28 Nov 2012

That Itch..

Those who know me know I have a pretty extensive resume of employers even though I’ve only been working full time for about 8 years. Granted half of my resume consists of contract vacancies therefore the position is only available as long as the project has funding.

Last week the monthly Career Oppourtunities email got sent out and admittedly I do always have a look to see what’s available internally. Usually there’s nothing really up my alley, working for a brokerage firm most roles are either client, sales or administration based. Our IT department in Australia is small and in my opinion still in its infant stages. I say this cause the systems we offer are behind than say the retail side of finance but … I do work for a brokerage firm. Revolutionary technology is not their key business generating sales is. I think until the old school brokers, who don’t even touch a computer retire it’s really hard to change how things are done here … anyways …

I’ve been wanting to move into a different space for a long time now. I’ve been pondering on it for ages and I even made some efforts this year to “touch base” with someone in that area internally and just have a chat. Understand how our internal products differ to competitors, how their department works, roles and responsibilities and flat out ask for any upcoming vacancies. The department is actually in Melbourne which is fine as we are contemplating making a sea/state change.

So I saw this role. Its not quiet where I want to be but it sounds like a hybrid between IT and a role I want to move into … I think. I say this cause its in the project space but does not make any references to systems.  The role is in Melbourne. I’m keen to know more about it so last night I was dusting up my resume and cover letter.

I discussed it with Ian and he’s encouraging, wouldn’t have expected anything less.

I’m yet to apply but 12 hours since I made the decision to apply I’m now having doubts about sending through my application for a number of reasons:
  • I’m over the project I’m on right now. Sick of working with someone in particular, sick of the politics involved in this project, sick of the lack of support, sick getting stuck doing tasks that are above and below my role and sick of being spoken to rudely. Don’t get me wrong everyone has those moments in their jobs but historically when I get to this point I move on. I’m a firm believer that sitting and whinging about it ain’t going to change the situation but do something about it will ... and I usually do something about it. And that’s my usual MO. I’ve was about to do that about 18 months ago when I was going through some personal issues but I realised that mantra has its boundries. Yes do something about a situation you’re not content about but before I do, assess whether its something I should change or channel more patience or a different attitude to be able to handle the situation better.
  • Unofficially announced movement is happening in my department and maybe I should wait to see the outcome. Not that I’m worried my role is at risk nor do I think I would get a promotion either, but there’s been too many times I have moved on from an employer only to find out a few months later  the structure changes. I always question whether if I had stayed a little longer whether my working environment could have gotten better?
  • I’m slowly building a network relationship with that “mentor” in the space I want to be in. If I take on a new role and an opportunity presents itself in his space would I be unable to leave my new role until a period of time?
  • Just this morning I read a post from a blog I follow about the juggling act between life with a baby and work without having support of family members around. It got me thinking am I taking my situation for granted? Again coming back to the whole don’t take a knee jerk approach to things, is moving far away from our families best thing right now.
Should I just apply anyways and see what happens? Am I just subconsciously making excuses for myself so I can justify not pursuing an application?

26 Nov 2012

The Sights of Paris

The Lourve
Cost: 11E per person

This. Is. One. Massive. Museum!

My main advice prior to going to this museum is to go to the web site to understand what exhibitions and collections are on offer and plan ahead. I’m not talking about knowing every piece of items in the museum but have an idea of what key monuments you want to see, that way you know where they are located in the museum so you have an idea of where you need to be heading. To avoid tiring yourself out from walking back and forth through the museum, identify what items you want to see and plan items in order so you’re not back tracking like we were. You can hire audio guides (like we did) for 5E each. They are in the form of a Nintendo DS which unless you are familiar with one can be a little tricky to use. They do have interactive GPS component which will guide you from point A to B but I still highly recommend planning ahead. The masses of people and tour groups also impacted the ability to walk around the museum quickly.

A massive property about 40mins train ride outside of Paris. Don’t be alarm by the commute outside of Paris there are so many other tourist going to this property you could probably just follow the masses. The property is another 7mins walk from the station, again just follow the masses and signs, you wont get lost.

There are entry and group tour vendors selling tickets to Versalle on and around the station. In my opinion don’t bother unless you do want to join a tour group. The lines to buy tickets were long but I soon noticed people walking past the line so I followed and found several ticket machines issuing tickets. These machines are located in a room close to the manned ticket windows. From memory these machines do only accepts credit cards but are touch screen so very easy to use. To purchase tickets choose the English version and followed the prompts to purchase entry tickets including audio guides. 

