Travel

Staycations

What is a staycation you ask?

It’s when you take some days of work, but instead of travelling, you stay at home.

For some of you this may sound boring, but for me, I can definitely see some advantages!  This summer I took a trip to Croatia. We went there by car, which was a little long, and we were a group of 6 friends, which was a little much.  Each day we took an excursion, driving around and visiting different parts of the country, walking / hiking, swimming, boat riding, etc.  It was action packed to say the least.  We had a great time and I have some really good memories from this trip.

But what I remember more than the trip, unfortunately, was my running start that I took back at work!

I returned home late on Saturday evening after 16 or 17 hours in the car.  I was exhausted and a little sick to my stomach from the drive!

Monday we had to go back to work, so we would have liked to rest a bit on Sunday, but it was impossible!  We had to unpack, do the laundry, clean up around the apartment, and of course, prepare for Monday!

So I went back to work after my holidays not feeling rested at all, but feeling tired and ready for a break!

I think it could be a good solution to have it both ways (if possible).  That is, to go on vacation (to travel somewhere) but then, after the holidays, to enjoy a few more days off at home.  To have time to relax, to do nothing, to read, to catch up on any odds and ends around the house (I have some curtains I’ve been wanting to hang since July…..)

Maybe I’ll try it out next summer 😉

Now, to practice your listening, here is a video about “Staycations” on the rise in Singapore.

Travel

Top 10 tourist destinations of 2014

This week in our English club, our discussion topic is “Top 10 Tourist Destinations of 2014.”

According to the site Trip Advisor, the top destinations of this year are as follows:

1. Istanbul, Turkey

2. Rome, Italy

3. London, England

4. Beijing, China

5. Prague, Czech Republic

6. Marrakech, Morocco

7. Paris, France

8. Hanoi, Vietnam

9. Siem Reap, Cambodia

10. Shanghai, China

Out of this list I have visited London, Prague and Paris.

It’s hard to choose which one of these cities is my favorite, but I think I would have to say Prague.

I went there in August of 2013 and it was a wonderful trip.  The architecture is beautiful, the city is nice, clean, interesting, rich with culture…  The people were friendly and everyone spoke English very well.  The city is not too big, so we were able to walk around and visit everything by foot.  It’s a really great destination!

Paris is of course a wonderful city too, but for me, it’s a city that you have to grow to love.  The more you know the interesting places, the museums, the restaurants, the more you get to know and enjoy the city of Paris.  But my very first impression was that it was a bit dirty, and that the people in the shops and restaurants for example, were not very friendly or welcoming.

London is a very nice city also!  I had a good first impression.  It’s a lively city and there are always people outside exercising and running through the many parks.  The architecture is beautiful, and it’s a good place for shopping because it’s not too expensive compared to Paris.  The only downside is the food 😉  No other place can beat the French cuisine 😉

If you haven’t seen it yet, here is a video to help you work on your English and prepare to discuss about this theme this week:

Travel

Summer Holidays

Our theme this week is “Summer Holidays,” so we will be sharing stories about what we did this summer!

I spent my vacation in Croatia this year.  We had a great time walking around the beautiful natural parks and enjoying the sun.  ( we were really happy to find the sun since we haven’t had any in France this year!!)

But now it’s time to get back to work and back to your English lessons!!  We hope you haven’t forgotten everything 😉

To practice your English relating to this theme, here is a video for you.

This video can help you with the American Accent:

I think you’re “gonna” find it useful!

The speaker talks about some different expressions like “lemme” (let me).  If your friend has a picture that you want to see, you could say “lemme see.”

She also talks about “wanna”  (want to).  Do you wanna go to the cinema?  Sure, why not!

And don’t forget “kinda” (kind of).  When you kinda want to do something, it means you want to do it but you’re not really sure.  Maybe you’re not convinced, or you’re not sure you’re in the mood.  “I kinda wanna go to the cinema…but I’m a little tired.  Maybe I’ll just stay home.”

 

Travel

My Heart is in Boston

These past few days, that have probably seemed like an eternity for some, we have seen and heard a lot about Boston in the news.

