Disneyland Paris Top 10

As much as I am a self-described Disney FANATIC (nut job), this is my first trip to Disneyland Paris and I couldn’t be more excited!!  We started our day out early and took the train (RER A) to Disney – The train actually STOPS right AT Disney – as in, it’s the END of the line!!!  Perfect!!!

We got into Hollywood Studios early and hit the Remy Ride (I might be slightly obsessed with this movie – Ratatouille – if you’ve never seen it!!!) – it is very Harry Potter-esque (if I DARE put a Universal euphemism in the same sentence with a Disney ride) in its design and it was really fun!  We headed over to the Tower of Terror – that was fun and much the same as the ride in Florida, then we walked around a bit before heading to Disneyland Paris proper.

Here is where things got cool!  I don’t remember ever going to Disneyland in California – my mom said I went for my second birthday but I don’t even remember my 30th birthday so….there’s that!  Disneyland Paris is clearly Disney, but so different at the same time.  It was like the Twilight Zone of Disney – Disney in another dimension – Disney French-ified!  I read so many reviews before we went to prepare myself with strategies (we only had one day so we wanted to see it all), make sure we could work the system (old school fast passes with tickets) and know the must-sees!  Here are MY observations and Disneyland Paris Top 10….

20190121_103612

10. Generally, the food at Disneyland Paris leaves A LOT to be desired (and this was a big negative from all the reviews I read as well) BUT, they have meat cones!!! MEAT CONES!!! Need I say more?

20190121_124108

9. The Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse has always been a favorite of mine – and imagineers did a great job at DLP as well – kind of incorporating elements of “Huck and Tom’s” adventure island in the mix – including caves, a rope bridge and lots of fun nooks and crannies to explore!

20190121_142143

8. Cafe au lait? Mais non! It isn’t coffee – it’s mulled win or vin chaud. Yes, please!

20190121_153325

7. Another fabulous reboot – It’s a Small World is wonderfully themed here at DLP – and what was the French take on America? Glitz and glamour of Hollywood, a settler driving a horse drawn cart filled with hay and kids and a football player dressed, strangely enough, like a Miami Dolphin!

20190121_144227

6. Sleeping Beauty Castle – this is really neat because you can go UP into the castle and enjoy the storyboard of Sleeping Beauty. There is a dragon who lives under the castle (but he was hibernating or being refurbished – one or the other) and this castle is decidedly PINK.

20190121_151840

5. Disneyland Paris is really known for its extensive theming and unusual characters. In fact, the longest line queues are to meet princesses and mice. Along with that, characters that are a bit less center stage really shine at DLP. We had fun tracking some of them down!

20190121_101007

4. Gusteau’s!!! This adorable themed area in Hollywood Studios was so like the movie and the ride was so fun – it easily made it into my top 5!!

20190121_145111

3. HYPER-space Mountain was SSSOOO cool!!!!! This has been re-imagined with a Star Wars theme and the ride itself was stellar!!! Three loops that did NOT make Char happy, but I loved them! This version of Space Mountain tops the Disney World version hands down!!!

20190121_161056

2. My family knows my first ride at Disney World MUST be Pirates of the Caribbean – and the Pirates Disneyland Paris style did not disappoint!! There were a couple unexpected water “falls” and the ride itself is longer, but many of the scenes were the same – so that authentic Pirates ride I have grown up loving really shone through! When we were in the ride, the animatronics speak French – Char said, “Oh, I forgot they would speak French”!

20190121_161701

1. Hands down, winner, winner chicken dinner – Big Thunder Mountain!!! Char and I loved this version of the classic ride! It is LONGER! It has way more cool twists and turns and the ride itself is on an island in a lagoon, so you have to travel underground for portions of the ride to get to the island! The whole ride was TOPS and we did it a couple times because it was so cool!

img_20190121_190152_404

Bonus!!! Experiencing Disneyland Paris with my girl!!!!

We really enjoyed our day at Disneyland Paris!  Disney did a wonderful job at maintaining the classic Disney feel while making this park wholly French at the same time!   We had the most wonderful experience and made some fabulous memories!!!  Until next time, Disneyland Paris – Au Revior!

AirBnBs…my thoughts!

