We will truly always have Paris. Our first big trip together was back in July, we traveled to France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. This trip started as merely a thought about something I never knew would really happen. It was way for me to visit my best friend, Allison, that recently moved to Paris after she she married an awesome Frechie,Oren, and spiraled from there. Dave and I decided it would be a great experience to go together, so I got to planning. Travel and planning are two of my favorite things to do thankfully, so I didn’t quite mind spent hours upon hours figuring out which airlines had the best deals, and figuring out what we needed to do (22 years old and I still didn’t have a passport, whaaat!).
On April 19th, we settled on the dates and purchased our tickets. Let the countdown begin! The next 3 months were spent getting things together, and thinking about things that needed to be planned. My life totally revolved around this trip, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I also warned Dave as many times as I could that I would most likely stress out and lose it at some point at the airport, during the layover, or on the plane.
July 22nd finally arrived! We were greeted at the airport by a 2 hour delay, but luckily we had so much energy we were fine with waiting a little longer. Although, that 2 hour delay actually turned into us waiting in the airport for 12 hours, Paris was right at our fingertips! During the plane ride to Russia, where we had a layover, I experienced my first airplane meal and it actually wasn’t too bad. 14 hours after we were supposed to arrive in Paris, we landed. Unfortunately, our luggage wanted to stay in Russia after our layover. This might be the only time I ever say this, but Dave was right when he said pack everything in our carry-ons. Even with this slight set-back (and the lack of shoe options), we were so excited to turn the corner and see our friends that it didn’t even matter. I am also proud to say I didn’t have a panic attack during the chaos, and was able to remain fairly stress free.
Since we arrived fairly late we went to dinner, walked around the canal a bit, and then crashed. We needed to prepare for our first full day in Paris! As we drove around the city the next day I was in awe, I still couldn’t fully grasp that I was in France. Our friends, Allison and Oren, took us to the top of a department store (next to Galeries Lafayette) and we discovered a wonderful view of the city. We were able to see everything, from the Eiffel Tower to Montmartre. I highly recommend doing this, there were hardly any other people around so we were able to spend as much time as we wanted for a photo shoot.
We continued to walk around to sightsee and see as much as we could. We walked by the Opera where someone was playing piano on the steps and it was beautiful, but unfortunately like the rest of Paris in July, it was under construction. Dave had never tried a Macaroon until our next stop. I have had them before, but never this good. They were so fresh and flavorful, I highly recommend going to Paris if not for anything but these lovely little treats.
Our first experience around the Louvre Museum was perfect. Like everyone else we of course had to be tourists and take a picture like we were holding the pyramid. I’ve always imagined being here and experiencing the culture around the area, and in no way did it disappoint. Everywhere we walked was so quaint and filled with culture. Across the street from the museum is a courtyard with columns of different heights, so we had another opportunity for pictures. There was a short rainstorm as we trekked the area, but that made everything even better at the time. Everyone was huddled under cover at restaurants, or walking around with their umbrellas. Picture Perfect. That night we went to the best restaurant I have ever been to, and ate the best meal I have ever had.
One of the coolest experiences of my life so far was visiting Notre Dame. I was amazed by the architecture. The building design in general is amazing, but when you look at every little detail it is mind blowing. Surrounding the property is the Seine, which was transformed into a beach for Paris Plage. The entire area is breathtaking. After I thought my day couldn’t get any better we had our first of several crepes. Banana and nutella with a coke please. If only food like this was around in Baltimore.
The next morning we set off for Brussels, it was so convenient having a car to take us wherever we wanted to go. Once we arrived I noticed the Tomorrowland poster in the hotel, and proceed to faint once I found out we were a mile from the festival and I didn’t even know it. Although I wasn’t able to hurry and change my plans, I am even more excited to go back someday. Brussels was incredible. Of course we had to have Mussels while we were here, but I never expected to enjoy them surrounded by 5 castles. This is really something I will never forget. Dave and I later came back to the same spot to enjoy a bottle of wine and some Belgian chocolate.
We walked around for a few hours taking in all of the sights, and they are indescribable. There is a large park across from a Royal Palace, gothic castles, big beautiful churches, and gardens all around. We ended up around our hotel and asked some locals where to hang out for a few hours before changing and going out for the night. We went to a cute corner bar that had a live band and outdoor seating and enjoyed people watching while drinking the absolute best beer I have ever had. It was so good we were able to drink 4 pitchers in less than 2 hours, along with some fresh bread and cheeses. Another one of the most memorable experiences of my life. Spending those few hours away from the crazy hustle of a city, surrounded happy people and my best friends, I couldn’t ask for a better experience.
