If These Quotes Don’t Inspire You To Travel Nothing Will

1.

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.

Marcel Proust

2.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Lao Tzu

3.

Life is short and the world is wide.

4.

It’s not what you look at that matters. It’s what you see.

Henry David Thoreau

5.

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.

Saint Augustine

6.

I travel because it makes me realize how much I haven’t seen, how much I’m not going to see, and how much I still need to see.

Carew Papritz

7.

The best education I have ever received was through travel.

Lisa Ling

8.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Mark Twain

9.

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.

Mark Twain

10.

Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all of one’s lifetime.

Mark Twain

11.

Travel doesn’t become adventure until you leave yourself behind.

Marty Rubin

12.

People don’t take trips, trips take people.

John Steinbeck

13.

Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things: air, sleep, dreams, sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.

Cesare Pavese

14.

All travel has its advantages. If the passenger visits better countries, he may learn to improve his own. And if fortune carries him to worse, he may learn to enjoy it.

Samuel Johnson

15.

When overseas you learn more about your own country, than you do the place you’re visiting.

Clint Borgen

16.

Jobs fill your pocket, but adventures fill your soul.

Jamie Lyn Beatty

17.

We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.”

18.

The life you have led doesn’t need to be the only life you have.”

Anna Quindlen

19.

Live your life by a compass not a clock.”

Stephen Covey

20.

If you think adventures are dangerous, try routine: It’s Lethal.”

Paul Coelho

21.

The gladdest moment in human life, me thinks, is a departure into unknown lands.

Sir Richard Burton

22.

Blessed are the curious for they shall have adventures.

Lovelle Drachman

23.

Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.

Ibn Battuta

24.

For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.

Robert Louis Stevenson

25.

It feels good to be lost in the right direction.

26.

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.

Helen Keller

27.

I travel a lot; I hate having my life disrupted by routine.

Caskie Stinnett

28.

A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.

Oliver Wendell Holmes

29.

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

Neale Donald Walsch

30.

Once in a while it really hits people that they don’t have to experience the world in the way they have been told to.”

Alan Keightley

31.

Live life with no excuses, travel with no regret.”

Oscar Wilde

32.

In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take.

33.

I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.

Susan Sontag

Are Lonely Planet® Guides Worth It? | Review #1

If you’re anything like me you cannot choose when you have too many choices to choose from. That’s exactly what I felt when I was looking for the perfect travel guides before my world tour. Here’s what I thought about Lonely Planet® ones!


For these reviews I’ve chosen 5 criteria (the MAPAR review :D), to which I can add bonus points if there are any:

  • Maps
  • Accuracy
  • Pictures
  • Advice quality
  • Readability

Of course those are completely subjective, and I will of course express my free opinion on each of them. If you disagree with me or think I’ve left something out, please leave me a comment!

Main criteria

Maps *****

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©Lonely Planet

There are lots of maps, and very good quality ones! Depending on the version of the guide you get, you can also have a detachable folded map, the size of a tourist one (if you get what I mean) with top sights and venues on it!

I’ve given 5 stars for Lonely Planet ones because they were all I could ever wish for in a travel guide: coloured, big enough, some of them very detailed, and most of all, I didn’t have to buy any more!

Advice Quality *****

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©Lonely Planet

All in all the advice throughout the guide was good, and dependent on any kind of reader. There are pieces of advice for everyone and anyone, from families with small kids, to young adults looking for fun and even for LGBTs in particular!

The downside was that sometimes, those were quite cliche, which discredited the whole thing. But when the advice was good, it was delightful to follow it!

Pictures *****

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©Lonely Planet

I think this picture speaks for itself: the images in Lonely Planet® guides are amazing.

Very high quality, very beautiful and inspirational, a good size even in small versions of the guides, they are all you could look for in a travel guide to help you figure out how the destination looks like, feels like, and to inspire you even before you’ve arrived to your destinations.

