Tag Archives: travel

Paris in December 2022

December 2022

I went with some girlfriends to Paris for a week! We’d been planning this trip for months and I was thrilled to finally take the plunge back into international travel. This was my first time to Paris while my travel sisters had already been before. I am so lucky they still wanted to do the iconic tourist spots with me.

Our visit was jam packed but here’s where we were able to fit in our busy schedule.

– Seine River Cruise at night. Since it was December, it was really cold to do this at night. But we persevered and kept each other as warm as possible.

– Musee de l’Orangerie – If you love Monet, come here.

– Musee d’Orsay – if you love impressionism, come here.

One of the clocks at d’Orsay

– The Louvre – if you want to see the Mona Lisa and some other famous paintings, come here. Each museum, you can spend several hours. I got what I came for at the Musee de l’Orangerie and Musee d’Orsay. If I am able to come back again, I would love to leisurely explore The Louvre for a lot longer. The nice thing about coming in December is that there were not as many people so the lines were very short if there were lines at all.

– Food Tour of Monmartre – This was lovely and other districts have similar tours set up as well. We got to visit a cheese shop, a bread shop, a butcher shop, a chocolate and macaron shop, a crepe spot and a wine spot. After all the walking around, we settled in a “secret spot” where we shared the meal and our guide educated us on the different foods we were eating.

– and since we were in Monmartre, we also went to Sacre Couer. Which is a beautiful big church (cathedral?).

Sacre Couer

– walk down Champs Elysee – this is a 1.5 mile long avenue of shops. And if you are into shopping, this may be the spot for you. We didn’t really shop but walked down it as at the end is the Arc d’Triomphe.

I’d rather stroll Jardin de Luxembourg than Champs Elysee – but you have to do it just once so you know.

– Arc d’Triomphe – climbed to the top

– Galeries Lafayette – This is a huge mall and the real prize is the view from the rooftop and it’s free. Since it was Christmas time, the mall was full to the brim of people and there were lines to everything. This is the only place where I felt congested.

Top of Galeries Lafayette

– City Pharma – a must if you are into skin and hair care. The items are significantly cheaper than the States and many items cannot be found in the States.

– Eiffel Tower- The day we went to the Eiffel Tower was the coldest day of our visit at 27degrees F. It was so cold we could not go all the way to the top due to frost. We were only able to go to the 2nd platform. We chose to take the elevator up and then walked down for the steps.

On the second platform at the Eiffel Tower

– Rue d’University – this is for iconic instagram pictures.

Iconic insta pic at Rue d’Universite

– Jardin de Luxembourg – this is a nice place to leisurely stroll, sit on a bench and read a book if you have the time.

Jardin de Luxembourg

– and a lot of shopping and eating

I ate so much food. I thought I would come home 10 lbs heavier. Amazingly I lost weight. I attribute it to the 20,000+ steps we were averaging each day.

I hope I can come back one day and do a fiber and textile tour. I want to visit yarn and fabric shops and needlepoint. We just didn’t have the time to do it this trip so I know Paris is a must for me to come back to. I learned that there is a needlecraft show that happens every March. I would love to come back in March, 2024 for this event.



PNW College Trip, Day 4

Tuesday of Thanksgiving week.

Because of the break in, we changed our plans. Originally we were going to head 6 hours north/east to see Gonzaga in Spokane, WA. But we were going to be heading out later than anticipated.

Our car is a 2021 Toyota Sienna and they are so new that none of the third party auto window repair shops had the windows we needed on hand. So they had to order them and with it being a Thanksgiving week, it took awhile to figure out the shop that would do the deed in a timely matter for a good price. There were more expensive shops and cheaper shops quoting us. We went with one in the middle.

But the shop promised (if all went well) we’d get our car back on Friday. So we decided to rent a car and continue on our trip with some modifications. We didn’t go to Gonzaga/Spokane. It was way to far off course, and based on my son’s preferences he wouldn’t want to go to a rural/country area anyway and Gonzaga was a reach school. So we took it off the list. Instead, we were tourists and went to the Tillamook Creamery about 2 hours west of Portland. We enjoyed ourselves there and bought some cheese. okay. I bought a lot of cheese. And since my clothes were stolen, I bought a sweater.

After eating lunch, we headed to Seattle, WA – which meant we had to go back to Portland and then north to Seattle. We got to Seattle around 9pm. and crashed. We were so tired.

