Poppy Collated

A compilation of intrigue and beauty

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Château de Beynac

On the banks of the Dordogne River, close to our beautiful accommodation in Sarlat, is the stunning Château de Beynac.

Perched on the top of one of the limestone cliffs, Beynac Castle was built in the 12th century and is still home to an elderly woman. Wandering through the historical monument, you will find very old tapestries and a few pieces of simple furniture. The construction of the castle is fascinating, from the windows of varying heights and sizes, the intricate stairs and high watch towers. Enemies would have been easily seen from all angles. The grounds surrounding the castle are beautifully kept and the views are magnificent.

I highly recommend visiting!

Château de Beynac

Château de Beynac

That view!

That view!

Château de Beynac

Château de Beynac

Such a picturesque place

Such a picturesque place

Château de Beynac

Château de Beynac

So many stairs

So many stairs

Stunning!

Stunning!

Château de Beynac

Château de Beynac

Château de Beynac

Château de Beynac

Château de Beynac

Château de Beynac

All photos by Carly Smith

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To The South of France!

You may have previously read my post about taking a chance, and booking my art tour in the South of France.

My boyfriend had joined me for the time spent in Spain and Paris, however now he was heading home, and I was jumping on a train, on my own, to Sarlat!

I’d spent my entire holiday with my partner, now I was on this train heading to a new place on my own, without a phone, only a small French translation book and no English speakers around me, hoping someone would be at the other end to collect me! Now, while you might expect a cruisy train trip through the French countryside, that’s not always the case! A couple of hours in to the 5 hour journey, we hit a branch. Yes, a branch. We were then at a standstill for 4+ hours while the issues it had caused were fixed! I tried not to panic when the lovely French lady next to me gave little groans as each announcement was made. I continued to keep my head in my book as I hoped we would continue soon. In the end, she was able to write down some numbers for me, an indication of the time that was predicted we’d spend sitting in that spot. In the end, a few rows down, a girl spoke a little English and was able to tell me that it had been said we were to go to another stop and swap trains! Oh dear… Eventually, we made it all the way to Sarlat, I was so thankful to have avoided the stress of changing trains and not knowing where I was going! My fellow art tour friends were on the same train, in another carriage, however we had not met yet.

The train to Sarlat! Before it broke down...

The train to Sarlat! Before it broke down…

Finally, as we got to the station, hours later than expected, we were greeted by the lovely Christoph and Sarisa of the local taxi company Taxi a la Carte. They were our guides throughout this tour and were better than you could have ever expected. They are truly lovely people and have so much knowledge of the area.

Sarlat was an absolute dream. I get inspired just thinking about it, I’d so love to return one day. It was so different to Paris, a big bustling city. Sarlat and the surrounding area was truly stunning, a historic and friendly place, one that you could stay in forever!

That night, I met the rest of the group of wonderful aussies, for a lovely welcome dinner in Sarlat. Our accommodation at Les Cordeliers was in the centre of the town, we really were right in the middle of everything. It was fantastic and I highly recommend staying at this B&B. The owners were so friendly and had a great knowledge of the area. The breakfast was delicious and the rooms were beautiful!

Our first full day included a guided tour of Sarlat. This was a fantastic way to get a real understanding of the town and its history. It was also market day, which takes up a huge portion of the town. It is such a beautiful place, am I getting across my point of how wonderful this town is?!

Sarlat, France

Sarlat, France

Sarlat, France

Sarlat, France

Sarlat, France

Sarlat, France

Sarlat, France

Sarlat, France

Selfie in Sarlat!

Selfie in Sarlat!

The main square in Sarlat

The main square in Sarlat

Sarlat, France

Sarlat, France

Sarlat, France

Sarlat, France

All photos by Carly Smith

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Paris Adventures

On our first day in Paris, we walked to the local tour booking centre and booked in everything that we wanted to do and see while there. We thought this was the best idea as we knew that many attractions would book out days before and we really didn’t want to miss out!

We decided to stay in and cook at the apartment on our first night in Paris. We made delicious tapas with local ingredients, browsed the many books lining the shelves and drank the lovely wine left for us by our greeter, Maria. This was another reason that we were so happy that we decided to book an apartment, we were able to gather amazing food from the area and cook for ourselves. Having a washing machine was also wonderful!

