What are the best souvenirs from Paris? We spoke with Jo Karnaghan, author of The Ultimate Paris Address Book, for her recommendations. This is what she has to say about everything from second-hand books to Chanel bags.
Long time readers of TurnipseedTravel are well acquainted with my friend Jo, the voice behind FrugalFirstClassTravel.com. Her hometown expertise for Sydney, Australia, has featured prominently in early blog posts here (like this one about the best sweet treats in Australia and this one about an insider's guide to the city). Over the years, we've not only connected in Sydney but also in Ottawa and even in Athens. Jo was by my side when I almost caused a bit of a scene in the Athens meat market! But if there's one destination that I always go to her for advice about, it's Paris. And there's no better person to connect with to chat about souvenirs from Paris.
Jo first visited Paris in 1991 on a bus tour of Europe. While she didn't stick with the formulaic group tours (can't blame you there, Jo!), she DID stick with Paris and has been back to the City of Lights about 20 times - and counting. In fact, she was in Paris when she conceived the idea for her blog. As she says: "It was mid 2011 and I was sitting in a cafe on rue du Bac. I literally wrote out my first "business plan" on the back of a paper napkin. (From memory I was eating duck confit as I did it)". Frankly, of all the possibly souvenirs in Paris, coming home with a vision for a travel empire seems like the best possible one of all! But for more every day gifts and souvenirs, I knew Jo would have amazing suggestions. After all, she packs light (so she knows a thing or two about being practical), she embraces frugality (hey, it's right there in her blog name!) and she always has an eye out for a first-class experience.
I chatted with Jo about her new book, The Ultimate Paris Address Book, and got her expert advice on how to source memorable souvenirs from Paris. (Plus - there's a special coupon code for readers at the end!) This is what I asked her...
This virtual Moroccan cooking class is perfect for travellers. It's fun, easy, and - best of all - delicious!
There's nothing so lovely as a homemade meal when you're travelling and I learned firsthand just how delicious a Moroccan tagine with chicken, potato, zucchini, carrots, preserved lemon, and saffron can be when you share it with friends. But I wasn't in someone's home and I certainly wasn't in Morocco! Yet that's what it felt like when I took a virtual Moroccan cooking class with Khmisa and Kawtar, a mother-daughter team based near Rabat.
In pre-COVID times, Khmisa and Kawtar hosted in-person cooking classes. However, like so many small business owners, they've had to pivot with the times and now people from all over the world can join them in their kitchen - virtually, of course - to cook and chat with them. While I would have dearly loved to be cooking with them in person, connecting with them over Zoom was an absolute delight. I was the only person in the class and it felt like I was enjoying a wonderful time with my new girlfriends. In between instructions to marinate my chicken, prepare a delicious appetizer, and get my spices just right, we spoke about what foods are popular here in Ottawa, the challenges of lockdown, and - of course - food.
I booked this experience through Airbnb (you can see their class here) and it only cost me about $23 with the exchange rate, making this one of the best travel deals I've ever enjoyed. And I didn't even have to leave my house! Here's what it was like in my virtual Moroccan cooking class.
These are my favourite cozy micro-adventures and things to do in Charlottetown, PEI's capital city and all round amazing travel destination.
As Canada's smallest provincial capital city, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, is just made for cozy adventures. But it's not just the size of this 40,000 strong city that makes it so snug and inviting. Charlottetown's pretty seaside location, impressive architectural history, and prominent place in Canada's political, cultural, and social fabric make for an irresistible combination for visitors. This is where you want to be if you'd like to celebrate the meetings which led to Canada's confederation in 1867, to honour the artistic legacy of Anne of Green Gables author L.M. Montgomery, or simply feast on homemade ice cream, rich lobster rolls, and damn fine coffee. With no shortage of things to do in Charlottetown, I've focused on the coziest experiences I've enjoyed in more than 30 years of visits and I have a feeling you'll love them just as much as I have.
With two days in Bordeaux, you'll find plenty of bargains and indulgences to choose from, from tiny pastries to incredible wine tours.
