A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: jamie.shearer

Getting to know Florence

A short one..

sunny 26 °C

Gabriella and I have finally arrived in Florence Italy. I've thought a lot today about my first impressions of the city, and it goes like this: this city creeps up on you. Unlike Venice, who's sailor-savvy locale will blow anyone away at first glance, Florence has given us a more realistic look at the genuine Italian lifestyle. Sitting back at our hostel, I can reflect that although our day wasn't jam packed with 'To see features,' I think it was one of my happiest days abroad. We just unpacked, learned the extremely complicated bus system, and strolled through the Renaissance playground. We wound up hitting a decent restaurant, and discovering the BEST Gelato I've had in life (Marshmallow Cake, Whipped Cream and Chocolate Cream flavours.. :P.).

We watched professional ballerinas practice outside the Duomo, and then called it a night. We are hitting the hay early so that we don't miss the Tuscany Bus Tour tomorrow at 8:15am. That's right: wine tasting and the leaning tower of pisa. Oo Yah.

Posted by jamie.shearer 12:31 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

4 Days in Paris

semi-overcast 23 °C

Paris:

The chunnel was a very cool experience. I think Gabriella told you all about our little ticket fiasco.. So instead i'll take this opportunity to explain what it is like to travel upwards of 200 miles per hour underwater via train, and then go through each day in the city of love.

The chunnel from St Pancras London to Gare du Nord in Paris was a very unique experience. Unlike most trains, this one takes you to the European mainland in 2 hours while traveling for 20ish minutes underwater. No, you can't see the water out the window- that would have been awesome. However, you do experience an intense ear popping sensation due to the high pressure (think on an airplane X2). From there, it's all train. Standard stuff.

I've been told a few things before going to the city: 1) It's dirty 2) You can do it in a day. I wanted to test these claims for myself.

So we get to Paris. After coming from the posh metropolitan capital of Britain, it was very noticeable that hygiene wasn't a top priority of a good 30% of people in Paris. They still dressed nicely, but the overall range of what was acceptable is quite substantial. As I mentioned before, Londoniers are over-the-top with their fashion. Parisians, on the other hand, will wear anything from a suit jacket to a stained t-shirt.

The metro (subway) was just a tad unclean, slightly outdated, and smells a bit like pee. Not quite as efficient as the tube, it still did its job of bringing Gabriella and I all across the city. So to answer the first test; I've decided that Paris is not dirty.. It's just not clean. In fact, it is of my opinion that Paris gains aesthetic value from the old-school look of things. It just feels authentic (as touristy as the city is) and personal.

So now on to the trip itself. Day 1: We arrive at Hotel Rhétia Saturday afternoon. The room was very nice; private this time. We explored Notre Dame Cathedral, Ill St.Louis, and the Arc de Triumph that day. My favourite part by far (of the whole trip even) was sitting down in Ill St.Louis, enjoying the world famous Berthillon Ice Cream (Dark Chocolate and Raspberry if you must know) on the bridge, just taking in the atmosphere of fun, loveydovey Paris (say with a silent S for that sentence). That same day, we stopped at a cafe to try some standard French coffee. I decided to make use of my FR101 credit and order myself. I obviously messed it up. "Dessert Coffee you say?" "Umm.. Oui..?" I just went along with it, and ended up with this: ( See below )

Notre Dame was super impressive. However, the Arc de Triumph took the cake in impressive. This monument was fantastic to climb and gave us a great view of Paris and the Eiffel tower. So we decided to sit around for several hours and watch the sunset.. Friggen loved it.

Day 2: We killed so much time at a café near our hotel. Uncle Brent, you are very correct - The French make killer coffee. Omhsjsjhdgtdhsbsbjssj so yumzorz. I had a Café Douce, cherry flavored. It pretty much blew my mind :). We then went to the Louvre, saw the Mona Lisa and the Wedding at Cana (the latter much more impressive). We ended our day in Trocadero watching the Eiffel Tower up close and then watching the ITA vs ENG game outside with the bloodletting fans.

