Photo Gallery: Midnight in Paris

Paris is one of those places that is hard not to love. It’s a city adorned with iconic monuments, world class museums, and a gastronomy that would make anyone’s taste buds dance. During the long summer days Paris is buzzing with tourists from around the world eager to drink up the culture, but as the sun sets late in the evening, the lights switch on and the true beauty of city begins to show.

Here is a photo gallery of Paris as the lights began to twinkle and truly dazzled us.

 Sun setting over the famed Moulin Rouge
Sun setting over the famed Moulin Rouge
 La Diva. Feeling Sassy.
La Diva. Feeling Sassy.
 Evening bottle of wine at with a view of the Eiffel Tower
Evening bottle of wine at with a view of the Eiffel Tower
 City of Love. Locks.
City of Love. Locks.
 Pont de Bir-Hakeim
Pont de Bir-Hakeim
 Pont de Bir-Hakeim
Pont de Bir-Hakeim
 River boats passing by the Eiffel Tower.
River boats passing by the Eiffel Tower.
 Traffic lights surrounding the Arch de Triumph
Traffic lights surrounding the Arch de Triumph
 The buzz down Champs-Élysées.
The buzz down Champs-Élysées.
 Store fronts. Galleries Lafayette
Store fronts. Galleries Lafayette
 The calm around Musée d'Orsay
The calm around Musée d’Orsay
 Palais Garnier opera house
Palais Garnier opera house
 Magical Fontaine des Mers.
Magical Fontaine des Mers.
 Obélisque de Louxor
Obélisque de Louxor
 French Flag in lights.
French Flag in lights.
 Reflections. Musée du Louvre
Reflections. Musée du Louvre
 Musée du Louvre
Musée du Louvre
 Pyramide du Louvre
Pyramide du Louvre
 Street lamps with warm light.
Street lamps with warm light.
 Napoleon. Colonne Vendôme.
Napoleon. Colonne Vendôme.
 Illuminated bridge underbelly. 
Illuminated bridge underbelly. 
 Bridge details.
Bridge details.
 Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris
Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris
 Headless. Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris.
Headless. Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris.
 Paris Town Hall in all it's glory.
Paris Town Hall in all it’s glory.
 Town hall water feature up close. 
Town hall water feature up close. 
 Vintage metro entrance. Time to head home.
Vintage metro entrance. Time to head home.
 Long night in Paris.
Long night in Paris.

We are two en route for more midnight moments

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Hot Spots for Kyoto Cherry Blossom Viewing

We loved how the entire nation of Japan comes together around the beginning of April to celebrate Sakura, the coming of spring. It is the prime time to be in Japan to see the cherry blossoms in full bloom. When we booked our flights to Japan for Kevin’s 30th birthday celebration, we had no idea we would be arriving right in the heart of Sakura. 

Because timing happened to be perfect, we hopped on our bikes and headed out to view the cherry blossoms around Kyoto. Here are some of the hottest spots for viewing the blossoms all around town. 

1. Heian Shrine

A great introduction into seeing Cherry Blossoms in Kyoto is at the Heian Shrine. It has all the quintessential elements of Japan in one; beautiful orange painted wood, green tile roofs, and cherry blossoms welcoming everyone around. This picture perfect Shinto shrine is just the beginning of cherry blossom viewing. What lies beyond the shrine will take your breath away.

2. Gardens of Heian Shrine

For some of the best cherry blossom viewing in all of Kyoto step into the gardens that wrap around Heian Shrine. The entry ticket is 600 yen ($5.25 USD) and is worth every cent. The moment we entered the garden, we were transported into a wonderland of cherry blossoms surrounding us at every turn. Bamboo supports are erected, lifting the branches and allowing the blossoms to float right over our heads. IT was truly magical.

3. Kamo River

Kamo river runs right through the heart of Kyoto making it a central feature of the city. The riverbanks are the perfect place to stroll along the pedestrian path and see the cherry trees that flank both sides of the river. There are many restaurants that overlook the river, so we had to stop and grab a coffee and enjoy people watching with a spectacular view.

4. Philosopher’s Walk

Tree-lined perfection is what we called the Philosopher’s Walk. We spent hours strolling along the pathways, allowing ourselves to get lost in the shades of pink all around. We first heard about this part of Kyoto when watching AbFab’s “Joanna Lumley’s Japan” special on BBC. Thank’s Patsy for this wonderful recommendation! 

5. Maruyama Park behind Yasaka Shrine

We stumbled upon this by complete accident while exploring around the Gion area of Kyoto. After looking at traditional teahouses and geiko (geisha) we saw the beautiful Yasaka Shrine shining in the night sky. We explore inside the temple grounds and noticed a celebration was happening behind the temple in Maruyama Park. Come to find out, this is THE place for cherry blossom viewing in Kyoto by the locals. People pay by the hour for tables just to dine beneath the beautiful trees. The true jewel of the park is the spectacular weeping cherry tree. 

6. Fukushima Shrine

This shrine is known for the thousands of vermilion colored torii gates that span across the hiking trail up Mount Inari. While there are no cherry blossom viewing as we hiked up the trail, there were fantastic blossoms at the shrine located at the base of the mountain. This for sure set a happy tone for a beautiful spring hike. 

7. Kiya-machi Dori Stream

Right in the heart of Kyoto, one block from the Kamo River, is a stream that runs alongside Kiya-machi street. What makes this the perfect place for feasting your eyes on those famous blossoms is the fact it’s accessible and picturesque both day and night!  Additionally, there are many restaurants on the river and bridges spanning the stream, making for some great photo-ops.

8. Kimono Forest

The Kimono forest is located at the Arashiyama train station. What we loved about this area was how the perfectly purple train and kimono wrapped columns complimented the shades of pink seen all around from a sprinkling of cherry blossom trees. This was the jumping-off point for viewing more blossoms around this part of town. 

9. Tenryu-ji

Tenryu-ji is also located in the Arashiyama neighborhood, just a few blocks from the train station. It is a Zen temple that houses a beautiful garden with flowers of all type. We were greeted with a Zen rock garden as we entered and treated to wonderful blossoms thereafter. Once we were done with the flowing buds, you exit right into the famed bamboo forest. Perfection. The entrance fee to see the gardens is 500 yen ($4.30 USD).

10. Katsura River

Another hotspot in the Arashiyama part of town is the Katsura River. We decided to take a breat for the temple scene for the day and sit riverside, listening to the flow of the water and watching the branches of the cherry trees blow in the wind. The entire bank of the river on both sides have some of the most beautiful blossoms that bloomed around us at eye level. A great spot to end of day of sightseeing around Arashiyama.

The one thing we figures out after viewing the cherry blossoms all around Kyoto is that these hot spots are not the only places to see the world famous blooms. Everywhere we looked, weather rain or shine, we saw fantastic buds blossoming as spring swept over the city and that was the cherry on top to an already fabulous time in Japan. 

We are two en route for viewing more global hot spots