Quick Guides

Quick Guide to Paris - Off The Beaten Path

No 5 letters have ever come together to shape a name more full of meaning than Paris. Historically, culturally, and artistically, Paris has been at the center of it all for centuries. “Paris is always a good idea,” were the famous words of Audrey Hepburn, and it really is.

Today the city is still at the top of virtually everyone's travel list. But, while the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre tend to be the first spots to visit, there’s a lot more to see and experience often left off the guide books. Here are my top 5 off-the-beaten-path attractions in Paris.

1 - Musée de L’Orangerie

You know the Musée D’Orsay and the Louvre, but this small gallery located at the opposite end of the Jardins de Tuileries holds an even more impressive collection. The first floor counts with two oval rooms where Monet’s Water Lilies are in permanent display. The idea is that you can see the scene just as Monet did while he painted it. Downstairs, an impressive collection includes works by Picasso, Cézanne, Matisse, Renoir, and countless others.

Tip: You can buy a special ticket that guarantees dual entry into Musée de L’Orangerie and Musée D’Orsay to save some $$ and time.

2 - Merci

Merci

Shopping in Paris is great, especially during the summer and winter sales (“Les Soldes” which take place at specific times during the year determined by the government). La Bonne Marché and Galeries Lafayette are two of the largest shopping centers in Paris, carrying all the major brands. But if what you’re looking for is more of a highly curated collection, the unique and super cool items at Merci is what you need. This shop is located on the 3rd Arrondissement and holds a literary café on the first floor. It’s the perfect place to relax after some sightseeing.

3 - Hôtel Amour

Let’s say you’ve spend the afternoon exploring Sacré-Coeur and now it’s time for dinner. The courtyard restaurant at the Hôtel Amour is your spot. There’s a nice tropical vibe with lush trees scattered all around the restaurant and it’s a very authentic spot where real Parisians dine.

Tip: If you’re not too tired, do the 15-min walk from Sacré-Coeur to the Hôtel Amour to get a nice look at the neighborhood of Montmartre.

4 - Picnic at Versailles

Bike tour of Versailles

Technically this is more of a day trip from Paris, but the train ride is so easy there’s no reason not to do it. You can hop on the Métro and it takes about an hour to get to Versailles. Stop by a local market to get the famous Versailles orange juice, a baguette, cheese and some wine. Then you’re ready for a picnic along the magnificent Grand Canal in the Jardins de Versaille. Make sure to eat all your food or throw it out before heading into the Palace, as food is not allowed inside.

Tip: You can also book a bike tour in advance, and they’ll make all the arrangements. You often get to meet your tour guide in Paris and take the Métro as a group.

5 - Coutume Café

Finding good breakfast in Paris is not an issue, but this little spot in the École Militaire neighborhood has probably the best coffee I had in Paris. The shop is owned by a Parisian and an Australian (both great coffee nations!), so you can tell they know what they’re doing. The raw decor and white tiles may feel a little bit like Brooklyn, but the food is as authentic as it comes.

Do you have any off-the-beaten-path sites in Paris? Add them in the comments!

 

 

 

Quick Guide to Shanghai

Visiting China was one of the most thrilling experiences in my life. The culture, the food and architecture revealed a whole new side of the world that lived only in my dreams. While I think it’s impossible to list just a few of the many, many things to do in Shanghai, I tried to compile the five places you just cannot miss the next time you’re there. Here they are:

 Shanghai Museum

Shanghai Museum

1 - Shanghai Museum
Art lovers, history buffs, and general tourists alike, this is the spot. The building itself is already an inspiring site with a wheel-shaped structure that surrounds the top floor. Inside you’ll find some of the very first coins used during the famous empires, there are also uniquely designed furnitures, as well as countless pieces of art and buddha statues. It’s easy to spend half a day exploring the different wings, and the museum shop is a great place to buy interesting books.

