5 Easter Travel Destinations in Europe

April and Easter are here! This may be one of my favorite times of the year. Its spring, you can find tasty chocolate eggs from every shop and who wouldn’t love Easter? This holiday is celebrated differently around the year so today I decided to share 5 funny Easter travel destinations with you. Enjoy!

 

5. London, UK

Big ben and Telephone box London

What would be Easter without egg hunt? One of the biggest and most popular egg hunts happens every year in London. Download app and run around the city trying to find eggs with The Fabergé Big Egg Hunt. In addition to egg hunting London has also other activities that do it one of the best Easter travel destinations. There is fireworks, performances around the city and a lot of events for families.

 

4. Small villages of Malta

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Photo from: unsplash

Malta has its own traditional ways of spending Easter that is why it is one of the most interesting Easter travel destinations in Europe. Good Friday is the start of everything when villagers dress-up as biblical characters and praise God. Religious statues, that have been carried out of churches, are important part of this ritual and mood is quite sorrow.

On Sunday locals celebrate risen Christ with festival like events. There is singing, dancing and partying. In the end they carry statues back to churches. However, don’t worry! Even if Easter in Malta seems very religious they also have delicious chocolate eggs for children (and for older chocolate lovers). Even if you are not religious person Malta is definitely THE Easter travel destination everyone should try once in their lives.

 

3. Any city in Finland

Travel Year 2016 Helsinki

Of course I should mention my lovely home country… In Finland Easter Sunday is like Halloween. May sound funny but that’s the truth. In fact we don’t have that many ‘trick-or-treaters’ on Halloween but on Easter we have even more people doing something similar.

Finnish kids dress-up as different characters (traditionally as witches but nowadays I see more of superheroes and other famous characters) and they decorate branches with colorful feathers and ribbons. Then on Easter Sunday they go from door to door and change their branches to chocolates, Easter eggs and money. This changing process goes usually kids waving their branches while saying:

“Virvon varvon tuoreeks terveeks tulevaks vuodeks. Vitsa sulle palkka mulle.”

After that they get candy. So, if you visit Finland during Easter time you may see (almost) real witches going around the streets. Also don’t forget to taste our traditional Easter dessert Mämmi (yeah, yeah, I know it looks like poop but some of us Finns really like it!)

 

2. Colmar, France

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Photo from: unsplash

Colmar is known as one of the best Easter destinations in Europe because it has two huge Easter markets. Citizens also celebrate spring at Easter time so there is colorful decorations and happy people everywhere. Usually Easter in Comar starts with families’ own egg hunts at home but after that everyone gets together around the town to different Easter events. There is everything from traditional exhibitions to ‘Eierpicke’ egg fight and from egg race to colorful markets.

 

1. Vatican and Rome, Italy

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Photo from: unsplash

First place in my Easter travel destinations list goes to Vatican and Rome because of pope. There is several events around these cities during Easter that are lead by pope. And who wouldn’t like to pope at least once in their life time? Most of these events are free but also crowded. Maybe the most popular event is however pope’s mass on Palm Sunday in Saint Peter’s Square, Vatican. If you decide to do Easter traveling to Rome that is must thing to do.

Another important and impressive event is on Good Friday. Huge Via Crucis cross burns against the dark sky. Pope is also present in this event giving his blessing but so are big crowds of tourists and believers. Easter celebration end at Monday to beautiful fireworks and partying.

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Happy early Easter for all you travelers reading this! What kind of traditions does your country have for Easter? Or what are your favorite Easter travel destinations? Like always all comments are welcome and I would like to know what you think.

Also this is my first time writing about places where I have never been before. What do you think? Do you want more posts like this that I have written solely doing research? Well, I had fun writing this so whatever you think I will probably do more of these (subject recommendations are always welcome too…)

With love,

Viivi Severina

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Travel Diary: Montpellier & Paris pt.4

 

Day 11: The art of canceling plans

We meant to do a lot. Only two days left and there’s still much to see. We ate breakfast and just decided to not do anything. Unexpected decision right?

My opinion is that even when traveling the most important thing is to know yourself. When you are tired and need free time from tourist life just take it. Cancel all of your plans and just be. This is what happened to us. We had seen and done too much and it was time to rest.

 

Day 12: Art, shopping and bye Montpellier!

Our last day in Montpellier had dedicated to visiting museum Fabre. People told us it takes whole day to explore this museum and let me tell you that it’s not joke. The place is huge. Even one day isn’t enough if you want to see everything carefully.<

 

fabre

 

There is a lot of old art pieces. Some from famous painter and some from unknown ones.<

 

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And then there is modern paintings and everything between. Also statues and changing special exhibitions.

