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Travelblog Gone with the Wine

Travelblog and lifestyleblog. Life under the Californian sun - Gone with the Wine. Trips, food and wine from all over the world. Solo and family adventures.

Filtering by Tag: Paris

Viva Las Vegas with Kids!

Paula Gaston

Las Vegas, also known as Sin City, is known for gambling, casinos, quick marriages and bars open around the clock. “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!” they say. So why take your kids with you on vacation to such a place? In the USA, it is common to take kids with you anywhere you go. Same goes with Las Vegas. But I have to say, that one will see a whole different part of the city when you are not free to party and stay up all night long. We stayed there for two days with our kids, and we still had a great time!


Planning a vacation in Las Vegas starts by choosing a hotel for your family’s needs. We always want to stay right at the Strip, the main road of downtown Las Vegas. Otherwise, you will have to drive over to experience it. No matter what, there will be a lot of walking involved in Vegas, so we like to be close to the attractions. During summer, Vegas can be very hot, so a nice pool area might be a good idea, but during the winter outside pools are closed. Many hotels on the Strip have some kind of a theme, or at least an attraction to bring people in. Theme hotels tend to be more expensive than others, and unfortunately some of them are a bit old and run down. But they are definitely popular. If you are looking for something newer and more “luxury”, the Cosmopolitan and Wynn are good but they have no theme.

One popular hotel among families with kids is the Excalibur Hotel where we stayed on this trip, and which I will tell you more about later. Excalibur looks like a castle and has a medieval theme. Right next to it is Luxor, which is also a fun choice, since it is shaped like a pyramid. We stayed there some years ago when we didn’t have kids yet. The most known of the theme hotels are New York New York, Paris and the Venetian with its Italian theme.

In front of New York New York

In front of New York New York








We spend a lot of time in Las Vegas just by walking around and seeing different attractions the hotels have to offer. And the best part of that is, that most of them are free. My personal favorite is Hotel Bellagio’s Conservatory & Botanical Garden located in their lobby. The flower arrangements are just amazing! Especially if you happen to be there at the holiday season. The water fountain in front of the hotel will have a show every 30 minutes starting from 3 p.m., sometimes even more often, and the music varies. In front of the fountain there are usually different kinds of characters who are waiting to get photographed with people, but it’s good to know that they will charge for it. It used to be Elvis impersonators, but on our last visit we saw multiple Mickey Mouses, and some super heroes.



Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardenin

Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardenin


We usually go to the Venetian Hotel just to see their amazing gondolas which sail the canals inside the resort. In the Luxor Hotel one can get into an Egyptian atmosphere, and both New York New York and Paris are like little cities from inside. Both of them have nice restaurants in them. Last time we visited Vegas, the MGM Hotel had some live lions in their lobby, but I was happy to see that they had closed that attraction. I don’t think that the hotel lobby is the right place for wild life. The Mirage Hotel has an erupting volcano in front of the hotel which is also great entertainment.

The hotels on the Strip have everything from go-karting to amusement parks and minigolf. Or in case one wants to see all this from high up in the sky, there is also a pretty pricey ferris wheel in the downtown. Vegas definitely has something for everyone.


When it comes to Las vegas restaurants, there is so much to choose from. Almost every casino-hotel has their own buffet, but they also have other restaurants in them. On the Strip one can find the super trendy Shake Shack, Hell’s Kitchen or Rainforest Cafe. The last one is for sure a hit amongst the kids. I definitely recommend checking online what kind of choices there are before heading out and looking for a dinner place aimlessly.


Vegas is full of great shows and performers. One of the most popular ones must be Cirque du Soleil which has many different shows around the city, the Blue Man Group and David Copperfield. All shows of course, are not meant for kids, but if you are traveling with adults, don’t miss seeing some great entertainment. A list of different shows can be found here. There are some shows that are suitable for kids, though we didn’t see any on this trip.


The most famous landmark of Las Vegas is absolutely the Las Vegas sign at the end of the Strip. There is usually a line to get in front of it, but it goes pretty fast. If you can’t wait though, you can do what I did in the picture below; I took it slightly from the side of the sign. In front of the sign there is actually a couple posing. The earlier you get there in the morning, the fewer people there are in the line of course. There is a small parking lot where you can park, since the sign is in the middle of the main road. You can’t leave Las Vegas without getting your photo taken here!