This place hosts mostly art and historical artifacts pertaining to the property itself.

Other sights we saw but didn’t enter … (probably because there was an entry fee)
Beautiful old church with lots of history. Key historical info that I learnt during the bike tour we did through Paris about this Cathedral:
  • The famous book title The Hunchback of Notre Dame written by Victor Hugo saved it from being potentially demolished as the book drew new found interest in the church. 
  • The building itself with stood two World Wars.
  • Restoration of the church began in 2000 and still on going. They commenced cleaning the exterior to remove the dirt and muck on the building itself and if you visit today you can see the color tone between what parts have been cleaned and parts to be cleaned.
On Sunday evening there is a Filipino lead service where the service is spoken in tagalog. 

Here you can also visit the spot considered the very central point of Paris. There’s a plarke in the ground so you know exactly where it is. You can climb the towers of this church (at a fee).

Another beautiful church in Paris, perched up on a hill with beautiful views of Paris is Basilique du Sacré-Cœur.  Because it is on a hill be prepared for a bit of a hike. There are many steps to climb to get to the top but its not like the Effie Tower where its a step after a step. Around the church there are  gypsies about due to the large number of tourist that come here so be on your guard. Again you can also climb this church to see high views of the city. 

What key sights do you recommend seeing in Paris and why?

23 Nov 2012

Mr Rapunzel

I took Eli out to get his haircut again. It had grown (obviously cause hair does that) and getting in his eyes again. 

Last time (and the first time he ever got his hair cut) the barbara who cut it must not understand the word "trim" cause he basically cut most of the length off.

This time I still went to a barbara, I specifically said I want to keep the length I only want to get the hair off his eyes. He asked me what number I wanted on the sides and I said "4".

But it still ended up short. Ian's going to be mad at me again ....

Admittedly getting a 16 month old baby to sit still and not cry hysterically from the razors buzzing around him is not easy. A friend says her 2.5 year old still cries at the hairdressers but at least now he knows to sit still while its happening. 
The haircut was only achieved by pinned down his arms and the barbara holding his head still. At first it was funny but towards the end I was just getting irritated at the barbara. Firstly from his BO it was so potent even after I got home and took a shower his smell is still lingering in my nose. Secondly, he was taking so long to cut his hair and the longer he took the more upset Eli got. His colleagues even had to tell him to hurry up or give the kid a break his cries was obviously making everyone uncomfortable. Thirdly, annoyed that he did not listen to my instructions and I could see how short he was cutting Eli's hair.

Next haircut Ian can take him or do it himself. 

Also what's with charging adult prices for children or it is just inflation? Last time I got his hair cut I walked to ever hair salon at the shopping center and the prices range from $17.50-$29, he's not even 2 years of age. So I decided to take him to my new local shops, still paid $14 for a cut I'm not satisfied with.

Any tips to get a baby boy to sit still at the hair dressers?

20 Nov 2012

Birthday Week Recap

It was my birthday last Wednesday, 14 November.

Obviously I didn’t go to work. Anyone who works on their birthday must have an awesome team who celebrates your day with morning tea birthday cake, long lunch at the pub and gives you an awesome gift that everyone pitched in to fund. So because I don’t wok in a team like that I took the (sickie) day off to be with my family.

Originally the plan was to go to the beach pending the weather was still going to be warm like it was on Monday and Tuesday, however the clouds and rain came and the trip to the beach was canned. We had a long late brunch and went out to let Eli run muck at one of those children play areas.

That evening Ian and I went to the famous Tetsuya’s and had the 10 course degustation. Admittedly each course was full of flavour ad very tasty, we left feeling satisfied - not stuffed but not hungry. The following day however we both felt very nauseous. I think we’re not use to eating that much raw food any more and upset our tummies.

