International Restaurant Review { The Elephant House }

There is a little child in all of us that likes to come out and play sometimes. That child gets excited and giddy at things that might seem mundane to others. The little girl in me still gets excited about anything even remotely related to Harry Potter. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be a wizard or witch and be able to do magic?!

When my friend told me about The Elephant House in Edinburgh, I was so excited. The Elephant House is the coffee shop where J.K. Rowling wrote some of the Harry Potter books! It was quite thrilling sitting there, looking around and wondering what she was thinking while writing these books, not knowing how famous this character she created would become.

Allowing our inner child to enjoy these little moments are so important because it’s what will keep us grounded, and will make us enjoy life a little more.

There isn’t much to say about The Elephant House – a cozy little café with a great assortment of coffee & tea. True to its name, there are elephant decorations everywhere. If you visit but choose not to stay, please take a tour of the bathroom. Yes, the bathroom. The walls and ceilings are FILLED with the funniest comments by HP fans (I included a few pictures below).

What are some of the things that make you giddy like a child? Do you think it’s important to be able to ‘act like a child’ sometimes?

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{ On the Quest for the Loch Ness Monster }

From a young age, I’ve been fascinated by anything supernatural, from ghosts, witches or monsters, I think part of me wonders what parts of these stories are true or false. When I was old enough, my older sister and I watched the X-Files together and I LOVED it. It’s really bit sick to be honest – I get SO scared, and yet I love the thrill of it. Weird? Yeah…so? I also have so many good memories of spending my Fridays with my sister, making homemade French fries, eating ice cream and watching the X-Files.

One of the myths that I’ve always been curious about is the Loch Ness monster, so visiting the Loch Ness was one of the most exciting and memorable parts of my trip to the UK. It was crazy to be in the place and on the lake where this internationally renowned story started. It was definitely a day filled with thrill, excitement, and mystery…

We first visited the Loch Ness exhibition where there is a walk through of different rooms with different exhibits and multimedia presentations. There were a lot of historical and scientific backgrounds of the Loch Ness river and the monster that (supposedly) lives in it.

We then went on an hour boat ride, which I was SO excited about because I knew that after all these years, I would finally be able to see the monster for myself. We also had a really sweet and funny guide who was so knowledgeable. He’s one of the rare people that has gone in a submarine down in the Loch Ness (there are less people that have done this then there are people that have climbed the Mount Everest!). An amazing day that I am never going to forget!

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Scotland { Dunrobin Castle – Outfit }

We stopped at the Dunrobin castle at the last minute, and I am so glad that we did. It was absolutely enchanting and breathtaking. The structure was more modern and romantic than previous castles that we had seen, and at the back, there was a beautiful waterfront view with a huge garden with mazes of hedges.

I thought I would start showing a few more outfit posts, which I have a few to show you from my Scotland trip. We walked a lot so I opted for comfortable footwear and I think that these are good options that don’t compromise on style, especially the all-black leather ones. {These shoes actually come with a good story: while preparing for the trip, I was trying to figure out what shoes I should take. I didn’t like the options that I had (like any other girl with a full closet thinking, “I don’t have ANYTHING to wear!”) so I thought of getting these Converses that I had seen a while ago in stores. So I went on a hunt for them and couldn’t find them. I checked one last store and they had one pair left of the exact model that I wanted (leather, all black, with the thin soles), on sale for 50% off, AND the last size was my foot size…!} Needless to say, I was thrilled and I am still so happy with these shoes – they are great for traveling and walking around a lot.

The weather was also a bit chilly, especially when the sun had set, so I always had a wrap sweater and my trusted infinity scarf from American Apparel. This is a really great scarf that I just adore because it’s thick and can be used as a scarf or a nice wrap around.

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{ Gap sweater | American Apparel infinity scarf | Joe Fresh jeans | Converse | Essie ‘Russian Roulette’ }

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{ This castle was magical }

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{ Especially loved the blue & gold details }

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Scotland { Castles of the Highlands }

I still so many pictures to share with you from Scotland, and looking through them makes me wish I could back very soon. It’s such a beautiful country with rich history. Throughout our trip, we were lucky enough to have access to a car and were able to drive around and see many different cities and places. On one of the days, we saw two castles: Uruquhart castle and the oldest Viking castle. We were also able to stay at the Kincraig Castle Hotel, which was really beautiful.

