Exploring Ft. Lauderdale & Miami

If you’ve been following my blog these past three weeks, you’d know that I just arrived in Denver about six days ago from Atlanta. Now I know I said my last destination of my trip was Fort Lauderdale, but my connecting flight from Fort Lauderdale to Denver was Atlanta. Long story short, my flight was delayed, and this caused my family and I to stay over night in Atlanta and catch the morning flight the very next day.

But anyways, the good news is that I’m here in Denver writing you this post about my fantastic stay in Florida. So sit back, relax, and enjoy!

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After landing in Fort Lauderdale from a three-hour flight from Montreal, I could already feel the great Florida humidity, which was great! So after getting my luggage from baggage claim, we went directly to our vacation home located in Pompano Beach; a good 20-30 minutes from the airport with no traffic.

And what’s great about where we stayed, was that the beach was right in front. So naturally I went, and it was great!

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The weather was gorgeous, the water was perfect … it was amazing!

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But what was even more amazing than the beach and the weather, was the restaurants. One of them being California Pizza Kitchen, a great restaurant with great service and great food! Here is the view around me (nothing special).

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But during my stay in Fort Lauderdale, I did many things like going to the movies, jet skiing, shopping, EATING…It was nice. But the highlight of my trip was going to Miami for the afternoon because it was unexpected.

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… and please excuse the blur on these three pictures. I had trouble focusing my lens.

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And now I’m on my way to the artsy side of Miami (10-13 minutes from downtown), somewhere not to touristy.

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And by the way, I think I’ve spent longer than I ever have before trying to whittle down the number of pictures to include in this post. As a result, this post has 20 photographs in it. Just what I needed to make this post.

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But seriously, this art is original and very creative!

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Every building was filled with color. It was beautiful!

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But all good things come to an end. And though I was sad to leave Miami and Fort Lauderdale, I left with a ton of wonderful memories and a whole lot of photographs (hundreds to be specific) to help me remember the glorious experience.

These two cities I visited were simply amazing! So much to do and so much to explore.

 Florida, I’ll see you again one day! ❤

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Camera: Images captured with a Canon EOS Rebel t6 paired with an EFS 18-55 f/4-5.6 lens.

Note: I guess that concludes my summer adventure. I had so much fun visiting new parts of Canada and the US, I enjoyed every second of it. I’m definitely looking forward to my next future destination! But in the mean time, stay tuned for more posts!

© Benjamin Lessard – TheBenLessard

A Day In Montreal

I awoke after a great day exploring the streets of downtown Montreal bubbling to the brim with anxiety and excitement. Anxiety, because I wouldn’t be able to see this gorgeous view for a very long time and I would definitely miss it, and excitement because I would have the entire day to explore alone.

But before I did anything, I had to take a moment on the balcony to appreciate this fantastic view of the water. And this view is coming from the 12th floor (one floor below the penthouses), so I guess it was a luxury in itself and a good way to kickstart the day.

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It was a glorious sunny day, the humidity was quite high, but it didn’t matter since a gentle breeze accompanied it…

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…but where I was staying, there was so much greenery (which was nice) and of course, an outside swimming pool (even better)!

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So to begin the day, I decided to take a walk in the forest located right outside the building.

There were many beautiful features in this area –  but the many trees were my favorites.

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After walking for a good hour, I spotted this “lonely” bench facing the water…

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7516782256_IMG_0464.JPG…where I decided to sit down and continue to read this AMAZING book (which I HIGHLY recommend)!

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After reading a few chapters of this book, I decided to head back home after I realized how far away I was from my apartment. When I got back, I went straight to the pool and then I took some pictures of the building and its property.

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I couldn’t get enough of the gorgeous view and greenery!

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Here’s a picture of the back of the building.

 

So after a great day, I’m here writing this post to you after a delicious meal that my sister and I cooked (brie fondue served with a few slices of baguette and chicken skewers).

