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Random tidbits in Paris + Amsterdam

Some things are worth photographing and sharing.  Here are some random things I found interesting enough to share here.

We were just in time for cherry blossoms. They disappeared within a few days we were there.

Grocery trips…. we went to a grocery store at least once a day just for fun.  I really wanted to try those escargots but our air bnb didn’t have an oven.

Chicken and potatoes at grocery store.  They looked REALLY good and were served hot.  We’ve wanted to try them since our first Paris trip in 2016.  We made sure to try them this time.  I wrote about them here.

Starbucks in Paris has PANCAKES.

They also have their own version of croque monsieur.

Some pieces I saw at L’Orangerie Museum made me believe I can be an artist too.  I wonder… did the artists from way back when had it easier than the artists today to get recognized?

A sign at Montmartre district.

Some restaurants in Latin Quarter have these prix fixe menu that are so inexpensive, they made us wonder how they even make any profits.  This restaurant has 3-course menu for 10 euros!  We did eat here for dinner, see here.  I had French onion soup, cheese fondue (surcharge 4 euros), and creme brulee.   The onion soup was on the lighter side.  It was an impressive meal for 14 euros. (We like this restaurant better for 15 euro menu. Better food!)

I saw this shop next to a farmers market.  They sell the most random photographs.

Vandalism… the Parisian style.

Now onto AMSTERDAM….

The food from street vendors at Albert Cuyp market were amazing!  Look at the prices of their seafood: 3.50 euros.  We had two of the mussel trays because they were one of the best fried food we’ve everhad.

Bikes can get towed in Amsterdam.

Cannabis are sold in random gift shops around town next to magnets, tshirts, and the  like.  Totally NBD there (We did not try any).  The shop owner said they’re good stuff.  More cannabis (maybe more legit kinds) are sold at “coffee shops.”

Really good wursts.

Now… back at Paris.

Our tiny Paris apartment has a very small bedroom and a living room with a kitchenette.  This was the last evening before we left Paris.  I bought so much food as souvenirs, mostly for myself.  I made such a mess in our living room.

Carrot slaw and my favorite ketchup flavor ghost chips to snack on the plane back.

The next four photos show what United fed us during our 11 hour flight.  (Plus a Stroopwafel that I didn’t photograph).  The food wasn’t tasty but acceptable.

Egg and cheese skillet

Icecream (very good) and a bottle of weird tasting mineral water

Snack kit: cheese dip and sticks, chocolate biscuits, dried apricots

Ham and cheese sandwich:

We flew over the northern side of Canada and it was realllllllly beautiful.

All the stuff I brought back from Paris + Amsterdam.  Majority were snacks 🙂

Day 7: Train from Amsterdam to Paris

Our last full day of the trip!

This morning we woke up and hit the gym for a short workout at the hotel.

We had 9am tickets to Anne Frank House tour. It was a cold rainy morning!

My favorite part of the tour was the posters hung by Anne Frank when she was hiding in the secret rooms from the Nazis.

Very well preserved. This was the bookcase that hid the Secret Annex.

The tour took maybe 20 minutes. Next we had brunch at Pancake Bakery a few blocks down for Dutch pancakes!

Everyone table has a big tub of syrup! We shared a pancake with bacon and apples. Also a plate of eggs, ham, and toasts, which they called Dutch Breakfast but I couldn’t tell how they’re different from American breakfast.

For dessert, we shared a Nutella banana pancake. So good!

The rain stopped. We walked to a supermarket “Marqt” for snacks.

And some wellness shots of tumeric and ginger.

Walked around Jordaan District.

Stuff from supermarket:

Our train back to Paris was departing at 2:17pm so we had about an hour to kill at Centraal train station.

Husband got a small bowl of pho to go…. it was actually quite good considering it’s train station food and we are in Amsterdam. It did the trick!

Andddd… we were enroute back to Paris for our last night in Europe.

Finished the book “An American Marriage”‘on this trip and I enjoyed it!

Train ride was umeventful but 3.5 hours felt quick. We got back to Paris by 5:30pm. We dropped off our stuff at our air bnb and went straight to dinner next door at Les Philosophies. We were told that the food here tastes homecooked and traditional and I think we got just that and more.

We shared a bowl of onion soup which was my favorite one out of the four we had on this trip. The broth has a lot of depth and flavors.

I had a duck confit as my main.

The man got his steak tartare.

We got ALL our food wishes fulfilled on this trip!

We stopped by Chez Hanna falafel place for some falafel to-go and will finish them tomorrow morning.

Sadly this concludes our Europe trip. We will be back!!!

