paris day 5

We started our last day in Paris with peanut butter and jelly toast on the porch (of course) and then spent an hour or so packing up our suitcases – it’s amazing how easy it is to get so spread out in just a few days.  It was while packing that I made the fateful decision to pack our London Christmas tree ornament amongst my clothes, only to find it in a hundred little pieces once we got home later that night.  (Sidenote: if you’re headed to London anytime soon, I will pay you handsomely to pick up another at Selfridge’s for us.)

We popped down to a bakery/deli/cafe we discovered the day before that sells the most reasonably priced croissants and macaroons we’d seen in all of Paris and was (is) actually attached to our building and picked up some treats.  I savored (and did not share, in case you were wondering) my three pretty little macaroons and wondered why life was so cruel that it took us five days to discover we were just steps away from such glory.  Although in retrospect, perhaps it was good that we did not know about it or else we may have come home penniless.




We walked to the Passy Metro station, where we’d been getting on and off to see Paris for the past couple of days, and bought tickets to the airport.  We took the Metro for a while, then switched to a train for the rest of the way, and it couldn’t have been easier.  There’s a lot of things I love about America, but one of them is not the public transportation systems, at least not here in Colorado.  Although, in America’s defense, it is a whole lot bigger of a country than England or France which probably explains why, for the most part, cars are more practical/prevalent.



It took about an hour to get to the airport, and we spent our time while waiting to board looking for food since Icelandair does not provide (free) in-flight meals to peasants in coach like ourselves.  We found little success beyond some Pringles for Danny and packs of crackers to share, but were thankful that we had packed some PB & J’s from our remaining supplies before we left the apartment.  We had an uneventful three hour flight to Reykjavik, where we again tried in vain to find food and settled on a jar of peanuts.  Seven hours later we were in Denver.



We reclaimed our luggage, found our car, and stopped at Qdoba for dinner because if there’s one thing I learned on this trip it’s how much I love Mexican food (although Danny might question whether Qdoba qualifies, but that’s beside the point), and got home around 10pm.

We really had a fantastic trip.  I’m hoping to do another post with some thoughts and tips, highlights and lowlights, sort of a summary type thing, now that we’ve been back for a month, but until then I think it’s fair to say that macaroons and leaves were my favorite part of Paris.

Check out day 1, day 2, day 3, and day 4 of our time in Paris, as well as our London adventures too, if you want.


paris day 4

If you’ve been wondering while reading these posts if we made it to the Louvre while we were in Paris, I’m going to spoil the surprise right now and say that on day 4, our last full day in Paris, we did.  In fact, that’s where we started the day.  I mean, only after we ate PB & J toast on the porch and took an elevator selfie on our way out of the apartment building showing how excited we were to get started on our last day in the City of Love/Light.


We got to the Louvre by 9:30am and went through the Napoleon apartments and followed the map to see the ‘highlights’ (as deemed by some power above), including, of course, the Mona Lisa in all her glory.  That picture with a hundred cameras and three times as many people?  Yes.  We’re all looking at her.  This was also the point in my life where I found out that Danny is a PRO at pushing through navigating crowds.  I mean, look at how close I am!!  I am literally as close as you can get without being tackled by security and/or being Beyoncé (Have you seen this picture?  What?!  How did they swing that?)








At 11:15am we met up with a variety of other English-speaking folks for a guided tour (in English) of the top sights of the Louvre.  I guess I should’ve asked more questions ahead of time, because we saw the exact same things on the tour that we had just seen on our own…  However, our guide, Marie (who you can see below in a picture of a massive painting with a pretty blonde lady in front), was top-notch and reminded me so much of my French friend, Ines, who normally lives in Paris but just happens to be doing an internship in BORA BORA right now (if it possible to be jealous of anyone while on vacation in Paris, it is that they are in Bora Bora and you are not) that I couldn’t be too upset to see the same things twice in two hours.  We wore headsets so that we, along with the people on our tour, could hear Marie no matter how near or far we were from her.  It’s really a brilliant idea.





Our tour wrapped up at 12:45pm, just in time for us to snap a few pictures inside and outside of the famous Louvre glass pyramid and have a PB & J picnic out front.







After lunch, we walked through the Jardin des Tuileries to the Musee de l’Orangerie, which, to an American like myself could be mistaken as the Museum of Oranges, but in fact, it is a museum chock-full of impressionist and post-impressionist works, although the top floor is all Monet, and the basement is a conglomeration of Cezanne, Matisse, Picasso, and Renoir, among others.   We really enjoyed this museum – it’s small (compared to the Louvre) but impressive and lacks the crowds of people that bigger museums draw.