Cooking at the apartment

Cooking at the apartment

We spent our first full day in Paris wandering around and made our way to The Louvre. It is huge!! We needed more time than expected there and enjoyed walking through the different areas of the museum. We stopped by to visit Mona, there was always a very large crowd around her!

The Louvre Museum

The Louvre Museum

Beautiful statues around The Louvre

Beautiful statues around The Louvre

The Louvre Museum

The Louvre Museum

Inside The Louvre

Inside The Louvre

Inside The Louvre

Inside The Louvre

Inside The Louvre

Inside The Louvre

Meeting Mona

Meeting Mona

The Eiffel Tower was wonderful. We were very lucky on this day as we’d tried to purchase tickets online to go up to the top, however it said they were sold out. We decided to go anyway and try our luck, we could just wander around it if need be. It was raining that day but just as we arrived, it stopped, which meant that there was not a huge line up, and we were able to successfully buy tickets. It was late afternoon so when we reached the top we were treated to a beautiful sunset. How perfect! It was chilly, but we were very happy to have made it to the viewing platform. It was dark by the time we came back down to the ground, so the tower was lit up and stunning.

The Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower pasta!

Eiffel Tower pasta!

Our apartment was in Montmartre so we spent an afternoon walking over to the Sacre Coeur. There were quite a few people there but we enjoyed having a look, then wandering through the beautiful streets, seeing the local artists and collecting our daily baguette on the way back.

Sacre Coeur

Sacre Coeur

Sacre Coeur

Sacre Coeur

We spent a day at Disneyland and had so much fun! We made it there easily on the metro system. We bought a ticket for both parks and tried to spend half our time at each. It was a big day, but we had a great time. We went on all the rides possible (some were closed), bought some cool presents for friends and family back home and just enjoyed the time together. The food was expensive and pretty average, but everything else was great.

Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris

We booked our ticket to the Moulin Rouge in advance as we didn’t want to miss out. It was also just down the road from our apartment so a very short walk there and back. We decided to skip on the dinner and ate at a beautiful Italian restaurant close by. The Moulin Rouge is excellent! We thoroughly enjoyed the entire performance and would go again for sure. It was exciting, colourful and well executed, I highly recommended.

Moulin Rouge

Moulin Rouge

Have you ever been to Paris? What were your favourite things to do and see?

All photos by Carly Smith

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The Beautiful Montmartre Apartment!

Following a quick stop in Malaga, we caught a plane to Paris! This was originally the first place I was to visit, when this was a solo holiday. As you may have already read in my earlier post A Week in a Paris Apartment? Yes, Please!, I had booked a beautiful place to stay in Montmartre for 7 nights. I was so excited to arrive here as I was looking forward to settling in one spot for a week and I was dying to see this fabulous apartment for myself!

On arrival we were greeted by Maria who gave us the rundown of the apartment and the local area. Maria was lovely and helpful and gave us the most beautiful flowers and wine! The crew at Haven In Paris were so great to deal with, we were more than happy with their service and the apartment. The photos below will speak for themselves! The apartment was so beautifully detailed in it’s design and decorated. It was extremely clean and had everything we could possibly need. There was a huge array of books to read and even DVDs to watch. The bed was very comfortable and the bathroom was lovely!

I highly recommend finding yourself an apartment when you have a week or more in one place. We were able to cook for ourselves, do our own laundry and do everything at our own pace. The subway was very close by and wandering around Montmartre was wonderful. The weather was on and off, mostly raining in the mornings, but it was quite unpredictable. It all added to the Paris charm!

I’d absolutely love to visit this apartment again one day! Fingers crossed!

The amazing view from our Montmartre Hideaway

The amazing view from our Montmartre Hideaway

Can you believe this view?! So beautiful!

Can you believe this view?! So beautiful!

The stunning Montmartre Hideaway - Haven In Paris

The stunning Montmartre Hideaway – Haven In Paris

So French!

So French!

Beautiful detail everywhere you look

Beautiful detail everywhere you look

Many beautiful books to read

Many beautiful books to read

The kitchen had everything we needed, and looked stunning!

