Thursday, August 29, 2013


When we last left off on our European adventuring, I believe we had just finished a perfectly lovely brasserie breakfast in the city of Nantes.

My dad loves trains of all descriptions and always asks about the locomotive, so I always take a picture of them for him.  These trains were very colorful!

Here's the inside of the train...rather more subdued, but very cozy!  I like the wall sconces - and look just below them.  There were even coat hooks on this train!

There were also chocolates on the train - but we had actually brought those ourselves.  We had picked up a few at that pretty chocolatier in Nantes, and they were the perfect snack for the journey!

Today we had good train luck...there was still snow in northern France (where we were going!), but it didn't affect the schedules - thank goodness!  As you can tell from the photos, we got back to the station early and were first on the train.  That meant I had time to VLOG:

I loved that little "doo-do-do!" noise, and the French voice announcing things that I mostly could not understand about le teh-jay-vay! (TGV).

Vlog number 2!  Don't you love the charming screenshots youtube randomly chooses to freeze on?  LOL.

Soon our TER (that's a regional train, I believe -the TGV's usually go greater distances and faster!) was taking us away from Nantes and its city castle towards, as I mentioned in the vlog, the city of Rennes, a city in Brittany, France not far from the incredible monastery-perched-on-a-rocky-island that is Mont St. Michel.

If you don't have a car, as my brother and I didn't, getting to Mont St. Michel can be a bit tricky.  There are three cities with train stations nearby that you can aim for: Rennes (the biggest of the cities), Pontorson, and Dol de Bretagne.  There are various busses and tourist transportation from these three, but the options were more limited as we were travelling during the off season.  We ended up staying at an amazing hostel where the owners provided transportation.  They were picking us up at Dol de Bretagne station, so we were changing at Rennes to get on a train to Dol.

If you're not actually planning a trip to Mont St Michel, that was all probably a bit confusing.  But if you are, hopefully it was helpful!

ANYway, it was a very pleasant train ride from Nantes to Rennes.  We passed more of those crazy mistletoe trees!  I never knew mistletoe grew in those fluffy round spheres like that.  Since the tree branches were still bare we could really see them!

We passed through foggy patches and then into brilliantly sunny stretches of countryside...I wondered rather anxiously whether it would be grey or blue at our destination, but luckily it was blue!

Well, blue with patches of white snow - but I'll take it!

 Once we arrived in Rennes we had an hour before the train that would take us to Dol de Bretagne.  We found our way out of the train station and looked about us at the town.

I don't know if you can tell very well in this photo - but do you see the building directly across with red and white timbers?  There was a sign on it announcing to the world that it was a CREPERIE.

I looked at my brother.  My brother looked at me.  Without so much as a word, we moved with one accord across the street.  We had but one thought: to the CREPES!

Breakfast felt far enough away that the prospect of a nice, warm crepe was HIGHLY appealing.  Especially when served in such a cute space...

Red and white checkered cloths and big coffee cups everywhere.  Those inspired me to order a café crème:

It needed rather a lot of sugar, as it was quite bitter, but it was still lovely, and I just felt so French drinking it.  My brother was even more European - he ordered JUST café (which is basically expresso) and didn't put in any sugar!

At least the crepes were nice and sweet...

MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm...perfect for a chilly day after a long train ride!

Guys.  I could really go for a crepe right now.  lol.
Our snack lunch lasted just the right amount of time - we scurried back over to the station and boarded our train.  It was a very short ride to Dol, and Paul - one of the owners of Au Bon Accueil, our B&B, was already there to pick us up.

He was great - friendly and informative and very British (which made me excited, because we were heading from France to England in just a few days!).  Paul drove with total nonchalance over rather icy and snowy roads - the snow that had stopped our trains the other day had hit Brittany pretty hard.  Apparently the busses to Mont St Michel weren't even running!  But Paul fearlessly took us to the hostel where we met his wife Jane (the other very friendly owner!) and dropped off our stuff, then back into the car - there was still enough daylight for us to be able to explore THIS:


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Where in WDW: Waves


I have a Where in Walt Disney World trivia photo for today that I think is going to stump you guys...but then I'm sure there are one or two experts out there who will be able to take one look at it and tell me where it is:

What do YOU think?  Have you seen this wavy structure before??  Post your guess in the comments!

And great job to Jennifer and Mandy on twitter for guessing the last trivia post - look up the next time you're at the Grand Floridian, and you'll spot those gorgeous glass domes!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Pirates League Mermaid Makeup

AVAST ME HEARTIES!  This post's pinch o' pixie dust is going to be of the PIRATE variety...

If you venture into one of those shadowy corners of Adventureland, there's a place where you can be transformed into - yes, a pirate - but also a MERMAID for the day.  Today's post is all about the PIRATES LEAGUE at the Magic Kingdom Park!