We walked along the Seine back to our apartment, arriving around 4:30pm.  Our way back was just lovely – if there’s one thing that I know about Paris, it’s that it’s pretty in the fall – and we stopped every so often to sit on benches, take a few pictures, and savor our last few hours in the world’s most visited city (We were told this while in Paris, but I just now looked it up to so as not to post bogus facts and see that the honor belongs to Bangkok.  Paris is number three.  Oops.).  We also walked around an island we had passed everyday while walking to/from the Eiffel Tower, but never got a chance to visit during the day.  It was full of trees (and leaves) and was so peaceful that it was one of my favorite things in Paris – plus it had a great view of the building where we stayed for five nights (there’s a picture below) and the Statue of Liberty (couldn’t let the Americans have all the fun, I guess).  Oh, and sorry in advance for all of the pictures of leaves…I got a little carried away.










Back at our apartment, I uploaded pictures from my camera to the computer (because what if I lost my camera later on that day and then BAM! all my pictures would be gone), Danny read, and we researched dinner options.  We ended up at a Lebanese place, whose name I did not record in my notebook and therefore cannot remember, and had a lot of tasty food – cauliflower, eggplant, falafel, pitas, spinach pastries.  I did write down that we played 20 questions over dinner and had a nice time together.


And because we’re nothing if not predictable, we went to the Eiffel Tower afterwards.  We had intended to take the elevator to the very top since we didn’t understand how things worked the day before and only made it to the second floor, but decided to skip it and just wander around.  Danny ate a sugar crepe and I continued my quest to find reasonably priced macaroons, a magnet for our fridge, and an ornament for our Christmas tree, plus a few postcards to send home (I was successful on all fronts except for the macaroons).  And now, your last two pictures (from us at least) of the Eiffel Tower: one ‘regular’ and one with the sparkle…



Looking back at our pictures from day 4, I realize what a good day it was.  We didn’t go crazy and tire ourselves out at the Louvre trying to see everything (which, by the way, I think is impossible unless you come back everyday for a month), we lingered along the river and among the leaves, we packed PB & J’s for lunch instead of embarking on another frustrating mission to find semi-vegan food for lunch, we saw the Eiffel Tower sparkle one last time, and Danny ate his 79th crepe of the trip.  It was a great day.

Take a peek at day 1, day 2, and day 3 of our time in Paris, and even see our London adventures, too, if you want.

paris day 3

On Sunday, our third day in Paris, we decided to take it easy in the morning, kind of like how we did on the Sunday we spent in London.  It was a rainy, cool morning, and we had peanut butter and jelly toast for breakfast on the porch.


We got ready and walked to the Eiffel Tower.  Once there, we bought tickets to take the stairs to the top, and we were off.  We took the stairs because we wanted to, not necessarily because we’re cheap (although sometimes we are), and because I thought we’d get neat views of Paris while climbing up.  Well since we were inside of a bunch of metal, we didn’t really have many good views, but I’m still glad we took the stairs.  There were plenty of good views from the first and second floor viewing platforms…










From the Eiffel Tower, we walked down the Champ de Mars towards the Dome Church.  On our way, it started raining hard enough that we were getting wet even under our umbrellas, so we waited it out for a little while in a doorway.


DSC00319 DSC00322

It seemed to me that the primary purpose of the Dome Church nowadays is to house Napoleon Bonaparte’s tomb.  Perhaps there’s more to the church than we could see, but the main attraction was definitely the tomb of Napoleon, followed by those of his son, his brothers, and a few other important folks.  There wasn’t any kind of signage or visitor’s center, so I’m just combining what I saw with what Wikipedia tells me.






From there, we took the Metro to the Pompidou Center.  After our experience at the Tate Modern, we weren’t too interested in seeing more modern art (that’s what the Pompidou is all about), which was fine since we were in the area to eat lunch, not visit a museum.  We were in search of HANK, which is a vegan burger place we’d read about online, and stands for Have A Nice Karma.  I know.  Vegans are a little weird.  We made it to HANK just 15 minutes before they closed at 3pm, but the owners were nice enough to let us stay and eat.  The food was really good, good enough to make up for how out of the way the restaurant is.


On our way back to the Metro, we came up on some sort of environmental march.  As in, hundreds (okay, maybe thousands) of people wearing green, holding signs, chanting, and holding up traffic in a big way.  It was pretty interesting since we’ve never been in the middle of a real protest, and I even tried to join, because, you know, I’m pretty into the environment and all, but Danny wasn’t having any of that, so we braved the crowd and kept walking.

