food

 
 

Destination Greece: Athens

 

Our first vacation to Greece was a hit! What a cool and interesting adventure it was. We decided to travel to Greece in July. I would say it was very, very hot weather wise but it was absolutely worth it. I’m sure it would have been better to travel to Athens in April, May, June, September, October or November. However, our schedules worked best in July so we went with it and made the most of it. It did not disappoint.

Where to stay?

We were a group of 9 (4 adults and 5 children), so we explored options such as villas for our whole group but in the end, we opted for a hotel. I am sure all the options would have been a great experience. For us, however, the hotel we chose was fab! We only had a 3 days before heading to Santorini. It was centrally located so we could walk to most places. It was great!

Hotel Grande Bretagne: The hotel rooms were spacious. The service was efficient. The restaurant on one of the upper floors is the shining star of this hotel. You have a direct view of the Acropolis while you are enjoying a mean. At night it is especially beautiful because they light it up at night!

 

King George Hotel: This hotel is next door to the Hotel Grande Bretagne but well located and also offers views of the Acropolis.

As an added easy attraction, across the street from the above 2 hotels is the Presidential Mansion and Hellenic Parliament. This leads me to my next segment.

What to do?

Changing of the Guards: This happens every hour in Syntagma Square, however, the official ceremony is at 11am on Sundays and is a more grand experience then the hourly ones.

9pYsIJxQQGmyueZmUC47uQ

The Acropolis and Parthenon: This is the main attraction to see when you are visiting Athens for the first time. There is a short but steep walk up but a very nice view on top. It becomes a very tough walk in July when it is extremely hot so carrying lots of water and sun cover such as a hat and even a sun umbrella would be a good idea. You would be happy to have it when you are in the midst of the heat. There are long lines to get tickets and enter so I would strongly suggest that you buy your tickets online and either have the bar code open on your phone or a print out. That way you can go straight in and essentially bypass the long line. If you want to add to your experience you can hire a guide to walk you through and give you explanations on the history. I have to say that I was really proud of all the kids walking up to the top even though they were feeling extremely hot. It was challenging but fun!

The Acropolis Museum: We all enjoyed seeing this museum. You get a chance to see a lot of the parts of the Parthenon that was damaged and you get to learn about the history in more detail. This is a nicely constructed museum. It is small so it can be complete in a few hours.

Doctor Fish: If you are feeling adventurous then this is a very… lets say unique experience! It is a foot spa experience where you put your feet in water with small fish that remove the rough skin from your feet. Very, very odd but worth going to see at least. My 9 and 11-year-old did it. We probably would not do it again but it was an experience that they had fun with… i think! This place is located in Plaka so it is easy to get to if you are walking around the area and exploring.

What to eat?

Athens has a lot of quick and yummy options as grab and go when you are walking around the town. These places are fairly inexpensive as well. We had fun exploring all these small places and since children get hungry every few hours, we did a lot of these little stops.

Dionysos Zonar’s: This is a must restaurant if you are in Athens. The food and views were excellent.

 

 

Tzatziki: This was a kind of a chain but good quick food. The kids were tired and hungry so we stopped for a yummy quick dinner.

iFPpfrA7TUSwebY9Kbo0+A

Where to Shop?

Plaka: This is a great area with lots of shops and restaurants. There are mostly local shops where you can purchase clothing, soaps, souvenirs, furs, etc.

nuaSsE4mQCGlNFkvPvOptQ

Monastriraki: Another area with lots of shops and cafes and local vendors. You get a real local feel walking around this area. There are lots of jewelry pieces of varying prices and fun little trinkets to look at.

Furs are especially popular item in Athens. Yes, this is very unexpected, but there are a lot of fur shops with authentic furs such as fox or mink or many other varieties.  If you are in the market for this kind of thing, this is a place to look. Make sure to negotiate as well as shop around.

On to the next adventure…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: food, shopping, travel | Leave a comment

Destination London

London has character and lots of it. There are wonderful sights with beautiful architecture and history. There are colors and sounds and flavors to entice the palate of even the most critical of travelers. Most of all, it was fabulous for our family travels and the kids and adults had lots of fun!

