Disneyland Paris in Pictures

Disneyland Park Paris is a replica of my favourite park, Magic Kingdom (Florida). The land themes are nearly the same and few of the rides have also been replicated. However, there are some big differences. The castle in the centre of the park is Sleeping Beauty’s castle, there are also many unique rides, amazing walk through exhibits and the restaurants are all unique.

I really enjoyed this park. I love Disney princesses and Disney movie themed rides and exhibits. I also really love the parades, shows and fireworks show that feature my favourite classic characters. Being that this park is in France, you may be wondering will anyone speak English. Well yes, the staff in the restaurants, shops, rides etc all speak English. The attractions and entertainment are primarily in French but they do include English, so it is easier to follow.

My favourite attractions in this park were It’s a small world, Big Thunder Mountain, Sleeping Beauty’s Castle and Alice’s Curious Labyrinth. It was my first time experiencing all of these attractions, but I really felt like they were worth the wait. Octavia’s favourite attraction was strangely the La Taniere du Dragon. I also really loved the Disney Illuminations show. I went alone since it started at 11pm, but it was definitely worth the hour I sat in the crowd and the walk back.

After visiting Florida parks I did have a few disappointments with this park. Firstly the restaurants and fast food were nowhere near as good. The restaurants were beautifully themed but nothing blew me away in terms of flavours and uniqueness. On the bright side, it was less completive to get a booking. Also, the app does not allow you to book your fast passes. It’s really just a map with wait times that wasn’t always reliable. There were not many rides that had fast passes, so the wait times were really long and you have to take a fast pass ticket from outside the ride so you could not choose the best time available. Despite this, I did get to go on nearly every ride available in a day and a half. I didn’t bother with character meets since they were ridiculously long. Since I stayed in a Disney hotel this time I also had extra magic in the morning, which was only for a few rides but still worth going before the crowds arrived even to line up for rides. Another plus was the Baby Switch, which we utilised for rides that Octavia couldn’t go on.

Probably my biggest disappointment with Disney Paris is that people are allowed to smoke in the park. Although it’s only permitted in smoking areas it does not stop people smoking in lines for rides and even in crowds where children were watching shows. Even in the evening show, it was advised over the loud speaker in five languages not to smoke. Yet I had two ladies behind me smoking and they were seated next to a toddler.

We visited four restaurants at this park, which included Walt’s – an American Restaurant, Silver Spur Steakhouse, Market House Deli and Agrabah Cafe. I wasn’t blown away by Walt’s or Market House Deli. I had a delicious pork chop at Silver Spur but the highlight was definitely Agrabah Cafe. This buffet had many great Moroccan and Middle Eastern savoury and sweet options. My only regret is that I wasn’t famished when I visited. It was also the only place my toddler liked the food. Everywhere else she was offered baby food or ate part of my meal, both of which she didn’t like. Unfortunately, Blue Lagoon and Victoria’s Home-style Restaurant were closed the days we visited.

So here is my day at Disneyland Paris in pictures. If you are planning a visit or want to know more about the attractions see my Guide to Disneyland Paris. I have also written a Guide to Walt Disney Studio Park Paris and recently wrote a post on Walt Disney Studios Paris in Pictures.

 

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Walt Disney Studios Paris in Pictures

I’m back from my month long holiday in Europe and I have so much to share with you all. Our first stop was Disney Paris. This was our first visit and a great year visit, being that it is the 25th Anniversary.

We arrived quite early in Paris, but we didn’t get to our hotel until 9:30. Since we arrived after the parks opened we decided to start with the smaller of the two parks, Walt Disney Studios Park. I thought it would be more low key and we could do everything in that day.

I really didn’t love this park and it was probably my least favourite of all the parks I’ve visited. It is such a mishmash of themes. There are limited choices of restaurants and not many fast passes available for the attractions. This means long lines and large wait times. I guess I feel a bit negative towards this park since our experience on the first day was great. We first got Fastpasses for Ratatouille: The Adventure ride, which was quite late in the afternoon. We then decided to line up since the wait was 30 minutes, which wasn’t so bad. However, the ride broke down and when we were nearly at the end of the line. It was not known when the ride would start so we had to leave after wasting 45 minutes there. After that, we were faced with over an hour wait times and not a lot that we could do with a toddler.We did later revisit Ratatouille which was really great. It did malfunction while we were on it though for a few minutes but it wasn’t a big deal.

