Posts Tagged With: starbucks

Next Stop: Paris, France

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On the third night that Joey was in Leeds, we were sitting in my room, and I went over my bucket list. When I reached the bottom of the list (#33), I turned to Joey and I said: “Wanna go somewhere? Like fly to a different city?” and he said, “Let’s do it”.

I pulled out a world map on my Ipad and randomly picked a spot… it was the Atlantic Ocean. And so, since I didn’t feel like swimming in late November, I randomly picked another spot. PARIS IT WAS! WE booked our tickets, accommodations and other means of transportation 36 hours before our flight from Liverpool departed. I’d call that a spontaneous trip (crosses #33 off bucket list).

Journée 1

We arrived at the Charles de Gaulle airport after flying with Easyjet from Liverpool. We arrived around 8:30pm. We took the metro (RER A) from the airport straight to our accommodations. Again, I strongly recommend travellers who are looking for cheap places to sleep to check out Airbnb.com! Joey and I stayed with this lovely Parisian couple who were renting out there futon for a really cheap price (compared to the rest of Paris). They provided us a map of Paris, showed us all the touristy places, and their  own personal recommendations. They lived in a very old-styled Parisian flat that had a key that was similar to the key in Hugo. Because it was so late at night, Joey and I crashed the first night in Paris.

Journée 2

Bonjour mon ami(e)! Ca va? Je suis tres bon!

Joey and I woke up to the restless streets of Paris around 8am and decided to begin our day with a trip to le Supermarche (the supermarket). We bought some food for breakfast as well as snacks and drinks for the day trip to the busiest parts of Paris. The only noteworthy thing that happened at the store was when Joey paid for his food. He gave the cashier a 10 pound note, instead of 10 euro note. He got so confused when she stared at him blankly, and returned his money with a “non”. Confused on the situation, I told Joey he gave her a British note, and that the currency is Euros here. It was his first blonde moment of the trip (among many, sadly). I couldn’t help but laugh and make fun of him for the rest of the trip.
I’m cruel like that.

Instead of taking the metro into the city, we decided to walk the entire way there (2 hours), and take a few detours along the way, including a stop at Starbucks. STARBUCKS IS SO EXPENSIVE IN PARIS. It’s probably the only spot with the most expensive drinks. Beware.

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Jardin des Tuileries
was the first place we visited. It’s an enclosed garden and holds the Musee de Louvre! It was pretty spectacular and was one the way to the Eiffel Tower: the main thing we wanted to see that day. As soon as we saw it through the trees and past the buildings, we got really excited and couldn’t wait to see it upfront!

And BAM! There she was…

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Seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time was phenomenal! The whole time we were in Paris was mainly cloudy, but the one hour we were in front of the Eiffel tower, the sky cleared up and the lighting was absolutely beautiful. We were insanely lucky. After taking photos and video in front of the Eiffel Tour, Joey and I decided to climb the Eiffel Tower… it was on my silly bucket list. I pretty much had a heart attack, and Joey died halfway up. You had to pay extra to use the escalator and wait for a good hour to get to the very top of the Eiffel tower, and I just didn’t have the patience (or money) to wait in line… The view was probably the same; amazing.

After seeing the beauty that is the Eiffel Tower, Joey and I wandered around Paris for a few hours before night fell. We came across the Christmas Market and spent most the day walking along the Seine River. We made our way to L’Arc de Triomphe and walked along the shopping strip. Everything was all lite up for Christmas and really put you in the Christmas spirit.

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Journée 3

We began our morning with a walk through Pere Lachaise Cemetery where there were thousand and thousands of graves and monuments dedicated to very influential, successful and historical individuals… such a great start to the day! The cemetery was very beautiful and extremely old. The paths were all cobble stone, and you could walk for hours, not to mention get lost in the maze of dead bodies.