At the end of our museum visit we started to be too tired to even properly admire the art. However the museum was amazing and I recommend it to everyone! Well you get lost easily but the staff are nice and always ready to help.

After this we did last souvenir shopping and then went back to our apartment. Our last night at Montpellier and I knew I would miss this city too.

Day 13: Hi Paris! And we got sick…

We left Montpellier before the sunrise and said our goodbyes to the sleeping city. We sat quietly in train both tired and at least I already missing the place I had called home the last two weeks.

 

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When we finally arrived at Paris bad weather welcomed us. It started to rain when walked towards our hotel. Both of us were feeling a little bit sick and the recipe for disaster was almost ready. Our time in Paris would soon turn o nightmare…

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After taking nap in our hotel we decided to start the day. It was only a couple of kilometers to the Picasso museum. Well it was two kilometers too much. I was feeling sick but I have got used to doing things even when feeling bad. But when we were in the museum my sister started to look really pale and almost fainted.

I took her to the cafe in museum (very expensive and not even good food…) After that I took her to the closest metro station and send her back to the hotel. Well at least we didn’t pay for the museums because under 26 years old Europeans get in free.

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I have always loved metros and Paris’ metro isn’t exception. There is so many lines and ways to go. It took a while for me to understand the map because it’s already been over half year from the last time I used metro. In the end I found Les Halles shopping mall without problems.

The last time I visited Les Halles was year ago and before the horrible Paris’ attacks. I knew there would be more security than the last time but the guards and security measures still surprised me. There was security people in every door with their metal detectors and other security things.

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My visit was still pleasant. I got flash back to Japan when visiting Muji and spend too much time in Forever 21. My trip did stop when I got really sick… I didn’t visit even half of the shops before I had to go back to the hotel.

Rest of the day we just sat on the hotel room and rested. Fun trip to Paris… right?

 

Day 14: Goodbye France!

Guess how it feels to be in Paris one day and be so sick you just decide to go airport and pass the opportunity to see the capital of romance. With heads down we left our hotel and took the long train journey towards airport.

After waiting spending six hours in airport we flew away from lovely France and headed towards home.

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I hope I see you soon Paris!

Because I didn’t have any interesting stories in this post there’s some more photos for you:

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My favorite thing from France was the road trip we did

 

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In the future I will visit Sète for longer time…

 

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…and go see the charming Montpellier again!

 

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Arc De Triomphe in Montpellier

 

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Modern art in Musée Fabre
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Paris Charles De Gaulle airport
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The last sighs of France

Thank you for reading and I will write soon!

Sincerely,
Neidotta

Travel Diary: Montpellier pt. 3

Day 8: Introverted traveler problems

Montpellier is so amazing city! Here couples in love, drug traffickers and lost tourists all fit in small park. So lovely old city where everyone live together in harmony.

Today I had my first full day with my sister to spend in the city. The morning went wandering around the old part of Montpellier.

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Place du Peyrou

We tried to find Place du Peyrou because the rumor told in Sundays there would be antique market. Well even one seller didn’t show up. That little set back didn’t dispirit us. Between sun and small rainy moments we navigated towards La Panacee. Using map and walking circles didn’t make us look like tourists at all! The museum was kind of hard to find but in the end my skillful map reading (and iPhone) helped us there.

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The exhibition Anatomie De L’Automate. I can’t even describe it so I leave it like that. However I fell in love with the museum. It’s build around patio and in the upstairs they have  artists’ residence.

After seeing this free kind of odd exhibit the museum’s restaurant attracted our attention. We even went outside once and come back inside because it seemed so scary to go and order. In the end we were able to ask the price of two people eating. 16E. And with that you got everything from appetizer to dessert and drinks.

lapanacee

Of course we did eat there. The food was amazing and even my -I don’t eat meat- sister liked it. The only problem was we never found the drinks beside coffee and cacao.

As introverted traveler this struggle is familiar for me. We definitely couldn’t ask where to find the drinks. After settling to our fate (and enviously looking boys next to us drinking their fresh orange juices) we continued our day with  full stomachs.

Then we tried to enter shopping mall and walked around the small streets but soon noticed strange thing. Every place was closed. Literally every shop and most of the restaurants and cafes had disappeared.

We then decided to leave back home tired but happy after day full of new experiences. While sitting in full tram and talking to each other happened something fun.

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Even the tram tracks are artistic in Montpellier

My sister can understand some french. Of course no one knows it and when we talk Finnish everyone assumes we can’t understand them. Well I can’t but luckily I have great sister who can translate for me.

So we are sitting in tram and facing the back wall and three boys leaning on it. Of course they realize we aren’t locals but what they don’t think of is that we would understand when they talk about us.

