Top Things To Do In Bali! | Excursion #2

At the end of last year I went to Bali for the first time, from December 23 to 30. It was also my first time in Indonesia for the record! I wanted to share with you some of the things I did which I can now recommend, in no particular order!


1. Visit Ubud, the Cultural Nerve Center of Bali

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I think that coming to Bali has to be accompanied with visiting the cultural nerve center of Bali, located in the town of Ubud! This small town was indeed packed with tourists but also with temples at every street corner, and some of the best restaurants I tried for the whole week! One simply cannot come to Bali without coming to Ubud, and seeing some of its sights 🙂 – At Ubud, 2hr-drive from Denpasar / exploring is free.

2. Visit The Sacred Monkey Forest

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I went to this jungle forest packed with wild monkeys everywhere and it was the best thing! Yes there were baby monkeys 🙂 – At Ubud, 2hr-drive from Denpasar / entry: 2$.

This definitely was a highlight of my stay in Ubud, because I’d rarely had the chance before to get so close to monkeys, especially wild monkeys. Even if you’re afraid of monkeys don’t worry: they rarely climb people, and if they do it would be because you brought food with you (which they can smell from the other side of the forest).

I took some beautiful pictures there, green was everywhere!

 

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3. See a Traditional Balinese Dance Show

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This definitely was a highlight of my stay again: I went to see a traditional Balinese dance show, which I believe is held every night, at 7 p.m., in the center of Ubud, at the Palace.

Despite the many many (many!!!) flying insects everywhere due to the humidity and the lights, the show is absolutely beautiful and the music enchanting.

If you’d like to be bewitched into Balinese culture, this show is for you! – At Ubud, 2hr-drive from Denpasar / entry: 5$.

4. Go And See Various Temples

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Crazy fact: Bali counts around 20,000 temples.

During my stay I went to see many temples – they are literally everywhere on the island! Each of them has something unique, so I’d say they’re always worth exploring.

I had the chance of going to Bali during the week of celebrations for the new year which is called Galungan 🙂 The whole island is on vacation, and decorations fill the streets and the temples: the main decorations, called Penjor, were very high bamboo sticks hanging above the streets. – Find more info here.

Visiting the temples is always free, but as the most famous ones are dispatched everywhere on the island, therefore accessing them is not always easy. You can either go by taxi (always ask the reception of your hotel) or scooter. – more info below.

You can find a list of the most famous temples here!

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5. Witness A Religious Ceremony

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In Balinese tradition, Galungan is the time of year when the ancestral spirits visit the Earth. For that occasion, the Balinese people gather in temples almost every day to bring offerings and pray altogether. – Find more info here.

The atmosphere created by the celebrations was truly awesome. It had a very authentic vibe, which was missing from the island otherwise, since it is overflowing from tourists. I strongly recommend going to Bali around this time of the year!

You can find a list of the most famous temples here!

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6. Go to a Spa And Get A Balinese Massage

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Going to a Spa is just part of the Balinese experience: you have to get at least one massage. Why? 2 reasons: it is so cheap you won’t believe it’s real, and the Balinese traditional massages are the best! The masseurs (generally female) carry just the right amount of pressure, although you can also ask for less or more pressure.

The beauty treatments are just amazing too, whether it be getting a manicure/pedicure, hair removal or a skin treatment, I assure you this will be a highlight during your stay! I did the best avocado hair treatment ever, which left my hair feeling sooooooo sleek I could not believe it. – 2 to 3 hours at a Spa / around 30$.

7. Make Friends!

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People on this island are some of the friendliest I’ve encountered. They smile all the time, they are happy to live, and they laugh a lot!

As soon as you get used to the indonesian accent, you’re up to go. Everyone speaks English 🙂

This picture was taken right after I climbed down Mount Batur, the most famous volcano of the island. I befriended my guide, the girl at my right, who I taught a bit of french since she was asking 🙂

On her left is the very friendly and funny driver I had to take me to Mount Batur, who also wanted to be on the picture, looking fab’ with his sunglasses!

8. Climb A Volcano

 

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Warning: if you’re afraid of heights like me, do not attempt this.

It was my first time climbing a volcano, and my first time going on a trek altogether.

Mount Batur is the second active volcano of Bali, the first one being Mount Agung which apparently you can’t climb anymore.

Climbing up Mount Batur is all fine since you do it during the night: however climbing down is a whole other matter! You don’t realise how far up you’ve gone until the sun comes out in the morning and you actually see the extremely steep slopes on both sides of the path (lacking barriers…)!

Hopefully I had a guide (which you’re obligated to have anyway if you want to climb) and she helped me go down when my legs wouldn’t support me anymore due to the fear.

