Tag Archives: europe trip

Exploring the most romantic city in the world: Paris, France

I know this post is long overdue but it was in my draft and I had to publish it. This will be my last post from my Europe trip and I will write about my Thailand and Nepal trip soon.

We had awesome time exploring Paris with the guide and also on our own.

Notre Dame de Paris

This is one of the Parisian icons decorated with gargoyles and gothic touches. Located at the centre of Paris and that of France, Notre Dame had witnessed some of the greatest moments in the city’s history. The graceful and inspiring Catholic church has dominated Paris since the 12th century, survived the Hundred Years War, the French Revolution and two World Wars.

Notre Dame de Paris (1)

There was a long queue for the ticket there as well but as we were with our guide we got to go in straight away. As we walked in I was really impressed by the architecture and the stained glass made the place look very colorful.

Notre Dame de Paris (4)

Notre Dame de Paris (5) Notre Dame de Paris (3)

Notre Dame de Paris (7)

The sculptures and the stained glass show the influences of naturalism which cannot be found on earlier romanesque structures.

Notre Dame de Paris (6)

Notre Dame de Paris (2)

The beautiful facade is divided neatly into three levels, with three overwhelmingly carved portals guiding the entrance.

Notre Dame de Paris (9)

Notre Dame de Paris (10)

The cathedral has a narrow climb of 387 steps at the top of several spiral staircases; along the climb it is possible to view its most famous bell and its gargoyles in close quarters, as well as having a spectacular view across Paris when reaching the top. The design of St. Peter’s Cathedral in Adelaide, Australia was inspired by Notre Dame de Paris.

Notre Dame de Paris (8)

Notre Dame de Paris (11)

Musee du Louvre

Musee du Louvre (5)

The Louvre is the world’s largest museum and has one of the world’s greatest art collections in the world. The palace stretches for about half mile between the Seine and Rue de Rivoli. It was originally a fortress built by Philippe-Auguste in the 13th century. 300 years later Francois I replaced it with a Renaissance style building. Many French kings continued to add to the construction and improve it.

Musee du Louvre (2)

The latest addition to the building is the glass pyramid (also the museum entrance) that sits in the courtyard and was designed by I. M. Pei. The pyramid was unveiled in 1989.

Musee du Louvre (3)

Musee du Louvre (1)

The Louvre’s collection is overwhelming in size and it includes paintings, drawings, sculptures, antiquities, furniture, coins etc. It is impossible to see everything in one day but most people run to see the two ladies, Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and the statue of Venus de Milo. They are always surrounded by a crowd of people.

Musee du Louvre (4)

We spent lots of time outside the Louvre as well admiring the architecture and enjoying sun. Check out some silly photos we took there  🙂

Musee du Louvre (6)

Musee du Louvre (7)

Cleopatra’s Needle (“L’aiguille de Cléopâtre”)

The Cleopatra’s Needle (“L’aiguille de Cléopâtre”) is in the Place de la Concorde in Paris. The centre of the Place is occupied by a giant Egyptian obelisk decorated with hieroglyphs exalting the reign of the pharaoh Ramesses II. Along with its twin, it once marked the entrance to the Luxor Temple. The ruler of Egypt and Sudan, Muhammad Ali, presented the 3,300-year-old Luxor Obelisk to France in 1826. King Louis-Philippe had it placed in the centre of Place de la Concorde in 1833 near the spot where Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette had been guillotined in 1793.

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The red granite column rises 23 metres high, including the base, and weighs over 250 tonnes. Missing its original cap, believed stolen in the 6th century BC, in 1998 the government of France added a goldleafed pyramid cap to the top of the obelisk. The obelisk is flanked by two fountains constructed at the time of its erection on the Place.

Arc de Triomphe

We were at Cleopatra’s Needle when we decided the next stop would be Arc de Triomphe. As the Champs-Elysées is a straight street, I could see the triumph. So when AS suggested to take a tube, I told him “Lets walk”. I didn’t realise that it was more than 2km away and the street was really crowded. It was a hot day so AS was unimpressed that we had to walk for more than 30 minutes to get there. Anyway finally we made it there and we were in front of the beautiful Arc de Triomphe.

