12 Apr

I Want To ‘Go With Oh’ To London!!

You know how sometimes when you’re traveling there just isn’t enough time to fit everything in? You feel like you are rushing, maybe your plane is leaving a day earlier than you had thought? Ya, that’s where I’m at with London.

Oh, how I want to do it justice; really tour around and give it its due but, truth be told, the Go With Oh competition is closing a day earlier than I had thought…my plane is leaving and so I must rush so let’s make the most of it and see what we can.

London, for me, is a tourist city. Unlike some of the other cities I’m hoping to visit I have no need to pretend I’m a Londoner so I’ll be spending my time seeing all the tourist clogged, cliched, seen-in-all-the-glossy-magazines sights.

Buckingham Palace. I don’t think I could visit London without visiting the Palace. If I could see the Changing Of The Guard it would be even better.

Buckingham Palace, London

Photo Credit: Clarissa~

The London Eye. As the largest ferris wheel in Europe it must command some amazing views from the top. Sign me up!

London Eye Ferris Wheel

Photo Credit: KevGibbo

Big Ben and The Palace of Westminster. Who could visit London and not see Big Ben?

Big Ben, London

Photo Credit: trodel

Tower Bridge. Another iconic landmark that deserves a visit.

Tower Bridge, London

Photo Credit: StewartMorris

Camden Lock. It would be fun to watch the locks in action. See that patio up above? That’s where you’ll find us enjoying a pint and watching the action.

Camden Lock

Photo Credit: NickMillerUK

I know it’s been a quick tour, and I know that London has so much more to offer (I mean, really, what about all the pub stops I failed to mention? Have no fear I would sample my fair share of lagers and ales!) but they’re calling my flight and I really must get on the plane.

**You could win 500 Euros of accommodation with Go With Oh to see London yourself (and maybe even take your time)!! They’re also giving a way an iPad, a Panasonic Lumix Camera, and 500 Euro of Samsonite Luggage.**

 

 

 

12 Apr

I Want To ‘Go With Oh’ To Florence!

Florence (or Firenze as it’s called in Italian, which sounds so much better don’t you think?) is the capital of the Tuscany region of Italy. Tuscany conjures up images of complete relaxation for me. Great architecture surrounded by great landscapes within which I will enjoy great food and wine. I imagine it to be a fantastic place to complete a European tour -relaxed and worry-free before heading back to the real world.

Visit Il Duomo. One of the oldest brick dome structures in the world and a UNESCO Heritage Site, it is worth seeing just from the outside but the inside is even more stunning.

Il Duomo, Florence Italy

Photo Credit: Cleavers

Eat My Way Through San Lorenzo Mercato Centrale. I might have to give up my ‘no organs, no bugs’ rule here as non-traditional (at least in my tradition) meats are quite regular here. Lampredotto sandwiches are common; yep, cow’s stomach…but, so are prosciutto and fish and cheese and all kinds of yummy delicacies. Something tells me we’ll be spending a lot of time here.

San Lorenzo Mercato Centrale

Photo Credit: Yannick Carer

Drive Through The Chianti Region. I’ve heard it’s crazy to rent a car and drive in Italy but, really, could it be any crazier than renting a motorbike in Vietnam? I want to drive the winding roads, stopping by wineries whenever I feel like it and enjoying the scenery at my own pace. Maybe we’ll bring some of that prosciutto with us.

Chianti Region, Italy

Photo Credit: RickC

Passeggiata. The quintessential Italian ritual; an evening walk but not like any evening walk I’ve known. Dress up. Take your time. Enjoy some gelato. Gossip. I can do this.

Day Trip To Lucca. In 2009 while we were tramping around the dusty backroads, mountains, and valleys of Peru my very good friends were wining, dining and looking fabulous in Lucca. My pictures all show me sweaty and eating god-knows-what, while dressed in the finest backpacker wear;  her pictures show her looking fresh and happy, dining on pasta and prosciutto, while dressed in cute summer dresses and sandals. I wouldn’t trade my experience for the world but now I want a just little bit of what she had!

Lucca, Italy

Photo Credit: Context Tours

See? Relaxed. Just what you want after a long holiday. Perfecto.

