Archive of ‘Travel’ category

Sofia Christmas Market Adventure 2017

I spent my birthday in Sofia, one of my favorite cities in the world. My birthday celebrations started on the plane where I was seated alone in the emergency row with more leg and arm room I knew what to do with. We rented another wonderfully decorated and cozy  Airbnb on the top floor of a 70 year old building. For my big day, I ate 5 star sushi for lunch at the Radisson with a huge Singapore Sling to wash it down, watched a live football match at the arena, visited our friends at Beera for craft beers, drank hot wine at the Christmas market while watching a super lively concert, went shopping after said wine and bought a bunch of things I probably don’t need and finished the day off with a mini dance party and Skype with friends (which I don’t remember). Perfect holiday.

Baden-Baden Christmas Market adventure 2017

Baden-Baden!!! What a wonderful little German spa town. I hope everyone gets to visit this opulent place at least once in their lives. The buildings are incredibly maintained, not one scratch of paint or dirt, people are excessively friendly and they have one of the cutest Christmas markets in Germany. 

We stayed in a wonderful AirBnb in the center, cooked steaks every night, ate sausages by day, drank hot wines at the Christmas market, spent a wonderful evening in the most elaborate spa I’ve ever seen (click here), crashed a film festival in the iconic Baden-Baden casino and drank local beers in a smokey bar with a bunch of awesome immigrants after their shift. 

Though smaller than the Strasbourg Christmas market, Baden-Baden held its own with higher end fairs, a concert and real animals in the manger.   

Strasbourg Christmas market adventure 2017

The Strasbourg Christmas market is one of the oldest and largest Christmas markets in France. Old Town becomes pedestrian only, shops and hotels decorate their facades and little wooden huts popup everywhere selling regional good and treats. The streets are filled with joyful people drinking hot wines. We were so excited to meet our friends from Luxembourg on the Sunday for drinks, shopping and carousel rides. 

We are here for the Strasbourg Christmas Market in France.

A few years back my Canadian friend Janna who lived in London told me about her yearly tradition of visiting a new European Christmas market. She and her boyfriend have travelled from Norway to Slovakia exploring these magical markets and with every one of their Facebook posts my jealousy grew. Inspired by my friends, Matt and I are starting off our Christmas season with a triple Christmas Market attack plan (we have some catching up to do). Step one, the famous Strasbourg Christmas Market. Step two, Baden-Baden Market spanning the grounds of the famous casino (November 27-28). Step three, Sofia’s German/Bulgarian Christmas Market where we will celebrate my birthday (35…seriously getting old!). These are photos taken with my phone in Strasbourg.

Shops, hotels and apartments decorate their facades with Christmas decorations which gives the whole town a storybook atmosphere. 

It’s been raining on and off. People bundle up…some even look like “boules mousse”.

The most amazing tree.

The tree matches my jacket. 

Hot red or white wines, hot apple juice and hot orange juice.

Girl party! No boys allowed!

Every year I try to do something fun with my little Russian neighbours, this year I threw a “Girl Party” in my tiny apartment. We baked cupcakes (12 people in a 450 sq/ft area with the oven blasting in 30 degree weather), made icing from scratch and decorated everything with candies and fruits. We listened to jazzy music while we cooked (their choice) and played girly dance music while we waiting for the cakes to cool. Post cupcakes I taught the girls how to play Pictionary and everyone thought it was “sooooo coool” that I let them use erasable markers to scribble on the window instead of using regular paper. These girls are truly amazing, I couldn’t believe how sweet and polite everyone was, I just loved having them over! Next year I’m organizing a lantern festival, I’m already excited!

Girl Party!

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Stotinki sneaking in a cuddle with Margo.

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The marshmallow tripled in size in the oven.

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Bragging to friend in Russia and Poland.

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The powdered food colouring dyes everything, Sasha might have a blue mouth for the rest of her life. P.S. How cute are these girls!!!

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Margo!

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The frosting got a bit messy.

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Diana sporting this year’s shade of neon green.

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I respect Dasha’s attention to detail and fierce concentration.

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The cupcakes were really darn good.

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I think they had fun.

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We played a medium level (all in English) Pictionary game without any problems or language barriers.

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My favorite drawing was Olivia’s masterpiece, the flamingo! Ha ha we laughed so hard!

