Showing posts with label Travel Tips. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Travel Tips. Show all posts
Paris has always been on my top 10 places to visit in the world. Prior to our trip, I have heard nothing but good things about the city, and how it was romantic with stunning architectures. It was very enticing! We finally went in September 2015, and that was where my (now) fiancé proposed to me. Cliche? Yes, but I have always wanted it to happen under the Eiffel Tower.

7 reasons to visit Paris, France

The Eiffel Tower:
The Eiffel Tower is definitely one of Paris' iconic monuments that is synonymous with the city. The tower is 324 metres (1,063 ft) tall, and is the tallest structure in Paris. Getting there was pretty easy, as it was very accessible using the Paris Metro, as you can get off at Trocadéro (line 9) or Bir-Hakeim (line 6) stations. The walk from either station to the landmark was about 10-15 minutes. We wanted to go to the top of the tower to the observation deck, but the lines were incredibly long that Saturday (I was quoted a 2 hours wait so, no thanks). If you are able to brave through the lines, you'll have views of major Paris landmarks such as the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, the Seine River, and the Champ de Mars from the top.  

The Palace of Versailles:
 The Palace of Versailles is a royal château in Versailles in the Île-de-France region of France. It was the home of several generations of monarchies until the beginning of the French Revolution in 1789. It is now a popular tourist attraction, and tickets were €15 per adult. 
How To Get There: Try to catch the RER-C train before 9 am, so that you can get there before the afternoon crowds. Take the direct train to Versailles Rive Gauche (station).
There are plenty of beautiful gardens in Paris, but the one that stood out to me was the Gardens of Versailles. It was massive with tons of lush greens and trees. Unlike the Palace of Versailles, the garden grounds are FREE on the weekdays, and I saw plenty of people having picnics and jogging.
  I have a major sweet tooth, so my love for macarons are quite strong. There are several well-known cafes and smaller ones all throughout Paris that sells these delectable sweets. I was able to visit the both Ladurée and Pierre Hermé, where I bought a couple of boxes.

Personally, my favorite out of the two brands was probably Ladurée. We ended up getting a few more boxes of macarons to bring back home as souvenirs. I found Paris' customer service to be quite lax and slower than what I am used to in Toronto. There were about 8 people ahead of me at the Charles de Gaulle Airport location, and it took them nearly 35 minutes for them to serve everyone with 3 staffs on hand. Price-wise, it was €17.50 for a box of 6 macarons.

Got a few boxes as souvenirs before we left Paris for Toronto (YYZ).

Up next was a visit to Pierre Hermé who also has multiple locations worldwide, including Hong Kong and Tokyo. The macarons were pretty good, but they were not as sweet as Laduree.

The prices of macarons in Paris are significantly more expensive than in Toronto. At Pierre Hermé, a box of 7 macarons was €18.

Notre Dame de Paris:

The Notre Dame de Paris is one of the symbols of the French Capital along with the Eiffel Tower. 

There are endless options when it come to food in Paris. Everywhere you turn there are restaurants, cafes, bistros, and bakeries on all corners.

The Louvre:
 I enjoy learning about world history, so The Louvre was definitely something that I had to visit during our 5-day visit in Paris. It is undeniably one of the most well-known museums in Europe, as there are plenty of amazing exhibits and artworks here. Tickets are €15.00 each (adult), and the museum is open every day except every Tuesday.
 TIP: Go through the Carrousel du Louvre underground mall to line up for tickets. I found the lines to be a lot faster, and you'll beat the heat in the summer, and won't freeze outside in the wintertime.
I will admit that the infamous Mona Lisa painting was a little disappointing. Not only was it small, but the entire area was insanely crowded with people pushing towards the front. Don't fret - there are plenty of other artworks to be seen in the other wings.
The Louvre was huge! We spent about 4 hours walking around the museum, and I believe that we only covered about 20% of The Louvre.

Cafes and Coffee Culture:
The city was bursting at the seams with their abundance of cafés serving caffeinated drinks and pastries. Coffee was introduced to Paris in 1644, and now serves as a center of social life in Paris. The below photo is from our visit to a little cafe situated in the Montmartre area (near Moulin Rouge). 

 Tokyo is Japan's capital and one of my favorite cities in the world. There are plenty of things to do and see in the city, and I have always enjoyed my time here (I keep wanting to come back). Tokyo offers a large number of attractions from shopping, entertainment, temples, and restaurants. I believe that 4-5 days in Tokyo are more than enough to see the main attractions, and trying out some of the top eats.

I highly recommend staying in a centrally located hotel if you want to maximize your Tokyo experience. For both trips, we stayed at hotels within the Shibuya district, and it made getting around very easy. If you're on a budget, then it's much cheaper to stay outside of the main districts, but time is money as well. Personally, J and I have never stayed in an Airbnb while in Japan, but I have heard nothing but good thing from friends who did. So, that could be another option if hotels are expensive (especially during the high tourist season) like April to August, and December (Christmas season).


