Lyon a Mon Coeur

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Want to know how to conquer Lyon, France in 48 hours? I’ve got you covered.

If you are like me and my sister you will arrive around 2 pm into the Lyon train station from Charles de Gaulle. From there you can either take the easy route and hop in a cab or take the bus which cost €1.25 per person. We opted for the bus. Of course with this way you might lose a little time but it makes for a good story. For example standing at the wrong bus stop for about 20 mins, then getting to the right bus stop, then getting on the right bus but the wrong direction and trying to ask in French if you are going the right way all while jet lagged…like I said lost time but good story. We hopped off the bus at the Opera house because our Airbnb we rented was in that area. Once checked in the first thing you need to do is get food. We walked to try to get in at a bouchon (will share my bouchon experience in the next post) but they were closing because it was the in-between lunch and dinner time so instead settled for the cafe outside our apartment. We got a cheese platter and beef tartare and enjoyed our first of many glasses of wine. We ate as much as we could and then decided we could not stay awake a minute longer. We had a good amount of cheese left and being the good Americans we are wanted to take it home. Kara went inside and asked for a box; nothing. Then in my broken French I asked our server “take food with me.” I never learned box in French. Apparently you need to learn that because once again nothing happened. We really were going to start napping at the table so we did the only thing we could, took our napkins out and put the bread and cheese in it and left. Serious times call for serious measures.

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Next nap for a few hours then wake up refreshed and explore the city at night. Walk to Place des Terreaux and enjoy a cappuccino. We next tried to go again to a bouchon and were laughed at by the same guy who laughed at us earlier when he said they were closed when we told him we didn’t have a reservation. If there is one thing I learned form this trip is MAKE A RESERVATION. Even if the restaurant can accommodate you they won’t unless you have a reservation. I’ll say it again because it is that important; MAKE A RESERVATION. We went across the street to La Creperie du Major and had crepes. It was a cute little place with interesting fairy paintings on the wall but was super cozy and had fabulous crepes, savory and sweet. Next enjoy the rest of your Saturday night at Les Berthoms then get a goodnight’s rest.

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Day two; wake up. Call and make a reservation for lunch and then head to Marché Saint-Antoine right on La Saone. Anything and everything you could imagine food wise was available to be purchased. Such fresh produce, meats, seafood. I felt like I had died and gone to farmer’s market heaven.

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Next head to your bouchon lunch. Do not miss this. It was amazing and what Lyon is known for(Details in next post). Help digest your food and start the hike up Fouvière Hill. Here you get a great view of the city as well as La Basilique Notre Dame and the see the Roman ruins. Walked back down and head to Vieux Lyon and look at one of the oldest cloaks in Europe on Cathédrale Saint-Jean.

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IMG_3282 Keep exploring Vieux “Old” Lyon and the cobble streets. At this point we headed back to the apartment and took a quick power nap. Head back out to the city for beers at  The Smoking Dog in the old part of town and then finish with wine at Le Baroc Bar right off the river. A perfect way to say good bye to the city you have now fallen in love with. This is a perfect Sunday which is a little more difficult to plan since most places are closed.

IMG_3318 IMG_3343 IMG_3341 The next morning get up and head back to the train station on the bus you now know how to use.

It’s My Birthday B*!@h

It was my sister Kara’s birthday last week! Kara has always been a fan of sprinkles, from the vanilla dip donuts from Tim Horton’s that she would order by the dozen in high school to the hundred and thousand cookies she had while living in Australia. What both of these have in common is the type of sprinkles. Kara likes the round sprinkles or the more proper name is nonpareils which is French for without equal; a sprinkle fact for your day. We first went to dinner at Stoic and Genuine and then finished the night with this cake—a pistachio cake with honey and vanilla frosting. It was so good; a nutty flavor for the cake and the honey really comes through in the frosting!

