Monday, 21 July 2014

Suitcase. Lyon, France - Travel Guide

I would describe Lyon as the littler, sweeter cousin of Paris. This beautiful city has history dating back to Ancient Roman times, the streets are paved with cobblestones and the centre of town is bordered by two rivers: the Rhône and the Saône.  At the western side of the city lies Fourviere Hill and the Basilica of Notre Dame church which appear to act as a guardian as they watch over Lyon; it is quite an incredible sight. Known as “the stomach of France”, Lyon’s streets are lined with traditional bouchons and you would be hard-pressed to find a café that doesn’t offer a plethora of baguettes and croissants.

The Saône River

The Rhône River

Place des Jacobins

Lyon is much smaller in size than Paris so you don’t need as much time to see it all; I would recommend 3-4 days. In that time you can see the city centre; shop around Bellecour where there are plenty of chain stores and designer boutiques; sit by the fountain at Place des Jacobins; wander the banks of the Rhone and the Saone; ride the funicular up to the top of Fourviere Hill where the views across the city are breath-taking; visit the Basilica of Notre Dame church; and take a trip up to the Parc de la tête d’or (Park of the Golden Head), with its expansive gardens and never-ending lake this is probably the most beautiful park I have seen (but shhh don’t tell Central Park I said so).

View from Fourviere Hill

Basilica of Notre Dame

Parc de la tête d'or

France express trains run to and from Lyon so it’s easy to reach the city if you’re in the country. I arrived from Paris on the TGV which travelled the 460km in a mere two hours. There are two central train stations in Lyon; Part Dieu and Perrache; from these stations you can take day trips on the regional TER train. I visited the little village of Annecy which is nestled in the Alps; the slow regional train is 5-hours return from Lyon but it is well worth it. Within the city of Lyon you can get around town using buses, taxis and bicycles (like the Paris velo system). They also have a strange version of trams, which are really more like buses in disguise. The city centre is not very large and pretty much everything is within walking distance.

The village of Annecy at the foot of the alps
Lyon has an incredible number of restaurant and café choices; they line every street and alleyway. The most common are the Lyonnais bouchons which serve French food traditional of the region. This style of food is quite heavy with lots of creams and sauces but it’s certainly worth a try. While in Lyon I was lucky enough to enjoy two dinners at the restaurant Archange. This petite restaurant with just ten tables is nestled near the first arrondisment and an exquisite three course menu will set you back €29.50. The food is French with a modern twist and the dishes are as pretty as a picture – I would highly recommend visiting. Le Lyon Castel patisserie at the foot of Fouviere Hill serves the best pastries and tarts I’ve ever tried – be sure to stop in for a sweet treat.

Duck l'orange at Archange
Raspberry Tart from Le Castel patisserie

One of the many sweets shops in the old town

I’m so glad I had the opportunity to visit the city of Lyon; compared to Paris it is a quaint little place with plenty of French culture and history to offer its visitors. I was lucky enough to arrive in Lyon on Bastille Day – each year on this day there are fireworks set off from the top of Fouviere Hill, the French gather on the banks of the Saône and I watched the most beautiful show of lights I have ever seen. Vive la France.

Photos by Krissie.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Suitcase. Paris, France - Travel Guide

Paris – the city of love; a place of incredible architecture, gastronomical food and mad drivers. The French capital is a truly magnificent city and I think everyone should visit it at least once in their lifetime. There is something so awe-inspiring about the grand historical buildings, wandering the banks of the Seine and seeing the Eiffel Tower peeking out at you from the left bank.

Boulevard de Saint Germain

Jardin du Luxembourg 

There is so much to see and do in the city of lights so I suggest you make a plan before you go and familiarise yourself with a map. You certainly can’t miss all the cliché tourist attractions; they are in fact incredible sights – head to the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, The Louvre, Champs-Élysées, L’Arc de Triomph, Jardin de Tuileries, Montmatre and Jardin de Luxembourg. Once you have checked these off your list you can spend a day wandering the streets of Marais in the third arrondissement where there is fantastic shopping and cafés; wander along the left bank from Musee d’Orsay to Notre Dame where you can admire the artists and their work; take a walk from the 7th to the 5th arondissment to admire some of Paris’ most beautiful streets, and stop for a coffee in a street-front café; and if you like to shop head to La Bon Marche or Galleries Lafayette for an overwhelming designer experience. Make sure you note that virtually all shops are shut on Sundays in France; the French regard Sundays as a day of rest - so try and plan your sprees for another day of the week!

