Author: La Vie Partagée

Spring Road Tripping to Normandy and Brittany in France (Mont St. Michel, Cancale, St. Malo, Dinan and Giverny)

Shoulder season is one of the best times to visit Europe and late spring is the perfect season to see the French country side. Hotel prices are still reasonable and most attractions are open and are not overrun with tourists. The highways in France are easy to navigate and with all the technological options, gone are the days of getting hopelessly lost and confused on the road. My cousin and I decided to do a 4-day road trip to visit towns in the western part of France as it is one area we have yet to explore. Our destinations for this trip were Paris to Mont St. Michel, Cancale, St. Malo, Dinan and Giverny on our return to the city. Day 1: Paris to Mont St. Michel Mont St. Michel, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a small island off the coast of Normandy that is topped with a medieval Benedictine monastery. Over hundreds of years, the ramparts were built around the island to keep the English forces out, which was followed by other buildings …

Explore Marrakesh (Morocco) Like in Insider

Marrakesh, with its kaleidoscope architecture and chaotic souks, can be overwhelming for the uninitiated. I had an opportunity to visit Marrakesh for four days with my friends who have been there numerous times and had local recommendations from their friend, Zach Idrissi, the owner of Amani Hotel. Having local guidance to ease me into this overstimulating experience was a welcome blessing since I was flying solo for most of my stay in the city. I also lucked out by going around Ramadan as everything was calmer and more laid back. The markets and attractions will close a bit earlier around 5pm, but the aggressive behavior in the souks will generally be less prevalent. This makes for an overall pleasant and safe experience for solo travelers. Where to eat: Have an afternoon tea break on the terrace of La Mamounia and take a stroll in their manicured garden. You should check the availability for non-hotel guests as the hotel started to restrict non-hotel guests to certain hours for tea. Have dinner at Le Tanjia where there …

Essential Travel Tips for Marrakesh and Morocco

Traveling to Morocco for the first time can be intimidating and overwhelming for many travelers, even for the experienced folks. The mélange of sights, sounds, and cultural differences in this vibrant city can trip many up. These are tips that can help make your arrival smoother and less stressful. 1- Book a transfer from Marrakesh Airport to your hotel. Taxis in Marrakesh have a well-deserved awful reputation for ripping off tourists and also refusing to turn on their meters. After a long flight, the last thing you want to do is haggle for a reasonable fare. I highly recommend Marrakesh Airport Transfer. I booked online two days before my arrival with flight information. My driver was waiting for me after I exited baggage claim with my name on an easily identifiable sign and escorted me to a clean air-conditioned car. The cost was approximately $12 for a 15-minute ride to the Sofitel in the city center for one person. Prices will change depending on the number of people and the destination. I checked with my local …

2 Days Chillaxing in Essaouira, Morocco

Essaouira has to be Morocco’s most laid back beach town and luckily, only a short 2-hour drive from Marrakesh. When I asked my local friend to help me plan my Morocco vacation, she suggested this sleepy seaport town. At first I didn’t know what to make of it because it’s not a resort town dotted with luxury hotels that one would expect. However, the chill atmosphere there provided a much needed respite from the bustling city. It felt very much like a backpackers’ haven. I decided on a short 2-day trip to Essaouira, leaving Marrakesh at 9am and returning the next day at 3pm. This turned out to be just enough time to sample what the town had to offer in short period. Essaouira is known for ocean sports such as kite surfing, so if you are into that, then you’ll need a few more days. I booked my own private transfer through my friend’s recommendation with Hiba Tours, which cost 160 euros or approximately 190 dollars. The car ride was comfortable and Jamal, the …

House Tour: An A-Frame House Obsession

A-frame vacation houses from the 1950’s to the 1970’s are making a strong comeback, especially with current owners upping their Instagram game. These deceptively simple structures resemble an equilateral triangle. The first floor has an open layout for all the typical living spaces. The roof covers the rafters and goes all the way to the ground forming the “A”. The second floor is comprised of horizontal collar beams creating a sleeping loft. What makes these A-frame houses magical are the minimalist aesthetics and the harmonization with the natural surroundings. We discovered the A-Frame Haus located in Utah recently on AirBnB and fell in love with this delightful vacation home. This cabin was built 30 years ago by the grandparents of the current owners. They spent a few years renovating this house and have now listed it as a vacation rental. There are three bedrooms and three bathrooms that comfortably fit 6 guests. It also has a panoramic view of Utah’s mountains for those seeking to escape from everyday stresses. The styling of this house is …

Review: Anantara Mai Khao Phuket Villas

Phuket has always been on my list to visit whenever I am in the southeast Asia due to the inordinate amount of enticing beach photos that are published on social media. On my recent trip to the region, I was able to fit a few days in Phuket. The biggest question while researching the popular destination was where to stay because Phuket is renowned for its amazing luxury resorts and party towns. After receiving advice from my Thai friends, I opted to stay in the northwest region of Phuket as the weather is better there in November and my main objective was to relax. I selected a 5-day stay in a pool villa at the Anantara Mai Khao Phuket Villas located near the Sirinath National Park. Did the 5-star resort meet my expectations? Positives: This 91 villa-only resort is catered to honeymooners and high-end clientele. The location is approximately a 20-minute cab ride from Phuket International Airport. Each villa has an infinity pool making it a perfect spot to hide away for days. Alternatively, there …

Bánh Khọt  – Vietnamese Mini Rice Pancakes

Bánh Khọt is a very popular snack originating in the central region of Vietnam. The dish is made of miniature rice pancakes topped with shrimp and eaten with herbs and vegetables and a spicy sweet fish sauce. Street vendors usually hawk this savory treat with their sizzling griddle beckoning all to try them. The perfect bánh khọt is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Even though it is a fried dish, this snack can be semi-healthy with the amount of vegetables and herbs that are usually eaten in each lettuce wrap. Difficulty: Easy / Servings: 4 people / Time: 30 minutes Ingredients: 1 to 1.5 pound of large shrimp (depending on the size). You can also substitute shrimp with mushrooms or ground meat. 1 and 1/2 cup Bánh Khọt  mix (rice flour, corn starch, wheat flour) 2 teaspoons of turmeric powder 1/2 cup corn starch 1/2 cup of coconut milk 2 cups + 3 tablespoons of water 1 tablespoon of fish sauce 1/4 teaspoon of sugar 1/2 teaspoon of lime juice 1 …