Photo Credit: The amazing John Tagle

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Final Countdown

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Our final stop in Vietnam was  Đà Nẵng. We didn’t give ourselves much time here so we didn’t really do much at all besides enjoy our hotel we were staying at. We got in around 4 pm and left at 6 am; I was serious about limited time. I wished we would have been able to do a few things like get an up close look at the Goddess of Mercy statue and visiting the Marble Mountains…but hanging out at the highest roof top pool in Vietnam, at A La Carte, wasn’t too bad (I keep reminding myself of this so I don’t get sad).

This was our final evening as a group for our trip. The next day we headed back to Hong Kong where Sarena left us to go back to the London, Phil went back to his Hong Kong life, and then back to the states for Becky and I. I fell in love with Vietnam and I can’t wait to go back.

The small white speck in the middle right of the photo is the Goddess of Mercy; the largest white marble buddha in Vietnam.

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Final dinner!

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We All Scream for Paczki!

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Tonight I made paczki‘s for Fat Tuesday tomorrow. Growing up in Michigan the grocery store and bakeries sell these treats like crazy this time of year and I absolutely love them! But out here in Denver its another story—nobody knows what they are!! I decided I won’t go another Fat Tuesday with out them so I made them myself. The process isn’t extremely hard but it is long, but the time was worth it because they turned out fabulous. I just had a raspberry filling with powder sugar, the absolute best variation of paczki, but I also made strawberry and blueberry filling with either a coating of granulated sugar or powder sugar.

Paczki Recipe

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Tastin and Cookin

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When I was doing research for Hoi An going to a cooking class was something a lot of people and sites suggested. I decided on Morning Glory Advance Masterclass. The class started at 8:30 am and you get to go through the local market then to the school where you cook three different dishes for $39; sold. This was one of the things I was most excited about. I was the cheer leader for the cooking class and to say Phil was skeptical was definitely an understatement. It could have something to do with the fact that I dragged him/or group on the Sound of Music tour in Salzburg, which I still say is amazing and a must do, but Phil would say differently. I scheduled the class for Friday morning. I didn’t realize that would be a problem, but it was. When the alarm went off at 7:30 am the day after our Thanksgiving cruise/party evening it was the worst sound ever. I pressed snooze and wished that nine minutes would feel like three more hours. When the alarm went off again I yelled to Becky that we need to get up and both of us mumbled about how we couldn’t. Me the cheerleader then turned off the alarm and went back to be. Fail. I was so disappointed when I woke up later. I immediately emailed the school and asked if we could come in the next day and lucky enough for us they had room!!! Thank goodness because it was amazing. Even Phil will vouch for this outing. We had a cooking school student lead us around the market; showing us the different vegetables, tools they use, meats, fish, etc.

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Then they took us to the school and took us around to the different stations such as fried treats, rice meals, daily workers food, sweet treats, and the one that caught most people’s eye weird and wonderful. At the weird and wonderful station I tried silk worm salad, baby clams, spicy snails, duck egg embryo, spicy frog legs, jelly fish salad, and steamed pig brain. It was intense, the worm was chalky and grainy, the duck embryo tasted basically like a hard boiled egg but with more of a dense texture and the pig brain I actually can’t really remember so it must have been good? We made the rounds. I even tried making cao lau noodle which is a local staple from Hoi An. The recipe is only known by a few and almost impossible to get. The noodles are distinguishable by their thickness. Another item from Hoi An is the white rose dumpling, which are dumplings with a rose like shape (see picture below) and filled with either shrimp or pork. I also helped in making rice noodles patties and I was pretty good at it. That could be a potential carrier move.

Cau lao noodles

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Next we moved on to the hands on section. Becky and I were teammates and shared a work station. First we made cabbage leaf parcels with shrimp mousse in broth, bang xeo (Vietnamese pancake), and finally barbecue chicken and mango salad. We used an Vietnamese knife to cut the papya and as a parting gift we got one to take home with us! You can see it below; it is an interesting shape and unique tool. It made slicing mango very easy.

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In the end we had a private tour of the market, a full meal, hour of trying food, and a knife to take home all for $39. You can’t beat that. Also it worked out well that we didn’t go the day we were hungover; I would not suggest trying pig brain or walking through a raw meat market hungover, but who am I to stop you. Follow me @Pilots_Daughter.

