WMW's Gift Guide for Travel Lovers

Looking for some inspiration for the travel obsessed, wanderlust suffering globetrotter in your life? Well, speaking as one of those people, I'm sharing both my favourite things and what's on my wish list this year in hopes to inspire some ideas! Nothing listed here is sponsored in any way. Some things I own and others I covet, and they are all purely things that I love, think are great, and happy to recommend to others! 

 

For the Frequent Flier

Away Suitcases

Photo: Away via Conde Nast Traveler 

Photo: Away via Conde Nast Traveler 

One of the hottest, and most Instagrammable, suitcases on the block, Away is attracting people for its chic, minimalist style and embedded technology. Away makes what they call 'thoughtful' luggage, developed from hundreds of travel stories. Their suitcases feature unbreakable shells, interior compartments - and, one of the coolest elements - built-in USB chargers! The built-in battery can be easily removed, is TSA approved, and is compliant with all airline policies. You can choose from the popular carry-on luggage style through to large checked baggage sizes in a multitude of colours. While I normally pick sleek black, I just love this perfect pink shade. 

Away takes a direct-to-consumer approach. By doing this, the suitcases are made with the same high quality materials as other premium luggage brands but can charge less due to having lower overheads. And, importantly, Away guarantees their quality for life. 

On the other end of the luggage spectrum is the beautiful vintage inspired and designed Steamline Luggage. There are a variety of different collection styles and sizes to pick from. One of my favourites is the Sweetheart Collection, a selection of light-coloured cases (white and tan) on the exterior with a beautifully printed lining inside of foliage, flowers and birds, making a beautiful contrast. In the photos below is another collection I love called the Architect in cream. This collection is inspired by Art Deco prints for its interior lining. 

While the design may be vintage, the cases are modern in function with features like an extendable trolley handle, buckled leather straps, two TSA-approved locks, and silent-glide wheels. Inside, you will find zippered lid pockets and a detachable door-hangar washbag to keep your belongings organized. SteamLine has also included a new ripstop cover to protect the case. The carry-on size also meets the cabin luggage size requirements for most major airlines. 

SteamLine ships all over the world, and also provides a full refund if you are not happy providing the luggage is unused. 

Photo: SteamLine Luggage

Photo: SteamLine Luggage

I received a Coach passport case monogrammed with my initials a few years ago and it is one of my chicest travel accessories. It's a timeless gift and a lovely little luxury to give someone. If you have the time to have it monogrammed, it ups the luxury factor that much more through personalization. The quality of the leather is fantastic, contains multiple slots to carry various travel documents, frequent flier cards, and other important documents, and is durable. 

Photo: Lululemon

Photo: Lululemon

I have used Lululemon's duffel bags for years - purely for travel! I call it my 'Mary Poppins' bag due to its ability to fit an unbelievable amount of things in it and still look chic while carrying it. This bag is perfect for a city break or weekend away somewhere. I have found these bags to be very durable and last a long time. 

This particular bag is water-repellent, contains laptop storage (a padded pocket that fits a 15" laptop), a heat-resistant pocket (helpful for a hair straightener), multiple compartments and pockets, and comes in various colours and patters

Photo: Cabeau Evolution Memory Foam Pillow

Photo: Cabeau Evolution Memory Foam Pillow

Ok, so a travel pillow may not be the most exciting present but bear with me. After trying many different travel pillows over the years, this is now my most trusted one. This pillow is actually comfortable as it is made with high quality memory foam. When I fall asleep on planes, my head tends to bob all over the place so I put this on and it supports my neck properly with 360 degree support. It's easy to pack as it squishes and folds up neatly into its bag, you can tie it to your carry-on bag to save room, and it is washable. It also comes with a two year satisfaction warranty. Forget blow-up, down, or beanbag style travel pillows - this is a travel winner. 

Capture Memories

Olympus PEN Camera

Photo: Olympus PEN

Photo: Olympus PEN

On my wish list for ages has been the Olympus PEN camera. It is beautiful in design with its vintage style, portable so it is easy to carry around, and has high specs and top quality interchangeable lenses so it can produce beautiful images. I've been looking for a terrific camera that is more easily transportable than my DLSR, but produces better quality images than a standard point-and-shoot or smartphone. It's also got built in wi-fi so you can upload and share your images quickly. The other great thing about it that I love are the stylish accessories that you can pick from including leather neck straps, lens covers, body jackets, and bags. There is a more expensive, higher quality version which is the PEN-F, and a lower cost but still high quality version, which is the PEN-E. 

Photo: Olympus PEN 

Photo: Olympus PEN 

Create Experiences 

Eurostar E-Voucher

Photo: Eurostar

Photo: Eurostar

Is there a better gift than being able to jet someone off to Paris for the weekend? The Eurostar is chic and so easy to use - and often has terrific deals, including on Boxing Day. You can buy e-vouchers from Eurostar in either a pre-selected amount or amount of your choosing in GBP, EUR, or USD. I love this idea because it provides something to look forward to and creates a memory. 

Other Experience Ideas

  • Gift certificate from an airline to put towards airfare for a destination of their dreams, much-needed getaway, or upgrade. 
  • Pre-book tickets if you know they are going to a particular destination and their dates, such as museum tickets, tickets to a special exhibition, a hotel upgrade, special tour, or restaurant. 
  • Currency for the destination they are going so they can buy themselves something special, especially if money is tight or it's been spent on the logistics and accommodation! 

 

Wearable Memories

Jet Set Candy

jetset.gif

I first discovered Jet Set Candy in December 2015 when I visited a Christmas Market at NYC'S Grand Central Station. I instantly fell in love with the beautiful wanderlust inspired jewelry and charms representing all things travel. Launched in October 2014, Jet Set Candy is one of the first premium lines of travel souvenirs which are modern and wearable keepsakes. Many of the pieces are collectible, such as the fun airport code charms that can be put on a necklace or used as a charm on a bracelet.  The line was designed by Nicole Parker King, who wanted to design a thoughtful, stylish, and classic line of travel souvenirs to redefine what is available for travel lovers. The pieces are collectible and made in either sterling silver, 14k vermeil, or solid gold. 

In addition to a YYZ charm, I also picked up a silver ring with a plane on it, which was instructed by Nicole's mom to wear facing out on outbound trips and facing in on inbound trips. The packaging is also so thoughtful from the beautifully printed tissue paper with maps, beautiful navy blue suede jewelry pouches, and travel inspired quotes on the inside of the box. 

