Day 2 in Exeter: Hello Sunshine â˜€ï¸

The sun is definitely shining bright and high as I rose from my bed this morning. (I took a more lazy approach today and stayed in the bed longer. 😂) The weather makes it very ideal for some outdoor dining, so I went to Tea On The Green right opposite Exeter Cathedral for my brunch. Sunshine, beautiful view and food, what more can one ask for? 😉

Brunch in full view of Exeter Cathedral ☀️☀️
Another new way of ordering 😂

Having been turned away yesterday, Exeter Cathedral was at last opened for visitors today. (For those of you who don’t want to do a me, make sure you don’t try to come here on a Sunday! 😂) I have always loved visiting cathedrals, and the beautiful stained glass inside really reminded me of the many wonderful ones I have seen in Europe before. There weren’t a lot of visitors here today (think there were about 4-5 visitors besides me plus a few members of staff), so I felt I was really immersed in the environment inside. It was simply captivating! ❤️

Outside of Exeter Cathedral
Seeing these origami birds really tagged my heartstring, especially in such time of uncertainty ❤️ (I couldn’t fold one though 😅 but I did leave a prayer on the notice board.)

This followed on with more exploring around the city…

Exeter Guildhall
Don’t know what this is exactly, but so love the historic feel to it ❤️
St Stephen’s Chruch
Architecture in this city is absolutely amazing! ❤️❤️
St David’s Church, just down the road from my hotel

As my stay in Exeter is coming to an end, I have planned an early night-in this evening (as I will be hopping on to an early train to a different city tomorrow. 😉) But before that, I have also paid a visit to Dinosaur Café (which was just adjacent to St David’s Church) for a nice takeaway meal of Greek food. 👍

Stuffed aubergines 🍆 with rice and salad – a nice cosy tea in my hotel room 😁 (I did end up leaping to the shop again to get a kebab later though – didn’t have enough earlier haha! 😂)

See you early the next morning! Any guess where am I heading next? 😉

Day 1 in Exeter: A New Outlook After Lockdown

It feel almost so surreal that many months have passed since the beginning of the pandemic. As lockdown begins to ease all over the country, I finally picked up the courage to go travelling again after months of staying firmly indoor. As much as I am excited to be out of London again, I am also telling myself to be extra cautious along the journey. Anyway, it was still exciting to be out on an adventure again! ❤️

Arrival at Exeter St Davids station 🚂

After a 3 and a half hours train journey (face mask on throughout 😷), I arrived at Exeter just around lunchtime. My hotel is very conveniently just right opposite the train station, so I was able to drop my luggage off in the room and then headed out to the city centre.

Lunch at Eat the Bird Exeter
Yummy!! 🤤😋

I chose to have my lunch at Eat the Bird Exeter after seeing it being recommended online. (Plus, I was oddly craving for a fried chicken burger! 😂) I like the idea of ticking off the orders on the menu (reminds me of how we always used to do that in Chinese dim sum places haha.) It was nice to see how many restaurants are taking very nice approaches in dealing with the Covid-19 situation (such as staff wearing masks/visors and asking customers to leaving names and phone numbers to allow contact trace in the event of an outbreak), which really assures me and made me feel at ease about being outside. The food certainly didn’t disappoint! 😋 I ordered their Double Dip fried chicken burger which was drenched in a rich gravy – absolutely love the crispness of the chicken! ❤️ But, for me, the highlight was that delicious mac and cheese (especially when drizzled with that spicy hot buffalo sauce! Yum! 😍🤤)

After a very filling lunch, it was time for me to explore the city. 🏃‍♂️ But the first bump hit quick when I discovered the iconic Underground Passages (the place I was most looking forward to visiting) was indefinitely closed due to the pandemic. 😢

☹️☹️☹️

Nevertheless, my exploration of the city continued… 😅

Exeter Cathedral – the place is only opened to service today so will be back here again tomorrow
Perfect dessert after my lunch 💛 – until a seagull flew straight into it when I was about halfway through… 💔💔
City bank
There are a lot of ruins dotted around the city – it’s so fascinating
Beautiful rainbow 🌈🌈🌈
Love the street art ❤️
Northernhay Gardens – FYI the seagull sitting at the top is not part of the memorial 😂

After a brief nap back in the hotel, I visited the beautiful Exeter Quayside in the evening to finish the day. ❤️

Exeter Quayside
Walking into the sunset 🌅 with another ice cream in hand

An Escape from the City

Honestly can’t say how excited I was for this weekend! 🙌🙌 After reading so much about city getaway trips on the social media and internet, I have always wanted to do that and, earlier this week, I went on an impulse and booked a trip away from London for the weekend! Having said that, I didn’t want to go too far (and avoided flying in case I won’t make it back in time for work on Monday lol 😂.) So I ended up choosing the historic Canterbury in Kent as my destination, only a relatively short one and an half hours by train from London.

The historic Canterbury

Despite sleeping quite late last night, I set my alarm (with snoozing lol) early for this morning. Victoria Station was super busy but I managed to grab a breakfast roll from a Burger King before hopping onto the train.