So just tip for everyone. Always wait for the unexpected and don’t underestimate other people. Some people can speak more than one language.

 

Day 9: Let’s go see the sea!

I had googled in advance how to get into the beach using public transportation. Everything sounded so easy in internet but of course the reality wasn’t that simple. Or it would have been if we had just used the tram and walked the remaining three kilometers.

We trusted blindly to the instructions in Montpellier’s internet page and tried to use bus. We went to the place the bus was supposed to leave but never found the bus stop. As unlucky traveler that didn’t discourage me but I found new way for us to use.

montpellierbeach

So we traveled with tram towards the beach and started to walk. Halfway there we found bus stop that said there would have been cheap bus from the last tram stop to any part of the beach. We decided to use it when coming back and continued walking.

The walk was long but worth it. I have always loved seas and this beach and mystical stormy weather blew my mind. Everything looked so beautiful and there was stones and seashells everywhere.

beach

My sister loves taking photographs so we were walking slowly and she was filming and snapping pics constantly. I didn’t know should I walk watching the ground so I could pick up pretty stones or look up and see the fascinating sea and sky. I ended up doing both.

After a while we eat our snacks on picnic style and admired the sigh in front of us. There was almost no one but us. Apparently it’s not beach weather yet for french.

stones

When traveling back home and Montpellier’s centrum, we decided to go shopping. So we ended up going to Odysseum (Shopping mall/entertainment place). First thing we had to do was find food. After long seeking we found big hamburger place and the waitress welcomed us warmly. The foods looked good and everything seemed fine. We waited for the waitress come and to take our orders. We waited and waited and waited. She never came.

We were starting to panic. Should we go somewhere to order. Or should we just wait. As shy travelers asking help just wasn’t option. Then in the end we decided to sneak out of the restaurant. We only ate smoothies and bread that evening.

 

Day 10: City like art gallery

We used this day to walk around the old streets and do some shopping. I did buy cute shoes and book but I wasn’t really feeling like shopping. So in the end we just walked around and spend day at home.

In Montpellier you don’t need to even visit art museum to see paintings. The city is full of street art. Because I don’t have anything else to talk about (and this post is too long already…) here is some pics of the street arts:

streetart

 

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Can you find the big painting in this pic?
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Looks normal house, right? Look harder! The windows and everything is painted…

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PS. I’m sorry I haven’t posted for long time but I have been sick lately 😦

Travel Diary: Montpellier pt. 2

You can go and read the part 1 from HERE

 

Day 4: Rock Bar or Music Cafe

We ate late breakfast at the balcony and from the early morning it was clear today was going to be warm summer day. The sun shined and birds were singing. Perfect day, I woud say.

wine

We started our day with shopping trip. First we visited big supermarket. Or maybe more like hypermarket. I have never visited so large shop for food. After that we went to Lidl and the things looked more familiar. However I am envious of the bakery section because everything is half the price they are in Finland.

The other different thing to what I have get used to is wine. You found wine everywhere even from Lidl. In my home you can’t buy wines from normal markets. And the prices in France are so cheap!

But to talk more about wines the truth is I hate all alcohols. I haven’t ever drunk any alcohol as much as I did in the four days in Montpellier. And I mean more than I have drunk in the last 20 years. Probably got some kind of poisoning because my first day alone was like hangover day.

studying

After returning home we decided take all sunlight out of this day and spend it sunbathing. So I took my school books, iPod and lied in the balcony for too many hours. I couldn’t really read the chemistry like I meant because I fall asleep. There’s this important test right after I go back to Finland so not studying is causing some trouble… Well I’m not going to think that while in holiday!

At some point the sun set and it was time to leave enjoy Montpellier’s night life. For this whole time I have been here the two madams, who I’m living with, have been exited about this rock bar they want to take me. So when clock got closer to 8pm we left home.

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After couple of classes wine I decided to try interesting energy drink

Gazette Café charmed me with the friendly atmosphere and cozy settings. The house filled up with french people of all ages. There were families with small children, old couples, young adults waiting for bars to open and middle aged women meeting their friends in fancy clothes. Everyone seemed to fit in.

The Finnish model of night life is make different hang out places to any age and type of people.  Maybe that’s why I have never enjoyed going out late. I need different people, interesting stories and friendly place to feel good. It’s boring to go night clubs full of clones and drunk people. (ps. this is just my opinion… I don’t mean to hurt anyone’s feelings!)

So the band was going to start before nine but apparently this kind of event are usually late. There was dance lesson going on to anyone who wanted to participate. Dance floor was full but we as shy Finns just enjoyed watching others have fun.