However, I’m proud to have done it and I still encourage you to do it! – 2am to 7am / 10$ / ask your hotel reception for a ride there during the night.

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9. Take Some Of The Most Beautiful Pictures Ever

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Bali is of course one of the most instagrammable place of all time 🙂 Pictures speak for themselves, beauty stroke me everywhere I looked and of course I couldn’t resist!

Be aware that everyone wants his/her picture, and sometimes the sights are crowded of people who are here just to get their Instagram shot! Try not to get annoyed by it, it’s all part of the experience. 🙂

10. Relax And Enjoy Your Time There

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Bali is known for its relaxing atmosphere, its yoga retreats and its magical sights.

If there’s one place where you can forget everything and actually relax and enjoy the present, it’s there. Take time to breathe, you will not regret it.


Info:

Hotels are cheap in Bali. You can get a 3-star hotel for 20$ a night. Spend some time on the internet beforehand to check the best deals.

Getting around in Bali is pretty easy. You can either book taxis at your hotel reception (to avoid getting ripped off by taxi drivers in the streets) or renting a scooter for a day or a few days in a row. Any way, it will cost you around 10$ a day to go everywhere you like.

Balinese food is amazing although it is very much the same everywhere. You can get very big meals for around 5$ per day.

Activities can be pricy: it really depends on what you want to do and how big in a group you are. You will usually spend around 20$ a day for any kind of activities, per person.


This concludes my blog post on my stay in Bali, and if you want to know more, you can go and watch the vlogs I did while I was there! Here is the first part, and the second part 🙂 Do subscribe to my YouTube channel if you liked them!

Balinese kisses,

Lilly

aka The French Hat

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Bali Vlog (Part 1): Exploring Ubud!

MY THIRD VLOG: EXPLORING UBUD!

On my YouTube Channel Lilly Out And About!

Don’t forget to go and subscribe to it to support me 🙂


MON TROISIEME VLOG : J’EXPLORE UBUD !

Sur ma chaîne YouTube Lilly Out And About !

N’oubliez pas d’aller vous abonner pour me soutenir 🙂

‘Traveling’ In Translation: In-Between Worlds | World Tour #9

Yes this title is an attempt to make a pun with the title of Sofia Coppola’s masterful movie ‘Lost in Translation‘, which you would all have watched, I am sure.


So we left Las Vegas with a somewhat sore feeling. After being forced to get a cab from the hotel to go to McCarran International Airport, when no other option was left to us, and waiting for several hours at the airport (where we felt more at ease than anywhere else in Vegas at that point), we eventually took off and escaped from the Nevada desert, happy as ever to leave the sounds of the slot machines behind us.

It was Monday the 23rd of July, and on that day I set foot in Los Angeles for the first time in my life.

Those Weird Hours In Between

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We had almost 24 hours until our next plane, which would carry us in more than 10 hours, to Japan.

Things went smoothly, so we didn’t have to think about it. From the airport, we took the free shuttle to our hotel (what a change after Las Vegas!), checked in the huuuuge beautiful room we booked and we proceeded to chill out.

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We didn’t even go out of the hotel to explore Los Angeles a bit, but honestly we weren’t in the mood to do so. Things are a little blurry but from what I can remember, we went to the hotel restaurant and ate very good food, and then I watched a movie my father had told me about on the flight that day, which I had wanted to see ever since it was released in 2004: ‘Flight Plan‘ with Jodie Foster, a thriller set on a plane which was interestingly written, but scared me about planes when I wasn’t even scared…

Preparing Yourself For A Whole Other World And An Inevitable Culture Shock

All I could think about was counting the hours separating me from leaving the US and FINALLY landing to Japan, and seeing it for myself, after so many years of wondering how it would be like.

For the record, I have been learning Japanese for almost 2 years now, and obviously learning about the culture as well, from many different sources (YouTube, books, TV shows, Netflix, documentaries, social media and so on). So I already knew a lot about Japan. In fact, in some ways even more than I knew about the US… That’s something I’ve already talked about, but what I knew from the US before our trip all came from 70s to 90s TV shows and movies. Nothing current.

I had the same level of excitement for Japan that I got for New York City, which is saying something because I had wanted to go to New York since before I could even have memories… I can’t even describe how happy I was.

That night I couldn’t sleep very well either, which was expected…

I knew well enough how much of a disorientation and culture shock we would feel when arriving in Japan, and what’s more, in Tokyo. I tried to explain it as much as I could to my father. I remember I told him about:

  • the fact that the weather there was extremely hot and humid (because it was summer), which neither of us had ever felt before;
  • the fact that nothing was his size there (my father’s really tall), especially in Tokyo and especially after staying in the US for 2 weeks, where everything is too big;
  • the fact that people smoke in restaurants, but aren’t allowed to smoke in streets except in very specific areas;
  • the fact that there is A LOT MORE PEOPLE everywhere, especially in Tokyo;
  • and of course the simple fact that we were going to leave one continent for another, and not any one of the continents: we were going to leave the America for Asia! Which would have been okay if either of us had ever been to Asia before, but we hadn’t. A huge culture shock was inevitable.