Our night out was enjoyed at the coolest nightclub I have been too. It was inside of a cathedral, and filled with character. I actually wished all of the lights were turned on so I could have gotten better pictures of the architecture. Since we were on vacation we splurged on Grey Goose bottle service, which I would never do in America, and had a blast. The only part I found odd was paying to use the restroom, and the man that threw his beer at me on our walk back to the hotel. Even still the entire day was excellent and I am sure I will remember it forever.
We continued our road trip the next afternoon and started heading toward Amsterdam, we couldn’t have been more excited. Burger King was an ongoing theme throughout our trip, since there aren’t any in Paris and we hadn’t passed one on the way, Allison continued bucking to find one during our journey. Lucky for her 10 Minutes outside of the city and tall above the trees was a BK sign, and underneath was a Burger King shaped like a crown (next to a KFC shaped like a box of chicken). We saved that for the ride home, which led to driving in circles trying to figure out how to get there.
Our hotel was a little bit out of the city so we decided to take a taxi into the area for dinner. In the city center there we plenty of places to eat and some night clubs. We chose dinner based on other peoples plates full of ribs and the awesome looking desserts. After dinner we walked around for a while, I love that it didn’t get dark until around 10 pm. The canals were beautiful, filled with house boats and tours, the roads were lined with bicycles and people walking around, it was a great place for any type of person.
Once nightfall came we decided to take a boat ride around the city, 10 euros for a great tour was worth it. We were able to see so much, I would have loved to do the same tour again during the day, but exploring by night was a magical experience. Once the tour ended and we were around the Red Light District and I wasn’t too excited about the closeness of half naked girls in windows or the amount of people trying to pick pocket me. Luckily, it was only a block long, and easy to escape. A sudden downpour started, but we were able to find a dry place to sit and enjoy some drinks while people watching.
Our last adventure in Amsterdam was the search for the “I AM AMSTERDAM” letters. We finally found them and I was crazy excited. They were super crowded so I couldn’t get all of the shots I wanted to, but I am still incredibly happy we were able to spot them. I was sad we had to go back “home” the next day, but honestly who can be that sad when your “home” for the week is in Paris? After our stop at Burger King we made the drive, and headed home to watch Midnight in Paris. p.s. our luggage still hadn’t arrived :(
That next day, July 29th, was mine and Dave’s first anniversary. Being in Paris for our anniversary wasn’t planned, so we knew it was meant to be. We did some exploring on our own during the day, enjoying each others company. Starting off with a stop at a bakery and some metro rides (woohoo we did it on our own, thanks to directions in English from Allison). We went to the Louve in the morning to enjoy our pastries and explore the inside. I had no idea the Mona Lisa was so small! Afterwards we walked towards the Eiffel Tower, and the famous lock bridge. I got a lock before our trip (told ya I planned everything) unfortunately I forgot to get one with a key, I was only focused on the color. Unfortunately this was the only day I stressed out, but it as because we couldn’t use our credit card to rent bikes which we really wanted to do. The original plan was to go to Disneyland for dinner, but some rainy weather came our way and we decided to stay in with Allison and Oren and make dinner. We brought them Old Bay, so of course we had some seafood. Eating in was nice since I don’t think I have ever walked as much as I did that day.
On our last full day we went to Palace of Versailles. The line to go into the main building was about 4 hours long, so we stayed on the outside in the gardens. Allison has heard about an area of the Gardens where Marie Antoinette had her own Hamlet. It was beautiful. So many little houses, smaller gardens and a pond full of fish. It is crazy to think that she had the area built to use as her escape from life. She even had people living there to make it seem as real as possible to her.
That night we went to Montmartre and had some gelati as we walked around the quaint little village area. There were so many artists, and people selling toys for kids and beer for adults. Everyone seemed so happy, there was even a bride and groom having pictures taken (the 3rd we spotted during our trip). Off in the distance was the Eiffel Tower glowing in the darkness. As we walked down the 300 steps we could see an amazing view of the entire area. I will have that image in my head forever.
Unfortunately our last day arrived and we only had two more places to go. We visited the area where Rodin had his sculptures, along with the Thinking Man. We then finished sightseeing the city by going to Lexumberg Garden . The kids (or adults) could rent wind powered boats and sail them around the fountain, it reminded me of Stuart Little. The kids were having so much fun, and not using any technology it reminded me that its so easy to overlook simple. This whole trip reminded me that simple things can be great, and memorable. I was so lucky to have the opportunity to go on this vacation with Dave to visit our friends, Allison and Oren.
I can’t wait to partake in some more traveling to write more about our trips, thanks for reading!