Visiting Sacre-Coeur in Paris

Are you planning a trip to Paris, France and looking for things to fill your itinerary? No trip to Paris is complete without a visit to Sacre-Coeur. Located in the Montmartre district, Sacre-Coeur sits at the top of the hill as the highest point in all of Paris. Sometimes known as the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, the Sacre-Coeur basilica was constructed in 1873 to pay tribute to the 58,000 lives lost during the Franco-Prussian War. It is home to a 19-ton bell, which is the largest of its kind in the world.

With easy Metro access, you can make this area of Paris your base for exploring the surrounding area as well as the city itself. Many reasonably priced hotels can be found near Sacre-Coeur in the 18th arrondissement.

French travertine stone gives the basilica its snow white color, which you can see from almost anywhere in Paris. This is what makes it one of the most prominent and noticeable landmarks in Paris. As you might imagine, one of the benefits of visiting Sacre-Coeur is the vantage point you have above the city when you ascend to the top of the dome. In fact, you can see all of Paris from the top of Sacre-Coeur.

The clock tower at the basilica is home to the world’s largest Savoyarde clock. The Luc-Olivier Merson designed apse mosaic, which depicts Christ in Majesty and The Sacred Heart worshiped by the Virgin Mary, Joan of Arc and St. Michael the Archangel, is also the largest of its kind in the world.

Inside the dimly lit Sacre-Coeur, you will find golden mosaics that match the bronze doors of the grand main portal. You can also view the bronze altar, the large choir, the 11 round and tall arches that create the barrel vault and the large dome. The crypt of this Catholic basilica is home to statues of saints as well as a relic, which is believed to be the very sacred heart of Christ.

Once you are done enjoying the interior architecture of Sacre-Coeur, you can head to the rear of the basilica. The grounds are home to a fountain and garden. Entrance to the garden and basilica are free, but there is a €5 admission fee to enter the dome and the crypt.

Get more info on fun things to do in Paris Rick Steves Paris 2016.  All of the guides by Rick Steves are some of my favorites when it comes to finding things to do that don’t cost a fortune.  He also offers some walking tours that you can download to your phone on this page. I have found these to be very enjoyable when checking out a new city – definitely better than paying for a local tour guide who may have an accent that is hard to understand. Plus, you typically have to tip those local tour guides, so these audio tours are awesome for travelers like me who are on a bit of a budget.

Airlines That DON’T Allow Pets In Cabin

If you’re anything like me, then you dread seeing someone get on a plane with a cat or small dog. Personally, I have allergies to pets and the thought of spending hours trapped in a small space with one or more of them is not a pleasant one. No one wants to end up at their destination with allergy issues.

An airline will remove peanuts for a peanut allergy but do nothing for the people with pet allergies. In fact, it seems like more and more airlines are becoming pet friendly. If you want to avoid pet friendly airlines, here are the airlines I’ve found that do not allow pets in the cabin.

The list below is in alphabetical order so that you can easily search for an airline.

Pet-Free Airlines

Aer Lingus – only allows pets in the cargo hold

Aerolíneas Argentinas – only allows pets in the cargo hold

Air CanadaONLY flights to/from Hawaii have pet-free cabins

Air MaltaONLY flights to/from UK have pet-free cabins

Air New Zealand – only allows pets in the cargo hold

AlitaliaONLY flights to/from UK and Ireland have pet-free cabins

American AirlinesONLY flights to/from Hawaii, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and Venezuela have pet-free cabins

British Airways – only allows pets in the cargo hold

Cathay Pacific – only allows pets in the cargo hold

Delta AirlinesONLY flights to/from Hawaii, the UK, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong have pet-free cabins

El Al AirlinesONLY flights to London, Johannesburg, Hong Kong and Australia have pet-free cabins

Hawaiian AirlinesONLY flights to/from JFK airport have pet-free cabins

Japan Airlines – only allows pets in the cargo hold

LAN Airlines – only allows pets in the cargo hold

QantasONLY international flights have pet-free cabins

Singapore Airlines – only allows pets in cargo hold

SWISS AirONLY flights to Ireland, the UK, Kenya, South Africa, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates have pet-free cabins

US AirwaysONLY flights to/from Europe, South America, the Middle East, Antigua, Bridgetown Barbados, Montego Bay, Jamaica or St. Lucia have pet-free cabins

United AirlinesONLY flights to/from Australia, Dominican Republic, Hawaii, Italy and the UK have pet-free cabins

Virgin AmericaONLY the First Class cabin is pet-free

Virgin Atlantic – only allows pets in the cargo hold

Note: Service animals are generally exempt from pet-free cabin rules, so you may still find yourself on a flight with an animal in such an instance.

***Keep in mind that this info can change at any time – so if you have an allergy please confirm with the airline***

Each airline has pet travel information on their website, which you can confirm prior to booking.

If you see any airlines that I’ve missed, please let me know!

Franklin Barbecue – Best Barbecue in Austin?

I recently drove from Dallas to San Antonio, which means that I had to go right through Austin, Texas. When I was planning my trip, I decided to see what restaurants were best rated in Austin and pick one for a meal either on the drive down or back up to Dallas. And Franklin Barbecue is the place that I decided on. I’d found several things online raving about the place – to the point that I was going into it with VERY high expectations.