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After the cemetery, we took the metro to Funiculaire de Montmartre to see an extremely beautiful basilica as well as an even more beautiful view of Paris. Although it was an amazing place to visit, I had a really bad experience. I was approached by a guy that pretty much grabbed my hand and started making a bracelet, even though I told him i didn’t want one, nor did I have money. He continued to make the bracelet and then asked that I give him a payment. I told him I didn’t have any change, and he said that if I had a bill, he would give me change back. I gave him 5 euros, and gave me no change back. He then asked that I make a second payment to his boss that was watching both of us from afar. I had no other bills on me, and eventually found 2 euro coin… this dumb little bracelet cost me 7 euros… and I now I have it on my desk staring at me… It makes me angry every time I see it. No matter how rude it is, next time someone approaches me trying to sell me something, I will ignore them and walk away from them.
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Next stop on our things to see was Notre Dame! Joey was saddened when I told him that there is no actual hunchback that lives at the Notre Dame.
Near the entrance to the cathedral was an old man waving his hand in the air with about 25 tiny birds following his hand. He was giving people food and showed them how to get the birds to follow your hand. It looked so magical with 25 little birds moving with this old man’s arm waving back and forth.

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Inside the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris was spectacular. The architecture, paintings and feel of the cathédrale was absolutely exquisite. We both lit a candle for a our grandmothers and made a donation. To make matters funny, they had lots of signs that said “Silence” and “No flash” said in various languages. What was most humourous was the fact that they had separate large signs in chinese or japanese around the church that said “No Flash” with a picture of a crossed out flashing camera. Clearly they had to emphasize and get a message across to a certain cultural group of people.

IMG_3638We ended our second day in Paris by going to the first museum I wanted to go to while in Paris: Musee D’Orsay. They had an exhibition on impression (one of my favourite types of artwork), and fashion (something Joey would like). It was nice to try out my art history skills after a year of studying the subject in first year of uni. I was a little rusty at first, but eventually could have given a guided tour and take about the works of art, especially impressionism. The last painting that I saw in D’Orsay was Whistler’s Mother. Although it shouldn’t have, it reminded me of the Mr. Bean movie that I used to watch a lot when I was younger. It was so cool seeing the actual painting in person. Not many people have the same opportunities as me, and this makes me thankful of the amazing opportunities that I have been given.

Journée 4

Basically, we slept in and Paris decided to be very rainy. Bad Paris.

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Due to the late start and rainy afternoon, we decided to spend the entire day in the Musee de Louvre. This was a dream on true for me, seeing as how I could spend an entire day in an art museum, especially one that had an amazing Raphael exhibition, and showcases one of the most famous paintings: The Mona Lisa. The Musee de Louvre was also located beside a shopping centre which was all decked out in Christmas spirit.

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OH hai there Mona. It was nice to have met you. Although, I must say, you’re tres petite! (The painting is very small)

Musee de Louvre is now my absolute favourite museum in the world. I absolutely fell in love with it (not the price tho…)
Loved the Raphael exhibition, loved seeing the Mona Lisa, and loved how humongous it was. You could literally spend the entire day in there and still not see everything. We did end up spending the rest of the day there as well as portion of the night. After getting a quick sinner with another Canadian guy that we met at Musee de Louvre (I ALWAYS FIND OTHER CANADIANS; No matter where). After we went our separate ways, Joey and I decided to walk around Paris, at night, in the rain. So romantic…

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Journée 5

Being the last day in Paris (I know, so sad right?), I really want to splurge a little and drink coffee at a really fancy french cafe and read my art history novel. Because I’m classy like that. One of my good friends recommended that I check out Angelina’s Cafe, and so, on our way to the airport, we made a pit stop and enjoyed a delicious (and classy) lunch at Angelina’s.
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Yes, I actually did read my art history novel while chilling in a fancy french cafe with delicious sandwiches and croissants available.

