Tag Archives: Paris

Going On A Trip? Let About.com’s Travel Experts Help Plan It

Photo by Benet J. Wilson

While our family jaunt to Paris and London for Christmas was great, it is so good to be home.  This trip was six months in the making, and we used a lot of resources to make it happen. One of the most important was the travel section of About.com. Full disclosure: I am starting my second year as the Air Travel Expert for About.com.

About.com has thousands of experts on everything from Frugal Living to Grammar and Composition, and everything in between. But it’s the Travel section that has become my personal addiction — and not just because I’m one of the writers.

When it comes to Paris and London, there are so many things to see and do, but only so much time to do them in.  I did a Google search on tourist attractions in Paris and the About.com page for expert Courtney Traub popped up with this great post: What To See In Paris, Neighborhood by Neighborhood, which served as a great jumping-off point.

I knew I wanted to take the kid to one of the myriad Christmas markets that pop up across the city for the holiday season, and Courtney had that covered here. We needed a guide of restaurants that were open for dinner on Christmas, since Paris tends to shut down that day. Again, it was Courtney to the rescue, here. She also had a general guide about spending Christmas in the City of Lights, here. And finally, we got great tips for our Christmas Day excursion to Disneyland Paris here.

So when it came time to plan for the London part of the trip, I went directly to About.com expert Laura Porter. I wanted my daughter to experience a proper English high tea, but I needed one more oriented to kids. Laura covered that in her post, Afternoon Tea in London with Kids. I found a nice list of things to do for free with kids in London, here.  I didn’t get a chance to see a theater show while I was there, but Laura did a great article here on how to score cheap tickets.

I have to warn you that the site can be addictive, and you can spend hours checking on all the experts’ great advice.  Other Travel experts I recommend include:

 

Best of Aviation Queen: Travel Internationally, Eat Locally

Kids: it’s been a busy week, and it’s only Tuesday! So please enjoy this best-of, originally written on April 11. 2011.

Here’s a question — why do people fly half way around the world for travel and then go straight to McDonald’s to eat?  For me, half the fun of travel is trying out local flavors and cuisines.  I’m ALL about taking in what the locals eat — and drink.

Back in February 1994, I took my first international trip since living in Brussels in the mid-1970s.  I went to Singapore to cover the Singapore Air Show.

Back then, the Internet was in its primitive stages, so I bought a “Lonely Planet” guide to get an idea of what I would do in my off time.  I’ve always been a big foodie, so I wanted to check out what was available locally.

Photo courtesy of Steel Wool, via Flickr

Singapore is a very modern city that nearly had its ethnicity beaten out of it after decades of British colonial rule.  The city is clean, modern and efficient.  Unfortunately, it looks like any large north American city, and the restaurant scene is similar.

Lonely Planet told me about the famous Singapore food courts, which focus on local cuisine and delicacies in a basic setting at amazingly reasonable prices.

My boss wanted to have dinner at TGIFriday’s that first night we arrived. I demurred, saying I could go to TGI any day of the week at home.  But how often was I going to have the chance to eat foods from China, Malaysia, Indonesia and Indian, sometimes fused together?

Some of the dishes I still remember include chili crabs, fishball noodles, hor fun, shark’s fin and satay bee hoon.  The servers are very helpful in navigating the dishes, some of which might be a bit much for some American palates.  Alcohol tends to be expensive, so we all just drank Tiger Beer, which wasn’t bad, although I’m not much of a beer drinker.

I love Paris, and have been many times for work and play. One time, I had a wonderful meal from Michelin-starred chef Guy Savoy — and at a fraction of the price of his usual expensive restaurants.  I ate at a tiny six-table bistro across the street from his flagship restaurant, where, on that night, Savoy himself was running across the street between the two eateries, cooking in both kitchens.  He visited each table and praised us for being so smart by eating at his little bistro with the smaller price tag.

I traveled to Sweden several times in the 1990s and fell in love with reindeer, especially a leg loin with a lingonberry sauce.  Everything is served with Aquavit (similar to vodka), Sweden’s national drink.  I did not, however, develop a taste for herrings in cream.

Photo courtesy of Carlaarlena, via Flickr

I’ve been to Brazil at least 10 times since 1994.  I could do a whole blog post about the wonderful food of Brazil, some of which is similar to soul food.   The national dish is feijoada, a wonderful stew of black beans, beef and pork. It is served with white rice and is eaten with your choice of farofa (made of toasted cassava flour and is similar to corn meal), pork rinds, bananas, fried collard greens and Brazilian pepper sauce.  And of course, you MUST drink Brazil’s national drink, the  caipirinha, is made with cachaça (Brazilian rum) and two limes, muddled with sugar served over ice (I make a mean one).

I made several trips to Oberpfafenhofen, Germany, near Munich, to visit a now-defunct aircraft manufacturer.  The trip was never complete without a visit to Kloster Andechs, a monastery where the monks’ vocation is to make beer.  Again, I’m not a big beer drinker, but this beer, coupled with the sausages, also made by the monks, was a meal that could become a vocation.