If there's one thing I learned from my recent trip to Bordeaux, it's that there's no period of time too short or too long to explore. If you have a tiny layover, you can still cram in a wonderful visit. And if you have a week, a month, or even more, you would have no problem filling the time. But for most visitors, I'd argue that 48 hours is a great introduction to this gorgeous French city. My perfect two days in Bordeaux starts like this:
With a coffee and canelé (or three...) in hand, I head to the market, weaving my way along some of the city's best shopping and sight seeing streets. I'm hoping it's a Saturday, as the market is always extra busy then. Then I head over to my favourite wine shop for some amazing browsing, free samples, and maybe pick up a few bargain-priced bottles for later. Next door is le Grand Théâtre, where I'll pop in to see if there are some frugal last-minute tickets to be had. Nearby is the tourism board, where many wine country tours depart from. That's how I'll spend my afternoon, exploring two or three Chateaux. I'd spend my evening at the opera or maybe having dinner in wine country.
Come day two, I'd have a leisurely start with croissants and cafe au lait, before heading to one of the free Sunday attractions listed below. I'd splurge on a wonderful lunch at La Cite du Vin, tour the exhibits, and finish with a free glass of wine. I'd sneak in one more freebie museum or attraction and finish up with some shopping or maybe check out one of the recommend walking routes in my guidebook.
Now your perfect two days in Bordeaux might look exactly like this - or it might be totally different! In an effort to break down some of your best value options, I'm listing my favourite "saves", "splurges", and "steals" so you can craft your perfect trip, at your perfect price point. No matter what you choose or how long you go, I'm certain you'll love Bordeaux as much as I did.
From boats to balloons, Hawaii to hotels, these are ten of our most memorable travel experiences in ten years of blogging.
"But really... what's your favourite place?" "So where should I go next year?" "Well there must be some place you didn't like."
After ten years of blogging, I hear questions like this all the time. Alas, dear reader, I am horrible with these queries. If you need someone to weigh in on finding pizza in Bruges or the quality of food tours in Quebec City, I am your girl. But sweeping generalizations are not my strong point. I can tell you about some destinations I didn't like - but I'd also have to get into how I slept funny the night before and skipped breakfast and honestly, that's probably what made me dislike Istanbul on my first visit (for the record, I love it now). The reverse also holds true. I'm convinced that an unexpectedly stellar hotel and accompanying breakfast factor into my long standing enthusiasm for Athens as the spot everyone should visit next.
That leaves the biggest question of all, my favourite place. People seem to think it's a bit of a cop out if I try to explain about how sometimes the most memorable trips aren't the most fun in the moment, or that the things that made me love a trip had less to do with the particular destination and more with other factors in my life. So sometimes I just name Hawaii as my favourite destination but this is what feels like the real cop out to me. Like, a decade spent travelling and writing about the world and my best answer is the one place that has long been established as the most desirable destination? Surely I can do better than that?
And that is exactly what I'm going to attempt here. These are ten of my most memorable travel experiences and destinations after ten years of blogging. I'm not going to go so far as to rank them or even say that they're my definitive top ten travel moments. These are simply the stories that flood my heart with happy remembrances and what they all have in common is that I invariably thought at some point that I truly have the best job in the world. And I do!
After ten years of being a travel blogger, I've learned some important travel lessons - and I bet you can relate to all of them. From toilets to temperature control, these are the ten things I know for sure about travel.
I like to pretend that this photo represents me at my best as a travel blogger. I'm crumpled, dusty, and sunburned, clearly exhausted as I slump in the back of a Land Rover, a water purification bottle within easy reach. It's the kind of photo that suggests I could be fatigued from any number of glamorous, travel blogger-y tasks. Maybe I was up at dawn to interview a farmer or worked through the night to "research" local liqueurs. It definitely doesn't suggest that my stomach is churning from the bumpy, twisting road or that I'd sell my soul for a working toilet. And most travel images are like that. There can be a lot of irksome truths behind soothing composition.
After ten years of travel blogging, I've learned a thing or two about what a photo really says and a whole lot about what travel is truly like. I've picked up a lot of hard earned wisdom in this job and I'm here to share my biggest lessons. After a decade of jaunting and jetting, this is what I know for sure about travel.
I've been obsessed with cozy airport sleeping pods for years. I finally got my chance to try one when I stayed at YOTEL Paris. Here's what I wish I had known in before my trip.
