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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!
We then went to take the bus that would take us west, to the Golden Gate Park where fun would never end!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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:
And gazed at the huge, magnificent coral reef for a long time…
And when we got out of the aquarium space, we came face to face with Claude, the Albino Alligator of the Academy!
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!
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.
We enjoyed the calmness of the park despite the crowds of people, and took some of the coolest pictures of the whole trip!
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!
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!
After walking all the way to the ocean front, we went all the way back to the road to take the bus 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!
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:
And there were beautiful houses on that street, the blue one with the magenta flowers being my favorite one…
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!).
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!
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…
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!
I’m that annoying person who’s always claimed:
“If you want, you can“
This French saying basically reminds you that if you really want something, you can get it, or do it. Nobody or nothing should ever stop you from reaching your goals. And I’m the living proof that that motto isn’t only motivational talk. So, when it comes to my love of travelling, I always knew where I was going.
As a kid, who did you find most inspiring? Astronauts? Scientists? F1 drivers? Firefighters? For me it was travelers. You know, real backpackers, wanderers, international reporters, professional translators travelling around the world… really anyone that could travel full time, either through their work or on savings, allowing them to discover new cultures, customs and languages.
This seemed like the dream life to me.
I don’t remember exactly when I first discovered it was actually possible not only to visit other countries but actually live there, as an expatriate. But it must have been when I was 7 or 8, through a movie or a book. What I do remember is what I thought to myself that day: I would give anything to live this kind of life.
Little did I know at that moment what my future life would be like.
Pretty soon, life answered me.
Right after finishing high school, when I was only seventeen years-old, I got accepted into a very selective university program, allowing me to study law in Dublin, Ireland for two years.
Those two years were absolutely incredible, but to be honest, I didn’t enjoy them as much as I should have, because at the time, I struggled with my anxiety a lot: getting out of my comfort zone wasn’t easy at first, but I’ve learned then to enjoy and control it.
Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore. – André Gide
This perfectly sums up the most important lessons I’ve learned from life so far: you will never do anything in life, unless you make a leap of faith.
I’m not saying you should take such leaps every minute of every hour of every day of your life. What I’m saying is to take a leap from time to time, when you want and are able to take it. And this does not only apply to travelling: the same goes for everything in life.
Your life can radically change from one minute to the next, so why not control those changes as much as you can?
Why wait to experience new things when you don’t know how much time is on your hands?
Think about what you’ll say to your children and grandchildren: do you want to say “I’ve always wanted to do it, but I never found the time and the courage“? Or do you want them to know you’ve done everything in your power to live your dreams and always come up with new ones?
We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.
My main point here is this: I was not predetermined to live the life I’m currently living.
I’m a only child. My whole family is French and doesn’t speak any other language than French, except my father who speaks English in his work. I’m from a rather small city in Southeast France, Lyon. My father is an IT consultant, my mother’s an accountant. I didn’t learn any English before I was 11 years old, and even then it was only through school. I never went to any prep schools, or took international classes. I never traveled outside France during my childhood.
But: I doubled my efforts to learn English by myself. In high school, I worked much harder to get into a selective university program. Then I worked harder to stay in the university path I’d chosen. Then I worked even harder to pass the French bar exam. And for the last 4 years, I worked my a** off to be the best intern possible.
So today, I’m almost 25. I’ll be graduating as a lawyer in a month. I’ve lived in Ireland for 2 years and I’ve traveled to 3 continents and more than 10 countries. I’m learning Japanese, Chinese and Korean, and I’m getting ready to expatriate myself in Asia to work for a multinational company.
What were the chances? You tell me!
If I hadn’t doubled my efforts, I would not be where I am today in my life, but I was willing to put everything I had into it to follow my dream!
This is one of the most personal blog posts I’ve written on this blog. This subject was not easy to write about. I’ve carefully chosen every single one of my words here, and I hope it inspires you to take a leap of faith, just like me!
Lilly, aka The French Hat
Writing down this list, and choosing from my many dreams wasn’t as easy as I had thought, but here it is. This is my heart put on the table here, my highest dreams, as this summer I’ve been able to cross out going to New York and travelling to Japan.
There is a very old Japanese proverb saying that:
“He who climbs Mt. Fuji is a wise man; he who climbs twice is a fool.”
This may well be my highest hope, and my oldest one at the same time, the one trip I shall never forget in my life. This may sound stupid to some people, but I intend to experience this almost religiously. To me, ascending Mount Fuji at daybreak, sleeping at the top, and waking up at 4 a.m. just to be able to witness the world’s earliest and most incredible sunrise will be a dream come true. Ephemeral yes, but that’s what makes it an absolutely unique experience, and most of the best things in life usually are ephemeral anyway.
I know this won’t be an easy ascension, I’ve read and heard so many people talk about how difficult it was, and how prepared you should be before doing it. But all of this seems little trouble compared to the amazing feeling I will have when at the top of the most famous volcano of the world, I’ll be able to watch the sunrise in the actual Country Of The Rising Sun.