As someone who grew up in Tennessee, I know good barbecue when I taste it. My dad is always trying some new hole-in-the-wall BBQ joint in search of the best of the best. I also lived in Kansas City and tasted what they try to pass off for barbecue there (blech). And I’ve had plenty of brisket and other BBQ in the DFW area. So, Franklin BBQ had some pretty big shoes to fill right from the start.

Since I read online that lines start before 10am, I knew that this would have to be a stop on the way back to Dallas. So, on the day that I was to leave San Antonio, I got up at 6:30am to get ready and make the pilgrimage to Franklin Barbecue. From what I had read online, this BBQ was going to be a religious experience – at least the brisket.

I’d read that Anthony Bourdain was in Austin earlier this year and declared it the best brisket he’d ever eaten – and that is quite an endorsement. So, I got in line around 9:25am and there were already five or six people there. Most of the people started arriving around 10:30 though. They don’t open up and start serving until 11am.

I wasn’t traveling alone, which means that I got to sample more than one thing on the menu. I tasted the brisket, the pulled pork and the ribs. The sides I tried were the slaw and the potato salad.

Best Brisket in Austin? The Verdict

I can say, that the brisket was definitely the best that I have ever had. It was not quite a religious experience, but I would stand in line for it again. The pulled pork also ranks really high up there for me. However, I didn’t really care for the ribs. The meat seemed a little dry and tough. Sides were good but nothing to rave about. It is also served, if you order the 2-meat plate, with two slices of white sandwich bread (I didn’t eat mine).

Why didn’t I eat my bread? Because they give you enough food on the 2-meat plate to feed a small army! Seriously. They really heap the barbecue on your plate. For two of the 2-meat plates and two iced teas, the total was just over $31. I can’t wait to have an excuse to go back to Austin just to get some more of this brisket.

Franklin Barbecue two meat plate

Some Of The Best iOS Apps For Hotel Deals


The fun thing about choosing hotel apps for the iOS is that they are remarkably similar to looking at search results for hotels on a search engine. The big boys in the hotel search industry are still topping rankings, and their companion apps are a good reason why. There really isn’t a huge difference in the prices found between the apps, so the big winner is always going to be which one is easiest to use.


The free Orbitz app in addition to hotels handles flights, cars and cruises. Repeated users can earn Orbitz rewards that can be anywhere from 2-5% of a discount. It has the ability to find discounted last minute deals, and has an easy pre-fill in system with single screen booking. To take advantage of a lot of the advanced features, signing up for free is necessary but well worth the effort.


This is the most commercially successful app due to the genius character the Priceline Negotiator. This app features the patented ‘Name your own price’ system that works for hotels, flights, and cars. The Priceline app is one of the earliest travel apps to adopt integration with the Apple Watch. It’s free and easy to sign up, and is just about the most trusted app on the list.


Whether it is flight, car, or hotel, the Kayak app is a very underappreciated system that uses an up to date and surprisingly effective search algorithm. It does much of the same as the other apps, but separates itself with one of the better designs and booking systems. Everything is in your face and easy to understand, with the Mytrips page being a gorgeous display of effective touch screen use. Stability improvements have made this recent version rock solid, and there is a newer version in the works that will make great use of a new notification system.

The popular website has an equally popular free app, with the infamous rewards deal still in effect. For every 10 nights you book with, you get 1 free. This is a great deal that blows away even what Orbitz offers as far as rewards. Options available including paying when you book or when you stay at a hotel, passbook storage, 24/7 customer support within the app, and a great storage system for your payment details. The information stored is encrypted well, better than any other app on this list.


Lastly is Expedia, which not only incorporates hotels, cars, and flight all into one app-they include activities as well. Through the easy to use interface, users can pretty much plan their entire trip from top to bottom without ever leaving the app. For heavy users, a point system is in effect called Expedia+, in which users can earn triple the points. Hotel check out notifications and other alarms are set automatically or manually at your leisure. If used properly, Expedia is the only travel app that is needed on any of your devices.

Review: Old World Bakery and Pizza in Gulf Shores, Alabama

Located directly next door to DeSoto’s Seafood Kitchen in Gulf Shores, you will find Old World Bakery and Pizza.

During my stay in Gulf Shores, I never got a chance to try the pizza, but I did have some food from their bakery. From the reviews on Yelp for the pizza, it seems like I did not miss much.

You might be thinking that a pizza-bakery combo restaurant sounds like a disaster. I agree. In fact, I never would have gotten bakery items here if my father hadn’t raved about their sticky buns.

Old World Bakery and Pizza makes these giant sticky buns that are a cross between a cinnamon roll and a pecan roll. There is no icing on top, as it looks more like a pecan roll. The flavor is quite good as it is not too sweet and not too bland.

The only problem with this place is that their opening hours seem fluid. One day they are open by 10am and the next day they are not open until almost noon. The reason that this is such a big problem is that all of the locals seem to know about these sticky buns and they go fast! And once they are gone, Old World Bakery & Pizza does not make more until the next day.

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