This is the life.
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On our way to the metro station to catch our plane, walked through the Jardin de Tuileries and crossed the “love lock” bridge. This bridge was literally filled with thousands of love locks! Each lock had two names or initials of the people who locked their love for eternity and threw the key into the Seine River. Afterwards, we said our last good-byes to the Eiffel Tower and travelled to the Ryanair airport which was an hour outside of Paris. It’s much easier to fly with EasyJet if you are planning to come to Paris!

~

In the end, this spontaneous trip to Paris (which wasn’t even that expensive seeing as how we booked 32 hours beforehand) turned out to be an amazing weekend with my best friend joey. We had such an amazing time staying with the lovely Parisian couple and we both fell in love with Paris. It makes my top 3 favourite places in the world.
Can I live here? Pretty please?

Til my next adventure, stay classy folks!

~Ryan

Follow me and my travels on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ryanthomaswoods

Check out my Youtube videos on Paris: http://www.youtube.com/user/BorderlineForFools

Article: 10 Things to Do and See in Paris, France

Any comments or questions, please leave a message above! If you have any other suggestions of places you highly recommend in Paris, then leave a comment below!

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Categories: Autumn, Blog, Easyjet, Edinburgh, England, Fall, Flights, France, Glasgow, Liverpool, Night Life, Paris, Ryanair, Scotland, Seasons, Survival Guide, Travel Sights, Travel Tips, United Kingdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Next Stop: Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany

If I can only say one thing; it would be:
EXPERIENCE OKTOBERFEST AT LEAST ONCE IN YOUR LIFETIME.”

You can even quote me on that.

If you want to learn how to survive your first Oktoberfest experience in Germany, click here.

So you want to hear about all the crazy things that happen while I was in Munich, Germany for the weekend experiencing Oktoberfest?

Well… where do I begin.

DAY 1

After spending a marvellous couple of days in Edinburgh with my friend Savannah, we left Scotland behind and flew with Ryanair to Germany!
(If you want to know how I survived Ryanair – aka the cheapest airline company ever – click here)

We arrived in the afternoon an hour outside of Munich in a town called Memmingen. Basically, if you’re flying to Munich with Ryanair, you’ll end up here; in the middle of nowhere. We took the airport bus to the train station for 3 euros and took the one-hour train ride into Munich. I’ve come to realize that your only source of long-distance transportation in Germany are trains; don’t count on the cheap bus rides, as there aren’t any buses that will take you to far places. (Check out my blog on how to survive in Germany above).

As we hopped onto the train, all you can hear is the sudden noises of cans cracking open and the strong smell of german beer; not to mention men in lederhosens and women in busting, tight, coloured oktoberfest dresses. This became an enjoyable (yet extremely crowded) ride to Munich; especially with all the drunken singing.

We finally arrived in Munich (also spelt München) to a train station that was packed with people; conscious and unconscious. Oh the joys of Oktoberfest.
After a large amount of time spent trying to find a place with free wi-fi for me to use google maps for directions; we came to a complete dead-end. Night was starting to set and the nearest Starbucks didn’t have wi-fi (or at least maybe it didn’t work). We decided to get food from a grocery store, and then began a nightly search for a place with free wi-fi (My iPhone doesn’t work outside of the UK). Savannah and I ended up getting separated for some time with no way of contacting each other, and as I was about to give up on the search for her, I came across a wi-fi working Starbucks with her in it. Phew!

After getting correct directions to use the subway station (we weren’t sure if we should take the bus, train, subway, or tram once we got to Munich), we hoped on the subway and found our way to our accommodations late within the night. We were drained and didn’t want to leave the house once we finally found our way there. However, we realized that we hadn’t eaten dinner, so our hosts let us borrow their bikes, and we biked to the nearest restaurant to have our first German dinner; it was delicious.

We drove the bikes around the neighbourhood after dinner, and came to realize that we were actually in Germany. And realized that we were going to be at Oktoberfest. It was a very surreal moment as we biked through the neighbourhoods in the outskirts of Munich at night; it became a great evening once we were able to relax and enjoy the moment of where we were, and what we were going to experience this weekend.