Day 6: Side trip to Amsterdam from Paris

This morning we took a train from Paris to Amsterdam.

It was 3.5 hour train ride on Thalys and such a good, relaxing ride.

We got to Amsterdam at about 11am.

Did early check-in to hotel at Renaissance (thank you, Marriott points). Such a nice hotel and a big upgrade from our old, tiny Paris air bnb apartment.

Amsterdam is even more beautiful than I imagined it to be.

There are many American tourists in the central area. And most local people speak English pretty well compared to people in France!

We heard and read about this outdoor market Albert Cuyp and had to check it out for food! We had a good variety of items.

Mussels with whiskey cocktail sauce… Mind was blown. So fresh and hot and perfectly seasoned.

Freshly squeezed OJ

Currywurst… major comfort food!

Dutch sausage

Freshly made stroopwafel with caramel filling… really liked it!

Chocolate milk from a can

Chicken on sticks (oversalted!!!)

Another order of fried mussels because they were that good

The market was really nice for photos!

After filling up our bellies, we took a long walk back toward our hotel with several stops for sightseeing.

We don’t understand the fascination with this sign but still joined the crowd for selfies.

Dam Square

We also had to walk by the infamous redlight district but of course photos weren’t allowed. It was… interesting.

We came back to hotel and I squeezed in a short gym sesh. I figured with all the meat eating, it would be a good opportunity to build some muscles 😛

After that, we were out again for free welcome drinks at hotel bar.

Then we moved onto our dinner at Van Speyk for amazing Dutch food.

Starter of roasted veal and beets.

SUDDERLAPJES aka Dutch beef stew with mashed potato and sausage

Lamb chops

Everything was very good! We are impressed with Dutch cuisine so far.

For dessert, we walked to a cafe called Winkel 43 for their famous Dutch apple tart which exceeded my expectation!

On the walk back to hotel, we got a Belgium waffle to-go to eat in early morning before actual brunch.

This place was a tourist trap and charged us 4 euros for a plain waffle (it’s 1 euro in Belgium and can’t be much higher here?!)

Nevertheless, the waffle is so freaking bomb, I had a hard time not to finish it. It’s supposed to be breakfast tomorrow.

I’m pretty beat from yet another long day. We have only one more full day left before heading back to the States.

I took a really hot bath at hotel and now I’m feeling so relaxed. Good night!

Day 5 Paris: Lunch cruise by Bateaux Parisiens

Today is Sunday. Many businesses are closed today. But we are staying in La Marais and it’s still as crowded as ever in a good way.

We woke up to heavy rain pouring down at 5am but it eventually stop. We went for a run.

At 7am there was literally no one around at Louvre.

We got some goodies from the bakery downstairs of our apt. They were delish!

We went to Franprix supermarket to buy more snacks and souvenirs.

European pasta jars are so small, maybe they’re made for one person? I didn’t see any American sized jars of pasta!

We only had one thing on our agenda today and it was to go on a lunch cruise by Bateaux Parisiens. The lunch was gifted by my SIL last Christmas, what a wonderful gift!

Menu for four courses

We upgraded to a window table (“Privilege Service”) and it was so worth it.

The boat wasn’t full. Many empty seats especially for middle seats.

Food was plentiful and drinks were poured generously.

Starters: beef terrine (top) and fish (bottom)

Entrees: chicken and prawns

Cheese course (included with upgrade, otherwise extra)

Desserts: parfait (top) and pudding crumbs (bottom)

Coffee was strong!

We had a really lovely romantique time!

We walked around the Eiffel Tower after we got off the boat. We even rode the carousel again!

Husband wanted to eat more so we stopped by a crepe place for a savory crepe of ham, egg, and cheese. I was way too full already but still ended up helping myself to about 1/3 of it.

La Marais was quite busy for a Sunday!

I decided to get icecream from supermarket for dinner.

Husband made a ham baguette sandwich with ingredients we bought from market and bread from Boulangerie downstairs. I couldn’t eat any, I was still too full! They looked pretty good though!

At 7pm, after a bit of resting, we went to a Caudalie boutique store nearby so I could buy some gifts (mostly for myself) ha!

Looking forward to the weather in the 50s tomorrow!

Day 4 Paris: Saturday chill shopping day. Lafayette, Palais Garnier, Angelina Hot Chocolate

I woke up feeling really, really tired so no running this morning!

Portuguese tart as morning snack.

We went to a farmers market but it wasn’t ready yet. Not all the food stands were open yet.

So we settled for a small cafe next door for breakfast. Croque Madam and cafe creme please!

