Destination

Elaisha Goes...To Nendaz Switzerland: Photo story & City Guide

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I loved Nendaz (pronounced nen-dah), Switzerland so much I cried on my way to the Gare (train station). I felt an incredible rush of emotions as I said goodbye to the people I had met and the ski town that truly changed my life.

Keep reading for my complete guide to Nendaz, Switzerland.


 

How to Get there

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The easiest way there was to fly to Geneva then take the train from Geneve (Geneva in French) to Sion and hop on a local bus (that runs until 9 pm). The bus station was a quick walk from the Gare Sion (Sion train station). However, my plane to Geneva was full. So, I flew into Marseilles, France where I took the train to Geneve. It as a long day. The bright side was, I finally got to take a bit of a Euro-train tour. So I was pretty chill about it. I checked flight prices from Toronto to France and they were way cheaper than a direct flight to Switzerland. However, the daytime travel across France meant that I arrived too late. The bus had stopped service by the time I got there. So I had to pay $80CFH (Francs) for a cab up the mountain. It was then that I realized that Switzerland was going to be hella expensive.

Where to Stay

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Nendaz, Switzerland was an adorable Ski down located up a mountain about a 20-minute drive up from Sion. The mountainous view at night allowed me to see across to other mountains where houses and chalets were lit up. It was beautiful. I stayed in the Woovim Chalet by Travelopo with 4 amazing women who were there to blog about their experiences too. 

The £5036Per/week chalet was absolutely amazing and I would stay there a million times over. There were 5 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms and plenty of room for over 5 guests. I had an ensuite shower while Allison (one of the ladies I roomed with) had a bathtub. My room was filled with 4 wood bunk beds that matched the fragrant wood through out the house. I was in love. I watched the sunrise each morning as the clouds grew and moved over the mountain that faced us. It was truly awe-inspiring.

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Where to eat

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We visited the Co-Op a local grocery store that had everything I needed. I grabbed the cob salad and munched away between activities or while I worked. I also raided the store for chocolate that I brought back to my family (I bribed them with it, of course). Plus a daily chocolate croissant made my life.

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We visited a few restaurants while there. The most notable was Cafe du Sapin Blanc just outside of Nendaz. We sipped on glasses of wine while we looked over a mountainous view. The subtly sweet bottle with a name I can't recall was a delicious choice for the evening. It got a bit chilly that evening so we moved inside of the restaurant for our meal. The group ordered a cute charcuterie board. Allison and I ordered beef carpaccio. It was delivered to us in a way I had never tried it before with a delicious pesto that made my eyes roll back. I was in bliss. I tried (and loved) fondue for the first time! I had a mouthwatering dish for my entree. The fish was prepared perfectly. I scarfed down for dessert and left full and content. Be sure to visit them if you make it out to Nendaz.

What to do (in the summer)

I'll have a detailed video review up of each activity I loved in Nendaz. However, I  drafted a quick summary of my favourites below.

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Go Mountain Biking

Mountain biking was terrifying and exhilarating. When I told Taylor that I was going Mountain Biking and she paused for a moment. More than anyone else she knew how clumsy I had been. But I survived! Our amazing guides Travis and Florian took amazing care of us. We rented e-bikes that boosted our efforts up the steep inclines of the mountain. There were times I held up the group because I was so enraptured by the views. I understood why people biked through the Alps and across mountainous Europe. No picture or verbal description could really capture what I saw in front of me. You've just gotta go.

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Go for a Hike and a Run

Hayley and I motivated each other. In one day we went on a sunrise trip, went on a 2-hour hike/run then powered through a Yoga and meditation session. All before dinner that evening. The mountain air really affected me in the best way. My breathing wasn't laboured when I ran and I felt so at peace. Nendaz was filled with incredible trails where we watched people hike and bike. I wished I had hiked more and did some trail runs.

Go for a Swim

The local pool was a 5-minute walk from the chalet. We were able to quickly pop over and enjoy the pool on a rare hot day. We dipped in and swam with some of the kids in the pool. The best part though was when we spread out across the grass and dried out in the sun. Allison Hayley and I all pulled out our books (I brought my trusty Kindle) and just chilled.