Scenery from the train

The train was such a peaceful ride. Not only did I get to enjoy the countryside scenery, I also was able to get some work done during the journey and kept myself occupied. 😂👌

Looks like winter is finally in full swing…❄️❄️

The weather was not the best when I arrived with slight drizzle running throughout the lunch hours. Strangely though I wasn’t hugely bothered and continued to explore the old city.

The entrance of the iconic Canterbury Cathedral. I would have gone in if it wasn’t for its steep entry fee… 😓💸💸
In front of the Canterbury Cathedral
Amazing metallic painting of London in the Castle Fine Art ❤️❤️
The Old City

The steep entry fee of Canterbury Cathedral put me off from going inside…😥😥 So instead I had a wander inside Castle Fine Art nearby, then Old City before heading off for lunch.

The rain got heavier 🌧🌧 as I was heading to the restaurant, so I almost sprinted my way there. I did some research and chose to go to The Ambrette Canterbury, an Indian fusion restaurant. And I must say I was not disappointed, in fact I was slightly taken aback by how good it was! 🤤🤤 (I am not exaggerating but it is hands down the best Indian food I have ever eaten! ❤️❤️) The price is also very reasonable as well, especially given their quality! (Costed me under £24 for the entire lunch… That’s less than twice the entry fee to go inside Canterbury Cathedral haha. 😂😂)

Complimentary appetiser: Chickpea and Venison Dumplings
Starter: Saffron infused chicken thigh and liver kebab with coriander chutney, mango and salad
Main: British pork belly with with Dauphinoise potato, crackling, seasonal vegetables and Biryani rice with tomato & ginger sauce
Dessert: Mango Kulfi with flaked coconut, poppy seeds and almonds

I have never heard of Kulfi until today! (For those of you who don’t either it is an Indian ice cream.) But it was so delicious, I want to go home and make this myself! ❤️❤️ (Watch this space haha 😉) Not only were the dishes presented beautifully, but they are wildly flavoured with spices! If you are a lover for spices, you will definitely love this place as much as I did! 🤤🤤

The Old City in the evening
Beautiful!
The Christmas Market
Amazing Christmas lights! ❤️❤️

After a brief rest in the inn (which is a convenient spot within the Old City), I went for another walk in the evening to catch the beautiful, bright Christmas lights under the night sky. ❄️❄️❄️ The streets and market were busy with brilliant music playing in the background. Since I moved to London, watching Christmas lights and going to Christmas market have become a tradition of mine every year to welcome the full swing of the winter season, so this year I am simply starting somewhere else! 😉 Christmas can’t come any sooner! ☃️🎄⭐️ (And I brought a slice of Yule Log back to my hotel room after dinner! 😋❤️)

Hope you all also have an amazing weekend!

Day 2: Midnight in Paris

Bonjour to another day in Paris! Having finally recovered from the food coma yesterday, I was up early raring to go out and explore. My first stop was to get some breakfasts from a bakery, called Du Pain et des Idées, which my friend had recommended. I chose their chausson à la pomme fraîche, which is an apple pastry. I also used this opportunity to practice my KS3 French, and I thought I did a pretty good job. That was until the server immediately answered me with English… 😅

Moving on to my next stop which was the Louvre, I decided to take the metro line there. To be honest, I was initially a bit nervous about taking the metro but it turned out to be just as straightforward as taking the underground tube in London. Directions were very easy to follow as long as you followed the signs and more importantly they have air con! (For those of you who don’t know, London underground has no air condition and can be as hot as a sauna in the summer…)

When I did arrive at the Louvre, I was taken aback by how long the queue was. (Okay, I did expect there would be a queue, but this took queuing to another level!) Looking around the place to buy a ticket, I ended up being told that tickets were only available online and all the tickets for entry today were sold out! 😭 (I think my lack of thorough research is showing…) However, I did have a great walk around outside. 😉 The temperature wasn’t too bad and it was very easy to duck back into the mall shall it get too hot. 😅

Ready for breakfast!

For lunch today, I decided to visit another restaurant that my friend recommended, called Le Comptoir de La Gastronomie. The restaurant appeared to be very well known and popular in Paris, especially their foie gras dishes. As a fan of foie gras, this place was one not to be missed by me.

Sea Bream Ceviche with Lime
Pan-Seared Foie Gras with Gingerbread and Mixed Leaf Salad

As the reviews suggested, I was not disappointed! 😋 The ceviche was very refreshing with the lime and was very appetising. The foie gras though was absolute the star of the show as it was cooked perfectly and accompanied very well with the lightness of the salad. I was pleasantly surprised by the gingerbread as it actually worked rather well with the rest of the dish. 😊 After lunch, I took a stroll around a shopping mall nearby (to walk off the calories lol) and went back to the hotel for a quick nap before heading out again for the evening.

Arc de Triomphe

After a brief visit to the famous arc, I decided my main activity tonight was to visit the Eiffel Tower. It wasn’t much of a long walk from there, and I was very much looking forward to seeing the whole view of Paris from the tower. I went for the cheapest ticket which required me to take the stairs up rather than using the lift.