Arc de Triomphe (2)

The Arc de Triomphe sits at the western end of Champs-Elysees. It’s the biggest triumphal arch in the world, about 164 meters high. The traffic around the arch is crazy so when accessing the Arc de triomphe we can’t cross the traffic circle but need to take the underground tunnel instead.

Arc de Triomphe (3)

The base of the monument seems even more massive when you’re standing right under the central arch. Along the inside there are names of 660 generals, with a line below the name if they died in battle.

Arc de Triomphe (5)

On the exterior side, on one of the sides there is face of Napoleon looking very much like a Roman emperor and being crowned with a wreath of victory while holding a protective hand over the city of Paris kneeling at his feet.

Arc de Triomphe (4)

The arch was commissioned by Napoleon in 1806 to commemorate his victory but wasn’t ready for his bride entrance into Paris, 4 years later. It wasn’t actually completed until 1836, under the reign of Louis-Philippe. Since then it has been used for state funerals and parades.

Arc de Triomphe (1)

 The Arc saw its happiest moments in 1944 when the parade for the liberation of Paris passed under it. You can take an elevator or climb the stairs to the top. There you’ll find a small museum depicting the history of the Arc and from the terrace you’ll get a nice view of Paris.

Arc de Triomphe (6)

Below the Arc de Triomphe lies the Tomb of an Unknown Soldier killed in WWI, which was placed here in 1921. Every evening at 6:30pm the eternal flame at the tomb is rekindled with a ceremony, a tradition that wasn’t even interrupted during Nazi occupation of Paris.

The Champs-Élysées is the widest and the most well-known street of Paris. It’s a boulevard lined with countless restaurants, cafés and stores.

Lunch and chocolate and cookie store

We were so tired walking around all day that we stopped over for lunch at a small café by the side of the road. We had sandwiches and pastries and were really happy to rest our feet.

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Then we went to a chocolate and cookies store a few door down. The cookies and chocolates were freshly made and were yummy. I think we went overboard with our shopping that we had to bring them back to Sydney as we couldn’t finish everything while we were there.

Cookie shop (3) Cookie shop (2) Cookie shop (1)


The Paris Opera (French: Opéra de Paris) is the primary opera company of France. It was founded in 1669 by Louis XIV as the Académie d’Opéra.

It is an architectural masterpiece of the 19th century, where ballet and opera have been entertaining and evoking overwhelming emotions of a diverse range for years. It took one and a half decades to build the opera house designed by Charles Garnier.


The Grand Staircase of Palais Garnier, made from different color marbles, links various levels of the auditorium and the foyers. A pair of bronze female statues waving light bouquets welcomes the visitors at the foot of the stairway. The painted ceiling, divided into four sections, features music related allegories. Bibliothèque Nationale de France, the library-museum, records opera’s history for three centuries. The permanent gallery exhibits drawings, paintings, scale models and photographs of sets. 

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Palace of Versailles: France

France was the last stop in our Europe trip.

I realised during the tour that we were lucky we didn’t need to spend any time queuing up for tickets as all our tours were pre booked and we had a local guide. Otherwise there seemed to be hundreds of people waiting for tickets and to get in everywhere we went.

We started our trip with a tour of the Palace of Versailles. Versailles has been the capital of the kingdom of France for over a century, from 1682 to 1789. Nowadays it is a wealthy suburb of Paris, some 17 km away from the French capital, and remains an important administrative and judicial centre.

The first thing you must do is enter the golden gates. Once inside, the sheer size of the complex will leave you speechless.

This splendid and enormous palace was built in the mid-17th century during the reign of Louis XIV – the Roi Soleil (Sun King) – to project the absolute power of the French monarchy, which was then at the height of its glory. Its scale and decor also reflect Louis XIV’s taste for profligate luxury and his boundless appetite for self-glorification. Some 30,000 workers and soldiers toiled on the structure, the bills for which all but emptied the kingdom’s coffers. The château has undergone relatively few alterations since its construction, though almost all the interior furnishings disappeared during the Revolution and many of the rooms were rebuilt by Louis-Philippe (r 1830–48).

