Paris to Prague… And Back to Paris Again

Well, it seems that Paris has cast her spell on me as I made an impromptu decision to come back here for a couple more days. I thoroughly enjoyed Prague, but I couldn’t resist the temptation to take advantage of Paris’ proximity. Besides that, my friend Lucie was scheduled to work during my last days in Prague. So after a little bit of research I discovered that it wasn’t that difficult (or expensive) to change my ticket so that I could fly out of Paris instead of Prague. Paris was calling me, and I wasn’t going to ignore her siren song. Read More

Karlstejn Castle: A Symbol of the Golden Age

Today we decided to take a day trip to Karlstejn Castle, only a 45 minute train ride from Prague. Lucie had told me about its stunning beauty, but nothing prepared me for this spectacular Disney-like castle perched on a hill, surrounded by lush forests. Set over the glittery river of Berounka, it stands as a silent witness to a rich and layered history. Built by Charles IV from 1348 to 1357, it was intended to safeguard the crown jewels of the Holy Roman Empire, and later the crown of St. Wenceslas. Read More

Exploring Prague, the City of a Hundred Spires

These last two days in Prague have been filled with so many interesting glimpses of life in the Czech Republic. It has been so much fun spending time with Lucie and her boyfriend Dusan, and getting a local’s tour of the city. I have also enjoyed letting someone else take charge of the plans– both where to go and how to get there. Yesterday we began our sightseeing with a walk through Wenceslas Square, one of the main city squares and center of the business and cultural communities in the New Town area. It is also a setting for demonstrations, celebrations, and other public gatherings. The square is named after Saint Wenceslas, the patron Saint of Bohemia. Read More

Dresden: A Historical City on the Elbe River

These last couple of days have been quite eventful– I flew from Paris to Prague on Tuesday, spent some time catching up with my friend Lucie, and then took a train from Prague to Dresden on Wednesday. I stayed in Dresden for two nights, and then took the train back to Prague on Friday. Crazy to think that I have been in three countries in the last couple of days! Read More

Montparnasse Walk with a Literary Legend

I had been looking forward to this tour ever since I started making my plans to visit Paris– a literary walk with the celebrated author John Baxter. His list of published works is extensive; from biographies of personalities such as Woody Allen, Stanley Kubrick, George Lucas, Robert DeNiro, and Steven Spielberg to books about Paris such as Paris at the End of the World, The Golden Moments of Paris, The Most Beautiful Walk in the World, and his latest, Five Nights in Paris. Read More

Remembering Those Who Came Before Us

Today was a beautiful day that for once was not raining, so I hit the streets and made my way to the Père Lachaise Cemetery, a place that I heard is a must-visit while in Paris. I must say that it is a bit overwhelming, much larger than I expected, almost like its own town. One interesting fact that I learned before going is that the only criteria to become a permanent resident of this cemetary was permanent residency; nationality did not matter, hence the cosmopolitan population of this city’s most extravagant resting place. Read More

Victory in Europe Day

imageToday is May 8, which is known as Victory in Europe Day (la fête de la victoire or le jour de la libération). It is a national holiday here, the anniversary of the day that President Charles de Gaulle announced the end of World War II, and freedom for the citizens of France. Read More

A Wine-Soaked Tour of the Loire Valley

Being a huge fan (but not quite connoisseur) of wine, I knew that a visit to France wouldn’t be complete without somehow including a tasting of its famous wines. So when I stumbled across the website for Wine Day Tours, I was immediately intrigued. Reading about the company, I discovered that the trips take place in the western part of the Loire Valley and the eastern part of Burgundy. This would enable me to explore another part of France, and when I read the description of the Wine Enthusiast tour (which included a visit to a cheese farm and a classic French lunch), I was sold. Read More

Getting a Feel for the City of Light

On my first full day in Paris I decided to get a feel for the City of Light by taking a hop on/hop off bus tour. I started out at the Eiffel Tower, only a block or two from my apartment. Some of the highlights included the Champs de Mars, the Opera Garnier, the Louvre, Notre Dame, and the Musee d’Orsay. We also made a roundabout of the Champs-Elysees by the Arc de Triomphe to the Grand Palais and the Trocadero and the Gare du Nord. The highlight for me was Notre Dame, and I will definitely be going back for a visit. Read More