 

Where to stay? London is full of options when it comes to accommodations. I went about looking for a place to stay by first deciding what part of the city I would like to be near. I decided I wanted to be centrally located so it was easy and quick to get around the city for day-to-day sight-seeing. At the same time, I wanted to be in a bit of a quiet area so after a long day of sight-seeing, I could come back to a peaceful place. We ended up staying at the Saint James Court Hotel. This hotel did not disappoint. It was well located just steps from the Buckingham Palace. We were able to walk  to the palace to see the changing of the guards. This was a lot of fun for my children. The hotel staff was amazing with the children. As we had arrived on Easter Sunday, the city was very quiet. We arrived at our hotel early in the morning and the staff offered my children hot chocolate in the lobby upon arrival. They loved it after a tiring flight. It just so happened that the hotel was hosting a small Easter egg hunt in the hotel lobby that afternoon. My kids had a great time participating in that event. eggs Another option to consider when looking for a place to stay with children is a serviced apartment. There are several companies that offer this option and can be great if you wanted to have a more at home feeling, yet have some of the amenities of a hotel. I found a great resource of information on this topic to be at the official Visit London site. Lots of staying options in a range of budgets are featured there.

 

What to do? The changing of the guards at the Buckingham Palace happen every day at 11:30am.  This ceremonial display of the changing of the guards in a must! One thing to remember is that it is crucial to get there early. I would say about 45 minutes early is a must to be able to see what is happening inside the palace gates. If you get there late the crowds build up and it becomes very difficult to get a close view or any kind of view for that matter.London policeman

londonblog-9

londonblog-8

The London Eye is a fun site to see and the kids really enjoy it. It is a giant ferris wheel that lets you see a beautiful view of London. It takes about a half an hour to go around and allows you time to just sit and relax while taking in the sites.

Next to the London Eye is the London Dungeon. If you and your family enjoys a bit of creepy fun then this is the place to go. This is a tour of the historical past of London of things gone a bit wrong.

The Tower of London – this is a very picturesque and historical place to see. When you enter with your ticket you can follow a guide who will give you a narrative about the background of the place. It is very insightful and fun. After the guide is finished, it is well worth going inside the building where the Crown Jewels are housed. They are very beautiful to see.

londonblog-12

Crown Jewels

 

 

London Bridge – This famous Tower Bridge is very beautiful and can be see with the Tower of London. If you want a bit of a frightful and fun experience added to this you can go one of the London Bridge experiences.

 

Where to Eat? Food options are incredible in London. If you are a foodie, this is the place to explore. I have compiled a list of some great eats but please send me some comments on some of your favorites.

Gymkhana – Fabulous Indian dining experience like no other. The food was absolutely outstanding. It makes my mouth water to think about it. Definately worth trying but make sure to book in advance. This is a very popular place and reservations fill up quickly.

Nando’s – If you love some good chicken you must stop and eat here for a quick bite. They serve some amazing grilled chicken with a yummy Peri-Peri sauce that is incredibly good. It comes in different heat levels from mild to very spicy.

St. Moritz – They serve up some nice Fondue and other swiss eats that are great for a rainy London day. The staff is very friendly and the restaurant is small and quaint. My kids loved the fondue experience here, especially the chocolate fondue at the end.

Trishna – Michelin star awarded Indian restaurant worth a try for more upscale experience.

Colbeh – This place has wonderful kebobs and other persian cuisine. This is a great casual place for tasty food for the family. I found this to be a hidden gem. 6 Porchester Pl, London W2 2BS, United Kingdom +44 20 7706 4888

Maroush – They offer up some great Lebanese food. There are several locations around the city, some of which are more casual that others but the food is consistent and yummy.

Selfridges Food Hall – There are some wonderful food options if you are shopping and need to break for a meal. The variety is great and the food is tasty.

Where to shop? Shopping in London is vast and wonderful. The options are endless. You can pretty much find anything your heart desires. I have listed a few to get you started.