Seattle, WA

Travel Diary – Day 3: Milan Cathedral (Duomo) and Lake Como

We’re still in Milan.  We will be here a few days while we explore the surrounding vicinity.  My sleep pattern is still out of whack.  Of course, my sleep pattern was never very good even stateside but it’s definitely not normal even for me.  I woke up at 2am Italy time and could not go back to sleep.  So what does one do when they can’t sleep?  They knit.  And I finished my Day 2 blog post. And facetimed with the kids.  Next thing I know it’s 5 and I work for a bit – check emails and forward work over to team members to take care of while I’m away.  Then it’s 6 and I have to get ready for 7am breakfast with our friends.  Thank goodness we got to breakfast that early as there was no line and we were able to have our pick of the tables.  We ate to our heart’s content and then took the yellow line (M3) to the Milan Cathedral.  We’re starting to become familiar with the public transit and it’s wonderful. The prices are very affordable and we’re able to get around easily.

At the Cathedral or Duomo we bought a 3 day pass and since there was no line, we decided to just go in.  It was beautiful.  There is just so many pieces of art everywhere I can’t post all the pics here.


The best thing I saw was this work of art.  I think it is needlepointed and when we go back to the Museum and the shop I am going to look for better pictures of it and more information.  I have no idea what it is called despite a brief search on Google.  If you know, please pass that info on.

After wondering around inside we took the lyft to the rooftop and saw a glorious view of Milan.  If you are scared of heights, this is not the place for you.  I am scared of heights and it was awful and yet a great experience at the same time.  The first part walking along the sides of the roof tops was fine.  I didn’t look down and we took some marvelous pictures.

But then there were another set of steps leading to the very top of the roof.  The first set of steps took you straight up and was very narrow and very steep.  I made it up slowly my hand always touching the rail, the wall, anything that would make me feel better but at the top of that set of stairs I had to stop and regroup.  I didn’t think I would go the next set of stairs. It was just too scary.  I didn’t take pictures but I’ll have to check out the hubby’s phone to see if he has any that would show you what I mean.  I stood there for a few minutes and after composing myself made it up the next set of stairs.  This set was even narrower and with some people going down on the left and other people going up on the right it made it a difficult journey.  It was enclosed and spiraled up.  I latched onto the rail and took one step at a time.  Once I was at the top, I took some fabulous pictures of the aerial view of Milan.  But it was hot and it was very high.  So after a bit of rest quickly went back down.




By this time, the place was filling up and it was getting hot.  We decided it was time to head over to Lake Como.  We walked to the Cardona train station.  Technically it was .7 miles but as we had no idea where we were going we didn’t always go the direct route and it took forever.  My legs were tired.  We learned upon arriving at Cardona that we could have taken the Subway system, specifically the Red Line (M1) from the Duoma and take that to Cardona.  From there we took a train an hour to Lake Como.  It was basically the end of the line and I think was called Como de Lago Nord or something like that.  We got out, had lunch, and then walked around a bit.  Again, we took a lot of pictures.


This place was more shopping oriented and on the advice of my cousin-in-law we stopped at Grom for Gelato and Beretta’s for their famous Nuvola.  Since I’m not much of a shopper it was just nice to walk around and take in the ambiance, small streets, and architecture.  And when I was able to stop and rest a bit, knitted on this month’s socks.


And when we were tired, we just went back the way we came and about two hours later arrived at our hotel to rest.  I ended up falling asleep and waking up at 10pm to thunderstorms.  Hopefully those thunderstorms go away by the time the sun comes out.  Tomorrow, we have a 3 hour walking tour scheduled ending with a trip to see the Last Supper.  I’m excited about this and hopefully the rain goes away so I can enjoy it fully.

Today’s Step Count: 17,640

~Happy Travels!


Day 4 in Vegas

It’s been one day too many… in that I should have posted this yesterday but we were rushing/ driving back to LA for our friends’ August birthday celebration.  But I wanted to get this in because I’ve done such a great job documenting our Vegas travels this time around.  I wish I had done this when we were off on our Florida/Georgia/South Carolina visit.

Day 4 was Friday and as I did all week, spent the morning working while the rest of the family slept in.  The kiddos finally got up some time in the afternoon and the hubby took them to walk the strip and catch Pokemon’s.  I took the time to putter around, watch some videos, and get ready for our afternoon adventures.  I even got to enjoy the luxurious bath tub in our hotel room. Sometimes it’s nice to have some “me-time” and working while my family sleeps is not “me-time”.  🙂   I often forget that and have to remind myself of that all the time!  When they got back from their adventures, I was ready to rock and roll.  The kids decided to stay in and take their turns in the bath tub and do their me-times while us grown ups did our thing.