Accuracy *****

Throughout our month of travelling, in 2 different continents and 3 different countries, we sometimes only depended on the Lonely Planet® guides I’d purchased. And while most of the time we didn’t have any problems, we did have some disappointments here and there: hours of restaurants, venues or stores that didn’t match the real ones, places closed down for good or replaced with other ones when we arrived in front of them…

This happened one too many time for me not to mention it, although it is to be expected with printed travel guides, sometimes having been written months or even years before you get them in your hands!

Readability *****

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©Lonely Planet

Compared to other guides, let me tell you the Lonely Planet® ones are a delight to read! They’ve got colours, bullet points, logos, sections, big titles, boxed texts, highlights, and most of all, their normal paragraphs are a good size to read! You would think it is a given, but apparently not from what I’ve seen…

Therefore this is definitely a good point for Lonely Planet®.

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Normal double page, with a boxed text for highlight – ©Lonely Planet

Bonus Points

Special Pages

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©Lonely Planet

Even if the guides I’d chosen weren’t that big, they had a lot of content! Enough to have special pages and sections all throughout the book.

 

On the left: This Top Itineraries double page gives you advice on full-day itineraries you can follow as if you were with a professional travel guide all day long! I’ve tested some of them myself, and they were pretty good to allow you spending good days with plenty of things to see and do!

On the right: This section is by far one of my favorites! It allows you to really get an idea of how your destination and its inhabitants are like. There’s information on the place nowadays, its history, customs, architecture and even language!

Tone

What a delight when the travel guide you’re reading has a funny tone or inspire you to visit everything in the destination you’ve chosen? Well Lonely Planet guides combine those two characteristics!

Not only are they very inspirational, but their writers are sometimes particularly funny! I’ve found myself laughing quite a number of times while reading them, and it made it all the more enjoyable 🙂

Recap: The Best Guides Out There?

Top points:

  • Readability
  • Pictures
  • Maps

Low points:

  • Accuracy
  • Advice Quality

Bonus points:

  • Special pages
  • Tone

Well to say that I would need to review each edition of travel guides out there. But from what I can tell, they really were good travel companions through my whole month of travelling, and I’ve managed to read them cover to cover and still wanting more! I will for sure buy more Lonely Planet® guides for my next travels.

Signing off,

Lilly, aka The French Hat


Lonely Planet guides on which I based this article:

  • Singapore, 11th edition, Ria de Jong, ©Lonely Planet 2018
  • L’Essentiel de New York, 3e édition, Regis St Louis & Michael Grosberg ©Lonely Planet 2017 (translated from Best of New York City, 2nd edition)
  • San Francisco en quelques jours, 4e édition, Mariella Krause, Alison Bing & John A Vlahides, ©Lonely Planet 2017 (translated from Pocket San Francisco, 6th edition)
  • Tokyo en quelques jours, 6e édition, Rebecca Milner & Simon Richmond, ©Lonely Planet 2017 (translated from Pocket Tokyo, 6th edition)
  • Kyoto et Osaka en quelques jours, 1re édition, Kate Morgan & Rebecca Miller, ©Lonely Planet 2017 (translated from Pocket Tokyo & Osaka, 1st edition)

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

San Francisco, Or The Fog City | World Tour #6

Around nine hours after leaving New York City on July 18th, we arrived in California and I set foot on the west coast of the United States for the first time in my life.


8 long hours on the plane helped me realize I wasn’t in New York anymore. The 7 magic days there were over. But I didn’t feel sad. A very different and beautiful place was awaiting me: San Francisco.

After a long-awaited dinner in a renowned Japanese sushi restaurant the night we arrived, here is what we discovered on our first day in San Francisco.

Getting Our City Passes

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This isn’t sponsored by City Pass® but I thought I would talk to you about them.

At first we were a bit worried those passes were just a rip-off for tourists, so we didn’t get any in New York. But we decided to get one each in San Francisco, as advised in my Lonely Planet® guide. What a wonderful choice we made: it allowed us to get around so easily and go on so many more adventures, not having to pay for it each time!

