La Tour Eiffel

Photography, Travel

This past week, I visited the beautiful city of Paris once again. This time I found myself up the Eiffel Tower. It offered beautiful views of Paris from the sky. It felt like I was on top of the world. I was fortunate enough to receive tickets to the ‘Summit’ which was unbelievably cool. Not only were the views from the very top incredible but there were size comparisons from many other skyscrapers around the world above the windows that wrapped 360° around the summit.

Unfortunately, at the very top it was a bit hazy in some photos. But I still enjoyed the view. There were un-real queues to get to the summit. I think we were waiting for almost an hour. The second and first viewing platforms both also had very good views and great photo opportunities. 

The Eiffel Tower was great, and I recommend it very much to anyone who is thinking of visiting. 

Barcelona

Photography, Travel

The past few days I have been in Barcelona, (which is in Spain (Catalonia), for those of you that don’t know). Barcelona was a lot different to what I expected it to be like. Although we didn’t spend much time in the center of the city, it was pretty much all we needed to become immersed in the diverse spanish culture.

We visited the city during the Spanish mid-term break, which means that there were a lot of kids playing sports on the streets, busy people walking through the streets, and families walking their dogs. Everyone was seen with a smile on their face, without a worry or a care. There were so many food places, including: Spanish Tapas Bars, Cafes and Restaurants. Since this was not my first time visiting Spain, I was used to the whole ‘Tapas’ routine that Spain is known for.

The first day, we were recommended to eat at a local tapas restaurant called ‘El 58’ from one of the Spanish Locals. And it was amazing, I could talk about this restaurant for hours honestly. They brought the tapas out at different times, which honestly just made me hungry for more. My personal favorite dishes were the; Fried Wasabi Chicken, Patatas Bravas, and the Ham and Cheese Croquettes. The food was so impressive we actually went there for two of the nights.

We also went to this impressive looking local Italian restaurant, the atmosphere was just awesome. There was an artificial washing line hanging next to the mezzanine level. We all ordered pizza (very good by the way). But what really impressed be was the deserts, I ordered a tiramisu but got desert envy from my mums cheesecake. I had a taste and it was just incredible. Gosh can you see how much I love food?

My favorite place in Barcelona we visited was the Park Güell, located on the Carmel Hill. I could spend hours wondering the endless paths going through that park. Sagrida Familia is simply mind-blowing, it is absolutely colossal. It is a huge Roman Catholic Church. It still isn’t even finished. It has been in construction since 1882, and it’s estimated completion date is still 2028. The amount of detail that was put into every centimeter of the building is just mind-blowing. And to consider that scale of detail on a building so colossal is even more unreal.

I loved visiting Barcelona, the creative, arty, foody, historical, and trendy city scene makes me miss it already. The Spanish Climate that is (most of the time) extremely warm, just tops of the entire package. 

La Sevilla

Photography, Travel

Thursday 12th of January, we arrived in Seville, a beautiful city down in Southern Spain. The first thing I noticed was the climate. Considering that we are in the middle of winter right now, you would expect it to be pretty cold right? Well as soon as I stepped out of the airplane I felt the heat hit me. This was apparent for the entire 4 days we were there for.

This truly was a very beautiful city. What I loved most about the city were the orange trees, lining the streets. They looked so nice with the Spanish-Moroccan architecture and buildings. It was very rare that I stumbled across a street that didn’t feel lively and warm. There were locals and tourists everywhere, filling up all the restaurants, bars, and cafes. There were horses and carriages everywhere. We took a ride on one from one side of the city to the other. There are backstreets everywhere, some being extremely narrow and tight. Every corner of the city was very photogenic.

What I loved about Spain in particular is the way they eat from restaurant, to restaurant. Eating bite sized plates of food called ‘tapas’. You get to try multiple different restaurants a day. On the first night we went to three different restaurants for tapas, all with extremely tasty dishes. Such as; Spanish meatballs, croquettes, paella, and many other dishes. Churros is a very common breakfast in Spain, which really surprised me as I’m used to it being more of a desert/evening food. There were so many delicious cafes that served churros, in-fact we actually had churros for breakfast every morning. The second night, we went to an amazing rooftop bar, which had front row seats of Catedral de Sevilla.