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Visit the Spa

The Hôtel Nendaz 4 Vallées & Spa was like nothing I had experienced before. There were so many choices! From the steam rooms to the ice cold room we strolled about and tried it all. My favourite spot was the heated outdoor pool where Hannah and I had the chance to get a little photo shoot on.

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Go Cheese Making

As a night owl, I can honestly say that cheese making early in the morning was totally worth it. Jessica and I peered over the cows as we listened to their bells echo through the mountain. It was an oddly spiritual experience as I watched the sun beam through the mountain to the cows as they grazed.

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What was your favourite activity that I did? Or do you plan on visiting Nendaz? Let me know in the comments below.

Elaisha Goes...to the Yu Garden

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The Yu or Yu Yuan or Yuyuan garden in Shanghai was pretty dreamy. I crossed different thresholds and it felt like I went back in time. I was excited to edit this video to show you how lush and green it was! Check it out below

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nAvaUYlDRmI

Want to visit Shanghai? Ask me any questions you may have in the comments below!

Great Wall of China Photo Diary + Guide

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When I visited the Great Wall I felt so privileged to be a part of something so big! Keep reading for my guide on the Great Wall of China.

When to Go

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As early as you can especially on the weekend. Beijing traffic was no joke. We luckily left at a great time (8am from Qianmen) and even then we ran into traffic. I took a little nap while on the drive up and listened to an audiobook.

We got there at about 9am and people were already on their way down as we headed up! They avoided the humidity and crowds.

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Where to Go

Did you know that the great wall wasn't just one huge wall?  I learned a few years ago in my Chinese studies course that the Great Wall was several sections built over many centuries.

According to our guide, we visited the prettiest and most quiet part of the Great Wall. The Mutianyu (or Mu Tian Yu) section was further out than the most popular part of the wall. So, we beat the crowds when we got in early and got some amazing pictures. As well that part of the wall was restored beautifully!

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What to Do

Take the Cable Car

A nice warm up to the grandeur of the Great Wall was when we took the cable cars up. We viewed lush greenery below us as we ascended to the top.

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Hike the watch towers

If you won't have a guide, before you go, ensure that you check out which area of the wall you'd like to explore most then prioritize it. The humidity was intense as we trekked up the steep steps between each watch tower. It made each step hard as brick path wove into each check point. I loved it!

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Take the Slide Down

The most fun part about the Great Wall for me wasn't actually the wall. It was when we left and took the slide down the Great Wall to the bottom. It was an absolute blast and I would do it again. The loops, hills and turns in the middle of the green landscape felt like a dream. On some parts we moved so fast it felt like a roller coaster. It went by pretty fast but I was happy we did it. *Tip: get on the slide before 11:30. The line up got pretty full as everyone was ready to trek down the wall for lunch.

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What to Eat

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After our descent down the slide, we were super hungry. Our lovely guide called ahead and ordered us an amazing lunch. We drove for 10 minutes to Xiao Long Pu a

She ordered us a spread of sweet and sour pork tomatoes, greens, cod and fried rice.

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I was beyond excited to have crossed the great wall off of my bucket list.

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Are you planning on visiting the Great Wall? Let me know in the comments below.

Great Wall of China Essentials

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I felt like I was on top of the world. I visited what was considered to be the prettiest and most 'foreigner friendly' part of the Great Wall of China, called Mutianyu. The Great Wall was an amazing and once and a lifetime experience that easily could have been ruined without one of these essential items!  Keep reading for what made my Great Wall of China adventure a chill experience.

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Muskol Aerosol I had been warned about the bugs at the Great Wall several times and took several precautions that ensured I wouldn't get bitten. I didn't see any bugs or was I bitten while at the Mutianyu part of the great wall. It could have been the bug spray or maybe that part wasn't as infested as other parts.

Tumi Weekend Foldable Backpack I'd had my eye on this backpack for a while and I wished that I had bought it for this day trip. I carried water bottles, my cameras, and a few other items. I would have loved the ease of getting it unfolded quickly and rocked it while on the Great Wall.

A.J. Morgan Collegiate 53537 Wayfarer Sunglasses While it wasn't bright up there, there were moments when the sun peeked through the clouds. I recommended these sunglasses since they were stylish but still pretty cheap in case they got damaged along the way.

Anita Sports Bra Anita was so kind and gave me a sports bra to try and review for you guys! This baby was great in the humidity. It breathed well in the humidity and kept bounce to a minimum as I climbed and bounded down ancient stairs.