Chilled pea soup with dark chocolate mousse

Savory custard with avruga

Salad of the sea

New Zealand scampi with chicken liver parfait walnut vinaigrette 

 Confit of petuna ocean trout with fennel unpasturised ocean trout caviar 

Veal tenderloin with shitake mushrooms and veal jus

Poached spatchcock with asparagus and morels

 De bone rack of lamb with sheep's yoghurt and kale

 Green apples and mint ice cream with basil jelly

 Floating island with praline and cream anglase 

Chocolate fondant with hazelnut and praline

On Friday was my Hubby Birthday Part 2 celebrations. I had secretly planned a few friends to join us for dinner at Ms. G’s at Potts Point. Dinner wasn’t until 9pm as the place was already booked out for the early time slots (plus they don’t take bookings for groups under 6 people), so we had pre dinner drinks at The Village. Unfortunately everyone arrived later than the birthday boy so the “surprise” component was a miss however the night was still a lot of fun. Can’t go wrong with a group of your closest friends gossiping about other friends, making fun of each other, reminiscing about how cool we were in our twenties and singing along to real old school rnb.

The food at Ms. G’s does live up to its hype. We opted not to get the set menu cause we figured we’d probably get more food if we just ordered what we wanted and boy were we right. Our party of 8 ordered 1 entrée and maybe 7 mains and there was so much food to go around. The servings weren’t massive the food marrying just satisfied the taste buds. I think also they would bring out the mains as they were ready so you would eat, eat, eat only to discover a new dish has arrived on the table. They also had these cocktails in a mild slushy form with sago style gum balls … so dangerously delicious. I want to go back there to try more!

Saturday morning was M hens breakfast. It was done at the Sofitel in Sydney. The breakfast area was so pretty, the décor reminded me of the Ivy. Saturday buffet breakfast with your girl friends should be like a monthly thing. I love catch up on what’s been happening since we last saw each other.

That evening was Twilight- Breaking Dawn P2 night. I watched it with my fellow read-the-Twilight-books-in-2-weeks-team-Edward friends. The final episode was … not that bad. It was tweaked a bit I think to satisfy the fans and critics but it wasn’t as disappointing as the second movie. Without giving it away, the “tweaked” component added some action to the movie and triggered emotions from the audience but from an author or screen writers perspective it’s the one way you don’t end a story, think of “it was all a dream” kinda scenario.

Sunday was a combined birthday celebration for me, Y and a welcome home for N. Was glad to see N who now lives in Chicago doing her thang and making her mark in US retail space. Always exciting and motivating to hear friends taking their humble ideas and turning them to reality.

We all met up at a café near Y for high tea. There was cucumber fingers, mini ham croissants and quiches, scones, salted caramel macarons, sweet pastries and canolie  … just to name a few. Great way to end the weekend.

So that’s my birthday week wrap up – family, food, friends …I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate my birthday.

18 Nov 2012

Paris Tips

Some of my personal tips for staying in Paris
  • Bring fresh wipes or hand sanitiser with you. A lot of the public places feel grimy after touching. My sister who has previously been to Paris and has just returned from her honeymoon there still thinks the place is dirty.
  • Do a hop on, hop off bus tour at the start of your trip so you can familiarise yourself with the area and see main monuments. Doing this can also help you decide what to see first or what you can group together based on location.
  • Purchase the Paris Museum Pass – we didn’t and I wish we did. It costs 39E per person but it provides entry to so many attractions which have entry fees. So after three paying attractions you’ve already gotten your money’s worth. Knowing you have this pass may also encourage you to enter fee paying monuments that are included with the ticket. For example ticket includes climb up to the Arc de Triomphe which we didn’t do cause it cost money but now I wish we did just to see the six streets merge into the Arc.
  • When catching the metro just purchase the 10 billet tickets option. What this means is you are issued with 10 tickets to use which can be used at any station on from the main metro lines. By being issued with 10 tickets it means you can share them with someone as well.
  • Galleries Lafayette is not open on Sunday’s – which we learnt going there on a Sunday.
  • Bring your passport with you to allow you to claim the tax back on goods purchased from big retail stores. No one explained this process to me before I left so here’s the run down. Firstly confirm whether the store you are buying goods from participates in the VAT tax back scheme, because not all stores do. Confirm what’s the required minimum spend to be eligible for the refund (every country and store in EU have a different minimum spend). Before you pay or leave ask them to provide specific VAT forms or at least specify on the receipt the VAT amount paid. If forms or receipt do not explicitly state this the customs office at the airport won’t accept receipt of goods and wont issue tax refund. You lodge refund before you head back home, so at the airport of the last EU country you are in before you head back to Australia. You need to find the customs office and lodge your refund. You will need to show all receipts, forms and they may also want to see the good itself. So I suggest you give yourself time to do this before you check in your luggage. You can either receive refund as cash which is issued straight away or credited back to your credit card which can take up to eight weeks. We opted for the credit card option as we no longer had the need for EU cash since we were going home.
  • Staying anywhere in Paris is fine as long as you’re close to a metro station. In Paris most streets are lined with restaurants, bakeries, grocery stores, bars and retail stores. In my opinion there is no one good place to stay because a lot of the streets all have these amenities close by. Read the review of the apartment we stayed at here

