Paragliding in Chamonix

Paragliding in Chamonix

Paragliding has been on my bucket list for some time, but I never wanted to rush it. Last month, the location, conditions, and price all worked perfectly! Keep reading to hear about my experience with Fly Chamonix.

 

HOW TO GET TO CHAMONIX

The best way to get to Chamonix is by private car from Geneva. I like it because it’s fast, convenient and you can travel when you want.  However, if you are price conscious, you can also check out the FlixBus which offers limited travel times between Geneva and Chamonix. Another way to save money would be to fly into Milan instead of Geneva. From Milan, you can take a bus that takes around 4 hours to get to Chamonix. Geneva is a smaller airport and so it tends to be more expensive to fly into.

 

 

WHERE TO STAY

There are lots of great hotels in Chamonix, and I’d recommend staying in the heart of thecity as close to the walking zone as possible.  You are expending so much energy during the day on the mountain, that you don’t want to walk too far at night to have dinner.  We stayed at the 4 star Hotel Morgane and it was fantastic.  Ample sized rooms, great breakfast, and very friendly staff.

 

WHAT TO WEAR

  • Long pants
  • Close-toed shoes
  • Wind-breaker (I used this Patagonia Rain Jacket)
  • Sunglasses (Check out my favorites from Ray Ban)
  • GoPro (or you can use theirs and pay a little extra)
  • Bonine for motion sickness

 

 

MY REVIEW OF FLY CHAMONIX

Our guides from Fly Chamonix met us at Le Brevent Gondola meeting point. They were right on time and getting us excited for the adventure ahead. When we got to the top of the windsock, the guides started putting our gear on us including harnesses and helmets, and setting up the parachutes. The take-off was such a rush: the idea is you run as fast as you can while the parachute is filling with air. Pretty soon, you’re floating in the sky! I loved how my guide gave me the opportunity to “drive.” For more adventurous people, you have the chance to do acrobatics and have a big adrenaline rush!

All of my friends and I thoroughly enjoyed our experience with Fly Chamonix. A highlight was flying in front of the breath-taking backdrop of Mont Blanc. A bonus with going with Fly Chamonix is how they set you up with an ongoing video of the flight for  a reasonable fee. I love my GoPro footage!

Thanks Fly Chamonix for the best day  ever!

Montreux Jazz Fest

Montreux Jazz Fest

Are you planning a trip to Montreux, Switzerland? Maybe you are heading to the Montreux Jazz Fest like my girlfriends and I did. Keep reading to hear all about our travels!

 

Getting to Montreux, Switzerland

The girls and I met up in Geneva for three days before we headed on our hiking trip on the Tour de Mont Blanc.  We happened to be in town during the Montreux Jazz Festival. It seemed like it was meant to be! So we hopped on a train and headed to Montreux. We switched trains in Lausanne and then we decided to take the train passed Montreux to Chateau Chillon and then walk the 30 minutes back along the lake to the festival.

 

 

Chateau Chillon is worth the Trip

One of the most iconic things to do when you’re visiting Montreux is to walk along Lake Geneva and visit the 

ChateauChillon. What is it exactly? A gorgeous medieval chateau that was controlled by the Savoy family. We found it to be very well maintained and inside found lots of great information about living in the medieval times. The Savoy family only spent about one month a year here back in the 1400s. They would come with 300 horses, all their wares, and they would make furniture as soon as they arrived. I found it crazy to think that the family owned this beautiful chateau on Lake Geneva but only stayed a month out of the year!

 

Onto the Jazz Festival

After the chateau, we took a beautiful walk right along Lake Geneva back to Montreux. The Montreux Jazz Festival is a music festival in Switzerland about an hour and a half by train from Geneva. It was founded in 1967, lasted three days and was based in the Montreux casino. It was exclusively jazz at that time with Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Soft Machine Weather Report, and Ella Fitzgerald as some of the headlining artists. Nowadays, the festival lasts two weeks and happens every July. I suggest to visit all the shops along Lake Geneva where you can buy hats, shirts, and all the eclectic bohemian stuff that you would find at any festival. After that, you can head to the supermarket for some wine and snacks and sit at one of the picnic tables before you go see the music. That’s what we did.

 

 

We decided not to spend the155 Swiss francs to go see Slash and the other headliners. Instead, we went to the park to hear the wonderful artists that were playing there. All in all, it was a fabulous festival with the best views. I hope you enjoyed this blog. Make sure to stay tuned next week because I’m going to be paragliding in France!

 

A weekend in London

Welcome to my London travel experience! lt’s been 20 years since I’ve been to London and it happens to be an old home town of mine. Keep reading to find out what I did on my short weekend there.

