seattle, wa: day 6

09 Aug 2011

boohoo. this was our last full day in seattle. this was probably our longest trip to seattle ever and it was still too short! we all had such a lovely time though and i liked how each day was relaxing and not rushed like some of my other trips where we try to pack in as much as we can each day. i love seattle.

every day we start out with food. this day we stopped by a sezchuan restaurant (forgot the name but it was really good!!). just enough spicy without being too spicy (my cousin may beg to differ tho :) )
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it’s surprising how many times i’ve been to seattle but i’ve never made it to snoqualmie falls til now. i was quite impressed with this waterfall! isn’t it beautiful?
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the scenery in seattle is just breathtaking sometimes. my sister drove us around for some great views so of course we had to have some fun with the camera

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more coffee…how many times did we get coffee during this trip? :)
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also stopped by chocopolis where we partook in a chocolate tasting
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and some awesome hot chocolate!
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more pictures
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and uh…planking :)
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time for our final meal in seattle…at the book bindery! my sister’s favorite restaurant
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the theme of this restaurant was so cool. it felt like you were in the library of a really expensive house! the menu was even a “book”
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amuse bouche
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appetizers
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my main dish – some truffle/mushroom pasta
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minh’s lamb
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my cousin’s scallops
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dessert!! see the white stuff under the ice cream? that’s browned butter powdered sugar and so yummy and cool! it made me interested in molecular gastronomy and i claimed it would become my new hobby! still need to get me a kit.
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i’m so surprised how these food pictures turned out considering how dark the restaurant was. i love my little camera!

so that’s the end of my seattle recap. i had such an amazing time. it was especially nice for me to bond with my younger cousin and to see her bond with minh. by the end of the trip they had nicknames for each other lol.

thanks so much to my sister and her husband’s wonderful hospitality and carting us around everywhere. my sister is always the best hostess! i really wish she (along with the rest of my brother and sisters) lived closer!!!

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seattle, wa: day 5

07 Aug 2011

wow, i’ve been soo lazy about blogging. gonna try really hard to finish this trip recap this week before i forget everything that happened!

day 5 started with lunch at tom douglas’s serious pie. it was good but it made me miss the pizza i had in italy. the pizza on the right had an egg on it just like the pizza we had in italy but it wasn’t as tasty.

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afterwards we went around the corner two dahlia bakery to try their famous coconut cream pie. it was so expensive so all we got were the “bites” which were $2 each
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of course we made a stop at pike’s market including the first starbucks. it’s a lot more crowded here than i ever remembered it being!
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we always have to watch at least one person catch a fish
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i do not remember if we did anything else after pike’s market but somehow we started eating again.

unlike the pizza, this gelato rivaled what i had in italy!
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we also stopped by the walrus and the carpenter for their happy hour. SOOO GOOD! $1 oysters and yummy drinks

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oops…almost forgot about the rest of the day since i didn’t have pictures! we went home where my sister invited her friends quynh and yenvy (2 of my favorite seattlites…such lovely, funny, and sweet ladies!) and we had a delicious home cooked dinner with king salmon, truffle cheese, a variety of meats, and my sister’s famous herbed butter. SO YUM!

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seattle, wa: day 4

26 Jul 2011

we started the day with a french breakfast at cafe presse. this was probably one of my favorite meals because i love foods like this!

first time eating a croque madame
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assorted french breads with butters, jams, pates, prosciutto, and various other goodies!
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then we stopped next door for some stumptown coffee
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since it was my cousin’s first time in seattle, we had to visit the fremont troll for some pictures
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and then we walked around shopping. we stopped by the BEST vintage store i have ever been in. there were def some things i wanted to buy. i found a shelf of vintage pyrex and my sister tells me she has an extra set at home to give me. score!!
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we are all boba junkies so we had to stop at my sister’s favorite boba place (i forgot the name!). i always like trying new flavors so i had guava green tea with rainbow jelly.
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minh had a tasty strawberry milk tea. he can’t seem to find a decent place in LA that makes it so he was really happy
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next we visited the microsoft campus since my sister’s husband daniel works there. he showed us the microsoft store and museum.