One of my all-time favourite shops, Canadian jewelry and lifestyle shop Bluboho, has grown from a lovely shop in downtown Oakville, Ontario to adding two additional shops in Toronto, Canada (on Queen West and Yonge and Eglinton). Everything about these shops is special from the thoughtfully curated pieces which each have a meaning to the warm and welcoming staff led by Cheryl and Maggie who make you feel like an old friend from the first time you meet. The name 'Bluboho' represents a connection to others, nature and unlimited possibility, with references to sea and sky, and evokes a luxurious, free-spirited lifestyle and lust for life. 

Among the treasures you'll find in their beautifully designed shops are pieces symbolizing travel, wanderlust, adventure, and freedom. For example, I love the silver bar bracelets and necklaces with engraved quotes to speak to your present or desired state of mind or feelings. Two of my favourite quotes read 'Not all who wander are lost' and 'Fortune favours the brave'. Or,  choose a beautiful feather bracelet or birds in flight necklace to symbolize freedom, flight, and exploring new places. 

Bluboho has a stunning Instagram account that will have you wanting to buy everything they post, as well as an online shop. If you're in the Toronto area, pop-in and say hi to Maggie, Cheryl, and the team and see their treasures in person!

Photo: Pottery Barn

Photo: Pottery Barn

Think of this as jewelry for your luggage. For a chic, yet inexpensive, gift, jump onto Pottery Barn's website to order a personalized luggage tag. You can choose from a dark brown or black leather strap which holds a silver plated tag. Monogramming is available for a small extra charge with up to 15 characters per line. This is a fantastic gift for a stylish traveler, a colleague or boss, or someone who frequently travels for business to up the professionalism and luxury factor. I chose to do mine and the ones I have given friends with name initials, such as the one shown in the photo above. 

I adore the concept of this jewelry line. Inspired by the line 'Every memory has a place', Coordinates Collection engraves the specific latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates of a place special to you or the recipient of your gift. The pieces are modern, chic, and stylish, and are a unique, deeply personal wearable memory. Is there a memorable holiday that you took? Have they lived abroad? Are they an expat and want to wear a piece of home? The possibilities are endless. 

You can choose a selection of bracelets, bangles, cuffs, and necklaces in sterling silver and gold at a range of price points from the very affordable to much more expensive pieces that incorporate precious gems and diamonds. This will be a gift that will delight and touch anyone you give this to. 

The 36 Hours In... series by the New York Times is a classic gift to either inspire ideas for new travels and/or help plan an upcoming trip. You can choose larger guides that cover Europe or USA and Canada, or smaller guides focused on a smaller region or country. It makes a terrific coffee table book as it will no doubt inspire conversation about favourite travel memories or dream destinations. I use it as a critical guide in helping inspire places to go for a city break or what to do while I'm there. 

Home and Lifestyle Inspiration 

Mapiful 

I discovered Mapiful through coming across their beautiful Instagram account and fell in love with their products. Mapiful creates printed map posters of not only the big, usual-suspect world cities, but many smaller cities around the world. Even cooler, you can customize your own map through their online tool of your own city or town (or that of the person you are gifting it to) to really personalize this gift. Posters are printed on museum quality paper and shipping is free worldwide. The hardest part will be trying to choose which location(s) you want!

Christmas in Paris

When I first moved to the UK in 2008, I discovered the phenomenon of Christmas Markets. I mean, being able to pop over to a new European country for a long weekend to explore a new city without high season tourist crowds, walk around in the frosty air amongst beautiful Christmas trees, twinkling lights, little market stalls selling all sorts of treasures, the smell of baked goods in the air, and sipping some hot gluhwein (mulled wine) to keep warm and festive - does it get any better? Well, perhaps, when snowflakes begin to fall around you adding to the magical atmosphere! Between exploring the Christmas markets in the city, you can duck into interesting museums, shops, and restaurants to explore and warm up. Since that first year I went in 2008 (to Prague), I have continued the tradition by visiting a new Christmas Market each year.

Paris is magical any time of year you visit, but add some more lights and sparkle at Christmastime and it's almost overwhelming! I'm sharing my Paris Christmas Market trip guide and recommendations below.

Christmas Markets:

La Defense:

This is the largest Christmas Market in Paris with over 350 christmas stalls to explore, shop, and eat. It's in the business area of Paris, so while it isn't right in the centre of the city, it is a pretty quick Metro journey to get there. It is prettiest at dusk and into the evening when the lights switch on over the market and the surrounding buildings. 

Open: 23 November - 28 December, 2017; open every day from 11am to 8pm.

Metro: Esplanade de la Défense, La Défense - Grande Arche; RER: La Defense 

 

Notre Dame

Notre Dame is one of Paris's most iconic and beautiful landmarks. There is a lovely Christmas Market in Square Rene Viviani selling a host of French arts, crafts, and gastronomy. There are fewer market stalls here (about 40), but the setting and atmosphere are beautiful - and you can check out the Cathedral while you're there. 

Open: 15 - 24 December 2017; open every day from 10am to 8pm. 

Metro: Saint-Michel

 

Saint-Germain-des-Pres

This is one of my favourite areas in Paris. It features a lovely Christmas Market in front of the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Pres. After exploring the wooden chalets, enjoy a coffee outside at one of the bistro tables of Cafe de Flore or Les Deux Magots to people watch. There is great shopping and other great restaurants in this area too. Try checking out Le Bon Marche or stock up on French beauty products at City Pharma

 

Place d'Italie

This small Christmas Market is in the lovely Place d'Italie, and features delicious food to enjoy as well as a selection of Christmas chalets selling festive items. 

Open: 28 November - 31 December 2017

Metro: Place d'Italie

 

Eiffel Tower - Mail Branly

Close to the Eiffel Tower, there is another small market to enjoy shopping at and warming up with some mulled wine. While it's small, it makes up for it by its location - close to the Eiffel Tower (go in the evening to watch is sparkle) and the beautiful Bir Hakeim bridge (a double height bridge, made famous in Last Tango in Paris). 

Metro: Alma - Marceau 

 

Montmartre

Montmartre is the Paris often described in books: it has a dreamy Parisian village feel with its fairytale-like shops and homes dotting the hilly landscape and providing some of the most stunning views of the city. This market has about 30 christmas chalets selling mulled wine, French food, and traditional gifts below the Sacre-Coeur.

Metro: Abbesses

 

Gare Saint-Lazare

This Christmas Market is located at the Saint-Lazare station, and features a variety of pop-up shops selling unique items which are made in France. 

Metro: Saint-Lazare

 

Champs Elysee

This elegant, famous boulevard is a cavalcade of lights and market stalls competing for your attention. There are over 200 wooden chalets stretching from the place de la Concorde to the Champs Elysee roundabout. To be honest, this isn't my favourite area for Christmas Markets in Paris as I found it to be too busy, too commercial, and very few unique things at inflated prices. If you're in the area, check it out, especially in the evening when all of the lights are on along the boulevard creating a beautiful sight. Another idea is to take a ride on the Wheel near sunset for stunning views with beautiful low winter light over the city. 