A little about my journey in London

After graduating college from the University of Texas, I decided not to take the investment banking job on Wall Street I’d hoped to get… Instead, I packed up my bags, had $300 in my pocket, a one-way plane ticket and I moved to London! No, I didn’t have a job. No, I didn’t have a place to live. I ended up couch-surfing on a friend’s couch who I had met a year before and in about three days I found a job typing as a “Kelly girl” in the city of London.

I had planned to stay in London for 6 months but it turned out to be a year and a half! After that, I spent an additional three and a half years living in Europe. To say that this geographical move to London changed my life would be an understatement. This is where my love for travel really took off, and here I am 20 years later back in the city that I love with you.

Tips for where to Eat in London

One of the most fun things to do while you’re in London is to eat. There are so many restaurants and so many areas of London, it can be overwhelming! My suggestion is

  1. Pick a food genre
  2. Pick an area town
  3. Find out what you think is the best restaurant in the area with that particular food genre.

An example from this recent trip: I wanted something a little French and I wanted to be in Covent Garden. I wound up at a restaurant calle Le Beaujolais and I had some amazing French cheese and wine.

TIP: Make sure to try some of the amazing ethnic restaurants that are available. Some people say the Indian food in London is just as good, if not better, than the Indian food in India!

I hope you enjoyed this little blog about my short trip back in London. Tally ho!

What to know for your First Trip to London

What to know for your First Trip to London

This week I’m in an old hometown of mine, London England and I’m going to share with you some top tips for your first trip to London!

 

London is one of the easiest places for Americans to travel to; it is the mother country, after all!  This city feels like a more formal and ancient version of New York City and has everything you could want. London was my first taste of ex-pat life, where I worked as a temporary secretary in the city of London. I love the city and everything it has to offer. 

 

Flying into London

The first thing to pay attention to when you’re headed to London is which airport you are coming into. Did you know there are six airports in London? You want to make a note which one you are flying in and out of.

 

Where to stay in London

London is EXPENSIVE; there’s no doubt about that!  It’s easy to be overwhelmed and a little shocked when looking for accommodations in the city. Some of the most common questions I get are, “Where should I stay?”, “Is there anywhere affordable in London?”, “What about cheap Airbnbs?”  Honestly, cheap doesn’t exist, and if you think it’s cheap, it’s probably scary or so far out that you wouldn’t want to stay there. Not only is accommodation expensive, transportation is also expensive. So what to do? I suggest staying in a hotel inside The Circle Line (one of the Tube lines) for a couple reasons.  1. Time if of the essence, and you don’t want to waste precious hours riding the tube into the city. (TIP: Make sure your hotel is within 3-4 blocks of a tube station) 2. Transportation is also expensive and the further out you stay, the more expensive it will be to get into the city. If you’re visiting London for the first time, you will want to cough up the dough and stay as central as possible. 

 

Here are a couple great Hotel options when booking your trip to London: 

 

 

Money, Money, Money

A lot of people who are traveling to the UK are also traveling to the continental Europe, but it’s important to note: In the UK, they use a different currency! In the UK they use the British Pound. It is different than the euro that you’re going to using in France, Italy, Spain etc.  A great tip: Don’t bother exchanging money from your home currency into the British Pound while you’re at home. Just wait till you get to the UK and withdraw at any of the ATMs. The exchange rate is typically better. Make sure to notify your bank that you will be traveling so you can take money out.

 

How to get Around

The best way to get around is by the subway or the tube – it is the most efficient and least expensive way to get around the entire city. The tubes were used as bomb shelters during WWII! The subway system is easy to use and efficient, but there are some down sides. There are constant delays and certain lines not working due to maintenance issues.  On my last trip to London, I found this great Tube App that not only shows me the best route and travel time, it shows me which lines have delays. This app was invaluable on my trip, as it saved me time as well as stress when finding my way around the city.  Tip: I suggest getting the Oyster Card. It’s a $5 deposit and then it’s only seven British pounds a day for as many rides as you want to take. When you’re done, you turn in your Oyster Card, get your five pounds back for the card and any money left on your card. 

 

What should you wear in London?

It is 10 latitude degrees further north than New York City and it has 106 days a year average rainfall. That means bring warm clothes no matter what time of the year you’re here. Currently, it’s mid-May and packed with me a lightweight jacket, scarves, long pants and close toed shoes. The best shoes to wear in London are walking shoes. Whether you’re taking the tube, a taxi or just wandering around, you’re going to want to be in easygoing, comfortable shoes. As far as style, London is a lot like New York City, so anything goes! If you want to dress up and go to the Savoy for high tea, go for it! OR if you want to be low-key casual in your yoga pants, that works as well.

 

British English vs American English

I wanted to give you a few tips about the language differences between British English and American English. First of all, when you’re in a restaurant and you need a napkin, in London you need to ask for a serviette. (I tend to make a mess when I’m eating so I need lots and lots of serviettes!) Secondly, the boot is actually the trunk of the car. Additionally, when you are asking for the restroom or the ladies room you can actually ask for the loo. When you’re staying at your hotel and they tell you you’re staying on the first floor, that does not mean you are on the ground level. It actually means that you are one level up. In England G is the ground floor, then the first floor then the second floor. Finally, the difference between chips and crisps. Here in the UK chips are french fries and crisps are potato chips. 