DAY 2

Savannah and I decided to sleep in, as opposed to getting up at the crack of dawn for three reasons: 1) We were extremely tired from flying, traveling and all the added stress that came with it 2) We decided that we were going to spend half the day actually exploring the city of Munich and visiting all the tourist places as well as seeing all the must-see sights and 3) The guys that we were staying with all worked at Oktoberfest so we never had to wait in line to get into the beer tents. BAZINGA!!

The guys lent us there bikes again for the day, and told us exactly what we should see, experience and explore with our limited time in Munich. So, we began our journey by biking through Munich: WHO DOES THAT?! We do, and I’m so happy we were given the opportunity to bike through the beautiful city of Munich. If you can do it, then I would recommend it to anyone. It was the perfect way to see the city and all its beauty. The bike ride was about 40 mins (including traffic at the time, as well as the fact that we had limited knowledge to where we were going), but eventually, we reached our destination.

Oh! Did I even mentioned the weather? It was early October and it was 24°C and sunny. YEAH, SUMMER WEATHER (well at least for Canadians). I could not believe how beautiful the weather was, along with how beautiful the city was during the autumn season. I don’t know if I can express how much of an amazing feeling it was to ride freely through the summer weather, yet colourful autumn setting that had fallen upon the city of Munich that beautiful october morning.

We reached our first destination, which was the spectacular and gorgeous building located in what is called: Marienplatz; which is basically the central square in the city centre of Munich. I would recommend that this be your first place to visit if you come to Munich; it’s beautiful.
🙂

 


After seeing the historical buildings around marienplatz,such as city hall, and walk around a little, our next stop on our self-served tour guide was a really interesting farmers market called Viktualienmarkt. There was lots of fresh fruit, vegetables, and baked goods available to buy, as well as Oktoberfest-themed foods, beverages and souvenirs!

We ventured back towards Marienplatz and waited in line outside the Saint Peter Church (or SanktPeter or Alter Peter; it has a bunch of names). Basically, you pay 1 euro and you have access to climb to the very top of this church, and the view from the top is UNBELIEVABLE. On a clear day like it was that day, you can actually see The Alps. The view of the city was spectacular. If you don’t believe me, just see for yourself. Hopefully my pictures do it some justice.

 

After the 306 steps up to the top, and 306 back down to the bottom, Savannah and I walked further away from city centre to another city square called Odeonsplatz. It was named after a former concert hall and was now home to a very musical scene. There was a music festival/show going on for local musicians and bands. The buildings surrounding the square were very stunning.

After making a few stops to grab food, visit the Munich apple store, and see a few more buildings, we eventually followed the crowd of drunken lederhosen-wearing people towards Oktoberfest. If you don’t know what Oktoberfest is, it’s basically a 16-day festival during late September to the first week of October, in which the germans celebrate an amazing invention: beer.

With such beautiful summer weather on the second last day of the festival, Oktoberfest was packed! I swear, there were millions of people; sober, half-sober and wasted. It was a glorious sight to have witnessed. With my surprise, there wasn’t just beer tents and beer gardens; there were amusement park rides, games, and so much more! It was literally like a huge amusement park! There were children, babies, elderly people, and just people of all different ages and ethnicity’s. (Not to mention little babies in lederhosen’s, which were the most adorable things ever).

We made it to our first beer tent by about 4:30pm and didn’t have to wait in line because the guys we were staying with worked in the beer gardens. The name of our tent was Bräurosl, where they served HackerPschorr beer; and boy was it good. I’m not the biggest fan of most beers, but this beer was so smooth and tasted so pure; you could almost drink it like it was water, it was that good. Not to mention the fact that the Oktoberfest beer is 2% stronger in alcohol than normal beer percentages and served in 1 litre beer mugs called steins. In addition, 1 litre of beer is equivalent to 3 normal sized cans/bottles of beer. Each beer went for about 9.40 euros, but you usually gave a 10 euro bill as you wanted to tip the people well so that they serve you again. 