 Lock Bridge


The Lourve

Busy Bee

I've been meaning to write a few posts on here but I've been caught up with ... everyday life stuff. Work's busy (is it ever not for anyone), it's November so weekends are starting to fill up, still trying to get the house in order and the small amount of down time you do have I like to spend it bonding with my family instead of the computer.   

But most importantly it was my birthday last Wednesday!!

When I've got a few minutes to myself I'll write a detail post about my birthday ... and all the other everyday life stuff.

In the mean time I will publish a post I have sitting here waiting to be published.

Hope you all had a great (and not too busy) weekend.

13 Nov 2012

Hubby's Birthday

Unfortunately Ian had to work on his birthday. They’re so busy at work at the moment and under staffed that his leave to take his own birthday off was denied.

I knew what he wanted for his birthday but unfortunately the product Ian wants isn't actually available until end of the month. So to be creative (and funny) I came up with a place holder in the mean time. He opened his card to find this in it.

Being a Friday though I had it off so we agreed Eli and I would join him for lunch in town. I invited E and my sis K to join us at Suminoya, a Japanese BBQ restaurant.

That evening he still was “on call” so dinner plans was out of the question, if anything we had left over’s that night as we were still full from lunch that afternoon.

Saturday I took him to where I originally wanted to have lunch (if he had the day off), Jazz City Diner. This place has been highly recommended by lots of people claiming it servers really great American style food.

The restaurant is this tiny diner on the side of the road. It can only accommodate 10 parties with a maximum of 4 people as it had 4 booth style seats. The waitress wore a traditional American diner costume and there were a few American memorabilia around the room. What spun us out was seeing a friend’s name parked on the wall. When asked why these people have their names on the wall the waitress just said they were friends of the owner.

I ordered the chill fries, jerky chicken with onion rings. Ian had the macaroni and cheese and the chicken with waffles. We also both ordered milk shakes as people raved how yummy there were. My overall review … over rated. Admittedly I should have tried one of the burgers as they had about 6 different types.

The jerky chicken was 5 small drumsticks serving covered in this brown powder and did not taste nice at all. The coating must have contained chill in it cause it was also very hot, I only had 1 piece. The chill fries tasted like it had spaghetti bolognaise sauce and cheese poured on top. I had enough of the macaroni and cheese after 3 bites, the chicken waffles were edible but again nothing memorable.

The prices was also on the pricey end so I was expecting this place to serve delicious, generous serving food.

Would I eat here again? Only if the owner invited me to a free meal. There are far better restaurants / diners out there in Sydney

Have you eaten at Jazz City Diner? What was your experience?

10 Nov 2012

Fat Bike Tour Through Paris

Web Site: www.fattirebiketours.com/Paris
Cost: 28E per person

One activity a friend suggested to do while in Paris was a bike tour during the city. There are a few bike tours in Paris and we opted for the Fat Bike Tour company just based on their tour availability and our itinerary. A lot of tours do get booked out quickly in Paris so I do suggest to think ahead regarding what you want to do and book in advance … more on Paris tips later.

How they operate is you rock up to the office of the bike company. You check in, fit you out with a helmet, a very flattering (not!!) night reflecting vest (since we were doing a night tour) and try on the various bikes they have available for size. With this tour company there was more than one group so we were split into three groups of about 20. I noticed they split the crowd roughly by age group. I appreciate reasons why this may be the case: skill level, group dynamics and allow tour operator to harness his interaction with the group based on their age market.

The bikes themselves are really easy and comfortable to ride .. but still expect to have a sore bum the following day (like we did) unless you’re a regular bike rider. After the tour Ian and I were contemplating on purchasing the same bikes as we realized how easy they are to ride and get around in and a great form of exercise.

