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lifeofmissb

The travel life & Adventures of me; Brooke. 30 something. Loves to Travel ✈️. Drink scotch. Eat good food. Workout.

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Travel 2015

Paris continued (Part II)

I didn’t sleep all that well on the first night in Paris. I woke up a few times throughout the night as my body clock reset itself. I know I was nervous about sleeping in…Today was the day I was finally headed to Giverney (pronounced Ghe-Varn-ey) the home of Monet’s garden.

Now for those who aren’t aware I’ll confess that I’ve got little sense of direction when it comes to places that aren’t familiar to me. I almost got lost on the way back to the hotel the night before. So I was pretty proud of myself for finding my way to the tour office (opposite the Louvre) from my hotel on foot. Once I saw the Seine I knew I would be fine.

Once again Viator came to my rescue in picking a tour to Giverney. I knew by booking a tour I would be guaranteed a speedier entrance to the gardens and Monet’s house than those who simply arrived on the day. My tour was a half day Private Giverney Tour. This means that you are transferred out to the estate in a private van with 6 other people – It’s not a private tour of the estate. You get to share that with around 100+ of your closest friends from other tour groups. It was raining when we arrived and I hadn’t had time to grab an umbrella (despite spotting stores selling them the night before); luckily the tour guide leant me hers. We were given a little over an hour to explore the gardens and the house where Monsieur Monet created his masterpieces such as the water lilies series.

Giverney has been a dream of mine since I found out about Monet. He is my favourite impressionist artist and I may have cried the first time I saw his paintings at the Musee D’Orsay. I can say now the dream lived up to the reality as I wandered about in awe of the gardens. The area around Giverney is all woodland so Monet and his family would’ve spent years creating the beautiful gardens.

When I got back to Paris I promptly brought 2 umbrellas for Renee and I. Renee arrived from Bordeaux in the afternoon sore but triumphant from running her first ever marathon – Marathon Du Medoc. We found a little Thai place nearby our hotel for a late lunch and I got to cuddle a random American family’s 6 month old baby (he was very sweet and a total ladies man cooing at us).  That night we found a nearby restaurant offering a 3 course meal special. We toasted Paris and Renee’s marathon debut with a glass of champagne and then washed down our meal with a bottle of the lightest Rose.

Our last morning in Paris we walked the streets of the Quarter lost searching for H&M to indulge in a little retail therapy. After finding the store and picking up 2 items (a khaki maxi dress and black shell top with ruffles: both very on trend) we made it back to the hotel and then loaded up bags to carry down the stairs and towards the train.

The Saint-Michele/Notre Dame train station was a very short away from the hotel. Unfortunately not all Paris train stations are luggage friendly and there were a lot of stairs to get down to the platform headed to the airport. It was just 10 Euro to get from the city to the airport – cheaper than a taxi or Uber by miles! Once at the airport we battled the security gates coming off the train platform. We watched other travellers try to drag their cases through the small laneway between the gates only to have the gates shut before they could get their cases through. The best solution? The bags went over the gates and the other person caught them on the other side. Aside from this little hiccup I would recommend the train to anyone looking for a budget friendly way to get out to the airport.

Side note: the Air France terminal at Charles De Gaulle Airport was pretty nice. I was impressed. Not a massive heap of food options (Paul or mini market) but I liked the bliss zone where you could get a massage or mani/pedi before boarding your flight. We didn’t have time to investigate the cost for this as we were running a little late. Next stop FLORENCE. ITALY….

Have you been to Giverney? Would you visit Paris now?