don’t i just fit right in? :)
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my cousin myra made it onto their wall of photos
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we ended the days activities with a trip to the shooting range where my sister’s neighbor gave us shooting lessons. i decided not to shoot since i have gone shooting with minh before and i didn’t really enjoy it. it was fun documenting the experience for the others though!
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alex was a great and very informative teacher
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we bought these zombie targets. this one is named jimmy. (no we did not name it so don’t be offended jimmies of the world!)
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just a few days left of our trip left…. :(

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seattle, wa: day 3

25 Jul 2011

day 3 was 4th of july. my sister planned an all day picnic at the park with a stunning view of the fireworks (or so we thought :P )

we started the day making tons of cookies: my sister’s favorite snickerdoodles, blueberry oatmeal, and a hodgepodge cookie (i don’t remember what was in it but it i think there was chocolate, some nuts, and some cherries ?). anyways, they were all so good. i love homemade cookies!

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after making cookies and before we made our way to the park, we decided to walk to the nearby starbucks. minh has to have a starbucks when he is in seattle. the walk was nice and my sister’s husband daniel gave us a “walking tour” of the area which included the world’s first costco! hehe.
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mission accomplished
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after that we headed out to the park to claim our spot. we were one of the first ones there.
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we were hoping the fireworks would be in this huge patch of open sky. it ended up being behind those trees to the right. BUMMER. but at least we had fun all day hanging out at the park!

we had a lot of food (ribs, leftover oysters), snacks, and alcohol disguised as food to keep us entertained until the fireworks.

homemade tarts
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rummy bears = gummy bears soaked in rum overnight
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we also had jello shots but i guess i forgot to take a picture of those!

while eating some flaming cheetos minh found a rare circle cheeto. i got to eat it. nom.
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we played with cute babies
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and cute doggies
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i forgot to take pictures down by the water where it was really crowded and festive. they had music and carnival type food. we spent an hour hanging out there people watching.

darkness is approaching!
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we ended up having to get up to see the fireworks through the trees. and i won’t torture you with my horrible fireworks pictures because i did not have the correct lens on me nor a tripod. see?

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btw, we were watching the kirkland fireworks. if you are in seattle, the seattle fireworks are much better. we could see them on the far end of the water. i spent most of my time watching those instead! much more impressive :)

all in all, it was such a fun and relaxing day. aside from the bad view of the fireworks, it was perfect!

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seattle, wa: day 2

20 Jul 2011

day 2: clamming and oyster shucking!
the next day we woke up and drove 2 hrs away to Dosewallips State Park to go clamming. the drive was far but SO beautiful. i miss this type of scenery in socal but it makes me appreciate it so much more when i do get to see it!

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my sister shows us how to shuck an oyster
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it doesn’t get fresher than this! i was too big of a wuss to do this hehe
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We saw amazing sealife:

a starfish!
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tons of crabs
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a disgusting large snail(?)
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a sand dollar. wish i had taken one back with me as a keepsake! :(
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digging for clams. so sad we did not find any geoducks that day :(
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people getting bags and bags full of oysters probably to sell. can you believe all the clams and oysters we shucked were free?
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my cousin shucks her first oyster!
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when we got home my sister made dinner with all of the goods we bought home. SO GOOD!

our loot
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fresh herbs from my sister’s garden
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deep fried oysters
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these clams were SO GOOD
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my sister also made this amazing corn with her herbed butter and other foods that i am missing. i took a picture of the dinner table but i think it came out blurry. boo. :(

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seattle, wa: day 1

20 Jul 2011

over 4th of july, i went to visit my sister and husband in seattle, wa. i went with the hubs and i took my cousin myra as a graduation present! it was such a fun trip filled with awesome memories and great food. no surprise that good food follows wherever my sister goes though :) i have been to seattle several times and i never get bored with the city. it’s definitely one of my faves to visit!

i took a TON of pictures but one thing i am learning is that i need to document as much as possible because my memory is going ha! btw i still love my camera. so sad that it is all dinged up from my dropping it a million times but it still works like a champ! here’s a rundown of what we did and what we ate. it will probably be filled with a lot of details that you don’t care about so sorry in advance!!