I want to end this post by saying that I lived here when I was very young and since then my family and I have been coming back and forth from our home in Ottawa and now our new home in Denver (where I’ll be living for the next three years). So Montreal is no doubt a beautiful city, but it’s also a city full of culture, diversity, and life!

If you’re having thoughts of visiting Montreal, I highly recommend you do, because it’s a city like no other and you won’t regret it.

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Tomorrow I’m leaving Montreal to go to Fort Lauderdale (my final destination), so be prepared for AMAZING posts!

Hope you’re having a great day / evening!

© Benjamin Lessard – TheBenLessard

A Colorful Day In Vancouver

I freaking love wildlife, but I also love marine life. So when I was presented with the opportunity to visit the Vancouver Aquarium, with no plans and weather that was pretty dull, a trip to the aquarium seemed like a pretty good idea.

And what was impressive about this particular aquarium is that it has been voted as one of the top ten best aquariums in the world! So you could say that this greatly influenced my decision to go.

Anyhow, with over 50,000 animals from across the globe, there was no shortage of beauty at the Vancouver Aquarium, and I was lucky enough to see it. Here are some pictures I took of the magnificent animals.

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I saw many exhibits throughout the aquarium illustrating the wonders of aquatic light in action, but this particular picture showed two jellyfish pulsing rhythmically in spectacularly backlit tanks. It was very cool!

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Here is another species of jellyfish I saw at the Jellyfish Exhibit: A small group of purple jellyfish pulsing its way through the water.

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But as much as I enjoyed watching the various species of jellyfish pulsing its way through the water, I also enjoyed watching this steller sea lion making its way across the water, putting on a small show for his “audience.”

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Every animal that I saw was very colourful…very imposing! But what was even cooler than their vibrant colours was witnessing their behavior in their natural habitats.

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A small group of African Penguins
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Two Frogs enjoying the humidity

Overall, I had a great experience at the Vancouver Aquarium, and it’s very understandable why it’s been voted as one of the top ten best aquariums in the world.

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Furthermore as I came out of the building, the weather was no longer dull; instead, it was sunny and beautiful. Thank god!… And what better way to enjoy the weather than by visiting the beautiful Stanley Park.

From the aquarium to Stanley Park, it was a short five minute drive, so really, it didn’t take long at all.

As we were getting higher in altitude, we decided to park in a designated area to take a few pictures. Here’s an amazing view of the water and mountains!

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While I was taking a few pictures, there was an elderly Chinese man just a few feet away playing some songs on the chinese violin, and I’m telling you, the music that came through was absolutely beautiful! So for a while, I sat to listen to his wonderful music.

After Stanley Park, we decided to drive all the way to Earnest, a famous ice cream shop located on the other side of the city, where I had a green tea ice-cream cone. And as much as I enjoyed the cone, I also admired the interior of the shop, because I found it to be very trendy and lively.

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Second day in Vancouver, and I’m loving every second of it! If you find yourself in Vancouver or if you want to visit Vancouver, I highly recommend it. Vancouver is a city full off diversity, nature, and fun things to do, you won’t regret it! As for me, I have yet to discover more of this beautiful city.

Camera: Images captured with a Canon EOS Rebel t6 paired with an EFS 18-55 f/4-5.6 lense / EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III USM lense and an HD 0.43X Wide Angle Converter W/MacPro Japan Optics
Note: Unfortunately, I have two full days left here in Vancouver, and then my next destination will be Montreal. I hope to continue to post daily, so stay tuned for more epic posts!

© Benjamin Lessard – TheBenLessard

 

A Trip To British Columbia

After spending six incredible hours in Vancouver, I became quite anxious that my Canadian adventure started off too marvelous, and that everything following Vancouver would be a letdown. But luckily…it wasn’t!

In fact, entering Vancouver by plane, I had a pretty epic view of the water (which I was so glad to see, considering that Denver is the dryest city I’ve ever been too and there’s literally no water to be found)!