Two hours late the band finally took over the stage. The truth got revealed from first second of music. Not a rock bar. The music was jazz but for music lover like me that didn’t matter. The band was local and their music made my night better. When we left back home, the smile didn’t leave my face. I love traveling. Experiencing things you never though would happen.

 

Day 5: How many streets is here?

My last day with the two madams. After tomorrow I need to survive on my own. Well I have always been okay alone but it’s still thrilling. This last day we spend walking around the small streets and visiting cute shops.

Am I strange if I love getting lost to labyrinths and old alleys? In Montpellier it’s easy. There is street after street and you could just walk forever and never find your way out.

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In the pic above you can see sculptures in front of new opera building Corum. Old headless human bodies (or statues presenting humans) painted in different colors. From Montpellier you can find cool things like this even if you don’t try to look for them!

world

France is candidate for 2025 World Expo. In the Place de la Comedie was this huge earth for couple of days to promote the event. Many people took pics of it and of course I had too. So then this funny -frightening- thing happened…

So I was for a moment alone and decided to take pic of the earth. There was many people and this one young tourist man tried to take selfie. Minding my own business and trying to take the pic this man startled me.

He come to me and spoke french and of course I did understand he asked if I would take pic of him. So I mumbled something and took his phone. The selfie function was however still on and I didn’t know how to turn it off. I then had to ask him to make the camera “normal”.

Finally I was able to take the pic and return his phone. He spoke some more french to me and I just smiled and tried to look like I understood everything. -I can’t speak any french…- After a too long moment he waved me goodbye and left. Apparently he still thought I was local. I’m not very good with people so the whole five minutes this took I was scared to the death.

 

Day 6: I’m all alone

This day would also be called how I didn’t survive alone. There was too many embarrassing moments. Not talking french isn’t good idea if you want to visit France. But at least I had practiced to say one sentence.

“Je ne parle pas français”

It means I don’t speak french. Very useful phrase! You can say it to anyone who tries to speak to you. Be guaranteed they don’t try to make contact again. Especial if you combine it with scared look and try to run away from them.

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After all the humiliation I decided to go to my temporarily home’s safe environment. Oh, how wrong I was…

In one evening I broke shower and plate, got my earphones dirty from chocolate and dropped full tea mug all over myself and the carpet. I need babysitter!

me
I will never survive living alone -.-“

 

Day 7: Rain, rain and rain

This was the day my sister was coming in the town. I had full day of me time before I had to go and get her from train station.

So of course I decided to go and see the city early in morning. Three hours later I came back soaking wet. It stormed a whole day.

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With all the free time I had time to practice my second phrase in French. It means I don’t eat pork or beef. -my sister doesn’t eat meat-

Next time I left the apartment was at evening to go to the train station. It was still raining and Montpellier didn’t give as beautiful welcome to my sister as it had given to me. Despite that my sister fell in love immediately.

Travel Diary: Montpellier pt. 1

When my grandpa’s friends asked me to come and spend sometime in their place in south France, I couldn’t believe I would eventually really go. Here I am in sunny charming Montpellier. Is this dream? How can I be so lucky?

I didn’t do a lot of planning before leaving my home behind. In the early morning one hour time left I still had things to do and back. The feeling of traveling never come across my brains. Traveling is the only way I truly feel like living. The feeling of freedom and unknown paths is my home. So here I am and this is the first part of my travel diary.

 

Day 1: Lost in train stations

Finland is amazing country to live in but there is one big flaw. The airport isn’t located anywhere near my city.

So in the early Sunday morning I woke up at three am after sleeping only four hours. My mum then drove me to bus station in the city next to us. (I’m sorry mum you had to do that so early).

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Snowy and dark Finland just before my flight

After two and half long hours in bus I was ready to embarrass myself at airport. Like usually I went in wrong line and then the security check machine beeped for me. I’m starting to think I’m made of iron… How can it give the alarm for me every freaking time??

The whole airplane was packed and when choosing my place I took the last window seat. It was quite funny that at my six people row everyone were lonely travelers.

The guy next to me read book about growing puppy and beside him sat Japanese guy who had a lot of snacks with him. We didn’t really talk but they smiled nicely to me and the Japanese boy said goodbye when we departed.

The flight was normal and everything was good. Well if we don’t mention the horrible weather… It was snowing a whole night before and it didn’t end even when it was time to fly. I was scared to death.

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France through my train’s window

The conditions in France were totally different. Sun was shining and I had to abandon my leather jacket. For locals the feather seemed cold but for me it reminded Finnish summer.

Montpellier charmed me starting from the first seconds. There was beautiful old buildings, graffiti and sunset.