day 1: arrival and dinner at facing east
excited for my cousin’s first real big trip! so glad we scored tix on jetblue, one of my favorite airlines. we made her take this picture while getting on the plane :)
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from the airport we went straight to my sister’s favorite restaurant: facing east. it did not disappoint. the food was so unique and i don’t really remember eating anything like this in LA despite all of the asian food we are surrounded by. my sister eats here so often that all of the waiters know her and hooked us up on what to order and gave us tons of mango for the mango shaved ice!
one of my favorites was the pork bao burger
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this smoked chicken was also amazing!
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my sister’s favorite, braised tofu
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and for dessert the famous mango shaved ice. they dumped on a whole other bowl of mangos on top of this after!
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after dinner we went to my sister’s townhome. this was the first time i got to see her place and the place was so very her! it’s full of cute and eclectic items..loved it!

her collection of munnies!
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pictures like these are everywhere: the bathroom, the kitchen, the bedrooms hehe
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how does someone garden in gloomy seattle weather? i forgot to take a picture of my sister’s deck which is full of plants and beautiful flowers!
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my dream cookbook library. it has ALL of the big name ones!
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ok when i said there were a lot of pics..i meant it! i think i will separate these posts into different days. the next one is a biggie!

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ROME

one thing i realized in italy was that they drink wine like water. in some cases. the wine was even cheaper than the water! we had wine with every meal.

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i fell in love with pasta alla carbonara on this trip. such a simple dish but so good!
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we also had gelato like 2 times every day. i never got sick of it

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gracchi is a great gelato place to go to if you are visiting vatican city. they are known for their award winning pistachio gelato

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gelateria dei gracchi
via dei gracchi, 272, 00192
rome, italy

one of the friends we made on this trip recommended this next restaurant to us. unfortunately, i forgot the name…but it was a great rec!

one of the famous foods of rome is the deep fried jewish artichokes. i love artichokes so i had to try it. it was interesting.

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another random gelato place. we would just see one while walking and have to try it!
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we used our fodor’s book for this pizza recommendation. turned out to be very popular and had a line!

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this is the baffetto pizza and yes that is an egg in the middle. i pretty much LOVED this pizza. the service was kind of rude but for food this good, i don’t care. they were kind of like the pizza nazi there

pizzeria da baffetto
114 via del governo vecchio, 00186
rome, italy

this was probably my favorite gelato place in all of italy. even more than the one we had in florence which is supposed to be the best. :P this one just had a lot of flavors we didn’t see at the other gelaterias

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la gelateria frigidarium
via del governo vecchio, 112, 00186
rome, italy

FLORENCE

on our first night in florence, we took the hotel clerk’s recommendation to eat in a particular piazza. unfortunately, we didn’t know exactly which restaurant to eat at and we happened to pick this one which was probably our worst meal of the trip. everything was just super salty!

our appetizer was pretty decent though.
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when we were in rome, one of the restaurants told us about his friend’s restaurant in florence. it also had a line and we noticed that if a place has a line in front of it…it’s going to be pretty good.

i ordered the chef’s choice of 3 pastas. really good.

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we also got this weird dessert on the house that was like biscotti that you dip in hard liquor. the taste grew on me.
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we also had gelato at vivoli which was supposed to be the best gelato in italy. it was good, but i couldn’t really tell the difference

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we tried this highly rated wine bar where we got a mini lesson on drinking wine and some appetizers

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pitti gola e cantina
piazza pitti 16, florence, italy

VIENNA

whenever i travel, if i see a mcdonald’s that has something strange on the menu…i have to try it! this was a chicken breakfast sandwich. it was not that good.

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we became obsessed with these magnum ice cream bars. they came in a bunch of different flavors.

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at the zoo, we tried what i think is like their version of elephant ears. but these were salty/cheesy. pretty delish though!

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we love trying street food and this doner kebap reminded me of japan!

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this viennese restaurant we tried was sooo good!

pork and potatos
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pumpkin soup – probably the best pumpkin soup i’ve ever had

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the service here was really great too

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(the following photos were taken with an iphone since i didnt’ have my camera this day)

we also had to try a wiener from one of the street vendors. all of the locals eat their wieners on a plate but we got ours in a bun.

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some viennese coffee!
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we end our trip with the best ice cream shop in vienna, tichy. i really liked these filled ice cream balls!

