Tips for Thought

Summer’s Siren Call: Paris, London, and the Azores Beckon

As the frosty tendrils of winter loosen their grip and spring blossoms fade into the warmth of early summer, the season of exploration is ushered in.

According to US News Travel, this summer’s crown jewels for escapade are none other than the enchanting Paris, the regal London, and the captivating Azores. So let’s embark on a virtual journey and discover what makes these destinations the perfect summer retreats.

Paris, France: The City of Love and Light

Paris, an eternal city that continues to captivate the hearts and minds of travelers, claims the first spot. As summer graces the town, it transforms into an idyllic retreat where balmy days blend seamlessly into cool, serene nights.

In the summer, the banks of the River Seine, which snakes through the city, are abuzz with people relishing picnics, playing music, or simply watching the world go by. Visit the bustling local markets for fresh produce and local delicacies for a perfect picnic basket.

Visit The Louvre

The Louvre, one of the world’s largest and most visited art museums, is a must-visit on any Paris itinerary. It’s home to an unparalleled collection of art and historical artifacts, including the famed “Mona Lisa” by Leonardo da Vinci. Here are some tips for tourists:

    • Plan Ahead: The Louvre is vast and attempting to see everything in a single visit can be overwhelming. Decide in advance what you want to see most. The museum’s official website provides detailed information about the collections and exhibitions.
    • Book Tickets Online: To avoid standing in long ticket lines, consider purchasing tickets online before your visit.
    • Use the Lesser-Known Entrances: The Pyramid entrance tends to be the busiest. The Porte des Lions entrance near the southeastern corner of the museum or the door from the underground shopping mall, Carrousel du Louvre, can be quieter.</P

What can you bring?

  • Mobile Hotspot Router: Staying connected while traveling is crucial in this digital age. A portable WiFi hotspot can provide reliable internet access throughout your trip, allowing you to navigate the city using online maps, research places to visit, make restaurant reservations, and stay connected with folks back home.

Bonus Tip: For an unusual and refreshing break, consider exploring the Canal Saint-Martin neighborhood, a lesser-known gem that boasts trendy boutiques, street art, and charming cafés.

London, United Kingdom: A Majestic Blend of Old and New

The British capital, a city where history and modernity walk hand in hand, comes in second. London in summer is a spectacle to behold. The city’s royal parks, such as Hyde Park, Regent’s Park, and Richmond Park, explode into a riot of colors, making them perfect for strolls or picnics.

Visit Buckingham Palace

The London residence of the Queen, is one of the city’s most iconic landmarks. So whether you’re planning to watch the Changing of the Guard or tour the State Rooms, here are some tips to enhance your experience:

  • Check the Schedule: If your heart is set on seeing the Changing of the Guard ceremony, check the schedule beforehand, as it only happens sometimes. The official website of the Royal Family provides up-to-date information. Also, arrive early to secure a good viewing spot, as the area can get crowded.
  • Book State Rooms Tour in Advance: The State Rooms, used for official ceremonies and entertaining, are open for about ten weeks each summer and on selected dates during winter and spring. The tour includes access to the State Rooms, the Throne Room, and a walk through the palace gardens. Booking tickets in advance online is advisable as they sell out quickly.
  • Use Audio Guides: An audio guide is included in the ticket price for the State Rooms tour. The guide provides fascinating insights into the palace’s history, artwork, and royal residents, enhancing your understanding of what you see.

What can you bring?

  • Windproof Travel Umbrella: Given London’s unpredictable weather, a compact, foldable umbrella can be a wise investment. These can easily fit into your day bag and quickly be accessed when needed.

Bonus Tip: Try to catch a play at Shakespeare’s open-air Globe Theatre for an authentic Elizabethan experience. For art enthusiasts, summer is the perfect time to explore London’s vibrant street art scene, particularly in Shoreditch and Brick Lane neighborhoods.

The Azores, Portugal: A Natural Paradise

Finally, for those seeking an escape from urban landscapes, the enchanting islands of the Azores offer an unparalleled experience. Nestled in the heart of the Atlantic Ocean, these Portuguese islands are a haven for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike.

Summer in the Azores is a time of mild weather, perfect for exploring the islands’ diverse landscapes, from the verdant mountains to the azure lagoons. Activities like hiking, whale watching, and diving are popular these months, offering unique ways to connect with the islands’ rich biodiversity.

Visit Angra do Heroísmo

A picturesque town nestled on the island of Terceira in the Azores archipelago is a treasure trove of historical charm and natural beauty. The city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is known for its well-preserved Renaissance-era architecture and stunning sea views. Here are some tips to make the most of your visit:

  • Explore the Historic Center: Start your journey in the heart of Angra do Heroísmo by strolling through its cobblestone streets and marveling at the beautifully preserved 16th-century buildings. Then, visit the 18th-century Angra Cathedral, the Misericórdia Church, and the Palácio dos Capitães-Generais, which houses a museum showcasing the island’s history.
  • Visit the Monte Brasil Nature Reserve: Just a short walk from the town center, you’ll find the Monte Brasil Nature Reserve. This extinct volcanic cone offers hiking trails with panoramic views of the town and the surrounding ocean.
  • Enjoy Local Cuisine: Local dishes often feature fresh seafood, locally raised meats, and dairy products from the island’s cows. Don’t miss the chance to try “Alcatra,” a traditional pot roast, and the local cheeses.

What can you bring?

  • Waterproof Hiking Shoes: The Azores is a hiker’s paradise, with trails winding through lush forests, around volcanic craters, and along cliff tops with stunning ocean views. Investing in waterproof, durable, and comfortable hiking shoes will make outdoor adventures more enjoyable.

Bonus Tip: Each island in the Azores has a unique character and beauty. Try to visit more than one. São Miguel, the largest island, is home to stunning volcanic lakes, while Pico boasts Portugal’s highest mountain.

Final thoughts

The world is brimming with hidden gems and spectacular beauty, and summer serves as the perfect backdrop to explore it all. Whether it’s the romance of Paris, the grandeur of London, or the natural allure of the Azores, this summer promises to be a season of unforgettable adventures