Sun Bum Continuous Spray Sunscreen While Beijing was covered in smog when I arrived, it didn't mean the sun's harsh rays were hidden. I packed my sunscreen and reapplied throughout the day to avoid any sun damage. Whenever I've used a spray sunscreen I found that I reapplied more often and with less mess!

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Adidas Women's High Performer Tight I was instructed to wear long leggings to avoid bug bites on my legs. While I didn't see or get bitten by any of those bloodsuckers, it was good that I took the precaution seriously.

Clean & Clear Oil Absorbing Sheet The heat and humidity was no joke. I was sure to pack a small beauty bag of products I needed. One of them included blotting sheets. I used at least 5 of them when I was up there. When I added videos to my Snapchat and Insta stories I blotted my t-zone then snapped away.

Adidas Men's Adizero Scrimmage Cap I should have brought a hat with me but I didn't.  The shade from the visor would have given my skin some extra protection from the sun, I wouldn't have been as sweaty and I would have looked cooler. I recommended a male hat since my hair was in braids and thus a bit too big for women's hat sizes.

Teva Original Universal Sandals My shoes of choice while in Beijing for the weekend were my Tevas. The adorable lilac shoes could be dressed up and down. One of the girls on the trip looked at me like I was crazy when she saw that I was wearing the sandals for the day trip to the Great Wall, Ming Tomb and Sacred Way. I muscled through the excursions and my feet felt amazing the entire time. I also rocked these babies on a hike in the Californian desert and highly recommend them!

Tiny note: If you bought a train ticket to Beijing from another city, ensure you pack travel safe versions of aerosols. My huge bug spray was confiscated on the way there. I wasn't pleased.

Did I miss something? Comment below with what else you would have brought with you.

#ElaishaGoes to Terre Bleu: A Lavender Surprise

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Last summer I headed up to Terre Bleu, one of a few lavender field destinations in Ontario (especially near Toronto). The drive up past the Premium Outlet Mall was painful, I wanted to stop in and raid Restoration Hardware, but we trucked on to the remote Terre Bleu.

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We parked and walked up to what seemed to be a wooden house with a pathway cut right in the middle of it. It towered above me as we quickly scuttled in to avoid the sun. Workers in their purple shirts strolled about busy with tasks of the day. We signed up for a tour of the fields where we learned about the types of lavender when lavender would be in season and the medicinal uses of the sweet smelling bush. We visited the bees and saw them at work making lavender honey.

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After the tour and spending some time in the shop, my mum and I were ready to buy everything there. The summer sun bore down on us and I indulged in the lemonade and she got the ice cream. Since I avoid ice cream I only got a small lick off of a drop on my hand and fell in love. The flavour was subtly sweet and delicious. Thankfully the lemonade satiated my sweet tooth!

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On to the macarons: if you go, buy at least 3 boxes. Eat one either in the fields or on your way home and put the other two in the fridge (if they make it that far). The adorable purple french cookies were filled with a creamy ganache that I still fantasise about today. I also purchased some lavender oil and a pouch filled with dried lavender for my chest of drawers.

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I had the chance to meet the owner of Terre Bleu and experience the location from his perspective, too. He was very nice and educated my mum and me on lavender and how they keep the small business going.

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Terre Bleu reopens June 1st and I highly recommend visiting and taking the tour! The scenery, snacks and relaxation were worth the journey.

#ElaishaGoes to Scotland: Photo Album and City Guide

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Scotland was incredible. I didn't visit any of the bigger and well-known cities like Edinburgh or Glasglow. We road tripped through Scotland from Aberdeen to Inverness then made a loop to Dundee before heading south to London. I spent most of the trip there gawking out of the car window. I couldn't believe that a place so beautiful wasn't listed on destination recommendations everywhere.I have so many pictures and experiences I want to share, but I won't bombard you. Keep reading for my must-see places in the land of rolling hills and sheep.

How to Get Around 

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My flight from London wasn't bad at all! British Airways spoiled me, and I was in economy. A hot breakfast of a cheese omelette with toast and a cup of tea (orange juice for me) were all served so nicely. I was thoroughly impressed. And our flight left on time!