*Note: this Christmas Market has been cancelled by the Paris City Council due to its 'inferior quality food, toys, and trinkets'. It remains to be seen if this decision will be overturned!

Do:

My favourite thing to do in Paris is to explore new areas and walk for hours discovering new shops, restaurants, and cultural and historical sights. Let yourself get lost and see what you can discover! Below are some of my favourite things to do in Paris:

  • Musee Rodin: This small but beautiful museum is perfect to explore without feeling overwhelmed. Many of the sculptures are in the beautiful gardens so you can walk around and explore outdoors, as well as inside the museum building. It also has a very nice cafe to stop for a small bite to eat or a coffee. 

 

  • Museum National d'Histoire Paleontology Section at the Jardin de Plantes, is very cool. They have lined up the skeletons of dozens (hundreds?) of animals progressing in size, so if you stand in front of it facing them, they look like they are running towards you! A small, but very cool museum inside a beautiful park.

 

  • Louvre: Incredible but overwhelming. If you go, pick a few things in advance you really want to see and target those. This museum is absolutely enormous with thousands of things to see, and will tire you out quickly. Try and also buy a ticket in advance online to beat the crowds and queues. Definitely check out the grounds of the Louvre with its iconic Pyramid dominating the square. Grab a pastry and coffee from Claus and people-watch on one of the benches in the square. 

 

  • Musee d'Orsay: Another iconic Parisian museum to explore devoted to the arts between 1848 - 1914. Artistic movements featured include Realism, Impressionism, Symbolism, and Art Nouveau. Artists include Bonnard, Carpeaux, Cezanne, Degas, Guimard, Lalique, Manet, Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, Rodin and Van Gogh. There is a lovely cafe on the top floor of the museum to stop and rest your feet. While you're there, check out the large clock window for great views and photo opportunities. There is also a great terrace offering fabulous views over the city near the cafe. 

 

  • Musee National Picasso-Paris: This museum was recently renovated and features over 5,000 works of Picasso and tens of thousands of archived pieces. This collection, housed in a beautiful building, is the only one in the world that presents Picasso's complete painted, sculpted, engraved, and illustrated works, as well as a record through sketches, studies, drafts, notebooks, etchings, photographs, illustrated books, films and documents of his creative process. This is a fantastic museum to visit and not too overwhelming. It also has a very nice gift shop nearby.

 

  • Eiffel Tower: For me, this is a must-visit every time I visit Paris. Yes, it's touristy but there's just something about it that draws me in, whether early in the morning when that magical Parisian daylight is rising, or in the evenings when the Tower sparkles and shimmers. My suggestion is to go to Trocadero first to admire it and take some fab photos, then walk down the steps and across the bridge so that you're at its base. under it. It sparkles on the hour every hour at dark (usually from 6pm) for about 5 minutes. There is a lovely park stretching out from the Tower as well, which is perfect for a picnic. Click here for more of my Eiffel Tower suggestions. 

 

  • Institut du Monde Arabe: This stunning building opened in 2012. The Institut features exhibitions and objects that show the diversity of the Arab world and Arab-Islamic civilization throughout history. More than 560 unique works are displayed across four levels including bronzes, ceramics, woodwork, textiles, scientific objects, and illuminations. One of the most beautiful and fascinating elements of the building are it's windows, which features 240 photo-sensitive motor controlled apertures / shutters, which automatically open and close to control the amount of light and heat come into the building from the sun. This mechanism creates interior spaces with filtered light, which is an effect often used with climate-oriented strategies. I love going to the top of the building to enjoy the beautiful views over Paris from its rooftop terrace, and stopping at the rooftop cafe for a glass of champagne and delicious baklava. 

 

  • Musee de l'Orangerie: This beautiful museum is located in the Jardin des Tuileries. With many beautiful works of art to admire, the jewel in its crown is the spectacular room featuring Claude Monet's 'Waterlilies'. Worth the visit even if you just go to see this famous work of art! 

 

  • Notre-Dame Paris:  This Parisian landmark is an iconic medieval Catholic cathedral located on the Ile de la Cite on the Seine. The cathedral is one of the largest and most famous religious buildings in the world, and considered to be one of the best examples of French Gothic architecture. You can climb up inside and enjoy stunning view of the city, as well as stroll the perfectly manicured gardens surrounding the Cathedral.

 

  • Sacre-Coeur: The Basilica of the Sacré Cœur dominates the hill of Montmatre. It is a Roman Catholic church at the highest point in the city, providing visitors with incredible views over Paris. It is actually also a double monument as both a national penance for the defeat of France in the 1870 Franco-Prussian War and the social Paris Commune of 1871, which crowned its most rebellious neighbourhood, and an embodiment of conservative moral order.  located at the summit of the hill of Montmartre, on the right bank of the Seine. Its dominating appearance on the hill in white with rounded towers make it seem almost fairytale-like. There are public 'steps' located out front that you can sit and enjoy the fantastic view and street performers. Annoyingly, there are some aggressive people selling cheap, knock-off items and trying to rip tourists off. Ignore them. Also ignore the tables selling lottery and games towards the bottom by being firm and confident. 

 

  • Palace of Versailles: It probably requires at least a half a day but is well worth a visit.  The Palace of Versailles has been a World Heritage Site for 30 years. Once Louis XIII's old hunting pavilion was transformed by his son, Louis XIV, when he installed the Court and Government here in 1682. A succession of Kings continued to expand the Palace until the French Revolution in 1789 forced Louis XVI to leave Versailles for Paris.  The Palace became the Museum of the History of France in 1837 with the rooms devoted to housing new collections of paintings and sculptures representing important figures and events that had marked the history of France. Today, the Palace has 2,300 rooms! The palace has extensive, beautifully landscaped gardens which spread over 800 hectares. One of the most spectacular rooms is the Hall of Mirrors, which was built to replace a large terrace which opened onto the garden. If you're a fan of Marie Antoinette, you'll enjoy seeing the chambers where she lived and slept! 

 

  • Palais Royal: Located close to the Louvre, this beautiful spot is popular for people to come for a walk around the beautiful gardens, strike a pose against the chic black and white columns, check out the contemporary fountains in the courtyard, or grab a coffee from the popular Cafe Kitsune. The Palais Royal was originally built for Cardinal Richelieu. The main part of the palace became a royal residence from 1661. It was completed and modified in the 18th and 19th centuries. During the 19th century, it became a place of promiscuity, which was immortalized by Balzac. 