**You could win 500 Euros of accommodation with Go With Oh to see Florence yourself!! They’re also giving a way an iPad, a Panasonic Lumix Camera, and 500 Euro of Samsonite Luggage.**

 

10 Apr

I Want To ‘Go With Oh’ To Paris!!

I’ve found the perfect apartment in Paris. An apartment in Paris!! To think I could even consider such a thing but, really, I think an apartment is the only way to go in this city-that-exists-to-be-a-city-not-to-be-your-playground.

Come on in. I thought for this episode of ‘Go With Oh and Gillian’ we could find five things to do in my new neighbourhood. Even if it is only for a week. Even if it is imaginary. For now.

An apartment means not having to deal with cafes and patisseries that cater to tourists only. We love to lounge in the morning enjoying coffee and catching up with the interwebs so it means a quick jaunt to the corner to get a croissant au beurre to accompany our house made coffee and hours of hanging out waiting for the city to wake up.

I love Google Street View! Look there’s a patissier right downstairs…

Paris Pattisier

With its narrow streets and parks dotted throughout, the Montmartre district is perfect for walking which is my favorite way to see a city (seconded only by hop on hop off bus Paris tours that run nearby!) Our apartment is only a 10 minute walk from the Basilica of the Sacred Heart (or Sacré-Cœur Basilica if you want to get all French sounding). This Basilica tops the Montmarte Butte and is not only a fabulous building to explore but also offers great views of the city.

Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Paris

Photo Credit: http2007

If it’s Saturday or Sunday we’ll stop at the bottom of the hill and spend a few hours bargain hunting at the Paris Flea Market. Don’t you just want to know what types of things Parisians are trying to get rid of? I imagine we’ll think it’s not junk at all but filled with beautiful treasures as we try to figure out the baggage limit of our return flight!

Paris Flea Market

Photo Credit: Julie70

I love urban cemeteries. Typically urban cemeteries are the oldest as it’s likely they were once on the edge of town and the city has grown around them. In fact, the Montmartre Cemetery replaced an inner city cemetery early in the 19th century after cemeteries were banned in the city proper due to health concerns. Of course now this once-on-the-edge-of-town burial site is once again in the center of the city. It’s these older cemeteries that have the most amazing tombs and gravestones. It’ll be interesting to wander around and see who is buried here.

Montmartre Cemetery, Paris

Photo Credit: SNappa2006

It’ll be a slow walk ‘home’ as we stop along the way for a glass of wine and to people watch. I think we’ll stop at the Brasserie right around the corner from the patissier from this morning. Great food, great wine…and a short walk home.

Paris Brasserie

Maybe we’ll never get to the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre…our new neighbourhood has so much to explore.

**You could win 500 Euros of accommodation with Go With Oh to see Paris yourself!! They’re also giving a way an iPad, a Panasonic Lumix Camera, and 500 Euro of Samsonite Luggage.**

07 Apr

I Want To ‘Go With Oh’ To Vienna!

Vienna makes me think of old world romance. Gilded chandeliers, lavish dinners, plenty of wine and luxuriating in our Oh-Vienna apartment.

Here’s our five point plan to making the most of a stay in the Austrian capital:

1. Coffee and Strudel. We’ll sleep late, lounge around and then step outside our apartment and stumble to the nearest cafe where we’ll slowly rouse ourselves while enjoying some of the best coffee and apple strudel on the planet.

Viennese Coffee and Strudel

Photo Credit: csaavedra

2. The Vienna Naschtmarkt. Once we’re thoroughly caffeinated we’ll make our way to the market where we can wander through sampling as much as we can before the coffee haze wears off.

Vienna Naschmarkt

Photo Credit: caramdir

3. Giant Ferris Wheel. The 100 year old Vienna Ferris Wheel is a perfect romantic icon of the city. We’ll cuddle up inside one of the restored cabins, take a spin and get some of the best views around.Vienna Giant Ferris Wheel

Photo Credit: MaximeF

4. Viennese Waltz. How could we come to the birthplace of the waltz and not catch some of the action? Although I would love, love, love to wheel and turn my way around the dance floor I will have to admit to my complete lack of grace and timing and sit patiently on the sidelines. Besides I have absolutely nothing to wear. Viennese Waltz

Photo Credit: Jeff Tabaco

5. Blue Danube Dinner Cruise. We’ll finish off the evening with dinner and a romantic cruise on the river. We’ll sip wine and enjoy fine Viennese cuisine while listening to the classical music born in the region and watch the sites as we float by. A perfect end to the day.Danube Cruise

Photo Credit: roger4336

**You could win 500 Euros of accommodation with Go With Oh to see Vienna yourself!! They’re also giving a way an iPad, a Panasonic Lumix Camera, and 500 Euro of Samsonite Luggage.**

03 Apr

I Want To ‘Go With Oh’ to Prague!

