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Life+1 a lifestyle and travel blog. My adventures around the world and the moments of bliss in between.

Luxembourg

What to say about Luxembourg...well, it was grey. And rainy. But somehow we managed to bump into the Grand Duke which made for an interesting morning.

Luxembourg is one of those destinations that is lovely to visit, but only for a few days at most. It's a very small city, and country. The architecture is gorgeous and it's a quirkily little city full of cobblestone streets and random shops.

As we strolled past the Palais Grand Ducal (where the Duke lives), a police convoy pulled up and out popped the Duke into his Rolls Royce. I had to laugh because I seem to be accumulating sightings of heads of states/countries during my travels like seeing the Pope in Rome and that random time I met Tony Blair on a plane in Africa

Sadly, the Grand Duke was not nearly as friendly as Prime Minister Blair. He couldn't even muster up a mutual wave to his handful of admirers. Maybe he hadn't had his coffee yet...

After walking 6 solid miles (Fitbit!), we decided to rest our toes at Chocolate House. Have you ever heard of a 'ChocoSpoon'? Such a fun concept. You choose one of these flavored cubes of chocolate with a wooden spoon attached, sit down at a table and order a hot milk and then stir your chocospoon in the milk until it melts! Yum.

A few fun facts about Luxembourg


- Luxembourg is the least populated country in the European Union and 20th smallest country in the world.

- It has the highest GDP in the world.

- Skype's world headquarters is in Luxembourg City.

- The only remaining 'Grand Duchy' in the world...meaning that the head of state is a monarch, in this case, a Grand Duke who seemed a little grumpy in my opinion

- Luxembourg country is smaller than Rhode Island, the smallest state in the US.

Less than 24 hours after I had arrived in Luxembourg I was on a train to Paris in what turned out to be one of the worst train journeys of my life...

French Food

I almost forgot how amazing the food is in France. I'm just heading out the door to do a Champagne tour at Mercier but before I go, I just had to show you some of the amazing French food I've had.

Call me cliché but I finally broke down and went to Ladurée to see what all the fuss was about. Oh. My. God. Amazing macaroons. I took a load of photos which I'll put in a macaroon filled post next week.

^ This was lunch today. We wandered around the streets of Épernay until our stomachs were growling. That's when we noticed a little bakery will a line of locals winding around the corner. Always a good sign that the food is going to be awesome. My Quiche Lorraine and chocolate donut didn't disappoint!

This next photo is just comical. Have you ever seen Nutella sold by the bucket?! And in a gas station no less! 

I can't say I didn't contemplate buying it...

But I decided to try to stay a bit healthier once we found the weekend farmer's market. I've never seen so many fresh fruits, veggies, meats and cheeses in one place! I loaded up on the freshest bunch of Vietnamese passion fruit! They are so hard to find back home. 

France is just one of those wonderful places where nearly all of the little brasseries and cafes have such yummy food. I've only been disappointed a few times and both times were in 5 star fancy restaurants. The street food here is killer.

Then there was Angelina. The cafe in Paris renowned for their 'chocolat chaud'. I am actually struggling to find the adjectives to adequately describe how amazing this hot chocolate was. That deserves it's own blog post as well complete with video and a podcast. Serious editing needs to be done first though!

It's been so busy I haven't had much time to blog but I'm photographing loads. We leave for Brussels tomorrow so you can follow along on Instagram for all Belgian chocolate excitement and watch me gain 10 lbs. in 2 days...  :o)

Off to drink copious amounts of Champagne. Hope you are all having a great start to your weekend. 

 

Au Revoir

It's the eve of my whirlwind trip to Europe! It's been a busy week getting ready but I can honestly say I'm really excited.

I sat down a few days ago and tried to map out my one day in Paris. Since I will only be in the city for a day (not even 24 full hours!), I figured I should maximize every second by planning from the moment I step off the train platform to the moment I leave.

I had a list of things I wanted to do, some thing I had done/seen the first time I visited, some things I haven't yet done/seen.

- Spend more time at the Louvre - Sip the world famous Hot Chocolate at Cafe Angelina - Munch on macaroons from Laudrée - Snap the Eiffel Tower from Trocadéro - Stroll down Champ Elysee -

I think it's a little ambitious. Okay, VERY ambitious! 

On top of it all, I thought it would be fun to do a podcast post of my day in Paris. What do you think? I've never done a podcast/audio blog post before but I think it sounds fun.

Let me know in the comments below and give this post a 'like' if you want to listen to me talk you through my wanderings in the City of Lights, or give you a play-by-play of my decadent lunch at Angelina!

Au revoir for now.

PS - You can follow along on the adventure via Instagram (@mylifeplus1).

How Travel Changes You

If you had met me at the ripe young age of 19 and told me that I would travel to some of the far corners of the world before my 30th birthday I would have told you that you were nuts. 

It's amazing what a few years, a charming Englishman and a crappy job will do to a person. It really was a perfect storm of serendipitous events that started me on a path to becoming a world traveler. 

I've had some of the most incredible experiences of my life while traveling, and also some of the scariest. It's changed me in ways I cannot possibly fully explain, but I tried. 