The kitchen had everything we needed, and looked stunning!

There were a lot of stairs! But the apartment was worth it

There were a lot of stairs! But the apartment was worth it

The night view

The night view

Paris rooftops - the view from the Montmartre Apartment - Haven In Paris

Paris rooftops – the view from the Montmartre Apartment – Haven In Paris

All photos by Carly Smith

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Granada, the Most Beautiful City

Before going away on this holiday, I contacted my University Spanish teacher. He gave me a fantastic run down on where to go, what to do, what to see, particularly in Southern Spain. After receiving his very detailed email, there was one place I knew we must visit, without a doubt; Granada.

This is how he described it to me: ‘the city of my heart and soul. I love this city with a passion. I lived in Granada for 4 years when I was a university student. To me, without a doubt, the most beautiful city in Spain and, probably, in the world. Worth spending at least 3 days visiting its main attractions. I dream of living and settling down in Granada in the future. If you go there, you’ll understand why. Simply magic’.

He was right, Granada was a dream. There truly was something magical about this place.

We visited Casa Del Arte Flamenco for an authentic flamenco experience. We thoroughly enjoyed this performance and would recommend it to all.

We came across a lovely little restaurant called Restaurante Diagonal that served delicious tapas and excellent cocktails. The service was wonderful, we even went back again during our few days in Granada!

I highly recommend that you add Granada to your travels! I hope that we get to go back again one day.

Casa Del Arte Flamenco, Granada

Casa Del Arte Flamenco, Granada

The amazing architecture of Granada

The amazing architecture of Granada

Granada

Granada

Restaurante Diagonal, Granada - our favourite!

Restaurante Diagonal, Granada – our favourite!

We found lots of sweet presents to take home!

We found lots of sweet presents to take home!

All photos by Carly Smith

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Adventures in Seville; and the tiles of Alcazar!

Having experienced the beautiful top end of Spain, we then flew down to the south. Seville was our first stop and the weather was amazing! It was much hotter than expected so I had to go shopping for cooler clothes of course!

We stayed at Fernando III which had a nice relaxing rooftop area with a pool. It was walking distance to everything and the staff were helpful and friendly. There were lots of cute little stores in this area so we enjoyed a bit of shopping and wandering when it wasn’t too hot.

One of the highlights of Seville was visiting Alcazar de Sevilla. I fell in love with the amazing tiles and architectural detail. I took so many photos of the different tiles during this visit and they’re very inspiring to look back on!

Fernando III Hotel

Fernando III Hotel

Overlooking Seville from our hotel rooftop - Fernando III

Overlooking Seville from our hotel rooftop – Fernando III

Wandering around Seville

Wandering around Seville

The line up to Alcazar

The line up to Alcazar

Alcazar de Sevilla

Alcazar de Sevilla

Tiles at Alcazar

Tiles at Alcazar

Tiles at Alcazar

Tiles at Alcazar

Tiles at Alcazar

Tiles at Alcazar

Pattern galore! Alcazar

Pattern galore! Alcazar

Wandering around Alcazar

Wandering around Alcazar

Tiles are everywhere! Alcazar

Tiles are everywhere! Alcazar

All photos by Carly Smith

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Guggenheim Bilbao

Moving a little further along the coast, we stayed one night in Bilbao before heading south. Our main reason for adding this destination to our itinerary was the Guggenheim Museum.

We were lucky enough to be offered an upgrade on our room at Melia Bilbao, which was huge! This hotel was great as it was within walking distance to the museum and had an artistic feel to it, as well as lovely staff.

Although this was a short stay, we felt like we used the time well and had great fun exploring the wonderful exhibitions at the Guggenheim! We were intrigued by Yoko Ono’s interesting installation in which she called a phone in the exhibition every so often and you were required to answer it if you happened to be near by!

Melia Bilbao

Melia Bilbao

Guggenheim Bilbao

Guggenheim Bilbao

Guggenheim Bilbao

Guggenheim Bilbao

Guggenheim Bilbao

Guggenheim Bilbao

Guggenheim Bilbao

Guggenheim Bilbao

All photos by Carly Smith

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San Sebastian, You’re Amazing!

