La Ciotat- Marseilles- Paris

La Ciotat- Marseilles- Paris

Okay, I am semi-recovered from the Paris portion of our trip. It has taken two full days of spoiling by Colleen and Falco to return me to my normal self.  I will now try to catch up. The next few posts will be about our four days in Paris.

July 13th. La Ciotat to Paris.

We were up early this morning to drive to Marseilles. We had asked the front desk clerk how early he thought we should leave as the GPS said it was a 20 minute drive, ” An hour or two,” he said. It was lucky we left early and listened to him! The drive into Marseilles was nothing less than terrifying, I can honestly say that driving a car into the third largest city in France was not something for the faint hearted. At times we were surrounded by hundreds of crazy drivers swerving and honking at us and other times we crawled along at no more than one km an hour. I highly recommend not retuning rental cars to city locations. It was a huge contrast to the nice small city of Narbonne where we picked up the car, returning the car was incredibly stressful.

Once we got rid of the car, we found our train and settled in for the 3 hour ride to Paris. It was fantastic, super quite, really fast and nice and comfy. On arrival in Paris at 3:45 PM we made our way down to the Metro station where the madness began. The subway was absolutely packed with people, Chris and I split up the kids and held on to our bags and literally pushed our way onto the subway. It was scary and hot and I was sweating buckets by the time we got off at our stop. We went up the escaltor, kept away from the gypsies and homeless lunatics to get to street level…ahhh Paris, it was beautiful, the past half hour of subway hell was forgotten.

We found ourselves in front of Notre Dame Cathedral which is breathtaking. We pulled our suitcases along the cobbled streets, through Bistros and shops and found our hotel just five blocks away from the center of Paris. On first sight the hotel is pretty shabby, but it is clean, run by a wonderful French family and super cheap, 155 Euros a night Breakfast included. We dumped our luggage in the room and hit the town.

img_4054First stop, dinner. We went into a fabulous little bistro and had pepper steaks, frites and wine, yummy! Then we got tickets for a river cruise and traveled up and down the Seine. It was a great evening that ended with a kiss from Joshua under the Eiffel Tower. We returned to our cruise boat which took us back to our hotel, we fell into bed at 11:30 excited about the next day.

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Kissing Joshua under the Eiffel Tower.
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Cruising the Seine

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Vezenobres-Chateauneuf-du-Pape – La Ciotat. South of France

Vezenobres-Chateauneuf-du-Pape  – La Ciotat. South of France

It is our last day on the Mediterranean and we are not ready to leave. Since I am a few days behind I will start with where we left off.

July 10th. Vezenobres- Chateauneuf-du Pape- Aix en Provence- La Ciotat

After a frantic few hours of getting ready to leave the house in Vezenobres we were on our way to the Mediterranean. The house was perfect for our group and we had the most wonderful time there. Cleaning up however, was a major task and the kids must have had to do 10 trips to the garbage depot down the street. We drove from Vezenobres to Chateauneuf- du- Pape via Uzes, a beautiful little town. It was market day and the roads were lined with vendors and shoppers, this caused us to crawl though the streets, it was wonderful to see the town in action but it added 30 minutes to our drive to Chateauneuf – du – Pape. We arrived at 1230 and discovered that even wine farms close for a two hour seista so we went for a fantastical lunch where I finally got to eat some escargot. Chateauxneuf-du- Pape is a village that is famous for its wines. This Village is probably the most well know of the Cotes du Rhone area and is remarkable.

20100710_2879We visited three farms and I have to be honest with you, by the last farm the wine were all starting to taste the same. Wine tasting is free and an amazing experience, you get to go into the cellars with a very educated grower and they let you try all of their wines. We bought a few bottles, Colleen and Falco who live in Holland and are driving home, bought a few cases. We felt quite jealous that we could not do the same.

Next stop was Aix.This is a super cool city, where everyone is beautiful, well dressed and fabulously fashionable. We wandered the streets for a couple of hours, let the kids ride on the carousel and took in the sights. At this point is was approaching 6:00 so we thought it best to get to our coastal hotel in La Ciotat.

img_3933On arrival we rushed to the pool. It is an infinity pool on the fifth floor of the hotel that offers an amazing view of the ocean and the city. It is even hotter here that it was in Vezenobres and I am keenly aware that bringing Jeans was ridiculous! There is a night market taking place and everything was a buzz. We were quite exhausted from the very busy day so we ate diner at 1000 and crashed at 1130.

Sunday July 12

Today was a beach day, we walked 15 minutes to a little grotto, drank beers and played in the Mediterranean. There were hundreds of fish and Sophie and I even saw a sea snake. I am so glad I brought the Masks and Fins as we have used them often. There is a farmers market outside of our hotel so at 2:00 , for 12 Euros we bought a whole chicken, Garlic roast potatoes, a huge piece of ham and roasted read pepper. Using a little plastic knife we cut up the feast and toasted this beautiful place. We feel so privileged and lucky to experience this, it is quite simply wonderful.

After the chicken feast we swam in the pool, showered and got dressed. We ate dinner in an amazing restaurant overlooking the harbor, and at 8:30 watched the final game of the world cup in an outdoor cafe. Amazing, what a day.

Monday July 13.

20100712_2948Today we drove to Cassis to spend the morning on the beach with Pekka and Kirsten. We rented a paddle boat, fed the huge fish in the ocean and laughed as they almost jumped into the boat. I am rushing now as I have to leave for dinner so I am going to make this short. We have really enjoyed this beach part of our holiday but sadly we have train tickets that leave tomorrow at 12:45 for Paris.