 

  • Gardens: Paris is known for its stunning gardens. Some of my favourites to explore are the Jardin du Luxembourg, Jardin des Plantes, and Jardin des Tuileries.

 

  • Pere Lechaise cemetery: Located in the 20th, it is really fascinating and worth a visit (it isn't creepy). This is one of Paris's most famous and frequently visited cemeteries due to its extensive size (44 hectares and 70,000 burial plots), its landscaping (modeled after an English park), architecture and shrines including Gothic graves, Haussmanian burial chambers, and ancient mausoleums, and the numerous famous people who have been laid to rest here. Famous residents including Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, Camille Pissarro, Jim Morrison, Colette, Frederic Chopin, and Moliere, just to name a few. 

 

  • Fondation Louis Vuitton: Designed by renowned architect, Frank Gehry, the Fondation is an art museum and cultural centre which opened in 2014. The building itself is worth seeing, which is located in the Bois de Boulogne (near the Jardin d'Acclimatation). There are panoramic views throughout the building, due to its extensive and creative use of glass. It features a permanent art collection as well as special exhibits, and has a lovely cafe on the ground floor. 

 

  • Place des Vosges: One of Paris's oldest and most beautiful squares! Explore the arches housing shops, restaurants, and galleries which surround the main square and central garden. On the edge of the Marais, it is a perfect place to enjoy a picnic if it is nice outside. 

 

  • Arc de Triomphe: At the 'top' of the Champs Elysee and at the Place de l'Etoile, you can climb this famous arch and have beautiful views from the top across the entire city.

 

  • Palais de Tokyo: This gallery is dedicated to modern and contemporary art, near the Trocadero. It also has a terrace with incredible views out to the Eiffel Tower that can be accessed for free. 

Shop

  • Le Bon Marche: I visit this beautiful store every time I'm in Paris. It's chic, filled with all kinds of fabulous brands (especially the beauty and women's contemporary sections) and items, and a seriously Instagrammable main hall with art deco escalators criss-crossing each other. They often feature creative art installations, so worth checking out to see what's on display. 

 

  • Galeries Lafayette: go here to check out the incredible main hall which always features a breathtaking Christmas tree! Some nice shopping for contemporary fashion and beauty, but I usually prefer Le Bon Marche. 

 

  • Printemps Hausmann: The showstopper here is their fantastic rooftop cafe for stunning views over Paris. Enter through the beauty counter entrance of the building and head to the rooftop via this route. The view is free, and it's lovely to sit with a coffee or glass of wine at the rooftop cafe, especially at sunset.  

 

  • ColetteLocated on the swish Rue St Honore, this is a fashion favourite. They always have cool features happening in-store as well as carefully curated, unique items and brands to check out.

 

  • City Pharma: If you're as obsessed with beauty and skin products as me, you have to visit City Pharma in St Germain. This beauty cult favourite has all the best French products, like Caudalie, Avene, La Roche Posay etc etc, and all at inexpensive prices. Be warned though - it gets insanely busy so I suggest going early on a weekday morning or later in the evening on a weekday if you can. Stand your ground and ideally go with a list of things you want with you to stay focused. 

 

  • Merci: In the Haut-Marais is this fabulous fashion and home store. You'll probably know it by seeing the iconic Mini Cooper in the courtyard and its cool Used Book Cafe. Merci acts as a launching pad for young designers to make themselves known to French and international shoppers. 

 

  • Shakespeare and Co: This brilliant and famous independent bookshop sells a wide selection of English language books on the left bank.  It was the first bookshop to publish James Joyce's Ulysses in full. It regularly hosts events, including hosting some of the most famous literary figures in history such as Ernest Hemingway, F Scott Fitzgerald, Jack Kerouac, and Allen Ginsberg. The shop was forced to close in 1941 when Nazis occupied Paris. It also has a little cafe attached to it next door. It is definitely worth checking out!

Eat

There are too many wonderful places to eat in Paris to possibly list them all, so I'll dive in by sharing some of my current favourites:

  • Fish La BoissonnerieLocated in Saint-Germain-des-Pres, this restaurant has a regularly changing menu featuring fresh, seasonal ingredients and dishes. Their wine selection is also terrific. I have never had a bad meal here. Make a reservation for this small restaurant to secure your chance of having dinner here, or slide up to eat at the bar to enjoy and chat with the people around you. A must visit on any trip to Paris I make! 

 

  • Semilla: This restaurant is by the same owners of Fish La Boissonnerie and is also a wonderful, slightly more upscale restaurant just across the road. Semilla features very tasty dishes with fresh, seasonal ingredients on its regularly changing menu.

 

  • Le Mary Celeste: This is easily one of the coolest places in Paris. This tiny restaurant and bar is located in the Marais and features creative, delicious dishes on a regularly updated menu. This place is buzzing with people so reservations are recommended. It's a great place to go with friends to share a variety of dishes, or try some of their amazing cocktails (some of the best I've ever tried anywhere!).

 

  • L'Éclair de Genie: The best eclairs anywhere, hands down. The incredible eclairs by master pastry chef Christophe Adam literally brought tears to my eyes when I first tried them - they are THAT good! There are a few locations in Paris now, but my favourite is the one in the Marais. If the Salted Caramel eclair is available, definitely make that your first one! 

 

  • Rose Bakery: This is a great place for brunch, particularly at their Marais location, or take a shopping break and have a coffee and their famous carrot cake if you're at their Le Bon Marche location. Don't go too late in the day though or you'll miss the carrot cake and some of the other in-demand cakes!

 

  • Bistrot Paul Bert: Classic French food in a beautiful bistro style restaurant. The food was incredible and the desserts were out of this world. We ordered a cheese board, which arrived at our table on a giant cutting board - with full size blocks of cheese and a knife to cut the amount you wanted! One of my friends ordered the baba au rhum (Rum Baba cake), which came with an entire bottle of rum to top up at your pleasure! I had their Paris Brest, which was to die for. 

 

  • Grande Mosquee de Paris: Enjoy a fabulous mint tea and baklava in the lovely courtyard and gardens, and explore one of the biggest mosques in France. 

 

  • Printemps Haussmann: If you're looking for a great quick lunch or snack, the gourmet food hall at Printemps is incredible! This is a food hall Parisian style - think champagne and oyster bars, fancy tapas, gorgeous pastries, and more. The last time I was there, I enjoyed some sparkling wine and tapas. Lovely! 

 

  • Mama Shelter: Not just a fabulous place to stay, it is also a great place for cocktails at night and where cool Parisians hang out.

 

  • Mariage Freres: This French tea company is my favourite brand of tea (particularly Vanille des Iles and French Breakfast). They have a few locations around Paris, and some of them do a wonderful afternoon tea. 