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Vancouver is a coastal seaport in Canada, located in the lower region of British Columbia.  It is home to around half a million people! From Denver to Vancouver, it’s a total distance of about 1,783.15 kilometers, so by plane, it would take a good two and a half hours.

After arriving in Vancouver and checking in to the Holiday Inn Hotel, it didn’t take long for me to lie down and relax!

After relaxing for a bit, I knew I couldn’t spend my afternoon lying down and doing nothing, so, my family and I decided to head over to a nearby seafood restaurant, the Blue Canoe, which was located right beside the water. It was incredible!

For dinner, I ate the most scrumptious, the most flavorful fish tacos I have ever eaten in my entire life! It consisted of fresh fish, a tomato and basil paste, avocado, greens…all wrapped up in freshly hand-made tortillas…YUM!

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And for dessert, I ordered a delicious lemon tart topped with fresh local berries and powdered sugar!

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After a delicious dinner, my sister and I decided to take a few pictures of the view and water!

In front of us was an incredible view of the dock and the beautiful sky.

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Honestly, I couldn’t ask for a better way to end the day. I can sum it up in three words: Beautiful. Stunning. Amazing.

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Getting to Vancouver: United Airlines from Denver to Vancouver
Hotel: Holiday Inn Vancouver Airport
Camera: Images captured with a Canon EOS Rebel t6 paired with an EFS 18-55 f/4-5.6 lense and an HD 0.43X Wide Angle Converter W/MacPro Japan Optics
Note: I’ll be posting more travel-related posts during my vacation. Stay tuned!

© Benjamin Lessard – TheBenLessard

 

 

Red Rocks Park

Where: Red Rocks Park, Colorado, USA

Besides visiting Garden of the Gods, I found this park to be quite incredible.

As you may already know, last year I visited Garden of the Gods located in Colorado Springs. I went on that fun little trip with my sister Jasmine who was visiting for the week. Well just last week, my sister so willingly decided to fly down from Ottawa to visit us. This was now her second time visiting Denver so by request, I figured she would love to see more of the city and the nature surrounding it.

We did various things while she was here. One thing she did was explore downtown Denver and its attractions. She also had the opportunity to eat at some great restaurants offering superb food, and not to mention that shopping was always on her to-do list. Furthermore, we all went together on a hike to Red Rocks Park which was pretty exciting. From our house to Red Rocks Park, it was a good 45-minute drive and 34 minutes coming back.

Once we arrived, we were immediately struck by the gorgeous scenery and the mountains surrounding us. The air was so crisp as we were getting higher in altitude, and the sun was shining so bright which was fantastic. Unfortunately, we picked a day where it was a bit chilly but nevertheless, the most important part was experiencing the stunning scenery and hiking the red rocks!

Here are a few pictures that were taken by my sister on her visit.

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As I mentioned before, the view really was beautiful! If you so happen to be in Denver, why not visit Red Rocks Park? A national park definitely worth visiting.

Since this was my sister’s last day in Denver, I hope she made the most of it, and surely she enjoyed her visit as much as I enjoyed her visit with us.


Photo Credits: Jasmine Lessard – @jasmineklessard

Haven’t seen Garden of the Gods post? Click the link!

Secrets of the Catacombs

I guess by seeing the featured image above, you were probably wondering how come I would post a creepy picture like this one. Ironically enough, I just finished watching this horror movie called, “As Above, So Below.” It’s a movie about a small group exploring the Catacombs of Paris, and basically many of them die and so forth. And I just recently visited the Catacombs of Paris.

For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, the Catacombs of Paris are basically underground ossuaries holding the remains of six million Parisians. It’s full of old tunnel networks, caves and dark secrets. It has been open to the public since 1874. Luckily today, they restricted almost the entire place from the public, which is good because if it wasn’t, who knows how many people would get lost.