DSC00341We took the Metro to the base of Sacre Coeur, and walked up the stairs for a great view of Paris.  Now, there’s something called the funicular that can take you from the base of the hill to the base of the basilica, but honestly, I wouldn’t recommend taking it unless you seriously have trouble walking…in which case you probably shouldn’t be in Paris, but that’s beside the point.  It’s not very many steps to the top, and there’s plenty of chances to rest along the way.  Honestly, I can’t think of a good reason (besides being physically unable) to not take the stairs.  Once we made it to the top (along with approximately 3,728 others), we went into Sacre Coeur and walked around, and I can’t remember but I’m guessing that picture-taking wasn’t allowed since I only have one photo to prove we went inside.  We didn’t go up into the dome because it cost money, and seeing how we were at the end of our trip and I was starting to think about saving money for our next trip, we skipped it and kept moving.





From Sacre Coeur we walked around the Place du Tetre, which is essentially a square full of artists.  We really enjoyed admiring all of the different ways and styles of depicting the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and Sacre Coeur (obviously the artists there know their demographic – tourists) and were glad that we had picked up art in London for only ten pounds.  While there, Danny got a blackberry jam crepe, and I enjoyed some apricot ice cream, which may have been the best thing I ate in Paris (until our last day – that’s when I discovered Parisian macaroons).




We asked for directions at the Montmartre visitor’s center (located right in the Place du Tetre – super helpful) for 42 Degrees, a vegan restaurant that was recommended to us earlier in the day at HANK.  Because we had eaten lunch only about two hours earlier, we headed towards the Montmartre cemetery first, which was literally closing its gates as we walked up, but we were able to sneak a peek in from a bridge above it.





From the cemetery, we walked to 42 Degrees on a route that took us by the Moulin Rouge, which is famous, but also in a bad neighborhood.  We walked quickly through that area and on and on…and on.  It was a haul to 42 Degrees, especially since when we arrived we found out they’re closed on Sundays.  Haha.  Not really funny at all at the time, but we can’t say we didn’t try.  We settled on an Italian cafe nearby, where I ate spaghetti and Danny had a veggie pizza.


Before our trip I had read all about how Sacre Coeur is so beautiful at sunset, and since we were sort of in the area, we walked back. Yes, we made a big circle, starting at the Sacre Coeur, to the cemetery to 42 Degrees/Italian cafe, and back to Sacre Coeur.  What did I say about walking a lot in Paris?  We walked up all those stairs again to the base of the basilica and waited for the sun to set.




Well, as you can see, the sun set, but it didn’t produce anything spectacular while doing so.  Oh well.  I know I would’ve thought “What if…” for the rest of my life (or at least the next few weeks) if we didn’t at least give it our best shot.  We took the Metro to the Eiffel Tower to see it ‘sparkle’ and then we walked home and called it a day.

Obligatory Eiffel Tower picture(s) of the day…



Day 3 involved a lot of walking.  But really, what day on our London/Paris trip didn’t?  My highlights of the day were walking in the leaves on our way to the Eiffel Tower in the morning, eating at HANK in the afternoon (finding good vegan food in Paris was harder than finding macaroons in Colorado Springs so it was a tasty treat we really savored), my apricot ice cream on our walk through Montmartre, and seeing the Eiffel Tower sparkle at night.

Check out day 1 and day 2 of our time in Paris, and our London adventures as well.

paris day 2

On our second day in Paris, we woke up around 8:30am – a little sleeping in was necessary after our washing machine debacle the night before.  We left the apartment within an hour, and stopped for croissants on our way to the Metro.  We took the Metro to Tuileries, and walked through the Jardin des Tuileries and across the Seine en route to the Musee d’Orsay.



Once at the Orsay, we looked at the entire 5th floor, which consisted of Impressionist works, some of the 2nd floor, which included some Van Goghs, and most of the 1st floor, which was primarily sculptures.  Pictures were not allowed in most of the museum, so I only have a couple.  And like a few other places we went on our trip, I was excited to see the building itself.  The Musee d’Orsay is housed in an old train station that was built at the turn of the 20th century, which means the inside is really neat and ornate.  My favorite part, though, was the 5th floor – I really enjoy impressionist paintings.




From the museum, we walked to the Ile de Cite, passing over one of the bridges covered in ‘love locks’ and all the while looking for some lunch. Every cafe we looked at seemed to have a nearly identical menu, which featured very few vegetarian options and zero vegan options, and the veggie options they did have were very pricy.  It was pretty frustrating, and we finally decided to throw nutrition (and veganism) out the window and just get crepes.  Danny had a vegetable and cheese crepe, and I had mine with Nutella and bananas.  We ate our crepes along the Seine, which seemed like a good idea until we realized that the smell of sewage was overwhelming in that spot…and I spilled Nutella all over my jeans…and I decided I didn’t like crepes because they tasted too much like eggs (which I’ve never really liked).