 

  • Ralph's Paris: This lovely little cafe by Ralph Lauren is in Saint-Germain-des-Pres inside a beautiful courtyard. It is a nice experience if you want something a bit lux. 

 

  • Claus: A lovely brunch and coffee spot in the Marais, close to the Louvre. It's always busy so I've usually just grabbed some of their lovely to-go pastries and a coffee and eaten them on one of the benches outside of the Louvre while people-watching.

 

  • Au Petit Versailles: One of the best bakeries in Paris in the Marais. It's tiny but wonderful, and regularly wins awards for their bread. Their croissants are wonderful for breakfast, and don't forget to try their Paris Brest (located at 1 Rue Tiron)! 

 

  • Cafe Kitsune: Fantastic coffee in the beautiful Palais Royal.

 

  • Daroco Paris: Daroco is in the building of what used to be Jean-Paul Gaultier's first store, and leaves much of the original footprint in place. New, chic additions have been added, such as an open kitchen, opulent velour banquet booths, and mirrored ceilings. The pizzas here are out-of-this-world delicious! Make a booking as this restaurant is proving to be one of Paris's most popular. 

Stay

Mama Shelter Located in the 20th arrondisement, this Philippe Starck designed hotel is one of Paris's coolest places to stay. While it isn't in the centre of Paris, it is easy to get around to due its proximity to the Metro. It is one of the most diverse, interesting areas of Paris, as well as being close to the Pere Lachaise cemetery. there are 172 rooms which are equipped with 5 star bedding and fun interiors. The restaurants are all delicious, from simple, homemade cuisine. You can check the huge island bar, pizzeria, or terrace. There is also a lovely rooftop to enjoy during warm days for a drink or meal. 

 

Grand Hotel du Palais Royal: I absolutely adore this beautiful small luxury boutique hotel in the heart of the Palais Royal. Incredibly friendly staff are there to help you have a comfortable staff, the rooms are impeccably decorated, and the location can't be beat. Check out a more detailed review of this hotel when I had the opportunity to stay there here

 

Le Meridien Etoile: This hotel is located very close to the Champs Elysee near the Arc du Triomphe end. It has small and stylish rooms, and is well located to travel around the city with a Metro station very close by. Check out more details and full details on my stay here

 

Airbnb

Staying at an Airbnb is a wonderful option, particularly if you are staying in Paris for longer than a weekend, and/or want to feel like / pretend you live in the city. Below are two Airbnbs that I have stayed in that I really enjoyed!

Le Marais - rue Vieille du TempleLarge (especially in Paris terms), stylish, and a super location in the Marais. 

Saint-Germain-des-Près: Tiny, but in lovely building in an unbeatable location in Saint-Germain-des-Pres. 

 

 

Getting There and Around

  • Paris has a great Metro system. Buy a set of 'carnets' (tickets) so you can pass through the stations easily without having to buy a new ticket each time. While you're in the stations or on the Metro though, be sure to watch your pockets and belongings very carefully, particularly when it is busy, as there are very skillful pickpockets that work the system. 

  • Walking around Paris is one of the most wonderful things. Overall, Paris is a pretty small city. I suggest picking a neighbourhood and just start to wander. Literally, just pick a neighbourhood and wander. My favourites are St Germain, Marais, the Latin Quarter and Montmatre.

  • If you can take the Eurostar to Paris, I highly recommend it! It is such an easy, quick, and chic way to travel. From London, it takes just over two hours from St Pancras International Station to the centre of Paris at the Gare du Nord station. 
  • Paris is well served by two main airports: Paris Charles de Gaulle and Paris Orly. Both are well connected into the centre of the city by transit links. 

Hotel München Palace

In making my annual Christmas Market visit to a new European city, I stayed at the lovely Hotel München Palace in Munich for part of my stay. This family run, five star boutique hotel is located in the beautiful, upscale Bogenhausen quarter of the city. The hotel is owned by the famous Bavarian restaurateur family Kuffler. This hotel provides a personal touch that focuses on making sure that its guests have a comfortable, warm stay in an exclusive, elegant, and private environment. 

Walking into this hotel for the first time, I was warmly greeted by a sharply dressed doorman and friendly reception staff. The small but warm and inviting contemporary lobby was festively decorated with a large Christmas tree twinkling in the corner with cozy armchairs and sofas to relax in. My first impression of the hotel was that it felt like a well-kept secret in Munich, an exclusive hotel to enjoy in privacy and peace. 

A boutique hotel, the Hotel München Palace has 74 rooms all individually decorated in an elegant, modern style by Kuffler Inn Design. You can choose from a classic single room through to one of the suites in the hotel, including the large and luxurious Presidential Suite for the ultimate in comfort. All of the rooms have parquet flooring, a minibar, safe, a/c, a flatscreen television, a PC connection, and high-speed internet access. 

I had the pleasure of staying in one of the Deluxe Double Rooms. My room was cozy and comfortable, with a lovely homey feeling. Plush furnishings and a comfortable bed with high quality white bed linens envelop you when you tuck in during the night. Beautiful details included parquet flooring, high ceilings, and a marble bathroom. My room had a large window overlooking the interior courtyard, where I enjoyed looking at the Bavarian architecture facing in. My room also had high speed internet and a television with multiple international channels.

Those who follow me know I have a big thing for the toiletries offered by hotels, and is one of the first things I look for. I truly believe that the sign of a quality hotel is the provision of quality brands for its toiletries. So, I was very happy to walk into the bathroom to see luxurious Molton Brown products to enjoy!

Inside the hotel is a Bar, Restaurant, and Garden to enjoy. Breakfast in the morning was a complete joy with a large spread of delicious food to choose from to start your day off right! The Palace restaurant features international cuisine and Bavarian specialties as well as the fantastic breakfast buffet and afternoon tea service. Head into the cozy Palace Bar to enjoy a cocktail, which is a popular meeting spot. The Palace Garden is a wonderful place to enjoy a drink, lunch, or dinner in this oasis in the middle of Munich. 

Feel like relaxing? Indulge in a pampering shower, sauna or steam bath, or get some exercise with the gym's quality equipment, all with access to the rooftop terrace. Even if you don't fancy working out, you can head up to the rooftop terrace to enjoy some beautiful views of the surrounding neighbourhood. 

The hotel also offers various event room facilities for conferences and private events, as well as business suites for meetings up to six people. Other services to enjoy from the hotel is a complimentary minibar, daily newspaper, bicycle rental, 24 hour room service, concierge services, garage parking, limousine service, and shoe shine services. 