Harrods – This is the department store of all department stores. An experience in itself.

Selfridges – A great department store and must see of London. A bit more modern then Harrods but wonderful. It has a luxurious feel to it.

Oxford Street – This street is fun to walk as well as take a few double decker bus rides if your feet get tired. There are endless shops and cafes. Lots of hustle and bustle but lots of fun.

Piccadilly Circus – Worth a trip as it is one of the oldest and busiest squares in London. It reminds me of New York’s Time Square only smaller.

Hamley’s – This is a must see for the kids. My kids enjoyed exploring here. There are 7 floors of fun for kids.

 

 

Categories: food, shopping, travel | 1 Comment

Destination Goa

Beautiful Goa, India is a place for pure relaxation. There are miles and miles of beach as far as the eye can see. Our trip to Goa with our children was definitely enjoyable for everyone. There is a sort of rustic charm that surrounds Goa that makes it a must see beach. The local people are very cheerful and happy overall in my experience. Goa has a feel of a newly developed area in an old culture where the kinks are being worked out to make the 2 meet. In the midst, there are many nooks and cranny’s of interesting sights to see. My children had a wonderful time, as did we, exploring all the wonderful and quirky things around us. We found that Goa has a large mix of people from different cultures visiting from all over. In particular, there was a great deal of Russian influence. So much so that many of the street signs were written in 3 languages: Russian, Hindi and English.

beach shacks

Goa is a large span of land and many people distinguish the areas as the south side and the north side. The north side is more populated. There is more of everything… people, restaurants, tourists, hotels. The beaches are filled up with more people and the vendors are plenty. The south side has the same things in much less quantity. The beaches are cleaner with fewer people. The area is relatively quiet in the evenings and it does not have as much activity. Choosing which side to stay on is definitely a matter of the type of vacation you are looking for. If lots of activity is what you want then the north side is the place. If quiet and fewer people is what you want then the south side is what you want.

Map of Goa

Where to stay?

We opted to stay a bit on the southern side in Benaulim Beach. We had a great experience. There are, however, some great places in both sides to fit a variety of budgets.

Some fantastic and beautiful places to stay are the following:

Near Benaulim Beach (toward the southern part of Goa) is Taj Exotica. This is an absolutely beautiful hotel. You feel like you are in a magical place upon entering. The service is wonderful and very kid friendly. The restaurants are amazing as well. This is definitely a pricy hotel but worth if it fits your budget.

A bit further south in Cavelossim Beach is the Leela Goa. This hotel is wonderful and beautiful as well. Great service and a luxury experience.

In Cavelossim Beach as well is the Park Hyatt Goa Resort and Spa. This resort is a newer hotel. They have a beautiful setting with lots of activities for both adults and children. For children they have a kids club where they do activities and you are able to drop off the kids with great childcare providers for a few hours if you like.

On the north side is a hotel called Vivanta by Taj – Fort Aguada, Goa. This hotel is wonderful and in the mix of lots of activity. There is not much of a beach on this waterfront property as it has eroded away over the years with the tide, however, it is a wonderful hotel and in a great location for the nightlife of north Goa.

What to do?

There are many wonderful things to do in Goa. It was key, however, to hire a car and English-speaking driver during our stay to take us around the areas to see all the wonderful things there were to see. Of course, you can always opt to spend your trip getting massages and enjoying the beach. There are plenty of places to get a massage and many of them specialize in Ayurvedic massages. We opted to do a mix of both sight-seeing and beach relaxation.

A must see in Goa is the Anjuna Flea Market. This market is located near Anjuna beach in the north. It is only on Wednesdays during the day. It is mostly a souvenir market, however, there is a very interesting mix of people, food, and animals to see. My children loved seeing this market.

Cow eating corn

Teas

Lady selling goods at the market

Spices

In Goa, the spice plantations are a great destination. Goa’s dense forested areas make this a wonderful experience . The favorable climatic conditions make it possible for a variety of spices to grow. My children really enjoyed seeing where all the spices come from. The spice plantation we visited was the Sahakari Spice Farms.