In short: we paid a rather small price each ($82) to get 4 tickets available in the listed attractions + 3 days of free MUNI public transportation as well as rides in the famous Cable cars! What more could we ask for? The price for the attractions were discounted at more than 40%, and they were:

  • The California Academy of Sciences
  • The Blue & Gold Fleet Bay Cruise Adventure
  • The Aquarium of the Bay
  • The Exploratorium or The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)

We did each and every one of these attractions and had the best time ever 🙂

To get our passes, we went to the San Francisco Visitor Information Center, located on 900 Market St, Lower Hallidie Plaza, near the Powell BART Station, but you can also buy them online, or before each of the attractions listed above!

Morning At Pier 39

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After getting our passes, we took the MUNI streetcar to Pier 39, one of the main spots of San Francisco. And it was everything we wished it would be.

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The sights were so typical, and to me it looked as if I had directly been taken to a movie set.

I mean there were just so many things to look at! So many cool-looking signs, shops, buildings, colours! This was definitely the hip spot, and I took great photos there.

Every single time I looked around I discovered something I hadn’t seen the first time.

Of course there were lots of people there, as this is definitely a must-see, and even though it was pretty early in the day, it was difficult to take pictures without anyone on them!

One of the main reasons I wanted to come to the Pier was to see the famous sea lions! The bay is notorious for being the habitat of many sea lions, that come and rest right next to the Pier!

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We looked at them for quite some time as they were so funny to listen to and observe! Very playful creatures 🙂

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Bay Cruise Adventure

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We couldn’t come to San Francisco without going on a boat trip to see the Golden Gate Bridge up close. So that’s what we did, with the Blue & Gold Fleet Bay Cruise Adventure!

We hop on a big boat, which took us right below the famous bright orange bridge, and back around Alcatraz Island, all of this while telling us a bit about the history of San Francisco and those two sights specifically.

Although it was a bit cold, we had the best time, and you know I LOVE BOAT TRIPS!

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Alcatraz Prison

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Even seeing it now of the picture I took gives me chills. To think that people were actually imprisoned there, even Al Capone, feels very disturbing. Also, seeing it in person after having heard all those escape stories is really strange: how on earth could inmates have gone past those sharp rocks, and jumped into the ice-cold water without dying?

Also, it was funny to see how so many shops were DEDICATED to Alcatraz goodies and clothes! I loved it!

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Lunch At The Crab House

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You see those two huge crabs? Well they ended up in our stomachs, and I even wiped the melted butter off the pan (sorry, not sorry)! It was the most delicious meal EVER.

As neither of us had had to shell whole crabs before, we just had a few moments we’re not exactly proud of, as we couldn’t understand how we were supposed to do it! But then the waiter-in-charge came, cracked every part down, and we ate the whole thing(s)!

Afternoon At The Aquarium Of The Bay

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I don’t have much to tell about this aquarium apart from this:

  • There is a freaking underwater tunnel with actual SHARKS inside the water. YES. They swim directly above your head.
  • You can TOUCH small sharks, ray mantas, starfishes and anemones. YES.
  • If you ever come to San Francisco, you have to visit it. YES.

That’s all I need to say! We had a great time!

Quick Visit To Chinatown

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After leaving the Aquarium, we took the streetcar again, and then the bus, heading out to Chinatown.

This district is only 3 streets large per 5 blocks long, but it was like we landed it China: I much preferred this Chinatown, compared to the NYC Chinatown: the colours were beautiful, it was well maintained, and there were actual Chinese people walking around!

As a matter of fact, when we arrived we were stopped in the middle of the street because a shooting was going on! That was a funny thing to watch for a while 🙂

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Evening At The ExplOratorium

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At first we weren’t sure what it was: a museum? A science institution? Well, we found out that it was actually both of those things.

Our love of science was fulfilled as we had the best time walking along those corridors, experimenting every science installation that seemed fun!!! Hundreds and hundreds of installations, designed to make you learn more about scientific facts and phenomena, gathered on 3 levels! This was HUGE, and full of people!

