The Happiest Place on Earth

Experience, Travel

Recently, I was lucky enough to visit Disneyland Paris for the first time. After visiting Epernay, in the Champagne region of France. We drove in our little rental car to Serris, where Disneyland was located.

We arrived at roughly 2:30 in the afternoon, and after gathering some necessary materials from the local Supermarket, we headed straight off for the theme parks. The scale of the theme park was what hit me first. I don’t think I had ever really seen anything like it. As someone who I would say isn’t too keen on roller coasters, I accidentally went on what was thought to be a mild ride firstly, turns out, that was one of the roughest in the park. Not only that, but I was put at the very front of the coaster! So I definitely came off of that one a little terrified. That first night we also did a lot of smaller activities such as a haunted house in the Frontierland section.

What surprised me so much thanks to having limited knowledge of what theme parks are like, was the queue times. It is very likely you could be queuing up to 2 hours for a forty second long roller coaster ride. Also a side note; if you ever plan on visiting the Disney Parks, make sure to pack lunch or some sort of meal. Food in Disneyland is highly expensive, and quite literally gross. Unfortunately we found this out the hard way!

On our first night at the park, we decided to stay late for the 11:00 p.m. fireworks and light show. Luckily we made it just in time, we had just finished our last ride for the night. Unfortunately since we were arriving at the starting time, there were not really many amazing spots with great views of the Cinderella Castle. But I was happily surprised to find out that even right at the entrance of the theme park, the castle was still 100% visible in the night sky.

Our second day and our first full day at the park started off in the Disneyland Park, where we did the roller coasters that we had not done the day before. Including the Hyperspace Mountain; which left me shaking and shivering. We were in the Disneyland Park until around 1:00 p.m. before we decided to go and discover the Walt Disney Studios. Funnily enough, we happened to bump into some friends all the way from New Zealand. We spent the afternoon with them, doing all the major rides in the park such as Crush’s Coaster, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Ratatouille, etc… On this day we finished our day a lot earlier, after the 6 p.m. Disney Parade.

Our last day was a Saturday, which meant that it was much more busier than usual. We had one main thing we wanted to do that day which was the Big Thunder Mountain Coaster. Which was great fun, not scary unlike other coasters. My brother also wanted to re-do some of the intense roller coasters again (no chance I was going on those again). So we did some of those. But we finished off our trip at Disneyland with the Walt Disney Studios Tour. Which was really good!

But that pretty much wraps up my trip to Disneyland, I really did enjoy it. It still seems almost unreal that I was there. Even if three days at a busy, crowded, roller coaster filled theme park seems at little overwhelming, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

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Epernay, Champagne

Photography, Travel

These past days, on our way to Disneyland Paris, we decided to stop for a few nights in Champagne. We stayed in a beautiful apartment in the center of Epernay, one of the most famous villages in the Champagne region of France.

The first thing we did in Epernay, was to sort out a nice place to eat out. Luckily there was a nice, family-friendly restaurant nearby that did delicious rotisseries for a very decent price. In fact, we loved the place so much we actually went 2/2 nights. The first night I got a Rotisserie Chicken, and the second night I ordered myself a Rotisserie Pork. Both were delicious.

During our time, we went and visited some smaller, very beautiful villages surrounding Epernay, where we looked at many vineyards full of grape vines, small antique shops, churches, and little Champagne Houses. In Epernay itself, we walked along Avenue de Champagne. Champagnes most famous street; home to all the big Champagne Houses such as Moet et Chandon and Perrier Jouet. We also walked around the town, and viewed The Gardens on Avenue de Champagne.

Although we were only in Epernay for a very short amount of time, we still got a great taste of what Champagne has to offer.

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England Take Two

Photography, Travel

Friday 23 June was my last day of school for 2016-2017 school year. At 3:30 p.m we had a flight from Lourdes to London. Unlike my last visit to London, this time we were staying out near London Gatwick Airport. Although we still did go into such places like Victoria, Clapham, and Richmond in London. We wanted to visit some smaller English towns nearby London.