 Daytime view from The Bund 

Daytime view from The Bund 

2 - The Bund
A walk on The Bund is a must, day or night. The waterfront promenade along the Huangpu River gives you the perfect view of the city skyline. The modern skyscrapers sit across the river, while a lineup of classic European buildings stand behind you. It’s an interesting contrast that marks just how much of a melting pot the city has become . At night, the modern buildings light up to form that classic postcard portrait of Shanghai. You can also take a nighttime cruise on the Huangpu River to catch a different angle.

 French Concession

French Concession

3 - Nanjing Road
This shopping district counts with all the famous brands, like Uniqlo and Gap, as well as local brands like Meters/Bonwe. It’s the perfect spot to have that authentic modern day Shanghai shopping experience with around 600 stores between international brands and Chinese boutiques that sell traditional goods like Jade, silk and pearls.

4 - The French Concession
In the late 1800’s, this area was conceded to the French Consulate and was the home to many foreigners, today the historic location has grown into the hub for foodies and high-end shoppers. The winding alleys and European buildings make this a very unique and different from the rest of the city. It’s also where you’ll want to grab a sit at an outdoor café and stay a little while.

 Yuyuan Garden

Yuyuan Garden

5 - Yuyuan Garden
Its name translates to ‘happy, pleasing, satisfying’ and it’s easy to see why. The garden feels like it’s build over various ponds, so the sound of streaming water fills every corner. The ponds are crowded with huge koi fish that love being fed. The traditional Chinese architecture automatically transports you to a different time and it’s easy to forget you’re in modern Shanghai. The garden is the perfect place to quiet down after bargaining over prices at the market next door.

Know a place that should be included in this list? Let me know in the comments.

 

 

View from The Bund

Nanjing Road

French Concession

Quick Guide to Copenhagen

Copenhagen is one of my favorite cities in the world. The Danish capital is known for sharp design, modern interiors and a growing foodie scene. There’s tons to do and see at every corner. Here’s my quick list of things you should not miss while you’re there.

Tivoli Gardens

1.   Tivoli Gardens
It’s said that Walt Disney was inspired by this majestic amusement park when he decided to build his own, and it’s easy to see why. The Tivoli features a collection of rides, theater performances and themed restaurants that are certain to bring out your inner child. While the park is open only from mid-April to September, it re-opens for a few weeks during Halloween and Christmas. It’s a fun place for everyone, no matter your age.

2.   Statens Museum for Kunst.
Also known as the National Gallery of Denmark, this museum holds a wide collection of Danish and Nordic art. Their French and European collections are also pretty impressive. Even the building itself is a must see. The museum is comprised of two contrasting buildings. The main building dates back to 1896 and depicts classic architecture. The extension completed in 1998 shows the modern and clean design of Danish architecture. The best part is that you can gain entrance to the permanent exhibitions for free.


3.   Freetown Christiania
This neighborhood is home to a very unique community. While most people know it as the place where cannabis is sold and consumed openly, the community is also a haven for artists, musicians and intellectuals with beautiful murals covering practically every available wall. It’s a fun place to walk around a discover a different side of Copenhagen, but don’t take any pictures in the main street where the vendors are located (Pusher Street).

The Little Mermaid

4.   The Little Mermaid (Den Lille Havfrue)
Perhaps another one of Disney’s inspirations? This statue is the symbol of the city and a huge tourist attraction. Completed in 1913, the statue based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale, sits on a rock on the shoreline of Langelinie park. I recommend getting here early in the morning to avoid the huge crowds and tour buses.

5.   The Round Tower (Rundetaarn)
This 17th Century tower is a great place from which to see the Copenhagen skyline. The building itself is known for the equestrian staircase that leads you to the top. Basically a cobblestone road that loops around all the way to the top. I tried running all the way to the top, but couldn’t really make it! Instead I recommend taking it slow and getting good pictures for your Instagram.

Any other places you’d like to add to this list? Share them in the comments!

Statens Museum for Kunst

The Round Tower

Freetown Christiania