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tichy
reumannplatz 13
vienna a-1100, austria

overall, europe is a great foodie destination. the food is so diverse and unique. there are definitely things that you can’t find in the US or just aren’t as good in the US.

i’m finally done with my europe wrap up. phew! so glad i sat down and logged everything though. it was a trip i don’t want to forget about. so much fun and so many memories! now where are we going next????? :)

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i think i’m a food traveler. my travels revolve around food. if i had good meals during a trip, then i most likely had a good time. a lot of my research for this trip involved finding the “best of” everything. i tried to eat the best fish and chips in london, the best croissant in paris, the best gelato in italy, and much more. i literally took a picture of every food we put in our mouth. the following is a subset of my favorites with addresses for the places i recommend eating at.

this one wasn’t in europe but i had to include it because tim horton’s is classic and we knew we had to have some when we saw it at the airport in toronto. four apple fritters plz!
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LONDON
our first stop was ye olde cheshire cheese a really famous pub that mark twain once ate at! the food was just ok. i then realized why london is not known for their food :P
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we also stopped by borough market which was a really fun and big farmer’s market with tons of food. i really liked the atmosphere but my main purpose for going there was to try these famous toasted cheese sandwiches from kappacasein

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wow. it was way too cheesy…i don’t know how anyone could eat a whole one. i like cheese too!
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borough market
borough high street
london, united kingdom
se1 9de

the one thing i knew i had to eat in london was fish and chips. so after much research, i settled on the golden hind. MMMMMMMMMMM IT WAS SO GOOD! i loved it. i’ve also discovered that i love mushy peas so i had to order some on the side. unfortunately, the mushy peas weren’t as good as the one i had in the states. :(

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we contemplated ordering “the spotted dick” for dessert just to see what it was.

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but we couldn’t bring ourselves to do it and settled on apple crumb with custard

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it doesn’t look that appetizing but it was actually really delicious! it was warm and gooey and apple-y. wonder where i can get this in the states!

the golden hinde
pickfords wharf
clink street
london SE1 9DG, United Kingdom

during our day trip to bath, we ate at sally lunn’s which is the oldest house in bath and home of the famous sally lunn bun
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PARIS

when we first arrived in paris, we noticed paninis and crepes galore. definitely had to be our first meal so we chose a random one near our apt

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this next one was one of my favorite meals from the whole trip. it was just fun! and so glad we went with 4 people so we could try the cheese and the meat fondue (you have to have a mininum of 2 ppl/fondue)

it starts out with a tray of cheeses, salamis, olives, etc

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the coolest part about this restaurant is how they serve the red wine…in baby bottles! this is how they get around france’s tax on wine in glasses

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both fondues were delicious
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le refuge des fondues
17 rue des 3 Frères, 75018
paris, france

the bakeries in paris were amazing. i wish i had the stomach, money, and metabolism to try everything!

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this is one of the best, if not the best, croissant in paris. very flaky and yummy.

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au levain du marais
28, blvd beaumarchais
paris, france

there was a really big farmer’s market near our apt that had everything you could think of. we ended up buying stuff for a picnic we had later on at the eiffel tower

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i couldn’t go to paris without trying the best french bread. supposedly, this chain by eric kayser is where it’s at.

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and yes…it was really good
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his bakery also has a variety of desserts as well
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eric kayser can be found all throughout paris

the best hot chocolate. i thought it was a little too thick for me but my travelmates loved it.

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angelina
226 rue de rivoli
75001 paris, france

if u love macarons, you know of pierre herme. walking into his “bakery” was more like walking into a tiffany’s jewelry store. there was a line just to get in! i loved his window display

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i think this one might have been my fave

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pierre herme
72 rue bonaparte
paris, france

while we were in europe, i celebrated my 31st bday. minh took me to chez dumonet for my bday dinner.

the best duck confit. wow…soo good.

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the creamiest, most decadent foie gras pate. i still dream of this.

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chez dumonet is also known for their grand marnier souffle. i will def have to come back here and eat again if i ever find myself back in paris

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it was a perfect meal and probably my best meal on the whole trip.

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chez dumonet
117 rue du cherche-midi
paris, france

more crepes
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happy crepe maker
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grumpy crepe maker
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the best ice cream

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berthillion
31 rue st louis en l’ile
75004 paris, france

wow, i just realized that i have a lot of food pictures so i should probably split this into 2 posts.

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vienna was such a great way to end the trip. by this time, all of our feet were pretty sore from the countless walking around we did all over europe. vienna does not have many attractions so we mostly relaxed and walked around for our last few days. vienna is so beautiful and probably the cleanest country i had seen in europe. people were very nice, polite, and courteous. we noticed that in their subways it ran on the honor system. there were no turnstiles to scan our tickets through. turns out vienna has one of the lowest crime rates in europe. and the subways were so orderly! it was on par to how the japanese subways were. it was nice being in a country where everyone had manners.

one of our days was spent visiting the shonbrunn palace and its grounds. It was SO BEAUTIFUL! the gardens were impeccably taken care of. doesn’t this picture look like a painting?