Near the hotel, visit the sprawling Englischer Garten, or take in some culture at the Philharmonie and Opera, Villa Stuck Museum, or Prinzregententheater, or see the Friedensengel Monument

Getting into the city centre takes about 15 minutes, which you can access easily by public transport. The subway and bus (Museum line) stops are a few minutes walk from the Hotel, and the city's fairgrounds (Messe and ICM) are a 10 minute drive away. 

In Praise of Slow Travel

I recently shared my article below with the Huffington Post, which you can find here, or below as I wanted to share it with you all here as wel! 

During my travels over the past few months, I have noticed a trend. In today’s connected society and new, impressive devices, smart phones, and DSLRs, we are keen to snap photos and share them on our favourite social media sites. However, while taking in the views of the River Arno in Florence, it quite literally hit me when I was jostled out of the way by a group of 15 nuns on an organised sightseeing tour, who proceeded to reach their smartphones out in succession, snapping photos of the Ponte Vecchio and dashing away to the next sight without taking time to stop and look at it. I realised then that an epidemic of fast-food travel has hit us.

Don’t get me wrong - I love photography and enjoy social media. Photographing new places is a great joy. But over the past year in particular, I have been making a conscious attempt to stop, observe, and take in sights and the world around me first by taking a mental picture. I don’t want to have to recall my trip by having to scroll through my camera phone; I want to be an active participant in the world around me, and remember the experience and memories.

I have also been more consciously observing what others around me are doing. It’s a sea of smartphones snapping photos. People taking more selfies of themselves rather than the sights. Trying to manoeuvre around the masses of selfie sticks waving in the air. At a museum in Florence, I watched a large group of young people on a school trip walking past exhibits filming everything on their smartphones without stopping to read or take in what they were looking at. I saw others taking photos of relics where a sign next to it read to respect the sacred nature of the artefacts in the room.

I wonder how much the people around me are taking in of their experience. Travel should be about using all of your senses to interact with a new place and immersing yourself in the experience, rather than trying to cram in as much as possible to tick things off a list and take hundreds of snaps to post on social media.

The joy of travel comes from learning about a new place, a new culture, new people. On park benches, outdoor cafes, museums, and restaurants, on their own or with others, people are engrossed in their phones rather than their surroundings or company. Last weekend, while sitting in the hotel lounge with an incredible view of the Hong Kong skyline, I was enjoying lunch while taking in the view. A friendly waiter came by to inform me that they did indeed have free wifi, seemingly concerned that I was apparently the only one not using my smartphone and taking selfies with my lunch.

So, I’ve got a proposition for us. Let’s put down the smartphones more, enjoy our surroundings and make memories by being fully present when we’re exploring new places (or everyday life, for that matter). Take in new sights, meet new people. Let’s embrace ‘slow’ travel and observe the world through our own eyes and not just the lens of our camera. Life flies by quickly enough. Let’s slow it down by enjoying the precious holiday time we have by living in the moment in real life and not just on social media. Take the time to breathe, unplug, and enjoy the break that we have worked hard to get. Discard detailed itineraries and go with the flow. In essence, slow travel is the newest old way to travel and a luxury in today’s busy world. 

Paris for the Day with Eurostar

A couple of months ago, I had the exciting opportunity to visit Paris for the day with Eurostar, as a winner in their #ParisOnUs competition. This was incredibly exciting to me because not only do I absolutely adore Paris, but being able to go for the day has been a bucket list item of mine.

Being Canadian, it still amazes me that you can hop on a train in London, and be in a new city and continent in two hours, as it takes ages to get anywhere in Canada! The Eurostar is a much chicer, more comfortable, and quicker way to travel to Paris (and their other destinations, such as Brussels, Bruges, and Lille) than air travel. 

Our day in Paris was a blast - great food, great experiences, and meeting great new people. Eurostar took care of every last detail and made us feel like stars. 

Here are a couple of short videos from the day! Photos and full story to come. I share my Paris thoughts at 0.30 on the first video! 

Exploring London Town

Living in London is never dull. It's chaotic, fascinating, exciting, interesting and never ever a shortage of things to do. I can't believe that there are still so many museums, events, and sights that I need to check out that I haven't seen before, but I'm making my way through exploring the city. Here are a few things I've been doing recently from Instagram - come follow along with me! You can find me on Instagram at @woman.meets.world

Travel Smart: Save and Spend Where It Matters

I truly believe there is no money wasted on travelling. I remember telling this to friends last year, who promptly began to laugh but then stopped and realized I had a point – while also pointing out to me that travel can be really expensive.

Over the past few years, I’ve had lots of people make comments to me about how much I travel, asking how I can do it, have I won the lottery, how much do you earn, the classic ‘must be nice’. It was starting to get to me because at the end of the day, I work hard and travel is something I love to do.

It also got me thinking about travel perceptions, misconceptions, and realities about costs. Yes, travel involves money, but it genuinely does not have to be expensive. Over the years, I’ve picked up various lessons and tips through experience along the way, trial and error, speaking to friends, colleagues, reading websites, blogs, and magazines. I realized that instead of getting upset when I perceived people to be questioning me, why not share how I plan and budget my travel because spending my money effectively and wisely is important to me! It really doesn’t have to be expensive, I promise, and all it involves is a bit of patience and knowing a few tips and tricks. A wonderful trip, long or short, can always be tailored to your budget, priorities, and preference.

 

I believe there are three stages to any trip:

1)      Selecting and Booking Your Destination

2)      Trip Planning Ahead of Departure

3)      While You’re There

 

Part I: Selecting and Booking Your Destination

  • For me, this is often the hardest part because I have such a long list of places I want to visit – where do you even begin?? Sometimes you have somewhere specific in mind, which can be helpful sometimes, such as visiting a friend or event. Sometimes you just want to get away somewhere – anywhere – or want to do a short city break or epic long trip.

 

  • There is one email that I enjoy receiving every Wednesday: Travelzoo’s Hot 20 Travel Picks of the Week. It’s always filled with some great inspiration. Not only are the Top 20 finds that they scour the Internet for great (free to sign up on their website), but they also have great deals that crop up for your local area (e.g., theatre, spa, restaurants). I’ve been using this site for years.

 

 

  • Do you have friends living abroad? Family? That can help you narrow your destination down. Or, just dive into your list and start somewhere when a great deal arises.

 

Flights

  • One of my new favourite apps is Hopper. This great little app helps calculate flight costs with a twist: it helps identify for you with a high degree of accuracy the best time to book your flight. You can put a ‘watch’ on a certain flight route you’re interested in and it will message you with updates if it goes down, up, or to take the plunge and buy now.

 

  • I recently also discovered a site called SkyPicker, which I used for my flight to Stockholm recently. It identified a fare to travel here for the weekend form London for £66 – how to say no to that! It also has a cool feature where you can put in your starting destination and select a radius (e.g., for me, I will pinpoint London and radiate out across Europe to find the best deals available).