Our first day in England, we drove in to Clapham in our yellow hire car. We were meeting some family. We spent the rest of the day exploring London. We stopped at a pub for some lunch. I still felt quite full from breakfast, so I just chose to get a bowl of Hot Chips. After this, we caught a bus to Richmond. Which is a small suburban area of London. It was very pretty, we walked along the riverside, but due to some heavy rain earlier on, the sidewalk was flooding! What really was amazing about Richmond is that after a 15 minute bus ride from Central London you can be in what feels like never ending country side.

After Richmond, we took the bus to Victoria. Which is where our cousins live, we went to Shake Shack Victoria for dinner. Although not the most authentic place to eat, the burgers are 10/10, honestly. By this time, it was absolutely bucketing down with rain. So we were just happy to be inside.

The next day, we made the decision to visit a nearby town called Arundel, West Sussex. Which was home to a beautiful ancient castle and gardens. Altough we didn’t go in to the actual castle, we spent our day walking around the beautiful streets, eating jam and cream scones in the local English Tea House, walking around the massive castle grounds/gardens. The town really was beautiful.

The next day, we were just determined to get ourselves to the airport on time. So we left earlier in the day. And before we knew it, we were back home in France. Luckily, this isn’t my last time in England, I’ll be back soon! Trust me.

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The City of Canals

Photography, Travel

It has always been a dream of mine to visit Venice, and the past week I was fortunate enough to finally visit. After sitting in a Train for two hours from Milan, when we arrived in Venice, I was really eager to explore the City. We caught a water bus from the train station to the Grand Canal. The first thing I saw, was the Rialto Bridge, it looked exactly like it did in all of the beautiful photos you see of Venice. It was a very hot day, and the tourists were every where, the gondolas were on the water, and the gelateria’s were packed.

On the first night, I was told that Venice is not known for the pizza unlike other Italian cities such as Rome or Naples. Unfortunately that was after I had ordered the pizza on the menu. Nevertheless, the pizza was still delicious. My personal favourite time for exploring the Venice streets is evening, the tourists have settled down, the temperature is dropping, the canals are still. Everything just seems more relaxed at evening time. The Venice Canals are all so very beautiful, all of them. During the day they are full of locals riding boats to work and tourists riding gondolas to see the beautiful city from a different angle.

We were fortunate enough to get a very good deal for a gondola ride in the evening, where it is usually most expensive in the evening, we got it for the same price as mid-day. It was so much more enjoyable in the evening, the canals were all so peaceful, and the sun wasn’t too bright. You can even pay a premium and get a local Italian singer to play for you while you boat through the canals.

At the moment, Venice sits in first place, tied with Paris on my favourite places I have visited in Europe. I am so thankful that I have had the chance to visit one of the most beautiful places on earth. I would love to visit again in a few years time.

 

 

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Bellagio, Lake Como

Photography, Travel

These past days, I have found myself in the beautiful lake-side town of Bellagio, which is located around Lake Como, Italy. This truly is the most ideal summer vacation spot. It is absolutely beautiful. The first thing I noticed about the tiny commune, is that there are so many tourists, and I mean that literally. At one point of my visit, I couldn’t even get to my apartment, I was trapped in an ocean of tourists. They flood in to the town off of ferries and boats at every second of the day.

The first night we arrived, we were very tired from a pretty busy day. After hours in the airport, we were ready to set off for Milan. Unfortunately we didn’t stay long at all in Milan. We had a train to catch. And then a bus. The bus ride was really enjoyable, we drove from Como to Bellagio via bus, right along the lake on a very narrow, turning road. The views from the bus were beautiful. When we hopped off of the bus, we had to walk for a little while to get to the center of Bellagio. Which was where our beautiful apartment was located. Our apartment was right next to an Italian daily cooking school, we would always come home to a delicious smelling Italian meal.

The views of the mountains surrounding Lake Como were very visible from Bellagio, if not a little hazy. There were always ferries and boats on the lake making a very picturesque view of the lake from the town. The weather there was very warm, and the humidity wasn’t too bad. But I definitely should have packed more pairs of t-shirts and shorts. We were recommended a very nice Gelateria, which was no more than 100 meters away from our apartment. My top two gelati flavours of choice would have to be Straccitella and Menta.