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there were lots of parks, gardens, fountains, and even a “maze” around the palace

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most of our day was spent actually visiting the schonbrunner zoo. i read really great reviews about this zoo and it turned out to be a lot of fun! i have never gotten so close to some of the animals and they all seemed to be up and about. highly recommend the zoo if you go to vienna!

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these bats were the creepiest things ever. i did not get a picture of it but one of the bats opened it’s wings up and it was soooo huge!!!

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on the other hand, isn’t this guy super adorable????

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a good example of how close we were to the animals! never saw this at the wild animal park here!!

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had to include this picture of these turtles because they are probably about a zillion years old. so big!

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after the zoo, we walked up this hill to the gloriette which offered a nice view of the grounds
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i loved walking around the city of vienna. the architecture was beautiful.

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this picture makes me laugh. on our last night we flew back to london and since we had an early flight home, fong and mike spent the night at the airport while minh and i went out and explored london. when we came back, this is how we found them!

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overall, i had such an awesome time in europe. i can’t wait to explore the rest of it! london was my favorite but paris had the best food. italy was soooo beautiful (well some parts!) and full of history while vienna just had a good vibe about it. it reinforced in me how much i just love travelling!!

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we’re almost near the end, only 1 more country after this! i remember being on this trip and thinking….wow, this is one long vacation! it was definitely my longest trip to date. i did not feel homesick yet, but instead felt an impending dread thinking abut going back to regular life. i updated my facebook status while i was on this trip, but i will repeat it here. after you visit europe, you will realize how boring america truly is!

anyways, onto florence. we only had 4 days here and 2 of those days were day trips to venice and cinque terre so i will go ahead and combine those cities into this post as well. in short, i really liked florence and wished we had more time there. there are no major sights really aside from seeing the david (really cool but the jury is still out on if it was worth it considering we had a 3+ hour wait to go inside of the museum), the duomo, and the ponte vecchio. the street vendors/shopping and the food definitely seem to be the highlights. this is where everyone goes to buy their leather goods. we ended up doing most of our souvenir shopping here.

ponte vecchio
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the duomo
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one of 2 david statues in florence. The real one is in a museum but no cameras were allowed inside.
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our first day trip was to venice. i have heard most people don’t really like venice but i loved it! it’s very small though so i was glad pretty much everyone advised us not to stay there overnight. i just loved how the city had no streets and there was water everywhere! by the end of the day, we were running through the city because we got lost and were trying to catch the last train home so we wandered through tons of tiny alleys. the kind where i could touch both sides of the walls if i wanted too. i just thought it was the coolest thing.

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no taxis, just gondolas
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while we were in st. mark’s square, we encountered this street artist who claimed to be the world’s fasted artist according to the guinness book of world records. we watched him draw this from start to finish and although i’m not sure if his claim is true, his painting was very fast! it was amazing to watch. minh and i contemplated buying one but i’m not sure it would have matched the decor of our house.

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i think i really liked venice because there is really no place in the world like it. even their firetrucks were fire gondolas!
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lastly, we have cinque terre. when we first stepped onto the first land, i couldn’t help but think that this might be one of the most beautiful places i have visited in my lifetime. each of the five lands was so cute and quaint. i would love to come back here with boyrobot and spend a few days exploring this place.

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on one of our walks through one of the little towns, i encountered this statue. i immediately declared it the fong (one of our travel mates) statue because of the pose. we had been joking the whole trip about fong’s photo pose and here was this statue in the EXACT same pose. weird, right?

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the similarity is uncanny isn’t it? especially since the statue is of a man!

i honestly could have added about 10 more pictures to this post but i didn’t want to bore u guys. the pics i shot from these days were probably my favorite from the trip. it had nothing to do with my camera or my photography skills, the places were just so beautiful i couldn’t have messed it up if i tried.

to round out the trip, i will be posting about our trip to vienna next. unfortunately, it might be a short post since we were only there for 2 days and i forgot my camera on one of those days! but after that i will be making a giant europe foodie post. i have so many suggestions and reviews to share with you all!

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