After our troubles along the Seine, we walked to Ste Chapelle, somewhere I remember learning all about in Art History in college, but can’t remember anything other than that – obviously it was a must-see.  We started in the basement, which was nothing like you might picture a church basement to ordinarily look like, and then went upstairs to the main attraction.  Many of the windows were covered up and being restored while we were there, which was too bad, but it was still a stunning sight to behold.  I can only imagine what it would be like if all of the windows were uncovered and had sun streaming through them…pretty magical I’m sure.




Our visit at Ste Chapelle was short – there wasn’t much to see besides the windows – and we went from there to the flower market, which was nothing like the pictures I had seen or the descriptions I had read.  I took a picture so I could remember the time we took trying to find it, and the subsequent disappointment.  I know it looks like I took the picture in the garden department of Walmart, but believe me, I did not.  This is Paris.


On the Ile de Cite, everything was in pretty close proximity to each other.  It was a short walk from the flower market to Notre Dame, where we timed our arrival to coincide with one of the three-times-a-week English tours of the cathedral at 2:30pm.  This was probably my least favorite guided tour we took, mostly because the cathedral was so crowded and we had such a big tour group that it was hard to hear at times, but it was interesting and our guide did her best.  I would think that based on the popularity of Paris and of Notre Dame in particular, they might think about offering more than three tours in English a week, but I don’t know.  I mean, they could even charge for them and I’m sure plenty of people would pay and it might even decrease the tour size and increase the tour quality as well.




We tried to visit the Memorial des Martyrs de la Deportation, which is located right across the street from Notre Dame and is a memorial to the 200,000 people that were deported from France to concentration camps during World War II.  Unfortunately, it was under construction and therefore closed, so we walked across the Seine and looked for Shakespeare & Company, a famous English bookstore a co-worker of mine had recommended.  We didn’t have much luck with that, but we did find Le Grenier de Notre Dame, a vegetarian restaurant, instead.  It was closed for the afternoon, so we kept wandering and found Shakespeare & Company.  We looked around a little bit, but it was crowded (with both books and people), and we weren’t really in the market for any books, so we kept moving.



We kept walking and came across St Severin, another old church.  We walked around the outside and then decided it was time for some ice cream.  In retrospect, we just should have said no, as we were out of euros and the shop would only take a debit/credit card for transactions of over ten euros, which would have equalled about two cups of ice cream for each of us.  However, we had already ordered, and it was hot and we were tired (and hungry of course), so Danny ran around looking for an ATM.  Meanwhile, I sat in the shop with our ice cream, watching people come and go, all while our ice cream slowly melted.  It’s sort of funny in retrospect, but wasn’t really at the time.   But we got our ice cream – strawberry for me and blackberry for Danny – and it was delicious.


DSC00250We decided to walk through the Latin Quarter to the Pantheon while we waited for the vegetarian restaurant near Notre Dame to open for dinner, and we came across another beautiful church on the way.  I didn’t catch the name, but I particularly enjoyed this church.  The two spiral staircases in the middle of the church were a beautiful focal point, and the interior was so unique compared to others we’d seen.




The Pantheon was across the street from the church, and I’m still not quite sure what the Pantheon is/was.  We didn’t go inside (I don’t even know if we could), but I suppose it is neat from the outside.  We took a picture or two and then it started raining.  It rained for most of our walk back to Le Grenier de Notre Dame (the vegetarian restaurant), and on the way we stopped at a grocery store because we had finally come to see the truth: Paris is not for vegans.  Or vegetarians aside from those who want to eat a combination of croissants, crepes, cheese pizza, and spaghetti every day.  We bought two loaves of bread, bananas, a jar of peanut butter, and a jar of jelly, and my hope for the rest of our time in Paris was renewed.



We were lucky to get one of the very few tables inside the restaurant since the outdoor seating was a bit risky with the on-off rain.  Dinner was great, not necessarily because the food was outstanding (it wasn’t), but more because it was relaxing and quiet and our first sit down meal in Paris, and mostly vegan too.  We both had “la formule” which included an appetizer, main dish, and dessert.


After dinner we walked back to the Ile de Cite, by Notre Dame, and on to the Metro.  We made it back to our apartment a little before 9pm (practically a record for us on this trip) and enjoyed the cool, rainy evening from our warm apartment.