The tour took us all over Paris via the normal traffic roads. At first it was a bit daunting but 3 minutes into it and knowing there are 19 other people riding with you, your confidence just builds up and you really start to enjoy the experience. I recall smiling and laughing throughout the whole time. I must’ve looked like an idiot but it was that much fun I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.

We rode through St Germain, Notre Dame, gelato stop around St Louis, lock bridge, The Louvre to watch the sun set .. and other key monuments I can’t recall anymore.

 Gelato pit stop

The tour also included a River Sine Cruise. So we rode our bikes to the wharfs, combined them all together and locked them up with a long piece or rope … no seriously. Obviously bikes need to be secured to avoid being stolen but there aren’t adequate bike racks around the wharfs. Plus there are also other bike tours doing the same thing. Tour operator served us some wine during the cruise which kept us warm as it had gotten cooler as the sun had set. Avoid drinking too much wine cause you still have to ride after the cruise. 

After the cruise we rode parallel to the river and stopped at a good vantage point to see the Eiffel Tower sparkle at 11pm.

I recommend doing a bike tour as it allows you to see a lot of Paris in a different way. The tour goes for about four hours but you seriously the time flies.  It also exposes you to a bike and may give you the confidence to be like the locals and take advantage of the Velib bike hire service available through out the city.

Actually I’ve been a decision if a bike tour is available in the cities we travel to in the future, we’re doing it. It would be so fun especially once they kids (heheee) know how to ride bikes. 

6 Nov 2012

Bonjour Paris

In fear of the massive queues for the Eiffel Tower we decided to do this monument first thing one morning – if you call leaving the apartment 9am first thing in the morning. I recall getting off a station and ending up at one side of the tower, roughly at the start of Champ de Mars but the walk to the allowed us some panoramic shots of the tower.

When we got to the gates we realised they don’t actually open until 9:30am leaving us with a waiting time of 7mins. So basically if you’re prepared to wait for the gates to open then there’s really no point in arriving really early, it just adds to the waiting and queuing time. The queues for the lifts were long however the queue to walk up to the decks was not as long. So we headed over to the walking option and were through the gates, climbing the tower within minutes.

There are about 500 steps just to the first deck. They even count each step for you by marking each step with a number. I wouldn’t recommend the walk to someone who is considerably unfit or has weak knees as the hike is quiet tiring – hello it’s 500 steps!

On the first deck obviously there are 360 degree views of Paris, a cafeteria if you want to get some refreshments, bathrooms and a function room from memory.

There was a foggy haze throug h the city the day we climbed the Tower.

From here you can also choose to climb up to the second deck (another 200 steps) or catch the lift to the second deck. Alternatively you can walk or take the lift back down to the ground. We decided to walk up to the second deck. During the walk up I started to feel some vertigo and found the hike up a little uncomfortable.

Second deck is pretty much the same as the first deck however I think there’s a restaurant instead of a cafeteria.

From here you can catch lift to the top deck however you will need to pay an additional fee. We decided to give it a miss and head back down to the ground via the lifts. Waiting for the lifts was so painful as there was only 2 lifts operating that morning and there were so many people already on the tower at that time.

Again a major historical monument we were seeing (and potentially never see in person again) was being obstructed. To see where more evidence of other major monument being blocked or obstructed click here.

We decided another way to see as much of Paris without getting too lost along the way was to catch one of those hop on hop off tour buses. There are about 3 bus companies operating in Paris and all pretty much looping the same key monuments all offering 24 or 48 hours valid tickets allowing you unlimited rides on their buses during that period of time. There are various bus stops on the route so you can hop off the bus and hop on at any point in time at one of the designated bus stops, allowing you to see the city in on your own pace.

We decided to go with L’Open Tour because they had 4 bus routes on offer. We purchased a 48 hours ticket which cost 32E. We only got to do 3 out of the 4 tour routes … they really need to over a 72 hour bus ticket. Their buses have an audio guide which you can listen to with the free head phones that were provided with your ticket. It’s just a looped recording which talks about historical facts regarding the area the bus is driving through at that point in time.

What’s great about these bus companies is you can get on and buy tickets from any bus stop. The bus driver issues tickets first time you get on board. Therefore this means sometimes we could be stuck at a bus stop for several minutes waiting for the masses of new passengers to buy their tickets. Another issue I found with the tour is at times buses get stuck in traffic adding to time wasted on the bus instead of seeing sights. We also noticed some routes had less buses looping (or they’re stuck in traffic) meaning the buses are full resulting in standing room only.

