Voyage de Fontainebleau

 Chateau Fomtainebleau

The Main Courtyard.

“The true home of Kings” and “The house of ages” in the words of Napoleon.

Facade of the chateau

Facade of the château.

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Back side of the château.

View along Carpes Lake

View along Carp Lake.

The Chateau de Fontainebleau was inhabited more or less continuosly from the 12th century to the fall of Napoleon III in 1870. Today, its architecture, decor and opulent furnishings mean that visitors can still see how numerous French sovereigns have left their mark on the chateau. Inside there are works of art commissioned by many of the kings & queens along with their personal belongings and original furnishings in ornate designs.

The Chateau de Fontainebleau is one of very few royal residences in Europe to have been preserved in its entirety. The 11 euro entrance fee includes routes through; The Grands Apartments, The Renaissance and Throne rooms, Chapels and The Napoleon Museum.

Take a look at some of my favourite pictures from our tour this past weekend…

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The royal portrait gallery.

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Justin trying out his B&W photography in the “Plate Room.”

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Entrance leading to the Francais I Gallery.

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Audio guides costs 5 euros and were a great idea!

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Salon of Louis XIII

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It wouldn’t be a post without us!

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Inside the Empress Chamber.

One of the exterior doors.

One of the exterior doors.

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The canal behind you dates back from 1606 and the pathways covers approximately 321 acres. This unexplored area gives me the motivation for a return trip very soon!

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Walking through the “Jardin Anglais.”

Apparently this landscaped English-style garden wasn’t designed to Napoleon’s liking. Hmm, I wonder why? In this garden you’ll come across many different species of plants, rare trees, statues and an artificial river. Depending on your fondness for nature and your rhythmic stroll , expect to cover these areas in about an hour or so.

 Chateau Fomtainebleau Jeni Johnson

Jardin Anglais (English Garden)

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Exploring the grounds of Grand Parterre.

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Overlooking Carp Lake and Cour Fontainebleau from the south.

 Chateau Fomtainebleau Jeni Johnson

West view.

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Thanks for dropping! ‘Till next time…Jeni

Hola & Adios Madrid

Jeni Madrid

Wandering Hotel Miguel Angel

Hello everyone! I’ve just returned from a 4 day trip to Madrid, Spain. My first visit ever. One of the best things about living in Europe is that traveling to other countries are convenient and often times tickets are booked at a bargain. I feel so lucky living in Europe again and very happy to have had the opportunity to visit Madrid. Barcelona? Maybe next year!

Before leaving, I brushed up on my “Espanol” and even wrote down key phrases on a piece of paper to carry with me. My advice? Make an effort to learn some phrases of communication for every country that you visit. This demonstrates respect and openness in learning a new language and I believe that the effort that you put in are appreciated by the people you meet.

I had a great experience staying at the Hotel Miguel Angel. Our 7th story bedroom was comfortable and offered a great view of the lounge garden you see pictured above and below. The staff was helpful and friendly and the breakfast buffet met our needs. Oh! Even if you decide against the hotel accommodations, I’d like to suggest dining in their outdoor restaurant. It was sooo fabulously adorable, offers a fine dining experience and literally served the best prepared calamari I have ever tasted. Period.

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I stumbled upon another one of my favourite paintings, the “Figura en una finestra,” by Salvador Dali. One of his most realistic and finest paintings created during his lifetime. It’s such an amazing piece! I was so surprised when I saw it at the Reina Sofia Museum. These little joys in life make me so happy!

Salvador Dali; Figure at the Window, 1925

Salvador Dali; Girl at the Window, 1925

 Plaza de Cibeles

Plaza de Cibeles

Must haves for keeping cool in this 100 degree weather. Hat & Water!

Must haves for keeping cool in this 100 degree weather. Hat & Water!