My wait to the Catacombs began with an hour wait outside from the barred entrance. And as I arrive in front, there are various signs in different languages saying that I’m about to enter the empire of the dead. My visit began with a narrow spiral staircase going down around 20 meters underground. After, you’ll find yourself in a small room with the entrance to the Catacombs on your right.

When you first walk inside, visually it’s a bit creepy but psychologically it’s even creepier because you already know what to expect – the final resting place of six million Parisians. The first thing you will expect is the scent of the area, now it doesn’t smell bad but it does smell like the inside of an old abandoned church. After you experience the smell, it gets better.

As you are walking, you can see many bones and skulls piled up into pillars and some even placed to make a heart and other forms. It was quite nice.

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Many signs were placed on the walls saying, “Respectez les morts” – Respect the dead. Many visitors were respecting the dead, meaning, not doing anything stupid with the skulls and bones, but many people weren’t. I actually witnessed a man putting his arm around a skull and making a peace sign. Some people are honestly stupid and disrespectful. I guess the notion of respecting the dead was a bit lost in the crowd.

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In some parts of the Catacombs which are open to the public, you’ll find a few security guards here and there making sure everyone respects the cemetery. But because they’re not everywhere watching you, that doesn’t mean you can trash the place, that said, I actually found a few beer cans and cigarette buds on the ground.

But even with the beer cans and cigarette buds on the floor, I still had an epic time. I found my visit quite interesting and it was a fun experience.

At the end of my visit, unfortunately, was a 30-meter narrow spiral staircase going up, but as you exit to civilization, you’ll find a cute gift shop. There you can purchase skull shaped cookies, artwork, and mugs.

If you like this kind of stuff, I definitely suggest this place as a place to visit because it’s something you have never seen before and also because it’s a well-known place with a lot of history behind it.

 

 

Packing List: Summer In France

Just a couple of days ago one of my wonderful readers asked me if I was able to post about what I packed for my four week trip to France a couple of years ago. Now it has been some time but luckily I still have my packing list! So without further ado, here it goes!

My 2015 trip to France – First week: Paris, Second and Third week: Southern France, Final week: Back to Paris

I wanted to pack my suitcase with just enough clothes to last me for my entire trip and not overload it with to many clothes.

Something I had to keep in mind when packing was to keep some room for some clothes and items that I would purchase during my trip.

In the end, it ended working and I was off! So here is my list of what clothes and items I packed for my exciting trip to France.

Basics

12 pairs of underwear

This may seem like a lot but it really wasn’t, they take up very little room but at least you don’t have to deal with trying to work out a washing machine in your apartment.

15 pairs of socks

You may be wondering why I brought an abundance of socks and less underwear, well the reason for that is, it’s always good to bring more socks in case the socks you’re currently wearing gets either wet or muddy. And nobody likes to wear dirty socks!

Clothes

6 short sleeve t-shirts

I didn’t really need to pack that many t-shirts considering the duration of my trip because I could wear them more than once and also if I had access to a washing machine nearby.

3 long sleeve shirts

Bringing just three long sleeve shirts was all I needed, because it’s perfect to wear on those chilly days.

4 sleeveless shirts

I knew it was going to be hot so why not pack a few sleeveless shirt.

2 hoodies

Whether if it’s raining or if it’s cold, hoodies provides warmth and comfort when it gets cold and muggy.

6 shorts

Honestly who’s going to wear jeans on their entire trip especially when you visit a warm country? In France, the weather is absolutely fantastic and usually it’s always sunny which means it’s the perfect for wearing shorts!

2 jeans

I did mention it’s usually always sunny which means there are days when it’s not, meaning that it can get a little chilly. Jeans are perfect on those days but also it’s good when decide to take a walk in the forest and you don’t want to be bitten by mosquitoes.

3 swimming trunks

Where I stayed, there were a lot of pools available and when I visited the South, there were also many beautiful beaches nearby. So if you like to swim…bring your swimming trunks!

Shoes

2 pairs of sneakers 

Great for walking and running especially when you travel to a walking city.

