All posts tagged: Contiki

Madame Mona Lisa, and Not Enough Time for Musee du Louvre

One of the items on my bucket list is to come face to face with madame Mona Lisa, an experience I was able to check off during a visit to The Louvre when I traveled to Paris with my Contiki group. That morning, our visit started with our tour manager telling our group that he would be showing us a secret entrance to The Louvre known only to a few. This, he said, would help us skip a lot of the longer lines. He of course had also pre-purchased our tickets. True to his word, we were able to get in without a hitch. The Louvre, we found out, was originally intended to be a castle but eventually determined not to be extravagant enough to serve its purpose. (This is the reason they built Versailles, which I wrote about in a previous post.) The museum itself is so large that if you would like to be able to see all the collections, you would need to dedicate a few days (maybe even more). We did …

We’ll Always Have Paris (And That Escargot)

If you were to choose the first time to have a certain dish, I’d say it would be a dream to do so in the place of its origins. I have spoken of my Contiki trip on this blog before, and one of the things I had the privilege of experiencing during the Paris leg was the great food. On our last night, our tour manager took us to Monmarte to show us Sacre Coeur and to a nice Parisian dinner at La Bonne Franquette. For my appetizer, instead of French onion soup I chose escargot — my first time — and it was quite an experience. The dish was served with shells on, with a shell holder and a small fork for you to use in taking the snails out (as opposed to those I had everywhere else since, where the snails are already taken out of the shells for you). The sauce was a perfect blend of garlic and herbs, and definitely great for dipping the bread, for which we were reprimanded (playfully) …

World Heritage Site Tuesday: Notre Dame de Paris

“He therefore turned to mankind with only regret. His cathedral was enough for him…The saints were his friends, and blessed him; the monsters were his friends, and guarded him.” – Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre Dame I remember seeing The Hunchback of Notre Dame with my best friend from high school. I don’t recall a lot about the movie. At the time, I knew we were curious about the adaptation of the Victor Hugo novel. It was not until my Contiki trip years after, looking up at Notre Dame itself, that I remembered the film and the book again, which was written to call attention to the importance of the cathedral as it has, throughout history, undergone a lot of destruction.   Notre Dame’s external facade, although not as elaborate as Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, is definitely something to see. Depending on which side you are looking at, you would see something different. Its famous gargoyles and smaller statues, which I learned were added to serve as water sprouts and for support, were very detailed. …

On Human Achievement

There are times when there are more questions than answers, and that’s okay. It’s man’s continuous search for meaning, purpose, his origins and history that make way for great discoveries. Mysteries keep us grounded, knowing we don’t know everything there is. The simplest of them — was it of ritual, maybe brought by necessity, perhaps scientific — feats of engineering and architecture, mathematical precision, human achievement far advanced than the time they were created. (Photos taken at Wiltshire, UK, May 2012) Footnote to a post: I encourage everyone to travel on their own once in their lives. There are many ways to do this. I chose Contiki, a service that lets you travel with people ages 18-35 to destinations worldwide. By doing so, you may not know it at the time, but no matter your destination, you would be setting off to a life-changing experience. My trip was years ago now but I still remember getting to the Stonehenge site vividly and it becoming real for me. I still remember the rest of the trip …