As you enter the Palace from the main entrance, you immediately realize that the Château de Versailles is all about extravagance and luxury. Gold accentuates everything from the gates to the statues ornamenting the exterior of the building, up to furnishings inside. Opulent chandeliers and loads of paintings, sculptures, and tapestries adorn the interiors. Each of the French kings who lived there until the French Revolution, added improvements to make it more beautiful. The major of these, were those by Louis XIV, who devoted many rooms and parts of the gardened to the sun – the monarch’s symbol – or one of the seven planets that revolve around the magical star.

Inside, you will see the Grand Apartments of the King and Queen that include the infamous Hall of Mirrors. It was here that the king crowed his royal power to visitors.

Once we finished with the Chateau, we went outside and start wandering through the garden. The garden is massive; it looked bigger that from Schönbrunn Palace , with flower beds to highlight the castle, statues, vases and busts decorated its paths.

The gardens are stunning and the music coming out from the hidden speakers made the ambience even better.

The section of the vast gardens nearest the palace, laid out between 1661 and 1700 in the formal French style, is famed for its geometrically aligned terraces, flowerbeds, tree-lined paths, ponds and fountains. The 400-odd statues of marble, bronze and lead were made by the most talented sculptors of the era. The English-style Jardins du Petit Trianon are more pastoral and have meandering, sheltered paths.

The gardens’ largest fountains are the 17th-century Bassin de Neptune (Neptune’s Fountain), a dazzling mirage of 99 spouting gushers 300m north of the palace, and the Bassin d’Apollon (Apollo’s Fountain) built in 1688 at the eastern end of the Grand Canal.

We couldn’t get over the size of the garden and the different hidden pathways you can find in it. Although we visited a small fraction of the gardens, you get a sense of their grandeur. While we were enjoying the romantic walk in the garden, out of nowhere it suddenly started raining heavily. There was nowhere to shelter so me and AS ran towards the palace, the way back was long and uphill. By the time we got to the shelter, we both were soaking wet. So we waited in the palace for the rain to stop before going back to our tour bus.

It looked really funny when we got to the bus as the sun was up again and we looked stupid to be soaking wet.

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Bhuhari is going to Nepal

Bhuhari means daughter in law in Nepali.

As per our plan, I have booked my flight to go to Kathmandu, Nepal for mid of December.  I know I have been back form my Europe trip not long ago and l haven’t finished blogging about places we visited in Europe but it has been more than a year since we went to Nepal so, it is a perfect time to go again. We will be using our Christmas and New Year break with our annual leave to accommodate this holiday.

We will be going via Bangkok and will be stopping over for 4 days to do some sightseeing , some shopping and meeting AS’s family . We had been to Thailand before but I will be really nice to go again and meet AS’s new niece. She is so cute.

While in Nepali, my nephew will have his Pasni ceremony as well so we have a celebration and a holiday with our family. My brother, sister in law and nephew will be travelling there before us.

I always like to book my holiday in advance so I can look forward to the day and that keeps me going. I am always very eager to go to Nepal and I am this time as well but I have some fear of all the changes I will face.

This time, going to Nepal will be very different for me than ever before. This will be first time for me to go to my home town as a Bhuhari. It may sound strange in western society but life after marriage for Nepali women is very different than here. Lots of things do change which I haven’t really felt because I am in Australia but that will affect me while I am in Nepal.

Every time, I go to Kathmandu, my parents would come to pick me up at the airport but I am not sure what will happen this time. Because I am meant to go to AS’s house (my new home) from the airport. I am thinking to tell my parents not to come to the airport to receive me as I don’t want them to go home without me but instead am planning to go and visit there on the same day in the evening.

I will have to divide my time between two houses this time and I have no idea how I can manage that easily.