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I chose a vanilla cupcake filled with sprinkles and gummy bears topped with rainbow icing. Perfect party with my fantastic friends!

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Zheravna Bulgaria for Valentine’s day.

We spent Valentine’s day in a cute little village called Zheravna in central Eastern Bulgaria. This village is known for its historical wooden houses (between 200-300 years old) surrounded by stone walls and cobblestone alleys. We where there during the “off season” which meant we were the only tourists in town.

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View from our room.

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Homemade Polish milk caramels.

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UP CLOSE!

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Downtown Geneva.

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Boxed wine…I mean milk.

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You can’t really see what’s happening here but it’s a machine designed to melt large amounts of cheese which you then pour over your entire meal. Genius!

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I was named after this lady! How random to see her displayed in a window downtown Switzerland.

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Quick tour of Geneva, Switzerland.

Our day started with “to go” wines, people probably thought my coffee was bleeding.

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This is the ceramics museum. We never went inside but the grounds were beautiful.

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I kept thinking there were hospitals everywhere but no, it’s the Swiss flag.

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A Polish Canadian man who lives in Bulgaria standing in front of the United Nations in Switzerland.

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A big three legged chair.

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I should probably find out the significance of this chair.

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The chair, again.

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Geneva has an eclectic variety of buildings.

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A tour of C.E.R.N., Switzerland.

I’m going to try and explain the C.E.R.N. tour to you guys but it’s a little difficult as 90% of what was said and shown went WAY over our heads. “Founded in 1954, the CERN laboratory sits astride the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva. It was one of Europe’s first joint ventures and now has 22 member states.” The process starts a minimum of 2 weeks before you even set foot on the grounds, all people interested in touring the facilities must apply online and be granted permission to visit. It’s 100% free of charge!

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C.E.R.N. (Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire) is part of a huge University campus. The tour starts in the reception building where you sign in and are free to visit the small museum while you wait for your group to arrive. This dome shows a short film twice an hour.

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The collider is contained in a circular tunnel, with a circumference of 27 kilometres (17 mi), at a depth ranging from 50 to 175 metres (164 to 574 ft) underground.

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This is what their backup tape arrays look like, storing petabytes of experiment data.

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An old cross section of the pipe that encases the tubes holding the particle beams.

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Cool things?

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The “Matt” particle.

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The tours are given by staff member scientists (I’m assuming whoever pulled the shortest straw that day) and begin in a cold dark room holding a replica accelerator. Particle physicist Jean-Paul explains C.E.R.N.’s achievements timeline and answers any kind of questions you may have. Did you know the World Wide Web was born here?

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Next, a movie is played along with a cool light show dumbing down the whole process, making it easy for anyone to understand how particle tests are conducted.

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An actual section of the accelerator.

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Next, the tour continues in the office where data is analyzed. We watch another movie (3D) then get to peek into the Atlas control room, oddly enough we arrived on a day when experiments where not being held. Tests are usually conducted 30 hours at a time back to back.  

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Lego!

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That’s pretty much it for the tour. It’s not riveting but very fascinating, as I’ve mentioned before, most things said will probably go over your head. I was surprised how busy it was, there where several tours happening in many different languages, our group consisted of about 20 people from around the world. 

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Gex, France. The cutest little town in the French alps.

Only 20 km from Geneva, Gex is an adorable tiny town in the Franch mountains.

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Our awesome apartment had a balcony and full kitchen.

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Oh, and horse neighbours.

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The horse in the back stuck his tongue out for the photo.

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Cool.

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I love pink!

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This pub was AMAZING! We went everyday for little wines.

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Affordable little wines.

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So much cheese.

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Scallops with a mustard crème fraiche sauce.

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Horse steak, grassy greens and carrots, a natural pairing.

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Palermo views.

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Palermo party!

Borzi city center rooms. Only 2 months old, very central and clean. cute place with young owners, great place.

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Main pedestrian street.

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Deep fried artichoke hearts.

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Giuseppe.

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Pretty bouquet.

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Fleeing the scene.

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5 year anniversary with seafood and a skipline competition.

Hello wonderful restaurant. Thank you for frying the catch of the from the fish market (2 meters away) so perfectly. Thank you for the octopus salad.

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Skipline competition 2016.

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Sunday street fish market in Catania.

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Best homemade cannolis in the world around the corner.

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Fancy train to Palermo.

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