Travel

Paris

October 18-20, 2015

 

October 18

It’s an extremely humbling experience to be on an expensive trip and pass by Syrian refugees. This was my first experience in Paris, France. Although it shouldn’t have to be, it’s a good reminder, that I am an extremely privileged person living in Canada. I’m a very lucky girl and I have my parents to thank for that.

One of the coolest but shortest experiences we had on the trip was passing by Vimy Ridge. I would’ve liked to have visited the actual monument but even catching a glimpse of it from the highway was surreal.

On a lighter note – we arrived in Paris and immediately headed for our welcome dinner and visit to the Arc de Triomphe. The last time I was in Paris I definitely didn’t appreciate the city as much as I should of. We were given hours to spend on the Champs-Élysées and we spent most of it shopping. That’s partly why I was so excited to go back to Europe. It was kind of a do-over for me to experience the city as an adult (well, young adult).

I swear the restaurant we went to thought we weren’t going to eat for days. Each of us were LITERALLY given French Onion Soup (side note: is it just called onion soup in France…?), half a chicken with veggies, mashed potatoes, and probably THE BEST CREME BRULEE I’VE EVER HAD IN MY LIFE. Paris is also known for it’s famous wine, mmmmmm.

12309331_10153078302597493_274126647_n.jpg

Our tour director, Brendon, was absolutely spectacular. I could go on for days about how great he is and how he always went out of his way to give us the best experience. For example, making sure we have a chance to see the Eiffel Tower sparkle at night. It only happens in the first 5 minutes of every hour.

October 19

Travelling with Trafalgar is probably the best way to see every major tourist attraction if you can afford it. We were only in Paris for a day and we got to see the Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame Basilica, The Louvre and Moulin Rouge.

What we learned from Brendon was that in Europe, time means nothing. The Eiffel Tower was supposed to open at 9:30am, it did not. However, being in a group tour meant we were given the chance to skip the line and be the first group up the tower (except this time I wasn’t going to wear a tutu… things have changed a lot since the last time I was in Paris).

1934301_17700852492_681_n

#embarassing

IMG_0937

IMG_0946

It’s pretty crazy to think that I was just in Paris. That we just experienced all of the beauty of the city and missed the terrible terrorist attacks. Hearing about the attacks was scary for that reason, and the fact that The Eagles of Death Metal show is a type of concert I typically attend.

Given recent events I was given the honour of representing Roots Canada on Instagram to pay respects to the attacks. A bittersweet moment but I was incredibly honoured to have been chosen.

Canada's thoughts and prayers are with you. #PrayForParis

A post shared by Roots Canada (@rootscanada) on

IMG_1038

Notre-Dame was just as pretty as it was last time – except this time, without rain. The line to get in however was ridiculous. Luckily we got there early enough to avoid a major line-up (more Trafalgar secrets wooo!). I tried to find the same crepe place Alex, Alex, Jenn and I escaped the rain to but we were short on time so we settled for 1 of 16 crepe restaurants.

Brendon once again went out of his way to organize Louvre tickets ahead of time so that we had minimal waiting time. As long as the line was, and as small as the Mona Lisa is, my parents needed to see the famous Da Vinci painting. It took me a while but I finally made it to the front of the crowd.

IMG_3728

One of the things I liked to do was look at the crowds of people look at paintings like the Mona Lisa. In the past year I’ve tried to stop the attempt to capture the perfect moment and instead, to try and stop to enjoy the view. The last time we were at the Louvre I think we spent more time trying to mimic statues and less time looking at paintings – oh high school.

IMG_3834Just in case you’re wondering the Moulin Rouge is nothing like the movie. There’s a lot more boobs and a lot less room to move around. At one point – I kid you not – the stage opened up and turned into a water pit, and then one of the half naked girls jumped into the tank of water and swam with boa constrictors. The French are interesting.