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Japanese bridge Monet’s Garden

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Champagne to celebrate

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Paris 2015

Vital stats

  • BNE – ADH (Brisbane – Abu Dhabi) Ethiad Airways
  • ADH – CDG (Abu Dhabi – Paris) Ethiad Airways
  • Where I stayed: Hotel Saint Andre Des Arts
  • Rate: 250 Euro (approx $415 AUD)
  • Highlight: Day tour of Giverney
  • Lowlight: our room was on the 3rd floor and as almost always in Paris there was no elevator (almost 50 steps either way)

In light of the horrific attacks suffered in Paris last month I’ve finally finished my post on my travels to the city of lights back in September. I sat in my car that Saturday morning (Australian time) reading what had happened in my beloved Paris and cried for the innocents who lost their lives all in the name of terrorism. I know it is scary to travel with so much un-rest and the threat of terrorism but please, please make sure you visit Paris soon. Take in the wonder of the city and don’t let the fear and hate stop you from living.

I’ve been told Paris is a city you either love or you hate…. The lovers tell you; it’s beautiful, the gardens and city are so chic, the galleries are outstanding, the city oozes romance and seduction at every turn, and as long as you remember hello, goodbye, thank you in French they will be delighted! The haters tell you; the city is dirty, the residents are arrogant, and it’s expensive.

My love affair with Paris began over 8 years ago on my first ever overseas trip. My ex Harry Potter (he bore a striking resemblance to the actor Daniel Radcliffe) and I had 3 nights here. From the moment I spotted my first French balcony I was hooked. Then that first night we stumbled across Notre Dame and I swore to love Paris forever.

I last visited Paris on a whirlwind 4 years ago onboard a Topdeck bus tour. We arrived into the city late one evening and were given a tour of the city ending under that famous tower which sparkles through the night. We literally had 1 full day there and I spent it well visiting Versailles, the Musee D’Orsay, fitting in cream brûlée and wine at lunch, then a picnic style dinner under the Eiffel Tower, and finishing in style with a River Cruise on the Seine.

When planning this trip Paris wasn’t on my list. I was planning London and some UK, followed by Italy and Greece. Of course plans changed and when I saw a flight Brisbane to Paris I knew I had to take it. Picking a hotel wasn’t easy! Paris hotels are notoriously expensive especially in central arrondissements of the city. Having just 2 nights in the city I was determined to stay as close as possible to the city rather than waste time travelling back and forth on the metro. Also I figured my almost non-existent French would be tolerated in the city centre over the outer areas. After pouring over TripAdvisor reviews and trying to keep to a realistic budget I finally selected the Latin Quarter as the place to stay in the 5th and 6th arrondissements at Hotel Saint-Andre des Arts.

I’m not going to lie; if you want authentic Paris, then the Quarter is probably not the place to stay. It’s very touristy with oodles of shops selling umbrellas with “Paris” printed all over them (a must in the city which always seems to rain), lots of street vendors selling prints of Paris monuments, and restaurants offering the meal of the day as a hamburger with French fries. Despite this, and maybe because I’m a lame tourist, I liked the Quarter; I find the touristy shops charming, and if you ask for a menu at a restaurant you’re sure to find something other than a hamburger. Plus it’s helps that you’re a short walk to Notre Dame, the Seine, and the Louvre.

There’s all the hallmarks of Paris too – the beautiful balconies with wrought iron railings curling gracefully, cobblestone streets, cafes with hundreds of forward facing chairs to take in the city as it bustles around you, the beautiful gothic architecture of the buildings.

Arriving into Charles De Gaulle airport you could be asking yourself how is this Paris? For one of the most fashionable and chic cities in the world it has an ugly airport. I treated myself to a transfer from the airport to my hotel rather than battle the train. I knew I wouldn’t have the stamina after an almost 24 hour travel time to get here. Thanks to Viator I was able to pre-book this and it was a pretty smooth experience with English speaking drivers.

I arrived at the hotel and after making my way up the multitude of stairs (elevator, anyone?) I gave myself a nap to help recover. Then I was ready to explore. Europe in early Fall means long days – the sun doesn’t set until almost 9pm! I had a rough idea of where Notre Dame was and after about 10 minutes I spotted it. I snapped a few pics at Magic hour of this beautiful cathedral before heading over to a nearby café for a glass of champagne (thank you Adventurous Kate for the suggestion that when travelling alone a glass of champagne is always a good idea)! I must’ve looked the part as a Frenchman bid passing on the street bid me good evening before asking something in French. I smiled and offered back; “Desole monsiour, non parle Francois” (sorry sir, I don’t speak French). The wait staff were a little rude despite my smile and Bonsoiree as I walked up to claim a table. I simply gave them a raised eyebrow and ordered fromargie from the menu when they asked if I would like a hamburger for dinner.