You guys.  I totally love the Pirates League.

I'm just going to admit that straight up.

I did the Pirates League for the first time the summer before last with my nine-year-old brother Dart.  (You may remember reading about it in my trip report.)  You do want to make reservations because it can fill up - and the anticipation is half the fun!

We had looked up the different packages and made our decision months beforehand.  Dart had to be somewhat bribed and talked into it; he thought he was too cool for the Pirates League.  It is technically a "makeover" - but believe me, it is not even remotely girly.  And by the end, Dart LOVED it.

So.  As soon as you approach the podium right near the entrance to the Pirates of the Carribean ride, you are greeted by a scurvy, sarcastic, swashbuckling crew.  The cast members at the Pirates League make the experience and are absolutely hilarious - they are always in character, bickering with each other, using pirate banter - they immediately transport you into the world of the buccaneer!

The surroundings help too of course!  The walls have been battered by cannon blasts, there is (obviously) stolen loot lying around everywhere and pirate flags of every description!

This treasure chest is just for the pirates - before you start the transformation, you spin it to figure out what your pirate name will be!  They didn't seem to do this for the mermaids - though there was a little mermaid book you got to sign.

(Dart had a pretty fun time spinning that thing as fast as he could!)

The imagineers did a fabulous job with the Pirates League decor.  There's so much to look at!!  Even the individual stations where you'll sit to get your transformation are so plussed out - there are extravagant, oversized mirrors angled down and big leather chairs.

So.  Shall we get started with the makeover??

Monday, August 26, 2013

Le Fou's Brew!

It's Monday!  And today's sweet treat is a newcomer on the Disney dessert block...

We're going to take a trip to New Fantasyland to try Le Fou's Brew!

Ahhh...don't you just love a blue sky over New Fantasyland?

I made my way to Gaston's Tavern one lovely Florida day, excited to try Le Fou's brew for the first time.  I was a little bit nervous, as I had heard so many good things about it - whenever you set your expectations too high, it's so easy to be disappointed!

Le Fou's Brew consists of frozen apple juice (with a bit of toasted marshmallow flavor in there), topped off with a passion-fruit mango foam.

My verdict on this new tasty treat?  DELICIOUS.  I'm not a huge fan of apple juice, but the frozen "slushee" part of the drink was fruity and refreshing - I couldn't taste much of the marshmallow, to be honest.  But the absolutely best part was THAT FOAM!!

OH MY GOODNESS.  So creamy and fruity and beautiful - if I could order a cup of just the foam I would.  But the apple slushee did go nicely with it, and I made sure to make the foam last a long time!  I savored every sip!

Have you guys tried Le Fou's Brew yet??  What's your opinion?

And I felt that trying the Brew for the first time was such an important occasion that I just HAD to vlog it. ;)


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Disney's Boardwalk & Crescent Lake Area Scavenger Hunt

So we've scavenged the Magic Kingdom and the parks for Disney details to discover, but I haven't yet done a photo scavenger hunt challenge for any of the resorts!  And the resorts have just as many gorgeous, half-hidden little things to look for. :)

So today I've got a brand new scavenger hunt list for you - dedicated to the Boardwalk and Crescent Lake area at Walt Disney World!  You may find the following scenes in the hallways or lobbies of the resorts around the lake, in restaurants, or just out walking the boards.  Feel free to print out the list to take it on your next trip or try guessing from memory!  Ready?  Here we go!

1. You haven't really visited the Boardwalk Area until you've looked in wonder at the Hippocampus Electrolier.  Try saying that five times fast!

2. Find these rather one-directional signs - looks like everything is that-a-way!

3. Pay a visit to Hue G. Krazont's establishment and pick up a freshly baked treat!

4. Look out for a seascape mural with bathing huts and hot air balloons!

5. Somewhere you'll see Mickey and Minnie watching the crowds go by!

6. Need a set of wheels?  There's a vintage car parked somewhere in the area!

7. Locate a cheerful striped ceiling!

8. These elegant fountains form a hidden flower/star shape in the water!

9. Find some sea-colored tiles under your feet.

10. The Boardwalk area at night is a must-see - especially the brightly-lit arches!

11. This is one of my favorite panoramic views - where should you stand to see it?

12. Look out for more shining nighttime lights bedecking the rooftops!

13. Sadly you can't ride this colorful ferris wheel - but do you know where to find it?

14. This quiet corner may look familiar - have you seen it? ;)

15. Kids can find a seat in these cute fishie chairs - but where?

16. Even the map stations are elegant around Crescent Lake!

17. Have you ever sampled a confection served with affection?

18. Take a break from your searching in these Adirondack chairs!

19. "It's deliciously cool inside."  Come Right In!

