Monday, October 29, 2012

A Walk on Champ Elysees, Paris

champ elysees

I've long developed a love-hate relationship with Paris. It's one of the most visited European cities in my travel history aside from London and yet I hate it with a passion.

I hate the people. Love the history. Hate the smell. Love the pastry. Hate the egoist chefs. Love the architecture. Hate the racism. Love the shopping. It's always at two ends of the extreme, never the grey area.

Here's an entry I've recorded about one of my many of unpleasant experience with the city, the country and the people.

I hated it whenever I was there.
But I missed it now that it's been two years since I visited Paris.

What is it about Paris that lures me so much? Is it the Louis Vuitton and Chanel? Or is it the Louvre and the street art? Perhaps a lot of both.

Here's a small recap of my trip in Paris, mostly consist of the shopping district/street of Paris - Champ Elysees, French fine dining and the hotel I stayed in which I was sure I paid too much for.

paris hotel
It was closing in on NYE. So you can imagine the price.

welcome chocolates
Nice touch. Delicious chocolates on bed.

paris hotel bathrobes

champ elysees nicolekiss

paris trishaw
Trishaw vs Arc de Triomphe

Entered this Peugeot showroom on Champ Elysees and despite not being a motor enthusiasts, I loved this two concept models displayed. Wished they could manufacture it one day, especially the small transparent concept car.

peugeot concept car

peugeot concept car

peugeot concept car

nicolekiss peugeot concept car

peugeot concept car

peugeot concept cat

Was recommended this restaurant L'Ardoise in Paris, and it was New Year's Eve, so decided to head there to have a special last meal of the year. But turned out to be the worst dining experience ever in my life.

horrible french restaurant

Good appetizer. Shitty main course. Great dessert. Shitty waitress and her impeccably horrible attitude. And shittier chef and his impossible ego.

nicolekiss french dining

Shitty service. Horrendous price list. And bias treatment to customers.

Read about the experience here

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

La Praluline de Pralus @ Paris

The best thing I had in Paris, in the shape of a pastry, was a praline brioche a friend suggested was the only thing I must try when in Paris; called a Praluline.

La praluline de Pralus - Praline Brioche

La Praluline de Pralus

And loving good food and knowing I should always trust a Malaysian who had lived in France for 7 years when it comes to French food and French people; I got lost, walked in misery in cold winter Paris rain and got lost again to get to my praluline shop on 35 rue Rambuteau.

They have since opened more shops and I'm so glad I get to get some of those goodies in Tokyo, which will be the next trip after Europe (a year end trip that doesn't consist Paris this time). But seriously, why Tokyo when London is such a better and nearer choice (oh right, Parisian hates Lodonist those sort of shits).

*update* apparently the owner isn't too happy with the shop in Tokyo because they don't follow the exact recipe, it has since been taken off the shop list on its website while it is also stated 'closed' on a Japanese review site. So I would assume it's shut down since? 

I got back to the hotel and placed the carefully wrapped Praluline on the bed.

La praluline de Pralus

It was a big loaf. But I sunk my teeth in it as long as I broke a piece off, by midnight, the pastry was left with less than half and instantly I regretted not getting a second loaf. In my defense, it did seem like a lot at the time; and in my defense again, I didn't know it was going to taste so good. Oh dear.


The next time I'm Paris, this will be the first on my food list.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Louis Vuitton Paris

If I could visit a place every year...
heck, if I could make it my second home...

it would be here...

louis vuitton paris

Louis Vuitton, Champs-Elysées Paris.

101, avenue des Champs Elysées
75008 Paris
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday, 12am to 7pm; Sunday, 11am to 7pm
Free entrance
The Espace Louis Vuitton is opened on French holidays
Contact: + 33 1 53 57 52 03

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

How to Spend Christmas 2012 in London


You might think this is a no brainer post. But spending Christmas in another country is less fun than you think.

Christmas isn't like New Year's eve where everyone is out having fun. The impression one gets from movies where everyone shops and have fun and going out with friends and family, planning holidays heading back to parents place, basically the joy of preparing for that one great day, and the joy will only last till Christmas Eve.