The cheese platter was lovely and washed down with a glass of French red made it even better.  I love crème brulee so I had to have some for dessert….Unfortunately it wasn’t as good as I’ve had before. The wait staff and I became brief friends when I left as they almost forgot to add my glass of champagne to the bill – my honesty earned me a smile and Au Reviour Madame as I wandered back to the hotel…..

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To be continued….

Have you been to Paris? What did you think – love it or loathe it? Best experience you had there?

Leaving on a jet plane …. 

What does one pack for 3 weeks in Europe in Spring? I’m a desperate over-packer (fuelled by my fear I’ll miss out on wearing something lovely) so I decided to consult the experts in packing my Europe holiday wardrobe. 

The seriously stylish Nikki from styling you went to Europe at the start of the European summer. Being a helpful woman she listed all she packed (you can see her wardrobe here). I followed her advice and voila here’s my choices….  tops… from left side and clockwise:  sports girl wanderlust t-shirt $29 (grabbed on sale at end of season), witchery white sleeved blouse $129.95 (this season), grey asos v-neck $24.95 as a two pack (this season),  cream (this season $39.95) and pink t-shirts  both witchery, white H&M tank, and witchery cream tank (last year).  

Bottoms from black left then clockwise: $20 target soft joggers (this season on sale when I got them), Sussan black drapey pants $59.95 (last season), witchery shorts (last year), Kmart shorts (last year).  

Casual/day dresses (left to right): unknown brand (brought in Byron Bay a few years back by dear friends for my birthday), unknown brand (picked up in a boutique at Currumbin post breakfast one morning), Eb & Evie dress (last season – grabbed on sale at birdsnest).  

Dinner/cocktails dress: pink witchery dress (last summer nabbed on sale) and black cotton on midi dress (this season & a total bargain at just $19.95).   

My something extra: a jumpsuit from a few years back from Ally that I picked up for less than $40! 

 
Swimmers from bottom left: capriosca rash vest $95 (this season from sequin and sand), capriosca one piece (last summer picked up on sale for $109 from sequins and sand), tie dyed wrap (cotton on – a last summer steal for $10), black bikini top $24.95 (cotton on body this season), $29.95 per item for bather bottoms (all cotton on body last season or later except for the black and white stripes which is this season). Since taking this pic I’ve put the pink/purple bather bottoms back in my cupboard. 

FYI: we’ve got 6 nights on Santorini in the Greek Islands so I needed loads of swimmers!   

Workout gear from bottom blue centre clockwise: blue tank and pink patterned tank both cotton on body (last year), black ronhill tights (last year from wiggle), black Kmart tights (last season). Sports crops from Lorna Jane  

 
Shoes: you’re not seeing double, I was just too lazy to re-photograph all the shoes together! I packed them all because I couldn’t choose between the nude and gold sandals or the silver ballet flats. As I had the room both went in. 

Nude/gold sandals: next UK, they were a gift from a family friend. With a small heel they are surprisingly comfy. 

Nude flat sandals: ASOS! An all leather bargain for less than $40. 

Silver flats: Rubi shoes last season purchased on sale for around $15.

Black joggers: Witchery leather joggers this season $129.95.

Running shoes: Adidas. They’re over a year old and were a gift from my parents.   

Extras: target beach bag $10, target black flip flops $4, Witchery leather cross body bag (last year), forever new scarf $15 (last season), a travel journal and glossy mag to keep me amused on the beaches in the Cinque Terre and poolside in Santorini! 

I’ll keep you posted on my travels ….who else is going on vacation? 

