“French Kiss” by Janice Telestar

I attended the new lobby art exhibition at none other than Sofitel Philadelphia. They hosted an amazing happy hour featuring their Summer drinks menu while showcasing the world of Janice Telestar’s “French Kiss.” This was Janice’s love letter to Paris in photographic form!

I had just come from Paris not too long ago so seeing the pieces took me back. Every piece was alluring and beautiful and if you haven’t gone will make you feel like Paris was in the middle of Center City! Janice did an amazing job on the display. I was able to talk with her about her pieces. It wasn’t about just taking a picture of the Eiffel Tower. It was capturing the right lighting and the essence of Paris that some photographers miss trying to get the “right” shot. Some of the pieces had my arms with goosebumps from feeling the joy of what Paris meant to me!

I attended the event alone as my husband was meeting me there later. Without saying one word to him as soon as he saw the pieces an immediate smile came over him. You really can’t help it. Also let me note that the Sofitel Philadelphia encompasses what being in Paris is about. While I visited it was about love, friendship, a welcoming spirit, elegance and helpfulness! Janice display couldn’t have been highlighted in any other location but the Sofitel Philadelphia.

So how can you take a Paris adventure without actually going? Come to the Sofitel Philadelphia and walk in the lobby to view it! It’s that magical as it places you in the heart of Paris. You feel like you have traveled the world right here in Philadelphia! While you are there stop in and try the new Summer drinks. When I tell you they are exquisite I mean it. Sofitel’s “luxury reimagined” comes to life from being greeted by the doorman to your maître d’ serving you.

Also if your interested in one of the pieces once they leave Sofitel contact David Telestar at 610-236-0680.

As always when you think luxury, think Sofitel “luxury reimagined.” They can host your event including weddings, anniversaries or a staycation to get away without going away! You will not be disappointed!!

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Paris owes me Nothing Part 4

So to end Paris as if it will ever end, it was the last full day before a day of travel. We decided to send a few post cards back. So of course we stopped at the post office, went to a museum, ate well and one last trip to the Eiffel Tower to tour the inside of it!

Shout out to the postman who handled our post cards. It’s so funny when the French switch to English cause they can see how much of a struggle Americans have to speak fluent French.

Now I could have since it was included in our hotel price to eat the breakfast provided. The way them nightly or all day is wines were set up I needed to sleep it off!! Kyla my girl was on go daily and so she did her morning ritual of going to get her food way before we woke up! Marques and I after the post office stopped at Metro Cafe. The food was amazing and so was the service.

This pumpkin soup needed no salt; no nothing simply delicious

Americans do French fries which isn’t a French dish better

The fresh squeezed orange juice was absolutely amazing

I had so much daily rosé it don’t make no sense

His shirt reads, Broke Phi Broke and that makes sense

So after an amazing brunch like moment it was off to a museum!

We 3 decided to go to Museum Picasso. The Art was exquisite. Different genres all meshed and beautifully stunning, provocative, and engaging!

After which we were hungry again but hey when you are walking around for hours at a time it’s bound to happen! We stopped at one restaurant but it was their dinner time or that’s the way it came off as we sat for quite some time. The French don’t move as steadily on service like we do in America. We are more concerned in increasing numbers of those that come into an establishment over making sure that those around have an experience.

We finally stopped at Pizza Pino!

This lemon sorbet with vodka had me so super rocked……that’s all I can say on that

It was off to our final rendezvous with the Eiffel Tower. Unlike seeing it on a boat, seeing it lit at night and being in touching form, this was about going inside. The tickets that we got gave us access to the first and second floor. The very top was sold out for days!! The experience was more than I could put into words! Seeing Paris in a different light was just breathtaking.

As you can see Paris looks even more amazing inside the Eiffel Tower!

Brioche with Nutella it was necessary

After a long night it was time for one last meal…and more of that lemon sorbet and vodka at Mon Coco!

Veggie burger that would put an American veggie burger to shame

The star of the night; lemon sorbet with vodka…..

