – I look like being quite busy…hope I have enough words to go around!

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Marina Bay Sands Chocolate Buffet

Marina Bay Sands Chocolate Buffet

 
Anyone who knows me is well aware that while I love film, television and music – I am really passionate about food. Cooking it, eating it, taking dodgy photographs of it.
 
Last week in Singapore I visited The Club on the 57th floor of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. The Sky Park has a commanding view of Singapore city from one side and the harbour from the other.
 
If you’re a guest of the hotel and not afraid of heights you can even swim in the infinity pool. Non guests such as my friends and I can pay $38++ (everything in Singapore is plus plus for GST and service charges) each evening after 8pm to indulge in the chocolate buffet.
 
I will pad out this post at a later date but for now here are some photos of the 57 types of chocolate decadence on offer. I reckon I managed about 20 – and didn’t vomit (though we did all need to walk back to our hotel).
 
 
Chocolate Buffet, Marina Bay Sands

Chocolate Buffet, Marina Bay Sands

Some of the dishes I tried included churros, chocolate pudding, individual baked chocolate fondant,  profiteroles, cheesecake lollipop, white chocolate pannacotta,  67 per cent chocolate ganache truffle…and of course, macarons.

Marina Bay Sands Chocolate Buffet, Singapore - a taste

Marina Bay Sands Chocolate Buffet, Singapore - a taste

 

I think this was my second plate, though I could be wrong…as eating only dishes derived from chocolate for dinner is bound to alter your brain function in some way.

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Spent the last week of January in Sydney.

Some colleagues couldn’t figure out why I’d go on holidays to Sydney when I spent a fair amount of time there for work in December and January.

Easy – when you’re working there’s no time for markets, the beach, exploring Chinatown.

A Qantas fly by on Australia Day

A Qantas fly by on Australia Day, as seen from Circular Quay

Here’s a couple of quick snaps unil I get time to do a proper post.

Bondi Beach

Bondi Beach on a Sunny Sunday

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I haven’t taken the Christmas tree down yet or even had a chance to snap up any Christmas decorations at 50 per cent off.

Yet there they were staring at me in the supermarket today…

Hot Cross Buns! Seriously. On January 4!

I bet Easter eggs won’t be far behind. And Valentine’s Day Cards.

It’s starting to feel like

Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns

 one big consumer-oriented public holiday/religious event/sales opportunity.

I for one will not be indulging until at least autumn!

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The holiday is over

Wow, was it really September that I wrote my last post? I guess so. Insert feelings of guilt here.

We have now been back from our US holiday for roughly the same length of time we were away which is a depressing thought.

The first week back was dominated by jetlag, disrupted sleep, unpacking and regret about all the things we meant to do but didn’t (Broadway show), meant to buy but didn’t ($30 silver ballet flats with bows…), meant to eat but didn’t (why didn’t I go to a supermarket to buy Buffalo Wings sauce!?).

Posted here, a favourite holiday snap.

View from Top of the Rock

View of Manhattan from Top of the Rock

Now the holiday is truly over (and the Hershey chocolate bag is empty) and I’m back into the swing of work and life, time to make time to finally post photos on Flickr, put hotel reviews on Trip Advisor and generally reminisce.

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