 

Food to Try

Great Britain is not historically known for its food, but I do suggest that you give all the traditional British fare a try. Things to try:

  • Shepherd’s pie 
  • Bangers and mash 
  • Proper English Breakfast
  • Fish and chips 

 

 

Other things to Note

Remember that they drive on the other side of the road! If you’re renting a car, you’re going to be sitting on the right-hand side and if you rent a stick shift you’re gonna be shifting with your left hand. When you’re on the road about to turn, you have to look right, left, right! And lastly, note that the adapters for the UK are different than European adapters. 

 

If you enjoyed these tips and you’re headed to Spain, make sure to check out my video: Everything that you need to know before you travel to Spain. See you on the next adventure!

The Best of Toledo, Spain

The Best of Toledo, Spain

Are you looking for ideas for day trips from Madrid? In this video I share why Toledo is well worth the trip and what to do.

 

Toledo is one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe, and there is nothing like it in all of Spain. The cathedral is incredible, and there are plenty of monuments and museums to keep you busy. The beauty of Toledo is just getting lost. If you’re looking for a gorgeous medieval city, look no further!

Getting there

Toledo is located one hour South of Madrid. You can get there by bus – and that’s what I did.  I paid 5 Euros 50 and it was a 50-minute ride.  You can also get there by train, but do note: the trains don’t run as often as the bus. You can also drive, just make sure that your hotel has parking because it is very difficult to get parking in the old walled part of the city. 

Where to Stay

I stayed in a beautiful hotel called Hotel Boutique Adolfo. It is a 4-star hotel that opened in September of 2018. Best of all, it’s located in Plaza De Zocodover, the main plaza in Casco Historico Toledo, or the old walled City portion of town. This is where you want to be! Check out their availability here. 

 

How Long to Stay

Most people come to Toledo just for the day from Madrid, which is possible, but I recommend spending at least one night. The city is beautiful and quiet to see at night and there’s at least 24 to 48 hours worth of things to do in the city. The city is known for its food as well she want to make sure to stay long enough to try all the Delicacies including partridge, carcamusas, river trout and a hearty bean dishes. 

My Itinerary

I arrived 4 noon with a friend and was able to see the sunset from El Mirador which is the famous view point outside the walled City looking back to the walled City. 

The next morning, I got up and started my self-guided tour on the east side of the old city at Puente de Alcantara. I started here because the sun was better in the morning, perfect for filming and for the sunrise! I decided to work my way from east to west across the walled City, and finish my day at Puente de San Martin on the west.

After visiting Puente de Alcantara, I went to the Alcazar which is the Roman fortified building on the highest point in Toledo. There is a war museum inside. If you’re into this type of history, it’s worth a look! Since I’m not big into war things I didn’t go in, but I’m so glad I went for the view.

Next, I went to the cathedral called the primate Cathedral of Santa Maria of Toledo. I entered through the “Door of Forgiveness.” The Gothic style Cathedral dates back to the 13th century, and in my opinion, is the most impressive Cathedral in Toledo. It’s huge and bustling with tourists, for good reason!

My next stop was the El Greco Museum. It costs 3 euros and it was well worth the trip. They’re not even sure this was El Greco’s home, but it was purchased to show how people lived during the time that El Greco was alive. He moved to Toledo in 1577. The museum was nice and showed a typical kitchen and living space during the time. It also showed many of El Greco’s works. Note: they were not all originals. I loved the inviting garden to just sit and take a load off.

Next, I headed west through the Jewish part of the city to the oldest standing synagogue that is now owned by theCatholic Church called Santa Maria La Blanca. This is one of the most ‘instagrammable’ locations in Toledo with its white columns, white washed walls, and no furniture. It is located right next to the monastery San Juan De Los Reyes. After taking all of my Instagram photos at the synagogue, I raced back cross-town for my 4:30 tour of the city with the company called de Paseo. 

My tour was with Juan Pedro, but he like to be called Juan P. 🙂  Since there were no other English-speaking guests, I had a private tour!  I really enjoyed this tour because he didn’t take me to the main tourist sites. Instead, he gave me some of the stories and history of the city, and pointed out some of the unique spots throughout the Casco Historico. Book your walking tour with de Paseo here!

After my tour finished at 6:30 pm,  I headed to the infamous Bisagra Gate or the Puerta de Bisagra. It was so impressive and I wish I could have stayed longer but I had to get going to catch the sunset at Puente de San Martin.  

Have you ever been to Toledo, Spain? Leave a comment about your experience and if I’m missing any of your favorite spots!

 

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