Are you currently under the "Heat Dome?" We are hot, hot, hot the East Coast and these articles about some cooler destinations look like appealing Weekend Reading.
I traveled to Vancouver one August, and the weather was perfect for trying all the great outdoor activities there.
A Baltic cruise is something I am interested in, and summer is certainly the season to go!
Some of these off the beaten path locations look really neat...
While in Paris, we were interested in trying a cooking class, but were looking for one taught in English. The cooking would be challenge enough-we didn't need to add French translation issues to it! After a bit of searching, I found La Cuisine cooking school on the Quai l'Hôtel de Ville. The location was perfect for us and they had several glowing Trip Advisor reviews. They offered a wide variety of classes, but unfortunately, many were booked for our week. Next time, I will book much earlier! Luckily, there was a class with four spaces available on a day we could go that focused on making the classic French cookie-the macaron. Having sampled many, many macarons from Pierre Hermé, Ladurée, and the Bon Marché food hall, I was eager to try baking some myself.
The teaching kitchen was an incredibly well organized space. Our class had eight participants, working in four teams of two. I think the classes often have a few more students, but there was plenty of room for a larger group. Our class consisted of the four of us (Americans), a Canadian mother and daughter pair, and a young couple from Mexico. We all enjoyed laughing about our own ineptitudes and taking each others' pictures as we attempted the many steps involved in making macarons. Chef Guillaume was a great teacher. As a teacher myself, I appreciated how well he taught the technical aspects of baking and cooking, but his sense of humor and funny comments really won us over. He was absolutely hilarious!
We learned to make two types of meringue for the cookie base-Swiss and Italian, then each team made a different filling. The fillings were fruit jam, chocolate, pistachio, and a vanilla cream. Assembling the cookies took some time, but at the end we got to sample four different macarons-all delicious! Everyone left the class with a box of cookies to enjoy over the next few days. The lady at the front desk of our hotel graciously stored ours in the fridge of the lobby bar-and was happy to taste some as a thank you!
I would definitely recommend trying a class at La Cuisine. It was fun for first time visitors to Paris, as well as a fresh experience for return visitors. They offer a bread making class that I would love to try!
Google Translate is available offline as well as when you are on wifi or a data plan. You can download the languages of your choosing, now without taking up so much space on your phone. This is a great feature when faced with a menu full of unfamiliar choices...or when attempting public transportation in a foreign language.
Museum apps are a great tool when you are visiting a new museum, or revisiting a favorite. This article in the NYTimes reminded me how great the museum produced apps can be. Many of them do not require wifi if you download them before visiting, or the museum may even have wifi available for their app. Check museum websites as you are planning your trip! The Louvre, the British Museum and the Museum of Modern Art (NYC) are among the museums offering an app.
Keep your devices charged! I use an Anker charger that is big enough to charge both an iPhone and my iPad, but the small ones that will give your phone a full charge are well worth the small cost in case you have an emergency. Here are a few examples-
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Seine river cruise at night
The Vedettes du Pont Neuf leave from under the Pont Neuf on the Île de la Cité. There are plenty of signs to point you in the right direction as you cross the bridge. You head down some stairs towards the water, then join a line to buy tickets. You can also buy them ahead, but we wanted to buy them the day of so we could be certain of clear weather. It was chilly in March, but with proper clothing, it was not at all unpleasant. We passed all the sights along the Seine, including Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Musée d'Orsay, the Conciergerie, and several beautifully lit bridges. We also got an interesting view of some of the gorgeous apartments along the river.
The boats had an inside seating area, and upstairs, an open air seating area. The view is much better from the outdoor deck, so we opted for that. You do want to be near the front of the line to board in order to have a good choice of seats. Drinks were available from a little bar downstairs. On a warmer night, a nice glass of wine would have been lovely, but it was too chilly!
The attacks on the Brussels airport and metro stations had just occurred, so the Eiffel Tower was lit in the colors of the Belgian flag. Having endured their own terrorist attacks in November, Parisians felt a sense of solidarity with the Belgian people, and lit the Eiffel Tower as a symbol of their support.
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A few things to read over the weekend from three of my go-to blogs about Paris.
What is better than ice cream on a warm summer day in Paris?
Chocolate shops-with some great tips and French vocabulary
During a visit to Paris in March, I stayed once again in my favorite neighborhood in Paris, the area surrounding the Saint Germain des Prés church in the 6th arrondissement. The Hotel d'Angleterre, at 44 Rue Jacob, is in a wonderful location and I have enjoyed two stays there. The people at the front desk are helpful with directions, dinner reservations, and answering transportation questions. Yes, they all speak English! It is a quick walk to sites such as the Louvre, Notre Dame, and the Luxembourg Gardens. There is great shopping-high end designers and more low key options-close by.
While it is fun to visit the famous cafes of the neighborhood, like Cafe de Flore or Brasserie Lipp, for an afternoon glass of wine, you may not want to have dinner there. I want to tell you about four restaurants that I especially loved during my most recent trip. One note, I am a vegetarian, but the people I was traveling with are not! So the restaurants below all had vegetarian, meat, and seafood options that suited our whole group.
Le Petit Saint Benoit
Fish La Boissonnerie
Some of these look gorgeous...
Capri-I want to go back...
10 travel apps to try...
My mother and I went to Nassau, Bahamas for a long weekend earlier in June. My mother had wanted to return to Cable Beach for a while. She spent vacations there when she was a child, and took me back several times when I was little (photos below circa 1978.) So, when Southwest started offering direct flights from BWI, we planned a trip. The flight was quick, and we were on the beach by 2:30 pm.
There are some condo and timeshare accommodations directly on Cable Beach, but we weren't interested in those. We chose the Melia Nassau Beach all inclusive. There is also a Sandals on Cable Beach, but Sandals is not really our style...so Melia it was!
The beach was the reason for whole trip. It is a wide sandy beach with beautiful, clear water. It is a great beach for long walks, swimming, and just floating around in the water. At the Melia, kayaks, snorkeling gear, aqua bikes, and stand up paddle boards are available for no charge. I love to paddle board and the calm water was perfect for paddling. If you have never tried, this would be an ideal chance to try it!
The Melia is a large hotel, with 3 pools and a big section of beach. It was not quite full the weekend we were there, so there were plenty of beach and pool chairs. It might feel crowded at peak times. The other hotel guests were a mix of families with young children, families with teens, young couples, and several groups of women having a girls weekend. It did seem like they could accommodate every group pretty well. The pool at the center of the resort had a swim up bar, music, games, and activities all day long. But if you wanted a quieter day, the two other pools and the outer areas of the beach were away from the craziness. The food at the main restaurant was typical resort food (it reminded me of cruise ship buffets), but the dinners at the Cilantro and Nikkei restaurants were very good. You do need to reserve these ahead. Based on TripAdvisor reviews, we booked a "Level" room, and it was worth the extra cost. We took advantage of The Level amenities a few times-the quick check in was great, restaurant reservation help was wonderful, but the separate beach area was probably the best perk. Beach waiters would bring bar drinks, sodas, and water to your seat on the beach. More shade was also available in that cordoned off beach area-I'm a shade lover!
The huge Bahamar complex is being built next door, but construction is halted while financing is being reworked. Their beach is empty, and not regularly swept, so it was a great place to find shells. You can walk or run a long way down this part of the beach.
A few notes about Nassau