Melbourne 2015

Melbourne 2015

I travel to Melbourne once a year for sales appointments for the day job. I spent a week in the city back at the start of August! Here’s my recap plus travel tips….

Highlights & lowlights of Melbourne:

Highlights:

  • A special birthday dinner with my gorgeous best friend Renee (State of Grace had divine cocktails mixed with hit and miss service)
  • Good Food & Wine (read my review of my special birthday lunch at The Press Club here)
  • Quirky lane ways with street art and cafes offering a hot cooked breakfast plus coffee for less than $15 (bonus: Free live music and the bustle of the city passing you by)
  • Catch up with lovely friends (Colin and Marc. Bethany, Chloe, Dean & Mark)
  • Time to reconnect, chat and laugh with my beautiful bestie R (not to mention her taking me to Gold Class for Magic Mike XXL…I’ve got some thoughts to share on that soon)

Lowlights

  • cold, cold days (seriously nothing above 13 degrees Celsius)
  • Getting lost on the trams and/or the streets and feeling frustrated…. Melbourne I swear I’ll work you out one of these days
  • Less than warm welcomes with some of my work meetings (side note: kindness costs nothing)
  • Not being able to relax at some meals due to wait staff constantly checking if I needed a new drink (before the previous one was completed) 
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Pizza from Blue Train http://www.bluetrain.com.au/
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Chocolate mousse dessert from State of Grace http://www.stateofgracemelbourne.com.au/
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I visited a cat cafe! http://catcafemelbourne.com/

Travel Notes:

  • I flew Virgin Australia from my home (Gold Coast) to Melbourne return and racked up more FF points. I love how they give you a snack on every flight now plus a free entertainment system through an app on your tablet or smart phone. Not to mention I was lucky enough to have a spare seat beside me on each flight!
  • I stayed at my faithful Punthill Apartments on Flinders Lane, it’s my second year staying with them and I keep returning for the location and the funky decor (black, white and purple reign supreme). Located in the heart of the CBD just one street away from the iconic Flinders Street Station and Federation Square plus 2 blocks (my tip: take the shortcut through those famous laneways filled with cafes and shops) away from the shopping Mecca that is Bourke Street Mall.
  • Do sign up to the direct guest program (it’s free) on Punthills website. You’ll have access to special rates and free wifi. The apartments are semi self contained with a full kitchen (there’s 2 supermarkets within walking distance of the complex) if you need a break from Melbourne’s food scene (as if).
  • My nemesis the Melbourne trams now offer a free tram service around the city centre from Flinders Street Station and up to Queen Victoria Markets (where you can grab everything from the finest fresh produce to a leather jacket)  as well as out to Docklands and Treasury Gardens on either side of the city making it easier than ever to get around. The free tram zone map can be downloaded here: PTV_FreeTramZone_Map
south bank Melb
Southbank Melbourne

Overall my week away reignited my love for Melbourne. From its quirky laneways with street art, the river that snakes through the city centre, the shopping, to the food (oh my god, the food), my lovely friends who live there and make the effort to catch up with me, and finally those silly trams who I can’t seem to spot the right stop for every time! Melbourne I heart you real hard.

Have you been to Melbourne? What are your favourite things to do in the City?

 

Highlights from Auckland, New Zealand

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Top left and then clockwise …
1. The hobbit themed jet I flew in on. If you haven’t had to see the Air New Zealand safety message check it out here http://youtu.be/cBlRbrB_Gnc… It’s a bit of a giggle!
2. My favourite sauv blanc – cellar selection Villa Maria. The kiwis make amazing sauv blanc & every supermarket sells the local drop. The cheese is also NZ brie.
3. Auckland sky tower overlooking the harbour… Auckland is a beautiful city & you can even bungee jump off the sky tower.
4. By the bay at St Heliers. Just 15 mins drive from the city are the bayside suburbs of Mission Bay & St Heliers, I love being by the water.
5. Kia Ora, bro. The Maori way to say hello in NZ.

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