• Europe,  Travel

    When in Rome: Can’t Miss Sites

    Rome is a quintessential tourist destination. The capital of Italy, this city is home to so many iconic places!  From the Colosseum to the Spanish Steps, there are so many things to do and see! Rome wasn’t built in a day. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it certainly cannot be toured in only one day either!!  Below are some of the can’t miss sites in this stunning city: Piazza del Popolo Piazza del Popolo, or the People’s Square, sits just beside Villa Borghese.  This square is super lively with performers and tourists.  The piazza was a place for public executions until 1826!  You can climb the hill at…

  • Europe,  France,  Travel

    Marché de Noël de Lille (Lille Christmas Market)

    Every year, Lille hosts a Christmas Market complete with a giant ferris wheel!  From the end of November until New Year’s you can enjoy Christmas lights and decorations throughout the city.  Marché de Noël de Lille is the largest Christmas market in Northern France!  Apparently this tradition is centuries old.   Grand Place A 164ft Ferris Wheel stands in Grand Place during the holiday season, in addition to a Christmas Tree and other decorations.   Riding the Ferris Wheel is absolute must – the views from the top are unreal!  Definitely wrap up if you’re going to ride the Ferris Wheel because it can be quite windy up there!   I rode the…

  • France,  Travel

    Paris at Christmas Time

    I recently posted about Paris in the fall.  However, Paris is especially magical at Christmas-time.  By mid-November, Paris is completely decked out for the holidays. The city is covered in lights and decorations, everywhere you go!  There is a ton to do in the City of Light near the holidays.  Here are some of my favorites: Galeries Lafayette As if Galeries Lafayettes wasn’t already stunning enough, every year it has a new Christmas Tree design.  The year I spent Christmas in Paris, the tree was made out of recycled paper!  The interactive window displays were all made with the recycled materials theme.  The tree was very intricate, with polar bears…

  • France,  Travel

    Strasbourg Christmas Market

    Strasbourg is on the eastern border of France in the Alsace Region.  This city has gone back and forth between being part of France and part of Germany, which has created an interesting blend of both the culture and the architecture.  Strasbourg is well-known for its annual Christmas market, or Christkindelsmärik.  The Christmas Market reopened this year with additional security due to last year’s attack. Strasbourg isn’t a large city, and the Christmas market is spread across town.  The best way to explore the markets is definitely by foot.  There is plenty of vin chaud / gluhwein (mulled wine) to help warm up!  There are also fires to stand by…

  • Europe,  Travel

    The Bone Church: Sedlec Ossuary

    “The Bone Church” or the Sedlec Ossuary is at the site of a former Abbey in Kutná Hora, Czech Republic, a 50-minute train ride from Prague.  Train tickets from Prague are cheap and there is a local bus that travels from the train station to the church and through the rest of the city.  The abbey cemetery was a popular burial place because an Abbot was said to have sprinkled holy dirt from Jerusalem over the site in 1278.  Between the plague and the Crusades, the cemetery became overfilled.  The Baroque Gothic Style church was built in the 15th century and the remains of between 40,000-70,000 people were stacked in pyramids in…

  • Europe,  France,  Travel

    I Love Paris in the Fall

    I love Paris in the springtime.I love Paris in the fall.I love Paris in the winter when it drizzles,I love Paris in the summer when it sizzles. My Grandfather used to sing me this song and replace Paris with Shelby. 🙂 Just as the song says, I love Paris all times of the year! It is my absolute favorite city. Until my teaching assignment, I had only visited Paris during the other three seasons of the year. Exploring Paris in the Fall with the beautiful changing leaves is something else entirely! Autumn provides great weather for exploring the city on foot (with a jacket of course), with significantly less tourists…

  • Europe,  France,  Travel

    Day Trip to Medieval Saint-Émilion

    As I mentioned in my previous blog post, Bordeaux is a famous wine-growing region in southwestern France. You can’t visit Bordeaux without sampling some wine!! My friend and I booked a day trip through the Tourist Office to visit a nearby vineyard and the medieval town of Saint-Émilion. The day trip only cost 30€ and included two glasses of wine at the vineyard! Saint-Émilion is a World Heritage Site named after a monk who settled there in the 8th century, though the history of the town goes beyond that. Romans planted vines in this area as far back as the 2nd century!  The city is well worth a visit and I…

  • France,  Travel

    Best of Bordeaux

    Bordeaux is situated in Aquitane, the South-western region of France.  This is a prominent area for the wine industry – the region began producing wine in the 8th Century!  Bordeaux is a beautiful city to visit, with tons of wine-tasting opportunities for my fellow vinos.  This city has the second-highest number of preserved historical buildings of any city in France, behind Paris!  One really cool aspect of the architecture is that there are little faces scuplted into the facade of buildings throughout the city called mascarons. Below are some highlights of the city of Bordeaux.  Keep your eyes peeled for my post next week about visiting nearby vineyards and St. Émilion. La…

  • Europe,  France,  Travel

    Paul Cézanne’s Aix-en-Provence

    Aix-en-Provence is a beautiful town in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region of France. It’s about 20-30 minutes by train from Marseille, with tickets averaging $15 one-way. Aix-en-Provence (or Aix for short) is the home town of Paul Cézanne and offers many attractions relating to the artist and his paintings. Aix-en-provence is incredibly charming with a wonderful small-town feel, very contrasting to the large city of Marseille. The word Aix originates from Aqua + Sextius. Sextius was the name of an important military figure in the area, and water is very important and prevalent in the city. Aix-en-Provence was at one time part of Catalonia, and they still fly the “blood and…

  • Europe,  France,  Travel

    5 Must See Attractions in Marseille

    Marseille is the oldest city in France and the second largest city, behind Paris!  The city was founded in 600 BC by the Greeks.  This is one of the most stunning coastal cities I have ever visited!  As a port city, Marseille has a bit of a seedy reputation but overall it is a great destination to visit. Here is a list of the five can’t miss attractions in Marseille for first time visitors: Vieux Port The old port is beautiful from all angles!  The marina is very lively with waterfront restaurants, markets, and ferry boats offering rides to nearby destinations.  The large surrounding street became limited to pedestrians starting…