He listened alright. And as I talked about it, I tried my best to really think about it. But in the end, neither of us was truly prepared for what was coming.

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Ever wondered where Sofia Coppola got her title from for her famous movie? Well I’ll just leave that quote here for you to think about…

“Poetry is what is lost in translation. It is also what is lost in interpretation.”

Robert Frost

Until next time,

With love,

Lilly

Why Las Vegas Was A Downer & Discovering Sin City | World Tour #8

We left San Francisco feeling refreshed and reconciled with the United States… Little did we know we would spend the worst 3 days of our trip in Las Vegas, despite us being so excited to go!


Can an introduction get more gloomy than that?

The thing is, we didn’t enjoy Las Vegas as much as we would have liked to. It all started on the evening of July 21st, Saturday, which was the day we flew out to Las Vegas from San Francisco.

We just started off from the wrong foot I think.

Slot Machines Everywhere

Our first impression of the city, or rather the airport, was actually funny: the first thing we saw when entering the airport after land-off were slot machines, right at the exit of our gate! We were in Las Vegas for sure, no doubt about it!

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And then, we went outside.

Oh. My. God.

That heat. 40 degrees Celsius, 104 degrees Farenheit. If you’ve never been in a desert, you can’t understand what I mean but my skin actually tingled under this heat!

The Hunt For Public Transportation

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Getting out of the airport, we tried, and I do mean we tried, to take a public transport to join our hotel. But there was nothing available. It was basically impossible.

There was public transport, we could see buses going around, but it said on the bus stop you couldn’t go on board without a ticket but there wasn’t any ticket machines ANYWHERE, neither outside nor inside the airport. We asked, no one could answer, no one knew.

That was incredible. So, to recap, in every single country, in every single town, you had a choice of either take the public transit from an airport, or take a cab, to go in town.

But not in Las Vegas.

Because you see, if you’re coming to Vegas it means you’re prepared to waste your money, so why not start right now?!

I was boiling. My father was pissed off. We were FORCED to pay 20 dollars each to take a taxi.

The Land of Ocean’s Eleven

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The Legendary Strip, Las Vegas

Anyway, after that experience, we arrived at our hotel, which was a bit ex centered from the Strip, but actually fine. Despite the fact that the staff was late for more than 2 hours to give us our room. But, let’s talk about nicer things.

One of my favourite movies of all times is Ocean’s Eleven, both:

  • the first film of 1960 with Frank Sinatra playing a perfect Danny Ocean, and also Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, Sammy Davis Jr. and Joey Bishop,
  • and the remake of 2001, with George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts and so on.

And one of my favourite quotes from the film was dancing in my head while we went outside again in the heat, to go and see our first casino: the one and only Caesar’s Palace.

“You guys are pros. The best. I’m sure you can make it out of the casino. Of course, lest we forget, once you’re out the front door, you’re still in the middle of the fucking desert!” Reuben, adressing to Rusty and Danny

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The Caesar’s Palace was actually incredible both outside and inside: this was to become my favourite of all the casinos, thanks to the atmosphere, the architecture and the decorations inside. I loved it!

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My father being a fan of Gordon Ramsay, we went to eat at one of the many restaurants he holds in Vegas, and it was absolutely delicious… The Pub & Grill was inside the Caesar’s Palace, and it wasn’t even that expensive!

 

 

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After that we went for a walk inside the casino, which took us about an hour just to see one side of the casino, and the sights were incredible: the giant shopping mall (because beside playing, the only thing left to do is shopping) felt like it was outside, thanks to the huuuuuuge illusory sky, put under the high ceiling.

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Okay, THAT illusory sky was incredible. I can’t say otherwise, and we were awed that first night.

We went to bed on a rare kind of hype: we knew that most people around us in that desert would not sleep that night, stuck in front of slot machines, blackjack and poker tables, where we left them.

New York City isn’t the only city that never sleeps after all.

The Hunt For The Best Casino

“The Strip” is how you call the boulevard containing the bulk of the most famous casinos in the world. It starts from the Las Vegas Sign “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” at the south, that you will most certainly see if you come to the city by road.

Here is the Strip:

The Strip

As you can guess on this map, the casinos are HUGE buildings, built one after the other on either side of the boulevard.