After four nights in Barcelona, we made our way to San Sebastian. We didn’t know a lot about the area before getting there, however, it came highly recommended by friends and through research we’d undertaken.

We arrived late, had a quick (but yummy) meal at the hotel restaurant and retired for the night. In this restaurant we had a very brief chat with a lovely Australian lady, who was also dining there, about the interesting complimentary soup shot we were given. ‘You drink it’ she said. ‘I’m still learning too’. On my flight home 3 weeks later, I was sitting in the same row as her! How coincidental!

The next morning we went for a walk to see the area and what a delight it was!

San Sebastian is a very special place. Something about it made us feel very at home and we fell in love with this seaside town.

Our favourite part? Once again, The food! The tapas in the old town of San Sebastian are AMAZING.

The people were so friendly and strolling through the streets discovering new little shops was so much fun. This is the sort of place that you can truly relax. Eating is exciting as each bar seemed to have different tapas for us to indulge in! Eat a couple then move on to the next!

Our hotel, Barceló Costa Vasca, was close enough for us to walk into town so no around town transport was required.

San Sebastian really was a favourite destination on our holiday, a very relaxed town with friendly locals and wonderful culinary delights!

Where are your favourite holiday destinations?

Beautiful San Sebastian

Beautiful San Sebastian

Amazing San Sebastian!

Amazing San Sebastian!

Tapas!

Tapas!

Take me back!

Take me back!

Delicious tapas!

Delicious tapas!

Sweet little cafes and tapas bars

Sweet little cafes and tapas bars

I want to go back!

Take me back!

A wonderful holiday destination

A wonderful holiday destination

All photos by Carly Smith

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A day trip to Montserrat

On our last full day in Barcelona we decided to quickly do some internet research on the best day tours in the area.

Montserrat was highly recommended and we were super lucky to score a spot on a tour leaving that morning!

We hadn’t heard of it prior to that morning so didn’t really know what to expect.

Montserrat was absolutely beautiful. A monastery in the mountains, about an hour out of Barcelona, it is reasonably cheap and easy to get to. We took a bus up the windy hill to discover this popular tourist destination/spiritual haven tucked away, waiting for the first visitors of the day. The views were absolutely spectacular. AND you can even stay there overnight!

This Benedictine Monk retreat also features the stunning sounds of the famous boys choir in the basilica at 1:00pm most days. We were thrilled to be able to sit down and listen.

Montserrat was a wonderful addition to our time in Barcelona. I’m glad we did some research that morning and decided to take a day trip to somewhere a little different! I’d highly recommend a visit!

I’d love to hear about unexpected places you’ve visited!

The amazing views from Montserrat

The amazing views from Montserrat

Picturesque Montserrat

Picturesque Montserrat

A very spiritual place

A very spiritual place

Montserrat

Montserrat

Imagine the view from your window!

Imagine the view from your window!

Such a wonderful place to visit

Such a wonderful place to visit

Adding a candle to the hundreds already lit

Adding a candle to the hundreds already lit

All photos by Carly Smith

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La Sagrada Familia, Not to be Missed!

On our first day in Barcelona, when wandering around the city, we got our first look at Antoni Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia.

It was such an amazing monument, towering above, demanding attention from the whole city. It was such a beautiful day that there were HUNDREDS of people around, many lining up to get inside. We decided that we should go back early the next day to avoid such a huge crowd.

We purchased tickets online and made our way back the following day. The crowds were still there, but not quite as bad. All to be expected at an amazing place like this! Unfortunately, we were unable to venture into the tower that day, it was closed, but we were very happy to view the open sections of the building.

The light that came through the stunning stained glass windows was simply amazing. The ceilings were so high, it made the area feel very majestic and grand. Yes, there were many people around, but it was so remarkable that it didn’t matter. You were in your own little world. The sculptural work involved in the entire design is extraordinary.

I feel truly inspired by this building and the creative mind of Antoni Gaudi.

What, or who, inspires you?

La Sagrada Familia - plus the crowds!

La Sagrada Familia

Always in progress

Always in progress

Stunning light

Stunning light

The detail!

The detail!

Symbols everywhere

Symbols everywhere

Sculptural facade

Sculptural facade

Inspiring architecture

Inspiring architecture

All photos by Carly Smith