The older madams (let’s call them S and L) who had invited me welcomed me with hugs and smiles. Together we continued the trip to their apartment. We used tram and let me say I have never seen that kind of public transport. The trams were all colorful and different. So cool!

 

Day 2: Fascinating older Montpellier

The first morning rose cloudy but still almost 20*C warmer than Finland. S and L were still sleeping and I had time to admire the scenery outside of my window. Not much to see but still different than I have got used to. Heck there was palm trees in this city! Those would never survive in Finland.

After a while all three of us ate french breakfast. There was so much food I was sure eating later on that day would be impossible (I was totally wrong).

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The center of Montpellier reminds me of old labyrinth

Quickly after that I was dragged to the tram and towards to the mystical old streets of Montpellier. The first thing I learned was how everything is closed at Mondays. That however didn’t matter because we just walked around and even found small restaurant open.

The second thing I learned from my lovely companions was only order well done steak (rather not even that). Apparently french people like their meat red and bloody or it’s not tasty. I’m of course just joking… (or am I?) Well just remember kids never order medium steak in french. Of course if you like your food a little bit raw don’t listen to my advice.

MontpellierTram
Look at the tram design! So cool?

After eating and wandering around more I had to admit being tired. So we headed back to home. And I just need to add that I get amazed easily but I totally fell in love with the local tram network. Firstly who doesn’t like the bright colorful trams??! And secondly only 6 euros for 5 persons to use all the trams and buses 24 hours! In Finland I pay 5 euros to go one trip…

 

Day 3: Road trip time!

I only had four days with my amazing hosts -and their car- so we decided to do day trip. After we left the sunny Montpellier behind us I quickly come to the realization this day wasn’t going to be some kind of short visit. No, the lovely madams had planned full day road trip around the Mediterranean coast. We left home when sun was rising and got back after dark.

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The ghost town Mèze

Our first stop was Mèze 40km to west from Montpellier. The city seemed more like ghost down this time of the year. According to my all knowing guides all of the too many restaurants filled up in summer time. I liked it more when I couldn’t see any people. Like peace had taken over this little town.What I did see a lot in this town was seafood. Farther away you could see the frames where locals farm oysters.

After the calming city we continued our travel towards Sète. However without reading the map our trip went trough several other smaller cities. If you ever have car, time and just happen to be in south France good entertainment would be just driving from city to city. Everyone of them has something different to offer and oh my goodness how beautiful the small roads inside towns can be.

So finally we arrived at Sète and drove around to see what it was like. Canals covering the city layout made using car kind of hard. However I have always liked water and bridges so Sète made good first impression on me.

Setefood

As first thing we tried to find place to eat and there was a lot of options even if it’s not the tourist season. As not french speaking persons we didn’t get so kind service and the waiter “forgot” us often. But the meal and dessert overrun all my expectations.

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The view from cemetery in Sète

The most amazing thing I recommend to do in this small city is visit the Paul Valéry Museum and cemetery next to it. You have to walk up the mountain but visiting there is worth it. The museum has really succeeded in the presentation of the art works. It was delight to my eyes.

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Big cross in the top of mountain and view to Sète

Our last thing to do before leaving Sète behind us was visit in the viewpoint in the highest point of the mountain. Looking from the sky this city seemed even more idyllic and full of adventures. In addition to the view there was small chapel with lovely atmosphere.

Our next destination was Palavas and it’s endless beach. The drive there showed me the coast and small towns. And of course something I didn’t expect! Flamingos! Flamingos living in wild. Pink cute and gorgeous flamingos. It was my first tie seeing them and that literally made my day perfect. I would have drove to the Palavas just to see those amazing birds. Unfortunately I didn’t get pic of them. 😦

palavas

Finally in Palavas the sun has already setting down. That didn’t prevent me hunting seashells between the sand and stones. I love pretty things… We spend sometime there just enjoying the last warms of day and looking the sea. Then I thought it would be time to go back home but the madams S and L still had one place for us to go.

L drove in the darkening evening and I got to admire even more of the France’s coast. In fading sunlight everything seemed so different. After a not so long drive we found ourselves in this odd futuristic city. La Grande Motte’s buildings rise towards sky in different architectural forms.

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My attention quickly turned from structures to the clouds. Sun has already set but it’s last remaining lights reflected from clouds. S and L took me to walk around the harbor and promenade. If I would decide my every evening should end like that. Like I said I love pretty and beautiful things. I love everything that takes my breath away.

After the darkness had taken over we returned to car and started the travel back home. That night I fell asleep smiling.

 

 

You can read the part 2 from HERE

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Stay tuned for more stories of my adventures!