Two trips to Paris

This post was inspired by a recent post by my blogger friend Bri, in her own words, ‘a 22 year old with an intense need to see the world.’ Read all about her adventures at A Little Slice of Bri. Cool name, right?! But wait a sec, and this might sound a bit strange to many, but Bri hates Paris!

What? How could someone hate Paris, right? But when I read Bri’s post about why she hates Paris, I started reflecting upon my own visits to Paris on two separate occasions. I was quite close to having a disastrous first trip myself & might have completely agreed with her if I hadn’t been saved by one more day on my first visit, and with the second trip this year, a very happy one at that 🙂

The first time I arrived in Paris was the day after Mr.A had returned from a trip to China, so the poor guy was totally messed up in terms of body clock 😦 Plus, we booked cheap flights between Stockholm & Paris, which meant we had to fly to and from airports far outside of the city viz. Skavsta outside of Stockholm and Beauvais on the outskirts of Paris. Unfortunately, we hadn’t accounted for the additional travel time 😦 So we arrived  at our hotel by mid-day, already tired. Hotel rooms in Paris are not my favorite, they are tiny and cramped up, and you’d have to shell out a lot for a relatively small improvement. Nonetheless, we ended up spending a lot of time sleeping off the fatigue on the day we arrived. We were going to spend only the weekend; to my dismay one day was already gone! So my first day in Paris was quite in tune with yours, Bri!

But we decided that Sunday was going to be different. Totally refreshed, we cashed in on  all the major sights with the help of the L’Open Tours hop-on-hop-off bus. The Louvre is enormous and grand but we didn’t spend too much time there. We prioritized the Mona Lisa, but it was too small and too many tourists like ourselves were trying to get a closer look. The irony, I know! It was a bit disappointing, but that’s what I mostly hear from fellow travelers, so no surprise there. It was fun to take the quintessential illusory photos at the Pyramid, though. Up at the Eiffel Tower, the view was enjoyable, and I liked the modern history around it’s construction. We rode the bus along Champs-Élysées to the end of Place Charles de Gaulle. It was interesting to draw parallels between the Arc de Triomphe and similar arches in other cities (I wrote a guest post on A Date with Delhi, inspired by that visit.) A high point of the day was the grand Notre-Dame Cathedral.  Even better, we finished the day with a really nice dinner with a classmate from our Manila days. We were exhausted by the end, but it wasn’t so bad after all 🙂

The second time around, however, things were looking up. Earlier this year we celebrated the wedding of that same friend in Paris! It’s not just that I’m slightly biased because this couple is dear to me, but I do believe theirs was one of the most beautiful and romantic weddings I’ve ever been to. On a bonus we got to hang out with a bunch of other friends who studies with Mr.A and me at B-school in Manila. It was an absolute joy to reconnect after so many years – a mini reunion of sorts. Thanks to the bride, we also got to spend a day at Disney Land Paris, trying out all the thrilling rides! Back in the city, we followed one of Rick Steves’ audio guides and walked by the Seine river at a leisurely pace, going back to the Notre-Dame Cathedral during the day and watching the shimmering Eiffel Tower (from a little distance away) at night.

I honestly think our company affected our mood the second trip in a hugely positive manner. And it does take a lot of things to click together to bring about an aha! feeling, but only a couple of negatives can spoil an entire trip. So I would say, why not give Paris a second chance, and never say never 🙂

[On a side note, if you haven’t tried out the Rick Steves’ Europe guides, I would highly recommend giving it a go. You can use the app to use it on the go & enjoy many a nook & corner that regular guide books do not provide. They are extremely well researched and thoroughly enjoyable. I’ve tried different guides in Rome, Florence, Salzburg, Vienna, Prague, Berlin and many others, and never been disappointed. Nope, he didn’t pay me to say all that, I am a true fan 😉 ]

 

Favorite brunch places in Stockholm

Lately Mr.A and I have been on a cafe spree, hunting down the best weekend brunches in Stockholm. We’ve been looking up popular places in town that are known for something special and trying them out one by one. At least three good things come of it – one, this brings us out into the hep parts of the city every weekend; two, we get to try a new place and some of them have quickly made it into our fav-list and three, with all the good food we don’t have to cook until dinner. Win-win, yoohooo! Based on our research, here’s a short must-visit list 😉

#1 Cafe Saturnus

I’ve written about this cafe before, but I was happily reminded about it recently. It’s a cosy place with closely placed seats. If you like eggs, you’ll find it tough to choose from their great list of brunch dishes. Their kannelbullar, traditional Swedish cinnamon buns, are giant in size and taste! Take one to share or to save for a second fika 😉 It’s a very popular cafe, so large groups might have to wait longer to find seating. Strollers have to be left outside. For the two of us, it was relatively easy.

Website: http://www.cafesaturnus.se/

Address: Eriksbergsgatan 6, Stockholm

 

#2 Vete-Katten

This cafe has been around since the 1920’s & has closely maintained its old-world charm. The cakes, pastries & coffee is great. I felt the serving size of the main course (salmon & couscous) was a bit small for the price, but delicious nonetheless. The location is great if you happen to be around the city center. The seating is quite tight and cozy and it might be a tad bit challenging to find a place to sit during the weekends. On the other hand, you could still enjoy a take-away. If not for anything else, I’d say you should check it off your list with at least one visit, being as it is the highest ranked cafe in Stockholm!

Website: http://www.vetekatten.se/

Address: Kungsgatan 55, Stockholm. Psst! They just opened a new takeaway outlet at the Vasagatan entrance at T-Centralen metro station.

 

#3 Greasy Spoon

This one was hard to get into, it’s way too sought after. For all the right reasons, too. They have a scrumptious selection of sandwiches and fancy dishes with egg. Their meals are big in size and extremely gratifying. We tried their croissants which came toasted is butter, in a bed of strawberry compote, sprinkled over with nuts and sugar dust. I think I’ve been having recurrent dreams about that meal ever since 😉 As I said, getting a table is a challenge so you might have to plan to be in early to get your name in the queue, since they do not take reservations on the phone. But once you’re in, you will surely enjoy anything you pick from the menu.

Website : http://www.greasyspoon.se/

Address: Hagagatan 4, Stockholm and Tjärhovsgatan 19, Stockholm

 

#4 Flippin’ Burgers

So who doesn’t like burgers, right? At Flippin’ Burgers, you can find a small selection of perfectly cooked burgers, with optional fries, good beers and even better milkshakes. Guess you don’t need a big menu when you excel at the most popular tastes. Their menu tells you everything that a conscious diner needs to know – the small farms in Sweden where the meat is sourced from, the organic & freshly baked buns, fair-trade ice cream for their milkshakes and their organic  wine suppliers. What they do feels very well thought through.

Website : http://flippinburgers.se/

Address : Observatoriegatan 8, Stockholm

 

Temporary

FotoJetFotoJet1FotoJet2Icebergs float freely on Jökulsárlón, a stunning glacial lake in southern Iceland. These floes have broken away from Breiðamerkurjökull, a glacier that is part of Vatnajökull, the largest glacier in Iceland and drift around the lagoon at their own pace. Temporary in nature, they slowly melt away. Some giant chunks of ice will stick around for months, shape-shifting as the sun, wind and water wear them away. Others, minute in comparison, will thaw within a day.

There’s more from the Weekly Photo Challenge on this blog!