I have to admit that Las Vegas has not stolen my heart (yet) and is not on my TOP 10 list. Like always in Vegas, it took me a while to get used to the noise of the casinos and all the smoke. The second day of our stay we started to get exhausted by the hectic pace and all the walking. But still, it is nice to visit every once in a while and see the unreal life with all those neon signs. And everyone should experience it at least once in a lifetime!

Have you been to Vegas with kids? What was your experience like?


Vacation in a City - My Top 10 Cities in the World

Paula Gaston

The Internet has made booking trips so much easier that most people book their trips by themselves rather than use tour operators. More and more trips are also made to metropolitan cities. Here are my favorite cities to visit. It was impossible to put them into any specific order since they all are so different from each other. 


Well, it is almost a must for me to start with the city that I love, and which is very close to my home. San Francisco is colorful, trendy and a little bit crazy too, and it offers something for everyone. When visiting, you definitely need more than just a one day, since there is so much to see and do in the city, and not to mention all the areas surrounding it. You must of course see the Golden Gate Bridge, ride the Cable Cars and visit Pier 39. And don't forget the world's biggest Chinatown outside of China. This is a city where you can walk in a business district one minute and hike on the beach the next. Or you can do a cruise to famous Alcatraz Island. There is nothing that people here haven't seen, so no matter what you look like, they wont be staring at you. No wonder they call it the most European city of the United States. 

Pros: Open minded and colorful city which you will never get bored with!
Cons: Expensive to stay in. Often chilly winds blow from the ocean. Increasing problem with drugs and homeless people can be seen almost everywhere today.



Tokyo is definitely different than any place you have ever been to. Even different sections of the city can be totally different from each others. Tokyo is very hectic and crazy, but they also have beautiful parks where you can go enjoy the silence. The first days were quite confusing to us since the train and metro network is huge and most signs are in Japanese. But at the end we managed to learn how to get around, and even our 4 year old fell in love with Japan. There is tons to do with kids, and for young at heart adults. And we have never felt this safe on any of our travels before. 

Pros: The safest and most different city we have ever been to.
Cons: Hotels are quite expensive and people don’t often speak English.



Paris is Paris, what can you say? It has its own atmosphere and you really feel like you are in Europe. Paris feels compact since you can easily see all the sights in one day by using the metro. Beautiful buildings and history is everywhere, not to mention the River Seine. Paris is great for those who love good food and shopping. 

Pros: A mecca for those who love good food. A lot to see and lots of history.
Cons: Hotels are expensive. In many place they don’t speak English. To break the ice it would be good to know a couple words of French. 



At the same time modern and old fashioned London needs no introduction. So much to see there, and if you don’t want to tour in a double decker bus around the city, you can always take the Underground (metro). London was my hometown for one summer and there was never a boring day while I was there. You can see and feel the long history of the country all around London. 

Pros: Amazing amount of culture and lots of history. Everyone speaks English. 
Cons: The weather can change quickly so don't go anywhere without an umbrella. 



We went to St. Petersburg and I felt like I didn't see quite everything yet. I would like to go back and explore more. There are so many beautiful buildings and museums, good food and many things to see in this city. It would be even better if there was a local guide to show you around. Even though everything on our trip went well, occasionally we felt like people didn't like us. This might not be the best destination with kids since most sights are museums and churches. 

Pros: So much culture, museums and architecture.
Cons: Safety can be a concern. Requires a visa if you want to stay more than 72 hours. 



Tallinn has fast become a very trendy city. People don't go there anymore just because of the cheap shopping, they go there to eat in fine dining restaurants and see the night life. And of course, there is a lot to see in Tallinn, like the best preserved medieval walled old town.

Pros: Still relatively cheap. Lot of historical places.  
Cons: Far away from rest of the Europe. 



Visit the rustic Old Town in Stockholm. I will never get bored of the awesome cafes there. Stockholm is great for shopping, but there is also a lot to do there. It is great with kids and you don't have to leave far from the city center to find cool stuff.  

Pros: A lot to do for both single people and families with kids
Staying downtown is quite expensive. Cold and dark during the winter months. 