Love Locks on the Pont des Arts  

The city has a fantastic underground system called the Metro. It is a great way to get around town and there are stations all around the city. Personally I think the best ticket method is a carnet (kar-nay). It is a book of 10 tickets for €13.70 (more cost effective than buying them singly) which you will easily go through if you’re in the city for at least 4 days.  Download the Paris Metro app on your phone which will give you an easy-to-read map of all the lines and stations in the city. Bicycles are also available around Paris. There are Velo stations where you can rent a bike using your credit card, ride around the city and the return it to another Velo station of your choosing. This is a great way to get around town but just watch out for crazy drivers who don’t show a lot of consideration for cyclists. Taxis are plentiful around the city and they are fairly priced as well. A 15-minute trip might cost you around €12. However most of the drivers don’t speak English so if you can’t communicate in French you might have to resort to charades and a whole lot of map-pointing! Unless you have absolute nerves of steel I wouldn’t suggest driving yourself around the city; the traffic is crazy, there are no lanes and the Parisians seem to have a whole different method of driving altogether. Even if you were to manage to get to your destination, parking seems to be a nightmare with every street occupied bumper to bumper – the French actually crash into the cars either side of them to nudge them out of the way in order to park; it’s madness! 

There is so much choice when it comes to food in Paris and in seven days I only managed to dip my toe into the pool of gastronomic delicacies. I can tell you that Rue des Canettes in the 6th arrondissement is a hub of Italian cuisine and I can highly recommend Restaurant Santa Lucia for great pizza and pasta. Piroutte is a modern French restaurant in the 3rd arrondissement which serves an exquisite set three course menu for €40; it is well worth it. Dining in the 1st arrondissement is expensive and you’ll get a mix of great restaurants and pretty terrible touristy ones so check online reviews first. Street front cafés around Paris are great for a casual lunch or dinner but you’ll probably be paying more for the setting rather than for good food. If you’re a crepe lover like me then make sure you stop into Breizh Café in the 3rd arrondissement,  it is known as the “best creperie in Paris” and I would not dispute that title – delicious! A lot of the fashion houses in Paris have their own restaurant so if you want to treat yourself you can dine at Emporio Armani or Ralph Lauren. Be warned that the coffee in Paris is very strong and the hot chocolates are like a pot of melted chocolate that has a slightly bitter cocoa taste- but it’s all part of the experience!

Ceviche Fish at Pirouette

Spaghetti alle Vongole at Santa Lucia

On a side note: When in France try to speak French; the Parisians are far more receptive and kind to you if you at least attempt the basics: bonjour, merci beaucoup, où est, etc. I’m lucky that after studying French at school for seven years I can get by fairly easily and it is such a thrill to converse in another language. I highly recommend taking some courses before you visit.

I've been lucky enough to visit Paris twice now and I can truly say that I love it; it is rich in culture and has infinite history - as I walk the streets I wonder about all the things the walls of the city have seen and heard over the years. There is something here for everyone whether it's the food, the sights, the people, the architecture, the history or simply the way of life.

In the words of Audrey Hepburn - Paris is always a good idea.

Photos by Krissie.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

One Day. Please standby

Today's the day! Farewell Australia! Please forgive the sporadic posts over the next few weeks as I travel through France and make the big move to London. I'll be grabbing every spare minute I can to share my travels with you here.

In the meantime come follow me on Instagram @krissierogers where I promise to be posting regularly. I have a feeling there is going to be plenty of photo-worthy content where I am headed.

Lots of love xx

Friday, 4 July 2014

Suitcase. My bags are packed, I'm ready to go

Leavingggg on a jet plane, don't know when I'll be back again.

