hawaii bound: destination wedding

I can’t believe it’s time for my trip to Hawaii to see my good friend marry the man of her dreams. I’m excited for her and most of all excited for the fact, I get to share this wonderful occasion with her.

This doesn’t mean, I will not blog for a week, it just means, I will blog mostly about travel, food and photography.

Have a great weekend everybody and I will see you right here on Monday :)

 

 

day 13 – travel journal – paris france

There is no way on earth I would pass up Paris, no matter what other destinations I have included in my annual trip to Europe. This year, while the TGV pulled into Gare de Lyon from Cannes at a little after 9p.m. I noticed it had been raining in the city of romance. I didn’t care, the rain is always refreshing in Paris and I have actually been in the city every month out of the year and every single time it had rained. It usually bothered me, but I’ve come to accept it and now even embrace it. Paris isn’t Paris without rain.

We hopped on the RER (urban rail network train) from Gare de Lyon to our Hotel in Charles de Gaulle Etoile (between VIIIe and XVIIe arrondissements) and within a five minute walk, landed in front of our quaint hotel with minimal frills and turned in for the night.

I usually sleep with the windows open, normally for fresh air, but in the case of Paris, just so I could hear the sounds from the boulevard close by.  It’s my lullaby to a good night sleep, while  in my favorite place in the entire world.

The following morning, after eating a quick pastry and drinking an espresso at a cafe, we began our day, by walking from Arc de Triomphe towards Place Saint-Germain Des Pres (6th arrondissement). We didn’t have a plan. This was our usual walk, every year, on day one in Paris.

Along the way we came across: {click on first photo to start the slide show}

day 8 to 12 – travel journal – french riviera et all

The most amazing thing about Europe is the fact, everything is connected by train, so there is no need to stress about driving nor flying. One can simply book a point to point ticket or by a Railpass (Outside of Europe Residance only) and arrange to get from any number of destinations within Europe. The beauty of having a Railpass is that the passholder can travel on the TER train – which connects all the beach town along the French Riviera by an intrecit timetable and train schedule.  So, basically in the morning you could be in Cannes and within half an hour to an hour you could be in Antinbes, Nice, Monte Carlo, Menton (depending on the stops the train makes).

So, of course we did just that, hopped on the TER everyday and ended up in different parts of the French Riviera. Our stops, on this trip were to St. Tropez, Antibes, Monte Carlo (for the hubby man), VillaFranche Sur Mer and Nice.  Now, although every town is almost the same in that they have a pier, docked yachts, amazing dining, public and private beaches, shopping and old towns tucked in the hills, one cannot get enough of the region no matter how similar the villages are.

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{photos are the property of http://www.rawsilkandsaffron.wordpress.com and cannot be used without permission}

shifting gears to travel

By the beginning of April I am planning my next trip to (mostly) Europe. However, as we know it, the wedding got in the way ;)  But after taking a few days to recover I am now  mentally prepared to plan a trip. The problem is there are too many places I want to visit this year and not enough time to accomplish my goal, so while I click my way through the internet for ideas, I can’t help but include some of my favorite staircases around Europe from here to inspire me to make a choice:

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artichoke heaven in rome, italy

Outside of the norm of playing tourist in Rome, yup in Rome, Italy, I get to eat the best artichoke salads and appetizers. It’s not like the U.S. when most times the vegetable is served pickled from a Jar or a can. Here they actually take the time to steam it just right, clean it perfectly and serve it my favorite style, a little bit of REAL olive oil and the best of the best Parmesan cheese.

I couldn’t stop eating them at every meal and to think for years I opted for Insalata Caprese (tomato and buffalo cheese salad)

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romantic vacation recommend: isle of capri, italy

Main square - Piazza Umberto

Most of my previous travels are to the main cities or towns within a country in Europe. But a few years back, when I ventured towards the Southern tip of Italy (the booth) I decided to take a ferry to the island of Capri.