I haven’t felt this much heat since living in Sacramento, California! Our first night in town, Justin ran into a work colleague who reconfirmed Madrid’s typically hot summers. Muy Caliente indeed! I slathered on so much sun screen that I barely tanned. It made sense that on Sunday, we’d spend most of the day at the “Parque Del Buen Retiro.”

There were plenty of shaded areas in this expansive and beautifully landscaped park, yet the boiling sun was barely tolerable. So maybe the cocktails here and there weren’t such a great idea, but those sangrias? Hello! I’m in Spain! Anyways, there’s more juice than wine in those right? Oh well, water was plentiful and my second best alternative substitute while on vacation. Heat or no heat. We enjoyed every minute of our park adventure.

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Justin and I braving the heat like lions!

Entering Plaza Mayor

Entering Plaza Mayor

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Our stroll back to the hotel.

There’s always plenty to do and see and never enough time to do it all…

I had my 1st true tapas and sangrias experience, strolled down Paseo de Recoletos during the gay pride parade with thousands of others. Opened up a bottle of un-imported Spanish wine. Laid on the grass taking selfie after selfie with the one I love. Wandered through the opera area and unsuccessfully found a movie theatre (relief from the heat) filming the documentary, “Amy” about Amy Whinehouse. I practiced the action button on our camera while a guy practiced his air jumping in front of the Plaza de la Armeria. Went to the same taco place twice and ordered the same thing because it was just too good not have again. Explored the area of Sol by walking in and out of shops and where I decided to buy a winter coat. The irony right?

This is what I love about traveling…you get to experience many of the authenticities of the culture you’ve probably experienced second-hand in your own country. It’s hard to explain in words, but it’s different because the experience seems more pure or credible. But also, it’s comforting to know that you can be in a completely different country and still experience similar comforts  from home. For example, some of the things I mentioned above like watching an american flick or eating Mexican styled tacos. Just because I’m in a new country doesn’t mean I need to constrict myself to experiences solely belonging to that country, but that I absolutely include experiences that are novelty to the country I’m visiting.

You know?

Happy Woman!

Happy Woman!

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DIY Project; Distressed Terracottas

I salvaged these 3 Habitat terracotta pots from our street side about 2 months ago and rather than buying the dirt and plants and later having to deal with hauling heavy plants from flat to flat, (plans to move within the next couple of years) I finally woke up this morning with a bright idea for a project! TABLES!

What a cheaper alternative than buying new tables when I become disinterested with my older ones. If you’ve followed my blog since those days while I lived in Sicily, you know that I enjoy sharing simple DIY projects and for the cheapest way possible. Also, you would know that I love using outdoor elements as indoor decor, right? Remember the sea bark? How about my rocks?

Anyways, I headed up to our local Castorama (past the fabulous Tour Eiffel. Check out todays instagram) and bought the cheapest paint possible at only 8.95 euros. My brush? Just 4.80 euros. Voila! You don’t always need a lot of money or need a bunch of materials to pull of a DIY project. Simply put in French, “Comment vous preferez!”

Here’s how I did-it-myself and all the materials I used.

Habitat terracotta pots

Habitat terracotta pots, why not keep the distressed look even with white top coat? 

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Just the essentials; basic white paint, 2 brushes an old sheet and rag. 

Use a dust brush to remove  underlying dirt and outdoor debris

Use a dust brush to remove any underlying dirt and outdoor debris. 

I used a multi-use paint with slight sheen I thought would work both indoors and outdoors.  

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I love the home store, Habitat! Why would any one toss these? Moving and didn’t want to haul them?

Just one layer of paint...

Just one layer of paint using a long sweeping motion and then alternating to a dapping motion. 

Once almost dry, take a wet rag...

Once the paints almost dry, take a wet rag.

Using circular motions to create a faux distressed look.

Use circular motions to create a faux distressed look. Re-paint if some areas become too sparse. I did!

I think this part looks great!