Gum jar…. So nostalgic, it reminded me of my childhood gum with temporary tattoos of Donald Duck on the wrappers.

Galeries Lafayette for some shopping.

Terrace was pretty nice

Bought a little something

Palai Garnier opera house. Gorgeous inside.

Especially this room. It took my breath away.

Today was what I called a “free day” to do whatever we want without an itinerary. So we took it pretty easy. We went to Angelina because we keep hearing about it from friends and tv shows.

They’re famous for their thick, rich hot chocolate made with wild African chocolate.

We decided this is gonna be our big meal of the day.

Little pastries to start with hot chocolate.

Onion soup (omg forget the onion soup we had last two nights, this was the best) and croissant sandwich with egg and ham

And last course was some kind of brioche toast soaked in creamy milky broth and caramel sauce.

After getting our sugar fix, we decided to walk home. Google Maps says half hour walk. It took us nearly 2 hours because the route home had so many shops to browse. We had nothing left on agenda today anyways.

We passed by Louvre and it was a zoo.

I saw this perfume at a department store and it was the only high-end perfume available in Burma when I was young (I think) and my mom had a bottle that she kept in her closet to make her clothes smell good 🙂 Another nostalgia.

We went back to air bnb for rest again! It was that peak high temp time of the day again.

Then we went back outside for grocery and food. We got dinner takeouts from an asian place, rotisserie chicken from a butcher shop, and salad and smoked salmon from Monoprix supermarket!

It’s gonna be an early night! So tired! (I hate hot temps and too much sun)

Day 3 Paris – Double prix-fixe meals on a museum day

We woke up early for runs again, this time we ran separately. I ran 5.5 miles total and ran to a croissant shop called Ble Sucre which I’ve seen/read online as one of the best croissant shop in Paris.

Good croissants are easy to come by in France so I was thinking, how much better can it be?

I got croissant, pain au chocolat, and chaussons aux pomme (Apple turnover). I can honestly say it was the best croissant I’ve ever had in my life. It was so flakey and buttery of course but also slightly sweetened. I wanted more.

V got 2 more pastries from our air bnb downstairs bakery to compare.

Those were good too but I could tell Ble Sucre were superior! More crispy and flavors.

Then we went to Montmartre district to look at the wall mural with “I love you” in 250 languages. I spotted THREE Burmese phrases on the wall with different variations for I love you.

Next, we went to Sacre Caeur and climbed up the dome. It’s a really really pretty view from up there.

It was a hot day and we did a lot of climbing in Montmartre. My legs were already shot.

We went back to air bnb to change. [insert story here for another day lol 😅]

We had a 12pm lunch reservation at a Michelin star restaurant, Auguste.

Lovely meal and lots and lots of food.

Because it’s lunch time, it wasn’t even that much of the damage (37 euros without drinks per person). I highly recommend any Europe travelers to do lunch time specials at nice restaurants for like 1/3 of the dinner price! Fancy lunch works better for us than dinner since the last thing we want to do at dinner time is to dress up in a stuffy restaurant and be proper after a long day of walking.

The Auguste restaurant was conveniently located next to Rodin Museum. (Auguste Rodin was the artist’s full name which we found out later, ha)

I don’t know about other visitors but we are kind of fast at museums. We don’t do audio guide or try to learn history. We walked through exhibits in under 15 minutes.

Let’s just say we try to enjoy the art from the purest/most innocent point of view. Just from looking and not knowing a thing about it. (I have read a little about Rodin’s work at prior visit to Musee D’Orsay and that’s about it)

Next stop was to Napoleon’s tomb aka Invalides. People have been so nice and offered to take our photos without us having to ask for it!

Went back to air bnb at 3-4pm ish and took naps! We came back out at 5:30pm for dinner and strolling in Friday night crowd.

Nintendo at the first place we stopped for Happy Hour.

We walked to Latin Quarter a mile away to see our favorite dinner and people watching spots. We chose a restaurant with another prix fixe menu. We went all out today!

Onion soup and escargots as starters.

Steak and cheese fondue as main entrees.

Creme brûlée and some kind of whipped cream and milky sauce dessert

Oh we ate well!!

Strawberry Nutella Crepe after dinner.

People watching in LQ.

We walked back to air bnb past 8:30pm. This was late for us!

Gelato to end the night

Day 2 Paris: L’Orangerie, Picnic at Eiffel Tower, having 6 meals, Notre Dame, Saint Chapelle

We started out with a 4.5 mile run to Louvre and Tuileries garden this morning. Weather was perfect!