After staying on for one loop we got off the Arc de Triomphe stop. This place is very touristy but you got to do it whist in Paris. It a massive round about that connects six different roads. To access the arc pedestrians need to walk under the road – don’t try to cross the road like some of the idiots we saw. You can also climb the arc but again at a fee. We didn’t bother climbing the arc considering the views weren’t the best that day due to the weather. However now that I think about it I wish we climbed it or went back and climbed it another day.

From here you can walk down the Avenue des Champ Elysees. You can get your shopping fix at the various high end designer stores and main stream retails stores. There are also many restaurants along this street and side streets.

We proceeded to walk down the Champ Elysees, past the Tuileries Gardens, The Lourve and finally arrived back to our apartment. It was a tiring day of sight seeing and walking I was exhausted and crashed in bed.

At 8pm Ian woke me up asked if I we were going to eat dinner. A little eatery was recommended to me by a friend and I knew it was close by. So we headed over to L’As Du Falafel to try their famous falafel’s. The place is pretty busy when we arrived with people queuing outside waiting to be seated.

They do have a takeaway option up front too for those who just want to grab something to go. The staff do a good job of herding the customers into the restaurant and probably adds to the reputation. I had a shawarma falafel and it hit the hunger spot.


Got any other tips you want to add to avoid waiting queues at the Eiffel Tower?
Know and recommend any other cheap places to eat in Paris?

Next stop ... Paris

We arrived at Paris September 4, 2012 and stayed in the city of love for 7 nights. Preparing for our big Europe trip Paris was one city I wanted to spend a lot of time at. Paris is one of those cities where you can expect to pay a lot of money for accommodation in a tiny room. Star ratings are usually inaccurate and generous in comparison to how other western countries would probably rate the same accommodation so to avoid paying a lot of money to be disappointed we decided a self contained apartment was the way to go.

Apartments are also very expensive and depending on where abouts in Paris you stay prices again vary. Obviously staying close to key tourist monuments attract high rates and so called dodgy locations like Moulin Rouge are a lot cheaper.

My opinion after staying in Paris for a week and venturing out at night, any place is fine. I think most parts of Paris is safe, if you avoid dodgy characters and be aware of your surroundings when you are out, then in my opinion its totally fine to stay anywhere in Paris.

My key tips for finding accommodation in Paris:
  • Be walking distance to a metro station. This will be your saviour! The apartment we stayed at was probably 100m from Louvre Rivoli. From this station we could access lines 1 and 7. In Paris, like London you can easily get around town just using the train system. The trains are frequent and many lines to take you from one side of town to another side without too much trouble - all you need to do is change lines. Next time I go back to Paris I would probably choose accommodation that is close to a metro station the crosses many metro lines to avoid jumping lines.
  • Avoid staying in an apartment on the 1st or 2nd floor. If you stay in key parts of Paris you will probably be close to or above public areas such as restaurants and bars. Although they claim there is a strict no noise policy by 11pm they don’t really police this. You can hear patrons at all hours at night and if you are above a bar it’s really annoying when you’re trying to get some shut eye in preparation for a big day. Yes you can close the windows however if you stay in an apartment that has no air conditioning in summer the fresh breeze a night is most welcoming.
  •  If there are certain creature comforts you look for in an apartment and they are very important to you contact the vendor and confirm these items are available. For example enlglish cable tv, towels, air conditioning, washer, dryer, hair dryer, internet etc
  • Make sure apartment block has a lift if you intend to bring heavy luggage with you to avoid carrying up several flights of stairs.
  • Ensure you are getting value for money. You don’t want to spend a lot of money only to be disappointed by the overall state of the apartment. If no photos are provided or you want a photo of a particular angle of the apartment ask for it. If they can’t provide any don’t bother booking with them.
  • In Paris (and all over Europe actually) to secure an apartment they take only require a deposit and outstanding balance will be paid upon check in. Paying for accommodation in full is not the usual practice in Paris.
Here's a review of the apartment we stayed at. Unfortunately we didn't take any photos nor is the property in Trip Advisor to read more reviews however you can check out the web site I booked through and they have photos as well as limited additional reviews from past lodgers. 

