New (to me) Travel App; Fotopedia Paris

Loving the new-to-me Fotopedia Paris* app! I’ve had the Fotopedia Heritage app for a year now. The folks at Fotopedia know what they are doing! Both apps are well organized, full of great photos, easily searchable and free with useful features.

My trip, my plans, my map. Pretty cool eh?

What I love about the Paris app is the ability to tag photos by tapping the My Trip button (a stick figure walking). The end result is a series of photos, a virtual trip itinerary if you will, that will serve as excellent reminder of what I hope to see during our visit.

Going one step further you can even see all the points in your trip on a map. This is an excellent way to see the sights in relation to each other and to plan accordingly. Very handy if you only have a few days to explore.

You’ll find amazing photos of the Louvre, Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame, sure.  But what I love about this app is the ability to discover hidden gems like Place du Tertre in Montmartre not far from the Sacre Coeur Basilica. Places we might have otherwise missed.  No worries here! The app’s built in map includes all the metro stops & streets. Really, what more could one ask for?

Well, curious minds could ask for more information about the photos and the folks at Fotopedia obviously know this. There is clever built-in information button. A quick tap is your gateway to a Wikipedia summary (with link to full article) as well as a built in link to the Fotopedia site if you want to look for related photos. This feature is icing on the cake for a free app with 1,000 wonderfully taken photos!

Entertaining and educational there’s no reason not to download this app. It’s available for the iPhone and the iPad.

*Paris is the only first city to have its own dedicated app. Your city might be next. If you’d like your photos considered visit Fotopedia and find out more.

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Posted in France | Leave a comment

French cuisine at home: beef with carrots

photo from the Food Network Canada website

I have a confession to make.

Although I have been to Paris twice before I have not eaten much French food.

Rich sauces built around a lot of milk, cream or cheese do not work well with me, no matter how delicious.

On this trip I will finally visit one of the many fromageries because Dave loves cheese. Adding insult to injury, I don’t really care for wine either. I don’t hate it but I haven’t been enamored of those that I have tried.

Some say it is an acquired taste and perhaps they’re right. I say it’s a lot of effort and money to acquire such a taste; money better spent on buying art or yarn. A French chef would surely run from me, screaming in fear, I am such a scary barbarian!

The last time I was in Paris I enjoyed many fabulous meals. My absolute favourite was at a Mexican restaurant in the 10th with the nicest tri-lingual waitress. I hope they are still in business so I can eat there next month. I had a lovely haddock dish at a small Parisian restaurant owned by the chef. (Regrettably, I can’t remember exactly where.)   If only I could show you how huge this fish was – it hung over the sides of the plate! How did we live without the convenience of a smart phone with a high quality camera built in?

I stopped in many (and I mean many) boulangeries and patisseries to try the specialty of the house, of course. (I’m not a complete barbarian.)

These days I am actively pursuing more knowledge about French cuisine. The process, presentation and variety of recipes intrigue me. One of my earliest discoveries was Laura Calder’s Beef with Carrots.

This recipe is easy to follow* and a real crowd pleaser. Unlike many beef stews this recipe is not built around tomato sauce. For something so simple it really has great depth of flavour and easily feeds a crowd. We have a larger than average family so a recipe like this is a real godsend. Serve with a loaf of fresh French bread and your favourite dessert and you’ll have the enjoyment of fine dining at home for the right price.

With beef it’d be a glass of red, n’est-ce pas?

*Full disclosure: I did not add any dry wine to the recipe and it was still delicious.

Posted in Dabbling in the Kitchen, Europe 2011, France | 1 Comment

St Pancras Station (via //// BEN ROWE photography ///////)

Not only am I testing out the WordPress Reblog feature, I am sharing a blog post with some fabulous pics of St. Pancras Station in London.

Having tickets on the Eurostar I knew St. Pancras is home to the Eurostar but I had no idea it also boasts Europe’s longest champagne bar.

The things you can learn with a few clicks of a mouse! Thanks Ben Rowe!

St Pancras Station St Pancras Station, London. Home to high speed national train connections, the Eurostar and now Europe's longest champagne bar, the station will serve as a major transport hub during the London 2012 Olympics. Time Out London guide edition 18 … Read More

via //// BEN ROWE photography ///////

Posted in MIsc | 2 Comments

Blogging with Blogsy

Deciding to travel with an iPad is an easy decision to make with regards to consuming content but what about producing content? Blogging on the iPad was looking like a one way path to frustration. After a bit of research I have decided to give the Blogsy app a try. That means this post is part of the learning curve. Wish me luck!

The whole point of blogging while traveling is to share photos, right? Let’s put Blogsy through the paces with an image from Flickr. While we’re at it let’s put in a link to Flickr too!

So far so good. I snap a pic with my phone and email it to Flickr. My Flickr account is easily accessible through Blogsy. (I plan to avoid paying for overseas data usage by emailing photos and blogging from WiFi zones. This will take some restraint but is doable!)

Posts while traveling will probably be short and contain only a few pics. I’m hoping Blogsy will make formatting a snap as I don’t want to use more than 5 minutes blogging. How easy is it to create a list with Blogsy?

