Lunch with a View

I've had a couple of family members visit Paris recently and have eagerly given suggestions, wanted or not.  I don't know if it is because it was the first place in Europe I visited, but Paris is one of my favorite cities.  We travelled there with the kids a few years ago and I was delighted to discover that it is just as enchanting for kids.  Ava says that she wants to live in Paris when she grows up and whenever we ask the kids about locations for upcoming vacations her answer is always "Paris."

In looking up recommendations, I went through all of the photos from our trip and thought I would devote the rest of this week's posts to some of the more successful outings we had during our time there.  

There are lots of places to eat around the Eiffel Tower but they tend to be a.) expensive or b.) touristy or c.) expensive and touristy.  Looking around for something which was d.) none of the above, I found a recommendation for Cafe Carlu, the cafe in the Cite de Architecture museum.  It is about a 5-minute walk from the Tower and you can eat in the cafe without paying admission to the museum.  The food is very good, as all Paris museum cafe food tends to be, but the real reason to come is for the view.  The cafe has a patio with several tables so you can enjoy your meal overlooking this fantastic sight.

The picture below illustrates another benefit of eating here. It is relatively crowd-free so there is always a table on the patio available.  

Even if you don't make it here for a meal it is still a great place to grab a snack and rest up a bit before continuing on your day.  Also nearby is a carousel, fountains to dip your feet into, and Cineaqua, the aquarium of Paris.  

Day Trip to Dutchess County

Dutchess County is one of my favorite getaways in the Hudson Valley.  There is something here for everyone:  historical homes, great farm stands, apple and pumpkin picking in the fall, and nice restaurants and shopping.  On our last visit we started at the Vanderbilt Mansion Historic Site in Hyde Park.  Built as a country home during the Gilded Age, this site is much smaller than other Vanderbilt homes open to the public, which makes it very manageable for touring with kids.  The house can only be toured with a guide but it is a relatively quick tour, lasting only about 45 minutes.  

The mansion's location on a bluff overlooking the Hudson River is it's best asset.  You can come out and just explore the grounds without paying an admission fee and there is a paved trail which leads to FDR;s home next door.

If you visit, be sure to spend some time in the museum's bookstore.  There are some great books for adults and children and a really nice collection of items that would be perfect as a gift or a memento to take home.  

For lunch, Rhinebeck is always a good option.  There is a variety of places to eat but our favorite is Bread Alone.  On the weekends they offer both breakfast and lunch options but everything is delicious.  We've tried lots of things on their menu and have never been disappointed.  

Also in Rhinebeck are some shops that aren't to be missed.  Every time I go in Hammertown Barn, I want to completely redecorate our entire house, all with things purchased here.  Right next door is Oblong Books & Music, where we usually spend a good deal of time browsing.  They have a fantastic selection of children's books and I usually pick up something for myself as well.  Finally, no small town is complete without a general store and Rhinebeck's does not disappoint.  The AL Stickle Variety store has a vast array of items for sale including children's games and toys, crafting supplies, yarn and knitting supplies, and kitchenwares just to name a few.  

This is a great day if you are in the NYC area and don't mind driving a bit.  The area is gorgeous in all seasons and most sites are open year round.  I am planning a trip back in the fall to pick some apples and pumpkins and to take in an air show at the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome.

Hiking in the Alps - Day 3 & 4

On our third, and last full, day we decided to tackle two 1/2-day hikes:  one to the start of a glacier and the other a relatively flat walk with views similar to the day before.  As we walked out of Gimmelwald, we descended down and walked along a river, which was fed by the glacier we were hoping to find.  The path was much less populated than the previous day and we saw only a handful of people along the way.  When we reached the hike's terminus, we were the only ones around as far as the eye could see.  We counted waterfalls (14), skipped rocks, built cairns and thoroughly explored this magical place.  The kids loved it and it was a push to get them to leave.

After a quick trip on the cable car up to Murren, we started out on our second hike of the day to Grutschalp.  This route was much more popular and we encountered lots of people out for a quick hike to enjoy the surrounding scenery..  

We caught the train (seen in the picture above) back to Murren and made our way back to our apartment at Esther's to pack up and get ready to leave early the next morning.  Before we left the area, we stopped at Trummelbach Fallslocated in the valley nearby.  The melting snows of the Jungfrau have carved through the stone to create Europe's largest subterranean waterfall.  You take an elevator located inside of the mountain up 6 stories and explore waterfalls 6-10 before making your way down to see waterfalls 1-5.  Truly an awe-inspiring (and chilly) sight!

At the base of the falls, there is a nice cafe with good coffee and snacks on offer.  It's also a great place to get in a game of chopsticks, if you like that kind of thing.

Hiking in the Alps - Day 2

We awoke to beautiful blue skies and fantastic 360-degree views.  After consulting all the hiking routes suggested on the Gimmelwald website, we decided to take Hike 5, the Scenic, described as an easy 1 1/2-mile loop.  

The hike begins near the funicular station at the top of Allmendhubel, so we hiked up to Murren via the steep path behind our guesthouse and spotted some local fauna along the way.

Once we got off the funicular, we discovered a fantastic playground.  The entire area was imaginatively designed including everything from zip lines to groundhog tunnels to a barn with plastic cows to "milk".  

As we hiked, we stumbled upon an inn located in what felt like the middle of nowhere, Pension Suppenalp.  Lunch was served on a patio with an unbeatable view (pretty much the theme of our time in the Alps).  Surprisingly this was one of the best meals of our trip.  I had a traditional Swiss meal of rosti, which is basically hash browns with cheese, eggs, and bacon on top.  The kids topped off the meal with a delicious slice of chocolate cake with extra whipped cream.

The rest of the day was spent enjoying the scenery:  the profusion of wildflowers in bloom, the sound of cow bells tinkling in the pastures, the view of the Jungfrau, Monch and Eiger mountains looming above us, the paragliders drifting down through the valley.

We ended the day at the other restaurant in Gimmelwald at the Mountain Hostel.  The restaurant is primarily a pizzeria but there is also a daily pasta special on offer.  The pizzas were delicious and just what we needed after a day spent in the fresh air.  Then we were off to bed to rest up for another day on the trails tomorrow.  

Wanderlust Friday

Image by Horlo via Flickr

Image by Horlo via Flickr

This is the last weekend before school starts!  We are going to Pittsburgh for a long weekend to celebrate Jack's graduation to middle school.  He wants to go to a Pirates game and I want to tour Fallingwater.  In the meantime, here are some places I am wandering to on the web...

We are definitely including some of these recommendations in our plans this weekend.

I seem to be reading about Mexico City everywhere, most recently here

Love this monthly update on new places to eat.

Road trip around New Zealand in a vintage VW van?  I'm in!

As someone who recently bought new luggage, I think this is a great idea.