After beautiful days in Paris, it was time to return home. Lessons learned, Paris was an amazing experience! I would do it all over again! I’m grateful for this time and happy for a semi easy travel time outside of an extended search on the way home in 🇮🇸 Iceland!

I was loving the fact that in their airport it’s very different than an American airport where food is concerned. Vegan, vegetarian options are plentiful!

Finally back home, finally with our children, finally back on Go it was nice to slow it down a bit!

Paris owes me nothing but I’m grateful that I took the journey!

Thank you Ray and Chrystal for the invite none of this would have happened without your wedding invite nudging it along. May your union be filled with tenacity, and the joy that life brings!

Thank you Kyla for accompanying and being on this trip.

Thank you Marques for making sure that every desire I had you made come true. Thank you for renewing a clear path in how we love and live and being each other’s friend as we go through this life as partners, parents, and solid and dope individuals!

Thank you Paris for such amazing culture, hospitality, and just overall greatness!!

Paris owes me Nothing Part 3

Time to be tourist! After a long sleep we were up and out! We passed Pont d’ Arcole to get to Notre-Dame Cathedral. We took the metro. That was an interesting adventure. It was crazy to see what the fire took of the Cathedral. I hope it will be repaired as soon as possible. They also had a lot of armed guards there and a lot of police in the area.

Esmeralda

It started to rain so we stopped at Esmeralda, a restaurant that looks towards the Cathedral where I enjoyed a crepe filled with bananas and chocolate and wine. My husband had a hamburger and fries which was hilarious as I informed him he at least celebrated national hamburger day! My girl Kyla enjoyed her fries and wine! We decided we were going to keep walking and hit up some more sights but not before I had my real banana gelato! It’s so much better here than in the States.

Shakespeare and Company

I’m such a nerd but I spotted a book store and not just any store; Shakespeare and Company book store. I was in Heaven! Floors of books and old fashioned ladders to get the books that are higher up. It was a little more modern than I expected but I was in pure bliss!

Pont des Arts

Near Pont des Arts I spot a clown. Yes a clown! I want a picture with him. He takes one of me by twirling me, Marques snaps a few pics, and then he has me and Marques take some of just he and I! The clown grabs Marques and snaps some of him by having him hold his leg and attempts to kiss him. The laughter alone….don’t worry no clowns were harmed!

Louvre Museum

The day we visited it’s closed. So of course we continue to take pics at the Louvre Pyramid and Tuileries Garden! It was still an amazing time. Everyone was smiling and having the time of their life even though it soon started raining!

Place de la Concordé

This tall statue is so breathtaking with its golden tip. I’m amazed at how much history and architecture is in Paris. If you love both you will be blown away.

Champs-Élysées

This section of Paris is beautiful and rich. From the shopping and fashion district to the history, cathedrals, beautiful gardens I’m super glad we didn’t miss this. Also we stopped at the Arc de Triomphe.

Body Attack

Most folks would do this high level of working out prior to going on vacation but since working out is a lifestyle and not just a swimsuit ready venture, my girl Kyla had us at Les Cercles de la Forme to take a body attack class. Kyla teaches it in the States. I have taken her class and she’s very official. The class in Paris which was like one door down from our hotel, was just as intense. Kyla needed no help with the routine as she knew it! It felt good to work out with her! Glad she found the class even though she tried to kill me!

Buffalo Grill

It was definitely time to eat after all of that waking and workout! So we ventured to Buffalo Grill! It’s hard to eat for me since I’m vegan and the French love their meat and cheese. I had to make a lot of adjustments to make it vegan approved but we made it happen! I had about 25 ozs of wine and made sure I ate bread and whatever vegan options I could make up. They had steaks etc.

Eiffel Tower Take 2

So although we did see the Eiffel after the wedding on the boat, seeing it lit at night was amazing! I mean having to almost break our necks to get a justifiable picture wasn’t an easy task but we did it! It was amazing in all of his glorious lights! It’s the simple everyone knows Paris by! It is unifying and pure joy! I don’t think I smiled that hard in quite some time!

