We took a day trip from Paris to visit the Loire Valley via the TGV. We were stunned by the knot gardens at The Chateau de Villandry. It is amazing!
During our visit to Prague in 2005, we took this photo of The Vladislav Hall in Prague Castle. We were dwarfed by the incredibly high ceilings and massive chandeliers. We could almost envision the many feasts held here, centuries ago.
We’d decided to take a day trip from Rome. We’d just left the port in Naples and were heading to the “Blue Grotto” at Capri, Italy. Look at that water! My daughter said the color reminded her of Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” and I have to agree.
Flashback to our first trip to The Vatican City in March 2003. It was so intimidating to walk these hallowed halls that we had only heard about on the news. I will never forget how resplendent our surroundings were and how fortunate we were to witness it.
Rome, Italy was my second sojourn into Europe. Having visited Paris the year prior, I thought myself very fortunate to be going back so quickly. I had been intrigued with Rome for awhile, mostly through the lens of a movie camera.
There were so many great films like “Three Coins in the fountain” and “Roman Holiday” that set the tone for my romanticized (pun intended) and lofty expectations.
As wonderful as the city is, when I finally got the chance to visit this beautiful country, some things were were not as I expected. Not everything one envisions matches the fantasy, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t have a fantastic time anyway.READ MORE
I’m always up for any alternatives to expensive airline or rail tickets. Earlier, I’d written about the Chinese bus companies that had cropped up to go into head to head competition with the transportation stalwart, Greyhound. Roughly six years ago, another company begin to make waves in the U.S. by offering newer, comfortable luxury buses with free wi-fi service (though not available on every bus) and a small but functional restroom in the rear. For the longest time, their service was limited to the northeastern U.S., fortunately, they began to service the southeast by offering $1.00 introductory fares and the rest is history. Megabus USA is experiencing phenomenal success, much like its parent company in the UK which launched in 2003.
As I was planning my recent trip to Paris, I thought it would be nice to use Megabus UK to visit either London or Amsterdam while I was there. We opted to go with Amsterdam since the trip time was considerably less (by two hours) as was the cost (by £8 each way). Our fare for our trip to Amsterdam was a grand total of £20.50 roundtrip ( £10 per person plus a 50 pence booking fee which is charged for all reservations) and the trip time was a little over 7 hours. Since our departure time was at 11:30 pm this worked to our advantage since we would be able to sleep overnight and wake up refreshed in Amsterdam the next morning.
The Megabus station is located at the Porte Maillot Coach park which is right across the street from the Palais des Congrès de Paris on Boulevard Pershing. It is easily reached by the Metro on line 1 (Direction La Defense). Simply go up the stairs and exit right outside the metro station. The Palais des Congrès de Paris will be straight ahead and the coach park will be right beyond it.READ MORE
I have to admit, before my visit in November, my impression of Amsterdam was that it was a party town, a place to score mary jane and watch lots of live porn. Mind you, this was coming from a very uninformed point of view. The Amsterdam that I actually witnessed is the polar opposite. In fact, it struck me as being very family friendly, cultural, progressive, stylish and a historical bulwark of days gone by.
We’d decided that we wanted to take a day-trip while we were in Paris. My motto is if I am going to cross an ocean, I’m going to make it worth my while. So, what better way to maximize our experience than to visit a city that I had long wondered about after seeing so many beautiful pictures posted on various social media by my travel blogger friends. Maybe I should give the city a try despite the questionable reputation that preceded it?READ MORE
There is nothing more comforting when you visit a city far away from home than knowing that your newer and more temporary digs offers you that same warmth and familiarity. I felt that way as soon as I found my way to the second and third hotels that we would be staying at in Paris, France. I wasn’t expecting anything out of the ordinary; a clean room with a comfortable bed were the limits to what I had hoped for.
Hotel Taylor would be the first of the twin or sister hotels that we would have the pleasure of staying during our last two days in Paris. The second was right next door, the Hotel L’Annexe. While they were both owned by the same couple, that is where the physical similarities ended. Both hotels were immaculate and traditional, very much what you would expect from a European boutique hotel. They are modern in the sense that all conveniences were provided like television, a buffet breakfast (at an additional cost of 15 euros) and updated bathrooms. Plush and comfortable mattresses were juxtaposed with traditional, period furniture, which seemed to give guests the best of both worlds.READ MORE
Perhaps one of the worst kept secrets in the United States is the amount of money black women spend on their hair. I was once a slave to that multi-billion dollar industry, so I can testify how people have literally built fortunes on a societal construct that caused black women to do whatever it took to get their hair ‘right’. I started perming my hair at the age of 13 because I was tired of getting my ears singed by the family straightening comb. It would never do to walk around with the natural hair God gave you…..”nappiness” was the equivalent of four letter words that were not allowed in my household, neighborhood or the world in general.
We had all bought into the Madison Avenue version of what beautiful hair looked like. It was long, flowing, straight, unkinky, ‘manageable’ locks that men could run their fingers through with ease. To have anything less meant that you weren’t beautiful….of course, none of this was spoken. It didn’t need to be. All one needed to do was to visit the neighborhood beauty salons, check out the neighborhood beauty supply stores and they would have their irrefutable answer.
Even black men were not immune to this reality. Before the depression, black men began to chemically alter their hair using something called congolene. In order to ‘conk’ your hair, this chemical had to be quickly applied to the hair with protective gloves and rinsed out immediately because it was made of LYE. To this day, you will find some who use texturizers to straighten and give their hair a wavy texture.READ MORE
There’s one truth about large cities. There are lots of hotels. Lots. There will never be a shortage of them but there always seem to be a shortage of recommendations of which may be the best ones to stay at. I had the chance to stay at a hotel in Paris called Hotel Paradis. Paradise. That’s a lot to live up to and I was anxious to see how close the experience would come to it.
After a little confusion about my reservation, I was given a card key and directed to the very bijou elevator that would take me up to my room on the sixth floor. The room was the the hotel’s suite….it was larger than I thought it would be with plenty of room to mill about without feeling constrained. You immediately walked into a foyer which is always a great transition into the rest of the suite. The bathroom was just to the right of the sitting room. It was nice to see that the toilet was separated from the rest of the bathroom; an asset in certain situations. The bath was obviously a renovation and a very well done one at that. The furnishings were meager, but functional and the predominate color was a wine/mauve and silver medallion combo that seemed to suggest that couples were in mind when they decided on the decor for this suite.READ MORE