I must admit I wasn’t disappointed with the choice, even though the ferry schedule a bit unreliable and the frequency less than desirable, the trip was well worth it.

main point - marina grande

The way it works is, after disembarking the ferry from Napoli, you have to take a taxi or a bus up to the top ( Alta Capri). This is where the main town square is and most of the civilization on the island. I did get a bit sick because of the altitude or maybe because of my fear of heights, but every where I looked there was the most beautiful view anyone can imagine.

view from the top

We stayed 3 nights 4 days and because the best way to see a place is by walking. We walked one entire day around the island, actually trekked through the back roads and saw the best of the best the island has to offer.

On the second day we took the funicular up to the highest point and this is where I hiperventilated and screamed all the way to the top, because the funicular was a single open seat, a small belt across your lap, feet dangling for 20 minuets .  I actually hated going up there and the way down, but if you can stomach the ride, it is again well worth the adventure.

yes I was on that

The best and most memorable of my time on the Island  of Capri was visiting Villa San Michelle and riding a small boat into The Blue Grotto – pictured below.

Blue Grotto

villa san michelle

a villa in tuscany – vacation paradise

Between the condo renovation, work hiccups and other matters of family and home, I actually needed a break from the norm today by focusing on my vacation plans for the Fall.

Although I love Paris and will consider spending every vacation day there, every single year, I have opted for  a trip to Italy this year because I needed material for my second novel.

This time, I am considering  a villa stay in Tuscany just to “veg out”  and get inspired to at least draft the outline for the novel, if not more.  Since that is my plan, I  turned to my favorite site here which I used to use during my travel planning days, to get information about villa rentals abroad.

The problem is, most villas house 3 or more vacationers and only a handful are available for just 2 guests. But through my persistance,  I found one villa just perfect for my needs. The problem now is I have to do alot of convincing to hopefully book the villa for our Tuscany portion of the trip.

The villa is called  Casa Coreglia. Check out the photos below and tell me what you think?

travel recommend: cinque terre, italy

This weekend marks the beginning of my official travel recommends.  As I stated before I get the travel itch sometime in March, but it doesn’t really flare up until about mid May when I discover my circle of acquaintances are planning their trips.

In light of the fact, my first recommend is what is known as Cinque Terre in Italy.

Located along the western coats of Italy, this area consists of five small villages which literally cling to the Ligurian cliffs. The villages are small  and close enough that you can actually walk from own village to the next within a matter of hours.

The first time I discovered the area was actually when I coordinated travel plans for college students. I heard a group of them talking about buying a railpass and finding their way to the area.  That same year, I decided to take a trip to Italy and after locating Cinque Terre on the map, I chartered my course on how to incorporate Cinque Terre into my trip.

To make it easier on myself, since I didn’t know what I was up against, I reserved a hotel room near the train station in Genoa. While feeling adventurous upon my arrival, I discovered there were shuttle-like trains which took you to stops associated with each village and from there you could  either take a bus down to the area where the villages were or simply walked several miles to get to them.

The funny thing I discovered on my trip there, is  that most of the tourists who go there, are students and budget travellers, while others shy away from the challenges of making their way through the area.

One thing I do recommend is reading up on it and learning how to get there and how to get out, meaning double checking on bus and train schedules. If you plan to make a day trip to perhaps one village, make sure you don’t get stuck because of misinformation. Outside of that, it is a must see, especially for the photographers at heart.

boutique hotel pick – hotel palazzo giovanelli – venice, italy

Venice, Italy fullfills every bit of my fasination  with the renassance era. I just can’t get enough of this beautiful travel destination and no matter what season, the beauty of Venice is always overwhelming and more admiring, at least for me.

Of course since this is the year I will be planning a trip to Italy, I must also include yet another favorite hotel of mine in Venice – Hotel Palazzo Giovanelli – as a highly recommend property for romance and elegance.