Paris day 3….

Paris owes me Nothing, Part 2

Like I said in Part 1 we were initially there for a wedding! Shout out to my girl Chrystal and Ray as they celebrated their love in Paris.

Most of the guests and some of the extras got there before we did. That means they had already done some sightseeing. We got there about 2 hours before the wedding started due to our late flight to celebrate with our oldest.

We arrived at our hotel; Hotel Alahambra. Let me say contrary to some folks, if I go somewhere and I like it I talk about it and tell you to add it to your list of go tos. However I’m going to be super blunt. To help phrase this here are my pros of the hotel:

  • Great location in the heart of Paris
  • Breakfast option
  • Near the metro
  • Near amazing food restaurants
  • Great pricing (we will come back to this)

Cons:

  • Owner/staff wasn’t pleasant
  • Having to turn in your key every time you left
  • Shuttle to airport which we thankfully didn’t take; owner tried to strong arm us

So on paper the hotel is beautiful and quaint. In person it went left. We got the hotel from Booking.com and any time I’ve gotten a booking through them it has been legit. Since we were traveling as a group of 3 and not 2 we placed that information in the browser. A room came up with basically a large queen and then a double bed. It made sense to get it. Kyla my girl stated a few days that many others who visited said that the owner gave them an issue with having more than 2 adults in the room. In my head I’m like this can’t be a thing, we set 3 adults and that room came up.

Well….we get there and it’s an issue. He wants to charge us an extra 300 for the third adult. No lie. Kyla and whomever wrote the last review were right! So I’m attempting to keep calm. If we would have left, his establishment wasn’t going to give us our money back we would have to fight with booking.com which I definitely will be doing before the end of this week.

To say that his attitude was horrible is an understatement. Now being in Paris I’ve caught on to them being more blunt than Americans but this wasn’t about being direct. He was straight horrible. Since we asked questions and didn’t roll over on what he said, every time he saw us he had an issue. Now remember when I said about the whole airport transportation? They have it but you can get an Uber for cheaper and when we asked about it, it was buy it now! We asked when was the last day to request it if we wanted it, he said buy it now so y’all know my response?! Nope! I will never make a financial decision on bad attitudes, tight lips, horrible service or bad dispositions periodt! So no extra hustle money from us. I will happily review them and if I was you unless you’re willing to pay for every adult in the room even if you use a trusty site don’t bother coming here.

They do have a breakfast option that if you’re eating it would save you money on food at other locations. However this momma who wakes up everyday in her regular life between 5-6 even on weekends to run elected to sleep. Plus the “adult juice” I needed recovery time so I have no review on whether or not the food is good!

Wedding vibes

We had enough time to change and get an Uber to the wedding with a mere minutes before it started. With most weddings they gave us some wiggle room before it started. The bride and groom looking absolutely stunning. It was my first time meeting the groom but right from the start he was warm and welcoming. The officiant of their wedding did it in English and French. It was absolutely beautiful.

I knew from the vows that Chrystal the bride has found her true love. I’ve been around her for quite some years and I’ve never heard her describe any man like she described Ray! Also the pure look of love and peace was special. I wish them a lifetime of happiness. Following the wedding they treated the guests to a boat cruise that included seeing a lot of iconic sites like the Eiffel Tower. I think I’ve seen the Tower like 3-4 times this whole trip and each time it has been breathtaking.

The boat ride was just the best. From the food of which there was an option for me! Thank you Chrystal! I kept my vegan behind vegan all trip!

Following the wedding I went to see if my girl was going to join us but by then she was sleep. We went to the night life near the Moulin Rouge. I won’t go into detail to protect the “innocent” but it was a pure blast! Adult drinks, fun adults, meeting new people and watching random strangers giving the bride and groom their congrats was amazing!!