After that first night, my father and I proceeded to go and see all the casinos:

  • The Flamingo: it seemed a bit old next to the others, like coming straight up from the 70s. Lots of tables to play card games, as I can recall.
  • The LINQ: we definitely passed through it to go and see the Venetian but I can’t remember a single thing about it! In fact, the casinos all looked the same except the most famous ones.
  • The Venetian and The Palazzo: okay. The Venetian rivaled with my favourite casino so far, the Caesar’s Palace. That casino was incredible both outside and inside. They had recreated Venice’s gondolas and canals! And Saint Mark’s Square! The Palazzo was the five star hotel of the same complex.

 

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  • Trump International Hotel: by the time we got out of the Venetian complex, it was midday, and when we looked at our next destination, we saw another building, far away in the distance, that looked ENTIRELY made of gold: of course it had to be the Trump Hotel. It was too far away, and looked a bit ‘too much’… but I bet the view of the Strip from there is incredible.
  • Treasure Island: we didn’t end up going either because it was too far away and the heat was unbearable…
  • The Mirage: I remember this hotel-casino perfectly because of its decorations inside: they had recreated a jungle under a glass roof with sounds of tropical fauna and flora being broadcasted!
  • Next was Caesar’s Palace that we’d already explored the night before, so we only passed through it. We also ate there, but the food wasn’t that great. Or maybe it was the heat that got the best of me.

By that time, after seeing all those things that looked incredible but absolutely insane considering we were in the middle of the desert, our enthusiasm began to decrease slowly. Such a display of who got the best decorations, inspiration, and theme… all of this with water in any form, it was nonsense!

We made a halt at our hotel on Flamingo Road, and took a little nap before going out again.

  • The Bellagio: ahhhh, the famous one, the one from Ocean’s Eleven, in front of which is shot the most beautiful scene of the whole movie – maybe one of the best scenes EVER (if you don’t know what I mean, go and watch it RIGHT NOW: here). It was beautiful inside, and we wandered around for quite a long time.
  • The New York Hotel: from the Bellagio we took the air train to the New York Hotel. Besides Venice, Paris, and Rome, there was a hotel (with a giant mall inside again) around the theme of New York. A Broadway version of NYC streets were recreated inside, with big luminous signs and such
  • The Luxor: Okay, that one was insane too. It had the shape of an enormous Egyptian pyramid, and the hotel rooms were disposed along its sides, all the way to the top!

 

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  • Mandala Bay, The MGM Grand, Excalibur…: we saw the outside we gave up seeing each and every casino because they were so far away from each other, and the heat really was unbearable. You have to realize, it was 45°C, 113°F. It made my skin prickle, actually boiling under the sun! However, we did see the MGM Grand but it wasn’t that great compared to the other casinos we saw. Or maybe we were just fed up to see the same thing again, and again.

What Shocked Me In Vegas

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  • No security to enter the buildings: I was so used to France’s terrorism counter-plan that I was shocked to see we could enter and exit any of the casinos and hotels without being supervised or checked. Of course cameras were everywhere, and considering I looked underage (despite being almost 25…) I was told off by cashiers walking around many times, when I approached some tables and walked among slot machines (before I told them my age, obviously). Which makes room for another funny quote from Ocean’s Eleven:

“I know more about casino security than any man alive, I invented it, and it cannot be beaten. They got cameras, they got locks, they got watchers, they got timers, they got vaults, they got enough armed personnel to occupy Paris!

… Okay, bad example.” Reuben, addressing to Rusty and Danny

  • Air conditioning & fountains everywhere: could Vegas be more of a pain in the ass of the Earth? I think not. All this fun is actually destroying our planet. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, do some researches about Lake Mead and how Las Vegas literally drained it over the last few years, alongside other phreatic tables… So of course, it depressed me after a while.
  • People dressed like strip dancers all the time: even during the day! I can understand the need of being almost naked under the heat, and especially during the night, but during the day? It was like people were partying non-stop! And of course that’s what they did.
  • People allowed to smoke & drink everywhere, inside & outside: I witnessed with my own eyes the absence of restrictive laws in the Nevada state… but it was too much. People were going crazy. Hopefully we didn’t smoke, and only drank a little bit.

The End Of The (S)Trip

All in all, we spent 2 nights and 2 days in Vegas, from Saturday the 21st until Monday the 23rd, and it was too long; we eventually got bored on Monday morning and went back to McCarran International Airport 3 hours early.


And that concludes our trip to Las Vegas, which I won’t talk about again. Sure it was something to see once in your lifetime, but only once! I’ll probably never go back again for visiting, maybe for work and even then, I think I’ll pass. Vegas wasn’t for me!

And our journey continued from there to Los Angeles!

Until next time,

Lilly

aka The French Hat


Want to know what happened next during our summer trip around the world? Keep up with our adventures in my World Tour series!