Being a travel agent, I often get asked to book AirBnBs.  I can’t do this for you, and some travel agents might steer you away from AirBnBs because they can’t make any money off of it, but I won’t do that.  It seems hypocritical.  There are definitely times when AirBnBs just don’t work for me – when we went to Quebec, a hotel was better – it was cheaper and more convenient!  When we go to Disney, we stay ON Disney property.  We’re going to Vegas in April and we are saying on the strip!  But if the opportunity arises that an AirBnb works best, I will jump on it!

For our trip to Paris, an AirBnB was perfect!  It was affordable, it allowed us to stay closer to the action (we are staying in the Latin Quarter just a few blocks away from Notre Dame and across the Seine from the Louvre), it allows us to make some meals at home and one of the best features…we pick AirBnBs that have a washing machine – so we can pack lighter!  An important feature when you are traveling during the winter months!

Our host, Marjolaine, was super responsive to questions, very helpful with tips, and set us up perfectly with directions and anything we needed!  Her father, Carlos and his wife, Jacy, met us at the apartment and explained everything we needed to know.  Carlos made me a coffee while he explained the ins and outs of the apartment, gave us personal recommendations for places to eat and see and generally made us feel welcome, safe and cared for.  I have their phone number and can reach out with any needs if one arises and we feel very at home here!

Here are some pictures of our AirBnB.  In case you love it and want to stay here, this is the link to check it out!  https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/4147207?guests=1&adults=1

20190119_132930

This compact AirBnB is perfect for 2 or 3 people! Check out that drawing loft above the kitchen!

20190119_132828

The view from the front door. Living room straight ahead, bedroom on the left and bathroom on the right.

20190119_133021

The beautiful windows looking out over a courtyard and the city rooftops!

20190119_132937

The ADORABLE bedroom!

20190119_132957

Rooftops GALORE! We are on the 7th floor – there is an elevator that gets us to the 5th floor and we walk the rest of the way!

20190119_141513

Char, two windows down!

20190119_141537

From our windows, you can see the top of the Eiffel Tower!!!! A lovely surprise!

We have had great luck so far in our AirBnB experiences – we have stayed in half a dozen at least in France, Italy and the UK and have enjoyed each experience!  If you have any questions about a stay at an AirBnB, let me know.

Paris Diaries….The Arrival

 

Friday night, my daughter and I embarked on a fantastic journey!  Since September, we have been planning a little mother-daughter adventure to Paris!  My family visited Paris six years ago and for about the past two years, my daughter has been asking to go back.  I found some fabulous airfares on Norwegian Air, booked us an AirBnB and here we go!  Paris or Bust!!

We will only have four nights in Paris, so we are jamming it full of activities, sightseeing and food!!!  Our plans included the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, climbing the towers of Notre Dame, a bike tour of Paris, visiting Jardin des Plantes, Disneyland Paris, walking around the Latin Quarter and making our way to Montmartre.  All tickets have been purchased ahead of time to avoid any queues and even though it’s winter – it’s winter in Maine where I live, so the 40 degree days of Paris in January will be like a heat wave!!!  Oh and I have been brushing up on my French!

Here is a picture diary of our first day – well, half a day since we arrived in Paris at the airport around 10am and made it to the city via train around noonish…..

20190119_122401

The arrival!!!!

20190119_152918

Char with the famous Louvre glass pyramid!

20190119_153243

This is the art hanging in the pyramid right now – it is a “throne” that was created by artificial intelligence. The message is that we need to be wary of AI – foretelling of a time when AI will take over the world hence, the throne.

20190119_160621

Mona Lisa! Look at that smile!

20190119_163442

A mosaic floor – part of the Islamic Art display at the Louvre! Talk about impressive – this example was HUGE!

20190119_173446

A shot of the towers of Notre Dame from Ponte du Carrousel.

20190119_191250

A rose shaped gelato for my princess!

20190119_191509

This is the wonderful street action just around the corner from our AirBnB!

20190119_122340

We pop out of the metro and the phone comes out!!!

Italy…Bits and Pieces (of my heart) Part II -Aperol for the win and travel gurus!