 

  • The one site for flight research I always check out is Kayak – especially for planning multi-city trips as it gathers information from a large number of different airlines and websites worldwide and pulls together loads of options to choose from and customise, finding the best deals and combinations to pick from.

 

  • When searching for flights, regardless of website, check the ‘flexible with dates’ box (if you have flexibility). This will show you whether it is cheaper or more expensive to fly in or out a day or so earlier or later. This has definitely been helpful to me in the past.

 

  • Connecting flights can often be cheaper than direct. But, consider the money saved against time lost. There are some connection cities I avoid at all costs – NYC and Chicago airports in particular. I have rarely had a flight to or from these cities that has not been delayed or baggage lost. If this happens, missing your connection can be highly likely, which then cuts into your time, cost, and stress levels. Some cities are extremely efficient at connections though – Munich and Frankfurt in particular. But keep in mind that both of these airports are enormous and you need to be focused in finding your next gate to avoid missing your connection.

 

Hotels

  • Ok, so you’ve secured your flight, let’s work on your accommodation. In many ways, it’s all dependent on where I’m traveling and if I’m going with someone or on my own.

 

  • I have had a lot of luck over the past year with using Priceline – specifically, their Blind Bids or Express Deals. The catch with these is that you can grab a fantastic deal for 4 and 5*plus hotels, but you won’t know what the hotel is until after you complete the purchase. This can feel risky to many people (myself included) because you want to stay somewhere that you’ll feel comfortable and enjoy. But, you can do this using calculated risk:
    • Priceline allows you to select the neighbourhood you are interested in and the star level.
    • What I usually do then is do a google search for the hotels in the city and/or that particular neighbourhood under the star levels I’m interested in to get an idea of what I might secure.
    • Withthe Express Deals, there is a significantly reduced price named; with the Bids, you enter a price, which checks with the hotels to see if they will accept your bid.

 

  • Other sites that I have used are hotels.com, booking.com and Agoda, all of which have found me terrific deals. Agoda is particularly good for finding amazing hotel deals across Asia. 

 

Airbnb

  •  I’ve had terrific luck with Airbnb over the past few years, staying in terrific flats in European cities, such as Paris, Athens, and Rome, as well as beautiful villas in Greece. You can find fab places at customizable prices based on your budget. I’ve never had a problem with the Airbnb properties I’ve stayed in.

 

  • It works by setting up a profile and requesting to stay at a property. The owner has the ability to select who they have stay at their property because understandably, they want someone that will take care of their place too. Read the reviews of the property and do a bit of research on the area, and select where you’d like to stay. Consider factors such as proximity to transit, amenities, and safety.

 

Loyalty Programs

  • A colleague of mine says that no travel should be ‘point-less’ and he’s right. If you are travelling and/or staying with a company that offers a reward program, sign up for it and get the points. You never know what the future holds as you may end up staying with the hotel chain again or flying frequently with the airline (or affiliates, such as Star Alliance or One World). 

 

Check out Part II: Before You Go here

London Life

What else have I been up to since moving to London three weeks ago? Sharing a few of the places I've visited and explored. Follow along as I post on my Instagram at @woman.meets.world - I'd love to get your London recommendations!

Some of my favourite places featured in the photos below:

Three Weeks in London

It's hard to believe that three weeks have already flown by since I've been in London! But, it has been enough time to (re)learn and remember a few key things:

  • Never trust the weather forecast. Not your iPhone weather app or even the BBC. Just use it as guidance because most of the time, it will be wrong. 
  •  On that point, invest in a small umbrella that you can pop into your bag and carry it with you always because you will need it regularly. And carry sunglasses because I can guarantee that if you forget them and just bring your umbrella, or vice versa, it will be bright and sunny.
  • If you want to leave a restaurant or café, ask for the bill because they won't just bring it to you. This was remembered after sitting at various places for ages and wondering when they might bring it by. It’s considered rude for them to bring it unprompted.
  • With the exception of Starbucks, you need to specifically ask for the barista to put milk in your tea when they give it to you for ‘eat in’ or 'takeaway' (not take out), or you will receive it black. Example: if you want a breakfast tea with skim milk, ask for a 'skinny tea'. 
  • All stores close much earlier than Canadian and American stores do so plan ahead!
  • The joys of free newspapers and magazines: Metro in the morning; Evening Standard in the evening; Time Out magazine to let you know of all the happenings in London for the week; Stylist (my personal fave) every Wednesday; and, Shortlist every Thursday.
  • VAT (tax) is included in the price, so you pay what you see on the tag, unlike Canada, where tax is applied afterwards at the till and often a surprise.
  • British "you ok" = Canadian/American "how's it going"/"what's up"/"how are you". This is a hard one to get used to without thinking you are being asked if something is wrong!
  • On that – be prepared for multiple ‘byes’ on the end of telephone conversations!
  • Walk left, stand right. I repeat – walk left, stand right. This might be the most important thing to remember so that you don’t get trampled on the escalators on the tube.
  • Always have your Oyster card to hand when entering and exiting the tube. Trust me, you don’t want to be that person fumbling to find it and disrupting the flow and order of busy Londoners.
  • Check the streets left and right at least two or three times before crossing to make sure you won't get hit by cars coming in directions you aren't used to. Or cyclists for that matter on a mission.
  • How green it is here all year round!
  • The kindness of the Brits and their willingness to assist you - whether it be with suitcases, directions, or generally helping you navigate life here from taxi drivers, to people in banks, to random people in the street, and my lovely new colleagues!
  • How international London is. London is an incredible, frenetic, fascinating, chaotic, energetic, beautiful place to be and it’s easy to see why it attracts people from all over the world.

 

I can’t wait to see what the coming weeks and months bring!!

Afternoon Tea at the Fairmont Palliser

What are the essentials for an afternoon tea? I take afternoon tea seriously and feel like I can be a discerning guest. For me, there are five key things I like to look for that I think makes a great afternoon tea worthy of recommending:

1. Quality of Service

2. Scone Quality

3. Mixture and Balance of Savoury and Sweet

4. Quality and Selection of Teas

5. Atmosphere

I recently had the great pleasure to have afternoon tea at the Fairmont Palliser, located in Calgary, Alberta, and I have to say that it excelled on all of those key points! Firstly, the stunning, classic Rimrock Room where the Palliser holds their tea is steeped (pun intended!) in history. This grand room has played host to many guests over its 101 year history, including everyone from Canadian Prime Ministers, Sharon Osbourne, British Royalty, and the Game of Thrones cast! 