I was just posing 🙂

Then washed up and went to get breakfast. We had croissants at this Jewish bakery but almond croissant was the only good item here.

Still needed to fulfill my croissant craving, we went to another cafe for a mini croissant and it hit the spot. Look at the size of that “medium” latte though. It’s much smaller than Starbucks “tall” size.

A metro ride later…

Our first stop was Musee de L’Orangerie which houses a bunch of paintings by Monet and other artists from Impressionism era.

Our next stop was to Rue Cler (street with many food vendors and stands). We stopped by 4 or 5 places to pick up the picnic essentials: bread, cold cut meats, cheeses, sparkling water, etc!

We walked to Champs de Mars park by Eiffel Tower to picnic. But because neither of us love sitting under the sun, we sat on a bench in the shade lol. Everyone else who were picnicking sat on the grass in the sun.

The picnic items we got were perfect! We had some leftovers.

Then we took approximately 50 selfies in front of Eiffel Tower because… when in Paris!

We walked over to the exact spot where we got engaged and took more selfies (tip: use the timer for best selfies but make sure no one will snatch your phone and run)

Paris is having issues (strikes) with public transit. It took us a while but we made it to Notre Dame next.

Cherry blossoms!

So tired from walking all day so we went back to air bnb to nap and snack (chicken rotisserie and potatoes from Franprix supermarket…. we had been meaning to try this since our last Paris trip) Another side note: 2 chicken legs and potatoes were 3.9 euros. What?!! It’s like Costco price.

After a nap (jet lag), it was about 4:30pm and we went back out into the heat (83 degrees at that time) to walk to Saint Chapelle.

We both literally said wow when we saw the massive stained glass windows.

Saw a flower market/nursery nearby.

Then we walked back to La Marais for dinner. I wasn’t hungry after that chicken but still wanted to eat. We shared a falafel pita pocket. This wasn’t from the famous place but actually tasted A LOT BETTER. It’s from a place called Chez Hanna.

We had 2 sugar/butter crepes for dessert.

Husband still wanted to eat so he got a lamb shawarma but I was done with eating after crepe tonight.

This was a long tiring day but we did a lot and ate a lot so it was a successful 2nd day in Paris!

Back at Paris – Day 1: La Marais and Latin Quarter

Back to blogging and back at Paris 🙂

I don’t think anyone really follows me here anymore except for email subscribers. I still want to document this trip so I can look back later.

But I am too lazy to write tonight since it’s been a long day of travel. Pictures speak a thousand words right?

United International feeds good amount of food. For 10 hour flight, they fed us 3 times.

Andddd we are back in Paris! It was 80 degrees hot today!

Made a pit stop at the famous falafel shop for a quick hearty lunch

Grocery shopping

I love Paris’ old buildings. So romantic!

We walked and shopped for a few hours until my feet hurt and had to look for flip flops at souvenir shops.

We are staying at La Marais district (Jewish Quarter) and we walked over to Latin Quarter for dinner.

Dinner at this place called La Ferme du Roi which isn’t famous or anything. But we ate there on Dec 31, 2015 after we got engaged so this place is special to us 🙂

Small half bottle of red to share since we both were too tired to drink and just wanted to taste some with the entrees.

Duck confit and steak

Creme brûlée and tiramisu

Then we trekked our way back to our air bnb about a mile away.

This is cute:

Sun was still blaring as we headed back to air bnb. People were out picnicking by Seine river.

Time for bed! 8:28pm

2017 half -yearly goal updates 

Hello!  I’ve been away from blogging just because I haven’t gotten much interesting stuff to share.   I thought I would pop in here and update on how I’m doing with my goals for 2017.

1) Read 25 books this year 

I’ve read 18 books so far in 2017 so I’m definitely on track. I love how easily I’m reaching this goal. I have been lucky with discovering good books lately and when a book is good, I finish in a couple of days so this goal has been pretty easy to reach.  A few friends have asked me how I find time to read books… I don’t watch TV so that frees me up for reading!   I have a few favorite books from past few weeks:

1) Dark Matter.  Read this if you like actions and sci-fi.  It’s about a man who travels through parallel universe, it’ll really make you THINK what your life would’ve become if you had chosen certain paths.  I could not put this down and couldn’t wait to read it each day.

2) Orphan Train

It’s not as depressing as it sounds.  Trust me!   It is actually a feel-good read!  If you like Angela’s Ashes, you WILL love this.  The story takes place around the depression era and I admit, that era really really fascinates me and I love reading anything, everything about it.   Read this! This is not a depressing read!

