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Best Time To Visit Paris

Paris is one of my favorite cities in the world. The food, the wine and the artistic wonders keep me returning year after year.  But, not all seasons are created equal in the city of lights.

Here’s a short breakdown of what to expect each season:

 

SPRING

Credit: Cristiano Medeiros Dalbem / Flickr

From March to May, the chill in the air subsides and the flowers begin to blossom. Spring in Paris is literally the muse for hundreds of painting and songs. Though rain is extremely common, the sunny spring days offer an opportunity to see the city with fewer tourists. Shorter lines and lower airline prices make this a worthwhile season if you can swing the time off from work. There are many religious holidays celebrated in France during this season, so be sure to check the calendar as there are sure to be museum closures.

 

SUMMER

Credit: David Brooks / Flickr

Often the most advantageous time for families to travel, you will most definitely see higher hotel and flight prices and lines can be quite ridiculous in the summer. It also rains often in the early summer months, especially in June and July. During the summer, the sun doesn’t set until almost 2200 hrs making the city a little easier to traverse for single or unfamiliar tourists.

In August just about every Parisian leaves the city for their annual holiday. The streets are quiet, but if you’re looking to meet and chat with locals, you will have quite a challenge because most of the people you run into will be other tourists! With most of the work force gone, many restaurants, night clubs and shops will be closed. Be sure to call ahead to ensure your favorite spots will be open.

 

FALL

Credit: Christophe Bitton / Flickr

The autumn leaves falling in the Tuilleres Garden is quite a magnificent sight to behold. Much like spring, fall can be rainy and cold, but there are fewer tourists and shorter lines. The days will still be long so you can enjoy the city well into the night.

 

WINTER

Credit: T W I N K A

Although the city of lights will be emblazoned with bold reds and sparkling lights, winter is extremely cold in Paris. If icy weather and snow-covered walks is your holiday dream come true, then you will certainly enjoy Paris in winter!  Just be sure to pack your winter coat and boots!

 

Of course, Paris is beautiful at any time of year, but hopefully this short guide will help you better plan your journey!

Where to find Stroopwafels in the U.S.

While in Amsterdam I tried syrup waffles or stroopwafels and immediately fell in love.

Sweet and crispy with just a hint of cinnamon, I couldn’t get enough of these buttery treats on our trip to the Netherlands…luckily we found them just about everywhere!

If you happen to be in Amsterdam, there are a variety of stroopwafels to choose from. The BEST stroopwafels I tasted in Amsterdam can be found at the Original Stroopwafels stall in the famous Albert Cuyp Market.

Original Stroopwafel’s delicious wares

…but, what if you return home with a hankering for these yummy treats (like me)? Here’s a round-up of a few stroopwafel spots in the U.S.:

Los Angeles:

The Dutch Bakery & Variety Foods store in Pomona, CA is a one-stop shop for EVERYTHING Dutch. Though they don’t make stroopwafels fresh, they import them fresh from the Netherlands regularly.

?: Patrick R./YELP

The Holland International Market is another store located in Southern California that has imported stroopwafels and other Dutch treats, but they also have regular events to help educate and introduce the delicious foods of Holland to the local community.

New York:

At the Williamsburg Smorgasburg (held on Saturdays) you’ll find everything from ramen burgers to vegan beet sliders. You’ll also find a stall using stroopwafels in some pretty crazy ways…like as an ice cream sandwich!

Miami:

At Dutch Amore in Hollywood, FL they’re serving up stroopwafels as a sweet smore sandwich and the traditional way, with a touch of warm syrup. They also fry up the well-known Dutch treat bitterballen which are croquettes filled with warm gravy, breaded and deep fried.

?: Dutch Amore/YELP

Portland:

Smaaken Waffles is a unique food cart making savory sammies out of Dutch waffles. I’m sure you could get a traditional syrup waffle if you asked, but the Van Gogh with bacon, cheddar and syrup is a pretty fantastic diversion!

 

?: @smaakenwaffles / Instagram

Of course, if you can’t find fresh stroopwafels in your hometown, you can purchase the pre-packaged  goods at retailers like Cost Plus/World Market and Trader Joe’s, as well as online at Amazon… trust me, any stroopwafel is better than no stroopwafel at all!