Chicago has always been one of my favorites in the U.S. From the downtown with high-rises you can easily get to the beach of Lake Michigan. Also the Chicago River that runs through the city makes it a very unique place. Chicago has some kind of old movie feel, and I even got a closer look at that while I stayed in the Tokyo Hotel which used to be popular among gangsters. During the winter Chicago is cold and it might snow, so summer months are better for vacationing. In recent years the crime rate has increased in Chicago so make sure to stay in safer areas. 

Pros: There is both a lake and a river right by downtown. 
Cons: During the winter it can be cold. Chicago is not called the Windy City for nothing; the flights are often delayed or cancelled due to weather and storms. Some parts of the city are not safe. 

Sears Tower.jpg


There are many kinds of opinions of Dubai, but I added it to my list since they have most everything there that you could want. They have sun, beach, food and some culture. The local culture is mixed up with this new and fast built city where everything must be bigger and better. It might not feel real but at least it makes Dubai different. Beaches are close by to the city.

Pros: Both beach and city life combined with arab culture. For sure a different sort of place unlike any other.
Cons: Dubai has been questioned for its respect of human rights and for destroying the ocean by building artificial islands. 



Yes I know, it is not exactly a metropolitan city, but at least it is a capital! I really liked Reykjavik. It is known for it's colorful nightlife and many cafes. It is small enough that you can just walk or bike from one place to another while admiring beautiful wall murals. And you can't feel any more safe than you will here!

Pros: Small but full of life. Very safe. People speak English almost everywhere.
Con: The service culture in Iceland is often very stiff and serious. 


What are your favorite cities?

10 Travel Pictures from My Past

Paula Gaston

We just finished a road trip in California, but before sharing those stories, I decided to participate in a blog challenge which I have seen in several Finnish travel blogs. I got the picture themes from Ne Tammelat -blog (which is in Finnish) and anyone who has a blog is welcome to join.

So here are my 10 (and even few extra) travel photos:


I love Filoli Gardens in the San Franciscon Bay Area. You can find many hidden spots in the garden and they have also filmed the television show Dynasty over there. Both spring and summer time are the best times to visit Filoli, and I did write about our visit there about a year ago.


Is there anything more traditional than this? I think everyone who has ever visited Paris has posed in front of the Eiffel Tower. This picture is from 2008.


When looking for this picture I was first trying to figure out if I should use a picture that was taken far away from my home country Finland, or my current home in California. I think Japan is pretty far from both of those places, so I chose a picture from our trip to Kyoto to see Fushimi-Inari-Taisha. 


Even though I have seen several big cities, I think Tokyo is the winner here. It was just so hectic and crowded, but also cool at the same time. 


You can't get anymore tired than this! I was traveling from Finland via Sweden to Chicago when my flight was delayed over six hours due to thunder storms. Then they added an extra flight on my route so I flew to Philadelphia first. I finally made it to Chicago, but my luggage didn't. Oh well, that happens! 


I can't really use a sunset picture from anywhere else than California. California sunsets are the best! 


I have always liked Mexican food but who ordered all this? Ooops! There is no way two girls can eat all this! 

We like to treat ourselves with some good food and wine on our trips. This picture is from San Diego.


I had to really think about this since I usually always find something interesting in each place. I chose this picture from Jerusalem since I mostly just remember chaos and queues from this place. We did a day trip from Eilat to Jerusalem and we only had limited time to explore the place. Maybe if I had more time there I would have been able to see all the beautiful places in the city. 


It seems like I have a lot of these pictures.. ha ha. The two first ones are from Lake Tahoe, California and the last one is from Yosemite National Park.


On our road trip in Northern California we drove thru this redwood tree. It was such a fun trip! If you want to hear about our newest road trip and where we went... stay tuned! More about it on my blog soon! 


If you want to participate in the blog challenge, here is the list of themes for photos. Please link my blog (Gone with the Wine) in your post and I would love to read your stories, so if you have time to leave a link to your on a comment, that would be great. Have fun!

1. A Perfect Moment
2. The Traditional Tourist pose
3. From as Far Away as You Have Been
4. In the Heart of the Big City
5. Zzz – Tired of Traveling
6. Sunset
7. Treats on Trips
8. A Famous Place Which Was a Disappointment
9. I Would Do Anything for a Good Photo
10. A Picture from a Road Trip