I’m embarrassed to admit that I know next-to-nothing about Prague. Other than it sounds all ‘old-worldy’ and must be filled with all kinds of great architecture. I imagine foggy street-scapes, imposing town squares and church spires. I actually had to look up which country it’s in. Embarrassing. (The Czech Republic…I’ll save you the time…’cause you were going to look it up too…right?)

Foggy Prague

See...like this. All 'old-worldy' and foggy.

Photo Credit: kiwi vic

Turns out it is all old-worldy and filled with great architecture. And of course I already knew that Czech beer is some of the best in the world so, that seals it, I have to go!

Our first stop would take a care of the ‘old worldy architecture’ and ‘great beer’ part of the tour:

Dating back to the 9th century the Prague Castle definitely falls in the category of ‘old’ and its history of occupation, liberation, and habitation qualifies it as ‘worldy’. A tour of this castle and its varying architecture styles would surely work up a thirst.

Prague Castle

Photo Credit: Sam and Ian

Which is good because the Strahov Monastic Brewery is just down the road. With its own history dating to the 17th century and a tasty St. Norberts Ale it would be the perfect place to finish off the day.

Strahov Monastic Brewery, Prague

Photo Credit: Al S

It’s not the Eiffel Tower (because then we’d be in Paris wouldn’t we?) but the Petrin Lookout Tower is worth a visit for the incredible views of the city from the top. The best part is that there is a funicular we can ride to the top in case we had too many beers the night before. I love funiculars because it’s always much easier to ride to the top of a hill rather than walking and because it has FUN in its name – how could you not love them!?

Petrin Tower, PraguePhoto Credit: Vlastula

The giant Metronome may not be as historied as other parts of Prague but it definitely fits the quirky and cool factors on the list of things to visit. I love public art and the weirder the better. What could be weirder than a giant music counting machine?

Prague MetronomePhoto Credit: http: macskafarok

And if we’re going to be keeping time then we should visit the Astronomical Clock to watch the march of Christ and his disciples every hour. I wonder if all twelve march every hour or if only the correct number per hour march? I’ll let you know!

Prague Astronomical ClockPhoto Credit: kainet

So I was serious when I said that I knew nothing about Prague but, after researching it a bit to see what I would get up to, I can say that Prague is definitely on my list whether I am the next ‘Go With Oh’ guest blogger or not.

**You could win 500 Euros of accommodation with Go With Oh to see Prague yourself!! They’re also giving a way an iPad, a Panasonic Lumix Camera, and 500 Euro of Samsonite Luggage.**

 

31 Mar

I Want To ‘Go With Oh’ To Venice!

Venetian Gondolier

Photo Credit: http: stoper

Ooooo-Soooollllleeee-Miiiiooooo….

Isn’t that what you think of when you think of Venice? A full moon, a handsome man at your side, bubbles in your hand and the gondolier paddling through the canals while crooning old Italian standards?

No longer. O Sole Mio is a Neapolitan tune and the gondoliers association has deemed it inappropriate. Oarsmen should be crooning Venetian songs to their passengers instead.  Besides, isn’t taking a gondolier ride passe? A pricey touristy fancy that should be avoided as cliche? Not terribly authentic any longer and filled with fanny pack toting turista?

I don’t care! I want to go on one anyway. I’ll close my eyes and ignore the fanny packs and the funny visor hats with sequins on them. I’ll pay the exorbitant fee, clink my champagne glass, sit back and enjoy every minute of it. Sometimes you just have to embrace the cliche!