2) Take 15000 steps each day on average 

I’m doing very well with this goal since I’ve been running 30+ miles a week.   Also I walk a lot on my commute to work.  I don’t feel like I even have to think about this goal.  It just happens with my lifestyle.  

I lost my Garmin watch recently.  After much much much comptemplating (do I really want to complicate my life further with another gadget?), I decided to buy an Apple Watch.   Literally a day after I got my Apple Watch, I found my Garmin in a purse I hadn’t used in a while  😭

Average steps this month = 17000 (or 8.5 miles a day on average)

3) Try a new Instant Pot recipe each month

Major fail on this goal.  I’ve been using my instant pot to make beans but not trying new recipes.  I have not been in the mood to explore new recipes. I’ve been sticking to the basic recipes like soup/stews and stir-fries where I can just throw in a bunch of random stuff.   Also, I’ve been seeing lots of Instant pot recipes for meat dishes but our household (my husband and I) rarely cooks meat at home.  I’ve bookmarked some meat recipes to try in instapot though. It’s just that we don’t crave or want to cook meat at home,  is it weird? We are omnivores.  We do enjoy eating meat when we eat out but we just don’t cook meat at home. Instapot is amazing to cook meat dishes. I should really try some new recipes!  I still love having instant pot at home to make beans.  They taste much better than canned beans.

Some updates from past few weeks or months:

We went to Portland (I shall write a post about this fun-filled weekend). 

Bay Area stuff:

Fourth of July at A’s game


Eating with the fam bam:

Cooking at home:

My cousin’s baby shower (I made the diaper cakes to add to the existing beautiful decorations – she’s having twins so TWO CAKES :))

Some trail running:

Damn I lost so much fitness. This route was a breeze 2 years ago but I was dying on this run.  

See you on next post 🙂

Touring D.C. and White House 

We had our first and only full day in DC today!  First time in the whole week, we ran.  We ran from our hotel to National Mall and back, totaling 7 miles.

It was 6am and we totally beat the crowd.

Running was the best way to tour this morning.  We ran by White House, WWII Memorial, Reflection Pool, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, and Korean Memorial.  This gave us the rest of the day to tour the inside of buildings and museums.

Lincoln Memorial had no crowd at 6:30am! Here is an awkward self-timer selfie.  We circled back to this area in 15 mins and tour groups were arriving already.

Korean Memorial

We got back to hotel after running exactly 7 miles.   Pit stop at Au Bon Pain for breakfast.

After washing up, we came back on Metro back to National Mall.  The Capitol looks magnificent close up.  It blows SF city hall out of the water.  It is the US Capitol after all.

We had a reservation for 1:30pm to tour the Capitol but the time conflicted with the White House tour time we got.  

The line without reservation was too long, we decided against visiting the inside. I heard the rotunda looks beautiful.  We will have to save it for next time!

There is a tunnel that connects the Capitol to the Library of Congress.  Inside of the Library looks like something you would see in old time Europe.  Such a beauty.

Historic books on display

A couple was doing a wedding photo shoot! So pretty.

Next, Air and Space museum.  Nothing here caught my attention really.  I heard the Air and Space museum in Virginia is much better.

For lunch, we went a mile away to Nando peri peri chicken.  It was SO good!  We need this chain in SF!

Good spices and sauces to complement the moist chicken.

During lunch I found out that I am not allowed to bring my purse inside White House.  So we went back to hotel to drop off my purse and went to White House to tour INSIDE!

We went through a few layers of security.  Then we got inside just past East Wing.   Many photographs of recent First Ladies were displayed in this room.

This display shows china sets used at State Dinner Services by various presidents.

Obama’s set.  Good color!

Green Room

The rooms we toured today are still being used for events.

And my favorite part of the tour was coming out of the front door of the White House! 

I could see crowds of people by the fence, taking pics of the White House.  I’m not gonna lie, I felt special standing on the front steps of the White House and seeing the crowd!

It was such a cool experience to set foot in there and see it up close!

I highly recommend this tour.  You just need to book it 2 months in advance through your Congressman. 

Our next and finally stop was Museum of Natural History. 

Hope Diamond… a rare blue diamond with so much history.

But I found this sapphire to be a lot prettier and shinier.  Love this!!

We came back to hotel after the museum and it was already 4pm.

Later, we went out to dinner with husband’s friend who lives in DC.  Nice bar bites at a British pub called The Alibi.  My first time trying Scotch Egg and it’s good!

Beef Wellington with filet mignon was my fav.

Random sign 🙂

We hung out til 9ish which is pretty late for us 🙂

Tomorrow we are going back to NY>SF!