Seville, also had a multiple beautiful, ancient, historical sights to see. Such as Catedral de Sevilla, which is a large gothic cathedral with a Moorish bell tower which you can see from all over the city. This was also where Christopher Columbus’ tomb is. My favorite sight we saw in Seville was definitely the Royal Alcazar Gardens. Probably one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited. It was home to a Moorish Royal Palace, fountain-filled gardens, and the most stunning Moroccan tiles in every corner of the landmark. Another great place to visit is the Plaza de Espana. Which had the coolest seats made out of painted ceramic tiles, an ornate pavilion, and a giant water fountain. Normally there would be a moat filled with water (that you can boat around) surrounding the palace but while we were there, the moat was drained.

Seville is an extremely stunning, gorgeous, and beautiful city. And I absolutely recommend it to anyone planning to visit Spain any time soon. The weather, the food, the streets, the architecture, and the Spanish flamenco dancers. It was all so nice. I enjoyed it so much that I’ve promised myself that I will visit again before leaving Europe.

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Christmas in Paris

Photography, Travel

I just got back from a 4-day Christmas Holiday in the Capital of France; Paris. Straight off the bat, Paris is exactly like everyone says it is. The City of your Dreams. Every corner of it is Beautiful. It seemed as if I could never get bored of walking the streets. Taking in its beauty.

The first day we arrived, we settled into our apartment and dropped our bags off. After that we found this little burger place, which was just next to our apartment. We all had a burger (Except Mum. She had a salad). After that we went right around the corner to one of Paris’ biggest malls; Forum des Halles. It was about a 2 minute walk from our apartment. We strolled through the mall and did a little bit of Christmas Shopping, as it was Christmas Eve in 2 days time! By the time we got home, it was already quite late. We were already satisfied with our late lunch so we opted out on dinner that night. So we went for a short walk around the area and went to sleep.

The next day, we were all fully rested so we set off on our day of sight-seeing. We went to almost every tourist attraction in Paris, including: The Eiffel Tower, The Notre Dame, and The Louvre. We rented bicycles to get around the city from place to place. The next day we woke up to Christmas Eve walked around the Montmartre area. We were there for a good half of the day. While we were there we did the food shopping for Christmas Day at Marks & Spencers.

When we woke up on Christmas Day, we did the traditional Christmassy things. Such as opening presents, gift giving and eating food. This years christmas was very different to a typical New Zealand Christmas. Most obvious, it was freezing. Unfortunately there was no snow this year but it was still very cold. Normally in New Zealand we would have a Christmas barbecue and spend the day swimming. in France it is sensible to stay indoors, in the warmth. We ended up watching three Christmas movies that day. Later that night we went for a walk to see the Eiffel Tower lit up from the Louvre. Discovering many unexplored areas on the way.

This Christmas was definitely a one to remember, and I had a great time exploring Paris with my family. Processed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 preset

Roma, Italia

Photography, Travel

3:00 p.m. on the Thursday afternoon we arrived at our apartment in the center of the Capital. Bustling streets, Italian scents, happy people everywhere. We went to take our bags up, and we set off. To eat Pizza of course. Luckily there was a local favorite restaurant/cafe right next to our apartment building. As soon as my pizza came out, I knew I was in Italy. It was honestly one of the best pizzas I had on my Italian Viaggo. And I had about 6 of them!

We saw many beautiful Points of interest and tourist attractions on a bus tour like The Vatican City, Trevi Fountain, The Colosseum, The Pantheon, and many other gorgeous sights. Among all the sights, and all the beautiful monuments I saw. The Colosseum was just stunning. And to think about the history that it had been through. It really is amazing. I would definitely recommend spending a good few hours there as Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum are right next door.

The food in Rome is just perfection. From the Pizzas to the Pastas, from the Gelato to the Deserts. We dined at many different restaurants and had a very large variety of different dishes. We got very attached to this wine bar called Vinoteca Novecento. We went there mostly every night and were basically best friends with the owners! Our local Gelateria had 150 incredible flavors and we went there everyday!

I could talk on and on about Rome for days. There is so much more than I could tell you. But I want to keep this short and sweet. I will be going to Paris for Christmas in 3 nights. See you then!