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Buses aren't always reliable (or even available) in the smaller towns. If you can rent a car, do it. Driving through Scotland was like driving through a story book. I saw double rainbows, yummy restaurants and the cutest sheep. Cabs are not cheap in Dundee, so watch out for that. Oh, and there's no Uber in certain spots so watch out for that too.

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Fish and chips and mozzarella sticks. Life was great in Scotland. 

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Where to Go Inverness was my favourite stop on this road trip. The picturesque town wasn't too touristy when I went. First line of business after a quick nip into Tesco was visiting the castle, which also happened to double as a beautiful lookout point!

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Wearing: Old Navy Leggings, Uniqlo Vest, Uniqlo Shirt, Reebok Woven Furylite Shoes, Champs Men's Shirt

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Another gem you need to pop into is Leakey's Bookshop...it was possibly the cutest place I had ever been to. I was in book heaven. It was dead quiet when I explored the library and I loved it. I wish I bought one of the vintage maps or paintings there (they were over 100 years old!).

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We took a quick stroll about the small 'downtown' area. There were several restaurants and more historic buildings to 'ooo' and 'ahh' over.

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Where to stay

Tigh Na Coin Beagan was the most memorable spot I rested my head in in Scotland. The owner was super pleasant and his Scottish Terriers were just as friendly.

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The house was located across from a gorgeous loch and decorated in tartan (carpets, pillows etc.). The view outside of my room was stunning. My window looked over the loch Mhor and the rolling hill behind it.

Where to Hike

Ben Nevis and Falls of Foyers were the two places I went hiking in Scotland. It was recommended to us by the owner of Tigh Na Coin Beagan.

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Wearing: Columbia Outdry™ EX Gold Trench Jacket, Columbia Leggings, Reebok Woven Furylite Shoes

Falls of Foyers was an easy hike because I took the 'easy' way. Otherwise, it would have been a 2-hour journey to the bottom. I prioritized being able to see Ben Nevis that day instead.

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Wearing: Columbia Leggings, Reebok Woven Furylite Shoes, Columbia Hoodie Shirt, Uniqlo Vest

In Ben Nevis, we hiked for almost half an hour which lead to an incredible clearing that faced the falls. I was in absolute awe of its beauty!

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Be very careful and wear shoes with intense grip. The trek up was very slippery and wet which I didn't mind. Sadly my hiking shoes didn't arrive in time, but these kicks still came through.

Dundee

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Wearing: Stella Nova Jacket, Old Navy Leggings, Kooba Bag, Reebok Woven Furylite Shoes

Dundee was pretty cool. We swung by the Overgate Centre (which you've got to visit, it's huge) and the high street. I went a bit overboard in M&S, but #YOLO. There was this awesome lookout point too that gave us a view of the city.

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St Andrews I was nearly hit by a few golf balls, but other than that hazard St Andrews was incredible. It was cute hanging at the place Kate and William fell in love. We grabbed fish and chips and ate by the beach. While my chips were nearly stolen by greedy seagulls, I really enjoyed it there. With old boy's club establishments and grey stone buildings, I felt like I was in Johnny English or a James Bond movie.  It seemed like a super luxe spot (for a University town). I'd definitely visit again with more time to explore.

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Wearing: Zara Jacket, Thrifted Scarf Old Navy Leggings, Kooba Bag, Reebok Woven Furylite Shoes

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I can't wait to return to Scotland and tour the northern coast and also hit the bigger cities. Is there anywhere I visited that stood out to you? Comment down below with whether you'd like to visit!

#ElaishaGoes to Barcelona: Photo Story & City Guide

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Barcelona was a dream. I honestly feel like I woke up and couldn't possibly have been there. Travelling to Europe to visit some of my greatest friends (and making new ones) was a treat. I'm not picking favourites here, but Barcelona was a city I had the chance to really immerse myself in and explore. Thankfully my girl Katie rounded up her favourite places in Barca and my good friend Graeme and I were able to visit a lot of them. Keep reading for what to do in Barcelona Guide and Photo Story!

Where to BrunchPicnic is the spot. After strolling past the Arc and down a back alley I found the quaint (and popular) restaurant. I sat down and ordered a burrata and mimosa immediately. Both were sweet and amazing. I'm still dreaming about the tacos I got too. Graeme grabbed fluffy pancakes and a beer and we just ate the day away before exploring Barcelona.