I absolutely love castles and walking through them and imagining how people use to live and what use to go on between those walls. It’s such an interesting moment to just stop and realize how much time has passed in the world and how many people have walked and lived the different paths that you go walk through also.

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{ Never got bored of the pastures & greenery }

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{ There were lots and lots of photo-op stops… }

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{ The room at Kincraig was quaint & clean, and the staff was incredibly friendly }

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{ Amazing view at Uruquhart Castle }

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{ Uruquhart castle }

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{ Uruquhart castle }

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{ View from the inside of Uruquhart castle }

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{ The Viking castle }

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{ Amazing views surrounding the Viking castle }

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{ The view from inside the Viking castle }

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{ Breathtaking view from the Viking castle }

Scotland Day 3 { City of Inverness & Drumossie Hotel }

One of the amazing parts of our trip was that we were able to see a lot of the East coast of Scotland. After a few days spent in Edinburgh, we made a 3-4 hour drive North to the city of Inverness and stayed at the Drumossie Hotel. We drove through beautiful valleys and enjoyed many stops along the way to take in the amazing scenery and the fresh air.

After a long day of driving, it was nice to arrive to a nice hotel where we had a really delicious dinner. This was one of the best meals that I had while in Scotland. I had sea trout filet, with crushed potatoes, buttered samphire*, watercress veloute, tomato and chorizo, topped with a white crab wonton. 

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{ Snapping shots through the window was challenging }

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{ We got to drive through quaint little towns }

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{ Couldn’t get enough of the breathtaking views }

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{ The land is lush with greenery and the air is incredibly fresh }

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{ A sweet treat from my thoughtful ‘sweet’ }

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{ Spacious rooms at the Drumossie Hotel }

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{ Amazing table set-up for dinner at the hotel }

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{ The menu }

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{ A delicious roll with sun-dried tomatoes and olives, warm from the oven! }

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{ The smoked salmon appetizer }

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{ Simple and refreshing salad }

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{ Pâté platter as an appetizer }

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{ Halibut filet, langoustine bisque, scallops, crayfish tails and asparagus }

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{ My dinner and it was divine: sea trout filet, with crushed potatoes, buttered samphire*, watercress veloute, tomato and chorizo, topped with a white crab wonton }

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{ A close-up. Samphire is the green vegetable which didn’t have much of a taste but was crunchy and worked well with the trout }

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{ Steak and fries. The fries (or should I say, ‘chips’) were really good }

Weekend getaway { Mont-Tremblant }

I’m headed for a girl’s weekend in Mont-Tremblant, one of my favorite places to go to leave the city and recharge. There is always something fun to do, whether it’s fall, winter or summer.

I usually enjoy having a lazy morning, reading a book by the lake, cooling off with a quick dip, and laying out in the sun. In colder weather, I’ll snuggle up by the fireplace and read a book with a warm hot chocolate. I am lucky that I am able to go my boyfriend’s family cottage, because there’s already a lot to do there to begin with (it feels like I go on vacation every time I’m there!).

There are so many things to do in Mont-Tremblant. For outdoorsy people, there are countless hiking trails and nature walks, golfing, biking trails, a little public ‘beach’, outdoor tennis courts and obviously, skiing and ice skating during the winter.

The ‘hill’ (the main touristic area of Mont-Tremblant where the ski lifts are) offers a variety of restaurants, a candy shop, ice cream parlours, a ceramic painting boutique (le Studio créatif) and a few stores.

In the summertime, there’s a fun mini-put, outdoor rock climbing, as well as downhill go-karts that are incredibly fun and an absolute must!

One of the best times to go during the year is during the autumn when the leaves are changing colors. The scenery is breathtaking, the colors and hues in the trees are incredibly mesmerizing, a really beautiful sight to be seen with your own eyes because pictures don’t do it justice.