Christmas holiday is just like Chinese New Year, Thanksgiving and Hari Raya, it's all about families and spending quality times with your love ones... AT HOME.

london apartment

Yes. If you plan to spend Christmas in Paris, be prepared to be faced with exorbitant price in hotels and have most of the tourist spots and restaurants closed for the holidays, all your favorite wineries in the wine country will stop operating for winter. In the end you'll end up spending most of your time in your hotel or with some strangers and random travelers in your hostel over some cheap wines and boring Christmas games.

Here are a few pointers to spend a good Christmas holiday in London.

1. Don't Go Alone

Well, another no brainer-ish point but seriously, do not visit London on an impulse during the holidays. It is still about family and friends and love ones. So if a London trip is inevitable, plan it with your family, gfs / guy friends, or even bf / gf / spouse. You can fall back with your travel companions when all else fails.

takeaway dinner
Oven-heated pizza for two.

  parmaham pizza
Bought a frozen meat pizza from a nearby min-market, added a whole ball of mozzarella (sliced) and baked it in the oven till it's crispy and melted, then dropped a whole packet of prosciutto on it for extra measure. ;)

2.  Visit Tourist Hotspots prior to Christmas

Most of the public transportation will still be opened till Christmas Eve day itself, so you could still do your touristy thing before the big 25th December itself.

underground London

westminister london
My visit to Westminster to look at the London Eye from across the river

big ben
and Big Ben from up close.

big ben london

westminister statue

big ben and road signs

nicolekiss and london eye

nicolekiss big ben

nicolekiss big ben london

big bed and sky

rainy london
Rainy London. View from London Eye capsule.

rainy london on london eye
In the slow moving capsule of London Eye.

buckingham palace
Trotting in front of Buckingham Palace, London on a rainy day.

crown ornament
Crown ornament on a Christmas tree inside the palace visitor centre. Nice touch.

crown ornaments

3. Spend Xmas Eve in Winter Wonderland

It's not just a fun fair. This year the traditional German Christmas Market is making a come back to Hyde Park, opening hours from 10am-10pm from 23rd December 2012 onwards. If you're just visiting the market, entrance is free.

mull wine

winter wonderland hydepark

Entering the fun fair itself will cost you. But fun fair has always been fun in England, so wrap a scarf and ready for some winter night fun and some old school caramelized apples.

hydepark winter wonderland

hydepark christmas

winter wonderland

ferris wheel winter wonderland hyde park

4. Friends and Family Day!

Comes Christmas Day itself.

Now if you have friends, relatives in London, or you came with your family, GREAT! Wake up early, in the spirit of the local holiday, greet your love ones or friends and starts exchanging presents (which I hope you prepare some already by now)! If it snows, go out and tramp on some new fresh snow and start a snowball fight.

If you don't have anyone in London, well then... by all means, it's a holiday. Sleep in!

bedroom london apartment

toilet in london apartment
just showing you the apartment I stayed in London

Then end the rest of your day with pre-bought snacks and food (from the day before) in the hotel/apartment, here's some ideas. Go out for strolls in quiet london town.

5. Boxing Day (link to blog post from 5 years ago)

oxford street

If this is your first visit to London, this day will change YOUR LIFE.

Note down 26th December, a.k.a. Boxing Day a.k.a. most significant day of a woman's life. Location: Oxford Street (link to site).

oxford circus

Busiest shopping street in Europe and 300 shops and counting.

It's the most impressive, most extensive, more elaborative, most time consuming and mind blowing sales in the whole wide world (no offense to NYC). All 2.4km of it.
You call that sales in Malaysia? Pfft! You ain't seen sales yet kiddo.

Think 90% off on last season's item. I once bought a pair of gorgeous platform boots in a fashion store for only 5 pounds. Nuff said.

disney shop oxford street

Give yourself three days here. It's not going to be enough, but it'll do.

While you're at it, why not visit the apple store here. Buy an iPhone 5 if you're feeling rich, besides you 20% VAT refund when you leave the country.

london apple store

oxford apple store

So wear your walking boots and remember to bring a bottle of water. And yes, be mindful of stabbers just in case.