In our surrounding table, we met some italians and turkish people, as well as became good friends with some germans! We spent the whole evening with them, talking, drinking and teaching us more about Oktoberfest, Munich and the german language. It was a great evening and I limited myself to only 2 Litres of Oktoberfest beer (2 steins) as I forgot that we would have to bike home in the pitch black through the unfamiliar streets of Munich. That was a journey and a half. We eventually made it home and found the buzzed ride home enjoyable and extremely relaxing; again, it was feeling like a wonderful summer’s night.

 

DAY 3

We woke up at a decent time and found that the beautiful, sunny, warm weather had vanished, and sudden, cold, rainy, october weather had taken its place instead. Savannah and I were not going to let the weather rain down our parade… I mean… festive activities.

 
We took the train into Munich and arrived at Oktoberfest before noon. The crowd wasn’t as packed as yesterday (thanks weather), and seeing as how it was the last day of Oktoberfest, the atmosphere felt more relaxed and mellow. Savannah and I decided to pick up a few souvenirs now, before the beer took control of us and could have potentially forgot about getting some; fair enough.

Afterwards, we decided to venture into our first beer tent of the day, which was called Hofbrau Festzelt. The beer was average, but the tent was much more lively and crowded with so many international people. We met some really nice Italians that didn’t know barely any English, and saw an old german man finish his 10th stein of beer of the day (and it was noon). I had much respect for that old man.
Cheers to the drunken old german man!

 Making our rounds, we came across some really cool Brits, who at first kept calling us Americans, even though you told them numerous times that we were Canadian. One guy said that Canada was apart of America and that he had been teaching geography for 10 years. They were pulling our legs hardcore but Savannah and I were starting to get aggravated because we thought they weren’t joking. They were completely pulling our legs and we came to realize how nice and funny they actually were. They told us that they were all part of a group for one of the guys’ bachelor party. If I ever get married, I want my bachelor party at Oktoberfest; hands down. We also met a South Korean, who pretended he was from South Korea, but was actually from Austria, and a professional chef; he was also very funny and nice. There were just so many genuinely nice people at Oktoberfest & everyone was just there for a good time.


After a good amount of time in the Hofbrau Festzelt beer tent, Savannah wanted to go on the Ferris wheel; I did not. As a waited for Savannah to go on her ride, I sat there and just watched the people; watched how much joy and laughter this one festival brought to everyone. It was a very surreal moment. I was also laughing  consistently over all the drunken people falling, tripping, and making complete fools of themselves; it was a grand ole time!

As the evening began to approach, Savannah and I decided to go back to our favourite tent that we had gone to the very first night. The atmosphere was incredible and the beer was fantastic. We ordered a chicken dinner, which I highly recommend when you go to Oktoberfest. It’s a tad expensive, but completely worth it. It was the juiciest, freshest, and most delicious chicken I have ever had (sorry mom)!

 After a few more litres of beer, a giant pretzel and some crazy table dancing, the night was coming to an end. At the end of the very last night of Oktoberfest, there is something that happens in the tents that is one of the most magical and awe-inspiring moments I have ever witnessed. Basically, they shut off all the lights in the tent, and every person is given a light, and as a trumpet plays this happy and majestic tune, thousands and thousands of people raise there hands with these lights and sway back and forth. It was almost like being at your favourite rock concert, except better, because it was Oktoberfest.


Of course, the night wouldn’t have been complete without everyone coming together, singing and drinking to the Beatles’ “Hey Jude.” Savannah and I spent that whole evening with an amazing german couple who lived in Munich. They were a happy, and loving married couple that were a joy to have around, talk with, and share such a remarkable night with.

If only I could have frozen time and stayed there for a little bit longer; it was an amazing experience and highly believe that everyone should at least experience once in their lifetime.


Sleep deprivation, cuts from broken beer glass and moments of feeling infinite; Oktoberfest was a moment I’ll never forget. Good beer, great friends and an experience to cross off my bucket list! Couldn’t have asked for a better weekend.

