Europe

Where Am I Headed in 2018?

On my 2016 travel wish list, there was Napa Valley, Colombia, London and Thailand. While I went to other places too, I ended up in San Francisco (kind of close to Napa Valley) and Colombia. My 2017 travel wish list consisted of Ghana, Miami, Canada, and Cuba. In 2017, I went to Ghana, Miami, Vancouver, and more. There's no denying that my theory works! Put it out in the universe and it will come to you. This year is no different. I've thought long and hard about what travel goals I want to accomplish in 2018 so here we go!

Confirmed Travel

I don't have any. LOL. I have no flights booked. None. Nada. Not a single one. Shocking, I know. I have a few personal things going on right now and my schedule is a bit uncertain. So I've intentionally not made official travel plans. But don't get it twisted. Travel will definitely occur. Lots and lots of travel!

Wish List
(in no particular order)

Los Angeles

I visited LA in 2016 after road tripping from San Francisco and loved it so much. Beaches, warm weather, and laid back vibes...all things that make me a happy Ashlee. I'm putting this on my wish list because I want (read: need) to go back sooner rather than later.

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Budapest and/or Croatia

Both of these places have been in my thoughts for years. YEARS. I hear they are beautiful countries, with amazing architecture, history and nightlife, all things I love to explore when visiting a new destination.

 Budapest  Photo Credit: Lonely Planet

Budapest
Photo Credit: Lonely Planet

Thailand

It's high time I get to Asia. Seriously. I'm not sure what's taken me so long, but I definitely need to get to Asia soon and what better place than fan favorite, Thailand? I put it on my wish list for 2015 travel, but everyone and their mother booked trips over the last few years which was a bit of a deterrant for me. Still, everyone who goes to Thailand seems to love it so I'm sure I'll be no different. 

 Photo Credit: Kuoni Travel

Photo Credit: Kuoni Travel

Spain

Spain seems to be one of those countries that everyone needs to visit at least once in their lifetime. Art, history, city life, and amazing food are amongst the great things I've heard about Spain. I'd also like to visit a few of its islands, including Ibiza, San Sebastián, and Valencia. 

 Photo Credit: Condé Nast Traveler

Photo Credit: Condé Nast Traveler

Sri Lanka

This one may be a little far fetched but I am putting it out there in hopes I can actually make it happen! I've heard this island country is beautiful, with tons of wildlife and amazing beaches. And because it's a gateway to Southeast Asia, there are a few other countries I can visit before or after.

 Photo Credit: RIU

Photo Credit: RIU

South Africa

Because I can always go back. Again, again and again!

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What places are on your 2018 list? Start thinking and planning!

 

Where to Eat: Le Refuge des Fondus in Paris, France

When most people think of Paris, they think of decadence and elegance. Between the high fashion and timeless landmarks, there’s a reason the City of Love has this reputation. It’s also known for its cuisine, which can basically be described in one word – indulgence. Chocolate, croissants, croque-monsieur, and of course, plenty of cheese. While there are many places you can dine with the quintessential Parisian elegance, sometimes you just want to stuff your face with melted cheese and not want to put your pinky up while doing so. Hence, I give you Le Refuge des Fondus.

Location and Atmosphere

Located in the Clignancourt area near the Sacré-Cœur cathedral, Le Refuge des Fondus (17 Rue des Trois Freres, 75018, Paris, France) is exactly what it sounds like – a mecca for fondue lovers. The food alone is enough to make you want to write about this place in your diary, but it’s the charm and grit of the restaurant that really make it memorable.  The entire restaurant fits about 40 people, all of whom are seated family-style at two large tables running up and down each wall of the restaurant. You will certainly get to know your neighbors well!  The wait staff has the typical French frostiness and make no efforts to hide it, but hey, what can you expect? It's Paris!

Food and Drinks

With no menus in sight, we were suggested to order “two meats and two cheeses.” Next, we were asked one simple question – red or white? The mix of the language barrier and the crazy atmosphere of the restaurant left us a little confused, and we were certainly shocked when they returned with eight baby bottles filled with wine! Given that space is limited, it actually makes sense from a logistical standpoint – no spillage.

Once the fondues arrived, we were grateful for the waiter’s forcefulness in ordering for us, for he knew exactly what we needed. The cheese fondue was something that will live in my dreams for the rest of eternity. For the meats, we were given a pot of hot oils and bite size pieces of steak to cook in it. The combination of the flavors in the oil and the homemade sauces on the side was to die for.

Overall

With its simplistic menu and undeniable charm, it’s no wonder that there’s a line out the door to get in (get there early!). If you find yourself in Paris and in need of some laughter and cheese, make the trip to this restaurant. You will not regret it!

Insider Tip: Try to avoid wearing 5-inch heels, because the people sitting on the benches against the wall are instructed to climb over the table to get to their seat. So, yes, when the waiter reaches out his hand to help you do so, he’s quite serious.

- Abby Rasweiler