On Top Of The Californian Hills | World Tour #7

Our second day in San Francisco started with a huge Starbucks latte in hand, which was fortunate in light of the day we had ahead of us.


Coffee At Alamo Square Park

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Ahhhh, the Painted Ladies. What a beautiful sight! I’ve taken many more pictures of them than those two, but I can’t overload this blog… I was finally being able to see them with my own eyes!

Their colors were indeed so vivid and each and every one of them was completely unique. To think that people actually live in them blows my mind as those may well be the most photographed inhabited houses of the world!

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We then went to take the bus that would take us west, to the Golden Gate Park where fun would never end!

A Morning At The California Academy Of Sciences

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© California Academy of Sciences / San Francisco

Although it was sunny until then, when we arrived at the huge building of the California Academy of Sciences it was almost raining. Ahhhhh the joys of being in a oceanside town…

Anyway, we rushed inside, to discover an ENORMOUS T-rex squeleton, welcoming us right at the entrance! We took some maps of the Academy and began the exploration.

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This wasn’t a museum, nor anything we’d ever visited: this truly was a temple for Science! There were so many things to see we didn’t know which one we would choose to start!

  • An Aquarium
  • a Planetarium
  • a Rain Forest
  • and a Natural History Museum !
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The Bio-Dome

We began the visit with the Rain Forest Dome, which was absolutely amazing: there were birds, fishes, turtles and butterflies everywhere inside !

About the Dome : Housed within a spectacular 90-foot-diameter glass dome, our rainforest exhibit is the largest of its kind in the world. With temperatures of 82–85°F and humidity at 75% or above, it will instantly transport you to some of the most biodiverse places on Earth. (source: California Academy of Sciences website)

It was a one-way path: you had to climb up a sort of sloped access ramp that was going all the way up to the top of the dome, and then you had to take a lift right at the middle to go down again.

So right after visiting the dome–and dodging hundreds of butterflies– we took the lift to go to the “Water Planet” area: it was still on the RainForest “journey” but focused more on species found in water.

inside rainforest water planet

It was amazing, AGAIN. There were all sorts of fishes, turtles, insects, snakes, lizards, frogs and toads… likely to be found in a rainforest, such as the Amazon Rainforest or the Congo Rainforest.

To stay on the water side, we then pursued our visit at the Aquarium.

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The underwater way

And let me tell you, I had never seen so many species at once. Again, so many types of fishes, sharks, mollusks, shellfishes, corals, jellyfishes and so on!

Also, I really want to say that this aquarium was beautifully built: every fish tank was amazingly showcased, in a particular light for each one of them… A lot of work has gone into making this aquarium one of the most amazing I’ve ever seen.

We took some beautiful pictures in front of the fish tanks:

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And gazed at the huge, magnificent coral reef for a long time…

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And when we got out of the aquarium space, we came face to face with Claude, the Albino Alligator of the Academy!

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It was already midday by then, so we had lunch at the Academy’s restaurant, and we sat outside because the sun had made another appearance and we weren’t going to waste it!

And then we rushed the visit of the Natural History Museum, wanting to see the Planetarium as soon as the visit would open, but there were way too many people so gave up and didn’t end up seeing inside the Planetarium. Until next time!

Japan In California: The Japanese Tea Garden

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Right next to the California Academy of Sciences was a closed area that I wanted to see: the Japanese Tea Garden. The entrance fee was $9–for non-residents adults, and we stayed for over an hour.

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We enjoyed the calmness of the park despite the crowds of people, and took some of the coolest pictures of the whole trip!

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San Francisco Beach

Yes. We went to the beach. But it only had the name! Forget what you have in mind about Californian beaches… San Francisco rather looks like a French Normandy or Brittany beach!

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And we actually FROZE TO DEATH on this beach! haha That chilly wind though! The parents were muffled in their coats but I wasn’t feeling too good myself!

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After walking all the way to the ocean front, we went all the way back to the road to take the bus again.

The Golden Gate Bridge, Again

Yes, we went to see it again, but as the day before, it was literally wrapped up in fog, so we didn’t get to see it very well. But again, until next time!

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Lombard Street, Or The Crookedest Street In The World

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You can’t come to San Francisco without going to see Lombard Street: even on foot, we struggled to go up the hill right behind it (to arrive at the top of the street) and it was hard to climb down!

Yes, because there were many people, but also because the slope and the stairs were quite steep!

And I found the sign explaining a bit more about the street:

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And there were beautiful houses on that street, the blue one with the magenta flowers being my favorite one…

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The Cable Cars

To sum up this wonderful day of exploration and to come back downtown where our hotel was, we went to take a Cable Car (also because it was included in our CityPasses!).