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After almost 3 hours spent there and LOTS of scientific experiments and discoveries made, we decided it was time to leave, because we clearly didn’t have time to see everything… So, we went outside, and had a breathtaking view of the Bay Bridge

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That day we had dinner at the Fog Harbour Fish House, the first restaurant located on Pier 39. My mother and I had a clam chowder in bread bowl, specialty of San Francisco, which was absolutely delicious and looked like this:

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And then it was time to head back to our hotel!


Yes, we did A LOT of things that first day, as our first day in New York City, just because we were so excited to be here, and frankly we had the BEST time ever.

Hope this post made you wish you’d come with us!

Signing off,

Lilly, aka The French Hat

Reflecting On The Big Apple | World Tour 2018 #5

My story with New York City started some 20 years ago, which is about as far as my memory can get.

The City Of My Dreams And Tears

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Growing up, every wall of our home was filled with pictures of New York, mostly beautiful, huge puzzles that my Mom had assembled and hung on our walls. And I remember dreaming about jumping inside the pictures, seeing in real life what seemed to be this perfect place, with colours and lights everywhere…

My parents actually went on their honeymoon in New York City, some 27 years ago. In that faraway time, the Twin Towers were still standing, and terrorist threats were only an possibility, not so vivid in the minds of all inhabitants of the world.

I actually remember where I was that day in 2001, even though I still was very young, and I also remember the minute of silence we did at school. Even then, my eyes teared up, although I didn’t have any idea of what was really going on, except the essential: that people, lots of people, were killed.

Five years later, as my mom and I were huge film-lovers, we went to see the movie United 93, true story about this plane filled with civilians, that ended up crashing in the countryside rather than on the Pentagon, which it was aiming at. I cried my eyes out. This was heartbreaking.

The 9/11 Memorial

So, when we went to the 9/11 Memorial… and of course, I cried again. All those names, written down on the sides. Those huge holes in the ground, where the towers once stood. All those trees planted in memory of those who have died. The new tower, symbolically surnamed the ‘Freedom Tower‘. All those people reflecting, families praying in front of the name of their loved one, flowers put inside the carved names of those whose birthday it was that day… This was all too much. But I needed to see it, be there. Experience it. And try to understand, as best as I could what the scar that that day had left on the world was like.

If you ever go to NYC, I urge you to experience it as well. If your memory of this horrific event is blurry, either because you were too young when it happened or just not even born, please, document yourself. Because I believe it is our history that shape us, and the collective memory we share that makes us humans.

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The One World Observatory At The Freedom Tower

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The Freedom Tower, ending its course in the skies above…

We took time to visit the One World Observatory, which was one third of the price of the Empire State Building and just as good, if not better, for the view of the City. The tower is very futuristic, and the explanations on its observation deck pretty good. We stayed at a presentation given about the City and its history, and it was great!

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Conclusion: Until Next Time…

All in all, my time in New York City left me the feeling I imagined it would, but was truly unexpected as for its visual and some of its vibe. When we first got there, every minute I was thinking to myself ‘What the hell! this building is too big/short! this isn’t at the right place! this isn’t the right colour! this shouldn’t be here!…‘ What happened is that I had gotten a mental image from movies, TV shows and documentaries over the years, and that image was completely wrong. I just felt like everything was off, not as I imagined it, and it made me feel very sad for a few days…

But after a while, almost as if an adaptation had taken place, I just knew what everybody was looking for there: the energy of the place. Its incredible energy. One that can drive anybody, one that can touch anyone, and most of all one that can adopt any of us! Any colour, race, religion, politics, age, tastes… are accepted there.

New York truly is a haven, and although it might not be the case anymore in the future, due to the closing of frontiers, people who live there are the most eclectic I have ever seen in my life, coming from absolutely all horizons…

I definitely have a lot I still need to see and experience there, because in that sort of place, you’re never finished, and it still amazes you after decades of knowing it…


Hope I gave you enough insight, and transmitted you the will to visit New York City!