The theatre is packed with around 1,000 people and 2 exits. My mom and I had discussed what would happen if there was a fire in that building, such a scary thought. It’s evIMG_3785en scarier to think what would’ve happened if the attacks happened there.

Along with a theatre ticket came a 3-course meal and lots of alcohol. Being the only one to drink red wine at my table, I was given my own personal tiny bottle which I gladly finished. Because of bronchitis I didn’t get to fully experience French wine last time and I was more than happy to make up for it.

You’re not allowed to take photos in the venue so excuse the poor quality ones that I managed to capture.

The Moulin Rouge puts on 2 shows twice a day, 7 times a week and they always sell out. Given those statistics and the opportunity to go my mom and I were definitely not going to pass up the chance… shows aren’t really my dad’s thing.

IMG_3787

IMG_3836

October 20

I think this was the second earliest day we had to wake up the entire trip. We were to travel from Paris to Switzerland by bus and I’m so grateful I can pass out in a moving vehicle. My bus buddy, Leanne, can attest to that. As soon as we leaned back in our seats we were out cold – something about the air pressure I guess.

We stopped at a French bus/truck stop where I proceeded to eat the biggest lasagna I’ve ever had in my entire life.

 

Advertisements
Standard
Travel

London

October 14-18, 2015

October 14

Saying goodbye to my family was bittersweet – I was saying goodbye but also saying hello to a new adventure. It was exciting to be in London because we had extra time to ourselves.

I’ve been to London before but I had missed some of the little things I’d wanted to see like Platform 9 and ¾ and Abbey Road.

Heads up for all of the Harry Potter fans – Platform 9 and ¾ is not actually on the platform. Like every other tourist trap there’s a line, with a gift shop. There’s a man who gets paid to stand there and when you get to the front he’ll ask you what house you’re in (just in case you were wondering why every single person who posts a picture magically has a scarf with them). There’s also a camera-man who tells the first man “SCARF” and it magically looks like it’s flying. Tourist attraction #1 complete.

Next stop, Hogwarts. | #Platform934 #RootsIsCanada #wanDEBlust

A post shared by Deb Lam (@adventurelam) on

Finding our way to our hotel was simple – but my parents didn’t seem to think so. The Tube is super easy to navigate in London, and even more simple when Google Maps tells you exactly which stations to take. It’s not so easy if your mom accidentally grabs a bus map of the system and starts to second guess every move you choose to make. If we were a married couple we’d be in trouble.

The timing of my trip was bittersweet. Sweet – Eurotrip. Bitter – Jays made the playoffs for the first time in 22 years. Luckily my neighbour from Mississauga, Asma, is studying in London and we met up with her at the Canadian bar, “The Maple Leaf.” The bartender almost didn’t let me in because I look like I’m 16… The bar is completely adorned with Canadian sports’ team memorabilia and typically Canadian items. There are twonies and loonies taped to the wall and the bar serves Molson Canadian. On the menu are “traditional Canadian dishes” like poutine (no complaints). To be honest, Europe was amazing, but this night was one of my favourites out of the whole trip. Words can’t describe the feeling you get being in a foreign country surrounded by fellow Canadians all cheering as Bautista hits a home run during Game 5.

IMG_3453

October 15

Our first mission as tourists in London was obviously to eat at the canteen at the Malaysian Consulate across the street. (My parents are Malaysian and we coincidentally booked a hotel across the street – my dad was super happy).

Second, sign up for the Big Bus to take us all over London. Traffic in London is crazy. Especially with hundreds of Big Buses travelling across the city. The tour took us 3 hours and we hadn’t fully finished the trip. It’s crazy that such a small city can have so many landmarks and history to see and learn about. One of the cool and nerdy things I got to experience was seeing Van Gogh’s Sunflowers at the National Gallery. Most of our day was spent on the bus because we were still jet lagged and exhausted.