I plan on doing it next time I go to Japan, hopefully with my best friend. Hopefully next year, during August.
3 facts that should make you want to go and see it too:
It this still doesn’t interest you, let me tell you this fortification is 21,196 kilometers long (13,171 miles) and runs across China, from east to west. It stretches from Shanhaiguan, on the Bohai Sea, to Lop Lake in the Gobi Desert.
It was initially constructed at the command of the first Chinese Emperor, from 221 BC, and was a combination of the various protective walls that had been built by the smaller states which he had conquered and merged to form China.
This wall is a direct link with legend: it reflects on how powerful China’s emperors once were. Its beauty and “incredibleness” cannot seriously be grasped in only one trip, and I’m planning on experiencing it over at least 10 days of travel, going from one end to the other, staying at the numerous hotels alongside it – you can even sleep in a watchtower!
Should I really introduce them to you?
Those pyramids are located on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt, in the actual desert. The complex is more than 4,500 years old. It includes the three Great Pyramids (Cheops/Khufu, Khafre/Chephren and Menkaure), and of course the Great Sphinx. The Great Pyramid of Cheops or Khufu counts as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Who hasn’t flipped through an atlas or an encyclopedia during childhood, and wished they had been able to see the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World invariably listed? Of all those amazing wonders, the Pyramid of Cheops is the only one still standing, which is absolutely incredible as it also is the oldest one. The Great Pyramid remained the tallest man-made structure in the world until the advent of modern skyscrapers.
Now, if that still doesn’t convince you to go and see it as well, I will tell you those pyramids still hold mysteries we haven’t been able to unveil these last 200 years. And you can actually visit the insides of the pyramids, although it requires some planning and a good amount of money.
When I first saw a picture of this site, I just couldn’t believe my own eyes.
This massive salt flat located in Bolivia, South America, formed by several ancient lakes, is the largest in the world with over 10,000 square kilometers (4,000 square miles). But this is not even what makes it incredible: during rainy season, this salt flat becomes so reflective that it is effectively the world’s largest mirror and is used to calibrate satellites!
For one breathtaking sight, it’s a pretty good one. I don’t even have anything else to say: I just want to see it for myself because this seems incredible!
Most people don’t know two things:
Of course you can find documentaries showing you the inside, but they are still rare. The Taj Mahal is an ivory-white marble mausoleum located Agra, India. In Hindi, it means “Crown of The Palace“, and was built by the Emperor Shah Jahan out of love, to contain the tumb of his wife Mumtaz Mahal. It is now part of the New Seven Wonders Of The World.
If I can go to India some day, I will for sure stop by Agra to see this breathtaking palace, symbol of the One Thousand And One Nights to me. What we couldn’t do for love…
As many places I’ve listed here, this bay is here because of the feeling I’m certain I will get while being there: peace.
Seeing the “Bay of the Descending Dragon” (“Ha Long” in Vietnamese) and the beautiful colours of its waters has always been a dream of mine, and can best be experienced on boat. The bay is officially part of Vietnam and is more than 330 square kilometers in size. It also has thousands of limestone karsts and more than 2,000 isles in various shapes and sizes!
“Only mountains accept to be old, but Ha Long sea and wave are young forever” – Nguyễn Tuân
Jerusalem is the oldest city in the world, and is more than 6,000 years old. It has been destroyed at least twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times.
Surely this incredible history goes alongside its place in the holy world: it is considered holy to the three major Abrahamic religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In fact, both Israel and the Palestinian Authority claim Jerusalem as their capital.
According to the Bible, King David conquered the city from the Jebusites and established it as the capital of the united kingdom of Israel, and his son, King Solomon, commissioned the building of the First Temple. The Western Wall of Temple Mount still stands there.
According to the Quran, Muhammad made his Night Journey in Jerusalem, ascending to heaven where he spoke to God. Al-Aqsa Mosque now stands in Jerusalem to commemorate this event.
According to the New Testament, Jesus Christ was crucified there, on the Dome of the Rock, where the Church Of The Holy Sepulchre now stands.
Charged with history, this place is arguably the holiest point on Earth, and is also very difficult to reach: you would need a guide to travel inside its walls.
And for all those reasons, it is on my bucket list, because even though I am not a believer in either religion mentioned above, never going to Jerusalem would seem like a terrible fault.
Visible 8 months of the year in Iceland, Aurora Borealis are still a very rare atmospheric phenomenon that you would have to track down to be able to observe.
I’ve read you should go to Iceland for at least 5 days during the right season to maybe catch a glimpse of one during a Black Night. But it sure is worth the trouble: to be able to see one with my own eyes would be unbelievable.
And do it while bathing in a hot spring would be an absolute dream. Me? Too greedy? Don’t know what you’re talking about 😉
Maybe I’m desperate for real adventures or maybe I’ve watched Indiana Jones one time too many, but I’ve always wanted to see it. And if I do it, I’m going to do it right: riding there by camel seems like the perfect and sensible thing to do.