That's all folks, I'm packed and ready to go [well if you can call it packed when half my stuff is spilling out of my suitcase because it won't fit]. Squeezing your life into 23kgs isn't as easy as I had hoped especially when you have as much stuff as I do! Who am I kidding I never thought it would be easy; when I go to Melbourne for a week I take 23kgs so what did I think I'd do for an indefinite trip to London? I mean honestly, my shoes alone probably weigh 20kgs and I just don't know what to do when it comes to choosing between my ever-faithful Steve Madden gladiator heels and my sparkly GUESS strappy sandals. What's a girl to do? Multiply that heart-wrenching choice by about 50 and you'll have something like the dilemma I'm facing.

When it comes to clothes and packing I sadly admit that I am a walking cliché - I always ponder my wardrobe thinking "closet full of clothes, nothing to wear...." but when it actually comes down to it I have waaaay too many choices - clearly evidenced by my clothes lack of ability to fit into my suitcase. Plus, adding to my [first-world] crisis is the fact that I have three weeks in France before I arrive in London where I'm sure there will be PLENTY of shopping to be done which means I need to leave space for that too! Sigh. This really is a problem and I only have 48 hours to solve it. If you have any advice feel free to dish below.

T minus 2 days.

Photo by Krissie.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

One Day. Impulse Purchases

Ahh, it seemed like a good idea at the time... I’ve made dud purchases more times than I'd rather remember. You know what it’s like – you see a statement jacket complete with rainbow panels and leopard print trim and you think it's a no brainer - you just saw Katy Perry wearing one exactly like it and it will look amazing with your black skinny jeans and colbalt blue pumps. You're at the counter and there's a niggle in the back of your mind but you're assured by inner confidence that it's going to look fantastic so you hand over your credit card. But then you get it home, and looking at it in the cold, grey light of your bedroom alongside your modest jeans and tee shirts you realise you're actually not Katy Perry, you can't pull it off and you've wasted precious dollars that could have been spent on cocktails, shoes or holidays. Damn. Impulse purchase? Guilty as charged.

So if you’ve thought, “Why the eff did I buy this?” one too many times then you’ve come to the right place. I am now far wiser when it comes to resisting impulse purchases [just ignore that expensive ski gear I bought last week despite the fact that I've never been skiing - what can I say, I liked the colour!]. Here’s what I advise...

  • Do your hair and makeup when you go shopping because if you’re not feeling good about your looks, you won’t be inspired by anything you try on and that leads to bad decisions.
  • Shop alone. Too many times I've been with a friend and all their gushy "ooh's" and "aah's" have convinced me to buy something that really looks terrible... Bad friends.
  • Use the five-second rule. What's your immediate thought when you first try something on? If it's an instant "wow, I feel a million bucks" then go for it but if it's a "hmmm, meh, not sure, I wonder, it's ok"; then walk away, it's not for you.
  • When you find something you like, do a mental scan your wardrobe; if you can think of at least three items it will work with then it's a sure fire bet. If not pop it on hold and ponder your closet for a day or so.
  • Be wary of sales. We all fall into the trap of thinking "it's so cheap". *Warning, warning!* Ask yourself if it was full-price would you still love it?

Good luck ladies.

Photo via Pinterest.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Plate Up. Top Ten Healthy Foods

It's less than a month until I'm officially a London resident and I'm excited! The first thing that springs to mind about living in London is all the wonderful opportunities the city has to offer.... The second thing that I think of is... weight; yes I'm talking chubby, fat, kilos and pounds. It is a well-known fact here in Australia that anyone who moves to London eventually comes home several kilograms heavier. I'm very lucky that a stomach flu or break-up aside my weight has never varied by more than a kilo, but just to be on the safe side here's my list of the top fresh, nutrient-rich foods that are sure to keep you healthy and feeling great. My list includes all the tasty things so you can actually enjoy them whilst still being healthy. There's no Noni juice to be found here!

1. Water, water, water. Ok so it's not a food per se, but it's still really important. Staying hydrated is essential for good body function and it works wonders for the hair, skin and nails.

2.  Blueberries. They are full of antioxidants which recent studies have shown help brain function and can actually decrease your risk of Alzheimers.  Try and eat them in their raw, pure form to get the most nutrients.

3. Garlic. Although also said to ward off vampires, garlic is actually a very powerful disease fighter that combats E.Coli and also works as a great anti-inflammatory. Include it in meat dishes and stirfrys but don't cook for too long because more than 10 minutes exposure to heat reduces its effect.