One of my favorite things to do, especially in larger cities or those with great history, is to take a walking tour. I know, I know…I’m supposed to be an independent traveler figuring it out on my own…blah, blah, blah. I’m a lazy independent traveler. I love having a guide who will fill me in on the history of a place, give me a sense of scale, tell me what’s worth seeing and teach me the local custom. How else am I supposed to know whether it’s okay to order a cappuccino after breakfast or which way to twirl my spagetti on my fork?

Murano Glass

Photo Credit: shironekoeuro

Another classic image I have of Venice is of an artisan hunched over his art; shirtsleeves rolled up as ignoring the perspiration on his brow as he carefully sculpts a blob of glass before inflating it to its final form. The island of Murano, just off Venice, is the pre-eminent place in the world to experience glassmaking. I’ve seen the Murano glass ceiling of the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas and I’ve visited glass blowing studios on Granville Island in Vancouver. Watching this great artform take shape in such a historied location would be amazing.

I imagine that Venice is a photographers dream. Beautiful architecture, hazy light, canal reflections and iconic imagery. I imagine myself wandering around trying to capture it all and yet knowing that I can’t. I’ll try though. Pictures of waterways and bridges. Shots of old Italian women and their daily gelato (because if I was an old Italian woman I would eat gelato every day!). Photos of meals and wine as we enjoy them. Images of buildings from all kinds of angles. Close ups of quintessential Venice.

Venice Canals

Photo Credit: http: wenzday01

I’ve read that the best part of Venice is the back canals and cul-de-sacs. Where we could make our way early to the market to get fruit and cheese and bread for a lazy breakfast. Where we could slip back to our Oh-Venice apartment for an afternoon siesta. Where we could find tiny trattorias to visit night after night to gorge on pasta and pizza and wine. That’s the Venice that I really want to see.

**You could win 500 Euros of accommodation with Go With Oh to see Venice yourself!! They’re also giving a way an iPad, a Panasonic Lumix Camera, and 500 Euro of Samsonite Luggage.**

24 Mar

I Want To ‘Go With Oh’ To Rome!

For this imaginary (for now) trip to Rome I thought I would look for an apartment and pretend like I am actually going (which I will be if GoWithOh selects me as their next Guest Blogger….right, GoWithOh?).

During our travels we have stayed in apartments in Buenos Aires and Berlin. I love having a small apartment in a regular neighbourhood. Being able to have coffee and breakfast ‘at home’ in the morning, heading out to see the sights, and then returning to have our evening meal somewhere close by. Makes me feel like a local resident and lets me pretend, for a little while at least, that I am a Porteno, a Berliner, or perhaps one day, a Roman.

Which is how I found myself spending two hours on the Oh-Rome site this morning trolling through listings, looking at pictures, and using Google Street View to stroll through the lanes and piazzas to see what cafes and trattorias might be in the area.

The site was super easy to use. Simply select a date range and search. The results can be filtered by location, price range, apartment size and amenities or you can view all the options on a map. The details in the listings have everything I was looking for. Plenty of pictures, a list of characteristics and included equipment, a floor plan and detailed description. It also includes reviews from people who have actually stayed in the suite. The listing doesn’t include the exact address but the map pinpoints the location so I could easily find it on Google Street View.

The apartments all look beautiful with a European chic to them and the prices are what I think is reasonable to be living in the heart of such a worldly city – the ones I looked at, and would have chosen, were all under 100 Euro per night.

Although I, obviously, have not used the site to actually book an apartment I would recommend it as a place to look. It’s an easier method than the one I used to find apartments previously (a combination of guide book and extensive Googling), the quality of the stock looks great and the prices seem fair. I would definitely use GoWithOh if I was planning a trip to any of the ten cities they service.

So what would I do if I actually got to Rome? The classics of course!

The Colosseum

Colosseum in Rome

Photo Credit: OneRandomMonkey

Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain, Rome

Photo Credit: Caribb

The Roman Forum

Roman Forum

Photo Credit: MShai

Vatican City

Vatican City

Photo Credit: fsamuels

The Pantheon

Pantheon, Rome

Photo Credit: Silver Bromide

But mostly I would stick near my fabulous apartment visiting the cafes and trattorias and gorging on gelato!

**You could win 500 Euros of accommodation with Go With Oh to see Barcelona yourself!! They’re also giving a way an iPad, a Panasonic Lumix Camera, and 500 Euro of Samsonite Luggage.**