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Europe

in Europe, France, Paris, Travel

Travel: The rest of our 2nd day in Paris (Pantheon + Champs Élysées + Ladurée

* So sorry for the short hiatus! I’ve been running around like a headless chicken these days as I’m so busy with some freelance work, family visits, and travels. If you ever miss me for not being on the blog, you can always find out what I’m up to on Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat (carolific) though I do suck in making snaps on the go too. 🙂

Paris, Travel, Diplomat's Wife, France, Budget Travel, Europe, Europe Travel, Pantheon

We started Day 2 with a quick trip to the Pantheon which is located in the city’s Latin quarter.

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Before entering, a photo of the husband outside the Universite de Paris’ Faculté de Droit (Law). Yep, I married a lawyer. A geeky one at that. 😉

Okay, back to the Pantheon. Originally built as a church for St. Genevieve, it was turned into mausoleum after the French Revolution and is now a place to bury remarkable French people.

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Its crypt is the final resting place of writer/philosopher extraordinaire Voltaire, philosopher/writer/composer Jean-Jacques Rousseau, poet/dramatist/writer Victor Hugo, and chemist-physcist Marie Curie to name a few.

A lot of visitors to this place – particularly foreigners – often forget the nature of this building. Most visitors make so much noise, blowing the solemnity of the Pantheon into smithereens. That’s why I suggest to visit this place early in the morning. Less people – like parents laughing and shouting at their kids as they run after them across the vast hallways.

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Behind the Pantheon is the St. Etienne du Mont that contains the shrine of St Genevieve – the patron saint of Paris.

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in France

Travel: (Paris Day 2) The Louvre + Tuileries Garden + Place de la Concorde

** It’s quite sad that this post (which has been sitting in my draft pile for over a week due to pending edits) was scheduled for posting in the wake of the senseless acts of violence in Paris. My heart goes to the victims and their families as well as those who perished in Beirut due to a similar incident.

A visit to Paris won’t be complete without stopping by The Louvre. While the city does have a lot of museums, nothing compares to the Louvre when it comes to the number of historical artefacts it hosts. It sounds so basic to say that the Louvre has got to be one of my favourite museums in Europe – but it is. Tied with Rijksmuseum, to be honest.

A dream job of mine would be to work there and have a humungous employee discount at their souvenir shop. I’ll just buy all the books I want. 😀 😀

My last visit before this year was in January 2013 and I wrote a quick article for Rappler on some of my must-see pieces. You can find that article by clicking on this link: Visiting The Louvre. If you’re a first time visitor and would love to get a few tips in getting in and exploring the museum, I think that article can serve as a primer.

For this post, I won’t go into detail on the pieces anymore since I already did that in the Rappler article. This is going to be more of a photo diary from our recent visit in August.

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in Europe

Travel: Arrival in Paris + Hotel Home Moderne, Paris (Review) + Antique Book Market

After a short stay in Amsterdam, we took the Thalys to Paris. It was a pleasant journey that took a little over 3 hours.

Thankfully, we took the train on that particular day as just a few days later, a gunman boarded the same train and planned to shoot innocent passengers as the train sped through Belgium! Good thing there were 3 men – 2 Americans and a French national who stopped him! It’s still a running joke that if it were Alvin and me on that train, God knows what would have happened. :)) But I digress.

Getting there

We arrived at Garre du Nord station where we were able take the Metro to where our hotel was.

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We were lugging around big suitcases and one thing I should tell you is that Paris Metro stations are not that conducive for people with humungous trolleys with them.

I knew this already and I know I should have packed less but we were staying in Europe for 3 effing weeks! I’m not the backpacker type of traveller either – I need my hair products and I will never sacrifice my clothing choices. So I pulled and huffed my way to the other side of Garre du Nord.

Alvin tried to help me but I was too proud. I did let a couple of French guys help me carry my suitcase up a few flights of stairs in two separate incidents. For two good reasons – 1, my suitcase was indeed heavy and 2, I just want show Alvin that I still got ‘it’. 😛 Whoever started the rumour that the French are snobs, I really have no idea whom you’ve met. The last time I was in Paris in 2013 and on this recent visit as well, I’ve only met kind and helpful Parisians!

We got off at Plaisance where the hotel was a good 10-minute walk from. It’s not too far, to be honest. But with heavy luggage, it did feel like forever.

Location

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Hotel Home Moderne is located in the 15th arrondissement so it’s not too near the city centre and all the attractions. However, with the Paris Metro line, everything in the city and its outskirts are always easily accessible.

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It’s more of a residential area where there are quaint cafés and small restaurants. If you want to see actual Parisians (even in the summer!), I suggest you stay here. You also get the feel of actually ‘living’ in Paris because of the neighbourhood.

It’s a tourist-friendly area but not touristy – you get what I’m saying? There’s an abundance of small grocery stores which also makes everything easier.

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in Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Denmark, France, Geneva, Leavesden, London, Malmö, Paris, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Travel, United Kingdom, Versailles, Volendam

Beauty + Fashion [VIDEO]: The humungous (affordable) Europe haul

Hi everyone! Finally publishing this requested video which takes over 20 minutes. Crazy long, I know! But there’s just so much stuff to show you! So this is the video where I prove to you guys that shopping in Europe can be VERY affordable. 🙂 While I do have family there who heavily subsidised our trip and spoiled the hell out of us while we were there, the stuff I actually paid for didn’t leave my wallet in a sorry state. I missed Europe and all the things I can get there but I am proud to say that as always, I kept my head and didn’t go wild. Whew! (Always a struggle though if you’re into beauty products and clothes!)