We did end up seeing the Mickey and the Magician Live Show and Moteurs… Action! Stunt Show Spectacular. I loved the Mickey show, the other show was a bit boring for me. We missed Disney Junior when the Moteurs show ran late. So after that, we decided to walk over to Disneyland Paris to get to know the park. Surprisingly at the time in the afternoon, there was plenty to do with minimal wait times, which was not the case Walt Disney Studios.

We did end up revisiting this park to see Disney Junior Live on Stage! and did nearly all the other attractions. The only regret I have is that I didn’t get to go on Crush’s Coaster Roller coaster and Studio Tram Tour: Behind the Magic Tour. The wait time for Crush was 70 minutes just for Single Rider so with a toddler it was impossible. If I didn’t have a daughter I may have just waited. Unfortunately, because there are not a lot of fast passes it is difficult to avoid lines with long wait times. I did enjoy the park better the second time we visited. I guess after visiting Florida parks I had some higher expectations. I do still recommend you check it out if you visit though.

We dined at the two most highly recommended eatery and restaurant. For lunch, we went to Cafe des Cascadeurs for burgers in a 50’s style diner. It was nice but not great. It was quick though. For dinner, we went to Bistrot Chez Remy. The decor is quite amazing, the food was not though. It was nice but not mind blowing. The ratatouille itself was really delicious though.

Disney Village is an area with restaurants and shopping with free admission for public and is located just outside the parks. We didn’t eat at any of the restaurants. I did notice that Annette’s Diner was always really busy. I did visit all the shops though. There were not really large Disney stores. I much preferred the shopping in Disneyland Park for the variety of merchandise and clothing.

This was our first time staying in a Disney hotel. We stayed Disney’s Newport Bay Club and I’m really happy we did. We had the breakfast buffet included in our meal plan which was quite nice. The room was simple but comfortable. The good service, proximity to the parks and extra magic time (morning) really made it worth it though. I don’t think I would visit a Disney park again without staying in one of their hotels.

So here is our experience at Walt Disney Studio Park in pictures. I also included some photos of Disney Village and Disney’s Newport Bay Club. I have also written up a Guide for Walt Disney Studio Park and Guide to Disneyland Paris. Stay tuned for my upcoming post on Disneyland Paris in Pictures.

 

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Life update

Since starting this blog I haven’t really told you guys what’s going on in my life and where it’s about to take me. As most of you probably know this blog is a new project I started after concluding Live Blissful that I started back in September 2012. I had a really long break from blogging after I had my daughter. I just really didn’t have the time or energy to put up quality content. Additionally, I was unsure where my plant-based journey would take me.

As I stand at the moment I am not 100% plant-based. I really struggled with this during my pregnancy and since then. I have accepted that I will probably never be 100%, but that’s ok. Different phrases in my life will call for different foods to nourish my body and my growing child. Does that mean I will not continue to cook and seek plant-based food? no. I actually prefer to eat like this. However, I also love to try new things and eat traditional foods when I travel. My biggest priority is to eat the clean, mostly organic and unprocessed foods. This means that majority of our families diet is vegan and vegetarian. I never came to this diet for ethical reasons, but I do believe eating minimal amounts of animal-based foods for better health and for the environment. Eating dairy-free is still a priority for me. I was able to eat small amounts while pregnant and through breastfeeding, but now as my child is feeding less I am getting side effects. For me just tasting someone else’s food can bring on blemishes and flu-like symptoms. I guess it’s a blessing in disguise, I would have never known how bad cows milk can be for our health had I not found out about my intolerance. As for the recipes, I will be sharing, I will probably stick to vegetarian since that’s what I like to cook.

Other big news is that I’m going to Europe tomorrow for a month. We are travelling to France, Italy, Serbia, Sweden and Belgium. Although we will be staying with family and friends throughout our trip, we will be making a special trip to Disney Paris. I can’t wait to share our adventure with you when we get back!