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How to get around Cabs are pretty cheap, but as a city girl taking public transport was the way to go. I had a European data plan from three which worked all over the city (I didn't visit the outskirts, however). So this allowed me to just quickly use Google maps and plot out a trip using public transport. Grab a 3-day pass and wear comfortable shoes. Exploring a city by foot has always been my favourite way to learn the ins and outs of different neighbourhoods.

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Where to go dancing After a later dinner at midnight (yes, that's how late people eat out there) hit up the club district by the beach. At about 2am we noticed things were picking up and lines were immense at Opium especially.

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What to see There were so many historical places to visit so we decided to hit up as many as we could walk to within a day instead of tiring ourselves out too much.

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Where to Beach  We did not hit up the beach on the weekend but instead decided to settle on a weekday to beat the crowd. We went to what's considered to be the 'Gay Beach', which is an LGBTQ-friendly space with mostly men. What we didn't realize is that it was right next to the nude beach. I was unbothered and Graeme was entertained (but polite obviously). I felt comfortable and for the first time in days no men came up to me or cat-called at me. Then we hit up Xiringuito Escribà for a delicious meal by the beach.

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Where to go Shopping  There were so many spots dotted across the city. Of course, La Rambla (aka tourist trap) was the obvious option. However, we ducked down some little side streets and I was able to purchase some cute shirts. However, the salesgirl didn't let me haggle at all. I also hit up Glòries Centre Comercial. It had the stores I really wanted to see (Zara, H&M and Massimo Dutti) without the crowds of the most popular malls. It also had a Walmart-type store where I was able to buy gifts for some friends and pick up food for the weekend.

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Plan on visiting Barcelona? Leave me any questions you have in the comments below!

Elaisha Goes...to LA!

I'm super excited to finally announce: I am attending VidCon with the Ryerson Communication and Design Society and FCAD with 3 other students. We will be capturing the essence of VidCon itself with a focus on media education.

I flew out a few days earlier than Kelly, Dustin and Sarah so I could explore this gorgeous city. Of course I'm here with my mum aka my official travel buddy. We took the journey up to Valencia to visit a family friend until I have to head to Anaheim for VidCon. So we've been doing some shopping and walking around here for now until heading into downtown LA on Monday. Woo! I finished designing my business cards and I'm headed out early tomorrow to pick 'em up too. See my LA photo diary day 1 below.

#ElaishaGoes to Paris for a Day

On my last weekend off before starting school I spontaneously decided to head to Paris for a day.

After landing I took the metro south from Charles De Gaulle Airport into Paris. We sped through the suburbs and I transferred at another station that would bring me to La Ville-Lumière.

I quickly Vined my first steps in Paris as I rose from the underground to a lush city square.

Getting to my hotel was a bit difficult since I didn't have any data on my cell phone. I relied on city maps and horrible screen shots of directions and maps on my iPhone taken before my flight.

I finally made it to Hotel Du Bois, an adorable boutique hotel right next to one of my favourite European stores, Massimo Dutti. I excitedly passed a Diptique as I journeyed on the cobblestone where I also passed a homeless man peeing right on the sidewalk. I vehemently avoided all puddles in Paris thereafter.

Coppola's indulgent food scenes in Marie Antoinette sold me on Ladurée (also recommended to me by my friend Olivia). On the way to the Eiffel Tower between wandering in and out of shops I made a quick stop in the luxe pâtisserie for a pain au chocolat and a few macarons.

When the Eiffel Tower finally came into view I was star struck; frozen in place my mouth agape in shock. The summer day gave a perfect view of the iconic structure across the water.

I got lost about 4 times on the way back to my hotel and retired to my room to rest. After being up for over 24 hours and touring the city I was admittedly burnt out. After a shower and power nap I began Googling dinner spots until finally deciding on one.

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After getting lost around the Arc de Triomphe round about I was 5 minutes late for my reservation but I finally found Brasserie Lorraine which was only a 30 minute walk from my hotel.

The night was definitely alive with guests ordering overflowing seafood plates (a specialty at the restaurant) and pasta dishes. Fresh bread, braised duck and handmade pasta left me stuffed and content. My server convinced me to go with the chocolate lava cake for dessert and I left full and in absolute bliss.

After a 5 hour sleep I was back on the metro headed to Charles De Gaulle; headed home to Toronto after my day in Paris.

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