The service is impeccable. We were attended to from the moment we arrived - and not in an annoying, hovering way. They genuinely want to ensure you are looked after and have everything you need and want. I was amazed at the depth of knowledge that our young server had of the teas he brought around in a lovely box. He could give you every last detail of the entire extensive selection from where the leaves were from, pros and cons of loose leaf versus bags, what goes best with what food, and how long to steep the tea for. 

When you arrive at your table, there are the loveliest little touches and attention to detail, such as the beautifully presented menu, a gift of the Palliser's own blend of tea to take home (Margaret's Hope Darjeeling), the white lace tablecloth and crisp linens, and classic centrepiece of a single white rose. It is obvious that a great deal of care and attention has been put into making guests feel welcome and have a luxurious experience that they will remember. 

The vanilla scones were just perfect - not too sweet and perfectly baked - and paired with a delicious selection of jams and cream. Having the right cream for scones is essential and the Palliser's choice was terrific: not too heavy and not too sweet.  There was a delicious range of sandwiches from classic cucumber, to salmon, to a very light curry chicken. I'm not usually a fan of curry chicken but I have to say that it was so fresh and very light in flavour, surprising me with how much I enjoyed it! And the little cakes... absolutely divine! I've had afternoon tea in other places around the world where the desserts can dominate the experience, making it sickly sweet and you leave feeling a bit ill. Not here - the desserts were the perfect ending and everything was in balance with each other. 

My friend and I were a bit of a last minute addition to attend the tea. My friend, Andrea, is celiac and as soon as we mentioned it to our waitress, she went to the kitchen and worked with the chef to produce an incredible speed of treats that she could enjoy. It was incredibly thoughtful and we were stunned by the service and how they went out of their way. We later had the opportunity to meet with the Chef who came to our table, which was another absolutely brilliant touch. It was great to let him know how much we appreciated it and how much we enjoyed his tasty treats all around. 

Now, we had the opportunity to attend afternoon tea on a special day at the Palliser, which was celebrating Heritage Day in Calgary. As such, all of the guests moved to another beautiful room where we had the chance to enjoy a talk on the fascinating history of the Palliser over the past century and experiences and memories from its many guests over the years! Who would have thought it has played host to everyone from members of the British Royal Family, to Prime Ministers, to Brad Pitt and Angelina Joie, Bill Murray, Marilyn Manson, and the wildly popular Comic Con celebrities (and eager fans!). 

Overall, it was such an enjoyable experience with impeccable service! I just wish it was closer to home so that I could enjoy it on a regular basis; though, perhaps the distance is what also makes it special to enjoy every moment. This would be a brilliant outing to go to with girlfriends, take your mum, a bridal or baby shower, or just because it's a weekend! 

If you're in Calgary, make this a must-do on your list! The Palliser's Afternoon Tea Service is held daily between 1 to 3pm. To ensure that you can enjoy this service, give the Palliser a call and they will be more than happy to help you with securing a reservation (tip: book before 11am on the day of the service at the latest, if possible) The tea is $37.50/person plus tax and worth every penny!  Also very cute - there is a junior high tea menu offered for children under 12, which would be a lovely experience. Keep your eye out also for special tea events that the Palliser will hold during the year for an extra special experience.

 

A big thank you to the Palliser, Jacqueline and team for a wonderful, memorable experience. I can't wait to return!

Recent Travels to Croatia

Was it all just a dream? That's what I'm asking myself today as I ease myself back into everyday routine after returning back from a wonderful holiday spent in Berlin and Dubrovnik. 

This was the first time I have visited Dubrovnik and completely fell in love with it. It is such a special place and the beautiful surroundings, food, culture, and people took my breath away. It was one of those holidays that makes you forget about everything in your everyday life and inspires creativity, introspection and new perspectives on life. In effect, a bit life-changing and I cannot wait to go back again soon! I promise to post photos and my story soon, but I wanted to give a glimpse of some of the beauty I experienced from my recent Instagram posts that I took along the way (find me on Instagram at @woman.meets.world). 

xo Rheanne 

Coastal Living Magazine

Coastal Living Magazine is a favourite publication of mine. Their magazine and beautiful regular posts on Instagram always provide daily inspiration and a breath of fresh air. The coast - and the ocean/sea/lake/river/any body of water - has always provided me with a sense of calm and serenity. This might be due to growing up in Oakville, ON, which is right on Lake Ontario, but I find peace in watching and listening to the regular rhythm of waves rolling into shore. I have recently purchased my first condo in Toronto and one of my favourite features is the fact that it has a view of the lake. I love to gaze out and watch sailboats float by on the shimmering water in the sunlight. It only made sense to also draw inspiration from the beautiful design inspiration of coastal properties to decorate that the magazine highlights!

So, you can imagine my delight and happiness that the wonderful Coastal Living Magazine shared one of my recent photos taken in Dubrovnik, Croatia, on their website on Saturday as their 'View of the Day' - and paired it with the most perfect soundtrack! You can find the post here: http://dailycatch.coastalliving.com/2015/07/11/beach-music-beyond-the-sea/

Postcards from Paris: An Ode to the Eiffel Tower in the Springtime

I have a confession to make. I am deeply in love with the Eiffel Tower and I just can't get enough of it. Yes, I realize how much of a tourist that statement makes me sound but I can't help it. I've been to Paris four times now and I often find that it's one of my first stops. I get a rush of excitement when I see it rising above the city. I love it in the morning, noon, and night. I adore it in the evening the most when it sparkles and glimmers - absolutely magical. Once it starts sparkling at the top of the hour for a few minutes during the evening, there are always people around who gasp and adore in its brilliance. I have heard more than one French person exclaim, "Ooh la la!", which to someone who is not French is fantastic! Its intricate details, its curves, its romantic design....it's no wonder it has become a worldwide symbol for Paris. There is something that draws people to it and can gaze at it for ages. 

I hadn't ever seen it just after sunrise in the early morning hours, so I made it my mission this time to do that. I went early on a Monday morning before the crowds had appeared and when the spring sunlight was hazy and glowing. This is my ode to the Eiffel Tower through photos and I hope you like it! 

 

xo Rheanne 

Postcards from Paris: Place des Vosges

On my first morning in Paris, fresh off an overnight flight from Toronto and desperate to stay awake and beat jet lag, I took a walk around the Marais after dropping off my bags at my apartment. Having left Canada in snow flurries, the bright blue skies and 20 degree temperatures felt invigorating! I grabbed a tea from my favourite tea institution, Mariage Freres, and a sandwich and began walking to Place des Vosges to have a picnic. As this was one of the first nice days in Paris this spring, I think the rest of Paris had the same idea! Although the lawn was packed with people, it was lovely to see everyone outside enjoying the beautiful weather in high spirits.