Hi Ben! 🙋🏻🇬🇧 | #BigBen #RootsIsCanada #wanDEBlust

A post shared by Deb Lam (@adventurelam) on

October 16

Day 3 in London was exciting because I got to meet another aunt! My dad’s cousin, Michelle, met up with us and spent the day doing touristy things with us. I feel like people in general don’t really go to tourist attractions unless family comes to town – I can’t remember the last time I went up the CN Tower. We finally made it to Abbey Road – what would we do without Google Maps… It’s so weird to think that to tourists Abbey Road is this amazing place where we all cross and try and take a photo with, but to residents it’s a nuisance because it’s too difficult to drive in the area. It was really surreal to see Abbey Road Studios where some of the best songs were recorded.

All you need is love. | #AbbeyRoad #RootsIsCanada #wanDEBlust

A post shared by Deb Lam (@adventurelam) on

The day was a little bit of a flashback – we went to the Tower of London like I did in high school, ate at the same restaurant, Wagamama – except I was missing all of my friends. Mom and I also went to Kensington Palace where we had tea just to say we had tea in a palace.

IMG_0435

In London I passed as a 15-year-old at several tourist attractions. In London, 15-year-olds are considered a child and get free admission. Sometimes it benefits me that I look young.

October 17

Our last full day in London was the start of our trip with Trafalgar. The first thing we did in the morning was get on a bus at the crack of dawn to have a walking tour around London. Our guide, Michael, was well versed in his history and tidbits he’d learned throughout the years as a tour guide. He knew exactly where to stand to watch the Changing of the Guards and where they were going to trample us. I also couldn’t help but notice the huge amount of people fencing near Buckingham Palace placed there for the Prime Minster of China (I don’t like people fencing…) Michael sent us to a quaint little pub to get our London-fix of fish and chips.

IMG_3630

Having some ale at an English pub.

IMG_3631

IMG_0615

The bane of my existence…

Mom and I headed to the London Eye. Sorry, the COCA-COLA London Eye. Normally I’m a fan of Coca-Cola’s marketing but it was overkill at the Eye.

IMG_0683

“How many Coca-Cola cans does it take to get to the top of the London Eye?” “This moment brought to you by Coke.” “Happiness starts here…COKE COKE COKE.” The London Eye has a pretty view from the top, but to be honest it’s just another tourist attraction. (I sound super ungrateful but I swear I’m not.)

London Eye see you! | #LondonEye #RootsIsCanada #wanDEBlust

A post shared by Deb Lam (@adventurelam) on

After the tourist trap I got to meet my cousin, Oscar. It’s amazing the things kid are curious about. I think the very first question Oscar asked me was “so what do you guys eat around here?” I wish I could’ve spent more time with him and my aunt. My aunt is one of the nicest ladies and Oscar is just plain adorable. Living halfway across the world from your family really sucks sometimes. But it’s also a great excuse to travel.

My aunt’s partner, Nigel, gave us a real tour of the wharf. We walked along the River, had hot chocolate and rum at a cute little rooftop patio and headed towards the Tate Modern where I got to see some of Andy Warhol’s works and some of Lichtenstein. The World of Pop exhibit was going on as well – an exhibit primarily focused on feminism, consumerism and racism so you can imagine how interesting that is through modern art (lots of boobs).

IMG_3650

IMG_3651

Being my dad and craving Chinese food, we went to Chinatown to find some grub. But first, we had to cross the Millenium Bridge (aka, the bridge in Harry Potter).

IMG_0736

Again, in preparation for the Chinese Prime Minister, Chinatown was decked out to the nines. The last time I was there I don’t ever remember it being that fancy.

October 18

4:30am wake up. At least I get to sleep on the way to Paris…

We made it to the White Cliffs of Dover only to get on a ferry to travel to Paris. I never get sea-sick but for some reason I could not stay horizontal until I found some meds. The duty free shop on board also provided me with my brand new FauxPro (it’s actually called a KitVision but I like my term better). I was excited to use it for the remainder of my Eurotrip…

IMG_0794

Standard