This incredible sight is again one of the New Seven Wonders Of The World, and is actually on the verge of becoming inaccessible because of the Jordan authorities.
Petra, or Raqmu, is a historical and archaeological city in southern Jordan. Petra lies on the slope of Jabal Al-Madbah in a basin among the mountains which form the eastern flank of Arabah valley that run from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba. Petra is believed to have been settled as early as 9,000 BC, and it was possibly established in the 4th century BC as the capital city of the Nabataean Kingdom. – Wikipedia
You need another reason to go and see it as well? Well as you can see on the picture I’ve chosen, this city was directly carved into rose-red stone using a technique we still aren’t able to understand!
Take a moment to read this unbelievably beautiful poem by John William Burgon, on the hidden city of Petra and its colour:
“It seems no work of Man’s creative hand,
by labour wrought as wavering fancy planned;
But from the rock as if by magic grown,
eternal, silent, beautiful, alone!
Not virgin-white like that old Doric shrine,
where erst Athena held her rites divine;
Not saintly-grey, like many a minster fane,
that crowns the hill and consecrates the plain;
But rose-red as if the blush of dawn,
that first beheld them were not yet withdrawn;
The hues of youth upon a brow of woe,
which Man deemed old two thousand years ago,
Match me such marvel save in Eastern clime,
a rose-red city half as old as time.”
John William Burgon
This list cannot be in a right order and this site doesn’t deserve the 10th place here, but it is actually impossible to rank all those places.
This breathtaking bridge is located in Bà Nà Hills, Da Nang, Vietnam, above the clouds: it was built at 1,400 meters above sea level in Thien Thai Garden and opened in June 2018! It was only designed to provide a scenic overlook and be a tourist attraction, but it way too beautiful not to experience!
I’m a bookworm, have always been. So when this absolutely incredible library opened in October 2017, I immediately put it on my mental Bucket List. Nicknamed The Eye, Tianjin Binhai Library is a located in Tianjin, China. It holds 1.2 million books, and features floor-to-ceiling, terraced bookshelves, as well as a large, luminous sphere in the center that serves as an auditorium with a capacity of 110 people. It is nicknamed The Eye because the sphere, which appears like an iris, can be seen from the park outside through an eye-shaped opening.
I’m hoping to go to China several times, because one time will definitely not be enough to see all the great places this country has to offer, holding arguably one of the oldest cultures of the world.
“Collect memories, not things.“
Maybe one day, I’ll have done all of these things. Will that make me happy? Not per se, but I’m a great believer into the richness of memories, not things. Having great experiences to share, and something to tell to the future generations, that’s something every single one of us should aspire to.
So go, don’t be afraid, make your own list, go crazy with it, who knows. Maybe writing it down will inspire destiny to give you what your heart truly wishes.
But remember: you can cheat destiny as well, by never forgetting your goals and work towards them, always.
I hope this post has inspired you and has made you dream with me…
Signing off for today,
Lilly, aka The French Hat
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.“
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
“Life is short and the world is wide.”
“It’s not what you look at that matters. It’s what you see.”
Henry David Thoreau
“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.”
“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.”
“The best education I have ever received was through travel.“
“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.”
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”
“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.”
“Travel doesn’t become adventure until you leave yourself behind.”
“People don’t take trips, trips take people.”
“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.”
“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.”
“When overseas you learn more about your own country, than you do the place you’re visiting.”
“Jobs fill your pocket, but adventures fill your soul.”
Jamie Lyn Beatty
“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.”
“The life you have led doesn’t need to be the only life you have.”
“Live your life by a compass not a clock.”
“If you think adventures are dangerous, try routine: It’s Lethal.”
“The gladdest moment in human life, me thinks, is a departure into unknown lands.”
Sir Richard Burton
“Blessed are the curious for they shall have adventures.”
“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.”
“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
“It feels good to be lost in the right direction.”
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”
“I travel a lot; I hate having my life disrupted by routine.”
“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
Neale Donald Walsch
“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.”
“Live life with no excuses, travel with no regret.”
“In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take.”
“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.”
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.
Our 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!
This is by far my most efficient tip. If you suffer from social anxiety like me, you would need to bring:
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 you 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!
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!
If 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.
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!
A 10-hour flight is long, very long. Especially if you anxiously wait for food.
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 enough 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.
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!
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.
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:
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
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‘.
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!
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).
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.
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!
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!
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!
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:
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
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.
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:
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!
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.
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!
We looked at them for quite some time as they were so funny to listen to and observe! Very playful creatures 🙂
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!
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!
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)!
I don’t have much to tell about this aquarium apart from this:
That’s all I need to say! We had a great time!
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 🙂
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!
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…
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:
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!
Lilly, aka The French Hat
My story with New York City started some 20 years ago, which is about as far as my memory can get.
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.
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.
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!
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!
Lilly, aka The French Hat
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:
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!
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.
We 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 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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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