Over the few days, we went on walks, went out for dinner and lunch, went to parks, walked along the waterfront, went on a ferry, ate gelati, relaxed in the sun, and much more. I really enjoyed my stay in Bellagio, Lake Como. And I would really recommend it to anyone looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the big Italian cities.

Avignon, Gordes, and Rousillon

Photography, Travel

This past week, along with many other towns. I visited Avignon, which is in Provence, France. With my family, including my Grandparents. A very beautiful town, packed with history. We stayed in Avignon for 4 nights. Only a short walk from our apartment, was Palais des Papes and Avignon Cathedral. Both historical monuments of Avignon. The highlight of my trip to Avignon was the smaller villages nearby. Including Gordes and Rousillon.

Gordes was absolutely stunning, possibly the most beautiful place I’ve ever been to. It felt like a dream. The village is built upon a mountain looking over the beautiful fields of Provence, France. We stopped here for lunch, surprisingly; at an Italian Restaurant. I was hoping for fields of lavender but unfortunately lavender will not be in bloom until around July. I definitely will need to return to Provence to get some photos of the absolutely stunning lavender fields.

Rousillon was a town of reds, and I mean that literally. Everything from the houses to the terrain was of a reddish tint. The reddish terrain made me feel like I was back in Australia or somewhere in the USA. The quaint, quiet town felt extremely different to everywhere else in France I’ve been before. We bought some souvenirs, walked around for a while, admired the views.. And we were off, we didn’t stay for too long here. But the hour or so we were here was enough to appreciate its beauty.

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The Ancient, Fortified Town of Carcassonne

Photography, Travel

Recently, on our way to the Town of Avignon we stopped for a night in Carcassonne. A beautiful, ancient, fortified, hilltop town. Packed tightly with shops, tourists, locals, and restaurants.

Firstly, since we arrived at around lunch and were rather hungry, we went and found a place to eat lunch. The first thing I noticed about this town is that there were a lot of tourists. And I mean a lot, everyone had their cameras out, it seemed like I blended in with all the other tourists. I don’t blame them for taking photos. The entire town was drop dead gorgeous. Like my parents said “It feels like you’ve gone back in time”. We looked at many small local shops like cute home-styled biscuit stores, fancy hand-made clothing stores, soap stores, sweet shops, bakeries…

The photo opportunities in the ‘castle’ were also very common and beautiful. Whether you wanted a photo of the bustling small streets or the view from the castle to the rest of the town. There were many trees planted in the various squares. Making for a very green feeling town.

I really now can see why Carcassonne is one of the most famous French Villages. It was extremely beautiful.

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The Trail from San Seb to Pasajes de San Juan

Experience, Photography, Travel

The past week, I visited San Sebastian once again with my family. Including my Grandparents that have recently flown over from Australia. We went to San Sebastian to do one thing in particular; Walk a coastal trail all the way to a beautiful small fishing village called Pasaia. We started the coastal trail at roughly about 9:20 in the morning.

As soon as we pulled ourselves up what seemed like miles of stairs, we instantly knew that this walk was going to be worth it. The views were astonishing. There were plenty of incredible lookout spots, looking over the beautiful city of San Sebastian and out to the ocean. Due to all of us constantly stopping for photo breaks, we arrived at our destination about 4 hours later. Unfortunately it was an extremely windy and I was stupid enough to leave my camera at home.

To get to the Fishing Village of Pasaia, we needed to catch a small boat to cross a small water inlet. When we reached the other side of the inlet, we looked for a place to eat. We decided on a small, local fishing restaurant which did excellent calamari and fish & chips. Unfortunately the wind decided to follow us to the village, at one point the wind became so powerful that it blew multiple glasses over all over the restaurant; making a very noticeable racket. Luckily enough the wind came in waves and was still for most of the time. It was also very sunny and warm.

To get back to San Sebastian, you have to cross the water inlet once again, and walk to a nearby bus stop and wait for a bus that leaves for San Sebastian every 20 minutes. I enjoyed this trail walk very much. Something about being completely surrounded by nature feels refreshing, also the views were just outstanding.

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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.