The hubby and I trekked it over to the Palms even though we generally don’t like to go to big casinos on the strip.  Evidently it’s not really a big casino and we actually had some fun playing at the blackjack tables.  We ended up at Cafe 6 at Palms Place for dinner.  I didn’t enjoy it, I didn’t like it, it was overpriced and a little too snooty for me.  Now that I’ve got that out of the way here’s my disclaimer.  We normally don’t go to places like this because they’re usually overpriced and not very good food anyway.  We like smaller off strip joints better and that may cloud my impressions on this place.  And the only reason why we went was because we had a $15 coupon that we wanted to use.

First, it’s far from the casino.  You have to walk through the casino, take an elevator up to a “skytube” floor, walk through the skytube – which helpfully had a moving walkway, then another elevator up to the floor with the restaurant.  I think it was the 6th floor but I can’t remember now.  If you’re new like we were, we asked a lot of people if we were going the right way.

Second, the food was overpriced!

onion rings  @ Cafe 6 8/5/2016

onion rings
@ Cafe 6

There were originally 4 pieces of onion rings (you read right, just 4 pieces) and it was $6.95!  They’re normal onion rings.  They don’t taste any better than any other onion rings. The rest of the food was whatever.  Nothing memorable.

Bacon Bleu Sliders Cafe 6 8/5/2016

Bacon Bleu Sliders – $13.95
Cafe 6

BLTA Stack with Sweet Potato Fries Cafe 6 8/5/2016

BLTA Stack with Sweet Potato Fries – $10.95
Cafe 6

Don’t come here even if you have a $15 coupon!  Maybe if we kept it at our order it would have been okay but we ordered a couple of other items to bring back to the kiddos and then the whole thing ended up costing us close to $100.  🙁

After we dropped their dinner off, the hubby and I spent our last night at our favorite casino off the strip!

Day 3 in Vegas

The best thing we did yesterday was eat at Rollin Smoke BBQ.  We found out that it’s just minutes from our hotel and we absolutely loved it.  I don’t know if I’d say it’s the BBQ in the United States but it is pretty darn good and if you’re in Vegas and you like BBQ, you have to check it out.


It’s located in this little strip mall that looks kind of shady.  Sometimes those are the best finds.  And in this case, it was.  We got there at the perfect time, right before the rush.  We ordered at the register and we ordered way too much food for the 4 of us.  I wished we could order a sample  of everything because I wanted to try everything but obviously we wouldn’t be able to finish it.  But of what we got, we had plenty of leftovers to take back to the hotel and eat at a later time.

Waiting for our food

Waiting for our food

We really enjoyed the food and my pictures do not represent how good it was.

Brisket Sandwich and corn nuggets

Brisket Sandwich and corn nuggets

I didn’t try the Brisket Sandwich but the boy really liked it.  The corn nuggets were an absolute hit at our table.  It’s creamed corn fried like nuggets.


Brisket, hot links and bbq beans.  All of these were SO good but I can’t eat spicy so I took a bite of the hot links and gave the boy the rest of my piece.


Here’s brisket 3 ways (chopped, sliced and I think pulled).  All ways were absolutely delicious.  The yams were just as good as they were on our trip to Florida/Georgia/South Carolina.


Here’s a baked potato with pulled pork and the works.  It was good but I’m probably not going to get this again here unless I was craving it.

img_2092Smoked Meatloaf – This is the featured item from the Travel Channel and seemed like the item that we HAD to get above everything else.  I must say that I was disappointed by it.  It’s hard to see the meatloaf because there are onion rings on top, then the meatloaf, then mashed potatoes.  It was okay.  The brisket any way you preferred was the best item we got and would happily go back and get again.  We would also like to try their ribs and other items.

We also tried their dessert, of course!  I didn’t take pictures because we got them in to go containers and they wouldn’t look good getting their picture taken.  But we got banana pudding and peach cobbler.  I’m not much of a banana pudding gal but this banana pudding was really good.  The peach cobbler, unfortunately, was way too sweet.

This place was a great find and we’re thankful to our waiter at a cafe who recommended checking this place out when we asked him about local bbq.

Update: All in all, we spent about $110 for all of that food.  Not a bad deal considering we were full the rest of the day and had leftovers for today.