This spice market grows a vast variety of spices such as betel nut, cardamom, vanilla bean, chili peppers, as well as many others. The spices that grow high up on the trees are collected by people who climb up the trees and swing from tree to tree to save time and not miss a tree. This was exciting for my children to see.

Worker climbing the tree to retrieve the spices.

Betel Nut

bananas

There are many other activities that are going on at the spice plantation. There were ladies dancing and singing, there were elephant rides and elephant baths, and there was a wonderful lunch served at the end of our tour.

Women dancing and singing at spice plantation.

Elephant getting a bath at the spice plantation.

In Goa, there are lots of Temples and Churches that are wonderful to explore. They have a lot of unique characteristics and beauty in them. They are wonderful to explore when visiting Goa.

What to eat?

Goan food is very unique and wonderful. The food has a blend of flavors that is absolutely mouth-watering. They have a lot of seafood specialities as it is a coastal region, however, there are many options of food for every kind of palette.

I found it wonderful to be able to sit on the beach and taste the wonderful food served at the beach shacks. The servers bring you your food and drink order right to the beach. This is casual but flavorful food. I would say this experience is worth a try indeed. There are beach shacks all over Goa so you would be able to spot them wherever you are on the beach.

Here are some other restaurants in Goa, some of which I have been to and others that have been recommended to me:

Mum’s Kitchen – They offer wonderful Goan cuisine in a charming atmosphere. They strive to preserve the Goan culture and cuisine.

Brittos’s – This restaurant is great for the experience mostly and great if you are spending time on the beach and want to grab and quick bite. They are located on the north side of Goa in Baga Beach (the party central of Goa). The restaurant is on the beach itself with the floor being the sand of the beach. There is a wide variety of foods offered. This is a tourist spot for sure but might be worth seeing.

Allegria – This restaurant is located in the Taj Exotica Hotel in the area near Benaulim Beach. They offer Goan cuisine. This restaurant is wonderful. The food is outstanding and very flavorful. The atmosphere is quaint and luxurious. This is a great outing for a nice dinner.

These are only a handful of the many selections in Goa. If you are looking for other cuisines besides Goan food, there are many to choose from as well. My children had all the selection they needed, as did we to find the type of food we were looking for during our trip.

Categories: food, shopping, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Foods of Paris

Paris has wonderful places to eat. In any price range you can eat tasty foods that you can savor. We enjoyed eating the great crepes from small roadside cafe’s made fresh in front of you.  Breizh Café located in the 5th Arrondisement is a great casual creperie where they serve these wonderful delights. This is only one amongst many.

In December, there are the Christmas markets that offer food stalls galore. These stalls offer a variety of selections at affordable prices. You can fill your stomach with wonderful dishes from sandwiches to desserts to cheeses and pastas cooked fresh in front of you.

My kids loved the way they were wrapped in paper into a triangle shape that was easy for them to hold. Of course there was always some filling that fell all over them but they had fun all the same. Just make sure you bring lots of wet wipes. I really enjoyed the fresh baguettes with bree cheese. The baguettes were warm with a crusty outside and soft inside. My mouth waters whenever I think about it. Of course we cannot forget the bakeries. The bakeries are wonderful to say the least. They fresh baked good leave you wanting them all upon entry.

I have included a list of restaurants that could be good to explore in Paris. Though I have not explored all of these restaurants, they all have been recommended to me by others. I have added comments of thoughts from others as well as my own. My hope in compiling this is is that it could serve as a useful guide for anyone who would like to explore the culinary varieties of Paris. All of the restaurants I have included allow diners to bring their children. For anyone who has tried any of these restaurants I would love to hear your thoughts about them.

Le Grande Colbert, 29 rue Vivienne, Paris 2nd — This is a Parisian brasserie that is great for a casual lunch.

Au Bascou — located in the 5th arrondissement– They have good south French food in a casual setting.

Villa Spicy next to the Champs Elysées  – good French food with a twist–  They have a special children’s menu. The cost is around 30-40 Euros per person.