We have to get up early to drive to Marseilles, return the rental car and take the high speed, TGV train to Paris. This trip takes three hours. To drive it would be close to 9 hours! It is unlikely that I will write until I go to Holland on Saturday since I will not have access to a computer.

PS. In France they kiss three times to say hello in the south and four times in Paris..who knew…?

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48 Hours in Dublin (YYZ-DUB-YYZ)

48 Hours in Dublin (YYZ-DUB-YYZ)

119 So is it worth flying from Toronto to Dublin for a weekend? Absolutely!

With non-stop flights on Air Canada and strong tail winds we were in Dublin in a snap, okay 5 1/2 hours.

On arrival in Dublin (8:30AM) we were at our hotel (The Morgan) in Temple bar by 10:00AM and ready to get rolling.

From our base at Temple Bar you can pretty much walk everywhere. Dublin is a  friendly city with wonderful food, entertainment and sights.

Some of my favorites:

A stop at the oldest Pub in Dublin, The Brazen Head. This pub, that claims to be over 800 years old had all the ambiance one would expect. Low ceilings lots of higgledy piggildy rooms. I would say this is a must visit in Dublin.142

Trying Hot Whiskey at a Harkins Pub, This is a tiny little family run Pub just around the corner from The Guinness Factory.

Doing a little day trip to the town of Dalkey (Main Picture) This seaside town, just 40 minutes outside of Dublin gave us a glimpse at Irish Village Life. We had lunch at The Magpie Inn, a local Gastro Pub and lets just say the Seafood Risotto was divine.

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Listening to DJ and live bongo drums and sax at The Morgan Hotel, the bar is Super cool and great music. If you are there on a Saturday night be sure to make a reservation in advance for a table. We stayed here for two nights, it is located in the Temple Bar area, and was a great choice for accommodation in Dublin.

The true reason for our Trip to Ireland was to watch some Rugby on Saturday, which we did (admittedly with a bit of a headache from our Temple Bar pub crawl the night before) Before we knew it, it was time to head back to Canada, Dublin is close enough for a weekend getaway. I would suggest three nights is probably better than the two that we had but if you are pressed for time and looking for a getaway, do consider Dublin, I am glad we did.

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Where to Eat in San Francisco.

Where to Eat in San Francisco.

When I travel I LOVE to eat. It is always a challenge deciding on where to dine, especially when your travels take you places at the last minute. On our trip to San Francisco we found a few gems that I want to share, obviously in two days I couldn’t be everywhere but I enjoyed these places so much I would go back for sure!

1) Salumeria (3000 20th street, SF  415.471.2998)

Salumeria, located in the Mission District is a great spot for lunch. Open 11- 6 we arrived around 3:00 and it was pretty packed. We enjoyed a fabulous cheese plate, some salads and a Salumi plate  (Italian meat board)  and well…Yummy. It is a typical trendy SFO spot and has a lovely airy vibe to it. I would say if you are looking for a wonderful lunch in a hipster environment this is the place.

2) Outerlands ( 4001 Judah Street, SF 415 661-6140)

We were looking for the best brunch in San Francisco so we did what everyone else does…. we Googled it, and found ourselves jumping in an Uber car heading to beautiful Ocean Beach. (10 minutes from downtown) Outerlands offers a very interesting menu at reasonable prices. We arrived at 8:45 and the resturant only opens at 9:00. Hanging on the front door was a clipboard to write your name on to get in line. We had to wait about 45 minutes for the table so we strolled over to Trouble Coffee (see below) to grab a coffee while we waited…. and boy was it worth it!

The food was excellent, I had the quiche which was creamy and delicious, all of our meals were interesting, fresh and tasty. I would highly recommend Outerlands, they make great brunch cocktail to! Pictured below is our table outside of the restaurant.

How to incorporate Outerlands into your San Francisco itinerary?  Plan your day visiting Outlerlands at 8:45 for 2 hours,  then stroll to Ocean beach 20 min, UBER car (10 min) to Golden Gate Park (2 hours), end with a walk through the Haight-Ashbury District 30 min. This is what we did and honestly it was wonderful.

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1513) Trouble Coffee ( 4033 Judah St, SF)

This gem, located only a few shops down from the fabulous Outerlands is totally cool with interesting employees that will make a fabulous coffee for you and if you are up to it a slice of toast to tide you over before brunch at Outlerlands. It is hip, different and the coffee is delicious. My latte pictured left was perfection in a cup. Ever since I returned home I have dreamed and searched for a comparable coffee but alas, it looks like I will have to return to San Francisco and Trouble Coffee to get it.

3564) Sushiritto (226 Kearny Street SF, 415-544-9868)

This was the last meal I ate in San Francisco, and it was UNREAL. There is nothing even close to this in Toronto and I want to know why? Sushiritto is basically a sushi roll the size of a burrito that you eat with your hands, pictured left was my delicious lunch, a “Satori” that has Kampachi Yellowtail, Cucumber, Pickled Red Onion, Sweet Corn, Red Tobiko, Avocado, Wasabi Mayo for $13.00 it was amazing!  Located two minute from The Palace Hotel and the financial district, if you are a fan of sushi this is a MUST TRY.

There were other restaurants, street meals (Seafood chowder!) and take out snacks, but these were my favorites and now… I am feeling kind of hungry.

Coming up next : Getting around SFO. Transportation Options… BART, UBER, Feet

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