 

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San Sebastián

Photography, Travel

Yesterday, at roughly 9:00 a.m. we drove to San Sebastián (also known as Donostia). It felt so very different to France and I enjoyed every bit about it. Everything from the Spanish architecture to the beautiful beach of La Concha surrounding the City. I fell in love with the Ham and Cheese Croquettes and the Tortillas.

We went on a bus tour around the City, which was good because we were able to look around the city, without aimlessly wondering in the Spanish heat. We also spent a fair amount of time walking along the beaches, they were absolutely stunning. At the end of the day, right before we started to head home, we spotted the most delicious Ice Cream store. With the most amazing Gelato flavours you had ever seen. I had Caramel and Tiramisu.

I thorougly enjoyed my time in San Sebastián, and I hope to visit again some time soon.


London

Experience, Photography, Travel

Last night at 10:00 we arrived in London. Today was our first day immersed in the City culture, and I’m going to go over everything we did on our first day in London.

First thing this morning we met up with our cousins, who we haven’t seen in 7 years. It was really nice catching up with them. Next on the list was Lunch, we found a foodstall and each chose something. On the way walking to the park, Archie decided to knock my sausage roll onto the ground, which resulted in my sausage roll on the ground. That was unfortunate. For the rest of the day we walked around Oxford Street, which could have kept me entertained for hours.

For dinner we went to Shake Shack which definitely lived up to my expectations. After that we said goodbye to our Cousins and got our tickets to ‘Matilda’. Which was incredible, such a great performance.

I had a great first day in London and am eagerly waiting for tomorrow!

A Change in Direction

Experience, Reflection

As it’s coming near to my seventh week in a French school I thought I would use this time to reflect on my time at College St. Joseph.

First things first, it’s hard. And I mean really hard. Being thrown into an all French school without speaking a word of the language creates for an awful lot of complication and stress. The teachers expect you to do the same amount of work as all the other fluent French students. Which was near impossible for me to do with my very narrow amount of French vocabulary. Even when taking notes from the board, you don’t understand what you’re writing down.

It’s also a completely different education system to New Zealand. I think the best way to sum it up is  “Sit down, learn and shut up”. Even in subjects like Science and Chemistry, 100% of the work is just boring ol’ bookwork. No experiments or anything like that, which can create for a very non-immersive learning experience. Technology is no-where to be seen in many French schools. They are clearly very behind in the ever-changing world of technology. Even the smallest things like computer labs haven’t been revamped for years and are sporting what many people would consider as ‘bricks’.

At the end of my first term in a French school, we have come to the decision that starting next week I will be starting at the International School of Bearn. I don’t regret my Term in a French school, but it just wasn’t realistic. It was a great experience and I met some great people. I am very excited to start at an International School. Just the thought of everything being in English makes me smile.

Hello, Biarritz

Photography, Travel

Today we took a trip to the lovely city of Biarritz. Where the beaches are beautiful and the views are stunning. Unfortunately when we got there it was looking a bit grey, but that soon changed into a beautiful blue sky. We went up to a lookout spot first, which looked out onto the beach. We spent a good 30 minutes there, taking photos and admiring the views. After that we drove down to the waterfront which was absolutely stunning. Unfortunately because of it not being the nicest day, the umbrellas on the beach had not been put up.

We walked along the waterfront, smelling all the delicious smells coming from the restaurants along the beach. We found this ice cream place that was owned by a very friendly lady who spoke English. We ate our ice creams and chatted with her for a while until we had finished the ice creams and went to move more into the centre of the city. We went past a couple of markets and performances on the way back to the car. On the way back we stopped at another lookout to see the city from another angle.

By the time we got back to the car, it was 4:00 already! I had a great time in Biarritz today and definitely made it into my top 10 favorite cities!

The Ancient Town of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port

Photography, Travel

Today we drove down to the ancient, fortified town of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in the Basque area of France. It is a stunning town that borders Spain and France. The architecture was very different to buildings in the Bearn area. We walked through the cobbled paths in the heat of the day. We walked up to the top of the citadel, where we had beautiful views of the town and the vineyards on the hills behind. It was an extremely photogenic town, much like many other French towns. We stopped by a restaurant for lunch and I ordered a burger and frites.

It was a great afternoon and I hope to visit Sain-Jean-Pied-de-Port soon.