Here we go!
Taking the stairs up…
How long do I still need to walk…? 😭😨🏃‍♂️
There are a restaurant and some shops on the first floor. I was going to eat at the restaurant when I came down, but it was closed by then… 😕

Not going to lie, my legs were absolutely shaking as I walked up to the first floor. 😖 The gusts of wind blowing against me did not help one bit at all. (I was constantly worried that I would end up dropping my phone 😰…) I was sweating so much (mainly from nerves) that I needed to take a seat down on the first floor before continuing…

I didn’t know if it was because I got some practices or I was just suddenly filled with adrenaline, but the walk to the second floor felt a lot easier. And if you were able to conquer this fear of height like me, the views from there were absolutely breathtaking! 😮❤️❤️ (I took some videos too, you can see those from my Instagram!)

I was starving by the time I got back to the hotel though, so ended up eating a cheese-and-ham toastie (though a very subpar one… 😂) at the bar at 1am! And honestly, it felt nice to be on the ground again! 😂

Day 1: Runaway Train

‘So excited for Paris!’ I thought to myself after I woke up early at 7 this morning and finished my last bits of packing. With everything ready to go by half 8, I steadily made my way to St Pancras station (which is a quick 10 mins underground from my home) to meet my Eurostar train at 9:24. Even when I looked at the time on my phone, I thought to myself that there was still plenty of time. How wrong I was…

Now, in all fairness, I could only blame about what happen next on myself. When I arrived at the Eurostar entrance at 9am, it turned out that the gate had already closed for my train. 😱 I was unaware that the gate would close about an hour before the train’s designated time (which was stated in very small writings on the ticket). It turned out, however, that I wasn’t alone in that boat as I queued outside ticket office among many people who had also similarly missed their trains. I did have a brief chat with the guy in front of me (who was from Paris and was heading back after few days of training in London). He told me that he too made the same mistake the first time he took a Eurostar train, which made me felt a little better about myself haha (he was late this time because of his friend who was late picking him up to the station).

Now, just to make matters slightly worse, the queue in the ticket office was moving very slowly as they only opened one counter (which probably was the thing that irked me the most at that point 🙄). It turned out though that the ticket change can be done on the self-service machines next right to the ticket office (which the friendly guy in front of me quickly advised me to go over after he went to try them himself as I watched his bags 😁). The two ladies over the self-service counters were very helpful. I had a minor panic attack when I thought there were no later trains to go to Paris today. (It turned out that because I booked my tickets through an agency, replacement trains don’t show up on the screen…. Don’t ask me why lol!)

The train is boarding! 👍

After paying a bit of a hefty fee of £44, I was finally able to get the ticket for the train at 12:24. This gave me about an hour to kill in the station, which involved me buying a small sushi from M&S and calling my mum on the phone. (‘I told you to go to the station earlier!’ she said. 😓) I was surprised by how packed it was at the gate by the time I went over. And there was a little story saga when I bumped into the lady who sorted the new ticket for me (she was ushering people forward at the passport control). She instantly recognised me and said, ‘Oh, you again?’ To which, I said, ‘I am not late this time!’ 😂 (which earned a ‘well done’ from her lol!)

All abroad!
First thing I ate as I stepped foot into France (or rather the train did lol!)

While there was a slight minor delay with the train, but things got moving pretty fast after and I snatched an empty row that no-one ended up sitting on. 😏 The train ride was only 2 hours and to be fair, it felt even less. The train was moving so fast that I was swaying from side to side as I walked down the carriage to the mini bar!

The main entrance of Gare du Nord
Inside Gare du Nord

I could literally feel the heat by the time we arrived in Gare du Nord station. It was a warm day in Paris (and part of me is now dreading about the fact it will be getting hotter in the coming days 😓), and I wasted no time to get to the hotel first. The feel of air con after 10 minutes walk from the station was well worth it!

However, I was starving by that time (having only ate a sushi and two madeleines throughout the whole day), so I was honestly ready for a big meal! I searched up places to eat nearby online and found Terminus Nord which is right opposite Gare du Nord station. It is a classic French restaurant opened since 1925, and I was most definitely in the mood for some classic French dishes.

Rouge Burgundy Snails
Grilled Vendée Duck Breast
Crêpes Suzette flambéed in Grand Marnier and Lime Sorbet

If you are wondering, this was not the first time I ate snails (In fact I had it many times before. For some reasons, they were common in many European restaurants in Hong Kong…) The duck breast and the crêpes suzette were both delicious, and I was quite surprised by how much I liked the latter. (It was one of those dishes I always knew about but never had lol.) Here is also a video of the server doing the flambé for the crêpes in front of me. 👇

To end the day, I leapt to the supermarket after for some sweets and drinks in preparation for the upcoming hot weather.

I’ve never seen this version of Haribo in the UK before. Is it only available in France?

Anyway, that’s it for now. Hopefully, I will be sharing more with you all over the next few days. The adventure has only just begun! 😀