I wrote today's post over at EmberGrey about how travel changes you and why everyone should travel at least once in their lives. I hope you'll swing by and check it out. I'm sure you'll love Emily's blog, it's full of happiness and endless inspiration for living a grateful life.

Let me know what you think! How has travel changed you?

Once a year, go some place you’ve never been before.
— Dalai Lama

Next Destination

Yay! I'm off on some new adventures next week! Have you visited any of the places I'll be going to? I would love some ideas and suggestions if you have.

lifestyle and travel blogs in US Lifeplus1

My friend Teresa is traveling to Europe for business and I thought I'd tag along...you know, for moral support...

Lifeplus1 blog travel map itinerary

Luxembourg

things to do in luxembourg

I know nothing about this city. Nada. From what little research I've had time to do, it seems like a very art-centric city. I'm not a big fan of contemporary art, but surely there are some sights worth seeing.

I'm planning a day trip via train over to Paris. It will be a very short stay but I've been dying to go back ever since my last visit. I'm thinking of spending several hours at the Louvre and then finding a nice lunch before heading back to Luxembourg.

Épernay

things to do in epernay france

After Luxembourg we're driving over to the Champagne region of France. Épernay to be precise. I love, looooove bubbles! Any champagne tours you can suggest? Shame that Perrier Joet is closed to the public...tragic.

Brussels

things to do in brussels belgium

The last leg of the journey will find us in Brussels. World renowned for their chocolate and beer. Since I'm not much of a beer drinker I can totally make up for it by eating more chocolate right?...

Have you been to any of these cities? Let me know if you have any suggestions!

*City photos via Pinterest

Unique Valentine's Day Ideas

Just a few clever and unique ways to show someone you love them on Valentine's Day, or any day.

Heart Shaped post-its with love notes.

Balloons filled with your favorite love quotes from famous movies (a great idea from The Thinking Closet).

We have some friends arriving tomorrow to stay with us through the weekend, yay! Lots of exciting things planned. A trips to the winery, steak dinners and a drink fueled game (or two) of Cards Against Humanity.

What are you up to this Valentine's weekend? 

Name that Destination

Time to put your travel knowledge to the test! I've pulled another photo off the travel wall. Can you guess what city lies just below our feet?

I think my little rhyming clue from last week gave too much away so I'll leave you with only the tiniest of clues...it is a destination that I've written about on the blog before. 

Heck, if you look close enough you'll see a great big whopping clue right there in the photo.

I'll post the answer on my Instagram page this weekend so stay tuuuuuuned.

PS - Drop your guess in the comment box before reading the other comments you cheeky peeps.

Living Proof

I haven't washed my hair in 5 days! I have found the holy grail of hair products. Seriously. I shudder to think how much money I have spent on hair products over the years. Shampoos, conditioners, serums, leave-ins. Don't even get me started on anti-frizz products! 

As you can see, I have a lot of hair. It's long. It's thick. It's wavy. And it's frizz prone. I'm talking 5 minutes of misty rain and I've got a curly frizz-ball afro. I mean, do you remember that photo from the Florida Keys last year?!? Worst hair day of my life.

If only I had known about the No-Frizz Living Proof back then. It would have saved me so much hair stress. Because let's get real, how good or bad of a hair day your having can really make or break your mood. At least it will when you have this much of it.

Living Proof Hair Review

I had been wanting to try this line of products ever since I found out that Jennifer Aniston was a co-founder. She's my hair idol (modern day, not Friends era). Anyway, I was wary of wasting more money on hair products that would end up in that pile of stuff that never worked.

So I did what most grown women would do. I waited for my Mommy to buy it for me for Christmas. :o) This is the first time in my life (yes really) that I've used a hair product that REALLY does what it promises to do. Why is that so rare?

The Living Proof range promises to make your hair feel cleaner, longer. Almost all of their styling products claim to be weightless, and they are. You mean I don't have to worry about only applying conditioner and products to the ends of my hair, carefully avoiding the roots so I don't get build up gunk?! The Living Proof conditioner actually instructs you to slather it on from root to tip, generously even!

I wanted to see just how long I could go without shampooing my hair. Here's how it went down...

Day 1 : 

FRESH AFTER THE BLOW DRY. I ALWAYS LET MY HAIR DRY AT LEAST 75-80% BEFORE USING THE HAIR DRYER AND ROUND BRUSH. FLUFFY, LOTS OF VOLUME AND VERY SOFT. HANDS DOWN THE BEST RESULTS POST-BLOWDRY I'VE EVER HAD. I FEEL LIKE MY HAIR DESERVES ITS OWN COMMERCIAL, lol.

Are we friends on YouTube yet??


Day 2 : 

STILL BOUNCY AND FULL. STARTING TO GET A NICE natural shine. WILL HOLD A BIT OF CURL.* SMELLS LIKE IT WAS JUST WASHED!