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We waited for over an hour in a loooooong line outside, but it was worth the wait: the experience was amazing (I know I say this a lot, but really, it was!).

In fact I filmed the whole trip up and down the steep hill on the way downtown and will be posting that on my YouTube Channel as soon as I get the chance to edit the footage!

India In Our Plates

All in all, and from what I can tell, the best food of all the United States was in San Francisco!

The restaurant we went to to eat dinner was The New Delhi, and we very much enjoyed the food! It was delicious, and beautifully served.


Annnnnd that is a wrap for San Francisco! All in all, we didn’t stay very long, two full days and three nights in total.

The next day we went to the San Francisco International Airport: my mother took a flight to come back to France, and my father and I took a plane to Las Vegas. And our journey continued…

With love,

Lilly

aka The French Hat


Want to know what happened next during our summer trip around the world? Keep up with our adventures in my World Tour series!

What 30+ Hours Spent On Planes Have Taught Me | Tips & Tricks #1

You see, I have social anxiety, always had, and it’s pretty bad, enough to be a real pain in my life. It manifests itself even more during holidays, because my confidence always reaches a low point.

So when I had to leave home for the World Tour I did this summer 2018 – which I talk to you about here – with my parents and then only my dad, I knew I would have to be stronger than usual, at least to survive on long-haul flights.

To give you a bit of a context, before that, I had never been on a long-haul flight. Now  I shall say I’ve become an expert, as I’ve successfully survived through 7 (out of 9 flights in total) in only 1 month.

keep_calm_and_travel_on_poster-r16ddfc74a0bf4670a3ca14e018493477_wvg_8byvr_540Our first flight from Paris to New York was more than 8 hours long, which at the time seemed to go on forever. For me it rhymed with hell on earth (well actually hell in the air): 8 hours, stuck in a confined area, 10,000 feet up, in a uncomfortable seat, without any space nor air to breathe properly, surrounded by strangers mostly nervous and uncomfortable too… To be honest, it does sound like the beginning of a horror movie.

And of course, my anxiety levels were up to the roof for this first flight. But I managed to find things to keep me calm throughout all the 9 flights, and here are 5 of my most efficient tips, real tips that actually helped me survive this month of travel!

1. Bring Your Own Stuff

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This is by far my most efficient tip. If you suffer from social anxiety like me, you would need to bring:

  • your own pillow and neck-pillow,
  • your own blanket,
  • your own comfortable socks,
  • your own headphones,
  • your own games, books, magazines or anything else that will keep you occupied as usual.

I cannot stress enough the ‘as usual‘ part as this is what makes this tip so efficient: you need to trick your brain into thinking you’re home, or in a place you know, in order to tackle anxiety and make the hours go faster and more smoothly.

Of course I know most of the stuff I’ve listed is provided by most companies, but trust me when I say you’re better off with your own, and not only because some companies actually re-use the same stuff already used by other passengers, sometimes without even washing it, presenting it to you in a closed plastic bag. Yes. And the same goes with the seats, the armrests, and headrests, which hardly get washed. But I’ll talk about hygiene in another tip: for now the point is to bring your own, washed, clean, stuff.

Pillow-tip: Also, if you’re wondering how to bring your own pillow without being too encumbered at the airport, just bring a folded pillowcase with you, which DSC_1633you can then load with clothes (thereby reducing the weight of your luggage at the same time). But really you can make it out of anything: my own pillow was made of my big Sostrene Grene black linen tote bag, filled with the stuff I wanted to have with me on the plane, wrapped up in my hoodie, which I then closed by tying the loops together!

2. Don’t Stress Over Your Seat Too Much

The number 1 tip some people give is to choose your seat carefully. I’d say okay, but following which criteria? There’s as much criteria as there are people, and I would say the best place on a plane really much depends on yourself, and your preferences!