Going to Nepal always meant waking up late, not exercising , being spoilt my parents with yummy food , going out and meeting my friends and relatives, a short break to somewhere with my parents and lots of relaxation.

But I am not too sure I can keep this attitude in my new home.  I think it will be very rude to wake up at 8 am and go to kitchen where my MIL will be preparing breakfast for everyone. We have help but still she likes to do lot of things herself. Don’t get me wrong, as I have mentioned before as well, my MIL is very understanding and caring lady but still I can’t be spoilt the way my mum makes me when I am with her.

I am not too sure how I need to plan my days as there are lots of pending invitation we need to attend this time form AS families’ side. As it is a culture in Nepal to invite newlyweds for dinner after their wedding, we got lot of those invitations after our wedding last year. But as we had only 4 days after the wedding, we declined them and told everyone that we will be visiting them next time when we come back to Kathmandu. That means most of our evenings we’ll be dining out either at AS’s relatives’ house or mine’s.

Even in terms of clothing, I don’t know what I will be expected to wear. Like I mentioned in my post before, married women in Nepal dress differently after their wedding. So I am sure I can’t dress however I want. I don’t really mind wearing Sari and Kurta while I am there but it will be mid-winter so I am not too sure how easy it is going to be. Even a year after the wedding I will be a newlywed buhari so I need to learn all the right manners :).

I am sure with all the confusion and anxiety I am still going to have a great time with my two beautiful families, just thinking about it makes me bit anxious sometimes though. There is still a long time till I land in Kathmandu but I can’t wait to write about my experience and Nepal  from Kathmandu  🙂

Chunky statement necklaces

I went shopping last night as I needed to go for a birthday party tonight. I am wearing coloured denim and I wanted a chunky necklace to go with it.

To my surprise, it looks like this spring is going to be full chunky necklaces. Every place that sells accessories has them in all kinds, colours and styles on display. From floral accents and multicolour gemstones to layered pearls and bib necklaces; I had array of choices. I ended up buying a  beaded one.

I am so happy to see them everywhere. I have got 5 now so I will be wearing them everywhere. I bought a couple of them from Dubai and UK during my Europe trip  :).

I can transform my wardrobe with a single accessory now. I really love them as you can wear them as your only accessories and you will still look stylish. With these kinds of necklaces, it is best to avoid earrings and bracelets. Keep it minimal and it will work perfectly.

It goes well with jeans as well as dresses and skirts. It can definitely embellish the plainest tops and dresses.

I have seen them on my favourite fashionista Sarah Jessica Parker as well as many other celebrities.  Loving their looks.

Today at work I wore a necklace as well; it is not a big statement necklace but quite a  good size for work.

Keep it chucky this Spring  🙂

Brussels: Belgium

I have to mention the hotel we stayed in Brussels. It was Park Inn by Radisson and they had one of the best rooms that we stayed in, in the whole Europe trip. I just loved the room we were given. It was a corner room on the second floor, very large, clean, quiet and nicely appointed. The bed was very comfortable and the bathroom was clean and modern. I especially liked the colours throughout the place. A colour scheme of red, yellow, green and blue played out across the hotel and our room giving a uniform and modern feel.

Brussels is one of the best places we visited, with its small town charm, trendy bars and restaurants, fabulous food, great nightlife, fantastic shopping, numerous museums, and other attractions including the diverse and interesting exhibitions and festivals. While we were there, we witnessed the Jazz festival.

We had a local guide who took us around the city. So after we freshened up from the bus journey, we got on our tour bus and the guide explained the different places in the city as we drove around. Our first stop was Parc du Cinquantenaire.

The Parc du Cinquantenaire

The Parc du Cinquantenaire was built to commemorate Belgium’s 50th anniversary as an independent nation. Cinquante means fifty in French. If you’ve ever wished to have seen the gorgeous World’s Fair buildings circa 1900, this is as close as you’ll get. The structures are massive, well-designed, and exquisitely ornamented. There are several museums in the park — including the Royal Military Museum, the Cinquantenaire Art Museum, and the AutoWorld Museum. The masterwork of the Parc is the Triumphal Arch, a breath-taking structure completed in 1905.

