Posts Tagged With: 2012

Christmas in Paris

Eiffel Tower, Paris

Eiffel Tower, Paris

We spent Christmas 2012 in Paris, France. Paris had always been on our radar for “must see” destinations in Europe and this grand city did not disappoint. Given its sheer size and historical significance we spend 6 full days touring the major sites, enjoying great food and doing our best to immerse ourselves in French culture. Christmas is a special time of year to travel in Europe and this was our second year in a grand destination (in 2011 we were in Rome, Italy). It was hard to be away from family and friends during the holidays but in a small way visiting sites like the Eiffel tower and St. Peter Basilica on Christmas day creates it’s own special memories.

Our itinerary was filled with top sites and a few “offbeat” destinations that provided a mix of touristy interactions with intimate and exciting adventures.

Champs Elysees, Rue Cler and Christmas Markets: Shopping is an important staple of the holiday season and there is no better place in the world to shop than the Champs Elysees. Home of Louis Vuitton, Prada and just about every other famous fashion brand, a trip down this grand boulevard can cause serious damage to your credit card. Fortunately we did more window shopping than actual buying 🙂

Le Café du Marche in rue Cler

Le Café du Marche in rue Cler

Christmas Day Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral: Notre Dame Cathedral is an iconic landmark on the Left Bank of Paris. We spend Christmas morning on huge bleachers outside the cathedral watch the service on the “jumbotron.” The rest of the day was filled with long walks though famous parks and a delicious dinner at Le P’tit Troquet, a small family run restaurant with amazing Fois-grois (something I would usually never dream of ordering).

Christmas Day Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral

Christmas Day Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral

In the steps of my favorite author: As a huge Hemingway fan, I couldn’t leave the city without visiting his famous “haunts” as referenced in some of my favorite books – The Sun Also Rises and An Immovable Feast. A majority of my Birthday was walking the Left Bank enjoying some Hemingway “signature cocktails” and excellent food in legendary establishments such as Les Deux Magots, Café de Flore, and Brasserie Lipp.

In The Sun Also Rises, Jake Barnes meets Lady Brett at Les Deux Magots.

In The Sun Also Rises, Jake Barnes meets Lady Brett at Les Deux Magots.

Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, Orsay Museum: A trip to Paris is not complete unless you have a chance to appreciate the great architecture and influential art. The Louvre and Orsay Museums enjoy impressive collections from famous painter all around the world. From a historical perspective the Louvre is top-notch but, I enjoyed art from the Orsay much more. The Eiffel Tower, a work of art in its own right, was a wonderful experience and well worth navigating the expected crowds and lines.

Mona Lisa (and her crowd) in the Louvre

Mona Lisa (and her crowd) in the Louvre

For more Images from Paris, please visit my website at www.erikfunfar.com

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Categories: Europe Travel, France | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Albufeira: The Portuguese Costa del Sol

My company held their annual retreat at the wonderful Sheraton Algarve Hotel in Albufeira, Portugal. This area is considered the most “touristy” part of the country and for good reason. The beautiful beach is lined with higher end resorts catering to mostly European tourists heading south to enjoy the sun. DUS joined me in Albufeira and we enjoyed four days of great dinners, spending time with work colleagues and enjoying the spring sun that eluded us in Scandinavia.

I’m proud to say that I won a company award called the “Leading Edge Award” for pioneering a new business offer around leadership development training based on business performance coaching.

Leading Edge Award

Leading Edge Award (click for more images)

We had a great time in Albufeira but I think I finally cemented my long believe that I am not a “resort” guy. I love spending time relaxing and doing nothing. I like the beach, reading books and general act of being somewhere to just chill. However, I need a little more in my travel. I need authenticity and to interact with the soul of a place.

Chillin' on the beach in Portugal

Chillin’ on the beach in Portugal (click for more images)

Having been to both the major “sun holiday” tourist areas in Europe, the Costa del Sol in Spain and Albufeira in Portugal, I can see why most adventure tourists steer clear from these areas. Their infrastructure and higher class of living is great, but they are sucked dry of all authenticity by catering to people who are looking to vacation in another without any of the natural things that come with being in another country: Authentic food, native language, local culture and the genuine “feeling” of another place. I struggle to understand why other European countries seem to colonize these areas in an attempt to make them a mirror image of their home countries. When we visited similar areas in Turkey, Spain, and Greece it makes me upset to see restaurants on every street corner flying the Union Jack and advertising “full English Breakfast” while blaring Phil Collins. Or going to “local” pubs where advertising English only menus and cricket on TV. Please don’t get me wrong, I’m all for capitalism. But from now on when we leave cold and dark Scandinavia, we will continue to seek out more authentic places like the other areas we visited in Portugal.

Categories: Europe Travel, Personal, Portugal | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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