Overall the wedding was absolutely the best for this year and to top it off it was in the Love city of Paris.

Ray take care of my girl! Now it’s time for you to pass the test of the kids and then I’ll know it’s real!!

Let’s be tourist….

Paris owes me Nothing….Part 1

I’m going to break this trip down in 3-4 parts! I want you to travel with me at least in your head since I’m back and still in love!!

It started off as a wedding and I ended with a bang! I recently took a trip to Paris and to say it was a once in a lifetime experience is a complete understatement. It was everything and more I could think of. We were invited to a wedding of our dear friend Chrystal and her new husband Ray and then the rest of the time it would for us to be tourist!

Secure the Babies

Let’s back up to the prep work it takes to pull this trip off. Not only are we speaking in terms of coins aka money, but with 3 kids it means a juggling act to secure them as this was an adult trip only. Also my girl Kyla attended as well. So making sure all 3 adults were safe, secure, fulfilled and happy while my kids were safe and secure with family proved to be a blessing and took a little finesse. Shout out to my brother and sister in love who kept the kids. Our kids only ended up missing 2 days of school due to their schedule. Not bad if you ask me. The kids had an amazing time with them. I’m grateful for knowing hands down that they were safe and happy. My sister in love is amazing! Thanks little brother for holding it down!

My friends can tell you that I’m not an irresponsible parent. The second we knew we were going on an international flight, it was important to me that I made sure all changes to my will were updated. It didn’t mean that I was anticipating something happening because I wasn’t. It had everything to do with making sure that if something did happen our children wouldn’t be further traumatized by not being with whom we wanted them to be with. I didn’t want anyone fighting in courts or our children not being raised the way we wanted them to in the respect of major child rearing aspects of parenting. I admonish all parents to have their paperwork in order even if you’re not taking a flight. The worse things you can do is not secure your kids’ future to the best of your ability. Thankfully we didn’t have to initiate any further plans! Since I needed to finalize the will, I’m super glad it was all handled!

Also we informed the school more than a month before so they could get their homework! Our oldest has finals and we don’t want any excuses for her not to get good grades. Their schools were amazing preparing the work ahead of time. I know the kids ain’t happy about it but education is important around here!

Shout out to my neighbor for keeping a watchful eye for my furry son, Tiki! I missed that little cat!!

Not Without a Hitch

Days before while doing my last fun prep like going to the nail salon,etc I got into a car accident. I was hit by a man and in return my car has damage. Now between that and some family issues that popped up I probably could have just flown from the anger I felt. However it’s beautiful to know that regardless of how I felt I still maintained my emotions. Not once did I fly off the handle. Not once did I speak out of turn! There wasn’t much I could do so acting a fool wasn’t going to add anything to the situation so I elected to remain calm! However in the coming days I will need to handle the aftermath of the issues left behind! Some of them will be easier than others. But that’s life?!

Birthday Behavior

The day that we left to go to Paris was also my oldest daughter birthday! We celebrated her the week before with a large 10th birthday party. However we also made sure that on our birthday we would be right there with her. For that reason we took a night flight out!

We took her out to breakfast and made sure we had cake with her and she got a few gifts from friends as well! Shout out to Hershey Pantry for an amazing meal!

Easy quick tips to make an International Trip smoother

Obviously get your passport as soon as you can. Do not wait until the last minute. It took me about 4-5 weeks to get me and during high peak times it could be even 6 weeks to get back!

Packing

Pack a few days before. You will most likely find that you need items if you pack as if you’re leaving in a few hours even though you have days to leave. I find doing this for most flights is a life saver.

Packing cubes

So although not a requirement, anytime I travel I like to utilize packing cubes. This is merely a suggestion however it helped to make packing easier as well as sleek. It gave me incredible space. My bags were only 14 pounds once weighed. This was great as I didn’t want to incur any extra baggage fees. I had everything too but them cubes was the real MVP!

Also I packed the kids suitcase a week before. With 3 kids I have a master list that I use. It may seem extra but it ensures that I don’t leave the most important items! I didn’t want to be that far away and forget the things they needed!