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  • If you know you will be most anxious about being in a confined area, like me, I’d suggest to get a window seat, to be able to see what’s going on outside! Definitely do not get a aisle seat, and on bigger planes that have rows like ones above, avoid sitting in the middle area D/E/G/H because you won’t be able to see anything and it will for sure make you anxious, especially during take-off and landing!
  • Avoiding the middle seats also goes if you don’t like being stuck between people: I would suggest avoiding the B, E, G, and K seats. Be aware that sometimes airplanes only have 3 seats in the middle, or none at all, depending on the type of flight: don’t go too fast on the website when you’re choosing your seats, as every plane has its own specifications!
  • If your main concern is space, then also get an aisle seat to be able to stretch your legs, or even better, a seat at the front row, right after a dividing wall: just know that those seats do have a retractable table in the armrests, but don’t necessarily have a screen. Their main plus is that there is nothing in front of them so you have a lot of space to stretch your legs!
  • If you’re most anxious about being able to go to the restrooms quite a lot (because you know you will be anxious, because you know you just pee a lot, or simply because you’re pregnant!), then definitely get a aisle seat, whether on C, D, H or J: this way you’ll be able to stand up and go without disturbing anyone! Obviously, if you can, get a seat that is closer to the restrooms. There usually are at the front and the end of the aircraft, and on big planes there are also restrooms in the middle, on each side.
  • If you would like to sleep without being disturbed, then get those seats in the middle, or window seats.
  • If you would like to incline your seat as much as possible without disturbing the person behind you, then get a seat in the last row before a dividing wall, at the end of the aircraft or just at the end of an area (first, economy, quiet area etc…) on big planes.
  • If your main concern is the noise, you should avoid seats directly behind reactors, and prefer seats right at the front or at the back of the plane: those areas are usually quieter. On some flights, there can be ‘quiet areas‘ which you have to pay a bit extra for, but they are worth it. This is like a in-between first class and economy class. They are closed by curtains and dividing walls, and usually empty.

20180801_144630If you really want to get the best seats, go over to Seat Guru* after you’ve paid your plane tickets: this website allows you to know which seats are the best ones on your specific plane. Then go over to your registration site online, and simply book those magic seats!

I know you’re probably thinking ‘Well, you’ve entitled this ‘Do not stress over your seat’ but you’ve actually been saying the opposite!‘ and I would say you’re perfectly right, but here’s my conclusion (and my real tip):

 

All of what I’ve just said before doesn’t matter, because whatever seat you get on the plane, it will be uncomfortable, and there isn’t one seat or row that can be called ‘the best’. Why? Because the definition of good entirely depends on your preferences, which may even vary from one flight to another!

For example, if you know you’ll be tired on the plane because it is a night flight, then make sure you get a seat where you won’t be disturbed for the whole duration of the flight. But if your flight starts on early afternoon, make sure you get an aisle seat to be able to stretch your legs and go to the bathroom as you like!

Also, if you know your plane is going to be huge (Boeing 747 or Airbus A380) do not worry about anything I’ve said before, because those planes are so comfortable and spacious that you won’t even realize you’re on an aircraft.

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Emirates Airbus A380 – we took 2 of them when we got back from Singapore!

So the best place you can get depends entirely on you! Just be aware of all the possibilities you have and you’ll be fine!

3. Bring Water And Food

A 10-hour flight is long, very long. Especially if you anxiously wait for food.

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Usually you get 3 meals in a 10-hour flight. I don’t know the rule for sure but the company usually respects normal hours to eat.

For example, even if you cross on another time zone, flight attendants will bring you food when it lunch/dinner time in the place you’ve left. Same goes with breakfast and a small snack in the middle of the afternoon.

You could be thinking that’s more than alberto-ignacio-ardila-conoce-la-comida-de-avic3b3n-sin-tener-que-probarlaenough to stay fulfilled, but it actually isn’t: even for me the portions were too small. To give you a bit of a background, I’m french, therefore not used to big portions as in America for example, and I don’t eat that much anyway. But the portions were so small I always had to purchase food at the airport, after the security check, to bring on the plane with me!

The same goes with water: you usually get 4 or 5 drinks during a 10-hour flight, and you can ask a glass of water each time, but this cannot be enough under any circumstances. You need to double the amount of water you would normally drink: so for every 8 hours, you should drink up to 2 L of water to stay hydrated! This is due to the air-recycling inside the cabin, which is creating an extremely dry environment (see more details below).

Water tips: bring your bottle with you. I would suggest bringing a 1,5 L bottle. To pass the security check, present it empty: the security won’t say anything to you even if you see signs everywhere telling you to get rid of your bottles! What they don’t want are fluids, because you can have explosives in them. So if you have an empty bottle, that doesn’t interest them! Then, you can refill your bottle in any bathroom, or with any source you find, especially for that purpose!

On the plane, you can actually ask the flight attendants to refill your bottle for you when they pass between seats offering drinks! Not a lot of people know this, so there actually always is enough water for everyone because they have extra.

4. Always Go To The Restrooms When You Have The Chance

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This is a small but efficient tip.

Go to the bathroom right before boarding the plane, right after take-off, and more generally, don’t wait to go: at the second you start to get cramps, because if you wait, you’re likely to get stuck for a long time in a queue that never seems to end..

People usually tend to go all at once an hour or two after take-off, and the line can go on forever! Imagine all 300 passengers or more all sharing 4 or 6 bathrooms at the same time?! And usually, the toilet paper is lacking after 2 hours in the air. So make sure you go before all that frenzy!