Address: 45 Rue de I’Ambre Sec
Location: 3rd Floor
  • Self contained apartment which included kitchen area, dining area, lounge area, bathroom, separate toilet and washing machine.
  • Apartment although located in an old building has been renovated. Not sure how long ago however overall facilities and fittings are modern.
  • Kitchen contains electric stove, basic cooking equipment, cutlery, microwave, large fridge and dish washer. They also provided some dish washing detergent for the dishwasher.
  • Wifi was available although our laptop had trouble staying connected. Hubby was able to troubleshoot the problem without calling the agent however my husband is in IT and when he explained to me the problem and what he did to fix it, I thought it was very technical.
  • Apartment was within meters from many restaurants, major retail chains, metro station and across the road was a grocery store that closed late.
  • Apartment was within a secured building requiring 2 points of security checks before able to enter lifts.
  • Apartment was walking distance to the Louvre, Notre Dame and St Germain. My morning running route included running through the Louvre and around the Tuileries Gardens.
  • Lots of storage space available to keep belongs from cluttering apartment.

  • No air conditioning. Wasn’t too bad in September considering we were out most of the day so by the evenings the cooler air assists in bring the room temperature down.
  • There was a rule that we could not use the washing machine after 8pm. Reason provided was to minimise noise after this time and threatened to keep your $300E bond if you do not comply with rule. We didn’t want to risk it however found rule very restrictive. We are out all day and evenings are really only the time we would want to do the washing.
  • Apartment bathroom had no ventilation so obviously room would steam up when taking hot showers.
  • Shower area would flood when taking showers as water did not drain very well. Water would eventually drain but then soap residue would be left all over the floor.
  • Apartment is above a bar with an outdoor area. Many nights I woke up at various times in the early morning to the sound of patrons still laughing or talking or bar staff cleaning up loudly.
  • A nearby apartment is being renovated and workers are up really early demolish and throwing rubbish out. I guess there isn’t a ‘no noise policy before 7am’ rule in Paris.
  • No English channels available on cable and tv was tiny anyways.
  • Bed was hard as a rock gave me back problems during the trip. The beds were actually two single beds pushed in together to create a double. Also not enough pillows either.
  • Apartment has poor lighting and not enough light solutions. Lights provided or installed were located in areas not required and then areas that needed lighting there was none.

2 Nov 2012

British Museum & London Eye

British Museum
In London there are many museums and galleries. Fortunately a lot of them do not have any entry fee so deciding on which museum to go to is up to the individual depending on what you want to see more of. If like us, London is your first stop I don’t recommend seeing too many cause you’ll just be over museums early on the trip and potentially refuse to see other museums in other cities you go to.

Admittedly a lot of the museums contain a lot of the same things. Of course they don’t literally have the same items but they contain many of the same “stuff” from the same period.

During our tour of London we decided to check out the British Museum. Why cause it looked the prettiest inside. When you first walk into the foyer, the space, the brightness and design leaves you mesmerized. I felt a sense of calmness and sterile in that space.

The museum is free but certain exhibitions do have an entry fee. The audio guides are 5P each however you can do what I noticed some people do, which was share one using ear phones between you and a friend.

Besides the beautiful building the museum does host an amazing collection of art and artefacts. I personally enjoyed the greek collection especially the massive stone pieces. To think they were able to carve (in stone) such detail amazes me.

One museum I wish we did go to was the Natural HistoryMuseum to see some dinosaur bones.

London Eye

I mentioned in a previous post we attempted to ride TheLondon Eye one sunny day however the queues were extreme that day and opted for another day. We were lucky the afternoon we did decided to attempt the London Eye again, the clouds parted in time for great views of old London town.

Here are some lovely views taken:

Some tips to save your self queuing time and help you plan your trip on the big ferries wheel:
·      Try go weekdays and potentially mid to late afternoon. In summer last call on The Eye is 8.30pm so no rush in trying to get on first thing in the morning (unless you’re time pressed and on a strict itinerary).
·      There is a shorter line if you purchase tickets directly through the London Eye official web site in advance.
·      Look for ticket deals. We managed to find a 2for1 ticket deal online by chance but heard there are many similar deals available all the time. The shorter line does not apply to these deals. The deals are usually a coupon that you present when purchasing tickets.

Have you got any tips or suggestions to avoid the tourist queues in London? 
Did I fail to mention any other interesting museums in London? 
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