DAy 3 : 

I DIDN'T STYLE IT AT ALL. I SIMPLY TWISTED THE STRANDS AROUND MY FINGERS A FEW TIMES AND IT LOOKS LIKE I'VE CURLED IT WITH AN IRON...AWESOME! STILL FEELS CLEAN AND HAS A SMALL AMOUNT OF VOLUME REMAINING FROM THE ORIGINAL BLOWDRY.


day 4 : 

SHINY AND SOFT. I FELT THE NEED TO PIN IT UP ON ONE SIDE BECAUSE IT'S STARTING TO FEEL SLIGHTLY 'DIRTY' AT THE ROOTS. PERFECT DAY FOR STYLING, I'M CONVINCED IT WILL HOLD ANY STYLE AT THIS POINT. MOST OF THE POST-BLOWDRY VOLUME IS GONE.


Day 5 : No photos I'm afraid. A nasty stomach bug had me bedridden. definitely a ponytail day. Although it looked surprisingly decent, my hair was feeling heavy and a bit dirty at this point. time for a shampoo!


Alright, that's a lot of days without shampooing my friends. While I wouldn't normally go that long with out a shampoo and blow-dry, it can certainly be done with these products. Kinda nice for when you're on vacation or feeling lazy and don't have time to restyle every day.

I used the Living Proof Perfect Hair Day (PHD) Shampoo and Conditioner, followed by a generous amount of the Prime Style Extender Cream and the the No-Frizz Styling Cream for this post. Normally, when the weather is humid and rainy I switch to the No-Frizz line which honestly makes John Frieda's Frizz Ease look like bottled miscellaneous goo in comparison. 

As much as I'd love to play brand ambassador for Living Proof, I am not. All of these thoughts and opinions are my own and not sponsored in any way. I just love the stuff!

Have you found any life changing beauty products lately?

* To keep some consistency in the comparison photos from day-to-day, I didn't use any additional products on my hair after day one. I have yet to try the Living Proof hairspray or serum which might help with curl retention and the shine that was missing post-blowdry.

↓ Don't forget to use the like and share buttons below so I can get an idea of which posts you guys like and want to see more of! Thanks!! x 

Umi

Date night! Ombre tights, killer sushi and a giant chocolate ball. 

If you type 'Best Sushi Restaurant Atlanta' into Google you'll most certainly find Umi near the top. It was tucked away in a quiet corner beneath the Ritz tower. Beautiful at sunset.

I was a little dubious because it has a reputation for being a celebrity hot spot in Atlanta and I'm never sure if the service will be friendly or, well, pretentious. Pleased to report the service at Umi was the former. I mean, after all, if it's good enough for Liam Hemsworth, it's good enough for us right? :o)

We sat at the sushi bar and watched the magic of sushi making unfold before us. I watched one chef spend nearly 10 minutes tediously adding little flavors to a row of sushi.

Feeling adventurous, we chose only one item of our meal and left the sushi chef to choose the rest for us. SO glad we did. I tried a load of things I would have never ordered myself and each one was so yummy.

Dessert was so fun. The mysterious 'Chocolate Q' of which the chef only makes 8 per night. Anything served with a mallet for smashing must be worth the effort.

Sushi Umi

Now that's what I call a smashing evening!

Umi is a little on the pricey side (okay, a lot on the pricey side), but perfect for a special occasion or date night. If you go sit at the sushi bar! Front row seats to all the action and the sushi chefs are incredibly friendly. 

Afterwards we went to the cinema to see American Sniper (read my review of it here).

Have you ever let a chef or waiter choose your food for you?

American Sniper

I've seen a lot of movies in the cinema before, but this was the first time I had ever experienced a completely full auditorium so quiet at the end of the movie that you could quite literally hear a pin drop.

American Sniper was such an emotional movie that it left me, and apparently 100 other people, completely speechless at the end. Maybe some people were at a loss for their typical after-movie banter because of emotion. Maybe it was out of respect. Maybe it was shock. 

Whatever the reason, the auditorium was completely void of the typical post-movie banter and laughter of people planning their next destination for the evening.

Complete and utter silence.

I personally loved the movie. If you can set aside any politics for 2 hours you'll probably enjoy the movie for what it truly is, a brilliantly done biography of a modern day war hero. At least that is my humble opinion. 

I hadn't realized that American Sniper was the true story of US Navy Seal Chris Kyle who was tragically killed after returning home from four tours in Iraq. The movie appreciates the sacrifices of US armed forces and the role they played in the war on terror, but also gives a very honest, and real portrayal of the psychological damage that war leaves behind. 

There's nothing more anti-war than a very strong and clear, gut wrenching examination of the hard realities of PTSD. From what I've heard so far, it seems to be a very polarizing movie. Regardless of your feelings on the subject, the fact that this movie has caused a level of controversy that is provoking discussion about such an important topic can't be a bad thing, surely.

In a nutshell


- If you liked Clint Eastwood's other directorial works, Million Dollar Baby, Grand Torino, etc., it's a safe bet you'll like American Sniper too. 

- The movie has a very strong patriotic theme and it's share of graphic war scenes. Highs and lows people!

- It's emotional. So if you're looking for something lighthearted, this is probably not the one.

- The acting was brilliant. The BEST role I've ever seen Bradley Cooper in. Not bad on the eyes either!

Have you seen American Sniper? What did you think?

 

*Photo credit: Warner Bros.