5. Stay Focused On Your Well-Being

Who said spending long hours on airplanes should equal to landing in a poor physical condition? In fact, if you follow the basic recommendations, not one spot is likely to appear on your face, nor your nose is going to be runny or your throat sore. It all depends on how much effort you put in your well-being during the flight.

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(c) Beautygeeks

Firstly, be prepared, and bring your skincare and eye-care stuff: as long as you respect the size requirements for liquids, you can bring whatever you need/want:

  • hand cream,
  • face cream,
  • lip balm,
  • hand sanitizer,
  • eye drops,
  • eye masks,
  • face masks…

whatever will help your skin stay hydrated and your eyes not feel sore and be red. Because of course, the biggest enemy inside the plane cabin is dehydration.

Why is it that the inside of an aircraft cabin is so dry? It is due to the cabin pressurization, which is a process in which conditioned air is pumped into the cabin of an aircraft or spacecraft, in order to create a safe and comfortable environment for passengers and crew flying at high altitudes. For aircraft, this air is usually bled off from the gas turbine engines at the compressor stage.

Be careful though as the pressure will make your creams literally escape from their container as soon as you open them!

Secondly, drink the water you’ve taken with you! Nothing replaces water to be really hydrated, so drink as much as you can, even if it means you’ll go to the bathroom a lot: the choice is yours to make.


I hope those tips were useful to you, please make sure to like this article or leave me a comment if you’ve learned something or if you know you’ll be using one of my tips on your next flight! I’d be delighted to hear from you 🙂

Take care and have a good one,

Lilly, aka The French Hat


*Not sponsored

One Long Weekend In Pornic | Excursion #1

Don’t be fooled by the title: Pornic is the name of a small seaside town in west France, not an onomatopoeia derived from a rude word: in fact, it is derived from ‘pornit‘ which means ‘pretty, flourishing harbour‘.

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Historically Pornic was part of Brittany, and the Duc de Bretagne even built a castle there in the 5th Century to protect the town from Vikings – although it is not there anymore, there’s still a beautiful castle right at the centre of the town!

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Anyway, I went to see one of my closest friends who has moved out there for work, and we spent five wonderful days sun bathing, seashore walking and cycling, watching theatre plays, eating ice creams, and just enjoying life at its fullest. Actually she also has a blog, about the cycling excursions she makes in the area, if you wanna check it out: Pornicavelo (in French).

Pornic City: Typical French Sight

My first thought when I arrived was that the scenery was absolutely incredible, the weather was perfect, and the vibe (end-of-summer like) truly amazing.

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The town is pretty small, even though it was coupled with two other nearby towns 40 years ago, Sainte-Marie-sur-mer and Clion-sur-mer, but it has everything you would need: a library, coffee shops, a great choice of restaurants, great places to eat ice creams, a hat shop (!!!), a casino, a cinema, and even a real castle, still inhabited by french noble descendants!

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All of this is gathered around a small harbour, the Vieux Port de Plaisance, which is lacking water most of the day due to the flow of the tide. From early morning, the ocean retires, only to come again rather late in the evening, each day.

Aside from going to various shops, and to purchase a delicious ice cream near the castle, we went to see a play, which was held outside in an amazing setting: right under the castle, in front of the harbour. The play was Scapin the Schemer (Molière), but not in a classic performance: it was played in a 60’s setting, with Elvis Presley music, big 60’s skirts for girls and leather jackets for boys!

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Pornic Scenery: A Must-See

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Aside from beautiful beaches and typical fishing huts on top of high stilts, you can actually see quite a lot of historical places in Pornic. In fact the town was a witness to the early Celtic culture, its first inhabitants being already settled there more than 100,000 years before our era… You can still see quite a lot of cairns and other megaliths, some of them being 5,000 years old!

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Cairns and megaliths are large stones, used to construct a structure or monument, either alone or together with other stones. The word megalithic describes structures made of such large stones without the use of mortar or concrete, representing periods of prehistory characterised by such constructions. For later periods, the word monolith, with an overlapping meaning, is more likely to be used.

The construction of these structures took place mainly in the Neolithic period (though earlier Mesolithic examples are known) and continued into the Chalcolithic period and the Bronze Age.

We spent one late afternoon on the beach, which was very nice, apart from the fact that I hurt myself pretty bad on one particular rock, hidden under the surface of the water… but one must see the glass half-full, so I should say that the water was extremely nice and hot (approximately 23°C, which is very hot for the ocean), and that I got to pick up about twenty gorgeous seashells on the beach!

Here are the other amazing pictures I took along the days:

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I’ll be for sure visiting my friend again in the next 5 years, Pornic was an absolute must-see! A big thank you to her for having welcomed me for 5 days!

Signing off for today,

Lilly, aka The French Hat