Twilight Garden

After so much colouring envy I finally bought Maria Trolle’s Twilight Garden. This beautiful Swedish colouring book has been my latest obsession. I was determined to get as many pages done before I go on my trip. It was an absolute joy to colour. I was a bit intimidated at first, but after taking a few advanced tutorials I can imagine a colour scheme for every page.

Maria Trolle is a Swedish graphic designer, gardener and mother. She is a self-taught artist and does a lot of work for Swedish garden magazines and grocery chains. She draws inspiration from the flora and fauna in her garden. She lives just outside of Stockholm on a beautiful farm. She has a blog and website, called Trolle’s Garden, which is a collaboration with her husband, who is a Garden designer and Design director. Here you can find information on their current projects and images of their amazing garden.

Maria’s first colouring book was Blomstermandala, which was a 20-page poster book, filled with flower still lifes. She also made a postcard book with the similar images. After the success of these two book, she published a full-scale colouring book in 96 pages, in the same theme. This full-scale version of Blomstermandala was eventually republished in an English version,  Twilight Garden, which is the version I bought. Both versions have been incredibly popular in the colouring community. She also illustrated a children’s book,”Vivi söker en vän” (Vivi’s looking for a friend). This was also made into a colouring book under the same name. I have actually purchased this one and waiting to pick it up in Sweden in a few weeks. I’m so excited to see it!

The paper in this book is a lovely thick ivory colour. I didn’t find any bleed through using pencils and my Prismacolor blended really well on this paper. The images include flower still lifes, garden scenes with and without animals and some blacked in backgrounds.

This collection of pictures I coloured is in order of when I coloured them. As I mentioned I did use some tutorials. They were all from Chris Cheng’s Youtube channel. These were by far the most advanced tutorials I’ve ever done and I really learned a lot. So I tried to incorporate these new skills into the pictures I coloured on my own.

 

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Hiroshima: tragedy, rebirth and great food

Hiroshima was the last stop on our Japan trip. It is the largest city in the Chugoku Region on the western front of the Honshu Island. It is largely known for the Atomic bomb that was dropped on it during WW2. Despite this, the city has been rebuilt into a modern city, whilst paying homage to its rich history and is home to million inhabitants.

Hiroshima was one of the highlights of our trip. We visited nearly all the top attractions in a day, without rushing and had some great meals along the way. The sites that we saw included Shukkeien GardenHiroshima CastleHiroshima Peace Memorial ParkHiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and Downtown Hiroshima.

 

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North Tokyo: low city and skytree views

North Tokyo is a more mature part of the city, where you can find temples, shrines, gardens, shopping strips, museums and residential neighbourhoods. There was something more authentic about this part of the city. It a great place to stroll and observe and find traditional artisan stores.

We didn’t see many sites in North Tokyo, but we did spend a few hour exploring Asakusa district and Sensoji Temple. From there we walked all the way to the Skytree Sumida City district. The views in the low city are quite spectacular and shouldn’t be missed.

 

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Central Tokyo: fish market, modernity and old world beauty

Although Toyko is a modern metropolis, Japanese traditions and culture are still evident throughout the city. Some of the sites in Central Tokyo where this is apparent are the famous Tsukiji Fish Market and the Tokyo Imperial Palace. To see the high of Japanese modernity you can also find that not far away in the Ginza,  Chiyoda City and Akihabara.

Central Tokyo was one of the few places I felt like I had plenty of room to move. While the population is hard at work you can wonder between skyscrapers or beautiful gardens and experience the contrast between old and new in this amazing city.

We did not visit Central Tokyo in this order, but this section of the city could be done in one day. With the except of Ginza, these are all must do stops when visiting this city.

 

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Crazy for pasta at Spaghetti House

Recently we visited a restaurant I haven’t been to in a long time. The Spaghetti House Trattoria is a family-run Italian restaurant in Southbank. They were previously situated in West End, which is where we used to frequently visit them.

They offer a great selection of Italian fare, including bread, small share plates, pizza, pasta and main dishes. The dishes are a collection of regional favourites prepared very traditionally. Over the years we have tried many of their dishes and they never disappoint in taste and quality.