Signing off,

Lilly, aka The French Hat

Winning The World Cup & Enjoying Manhattan | World Tour 2018 #4

We had a total of 6 days in New York City: from July 12 to 18. In the first three days we spent a lot of time walking, at an average of 20 km per day, under a heat of 33 to 37°C! So for the last three days, we took it easy:

FIFA World Cup

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Waiting for the match to start…

On Sunday morning (July 15), we woke up a bit later, and went to a nearby pub to watch the FIFA World Cup final match between France & Croatia. It was such a good experience, and even more as France won!!! Since then, every person we’ve met in NYC has congratulated us for that win as soon as they understood we were French haha! We got to Times Square just in time to see french supporters singing their joy and  walking down the street screaming their joy!

Times Square Market: Cheap/Great Stuff

Sunday brought more closed streets in NYC creating more pedestrians areas, and street markets: there was a big one on Broadway, all the way from Central Park to Times Square. We wandered around, purchased cheap sunglasses & jewellery, and just enjoyed being there.

Chinatown: Not What It Once Was…

full-time-explorer-day-on-a-dime-how-to-spend-a-day-in-chinatown-for-under-30-new-york-city-budget-street-pagodaWe headed towards Canal Street, directly by subway. Originally we wanted to see the morning street market on Canal Street on Sundays, but we arrived there too late. That wasn’t a problem as we were still able to visit Chinatown for a while. My parents were very disappointed as it had changed a lot since they last visited. There was a pagoda in particular that they remembered brighter and cleaner…

As for me, I didn’t imagine Chinatown like that, and in retrospect that was the Chinatown I least preferred in the whole trip!

Little Italy

Little Italy was right next to Chinatown, and was so small I barely noticed it. We walked through it for about 20 minutes, purchased ice creams… and that was it. Aside restaurants, we didn’t see anything interesting. I’m sure the place is great when you live in NYC and want to get Italian food, and specialised supermarkets.

The Cloysters

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Going to the Cloysters, in northern Manhattan, was an experience in itself as it was so far: it took us nearly 45 minutes by subway to get there. Once we got out of the subway, everything outside had changed: we had left the noise and the smell of Manhattan behind us, and were now wrapped up in silence only broken by forest sounds… which was very nice.

We went to visit the buildings of the Cloysters for about 30 minutes as they were closing early, at 5 pm.

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The Met Cloisters, located on four acres overlooking the Hudson River in northern Manhattan’s Fort Tryon Park, is the branch of the Museum dedicated to the art, architecture, and gardens of medieval Europe. Deriving its name from the medieval cloisters that form the core of the building, it presents a harmonious and evocative setting for more than 2,000 exceptional artworks and architectural elements from the medieval West.

We then took the bus to go back downtown: we enjoyed the long ride as it took us through Harlem, and all the way back to Central Park.

Carriage Ride in Central Park

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IDK why but I kept wanting to call one of them Philibert as in The Beauty And The Beast haha

On Monday we had the chance to get on a 20 minute carriage ride in Central Park! This was a bit pricyn especially for tourists like us but we take it upon ourselves! haha

The driver was extremely friendly and he told us all about the parts of Central Park we were visiting. He also congratulated us for winning the World Cup, and took lots of photos of us inside the carriage!

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I love this one despite my cringy pose because our horse posed as well!!!

Tour Bus: City Sightseeing NYC

Yes… after almost a week of walking around on foot, we finally gave in and payed A LOT to go on a tour bus. We chose the red company (not sponsored) and it was actually great!

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We sat on the upper deck, even though it was pouring rain at some point: we had raincoats that they gave us and a lot of courage that day! We laughed a lot because we were completely drenched in the end… good times!


This concludes (almost) all the activities we got around to do in New York City, but obviously I wouldn’t conclude like that without talking about the One World Trade Center and the 9/11 Memorial; so stay tuned for the next article!

Take care & have a good one,

Lilly, aka The French Hat