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!
After nearly nearly two years of research, we're finally ready to crown a winner! These are Ottawa's best chicken wings.
My quest to find Ottawa's best chicken wings began in the early summer of 2020, when restaurant patios were just beginning to reopen - temporarily, as it turned out. I revelled in the simple joy of sitting outside and ordering the kinds of foods that always taste better from a restaurant. I loved every bite of those meals but it was the chicken wings that made the strongest impression. They were so delicious! Had chicken wings always been this crispy, this juicy, this tasty? I was so enamoured that I decided to try as many wings around the city as possible.
I envisioned myself as a kind of Ottawa chicken wing hero, giving the public the kind of much needed independent wing assessments they've long craved, all while delivering sub-standard wings the evisceration they've long deserved. Little did I realize it would be a hobby that would hold me in good steed through many a lockdown.
This creamy bowl of loaded baked potato chip dip is just for you - and perfect for chilly winter nights when you're curled up with your favourite travel books, planning your next adventure.
When the world is a dark and scary place, there is one thing you can count on. Dip. Dip is your friend. Dip is delicious. Dip is the perfect companion when you want to settle in for a long, cozy night of travel planning and dip is a stalwart when you need to shore up the courage to cancel your travel plans. Thanks, pandemic. Dip isn't just a condiment. It is a relationship and I, for one, am fully committed.
Dip is also a crafty way to use up odds and ends from your fridge and create something magical. And loaded baked potato chip dip is easiest of all the I-can't-believe-I-made-that recipes. An admirable mix of creamy, salty, and sharp flavours, it's the perfect choice for a quick treat.
Alas, like nearly all dip recipes out there, the ratios for loaded baked potato dip are always designed to serve an army. It's high time for chip dip recipes that serve one person (maybe two, if you're feeling generous, which I am not). I didn't want to share my dip before COVID-19. I sure don't want double dippers now! These proportions are just begging for you to make yourself a tasty weeknight treat. Dig in!
I thought I was ready to fly with Santa Claus - but was I? The plane was small - and the naughty list loomed large!
Every writer dreams of an exclusive celebrity scoop and I got one to top them all: Santa Claus! Not only did the head elf himself give me the inside scoop on what he loves about Ottawa but I also got to spend some time with him in his very own plane. That's right - Santa doesn't just fly a sleigh but he also offers 15 minute aerial tours of downtown Ottawa in a vintage Cessna 172 in conjunction with Ottawa Aviation Adventures as part of a program in support of the Ottawa Food Bank.
There was just one tiny complication. The plane is tiny. Santa is all-knowing. And I'm a big ol' scarde-y cat. An Anti-Adventurist, if you will. Would my notorious stomach hold up in a vintage aircraft? Would my nerve hold up if Santa started grilling me about whether I was naughty or nice?
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