A Week in Paris: Highlights

The week before our flight to Paris, the weather couldn’t seem to make up its mind which made for an interesting packing and planning process. That is, we were prepared… to wing it. So imagine our surprise when, instead of a wash out, we had a radiantly glowing city until ten o’clock every night, captivating our already enamored hearts the way only Paris can.

In the al fresco capital of the world, that’s all you need. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would ever make it to Paris the first time around, and now I was headed there for my third. It was about to be my first Paris springtime and Alex’s first time flying out of the country altogether (seriously!), so we were beyond excited on so many levels.

What brought us to Paris was primarily a family affair. My sister had been living in Paris for almost a year and was graduating with her Master’s. We were determined not to miss the event, nor pass up the opportunity to see the city with our very own Parisienne.

We stayed in Le Marais district close to Hotel de Ville in an A La Carte Paris apartment (a local apartment share site), close to the action and apparently a very desirable neighborhood among the locals. We were welcomed with a bottle of wine and local chocolates and awoke to the smell of freshly baked pastries and espresso from the boulangerie downstairs. You bet I had a flaky, buttery croissant for breakfast every day. We were hooked. There are worse ways to start the morning if you ask me.

Getting around by walking, the metro, or the RER was incredibly easy. It allowed us to maximize our time in Paris with plenty of room for family get-togethers, day trips, and spontaneous moments – everything that we had hoped for this trip and then some. We explored our neighborhood plenty, which was an easy walk to Centre PompidouNotre Dame, and Sainte Chapelle (one of my faves!) and an easy distance from the Louvre and the Tuileries Gardens. Obviously, viewing the Eiffel Tower from Champ de Mars and from Trocadero are a must, both during the day and at night. Champs Elysees and the Arc de Triomphe can be a nice walk with shopping stops. For a bit of a trip, Montmartre and Sacre Coeur takes very little effort, while Versailles and Giverny are well worth the journey for a day or two. As a bonus, the French Open started its qualifying week while we were there. Making it to Roland Garros was one thing off my bucket list and now I’ll always remember it as the same year that Rafa won his 10th French Open. Wish we could have seen him too, but perhaps another time.

Really, I could go back to all the major tourist attractions and my favorite spots in Paris over and over and over again and still feel like there’s never enough time to soak it all in. Spending hours waiting in long lines everywhere didn’t seem like the greatest use of our time or it could have been motivating to get museum passes in the colder months. Because of how nice the weather was that week, we couldn’t peel ourselves away from roaming the streets of Paris during the day and winding down with a bottle of wine along the Seine with a spectacular view of the Eiffel Tower light show at night.

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I’d say the best part to come out of this trip is Alex’s newfound (love) appreciation for all things French. I’m trying to ride this wave and get ourselves back there ASAP.

What’s your must-do/favorite part about Paris? I’ll share my recommendations combining my Paris experiences in its own post soon, including some perfect al fresco opportunities you have to try. Leave me a comment below if you have any questions or check out the Official Paris Tourist Office website and the Consulate General of France in Boston for my fellow Boston residents out there. Feel free to link up with your post or favorite related links in the comments as well!

Thanks for reading!

x,

Valerie

Day 3-2

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Sail Boston Grand Parade of Sail 2017

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We woke up to a misty and foggy Boston the morning of the Grand Parade of Sail. For a while it didn’t seem like a sighting of even the tallest of tall ships could be possible. But after a one-hour delay to 10:00 am to commence the ceremony, we made our way to Lo Presti Park for arguably the best seats and views for Sail Boston 2017. What made it extra fun was that we were able to watch the Opening Ceremony and the first tall ships on TV with commentary from WCVB (highlights here), and STILL make it in time to see the ships cruise along the Boston Harbor and put on a show for the Eastie waterfront spectators.IMG_0297

Seeing “America’s Tall Ship,” the Eagle, leading vessels from all over the world was a sight to behold for children of all ages. The little nerd in me was awestruck at the history and legacy of the ship, and the cadets that make this kind of journey possible. What a time to be alive! To see remnants of history in real time, in a surreal mix of the old and the new.IMG_0326IMG_0312

Side note: anyone else ever feel slightly unsettled seeing checkpoints in your neighborhood for large-scale events or at major tourist sights? It definitely made me feel safer for sure, and fortunately the uneasiness didn’t last very long. I quickly grew fascinated by the people that flocked the park for Sail Boston, as well as the panoramic views of Eastie and the rest of Boston from where I stood – a quick snapshot of a neighborhood in transition. IMG_0318IMG_0298IMG_0354