Also, as a disclaimer, I didn’t include everything and even had to cut off a lot of parts just to keep it this short! I kept the most interesting bits, though. The home stuff, I’ll probably talk about them in another entry.

You can check the list of products I mentioned after the video if you don’t want to go through the whole ordeal. 😉 I also put them in order so you can easily forward through the video if you’re only interested in a few products!

A friend of mine who saw this video first before I uploaded it also asked why I didn’t get anything from Sephora during the trip. Answer: Because of the low Ringgit, everything is cheaper in Malaysia at the moment! So it would have been a disservice to my wallet and shopping skills if I shopped for makeup there that’s readily available in KL. 😀

Also, I was able to keep my hands off the Charlotte Tillbury and Tom Ford lipsticks that I wanted with the logic that if I pass on them now and just buy them when I have more savings, then, I will be able to buy more stuff in Boots! Haha! Crazy, I know. I’ve been taking extra freelance work lately as I’ve been saving up for the high end stuff that I want for my next trip – which may be coming sooner than I thought! 😉

Enjoy!

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Travel, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Amsterdam Centraal, Where to Go, What to See, Sightseeing, Dutch, Holland, Netherlands, Rijksmuseum, National Maritime Museum, Canal Cruise, Amsterdam Canal Cruise, Cruise, Going Around Amsterdam, Amsterdam Tours
in Amsterdam, Europe, Travel

Travel: Canal Cruise in Amsterdam

There are quite a lot of canal cruise companies operating in Amsterdam and I’ve been getting a couple of questions as to which one is the best. It’s pretty hard to determine which company is actually the best as I haven’t tried them all – only a few. 😀

So I thought I’d do just a real quick post on the last one we tried when we were in Amsterdam last August which left both my husband and I happy with the experience.

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After our visit to the Rijksmuseum, we proceeded towards the Heineken Experience building where the small docks for the Amsterdam Canal Cruise‘s boats can be found. Need directions going there? Click here for a map.

We had to pay €16 each for a 75 minute tour. This is a pretty sweet deal since you’ll be seeing more of the city as some of the tours operated by other companies only last for 60 minutes and will charge you the same amount.

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The best time to board a boat would be around 4:00 to 5:00 as even in the summer, it wasn’t so crowded.

You will be given disposable earphones which you can plug into audio sources near your table. You can choose among 20 languages (as seen above) for the narration/audio guide which will play you go through several places of interest.

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Almost Diplomatic - carolific - Diplomat’s Wife - Travel - Amsterdam - Ship Museum - Maritime Museum - Het Schreepvart Museum
in Europe, The Netherlands

Travel: The National Maritime Museum (Het Scheepvaartmuseum) + Riksmuseum

It is no secret that I probably married one of the biggest nerds on the planet. Don’t get me wrong, people. I am very happy about that, to be honest! 😉 In fact, I’m absolutely lucky to find someone who would want to visit as many museums as I’d want to in this lifetime and not yawn at me to death.

It’s no secret that we both love travelling and are quite nerdy about it. And while some people may say museums are overrated, us two will be the first to disagree with an eye roll. And as a veteran museum-goer (I declare it a thing now), I’d have to say that the National Maritime Museum and the Rijksmuseum – both in Amsterdam – are definitely worth your time and money.

I’m gonna jump right into it as I have very limited time to write this entry! So many things to do today! 😀

Het Scheepvaartmuseum (The National Maritime Museum)

Address: Kattenburgerplein 11018 KK Amsterdam

Open daily from 9am to 5pm

Getting there: Take the 22 bus (Indische buurt) or the 48 bus (Borneo Eiland) which departs from the front of Victoria Hotel (near the Amsterdam Centraal train station).

The Dutch are known for their rich maritime history and their important sea voyages that lead to discoveries and highly coveted spices. Of course, they had to have a special museum that documents these things. Do Hugo Grotius and his book Mare Liberum ring a bell? 😉

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in The Netherlands

Travel: Volendam and Marken, The Netherlands (Where to Buy Souvenirs!)

Just a stone’s throw away from Amsterdam are two fishing villages which have kept Dutch tradition and architecture alive. If you’re not into touristy places, then at first glance, Marken and Volendam might not be for you. However, there are still lots to see here once you veer away from the usual route.

Marken

There’s a saying that goes something like – If God created the world, then the Dutch created the Netherlands. Which is pretty much true since the Dutch have a long history of reclaiming land. Thus, most parts of the country is actually man-made. Ever wondered why Amsterdam looks so symmetrical when you’re looking down at it from your plane’s window?

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Islands, canals, dikes – for a country that’s actually below sea level, their relationship with water has evolved greatly in the past few centuries. To say that water is their friend is even an understatement – They are its masters as they can practically control it nowadays.

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They did come a long way from being flooded all the freakin’ time and being considered as a marsh land. Marken, meanwhile, is a village that was separated from the mainland due to a storm in the 13th century. From then on, the people living on the newly made island, set their sights on fishing as their main source of livelihood

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