What I hear from my family back home in the U.S. is not a story of hate, of revenge, of terror, but an image of patriotism, of togetherness, of lending a hand to those in need.  My dad told me just yesterday that what struck him was not the police, the firemen, whose job it is to be “a hero,” but just the average person who, when they heard the bomb and saw the explosions, did not go running in the other direction, but instead ran directly towards it to help one another.

So today I wanted to take a chance to talk about the beauty of this city, the strength of its people.

Boston is the capital of the state of Massachusetts, and it is one of the oldest cities in the United States.  It was founded in 1630 by Puritan colonists from England.  It was also the scene of many key events during the American Revolution such as the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, the Battle of Bunker Hill, and the Siege of Boston.  We can see today that Boston still has some fight left in her!!

Boston is an international center of higher education and medicine, and just outside the city you can find the famous Harvard University.

In Boston, travelers can find plenty of things to do and see.  There are many different museums…of art, science, an aquarium, and many historic landmarks.

The Boston Public Garden is a great place to go for a walk, have a picnic, relax or go on a boat ride!

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It’s a great place to visit in Autumn.  The trees are beautiful when the turn orange, yellow, red…

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Last, but not least, you can check out the Boston Harbor Islands:

“Want to swim, hike, explore the ruins of an old fort and camp out under the stars at a national park? Believe it or not, you can do all of these things without leaving the city of Boston. The Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area consists of 34 narrow isles scattered in New England’s most historic harbor, and you can visit these “hidden” outdoor spaces by boarding seasonal ferries from Quincy and Boston’s Long Wharf.”
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Travel

The Windy City

Chicago.  It seems like here in France when you hear about Chicago you see Al Capone, flappers, speakeasies, the prohibition, gangsters…

But today, Chicago is an international business hub, but also a chic and exciting city, a great place to have a good time, to live, to work, to visit…

Chicago is the 3rd biggest city in the U.S. (population wise) just behind New York and Los Angeles.  What’s great about this city is that there are the giant buildings that you have to crane your neck to see, typical of a big city… but there are also a lot of parks, trees, nature, lakes…  You don’t feel overwhelmed by the city life, you feel almost like you are just out in the nature getting some fresh air.

If you visit Chicago, however, you should probably not go there in the winter time!  Nicknamed “The Windy City,” it is cold and snowy in the winter months.  But spring is very nice, and in the summer it gets quite hot, but you have a nice breeze from Lake Michigan.

There are many things to do / visit in Chicago.  There is the Navy Pier located on Lake Michigan…there are shops, restaurants, and a lot activities for children.  It’s great to take a walk along the shore of the lake, or of course enjoy the beach!

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There are also a lot of museums to visit in Chicago:  a few different art museums, science and industry, and there is also an aquarium and a planetarium.

Don’t miss the views from the Skydeck, on the tallest building in the western hemisphere.  “Located atop the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower), Skydeck Chicago attracts nearly 1.3 million visitors each year to its 103rd floor observation deck, which rises 1,353 feet (412.4 meters) above street level. On a clear day, you can spot many of Chicago’s landmarks and scan the horizon to Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois. The brave of heart can step out onto The Ledge, a glass-enclosed balcony, for a view unlike any other.”

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There is also a famous monument / sculpture called “The Cloud Gate” nicknamed, “the bean”  It’s a great place for pictures because you not only see your own reflection, but also a reflection of the city’s skyline behind you.

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And don’t forget to try some of Chicago’s famous pizza!!  There are plenty of great restaurants, nice hotels and shops… Lots of things to do in this great city.

Travel

Mall of America

Mall of America

Ok so every time someone talks about taking a trip to the U.S. they always mention New York.  But there are a million other places to see!!  For those of you who love shopping (and love the low prices in the U.S. and the low exchange rate!) you should think about visiting the Mall of America.

Located in Minnesota, this Mall has 500 shops, 22,000 parking spaces, roller coasters and other attractions, an aquarium, and get this… 40 million visitors annually!

Nickelodeon Universe is an indoor theme park located inside the mall, and is the largest indoor theme park in the United States.

At the SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium, guests travel through a 300-foot-long (91 m) curved tunnel through 14 feet (4.3 m) of water to view over 4,500 sea creatures including sharks, turtles, stingrays, and many more. SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium offers special events such as sleepovers, scuba diving, snorkeling, and birthday parties

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