Thanksgiving Vietnam Style

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Thanksgiving was all of Becky’s doings; she had an idea and ran with it. Let’s just say our money goes a long way in Hoi An so our Thanksgiving dinner was pretty luxurious. We went on a private sunset dinner cruise. Yep is was awesome. Becky and I wanted to wear traditional Vietnamese outfits for Thanksgiving but then decided on matching pants and nón lá also known as leaf hats (my hat didn’t make it home from the bar that night but we went back and they had it so it is now safe and sound on my wall in Denver)We started with fresh spring rolls, then had crab and asparagus soup, barbecue fish fillets in banana leaf, Vietnamese eggplant, and finished with a fruit platter. They gave us little boxes with candles in them to make a wish on and put in the water. They also gave us access to the speakers—they probably regretted that one. We ended the night at Infinity Bar with our new friend Vihn. He was our server so we took him out and taught him how to play beer pong.

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Living the Dream in Hoi An

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I was smitten with Hội An. It was exactly what I expected Vietnam to be; a small village that allowed visitors to get a peak in the day-to-day lives of the people. Besides the city and countryside being amazing we also had the hook up with our accommodation. We rented the An Hai Villa off of Airbnb and it was amazing. It was about three miles outside of the Ancient Town but that was actually nice. The villa sleeps nine guests and it was just the four of us so it was spacious. Each morning we had fresh bread, eggs, fruit, and Vietnamese coffee waiting for us. I could go back just for the breakfast. So relaxing and comfortable. The villa also had a fridge with beer and wine that we could drink and mopeds all of which we would pay for later; making it easier on us.

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Our first day we hopped on our mopeds and headed to town. First stop was to get dresses made. Hội An is known for custom made clothes that are good quality and cheap. You go to the stores and look at mannequins and you can pick whatever you want or design whatever you want. You could walk up and say, “I want this top with that pattern but with this back from this other dress.” It was awesome. I had a romper made. We got our dresses, romper, and Phil got a suit made at Micky Tailor. You can check out Phil and I on their trip advisor. We then went and drove around for a bit looking at the rice paddies and exploring. We finished the afternoon with beers and spring rolls at the beach.

Don’t miss Hội An if you go to Vietnam.

We also took a cooking Class and had a sunset cruise for Thanksgiving dinner, but I’ll save that for future posts.

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France est Charlie

I landed in Paris on January 10th. This was the day after the hostage situation. My sister and I landed and headed straight to Lyon via train. We were so excited to visit the gastronomic capital of France. We knew we would probably notice some extra security at popular tourist sites because of the recent events but didn’t think there would be anything else to notice; we were wrong. France was immediately united and it was clear in every city you went. Everywhere you looked there were “Je suis Charlie” or “Nous sommes Charlie” signs. We also got to experience the march in Lyon. It was remarkable to see. Below are a few pictures of the how the country came together after such a tragedy.

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-Paris-

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Where the Watermelon Grow

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Ideally we would have had more time to explore; more time to see it all but we didn’t. We had to settle with only one day in Hạ Long Bay. Most people do at least a three day cruise but like I said we didn’t have time. We thought about even skipping Hạ Long Bay but I am so glad we didn’t. Seeing/cruising around for a few hours was more than enough; it was stunning. We left at 8:30 in the morning and returned at 8 pm. We purchased our tour through Halong Bay One Day Tours for $39. image Hạ Long Bay was magical. When you leave the shore and head out all you see is all these different peaks and points shooting out of the water; hundreds of them. Hạ Long Bay translates to descending dragon. It is legend that Vietnam needed help protecting their land and sent to the gods for dragons. A mother dragon and her children came to earth and the mother shot out fire and emeralds to defend against the enemies. The emeralds were scattered along the water battlefield and created a protective wall i.e. the 1,600 limestone islands we see today. You can either believe the legend or that the limestone was naturally eroded by the wet tropical climate forming the pillars and karst—no judgement on what you believe. We enjoyed beers on the boat and kayaked around for a little at the one place we stopped. My advice? Don’t miss Hạ Long Bay.

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Above- Where we stopped to kayak.

Below- The cave we went inside.

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