~Ryan

P.s. Also check out Savannah’s blog for her experience & photos of Oktoberfest here.

Categories: Blog, Flights, Germany, Munich, Oktoberfest, Ryanair, Survival Guide, Travel Tips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Next Stop: London, England

Where Do I Begin.. to express my love and amazing trip to London, England…

Bloody hell.

IT WAS AH-MAZING. THERE IS SO MUCH TO SEE; SO MUCH TO DO.

I plan to go back very soon.

In the meantime, I will share with you my itinerary of all the things I did in the 3 days I was in London.

DAY ONE

  • Read about it here

DAY TWO

  • After a crazy night out in London with Joey and Danielle, we woke up a tad late in the day (partially due to going to bed at 4am, but also because of jet lag). Danielle’s auntie decided to help Joey and I plan our day out with a partial hand-made map of london with all the key locations, historical sites, as well as suggestions for little shops/restaurants along the way there.
  • We began our journey through the beautiful paths of Hyde Park. Did I mention how beautiful it was? Because it was; I couldn’t manage how stunning and gorgeous it would be throughout the change of seasons. Those who walk through it daily are some very lucky chaps.
  • Joey and I got sidetracked on our way to Buckingham Palace as a huge parade for the ending of the Paralympics was in the midst of beginning. The parade was being held right in front of Buckingham Palace, so we never got to see our first iconic English building on our adventurous journey through the busy streets of London. Even the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Walk was blocked off for the parade. Sad face.
  • As we squeezed through the massive and excited crowds, we managed to get to one of the most historical and significant icons of London; Big Ben and the Parliament Buildings.
  • Big Ben and the Parliament Buildings are a sight to see. You get the best view from the Westminster Bridge, which is where the photo of me on the right was taken. The architecture and building itself was magnificent. A real sight to see.
  • In the central area where Big Ben and the Parliament Buildings are located is the Westminster Abby, as well as various other historical buildings. To get into any building costs money, in some cases, about 16 pounds (25 CAD) to 25 pounds (40 CAD). We decided to choose the cheaper route and take pictures from outside the building and move on. 
  • We decided to buy a ticket to go on the London Eye, which was well worth the pounds. For those who don’t know what the London Eye is, basically, it looks like a giant ferris wheel that slowly takes you up to a height where you can see an incredible view of London. I would recommend it to anyone to go on “The Eye”, basically the view is just phenomenal.
  • Afterwards, we decided to be very North American and grabbed some Starbucks and use the wi-fi to message Danielle, letting her know where we were, as well as upload pictures and message others (with out iPhones, since I still wasn’t on a british network at the time and wasn’t paying for international charges)
  • On our way back to Danielle’s aunties place, we decided to check out Covent Garden market, which was really cool. Lots of little shops, flea markets, live music playing, street performers and the roads reminded me of Old Montreal.
  • On our detour back home, we came across Trafalgar Square, which was really beautiful and extremely busy. That is where the National Art Gallery is located, however, by the time we got here, there wasn’t much time left in the day. I plan to go back to this Art gallery as it is free and showcase lots of amazing works of art; another day, another time.
  • As the parade for the paralympics began to die down, Joey and I managed to catch a peak at Buckingham palace, as well as managed to take a picture with one of the Queen’s guards.
  • We managed to get back right before night began to fall and had a lovely Indian dinner. This was our last night in London, and an early one, seeing as how Joey and I would be catching an early bus from London to Leeds; where I will be living for the next 10 months.
  • But that journey to Leeds is another story.
  • Click here for my journey to Leeds.

~

I was extremely happy that Joey and I were able to fly to London two days early as had been expected and stay at my friend’s aunties place in order to experience London for the first time. I was extremely grateful for my stay and will definitely be coming back to London very soon. x

~Ryan

Categories: Blog, England, Leeds, London, Travel Tips, United Kingdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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