Here are a few things we are hoping to do in Barcelona and to blog about later:

It’s easier to post a list of things one wants to do rather than creating a list of all that needs doing before departure!

To sum up my first experience with Blogsy:

App seems worth the $4.99 I paid.

This post has taken about an hour to create and that includes time researching apps, buying Blogsy, watching the how-to videos (built conveniently into the app) and writing the post.

I am pleased thus far. Using Blogsy will get quicker with practice and the app has so many features otherwise not available to an iPad blogger using WordPress.

Posted in Europe 2011, MIsc | 2 Comments

Have iPad, Will Travel

With only 22 days remaining before we leave I find myself pondering the practicalities of packing.  Packing the right clothes for a given climate is important. One can always buy an umbrella but walking around in shorts when it is cold out is less than pleasant!

Dave is planning on walking around in cargo shorts, even in Iceland with an average high temp of 50°f (10°c) in September.   If this actually happens there will be pictures here to prove it and I will have to eat humble pie.

A suitcase holds shoes and clothes for every possible ‘what-if’ but our backpacks are limited in space.  Careful decisions need to be made.  Bringing souvenirs home becomes something of a discussion in its own right.  What can be brought home?  What about travel between countries? Where will it all fit?

I have heard that one cannot bring any food into or out of Iceland.  If this is true the kids won’t be getting any candy from Iceland unless we ship it to them.  This would also mean shipping from Spain or the UK before coming home because we have a 2 hour layover in Iceland on the way home.

In researching personal exemptions I found  I Declare: A guide for residents of Canada returning to Canada. I recommend reading it as it has a lot of useful information.

From pages 5 & 6:

After each absence of 7 days or more

You can claim up to CAN$750 worth of goods without paying any duty and taxes.

There are special conditions for bringing home alcohol and tobacco, of course, so do the research if you need those details. And receipts are expected for what you bring home so make room in your wallet!

I also stumbled onto some info about declaring electronics* before you leave. This is a good idea so you won’t be facing duty on an item you already own. I would imagine the average camera wouldn’t come under any scrutiny as taking photos when traveling is clearly the norm.  A more expensive camera may prompt a question. You can reach Border Information Service at 1-800-461-9999 (TTY: 1-866-335-3237) if you have any questions.

I gave them a call and found that I should declare my iPad. They’ll make note of it and give me a shiny sticker to prove its mine. The other option would be to show the receipt upon re-entering the country. Seriously? My iPad was a gift, months ago, and if I had the receipt I wouldn’t want to carry it around Europe for days on end!

My solution is a trip to the local CBSA office to fill out form Y-38 and to budget money for shipping expenses.  We want care-free and quick travel as backpackers, after all!

*Items with unique serial numbers.

Posted in Europe 2011, MIsc | Leave a comment

Beer and boats on IcelandAir

Euros reserved for beer and a boat

Today I’m thinking of Barcelona, longing for another trip to my personal happy place Park Guëll.

Dave is thinking  about beer and a boat on the flight.  More like he’s thinking of  2 beer and a sandwich for 5 Euros. He’s got the money ready to go next to his countdown.

I’m thinking that if something sounds too good to be true….

My prediction is he’ll get a sandwich and a bag of Doritos for 5 Euros OR a beer and Pringles. We’ll see who’s right and how the money is spent.

(Okay, so I cheated and looked it up. Don’t tell Dave.)

For a flight that leaves at 10 p.m. local time my only thought is in finding a way to turn off the excitement and get some shut eye. We arrive in Reykjavik at 5 a.m. local time but it’ll feel like 2 a.m. to us.

Later that day will have me looking for a boat of my very own for lunch, for sure. Pics to follow!

Posted in Europe 2011, Iceland | Leave a comment

Tapas anyone?

As our trip approaches I find myself very interested in learning more about the food we’ll encounter in our travels. I’ve been branching out; finding new-to-me recipes and preparing them.  It’s a cheap way to enjoy a bit of the exotic from the comfort of home.

Tortilla, photo from Food Network Canada's site

Recently Dave and I found ourselves alone for dinner.  What a perfect time to put together a meal of tapas for just the two of us.

Luckily I had seen an episode of Ricardo and Friends, on Food Network Canada, so I had recipes in hand. After a trip to Barcelona he was inspired to create this menu. What better way to build anticipation for a trip, and to keep cooking interesting, than to try something new?

I made three of Ricardo’s recipes.

My tortilla looked just the photo above (seriously, it did) and was very tasty. The shrimp were amazing.  I enjoyed the Endive with Melon and Prosciutto.  I made a few with just ham and melon and they were very enjoyable, even without the endive.  It’s not always easy to find endive, and it’s never really cheap, so I thought I’d try a modified version.  I cheated, ahem… modified, a step further by using Serrano ham instead of Prosciutto.  It was cheaper and more a Spanish taste anyway.

The last time I was in Spain (1999- Madrid & Barcelona) I was on a shoestring budget. That’s putting it mildly!  To be young and to travel was really enough for me. Going to a tapas bar was just not in the cards.  This trip is a different story, thankfully.

Posted in Dabbling in the Kitchen, Europe 2011, Spain | Leave a comment