Country Number Two: Paris, France

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Bonjour soeurs!

I’m currently sitting in my hotel in Amsterdam. Yeah, I said hotel, not hostel. Molly’s mom and sister are here so we’re being treated to some luxuries not given in hostels, but anyway, this is about France.

France was actually really fun. We met up with our friend from Uni there, Emily (pictured above), and she knew all about the things to do around Paris and had an actual typed up itinerary, so we let her be our tour guide through the beautiful city. Emily is also from the US, she lives in New Orleans, but she’s a French major so not only did we have a tour guide, we had a tour guide that other French people didn’t hate and who could help us order in restaurants.

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Once getting to France we quickly made our way from the airport to our hostel. This was surprisingly easy and not nearly as stressful as trying to find the hostel in Spain. We looked up directions from the hostel which told us how to get there and I would highly recommend doing that. The hostel knows what they’re talking about, us as foreigners, do not. Once getting to our hostel we were told that we had actually been upgraded from a ten person mixed dorm to a four person dorm which was just a good omen for the whole trip.

Our first stop was to the Eiffel Tower, because of course it was. It was really weird seeing this famous landmark just because I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to. It’s something I always kind of thought about, but never considered an actual possibility. Plus, it was a surreal experience when Molly asked what I wanted to do and I was able to say, “uhm, let’s go see the Eiffel Tower.” Because that’s not a big deal or anything.

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Our next big stop was the Louvre. Fun fact, the Louvre is open and free to enter on Wednesday and Friday nights from 6:00 – 9:30, so that’s when we went. Seeing the Mona Lisa was kind of strange as well. You can see we took the obligatory selfie with her and that the painting itself is actually really small. Not to mention it’s covered with a bullet proof case and in a temperature controlled area. Obviously, the Louvre is insanely impressive and I’m really glad we went. It’s huge. I think if you spent a minute looking at each piece it would take over a year. That’s what Emily told us and she knows French, so I believe her.

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Our second day of Paris included a lot of walking, but also a lot of beautiful sights. We walked down the Champs-Élysées continuing past the Louvre and a walk from there to the Notre Dame. On the way we passed the lock bridge, which is actually boarded up right now because all of the locks are so heavy that it’s starting to make the bridge collapse. They are apparently going to tear it down and put up one you can’t put locks on, but it was still cool while we were there. The fact it was boarded up made me feel less bitter as well.

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There’s a picture of Notre Dam and also how we ended the day, with cheap champagne in front of a sparkling Eiffel Tower. It was a really amazing experience, sitting there with terrible champagne and macaroons, pretending to be fancy with our plastic cups. I remember saying “You guys, I’m really scared life doesn’t get any better than this.”

IMG_3608DSC_0035 DSC_0042 DSC_0051DSC_0067 Our third day in Paris Emily went to Versaille and Molly and I were left to roam the streets alone. I attempted to plan out a fun day for us including the Tuileries Garden, Saint-Germain-des-Pres, the Latin Quarter, the Pantheon, and Rue Mouffetard. It was a fun day, but a lot of things didn’t work out quite the way they were supposed to. We did stop in a small shop in the Latin Quarter and I got the best crepe I’ve ever had which was smothered in Nutella.

Later that night we met up with Emily again to go to the Catacombs, which is what the pictures above are from. They were really interesting although slightly errie. I had to not think about it too hard to enjoy it, but I’m glad I went. It was definitely something new and something you won’t see anywhere else. Later that night we also got to meet up with our other friend, Erin, which was really fun. Meeting people in Paris is just the best place to meet up with someone.

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Our last day in Paris was started in Montmatre. We came up the Metro to climb the stairs up to the Sacre-Coeur which provided us with a fantastic skyline of Paris. The Sacre-Coeur was actually a really interesting cathedral just because it looked a bit different than other ones I’ve been to recently. Emily and I took to calling in the church mosque because that’s what it looks like and I literally can’t remember the names of anything in Paris let alone pronounce them correctly. The rest of the day was spent shopping the really cute streets and boutiques of Montmatre, which feels a bit different from the rest of Paris in the fact that it’s all small streets and smaller stores rather than the Louie Vuitton and Burberry that make up the bigger streets.

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We ended our last night at Montparnasse tower. 56 floors up on the roof terrace we were given a 360 view of Paris at night. The city was lit up a beautiful before us. We watched the Eiffel Tower sparkle and ran around pointing out monuments and things we recognized. It was a fantastic way to end our trip to the famous city. Now for a Christmas in Amsterdam and canals on canals on canals.

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A Weekend in Edinburgh: Feelin’ that Scottish Pride

DSC_0134Hello you two. This past week has been absolutely insane with traveling and I’m honestly still very exhausted. Perhaps I’ll write about the other adventures later, but for now, we talk about Scotland.

Scotland was a very good trip. Once again, a rough start seeing as we left for the train at 6am on November first, meaning the night after Halloween and well, I’m not just going to stay in on Halloween… so… let’s just say I was working on just a few hours of sleep and almost fell asleep while brushing my hair, but I made it on the train so that’s what really counts.

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Once we arrived to Scotland and got situated in our surprisingly nice hostel (Edinburgh backpackers) we learned a very valuable lesson. Ask the person at reception what to do. Not only was the girl who checked us in super knowledgeable about the city, she actually took out a map and wrote down where she thought fun things were, what places we should eat, and most importantly, what all of the free activities were. This led us to our very first walking tour (which was in fact free minus tips) and a really fun and event filled trip.

Our walking tour was an interesting and fun way to get to know Edinburgh. We stopped at different sights, heard stories about locals, and were treated to an interesting afternoon walking around a beautiful place with less beautiful stories. Edinburgh has some pretty gruesome history (we learned even more about this when we went on a Ghost Tour later, also free, also awesome) but hearing about it from people passionate about their town is a great way to learn.

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Our next day in Edinburgh we climbed Arthur’s Seat which is a hill on the edge of the old town which offers beautiful views of the entire city and parts of the North Sea. That is where the first picture from this post was taken and where I want to go back to. That was probably the highlight of my trip, even though none of us were properly dressed for it. Notice Molly went up rugged terrain in a dress and knee-high boots. What a trooper.

DSC_0172 DSC_0060Edinburgh is an old city and accordingly, it is so interesting and aesthetically pleasing to look at. Another brilliant thing about Edinburgh, it’s rich in Harry Potter history. We stopped by the Elephant Room, where J.K. Rowling wrote the second – fourth books, for some lunch, and went on a Harry Potter walking tour where we saw the school that inspired Hogwarts, Tom Riddell’s grave (she changed the spelling for the anagram), a grave for a horrible poet who had the last name McGonagal, and saw the stretch of road that may have been the inspiration for Diagon Alley (Victoria Street). It helped that our tour guide was one of the most adorkable people I’ve ever met, but regardless that was another highlight of the trip. A fun note about The Elephant Room, J.K. Rowling wrote graffiti in the wall of the women’s restroom and now the entire thing is covered in Harry Potter quotes, notes from fans, and words of inspiration.

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Edinburgh was definitely worth the trip and taught us a lot on how to travel. Ask people who know and do free things. Learn about the place you’re at and the stories that come with it. It will make traveling a lot more interesting and the places you’re in have more meaning. If you guys have any more tips for me, just let me know!