I attended a conference in Baveno, Italy, in the Lake Maggiore region north of Milan.  The resort where we stayed had some of the worst food I’ve ever had in my life.  But the trip ended on a high note when we were leaving. Our flight was leaving out of Lugano, Switzerland (too many strikes in Milan).  The airport had a divine little restaurant run by a retired Michelin-starred chef who ran it as a hobby.  I still dream about the pasta I ate there.

In April 2008, I went to Seoul, South Korea, with another reporter to write a series of stories on Korean Air.  Our host was a young woman who was Korean but had grown up in the United States.  She had created a list of places for us to eat, and all of them were American or Western.

But both of us wanted to focus on Korean cuisine, and our host obliged.  I’ve always been a fan of Korean food (I could eat kim chee every day), but the highlight of my trip was to a hidden jewel of a restaurant called Sanchon.

Sanchon’s food Photo courtesy of Julie Facine, via Flickr

Sanchon, owned and operated by a former buddhist monk, serves Korean Temple Food.  I’m probably one of the biggest carnivores on the face of the earth, so I was highly suspicious about an all-vegetarian menu.  I ate at Zen Palate in New York City and I still have nightmares about that meal 20 years later!  But I digress.

The meal was fantastic.  We sat on the floor, and our server brought a series of dishes in small bows nestled in baskets, and each one was delicious.  We were also served a wonderful tea.  We also went to a Dak-gui (grilled chicken) restaurant and a traditional Korean table barbecue restaurant.

So when you’re planning that next international trip, take a quick surf on the Internet and see what’s what in local cuisine at your final destination.  Food is a key part of the journey and you’ll really miss out if you stick with restaurants you can easily visit when you’re at home.

I’d love to know some of the great places you’ve frequented when traveling internationally!

– See more at: http://www.aviationqueen.com/travel-internationally-eat-locally/#sthash.K5H9B8mk.dpuf

Best of Aviation Queen: Quick Trips Across The Pond-Well Worth It

Editor’s note: kids, I’m still recovering from Thanksgiving week, so you get one more best-of for today.  This post originally appeared on the blog back on Aug. 30, 2011.  Enjoy!

All photos by Benet J. Wilson

Budget Travel magazine last week did an interesting poll: Are quick trips abroad worth the travel time?  Having done many of them myself, I say yes, wholeheartedly.

Having worked for 2 airlines and being friends with those still working for different carriers, these little 1 to 3-day trips are just the tonic I needed for a change of scenery.

Back on Dec. 18, 2004, I heard a story on NPR describing how an ice skating rink had been built on the second level of the Eiffel Tower.  One of the people they interviewed mentioned that he made the trip over the weekend, because he was an airline employee.

At the time, I was working for Delta Air Lines, and my friend Stevie was working at US Airways, so we decided to leave Friday night and come back Sunday afternoon.  Paris was unusually warm for January, and we had a grand time ice skating.

Later in the month, we had an unusual cold snap in Atlanta, which led to me and Stevie, along with some other airline geek friends, to fly down to St. Martin overnight.  The trip was so quick I didn’t even have to pay the departure tax.

We hung out at the Sunset Beach Bar for some truly amazing planespotting and I even managed to get a bit of color.  The bar is right across the street from the airport.  If you’re an airplane enthusiast like me, this place is Shangri-La, because the planes literally are less that 20 feet above the beach when they land. And when they take off, the freaks are usually hanging horizontally on the fence or across the street on the beach, all to catch the jet wash.

You haven’t *lived* until you’ve stood on the beach as an Air France Airbus A340 takes off. Brings a whole new meaning to the word exfoliant!!

So I throw the question to you — have you done quick international trips? Where? And why?

Quick Trips Across The Pond-Well Worth It

Budget Travel magazine last week did an interesting poll: Are quick trips abroad worth the travel time?  Having done many of them myself, I say yes, wholeheartedly.

Having worked for 2 airlines and being friends with those still working for different carriers, these little 1 to 3-day trips are just the tonic I needed for a change of scenery.

Back on Dec. 18, 2004, I heard a story on NPR describing how an ice skating rink had been built on the second level of the Eiffel Tower.  One of the people they interviewed mentioned that he made the trip over the weekend, because he was an airline employee.

At the time, I was working for Delta Air Lines, and my friend Stevie was working at US Airways, so we decided to leave Friday night and come back Sunday afternoon.  Paris was unusually warm for January, and we had a grand time ice skating.

Later in the month, we had an unusual cold snap in Atlanta, which led to me and Stevie, along with some other airline geek friends, to fly down to St. Martin overnight.  The trip was so quick I didn’t even have to pay the departure tax.

We hung out at the Sunset Beach Bar for some truly amazing planespotting and I even managed to get a bit of color.  The bar is right across the street from the airport.  If you’re an airplane enthusiast like me, this place is Shangri-La, because the planes literally are less that 20 feet above the beach when they land. And when they take off, the freaks are usually hanging horizontally on the fence or across the street on the beach, all to catch the jet wash.

You haven’t *lived* until you’ve stood on the beach as an Air France Airbus A340 takes off. Brings a whole new meaning to the word exfoliant!!