Four Airline Hacks For Travelers On A Budget

?: Jorge Díaz/Flickr

About three weeks ago I traveled on WOW Air for the first time. The price was about as unbelievable as the soul crushing reviews continuously pouring in on  consumer reporting sites. If this wasn’t a quick trip to meet my globe trotting husband in Amsterdam, maybe I would’ve reconsidered or perhaps flown something safe and trusted. But, like I said, the price was unreal and I could already hear the EDM beats pumping at the late-night Dutch disco techs…I had to press on.

WOW Air is similar to many other pay and play airlines that offer stark discounts in their base fares while placing the onus on patrons to pay for the additional luxuries they deem necessary. United Airlines, Norwegian and so many others are introducing these base level seats for passengers looking to save a few dollars.

No, this is not the air travel of yesteryear where you could enjoy exotic dinners, fresh brewed morning coffee and an endless supply of complementary pillows, blankets and peanuts. I know, I miss those days, too.

With these four simple hacks you’re ensured to fly comfortably and affordably even while sitting  in the cheap seats.

 

Get Down and Dirty with Duty Free

?: Tino Rossini/Flickr

Purchasing alcohol on planes has always been pricy, but in the last couple of years the fees on your favorite cocktails have skyrocketed. On WOW Air, wine and spirits ranged from $9.00 – $15.00. The only beer option was an Icelandic brand called Gull that I wasn’t familiar with. Not outrageous, but if you’re planning on starting your vacation party early, those little bottles can quickly add up.

Stop by the duty free shop for a bottle of premium liquor or a chilled bottle of wine with a twist off cap (like the $19 bottle of Napa Valley Chardonnay I opted for). WOW Air says they don’t allow patrons to open duty free items on the plane, but the stewardess happily offered me a plastic cup so that I could discreetly pour my delicious, buttery chard into!

 

Watch your Sizes

?: Nicole Hanusek/Flickr

Most airlines offering these a-la-carte fares have MANY restrictions, but the most consistent across the board are bag sizes. On WOW and United you could only bring a small personal item (i.e. a purse or a briefcase) for free. A tiny bag might cut it for a weekend getaway, but could be harder to pull off for a two week international holiday. From my research I’ve found that it’s always cheaper to buy a carry-on or checked bag at the time of your airline ticket purchase. If you wait, additional fees will be added to your costs, so plan ahead. Also, drag out that dusty bodyweight scale and weigh your bags before your get to the airport. If you go over the dimensions or weight, you will most definitely be looking at a stiff bill at the check-in counter.

Take a Meal To Go

On my last trip to LAX, I had the most disappointing caprese salad I’ve ever experienced in my life. My Italian friends would’ve been livid, especially since the appetizer-sized simple salad cost over $15.00. On my trip to Amsterdam, I refused to make that same mistake again. I ordered a sandwich from one of my favorite shops on the way and asked them to hold the condiments. After a quick trip to the grocery store for individually packaged trail mix and a delectable fine cheese snack pack, I was ready for the eight hour journey to our stop in Reykjavik! Remember: you want something that’s going to travel well and that won’t go bad over the duration of your journey.

(CAUTION FOR WOW AIR FLIERS: The airport in Reykjavik is a hub for WOW so you will most likely stop through there. If you plan on getting food or cocktails, check the prices carefully. Reykjavik is EXTREMELY expensive with a pre-made sandwich costing me $20 USD. )

One new service I am anxious to try on my trip to Paris next month is   Loungebuddy. It’s an app that allows you to pay a nominal fee for entry into airport lounges all over the world. Some lounges offer free meals, while others serve up complementary signature cocktails. If you’re in a foreign country without a chance to stop for a snack, this might be the next best thing!

 

If You Can’t Beat ’em Buy ’em

?: Gary Bembridge/Flickr

As much as you might try, some perks you’re just going to have to pay for. I opted to buy an aisle seat and purchased a carry-on bag for each leg of my flight. Though it cost me an additional $200 on my fare, it was worth it! Anything from extra legroom to entertainment is up for auction these days and the earlier you buy the better…prices go up and options become scarce the closer you are to your travel date.