20.  Once you've finished all that scavenging, you deserve a treat.  Find your way to Joe's and give yourself a reward! ;)

I'll be posting a link to the answer key soon.  If you do take on the new scavenger hunt, be sure to tell me about it!  And for more Disney World Scavenger Hunts, don't forget to check out my ebook!

Monday, August 19, 2013

New Epcot Les Halles Boulangerie

Bonjour mes amis!  Bon Lundi Douceur!!

Excuse me - what I mean to say is - hello friends!  HAPPY SWEET TREAT MONDAY!

I am so excited...because today we are going to talk about Epcot's brand new BOULANGERIE AND PATISSERIE in the France pavilion!

Here's a panorama I tried (somewhat?) successfully to take with the strawberry...look at all that deliciousness (click for a bigger version).  But I'm getting ahead of myself...

The new Boulangerie is not in quite the same spot as before - as you can see from the sign on the tower, the old patisserie building now houses L'Artisan des Glaces, an ice cream shop!

To find the croissants and all the freshly baked good stuff, keep walking and enter the arches of Les Halles, the area where the Impressions de France movie lets out.  This area is much the same as before - there's still a gift shop, with tables and seating off to the left.  Only now, just beyond the tables, you'll find this:

BONJOUR BEAUTIFUL.  I adore the entry way, with the retro reds and blues and browns.  I really fell in love with the new décor.  The seating area is still fairly crowded (and really there still aren't enough tables) - but I do like that they added some tall counters where you can at least collect your thoughts and your desserts before you head out the door.  And guys.  THESE POSTERS:


I LOVE LOVE LOVE the Parisienne ladies looking so sweet with their desserts!


I am waiting with baited breath for them to put these on postcards or notebooks or t-shirts or posters or just about ANYTHING.  I would buy these designs in a heartbeat.  I had just gotten my hair cut when we visited the Boulangerie, and it looked very much like the lady on the left.  So I couldn't resist a photo...

Just two fabulous girls who love a good ham and cheese croissant (Sunni, you need to get a photo here someday!!)

Now.  Back to the boulangerie.  If you're just coming in for a quick coffee or drink, there's a window off to the left...

But if you want to check out the desserts, you'll want the main entry.  There is a supersized double line here - much like the double line at the new Main Street Bakery Starbucks.  You can hop in either side, but both sides have the same selection.

First you'll come to the savory sandwiches and such.  Doesn't that croque monsieur look lovely?  But we're not here for that - we're here for the SUGAR.

I was immediately impressed by the visual spread of the Les Halles Boulangerie.  Everything was so colorful and beautiful, and the treats seem to stretch out as far as the eye can see.  Since you're surrounded on three sides by counters, it's like there are shining, gorgeous French pastries EVERYWHERE YOU LOOK!  To get the full effect you'll have to watch the vlog:

In the cases you'll find some old friends as well as some new faces...

The mousse au chocolate is present - and as lovely and large as ever.  There's also a lemon meringue tart.

If strawberry is more to your taste, you'll also find that in tart form as well!  Those next two items we sadly didn't try, but they are at the very top of my list for next time.  The café liegeous has coffee flavoring and Chantilly cream.  And the macaroon is just plain PINK and adorable.  You can also see a Napoleon lurking in the corner there.

Next up were the eclairs.  OH MY GOODNESS.  They were amazing.  You can choose from vanilla or chocolate cream inside (and icing on top).  Normally I am not a huge éclair person - the custard in side is usually to thick for my tastes - but the custard here was super light and lovely.  Next there's a raspberry mousse cup, creme brulee, and a little chocolate tart.  That chocolate tart was another favorite.  Those pretty little tufts and swirls of chocolate cream were scrumptious.

You guys, I am making myself SO HUNGRY right now.

The desserts disappeared way too quickly for me to get any good close-ups, but I did snap this side-view of the chocolate dome (the Duo au Chocolat).  It had white chocolate cream and regular chocolate cream on the inside, with a nice chocolate garnish on top!

My brother (Athos) and I, when we ordered, tried to say it all in French, and the cast member kindly humored us.  When we had finished, the CM said "C'est tout?" which means "Is that all?"  But Athos got really confused - "tout," which means 'all,' sounds the same "tu" which is the French word for "you."  So he thought the CM was saying "It's you?" and he wanted to reply "C'est moi!" or "It's me!"  LOL.

Sadly I somehow neglected to get a photo of the bread-like items: the croissants, the chocolate croissants, the baguettes, the brioche rolls.  But then I was pretty distracted trying to decide what to get and how to get it, as we were on the disney dining plan, and I was determined to get the best deal...