Here’s what I’d go back and get:

  • corn nuggets
  • yams
  • banana pudding
  • corn bread
  • briskets (any which way)
  • I’d like to try the ribs and probably other stuff too…

After our hearty meal, we went back to the hotel to drop off our leftovers and then went to the nearby mall to walk off our meal.  The kiddos played Pokemon Go while the hubby and I guided them around safely.  Then the kiddos went to watch Suicide Squad and went bowling afterwards while the hubby and I gambled at our favorite casino off the strip.

It rained/drizzled yesterday and it was overcast so the kids weren’t able to go to the pool like we had originally planned.  It looks like today’s weather will be much better.  The plan is to walk the strip so the kids can catch Pokemon’s and then go swimming at the pool.  Afterwards, they want to just hang out at the hotel room to read, take luxurious baths in the fancy bath tub, watch netflix, and basically relax and do whatever they want to do.  We’ve got plenty of leftovers to keep their tummy’s full.  If I get a chance, I would like to drop by the local quilt shop and check out their clearance room. 🙂

Day 2 in Vegas

I’m not a Vegas person.  As many times as we’ve been here, I’d much rather go somewhere else.   But the hubby enjoys it so the kids and I indulge him.  It’s a quick 4 hour drive from the house and with our timeshare points, it makes an inexpensive last minute let’s enjoy the last week before school adventure.

As promised, I spent the morning working while the rest of the family slept in.  But when they were all up and ready, we went to the Bellagio to check it out.  I’d been there before at a friend’s bachelorette weekend but the kids hadn’t yet gone.  First stop, Jean Phillipe Patisserie, with 4 stars/1112 reviews on Yelp, I was hoping for some good pastries.

Jean Philippe Patisserie 8/3/16

Jean Philippe Patisserie

I love love love pastries.  The hubby got a sandwich, the girl got a caprese panini, the boy got a chocolate croissant and I got a sticky bun.  For kicks, we also got a nutella brioche.  Let’s just say as with anything in Vegas at a big hotel, it’s overpriced.  We enjoyed the food but it was not worth $10 for the sandwich or $12 for the panini.  The boy loves chocolate croissants and he just thought this one was okay but not exceptional.  For myself, I loved my sticky bun and at $4.50 was definitely worth it.  It wasn’t too sweet.  And it was big enough that I couldn’t finish it myself but had to share it with the rest of the fam.

Next we went to check out the Gallery of Fine Art  in the Bellagio.  There’s currently an exhibit of Yousuf Karsh’s work.  The boy’s favorite was of Mohammad Ali.


The girl’s favorite was of Audrey Hepburn.


I really liked the Audrey Hepburn photo and the Helen Keller Photo.  I loved how he focused the attention on her hands.  It really captured the meaning and importance of those hands.

Helen Keller and Polly Thompson, 1948 by Yousuf Karsh

Helen Keller and Polly Thompson, 1948 by Yousuf Karsh

It cost us $30 to get in the gallery and I felt like it was worth it.  We had an audio guide that we used to take us through each photo and I felt the kids enjoyed it.  Actually, the girl really liked it.  She listened to all the audio and read all the notes.  The boy did the best he could but I could tell after the first few photos, he was bored.  He hung in there though and allowed the girl and I to explore and take it all in.

The Bellagio also has a conservatory with a lot of flowers and stuff to look at and take pictures.  I couldn’t stand the smell in such a small enclosed environment but I managed to take one picture of the three of us.

Me and the kids at the conservatory at the Bellagio. 8.3.16

Me and the kids at the conservatory at the Bellagio.

Another great thing I like to do while visiting these beautiful hotels is to check out the floors and other things that would look great as a quilt.




The parking situation at the Bellagio was not great.  Like many of the other big hotels on the strip, they no longer offer free valet parking.  I believed for the few hours we spent, it was $13.  And after spending $60 at the Patisserie, $30 at the gallery, and I think the hubby lost at the tables, paying for parking left a sour taste in my mouth and we’ll probably not come back again.  Once for the experience was enough.  I guess most people take a cab here so if I do want to come back I’ll have to remember to do that instead of driving.

After the Bellagio, we hightailed it to our favorite casino off the strip so we can play some $5 blackjack and the kids could watch a movie and play a few games of bowling.

Today’s plan is to hang out at the pool, have dinner at Rollin Smoke BBQ (4.5 stars/1843 reviews on yelp) and then catch a showing of Suicide Squad.