Over the past couple of years, they moved from Westend to Southbank on Little Stanley Street. The new location does feel a bit more formal than the previous one and is styled like a modern trattoria. From the polished floors, beautiful rustic table settings, lighting and gold framed mirrors, everything is perfectly elegant, yet cozy.

On the day we visited we were all really hungry and were craving pasta. We all ordered the thicker kinds of pasta with simple sauces. I had the Pappardelle Boscaiola, which had pancetta, porcini mushrooms and olives in a fresh tomato sauce. The fresh pasta was cooked perfectly al dente and the sauce had a full depth of flavour. My companions had Pappardelle Carbonara and Fettuccini Ragu alla Bolognese. They were also very happy with their dishes. We all ordered the larger size plate, which were generous and very filling. If we ordered more food, I’m sure a small portion would have sufficed.

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Western Toyko: Red lights, Robots and Harajuku girls

The next stop on our trip was Tokyo, Japan’s capital and the most popular metropolis in the world. There is just so much to see within this massive city and outsides its borders. It’s one of the most modern cities that I’ve ever seen, yet you can also find pockets of old world Japanese culture. Tokyo was definitely not as clean as previous Japanese cities, but we found it easy to navigate and were spoilt for choice for where to shop and dine.

We allocated two and a half days to explore the city and one day for DisneySea. The following posts on Tokyo are not in order, but have been split up into west, central and north Tokyo. We stayed in Shinjuku, which is on the west side, so I thought I’d start there. The highlights were the nightlife of Kabukichō, the crazy Robot Cabaret, colourful Harajuku and busy Shibuya. The west side was definitely the crazy, eccentric Tokyo that I imagined. We were lucky to just stumble unexpectedly to these sites. They probably aren’t for everyone, but I’m so happy we got to experience the quirky side of the city.

 

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Spelt Pumpkin Baked Donuts

I was so inspired by my recent visit to Nodo, I decided to create my own baked donuts. Mine aren’t gluten-free however, they are vegan, soy-free and nut-free. They are also made from mostly spelt and with fresh pumpkin, so they nutritious and easier to digest. Coconut sugar also works beautifully in them, so they are just sweet enough. I hope you like them!

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South and East Kyoto: torri gates, temples and geisha dress-up

On our first visit to Kyoto we only saw the central district. So on day 8, our friends took us back to Kyoto to see the some of the sites in the south and the east. It was also our last day with the rest of the wedding party before we diverted to Tokyo. On this day we first visited the shrine Fushimi Inari Taisha in the south. In the afternoon we visited the Higashiyama District and the Gion District in the east. It was here that the I got to experience becoming a geisha and enjoy a Buddhist afternoon tea. This was probably my favourite day of our wedding party tour.

 

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Mothers Day at Jamie’s Italian

Happy Mothers Day to all the mums out there. This year is my third mothers day. I can’t believe I’ve already had three. Time has gone so fast. This year I got my first present from my daughter. A plant and painted card with a picture of her and a lovely message that she made a Kindy. It was the sweetest thing ever. This year Marco and I decided to have a nice lunch without our toddler. She spent some time with her nonna and we had a relaxing lunch at Jamie’s Italian.

We have been to Jamie’s Italian a few times since it opened. I know it gets mixed reviews, but we have had good experiences every time. The food is always fresh with quality ingredients and cooked well. What I love about this place is that its real food, cooked from scratch. We have only been to the Brisbane location, but you can find the franchised restaurants in most capital cities in Australia and more across the world.

The Brisbane location just off the street level but actually has a second level of seating under the ground. The top level features the entrance bar and a beautiful marble bar with hanging Parma hams, garlic and chillis, where the antipastos are prepared. The lower level also houses the kitchen, so it’s also nice to sit in the hustle and bustle of the kitchen atmosphere. The rest of the decor is very industrial, yet homely. The walls feature exposed concrete and recycled wooden panels and the floors are polished wood. The tables are mostly wooden, with leather booths or red metal seat. The ambience of the restaurant really makes you feel like your in an Italian trattoria.

I have noticed the menu has changed over time to keep up with the current trends. However, the heart of Italy still shines through with their handmade pasta, classic antipasti and some traditional secondi dishes.

 

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