Meiji Shrine - Meiji Shrine is the Shinto shrine that is dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken. This temple was very memorable for me, as I got extremely sick here on my first trip after eating a lot of sushi with sake. We barely walked past the sake barrels before my face turned completely red, and I started getting blurry visions. We ended up taking a taxi ride back (during rush hour, so $$$) to the hotel. I finally got the chance to finish the entire walk on our most recent trip in December of 2016, so mission accomplished.

Takeshita Street -  I love this street! It's an incredibly bustling street lined up with many trendy shops, fashion boutiques, crepe stands and fast food outlets geared towards the younger generation. I had a fun time shopping at Kiddy Land, Daiso, and We Go while I was there. We also tried two of the crepe stands, Angels Heart and Marion Crepes. Check out my review on Japanese Crepes in Japan here (coming soon). 

Omotesando - One of the best shopping streets in Tokyo filled with lots of mid-end and high-end clothing shops and department stores. The service level at the high-end stores was amazingly attentive!


Hachiko at Shibuya Crossing - Hachiko was the most loyal dog in the world. He would show up to the train station every evening to meet his owner after work and continued to do so even after the owner’s death. The train station employees fed him, gave him water and took good care of him. They even erected this statue for Hachiko after his own death. Say hello to Hachiko on your way to the Shibuya Crossing.

Shibuya Crossing
Shop @ Shibuya 109


Ginza Crossing
Sony Building
Marronnier Gate


Tokyo Metropolitan Building - Going up Tokyo Skytree for a view of Tokyo's skyline is pretty expensive at ¥2,060 ($23) a person. A cheaper alternative (aka FREE) is from the two observation decks (North and South) on the 45th floor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. The building is open pretty late as well, so you can also get a night view of Tokyo.


Akihabara is a popular district known for their electronics, otaku goods, and anime shops. Some of the main attractions are Sofmap, Yodobashi Camera, Maid Cafes, Don Quijote and Mandarake. If you're into anime, then this is the place to have a nerdgasm.

Gundam Cafe - The Gundam Cafe is a themed cafe after the popular Mobile Suit Gundam anime series. The cafe serves a variety of different dishes and drinks themed after the characters of the show. You can more about it here.

Don Quijote - Don Quijote is a discount chain store that carries a wide range of products from basic groceries to electronics to clothing. It's my go-to shop for souvenirs and local treats/goodies to bring back home. 


Tokyo Skytree - The Tokyo Skytree is a television broadcasting tower and landmark of Tokyo. For ¥2,060, you can go up to the main observation deck on Floor350 to get a top view of Tokyo's skyline. I didn't think it was worth the money, so we opted out of going. However, at the base of the tower is a large shopping complex and aquarium, which we did check out. 

Sumida Aquarium - The Sumida Aquarium is one of the main attractions of the Tokyo Skytree Town complex. Entrance ticket was ¥2,050 yen ($23) and houses over 10,000 sea creatures on the 5th and 6th floors of Tokyo Solamachi. The aquarium was smaller than the one in Osaka, but I still found it enjoyable. Plus, I loved the penguins pen.

Tokyo Skytree Solamachi


Sensō-ji (Kannon) Temple - Asakusa is the center of Tokyo, and its main attraction is Sensoji, a popular Buddhist temple. It's one of the oldest temples in Japan, and has quite a significant heritage behind it. It was pretty busy around noon time bustling with both locals and tourists.

Nakamise Dori - The temple is approached via a shopping street called Nakamise. The street is filled with several small shops offering a variety of traditional goods, souvenirs and local snacks.

 Akasaka is more of a business district, and there weren't too many things to do here. However, we were here for afternoon tea on the 45th floor of the Ritz-Carlton Tokyo (you can more about it here). It was during the Christmas season, so the price was rather high at about $154 CAD for the two of us (including 13% gratuity and tax).


Ikefukurou Cafe (Owl Cafe) - If you get the chance to venture to Ikefukurou, be sure to check out this cute Owl Cafe on the 6th floor. It's best to make a reservation, as they do have limited space for each hour. One hour was ¥1600 yen ($18 CAD) a person (one drink included).

Pokemon Center - Are you a Pokemon fan? If yes, then this store is definitely for you!!  


Gundam Statue - The (original) Gundam statue in Odaiba has been taken down since early 2017, and been replaced with the new Unicorn Gundam. We're going back to Japan in a couple of months, but Odaiba isn't on our itinerary cause we saw most of it already on our two previous trips.


Ueno Park - Ueno Park is a large public park steps away from Ueno Station.


Studio Ghibli - If you're a fan of Studio Ghibli, then you'll love this museum. It will definitely transport you to the land of Ghibli, as there are several official art works by Hayao Miyazaki, exhibitions, and even a large-sized Cat Bus. All admissions to the museum is by advance reservation only. Foreigners may purchase their tickets by the JTB Group in your city, or online tickets from Lawson Ticket. Make note that they have a very strict policy on "no photography" inside of the museum. The museum was really cool!

[Travel] Tokyo Travel Guide (Japan)

by on Wednesday, January 24, 2018
 Tokyo is Japan's capital and one of my favorite cities in the world. There are plenty of things to do and see in the city, and I have ...