Here are a few recommendation of where to eat and what to do if you go to Mont-Tremblant or want to discover something new:

Food

  • Ya’oooo Pizza has really delicious pizza, and you can also do take-out if you want to do a night in with a movie.
  • It’s not a Mont-Tremblant trip for me if I don’t go to Crêperie Catherine for breakfast. It’s always busy so be prepared for a 10-15 minute wait that is SO worth it. The place isn’t very big, and is decorated from top to bottom with chef themed knick-knacks. I usually get the Catherine special (egg, cheddar and swiss cheese, black forest ham, in a crepe, and like a true Canadian, I have it with maple syrup!).
  • There aren’t a lot of brunch options on the hill, but we discovered ‘le coq chantant’, which is about a 10-15 minute drive from the main touristic area of Mont-Tremblant (and is technically in the town of Saint-Jovite, which has been merged with Mont-Tremblant…) which has decent options.
  • For dinner, Yamada has really delicious sushi with really creative presentation.

Activities

  • Whether in the fall, summer or autumn, it’s really worth taking the gondola up the mountain and going for a walk. The view is amazing and it is really peaceful because you are surrounded by nature.
  • The Scandinavian Spa is amazing! There are different temperature baths outside, saunas and steam rooms. You can even take a quick (and frigid) dip in the river. In the summer, there are hammocks set up under trees, and in colder weather, you can bundle up by fireplaces found throughout the spa. You can also book a massage or spa treatments. {I unfortunately could not take any pictures on the site, but this is one of my top recommendations if you are going to Mont-Tremblant!}
  • In the summertime, I love doing the go-karts with my boyfriend. It’s downhill and the kart is not electric or motorized but just has a break and a steering wheel. With the hill, you go really fast and it is so fun!

Have you ever been to Mont-Tremblant? Do you have any other recommendations? If you are not from the Montreal area, what are some things that you like doing for a quick weekend getaway?

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{ Beautiful nature… }

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{ …is all around }

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{ Making it so easy to kick back and relax }

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{ Enjoying the simple pleasures and the leaving the world behind for a few moments }

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{ One of my favourite things to do is to sit around a fire pit, share stories and laughs…and making s’mores, of course }

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{ It’s nice to remember that sometimes, the simplest things can be the best }

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{ What my weekend will most likely look like… }

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{ With a lot of good food of course }

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{ A smaller free gondola that goes to the top of the hill }

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{ There are many condos that can be rented or hotels that are right on the hill }

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{ The entrance to the gondola that goes all the way up the mountain. It’s a 10 minute ride with an incredible view }

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{ The view from the gondola }

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{ On a clear day, you can usually see the gondola behind you, but the fog was so thick that this is what we saw – creepy! }

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{ At the top of the mountain }

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{ So peaceful }

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{ The many trails that take you through nature. There are different difficulty levels }

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{ Serenity }

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{ Beauty }

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{ I love going for hikes. A great way to clear the mind }

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{ Beauty can truly be found everywhere }

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{ Ya’oooooo pizza!! }

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{ I had an open-faced pizza sandwich with a salad }

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{ The pizza is really delicious! }

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{ A decent brunch option in Saint-Jovite }

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{ Vegetarian omelet }

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{ Close-up! }

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{ Tiniest ice cream cone EVER! }

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{ My favourite place to eat in Mont-Tremblant. An absolute MUST! }

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{ Make sure to check out all the decorations in there, there are some really fun stuff! }

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{ Small and oh-so cozy }

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{ The best breakfast }

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{ Swiss cheese, cheddar cheese, eggs, black forest ham….drooling yet? }

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{ Green tea to finish off a delicious meal! }

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{ Yummy sushi! }

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{ I mean…look at that presentation!! }

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{ Miso soup }

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{ The sake and the soy sauce (right) – it’s all about presentation! }

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{ They did a great job with the decor }

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{ A really great option for dinner! }

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{ The menu }

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{ Autumn is an amazing time to go because of the changing colours. It’s absolutely breathtaking }

Paris, je t’aime { Sacré-Coeur }

I came back from the UK late last night and I already have so many ideas for blog posts! But before I get to them, I wanted to finish with my trip to Paris because I have still so much to share!