I think this part looks great and so I  barely covered it with paint. Very distressed looking…

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Finished! I set dry for 3 hours…

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This is how I’m decorating them “FOR NOW.” Our new-old bed side tables. 

One for the terrace.

One for the terrace.

Kind of organic looking right?

Kind of an organic way to decorate. If that’s even the term. Any how, I LOVE IT!

Where the Main meets the Rhein

Guten Morgen, Guten Tag or Guten Abend!

I’m starting off with something funny…or at least what I thought sounded funny. Frankfurt is where the Main (pronounced, mine) meets the Rhein (pronounced, rhine) Say it out loud? “Where the “mine” meets the “rhine!” This is exactly how our tour guide introduced his first sentence. His unintentional rhyming definitely introduced the first of many laughs while his cheerful humour kept our interests afloat during my tour with  ETS Frankfourt City Tours

Last week, I spent 3 nights and 4 days in Frankfurt, Germany. Although this trip was a more of a tag-a-long trip while Justin worked out of the Frankfurt office, I was happy to come along. I had planned on lounging around the Radisson Blu Hotel, watching movies, ordering room-service, swimming and working out, which I did for the most part. But on day two, I wanted to see something! I figured I wouldn’t really have much to do in the city other than shopping so a friend suggested that I visit the river Rhein. How about some castels? Yes! But just how was my lazy, seul self going to do that? BOAT CRUISE! And it was perfect.

I booked my trip here and selected Tour 1. The day tour to the Rhine Valley  included an English speaking guide, a bus ride, (5 euro sur-charge to be dropped off at your hotel at trips end) a 2 hour Rhine boat ride, lunch and wine tasting and all for just 81.00 euro per person. Our bus departed at 11:15, and drove us along the no-speed limit Autoban for about an hour until we reached the village of Rudesheim.

Rudesheim cable lift

Rudesheim cable lift

From there, we descended the mountain top by cable car (5 euro extra) until reaching the village below where we ate lunch at the plum coloured and artificially decorated restaurant “Zum Anker.” Everyone had the choice between a chicken or vegetarian entree that included french fries and a type of cole slaw. I wished I opted for the chicken because my vegetarian pancake was…well…flat. I skipped out on the wine tasting event next door so that I had time to explore the bed & breakfast village of Rudesheim. I think I spent more  time gawking at some of my tour group counterparts taking selfie videos of themselves standing next to everything and anything while imagining those images and videos being proudly displayed on every socially media platform available. Think of selfie sticks, video cameras and iphones capturing every single movement and self-sight. Oh gosh, it got to be really annoying. Maybe I was more annoyed because I was alone? Yeah. Pretty sure. I’m not a selfie picture and snap happy hog am I? Not even remotely close right? Anyways, I really took this opportunity for myself to admire the Germanic architecture and greenery surrounding me.  Boy was I craving a really good German beer and more pictures. SMILE.

Our group met back at 2:15 and headed towards the Rhine river where we boarded our 3 tiered cruiser the Bingen-Rudesheimer. The steamer ship sped with perfect pace so that we could all visually enjoy (from afar) the Medieval castles, charming villages and vineyards and of course that deliciously tall glass of Maisels Weisse beer. My first!

There are so many castels to be seen along this part of the Rhein from Frankfurt, but as I mentioned earlier, I wasn’t very snap happy, nor was I equipped with my zoom lens so several photos and my picturesque memory will just have to do. Pictured below are some of my favorites from the tour I would definitely venture back again.  Enjoy!

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Rudesheim Village

Mausetum Castle just across from where we lunched.

Mausetum Castle just across from where we lunched.

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Somewhere along the Rhein before Reichenstein

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Reichenstein village

Bacharach Castle

Bacharach Castle

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Burg Katz village

Castel Stahleck

Castel Stahleck

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Pfalzgrafenstein Toll Station on the island with Castle Gutenfels on the mountain side of Kaub.

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St. Goar village

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Some where along the Rhein…

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St Goarshausen