1 pair of comfortable sandals

It’s hard to walk on hot sand without any shoes! I had bought myself a brand new pair of sandals for the beach!

Accessories

2 hats

I didn’t really need many hats, all I needed was one hat and an extra hat just in case I lost the other.

1 pair of sunglasses

Great on those sunny days but it also it shields you from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. You don’t want to go blind now do you.

1 travel wallet

You can’t travel anywhere without your wallet! My wallet had many compartments for cash, cards and change.

1 small backpack

I needed a backpack when I went from one place to another just to put my essential items.

Toiletries

1x toothbrush 

2x travel size toothpaste

1x dental floss

1x container of hair gel

1x comb

1x bottle of skin cream

1x travel size bottle of shampoo

Items + Entertainment

MacBook Air + iPad (including chargers)

Mini binoculars

3 books

Sketch pad + pencils

1 liter plastic water bottle


Anyways, hopefully that wasn’t too long but there it is, my complete packing list to France. I will be posting many more blog posts related this topic in the future so stay tuned and hope you enjoyed this new blog post!

Garden of the Gods

Where: Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA

This is no question the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited in Colorado.

Before even going to Colorado Springs, I’ve been debating on many cool places I would like to take my older sister to. Why you may ask? Well, my sister just arrived from Ottawa to visit my family and myself in Denver. It was her first time visiting Denver so I figured she should make the most of it during her stay.

What better way to do so by visiting Garden of the Gods located in Colorado Springs. From Denver to Garden of the Gods, the total distance is about 112 kilometers away which means by car it would take a good hour and a half with no traffic.

So my family and I all agreed on taking my sister to Garden of the Gods. On our way there, I looked out my window and saw plenty of gorgeous mountains and red rock formations (which I’ve never seen before).

When we finally arrived in Colorado Springs, we decided to eat at a good burger joint not too far from our destination. After we gorged ourselves, we went directly to Garden of the Gods which was a ten-minute drive from the restaurant and already you could see the incredible red rock formations from far as well as the kilometers of mountains and greenery. Not only was there an incredible view but the day we decided to go to Garden of the Gods, the weather was absolutely fabulous. What I love about Colorado’s weather is that it’s dry, maybe a little too dry for me but it’s definitely not humid. And I’m guessing you don’t like humidity either.

Once we arrived, we took a long beautiful walk to explore the scenery and appreciate the magnificent view.

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Isn’t the view beautiful? I mean seriously it was breath-taking. If you so happen to be in Colorado Springs, Colorado or would like to visit, I strongly suggest you visit Garden of the Gods because firstly you won’t regret it and secondly it would make great pictures.

After a fantastic and long day, we drove back home to hit the sacks and surely my sister enjoyed it as much as I did.

Stay tuned for my next post!

Perfect Spanish Weather

I arrived in Barcelona early afternoon, after driving for about two hours from Southern France with my family. We didn’t really have a reason to go but the idea randomly popped into our heads before leaving to Barcelona. Now, what exactly did we do once we arrived?
Nothing, although, because we were hungry and it was almost lunch time, we asked one of the locals for directions to the nearest restaurant that served lunch.
Luckily he pointed out a couple and we chose the best one.

Unfortunately, I do not remember the name of the restaurant, however, I do remember they served soups, salads, chicken…So your typical restaurant. Anyhow, after we filled our stomachs with good food, we decided to take a walk, to explore the famous “Barcelona”. I did end up seeing a large Roman Catholic Church called “Sagrada Familia” designed by famous Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi – A major tourist attraction.

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As you can see, the church itself is under construction.

When I first saw it, I immediately thought how weird-looking the church was from the outside. I’ve seen many churches in my life but I’ve never seen one that looked quite like this one. I’m not saying his work is ugly but on the contrary, I do admire his work and find it very original. If you so happen to be in Barcelona, and you would like to see his amazing work, it is very easy to distinguish which one is his compared to the others.