Aperol Spritz is my husband’s Italian (and summer) beverage of choice.  We first experienced this beauty on our first road trip in Italy when we arrived in Sorrento at our lovely Agriturismo, Antico Casal.  Our host made us this famous and refreshing drink to enjoy at sunset – and you, too, can make it here at home.  Aperol is a bitter Italian spirit (available at most liquor stores) but when combined with prosseco, orange juice and soda water, the flavors open up and it becomes a lively Italian sunset in a glass!  While recipes vary regionally, the original is the best and can be found on the Aperol bottle!  I was amazed to find PRE-MADE Aperol Spritz in Italy when I was there in June and may or may not have enjoyed a few bottles (alone)!

20180624_140858

A VERY expensive Aperol Spritz in Venice – 15 Euros – about $18USD, but it WAS a beautiful setting!

20180627_164854

Ok this is an exaggeration – but check out that gorgeous veranda at our Air BnB!

20180627_164902

Pre-Mixed Aperol Spritz!!!

Rick Steves – As a travel enthusiast and vacation planner, I recognize quality and an outstanding product and I think Rick Steves puts out amazing tools for any type of traveler.  I have used and planned many of my own vacations with the help of Rick’s travel guides and keep a small library of his tour books to lend out to clients and friends.  His expertise really lends itself to the adventurous traveler – experienced or novice – and provides resources that enhance a pre-organized vacation, educate the traveler and help the do-it-yourselfer plan effectively to get the most out of their experience.

20181224_145447

For my most recent Italian adventure, my mom, sisters and I used Rick’s mobile App for some pre-trip planning (he has GREAT radio interviews and cultural “lectures” available on the App for your pleasure) as well as using Rick’s guided audio walking tours.  While I will say there were a few hiccups with this method (people pressing “play” at different times and having to catch up or go back from time to time), we thoroughly enjoyed using these audio walking tours we had downloaded onto our phones before we left – we loved the history, the authentic tidbits and the feeling like Rick was our tour guide – well, I guess he WAS!!!  We used his walking tour of Florence, Rome, and Pompeii and really gained a lot of insider information.  Check it out!!!

I love all these tidbits –  They truly ARE bits and pieces of my heart.  I treasure them as sweet memories of adventures, interactions and integrations I will never have again.  I hope you find them helpful, useful and enjoyable and I hope you hold your own bits and pieces of treasured memories.

Italy…bits and pieces (of my heart) Part I – Dinner, Breakfast, Dessert!

Bits and pieces…..here are some observations made while traveling in Italy!  I wanted to break it up into two parts to stretch out your enjoyment:)  Let me tell you about my regional food favorites, my gelato adventure in pictures in this first part, and some touring tips to help make your DIY Italy experience the best.  Oh, and let’s not forget Aperol Spritz!!

Tuscany is known for its cured meats, particularly boar meat.  It is also well known for its pecorino cheese.  Their tomato sauce is simple and savory – made with crushed tomatoes, loads of garlic, even more olive oil and whole, dried pep(p)eroncini peppers placed in a tea strainer and marinated in the sauce while it boils on low (you know these peppers – we call them crushed red pepper and you find them at every house of pizza in the north east!) Tuscans do not shy away from slabs of steak, red wine and the joy that comes with experiencing a meal with friends and family.  This is probably one of the BEST reasons to visit Italy and a part of the culture that is so endearing!  Here is my sister-in-law’s aunt’s authentic Tuscan “gravy” recipe – this is EXACTLY like the one we made in our cooking class at our agriturismo.  Also, what to do with leftover sauce!!!

 

Gelato – I take this business seriously and there is nothing more serious than Italian Gelato!!!!  I haven’t met a gelato flavor I didn’t like but I do like some more than others – my favorites are chocolate, strawberry, pistachio, salted caramel and nutella!  I always have my gelato in a cup to minimize loss due to melting, and a new flavor every time – how can you go wrong?  Here is a picture diary of Italy through the eyes of a gelato aficionado!  There’s no better way to sight-see!

 

 

What fun themes do you use when you travel?  My gelato tour gave me a free pass to eat as much gelato as I wanted!  Like one would NEED a reason!!  When my son was little,  he was FAR more interested in all the fountains at Disney than he was anything else – so I feel like it was a fountain tour of Disney!

In Part II of Bits and Pieces, learn to make the quintessential Italian refresher and learn who my favorite traveling companion is….hint: it’s not my husband – SSSHHHHH!