For as long as I can remember, I've had one very specific, very peculiar thing on my travel bucket list: To sleep in airport sleeping pods. I bet you've heard about them before. They're teeny-tiny hotel rooms designed to offer airport based travellers a place to sleep - if only for an hour or two. Some are so tiny they really do resemble a pod, or perhaps a bunk bed-turned-bunker. They're not unlike the berths you find on overnight trains, albeit with solid walls, a door you can lock, and an external ladder that leads you to your perch. Other airport sleeping pods are a bit more generous. They're like micro-rooms, offering ensuite washrooms and a few feet of floor space. In every case, they're adorably, maddeningly tiny and cute and I'm just obsessed with the concept. They're cozy, in every sense of the word.
Maybe it has something to do with all those bargain basement overnight flights I've taken throughout the years which have been me walking around terminals like a little zombie. I've just always wanted to stay in a pod and, on a recent trip to France, I finally got my opportunity. After flying overnight into Paris, I had a suitably long layover before I had to board my plane to Bordeaux. My moment had come!
Paris's Charles de Gaulle airport is home to a branch of YOTEL, a UK based hotel chain that has airport sleeping pods around the world, as well as micro-hotels in cities like New York. After so many years of anticipation, I finally had my moment - and I learned a whole lot during the process. This post is a little bit of a review of the Paris YOTEL, but more generally it's about what I wish I had known before booking any airport accommodations. I hope it helps you have sweet dreams!
If you're in southern Montana, you'll want to check out Tippet Rise. Music, art, and outdoor adventure await at this incredible working ranch.
What do you call a piece of art that doubles as an impromptu concert venue and a scratching post for itchy cattle? Well, the artists call it The Domo and it’s one of 12 enormous sculptures on 12,000 acres of ranch land at Montana’s Tippet Rise Art Center.
Tippet Rise, not far from Billings, Montana, is a working ranch, an open-air sculpture park, a fantastic spot for hiking and biking and - most notably - a world-class classical music venue. The music barn (yes, barn!) has acoustics designed to mimic Mozart’s favourite concert halls and it may just be the finest intimate classical music venue in the world. Artistic ambitions extend to the spectacular sculptures, including The Domo, which welcomes human, animal, and musical interaction. And if that wasn’t enough, Tippet Rise is now one of Montana’s greenest destinations.
I was fortunate to visit in 2019. It was a rainy, windy day but the dramatic weather conditions only made my visit all the more atmospheric (if you'll pardon the pun...) I was also treated to a short performance in the Olivier Music Barn and enjoyed its wonderful warm acoustics first hand. You don't often see destinations that combine rugged outdoor fun, exquisite classical music, and commanding modern art in one package but after my visit, I can't imagine it any other way.
In 2022, four new sculptures will be calling Tippet Rise home and in-person music will be back after nearly three years. There's never been a more exciting time to visit! Here are the different ways you can explore this memorable destination.
This easy-to-make chickpea and sweet potato stew is perfect for travel, whether you're making dinner at the cottage or campground, contributing to a hostel potluck, or just need a quick meal at home after a long road trip.
This delicious, easy-to-make flexible chickpea and sweet potato stew is the perfect travel meal. It comes together in about 20 minutes and it freezes beautifully. All of the ingredients are very frugal and available just about anywhere in the world. You don't need any special equipment at all and you can make it in the most humble of kitchens. Oh, and did I mention that it's delicious!? This is wholesome, hearty, stick-to-ya kind of food that will have you reaching for another bowl.
I have to confess that, while this is the ideal dish to make in an RV or at campground or in a rental home or cottage or hostel kitchen, I consider it an old reliable standby for when I'm actually home. If you're about to go away for a few weeks and you're staring at a sparse fridge and considering takeout, this stew will save you. The same can be said for when you return. The fresh ingredients (primarily a sweet potato and an onion) can live in a crisper forever and everything else hangs out in your pantry indefinitely.
Once upon a time, I left for aweek in Bulgaria and Ryan departed a few days after me to head to the US. I had 48 hours at home before I had to hit the road again and meet up with him in New York and then HE returned home and I followed a week after him after spending time near Niagara. Suffice to say that we weren't exactly doing a lot of grocery shopping with all this coming and going and we were getting kind sick of take out food. Chickpea and potato stew to the rescue!
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