Tag Archives: travel

Le Mont Saint Michel

Three and a half hours outside of Paris stands Le Mont Saint Michel, a castle-like structure posing as an island commune just off the coast of Normandy. Before we could see ocean water, the silhouette of Mont Saint Michel emerged on the horizon, obscured by dreamy layers of distance like a mirage. As our bus made its way closer to the shore, the details of the structure began to solidify–the blue-grey roof tiles, the dusty windows, the tiny gold statue of St. Michel on top of the highest spire.

Mont Saint Michel

Photo by Lauren Espina

From the parking lot, a shuttle took us across a bridge over the mudflats that encircle Mont Saint Michel, and once at the base of the structure, we made our way on foot. Lined with gift shops, hotels and restaurants, the main street was by far the busiest part of the commune, the bloodline to many of the smaller vantage points and flats that are home to its 49 residents. The crowd dissipated as we hit the first set of stairs, when visitors with children or bad knees decided to hang back.

Photo by Lauren Espina

Roughly 350 steps to the top, the uphill battle was surprisingly easy, as there were more than enough visual diversions to keep us distracted: the climbing vines in shades of red, green and brown, abandoned spigots aimed at stone basins, blankets of moss coating the walls, the local cat posing on a ledge, the different shape, texture and hue of each brick.

Mont St Michel 7

Photo by Lauren Espina

At the peak of the grand staircase, we came up on the first view of the east-facing mudflats and the mouth of the Couesnon River. On this uncharacteristically sunny day, the shallow water acted as a glassy reflection of the sky, the billowing clouds and breaks of sunlight creating a glittery white sheen over the landscape. On the western side of the building, we had a similar view with a less pronounced distinction between the water and land. We could see people walking along the mudflats, and with the impression of the sky so clearly reflected, it looked as if they were walking on water.

Mont St Michel 5

As we made our way through the unfurnished chambers, quiet chapels and open courtyards, the grandeur of Mont Saint Michel–which initially reminded me of a cross between Hogwarts and Kings Landing–evolved into a more understated beauty. The stone structure was never a palace or home to any royals, though it certainly looks the part. Its history as a monastery, a place of prayer where people came to be closer to God, gave it a subtle, tranquil air that resonated long after we left.

Of all the remarkable sites we visited on our trip to France, from the gardens of Giverny to the Palace of Versailles and the various arrondissements of Paris, Mont Saint Michel was the most memorable. Perhaps it’s because I knew the least about this landmark or maybe because all of the other destinations are so well-documented, but there was something transcendent in the vacancy and majesty of this location that is truly striking.

Most Memorable Food Moments

We asked people around the office to tell us about their most memorable food experience while abroad. We got a variety of answers and learned that food can help you to assimilate and explore a new culture, or comfort you when you are homesick. 

Alex, Hungary

Photo by: ,

To deny a Californian a burrito is to deny them a basic staple of their diet. My first experience with Mexican food in Budapest was a limp quesadilla from a mall food court, a completely cheese-less tortilla topped with wilted iceberg lettuce, tomato wedges, some starchy corn kernels and a squidgy blob of tart ranch dressing. I felt a bit lost over the next few months. There was no reliable standard to fall back on when zsemletrappista and radish sandwiches got dull. Vegetarianism was seen as a medical problem in the city (No meat? Are you feeling sick?), leaving me to miss what had always been a foolproof option. Continue reading

California Girls

In our ongoing series written by our interns visiting from Hong Kong, Tiantian explains what it feels like to be a California Girl. Culture-shock, delicious food and good times exploring with friends are all possible in the Golden State.


This summer, I spent two months in California traveling and interning at Wcities. I study in Hong Kong and was born in mainland China, so this has been my first time working and traveling in the United States. Along my journey, I found many cultural differences between the East and West which sometimes were beyond my grasp. Nevertheless, I enjoyed being a California girl!

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Foodie in San Francisco

The first of our three-part series, our bubbly, foodie intern from Hong Kong describes her culinary adventures in San Francisco. Peruvian food, excellent seafood and a bit of a misunderstanding are highlights of her experience in one of America’s best food cities.

 Hi, I am Eliza! I am from Hong Kong, and I interned at Wcities this summer. This summer in San Francisco has been unforgettable — I have to write something about it. Among all the memories I have made and the things I have seen, I love the restaurants in San Francisco the most.

If you ask a Chinese person what his or her impression of western food is, most of the answers you receive will probably be “steak,” “potato,” “fried food” or “nothing to eat.” But this is not true. I am going to tell you how San Francisco, a city with an international collection of food, proved this kind of stereotype wrong. For a foodie like me, eating in San Francisco has been amazing. I am going to introduce three restaurants that really impressed me. Continue reading

Books are Great Travel Companions, Not Flotation Devices

Two summers ago, my family took a trip to Liberia, Costa Rica. It was supposed to be a bonding experience, something we could fondly look back on after my siblings and I went off to college and our parents went back to their office jobs.

If you were to ask my dad what his favorite part of our trip was, he would probably say spending time with the family. My brother would say it was renting ATVs or going zip-lining. Mine? I’d have to go with the endless hours of reading I enjoyed as we drove our rental van around the country, stopping at murky beaches and tropical fruit stands.

Apparently our rental van was not designed for off-road adventures. Continue reading