We spent a few hours exploring the Sacré-Coeur church and the surrounding area. The architecture of this church is quite different from others found in Paris, and the neighbourhood is perfect for aimless wandering. There are tons of small boutiques and chocolate shops, so you are sure to find a treat for yourself somewhere in there. I will leave you to explore the pictures because this area of Paris is best to be discovered through images. ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

Edinburgh Day 3 { Museum, Royal Mile, Hard Rock Café }

Another full and amazing day in Edinburgh! We spent a morning at ‘Our Dynamic Earth’, which offers an interactive tour for both children and adults to explore the evolution and current state of the earth. There was also a really interesting documentary about aliens (narrated by Rupert Grint!) that was projected in a 360° view where you are leaning back on your chair and can look above and in front of you.

After the museum, we walked on the Royal Mile, which is a long strip with boutiques and cafes where you are sure to find something unique to buy. I would really recommend taking an hour or two to at least walk down this street because it is really quaint.

We headed to the Hard Rock Café for dinner, which is a tradition that my boyfriend and I do whenever we visit a new city since he’s in the music industry. It’s fun to see his collection of Hard Rock magnets growing! We started with the jumbo combo, and for my main meal, I always order the same thing, the smokehouse chop salad: mixed greens, smoked chicken, spicy bacon, pecans, roasted red peppers, cheddar cheese, pico de gallo with smoky citrus vinaigrette dressing. It is so filling and absolutely delicious. I’ve had this salad in New York and Lisbon, and will probably have it in London next week too. Yes, it’s that good!

We are currently in Invergordon, which is North East of Scotland, and will be doing some more exploring the next two days, and then back to Edinburgh on Friday! ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

{ Edinburgh Castle – Day 2 }

The history found everywhere in Europe is enchanting. Wherever you walk, it is thrilling to think about the millions of people that have passed by the streets, and the thousands of years that have gone by.

We spent the morning going around Edinburgh castle, which dates back thousands of years (it was built in stages), and I find that it is always so magical to walk on cobblestone, look at old signs engraved in rock, while standing in the shadow of such a prominent building like a castle.

This castle is an important piece of history of Edinburgh so I would definitely recommend spending a few hours there, even just to walk around the grounds without necessarily getting a guided tour. It’s always important to take a step back into history and look at where civilization has come from to appreciate the life we are able to live today.

During the day, we also took a double-decker bus tour of the city, which took about an hour and highlighted the main historical and cultural attractions of the city. I would really recommend anyone travelling to find these ‘hop-on, hop-off’ (we’ve done them in Lisbon and New York) because it’s really worth the money. You can use these buses for 24-hours, and they run quite frequently during the day. It’s an easy and fast way to see the most relevant parts of the city, especially if you are limited in time.

For dinner, we headed to the Grassmarket district, which is the area where grass-eating animals use to be sold and traded. We had dinner at a little Italian spot, and had a delicious pizza topped with mozzarella, mushroom and ham.

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{ The castle was built on volcanic rock } Image

{ There are only two dog cemeteries like this in all of Scotland }

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{ Our gourmet burger for lunch (it was so bland, thank goodness for all that dijon…) } ImageImage

{ The start of Grassmarket }

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{ Beautiful Edinburgh! }

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{ It also happens to be the Fringe festival, where the population of Edinburgh triples in size. Music and theatre performances happen throughout downtown at different venues, and artists find creative ways to attract an audience (see next pictures) }

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{ Afternoon coffee – delicious! }

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{ Dinner at  Ristorante Gennaro – the starter }

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{ Gnocchi }

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{ Goodnight Edinburgh! Thank you for an amazing few days! We will be back! }

Paris, je t’aime { Day 4 in Nantes }

While in Paris, my sister and I took a day trip to the city of Nantes, which is a three-hour train ride away. Not only did I get to see this beautiful little city where my sister studied for a year, more importantly, I was in the audience while she defended her Master’s thesis, which I am so proud that she got with flying colors! Even though we are in completely different fields, it’s really nice to have been able to share such an important moment in her career, and I couldn’t be more proud of all her accomplishments, past, present, and future!

While there, we were able to enjoy the city-wide exhibition, ‘Le voyage à Nantes’, where art pieces and exhibits are presented around the city in public venues. There is a colored line that is also painted throughout the streets as a route to follow to see all the art presentations. A really unique concept!

Since we didn’t do a lot of site-seeing, I combined the touristic and outfit pictures into one post this time.

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{ First time riding on a TGV! } ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

{ The lime green line that runs throughout the city } ImageImageImage