Day 3: Thank God we made it to the Eiffel Tower line up when we did.. Any longer and the wait would have been 3+ hours. If you're planning on going, reserve your time in advance. If you can't book.. Then go 30 Minutes before it opens. I'm glad I went, but I don't think I would again. It was a bit too similar to the CN Tower. Then we saw the modern art at the Pompidou Museum. Saint Chappelle was next, and then a trip to the Latin Quarter. I have to say, the Latin Quarter was a great experience. Narrow streets with high walls. Restaurants and restaurants and restaurants. We ate duck, and watched a random clown scream "TOYOTA!!!" at all of the Asian tourists. We ended our night in a cute little jazz/dance club. We drank wine and people gawked while Parisians swept the dance floors and schooled us with their zesty toe tapping.

Day 4: Yay! We met up with Kristen and Drew in front of Notre Dame, and set off on our day! After the Deportation Memorial, we walked through Luxembourg garden, and climbed to the top of Saint-Coeur in Montmarte. After a relaxing chat on the cobblestone steps with crepes (Nutella noix de coco), we met up again with wine in our coke bottles for a late night stroll through Champ d'Elysse. We ordered a Royal with Cheese (a la Pulp Fiction) and a cold can of Heineken at McDonalds to finish a fantastic four days in Paris. Could I have done it in a day? I could have hit the hot spots and had a mediocre time. But to enjoy Paris as much as we did, you need at least three.

Now off to Milan,
Miss you guys! :).

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Posted by jamie.shearer 09:21 Archived in France Comments (4)

London is Boss

23 °C

The past two days were fantastic!! So far we've seen Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Tower of London, The London Eye, And a whole Lotta little things. First of all, I have to say that these locals are classy. I don't think I've seen one person (not a tourist) wearing anything less than a nice polo or sweater. Most men wear suit jackets (or at least a dress shirt)... Women are snazzilicious, and everyone is posh. Furthermore, the drastic absence of obesity is insane! I've seen probably a couple handfuls of 'larger people', and zero obese locals. I swear, everyone is so fit!

We wanted to catch ENG vs UKR, but we were only an hour early. Every pub in this city was teeming with suits, drinking pints and talking football. We squeezed our way in and enjoyed. It was amazing! (Dad you'd love it).

The tube is another tidbit that makes London so great. Travel is so easy - just pop on the tube and within minutes your at the other side of the city. Each train comes every 2 minutes or so, making the experience very stress free. It also makes me wish I lived here (driving now seems like a hassle) lol.

Anywho.. More to come! P. S. Gabriella and I have officially caught the travel bug. If you're thinking of doing it. DO IT. It's likely the best decision you've made all week.

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Posted by jamie.shearer 15:44 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

5.5 Hours to go..

.. and it still hasn't sunk in

semi-overcast 25 °C

This is my first time doing the whole 'blog' thing, so bear with my amateurism. Hopefully I'll get better as the trip progresses :)

So I'm sitting at my dining room table for the last time until I leave. I've just realized I'll be away from North America for the first time. I've also realized this will be the first time away from my parents and friends for a whole month. It hasn't sunk in though.

To give the internet a taste of my European tour, it will go something like this:
Gabriella and I will be arriving at 7:50am (2:50a.m EST) at the Heathrow Airport tomorrow morning. We will then take the tube to rainy ol' London town, check-in at the hostel, and explore the city! Tuesday is essentially a day to explore the neighbourhood, take in the sites and smells, and gain our bearings. Afterwards, we will be joining a 'London by Night Sightseeing Tour' on a double-decker bus to take a commentated look at the major 'things-to-see', followed by a picnic dinner.

Gabriella has the rest of London planned out very strategically, so I'll be taking her lead :)

Anywho. Love you all <3! Blog soon!

Posted by jamie.shearer 11:01 Archived in Canada Tagged london departure Comments (0)

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