Even though you are right on top of a busy road way it is so quiet and there is a fountain on one side and a garden area on the other.


The Royal Palace (Palais Royal)

From there we went to our next stop, The Royal Palace (Palais Royal). It is the official palace of the King of the Belgians but is not used as a royal residence, as the king and his family live in the Royal Castle of Laeken on the outskirts of Brussels. The website of the Belgian Monarchy describes the function of the palace as follows: “The Palace is where His Majesty the King exercises his prerogatives as Head of State, grants audiences and deals with affairs of state. Apart from the offices of the King and the Queen, the Royal Palace houses the services of the Grand Marshal of the Court, the King’s Head of Cabinet, the Head of the King’s Military Household and the Intendant of the King’s Civil List. The Palace also includes the State Rooms where large receptions are held, as well as the apartments provided for foreign Heads of State during official visits.”

The palace is situated in front of Brussels Park. The middle axis of the park marks both the middle peristyle of the palace and the middle of the facing building on the other side of the park, which is the Palace of the Nation (the Belgian Federal Parliament building). The two facing buildings are said to symbolize Belgium’s system of government: a constitutional monarchy. We didn’t go inside the Palace but just strolled outside it.

La Grand-Place

From The Royal Palace (Palais Royal) we went to La Grand-Place. It is surrounded by guildhalls, the city’s Town Hall, and the Breadhouse. It is an outstanding example of the eclectic and highly successful blending of architectural and artistic styles and every building is so beautiful. It is a UNESCO world heritage site. While we were there the place was packed with music lovers as the Jazz Marathon was on. It was worth the experience and the people were fantastic. You can stroll the cobble stones looking at every house, which are just gorgeous. The surroundings are full of restaurants and shops.

As the guide explained about this grand place I was in awe of this beautiful place where buildings had golden details. It definitely looks like from a period movie.

After a brief look around the place and enjoying the music, we went for a walk and landed in Belgium waffle heaven.

OMG, you could imagine what you want and there it was. There were rows of shops selling these awesome looking waffles and you couldn’t go past them without having one. As AS and I was no exception, we indulged on the heavenly waffles and made our way to Manneken pis.


This statue must be one of the most famous statues despite of its small size.  It is a small bronze fountain sculpture depicting a naked little boy urinating into the fountain’s basin.

The famous Manneken-Pis remains the emblem of the rebellious spirit of the City of Brussels. His wardrobe counts more than 800 suits. The Museum of the City of Brussels presents one hundred of these suits. A multimedia database allows the visitors to consult the whole wardrobe of the famous ‘ketje’.

The statue is dressed in a costume several times each week, according to a published schedule which is posted on the railings around the fountain. The costumes are managed by the non-profit association The Friends of Manneken-Pis, who review hundreds of designs submitted each year, and select a small number to be produced and used.

Manneken-Pis was at first a fountain that played an essential role in the former distribution of drinking water since the 15th century. The system was well-known in all of Europe.

Towards the end of the 17th century, the statue became more and more important in the city life. It was also a survivor of the bombardment of Brussels in 1695. Manneken-Pis became a precious good and enjoys a ceaselessly growing glory.

Royal Saint-Hubert galleries

From Manneken-Pis, we went to Royal Saint-Hubert galleries. It  is a glazed shopping arcade. Back in its early days, it was a place the rich and famous would go to attend meetings. Its neo-Renaissance styling sports a vaulted glass room which lets the light in during the day while protecting shoppers from the elements.

There is a simple straight pathway with openings on either end and lined on both sides with booksellers, chocolate shops, cafes, and other shops. The window displays are wonderful and worth walking through even just to window shop. It also makes a nice short-cut getting from one part of the city to another without having to walk around the building.

Chocolate lovers should visit Neuhaus, the best chocolate-maker in this chocolate-mad country; they claim to have invented pralines in this shop. You can buy prettily wrapped boxes of the “best-in-the-world” chocolate to take home.

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