So I throw the question to you — have you done quick international trips? Where? And why?

Travel Internationally, Eat Locally

Photo courtesy of Dan Kelliher via Flickr

Here’s a question — why do people fly half way around the world for travel and then go straight to McDonald’s to eat?  For me, half the fun of travel is trying out local flavors and cuisines.  I’m ALL about taking in what the locals eat — and drink.

Back in February 1994, I took my first international trip since living in Brussels in the mid-1970s.  I went to Singapore to cover the Singapore Air Show.

Back then, the Internet was in its primitive stages, so I bought a “Lonely Planet” guide to get an idea of what I would do in my off time.  I’ve always been a big foodie, so I wanted to check out what was available locally.

Photo courtesy of Steel Wool, via Flickr

Singapore is a very modern city that nearly had its ethnicity beaten out of it after decades of British colonial rule.  The city is clean, modern and efficient.  Unfortunately, it looks like any large north American city, and the restaurant scene is similar.

Lonely Planet told me about the famous Singapore food courts, which focus on local cuisine and delicacies in a basic setting at amazingly reasonable prices. 

My boss wanted to have dinner at TGIFriday’s that first night we arrived. I demurred, saying I could go to TGI any day of the week at home.  But how often was I going to have the chance to eat foods from China, Malaysia, Indonesia and Indian, sometimes fused together?

Some of the dishes I still remember include chili crabs, fishball noodles, hor fun, shark’s fin and satay bee hoon.  The servers are very helpful in navigating the dishes, some of which might be a bit much for some American palates.  Alcohol tends to be expensive, so we all just drank Tiger Beer, which wasn’t bad, although I’m not much of a beer drinker.

I love Paris, and have been many times for work and play. One time, I had a wonderful meal from Michelin-starred chef Guy Savoy — and at a fraction of the price of his usual expensive restaurants.  I ate at a tiny six-table bistro across the street from his flagship restaurant, where, on that night, Savoy himself was running across the street between the two eateries, cooking in both kitchens.  He visited each table and praised us for being so smart by eating at his little bistro with the smaller price tag.

I traveled to Sweden several times in the 1990s and fell in love with reindeer, especially a leg loin with a lingonberry sauce.  Everything is served with Aquavit (similar to vodka), Sweden’s national drink.  I did not, however, develop a taste for herrings in cream.

Photo courtesy of Carlaarlena, via Flickr

I’ve been to Brazil at least 10 times since 1994.  I could do a whole blog post about the wonderful food of Brazil, some of which is similar to soul food.   The national dish is feijoada, a wonderful stew of black beans, beef and pork. It is served with white rice and is eaten with your choice of farofa (made of toasted cassava flour and is similar to corn meal), pork rinds, bananas, fried collard greens and Brazilian pepper sauce.  And of course, you MUST drink Brazil’s national drink, the  caipirinha, is made with cachaça (Brazilian rum) and two limes, muddled with sugar served over ice (I make a mean one).

I made several trips to Oberpfafenhofen, Germany, near Munich, to visit a now-defunct aircraft manufacturer.  The trip was never complete without a visit to Kloster Andechs, a monastery where the monks’ vocation is to make beer.  Again, I’m not a big beer drinker, but this beer, coupled with the sausages, also made by the monks, was a meal that could become a vocation.

I attended a conference in Baveno, Italy, in the Lake Maggiore region north of Milan.  The resort where we stayed had some of the worst food I’ve ever had in my life.  But the trip ended on a high note when we were leaving. Our flight was leaving out of Lugano, Switzerland (too many strikes in Milan).  The airport had a divine little restaurant run by a retired Michelin-starred chef who ran it as a hobby.  I still dream about the pasta I ate there.

In April 2008, I went to Seoul, South Korea, with another reporter to write a series of stories on Korean Air.  Our host was a young woman who was Korean but had grown up in the United States.  She had created a list of places for us to eat, and all of them were American or Western.

But both of us wanted to focus on Korean cuisine, and our host obliged.  I’ve always been a fan of Korean food (I could eat kim chee every day), but the highlight of my trip was to a hidden jewel of a restaurant called Sanchon

Sanchon's food Photo courtesy of Julie Facine, via Flickr

Sanchon, owned and operated by a former buddhist monk, serves Korean Temple Food.  I’m probably one of the biggest carnivores on the face of the earth, so I was highly suspicious about an all-vegetarian menu.  I ate at Zen Palate in New York City and I still have nightmares about that meal 20 years later!  But I digress.

The meal was fantastic.  We sat on the floor, and our server brought a series of dishes in small bows nestled in baskets, and each one was delicious.  We were also served a wonderful tea.  We also went to a Dak-gui (grilled chicken) restaurant and a traditional Korean table barbecue restaurant.

So when you’re planning that next international trip, take a quick surf on the Internet and see what’s what in local cuisine at your final destination.  Food is a key part of the journey and you’ll really miss out if you stick with restaurants you can easily visit when you’re at home. 

I’d love to know some of the great places you’ve frequented when traveling internationally!