Glou, 101 Rue Vieille du Temple, 75003 Paris — this is a casual place, with simple food and good service. There is a nice view on the gardens on the opposite of the streets. This place is about 20-30 euros per person.

Le Petit Pergolèse, 38, Rue Pergolèse, 75016 Paris —  This is a restaurant with a variation on traditional French cuisine. This place is small with only 47 seats. It is located near the Porte Maillot underground station. This restaurant would run about 50-60 euros per person.

Les Fils à Maman, 7 bis Rue Geoffroy-Marie – 75009 Paris — The meals have a feel of food that would be cooked in a simple french home by someones grandmother. The food is simple comfort food. This is a very casual place. This place would cost around 20 euros per person.

Le Petit Resto dans la Prairie, 9/9 bis, cour des petites écuries — 75010 Paris — This is a sister restaurant of Les Fils à Maman. This restaurant has almost identical food in a different location and slightly different setting. This is also extremely casual and full of local Parisians. The cost is around 20 euros per person.

Le Relais de l’Isle, 37 rue Saint Louis en L’Isle, Paris 4th –very casual local restaurant.

Zyriad, located on top of the institute of the arabic world. They have a view of Notre Dame — The food at this restaurant is lebanese cuisine. The price is around 40-50 euros per person.

–  Le relais de l’entrecote next to the Champs Elysées– This restaurant is mostly steak with french fries and a special sauce.  They are somewhat touristy but good, casual and great for the kids. They cost around 20 Euros per person.

Les Cocottes, 135 rue Saint Dominique, 75007 Paris –Every meal is served and cooked in French Cocotte. This restaurant would run about 40 euros per person.

Le Bistrot du Sommelier, 97 boulevard Haussmann, 75008 Paris — For wine lovers, this is the place to try.They have one of the best rated sommeliers in the world. They have a 20+ page wine list. The service is immaculate and the food is tasty. The cost is 40-50 euros per person. Of course this will vary based on the wine you order.

Le Pinxo, 9 rue d’Alger, 75001 Paris. They are located near the Vendome place.  They offer a modern concept of chic tapas to share for up to 3 people. The cuisine is subtle and the service decent.  The owner of the restaurant, Alain Dutournier, is very famous in Paris for another excellent restaurant named le Carre des Feuillants. The cost is around 40-50 euros per person.

Au Gourmand, 17 rue Moliere, 75001 Paris. They are a gastronomic restaurant. The cost is around 60 euros per person.

L’Absinthe on the place du Marché Saint Honoré: nice terrace and nice bistrot decoration inside. The food and setting is nice, however, the service is not always predictable. The price is around 40-50 euros per person.

16 Haussmann is a restaurant with a nice setting. They have a mix of tradition and modernity. The price is around 40 to 60 euros per person.

If you wanted to try a more high end restaurant, here is a list:

La Maison Blanche, 15 avenue Montaigne, 75008 Paris– Very interesting gastronomic and modern restaurant with nice view over the Eiffel Tower. Quite expensive for dinner when the illuminations give all powers to the scenic view (around 150 euros per person) but definitely a great deal at lunch (around 50-60 euros per person)
Gordon Ramsay at the Trianon Palace in Versailles. The price is 200-300 euros per person.

Les Fables de la Fontaine, 131 rue Saint Dominique, 75007 Paris –They have a modern setting, good service and a 1 Michelin star chef make the place a good pick for a gastronomic French meal. This restaurant is loved mainly for fish. The cost can range from about 40 to 70 euros per person.

La table du Lancaster, 7 rue de Berri, 75008 Paris — This is a Michelin star restaurant with fantastic food, very nice setting, and a great service.  We decided to splurge and enjoyed our Christmas Eve dinner at this restaurant. We had a wonderful evening. We took our young children as well and they were very accommodating. They even made special food just for them. The desserts at the end were a work of art and were a perfect end to a perfect dinner. Around 100 Euros a person.

Wonderful dessert with a sweet mango filling in the bottom half and raspberry filling under the top half topped with a chocolate hat.

Yummy chocolate cookie with a minty undertone.

Categories: food | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Blog at WordPress.com.