Monthly Archives: September 2012

The Great City Off: London Vs. Paris

travel, Paris, London

Paris and London are two greats steeped in history, rich in culture and both hives of commerce. The cities attract tourists from across the globe, and easy transport links between the two mean that visitors can explore both Paris and London in a short space of time. The English Channel Tunnel is a convenient way to hop across to the continent, with regular services offering speedy access for onward journeys to these two capitals. Considering a holiday, but can’t decide between home or abroad?

Weighing up the pros and cons of a trip can be tricky, so it may be helpful to examine both Paris and London in further detail: let the Great City-Off begin!


Paris and London have some of the most recognised and visited landmarks in the world: think the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe and Notre Dame and, closer to home the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. It is impossible to compare and contrast these historic sites as they are all integral parts of a trip to either city. Instead, why not look beyond the tourist trail and look for the lesser-known places to visit? London is busting at seams with quirky museums and attractions: a vault of music memorabilia hidden beneath the Hard Rock Café, the world’s only fan museum and Secret Cinema events can all be found in this city. Paris’s hidden gems include Le Musee de Vin which also has a restaurant and wine tasting room, and the pretty UNESCO Garden of Peace. If you’re seeking to experience an alternative scene and escape the tourist hoards, London wins hands down for its quirky offerings.

Food and Drink

Both cities offer a huge range of food and drink for all budgets. Well-known foodie spots like Borough and Camden markets attract hungry crowds, and pop-up street restaurants mean there is always something new and fresh to look out for in London. Paris is also a great destination for food lovers, and the French famously take their gastronomy very seriously. Enjoy the finer things in life? The wealth of wine bars in the city make great places to sample drinks whilst snacking on luxuries like oysters, snails and deluxe desserts. Patisseries, chocolate shops and specialist delicatessens abound in Paris like multinational coffee shops in London. For the sheer decadence and pride in their national staples then, Paris reigns supreme for food and drink.


If you are on a short break, practicalities like transport are all-important. To get around a city and see as much as possible in a short space of time you’ll need reliable, speedy and affordable public transport. Transport for London’s superb website means that planning your route is easy, as it offers maps and advice on buses, the Tube, trains, cycling, trams, river transport, the DLR and more! It is worth buying an Oyster card during your stay: top up, choose your mode of transport and avoid long queues! France’s RAPT and Transilien websites offer similar, though less comprehensive guides to Paris’s transport system. So, how to conclude? Trusty transport can make or break a short holiday, and in this respect, both cities are pretty evenly matched.

Holidaying at home or venturing to the continent can be tough choice, with many points to consider. The solution? With quick transport links between Paris and London, why not visit both!

Unusual Hong Kong Cuisine

travel, international cuisine

When you want to truly experience a new location, you should take the time to consider the local food. While it might be tempting to stick with foods that are familiar with you, you can more fully immerse yourself in the place and the culture if you are willing to eat as the locals do. Hong Kong is no different, and if you are thinking about learning more about Hong Kong, make sure that you try some of these signature dishes.

Hot Pot

The concept of a hot pot is one that is familiar throughout Asia, but Hong Kong has raised it to an art. A hot pot involves a thick bowl or pot full of broth placed on a heating element. The broth is typically very thin and made of either mushroom or beef broth, and various raw food items are brought to the table with it. These items are then cooked in the broth by the diners and removed when they are well cooked. In some cases, the hot pot is brought to the table with all the ingredients inside the pot already. This creates a delicately flavoured dish that is best shared with friends.

Lotus Seed Buns

Lotus seed buns are a delicious sweet treats that can be widely found throughout the city. Lotus paste is made from ground lotus seeds that are then mixed with sugar, stewed and dry cooked. The result is a very sweet, very velvety paste that is then wrapped up in dough and steamed. While you can absolutely eat this treat as a dessert, you will also find that you can eat it as a snack as you explore the many pleasures that Hong Kong has to offer.

Milk Tea

Milk tea is one of the signature beverages that populate the Hong Kong scene, blending as it does flavours from both Europe and Asia. Milk tea is traditionally produced from a mix of black tea that is then mixed with evaporated milk or condensed milk. Depending on where you go to get your milk tea, there may be several types of black tea mixed together to create the beverage. Sugar may be added to give the tea an even richer taste.

Egg Tarts

Another classic Hong Kong dish is the egg tart, which looks like a tiny pie with a rich yellow centre. These tarts are filled with very thick, very sweet custard. While the plain custard is the most popular, there are many variations available. Some of the more popular types of egg tart include custard that is flavoured with ginger, with honey or with milk. Green tea and chocolate are two other flavours that you might see. These tarts are typically served hot, and they are a wonderful pick me up in the middle of your day.

When you want to see what Hong Kong has to offer, make sure that you consider what your options are in terms of food. Hong Kong offers you some delicious food that has roots from all over the world, so be sure to sample some as you explore this gorgeous location. For more information and assistance with your Hong Kong holiday, talk to the professionals at Travel Associates.

postcard perfect: california map card

postcards, map cards, California

I guess you should’ve known by now that I collect map card judging from the various ones I have posted before. I also dream of completing the 50 US States Map Card collection + with this new map card from California, I am one step closer to achieving that goal! 🙂

Sunny California is also one of the places I’d love to visit when I had the chance, I’d love to go to Hollywood + visit my friend, Beejay, in Milpitas. 😉

Thanks much to fellow swapper Stephen for sending this map card to me, I really love it! 🙂

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postcard perfect

sending a postcard to myself

postcards, London Olympicsa 2012

Am sure am not the only one + that a lot of postcard enthusiasts out there do send themselves postcards on occasions. Oh well, here is one of the postcards I’ve sent myself recently using Touchnote. It is actually a London 2012 Olympics image of a boat that features the Union Jack. I just find it lovely, don’t you? 😉

The Union Flag represents England, Scotland + Ireland, which were united in 1603 when James VI of Scotland inherited both the English + Irish thrones. The flag combines the red cross of St. George {England} + the red saltire of St. Patrick’s flag of Scotland.

I will share more of the postcards I received over the last few weeks in upcoming posts, right after I am done reading this interesting articles about double edge razor blades! See you in a bit! 😉