As you’re packing you find out what you still need and can purchase options without having to be super rushed. I didn’t pack anything new because the weather was about 70 degrees or a little under. So my Fallish clothes worked fine! I did purchase some new walking shoes and insoles as the walking we did was amazing but it was a lot. We limited the amount of Uber usage. I probably could have used it more but it is what it is! Step count was off the charts!

STEP

Outside of having your passport, also register for STEP. It’s free!! It basically registers you with the US consulate in the country that you are traveling so that if there is an emergency they can assist. This is also good in case of a crisis in the visiting country too! They will also include someone back at home to contact on your behalf!

WiFi

We used an international traveling WiFi. It was super beneficial. In our case it was 3 adults traveling. In hindsight I might have ordered 2 of them since there were times when our small party was separated. However we had the travel WiFi delivered to our home and we dropped it off to the airport before we left. It allowed us to use our phones after turning off cellular data not only to be on social media or use maps but it also allowed us to utilize FaceTime with our kids! Paris is 6 hours ahead of Philadelphia, we kept the connection flowing at all times. Another tip is using an app called maps.me by downloading prior to your trip so you don’t have to even have WiFi to use and get around. Shout out Travel WiFi for being super responsive, amazing company, and making sure we were secured!

Apps

Please update your apps before leaving including Uber. The time to update isn’t when you need it the most. I suggested everyone in our group to do so. That helped tremendously.

Theft Protection

You can go anywhere and something could happen. However in international areas, be sure to have a theft protection bag. It helped as a lot of areas get overcrowded and pick pocketing is real. Our bags were cute and helped to safe guard us. Also our passport holder which doubled as a wallet also had RFID technology to prevent thieves from stealing our card information.

Here is the link for the cover from Amazon

Passport Holder Cover, ACdream… https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CBYVSJC?ref=ppx_pop_mob_ap_share

Here is the link of where I got the bookbag from Amazon:

Laptop Backpack for Women Men… https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07MLQZ1W1?ref=ppx_pop_mob_ap_share

Back it Up

No not for the 99 and the 00 (those who know, know) but always make copies of your travel documents and passports and leave hard copies and electronic copies with one or more folks back home. We love technology until it doesn’t work. If a computer glitch happens you want to be ready with what you need without fumbling! May seem extra but being prepared in life is a skill set. Get it and you might troubleshoot a lot of issues in your regular life too but what do I know?!

Travel Back Up Power

Listen between videos and pics you may find that while you’re out and about you could be in jeopardy of losing power. Be sure to purchase a back up power pack. I’ve had the same one since my solo trip last year and it has served me well. I’ve taken it to work, to blog events, and any and all travel! I try my best to always start with full power and make sure I have my back up power. It may seem extra but I’ve only run out of power once and I like to keep that number from never increasing.

My charger is 2 years old here is the updated sleeker version:

Portable Charger Anker PowerCore 20100mAh – Ultra High Capacity Power Bank with 4.8A Output, External Battery Pack for iPhone, iPad & Samsung Galaxy & More (Black) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00X5RV14Y/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_Hdt8Cb6JAJ25V

Get that Money

We exchanged our money before we left. It made it easier to have our Euros before we left. We didn’t have to find a place although there were many spot to do so. Also having a certain amount of Euros prevented us from having to “re up” unless we needed to. In addition we also informed our banks and credit card companies that we were traveling in case we needed to use them! Thankfully we didn’t do much swiping so that’s a great thing!

Shout outs go to Omnia Nails and John for giving me that neutral manicure and pedicure with the color “Be There in a Prosecco” so super fitting!

Thanks Dee of ExtraordinarySewinsbydee who put her amazing hands on my head. Had me Paris ready! She always ready and answers the call.

Now that I did my research, got my stuff all handled, parked my banged up car, celebrated our baby girl, and did my prep…

Let’s go to Paris…..