4. Salmon. This red fish is full of essential omega-3 fatty acids which help keep your skin and hair looking supple. Omega-3 is good fat that is said to help improve your brain function and memory and promote healthy joints. Sardines are also a great option.

5. Low-fat yoghurt. Yoghurt is richer in calcium than milk and the low-fat variety actually contains ingredients that will help keep your metabolism nice and speedy. It's a double bonus!

6. Chia seeds. Would you believe these little things contain five times the amount of calcium that milk has. They are also rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Sprinkle some over your morning cereal or in your salad.

7. Sweet Potato. This humble vegetable is very high in vitamin B and iron which provides us with high levels of energy. They are also a good source of magnesium which is a relaxation and anti-stress mineral.

8. Lentils. Among the most nutritious legumes, lentils contain cholesterol-lowering fibre and are a great source of lean protein. Despite their low calories, they are very filling and are a positive contributor to good heart health.

9. Spinach. For muscles like popeye! Ok maybe not but it is said to be a great cancer-fighting vegetable with immune-boosting antioxidants.

10. Walnuts. Would you believe these nuts are packed full of an amino acid that your body needs to create the feel-good hormone serotonin. They're digested slowly which contributes to mood stability and lower stress levels.  Plus their fatty acids will help give you shiny locks.

Photo by Krissie.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Suitcase. Long Haul Flight Travel Essentials

I absolutely love to travel, particularly to far-flung overseas destinations, but I will say that spending over 24 hours in a less-than-metre-squared space isn't always so fun. Thankfully the trip is made a little easier these days thanks to the great selection of food and entertainment provided by the airlines. Here's my tips for what to pack in your carry-on to get you through the travel period and arriving feeling fresh and ready to explore!

  • Obviously the essentials; passport, wallet, phone, cash, currency card, tickets and paperwork. Forget any of these and you've got yourself a travel headache.
  • For entertainment I like to take: a book (make sure it's one you're already into, I find it hard to start reading something new on a plane), iPod and noise cancelling headphones [essential!] and a travel guide for the area that you're heading - plane time is perfect for studying up and getting excited! I also like to pack a travel journal and a pen for jotting down all my thoughts and experiences.
  • To keep myself feeling fresh and looking good I take make-up wipes, face-mist, lip balm and a tinted moisturiser. I feel much better if I don't have to step off the plane feeling bare-faced. I also keep a small bottle of hand-sanitiser to keep the germs away.
  • For comfort I pack a pair of comfy warm socks and a jacket to use as an extra pillow or back-rest. Even if it's not cold they always come in handy.
  • I like to wear loose fitting clothes that are warm but comfortable like harem pants and a knitted jumper. Then I take a spare outfit for getting on and off the plane. I don't like walking through airports feeling like I'm in my pyjamas.
  • I never fly without gum and a vicks inhaler to keep my head clear and avoid a compression headache. Panadol is also essential because there's nothing worse than feeling in pain on a long flight.
What are you travel essentials?

Photo by Krissie.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Plate Up. Bloody Mary & Pimms Cocktails

I was mixing up some drinks over the weekend and thought I ought to make them English themed, what with my impending move to London and all! I love a good cocktail; it's something that I'll always choose over wine, beer or straight spirits. I had a great time shaking and stirring, it was like going back to the days when I worked in a bar. Here are the recipes for two of my favourites - now you have the perfect excuse to host a cocktail night yourself!

Bloody Mary

What you'll need
45ml vodka
90ml tomato juice
squeeze of lemon juice
a dash of worchestershire sauce
a dash of tabasco sauce
salt & pepper
celery to garnish
crushed ice

What to do
Fill a hi-ball glass with ice and pour in the vodka, lemon juice and sauces. Top with the tomato juice and season to taste. Garnish with your celery stick - it really does make it so much more enjoyable!

Pimms Garden Cocktail

What you'll need
60ml Pimms
45ml lemonade
45ml ginger beer
garnishes like strawberry, orange, cucumber and mint
crushed ice

What to do
Combine the Pimms, fruit, mint and ice in a boston shaker and shake well to infuse. Pour into a glass and top with the lemonade and ginger beer.

Photos by Krissie.