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For me, I had only the entire day to explore Barcelona which meant I needed to see as much as possible. In front of the Sagrada Familia, there were several buses parked on the opposite side of the church. Immediately I ran to the bus to get inside and I ended up sitting on the second floor which was perfect. When the bus started moving, I felt a cool breeze and the warm sunlight on my face, not to mention I had a 360-degree view of the city.

During my bus ride, I saw plenty of malls, restaurants, beaches, a few docks, and many gardens. What was great with the bus ride is that it stopped at various locations throughout the city, which is perfect if you want to get off and go by feet.

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In Barcelona, there are many beaches to choose from so you do not have to worry. It is absolutely beautiful, from the light blue water slowly fading into dark blue, from the pom trees to the perfect weather, to the several ice-cream beach shops, it couldn’t get any better!

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After a two-hour bus ride showing the city of Barcelona, I finally got off and walked to the nearest ice-cream shop because I haven’t eaten for the entire ride. I ended up ordering a refreshing mango sorbet with a big bottle of water. Because the afternoon was ending, we decided to say goodbye to a fantastic day in Barcelona, and we were on our way back to La Redorte, France.

On the way to La Redorte, we somehow decided to go eat at a restaurant outside of Barcelona, but still in Spain. There we found a great Italian restaurant in front of the beach, and after we ate, we took a walk on the beach staring at the sunset, and when it was completely dark, we decided to drive back home.

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One of the most memorable travels I had in a long time, even if it only lasted a day. I definitely suggest you go to Barcelona because it has everything and it is gorgeous!

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Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and Twitter for more silliness and epic travel stories! You can also add me on Snapchat – @benlessard –

Finally, if you enjoyed reading this post, don’t forget to give it a like, comment and share it on Facebook or Twitter. Much appreciated. Thank you so much!

An awe-inspiring day in Narbonne

 

Narbonne.

One of the many places where everyone desires to visit. But why?

Besides dating back to Ancient Rome, Narbonne is famous for its beaches, tourist attractions, and its gorgeous dry weather.

If you are planning on going here, which I strongly suggest you do, there are beautiful hotels such as the Brit Hotel Plaissance. It offers great rooms with a terrace view with seating, Wi-Fi, and on top of that, it’s surrounded by great shops, restaurants, and attractions.

Anyways, I went from La Redorte (where I was staying) to Narbonne which is a total of approximately 32 kilometers, so a 34-40 minute drive, which surprisingly didn’t take that long. When I arrived there, it was time to explore and eat because I was famished.

By the way, Narbonne has fantastic restaurants and cafes! And if you love shopping, there are great boutiques offering an abundance of different things.

After exploring the area a bit, I decided to go for a walk in a peaceful neighborhood away from everybody to take some air. As I was walking, I saw many old houses, probably over fifty years old or so, an old cathedral and a beautiful garden.

 

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Now, this was the outside of the cathedral. I, unfortunately, did not have the chance to go inside because it was closed but I did, however, appreciate the architecture and the cobblestone streets leading towards the entrance. I just find it astonishing how they used to build buildings, streets…And yet still to this day, it remains rather intact, unlike our buildings today.

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After my peaceful walk, I decided to go back and eat at this Italian restaurant. I naturallysat outside on the terrace to appreciate the view and the weather. I ordered homemade seafood pasta with a small platter of cheese, meat, and baguette which was delicious.

After my long and exciting day to Narbonne, I decided to head back home to La Redorte, when I arrived, I was exhausted, so I went up to my room and fell on my bed and slept, dreaming of my exciting day and what to do on the next day.

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Remember: Bring sunscreen – it does tend to get very hot.

Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and Twitter for more silliness and epic travel stories! You can also add me on Snapchat – @benlessard

Finally, if you enjoyed reading this post, don’t forget to give it a like, comment and share it on Facebook or Twitter. I’d appreciate it. Thank you so much!

© Benjamin Lessard – TheBenLessard