Sail Boston from the peripheries was an experience in and of itself. Boston showed its finest to over a million visitors in the seaport and harbor areas, while Eastie also got treated to unbeatable views, food trucks, and some welcome foot-traffic. The Ecuaduran tall ship, Guayas, was a clear favorite and party-starter. I loved seeing the neighborhood come alive, cheering and dancing to the lively Latin music playing from the ship.  IMG_0392IMG_0380IMG_0372

As the weather continued to clear and become more pleasant, Alex and I decided to take advantage of the other perks to a weekend of festivities in the city: quiet pockets of Boston to enjoy all to ourselves. We briefly checked out all the buzz on the other side of the water, and then ventured over to Back Bay and the South End. At that point, we thought, the possibilities were endless.IMG_0386

What events/trips are you looking forward to this summer? I’d love to hear your ideas below! For questions or more information on Sail Boston 2017, check the Sail Boston official websiteBoston.com’s feature video, Boston Globe’s photos, or comment below. Feel free to link up with your post or favorite related links in the comments as well!

Thanks for reading!

 x,

Valerie

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Hello Brooklyn, how you doin’?

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One of the things I’ve loved about living in the northeast, particularly in New England, is how easy it is to take a quick trip and be totally transported into a whole other world. Within a few hours you could be bordering Canada or find yourself at the center of the world: New York City.

This past month, we planned a little escape to the concrete jungle around a dear friend’s birthday weekend. Now that we’ve gone to NYC a few times, we’ve been able to focus our adventures within our friend’s charming neighborhood in Brooklyn Heights. It is so picturesque and bears a resemblance with Boston’s Back Bay/Historic South End area. If you haven’t, you must see it for your self!

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For some birthday fun, we spent the evening at Zombie Hut (interesting name, right!?). They had a sizable jungle-inspired patio that was incredibly tempting with its greenery and tropical vibe had it not been for the damp and chilly day we were having. Thankfully they have ample indoor space for parties of different sizes, and the zombie elements sprinkled within this quirky little tiki bar make for some interesting conversation starters. We may just find ourselves back there again at some point for some cheap PBRs and Narraganset – yes, there’s ‘ganset in Brooklyn for all you New Englanders – or to try the intriguing $5 Hot Pockets. You have to wonder, in the event of a zombie apocalypse, how much would you pay for a hot pocket?

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The next day we continued our Brooklyn adventures around some drink destinations and of course, pizza.  Our must-see on this trip was Brooklyn Brewery. I appreciated how the tasting room stays true to its warehouse history and Brooklyn roots with minimal furnishings, brick walls, and a charming touch of cafe lights. It’s free to enter plus tours are free on Fridays and weekends. There wasn’t much of a line when we walked in so we easily got ourselves 5 beers for $20. $20!! Apparently there’s deliverable pizza available too, but we wanted to make-up for our derailed Fornino on Pier 6 plans by enjoying a couple of pies at their location a few blocks away.

We didn’t end there. Our food and drink tour of Brooklyn continued on to Spritzenhaus33 where the spacious and hip al fresco vibe is hard to resist a few steps from the subway station. We then grabbed empanadas at La Barrita to quickly satisfy our Latin American small bites cravings, all while facing the street at the open-window bar seats with impeccable people-watching views along Montague Street. We finished the evening with fancy bubbly varietals care of The Binc which was great for its intimate speakeasy feel as we were winding down from a fairly eventful day.

After an amazing cup of coffee at Swallow Cafe, we couldn’t possibly leave Brooklyn the following day without taking a walk around Brooklyn Bridge Park and the piers. The views just never get old. I can just imagine all the picnicking possibilities!

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What’s on your must-see/taste/drink list for NYC? Share your ideas or thoughts below. I’d love to hear. I would definitely recommend all our stops to anybody looking for delicious food or satisfying drinks in Brooklyn all with an al fresco option. Thanks for reading!

x♡

Valerie


For more questions or information on sights and eats mentioned above, check out Brooklyn Brewery, Fornino, Spritzenhaus33La Barrita, The Binc, Swallow CafeBrooklyn Bridge ParkNYCgo, Yelp, or feel free to contact alwaysalfresco@gmail.com.

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