Our second day in Paris seemed to be filled (unintentionally) with churches.  I really enjoy visiting old churches, especially those that aren’t crowded with tourists – they’re quiet and beautiful and peaceful and offer a place to sit and collect yourself in the midst of a busy day.  Another highlight of day 2 was the Musee d’Orsay.  The collection of impressionist works was, well, impressive and I enjoyed going in a museum with the intention of not seeing everything, only a few things we really wanted to see.  I’d seen many pictures (on Pinterest) of Paris right after a rainstorm (and they were stunning), so it was sweet to get to experience it for myself.  Paris in the rain was pretty, especially when we were indoors.

Check out day 1 of our time in Paris here, and our London adventures here.

a weekend in greeley and danny’s birthday

Last week Danny turned 25 (!!!), and we had a host of celebrations to mark the occasion.  We kicked things off the weekend prior, when Danny’s brother, James, and his wife, Ali, were in town for a wedding.  We all got together at his parents’ house for lunch, banana pound cake, old home videos, a game of Imaginiff, and, like any event involving males at this time of year, football.


The following weekend we went to Greeley on Saturday morning, as I had the day off.  Danny spent the day with James and I spent the day with my mom, and in the evening we reunited to go to the pumpkin patch with my parents and Mysteridge.  It was a lot of fun, and not only fulfilled one of my October goals but was also something I’ve been wanting to do since we last went a few years ago.







DSC00632We ate dinner at Noodles & Company afterwards and played Awkward Family Photos together back at my parents’ house, which made for a really fun evening.

On Sunday morning, Danny and I went to church at Christ Community with Mysteridge and got a tour of his house where he lives with some friends from Navigators at UNC.  We had soup for lunch with my parents, which hit the spot on a crisp, cool fall day and then went to James and Ali’s apartment for a little birthday party.   Our friends Ian and Haley, Brandon and Kate, and Tim came, and Ali made a delicious banana split cake, which was so good I tried to replicate it on Danny’s actual birthday.  We all played Truth be Told and Catchphrase together and had a grand time.

DSC00647After the party, we went to Olive Garden with my family, and then to Mysteridge’s flag football game, which was fun but COLD! Fall is definitely here.


On Monday, my mom and I went to Denver for the day as my grandpa was having heart surgery.  We spent the day with my grandma and my Uncle John, eating at the hospital cafeteria, and looking at pictures from our trip.  We also got to visit my grandpa a few times after he got out of surgery.  And – praise the Lord – he was able to go home on Friday, and is doing really well.  We made it home around dinnertime and Danny and I had leftovers and went to Target while my parents were at a birthday party for a friend.

On Tuesday, Danny’s actual birthday, we had James and Ali over to my parents’ house for breakfast burritos before we left Greeley to go home.


On our way through Denver, we stopped at Native Foods for lunch and a peanut butter parfait for dessert.  It’s starting to seem like a birthday can’t be properly celebrated in our house if it doesn’t include a trip to Native Foods, which is fine by me :)


Once we got home, Danny went to work, and I got busy making his birthday cake and cleaning the house.  We met our friends Mark and Allison at Danny’s favorite restaurant, Ivy’s Chinese Cafe, and had so much fun.  After dinner we went back home, where David and Kirsty joined us for cake and games.  A few days later I found a ton of (bizarre) photos on my camera that were taken at some point during the evening, but I can’t figure out when (or why).  Mark, Allison, and I must have been busy doing something else…




All in all, we had a really fun weekend in Greeley (our first time back since July!) and Danny’s birthday was a day full of tasty food and loved ones.  Here’s to a great year of being 25!

paris day 1

On our first day in Paris, we woke up early and left our apartment by 8am.  Speaking of our apartment, we found our place through Airbnb again.  And, just like in London, we were very pleased.  In London we had only a private room and ensuite bathroom to ourselves, but in Paris we had a whole apartment, which was very nice.  Our host, Etienne, met us on the evening we arrived to give us the key, a tour, and some info, but we didn’t see him again.  If you want to see the Airbnb listing, check it out here, although I think the only thing you need to see to understand the place is the view from the main room and from the porch… DSC09955 DSC09952 I think I could have never left the apartment for the five days we were there and I would have enjoyed Paris.  It was really great.  As you can see, it was a beautiful morning, and once we left our place we walked towards the Eiffel Tower, where we caught the RER (train) to Versailles. DSC09956The train ride was about thirty minutes long, and we only had to walk a short distance to arrive at the palace.  We got there shortly after they opened at 9am, and did the audio guide tour through the king’s rooms, the state rooms, the queen’s rooms, the battle rooms, and more.  I think that we saw all of the rooms, in fact.  If you’ve been to Versailles, you no doubt know two things: it’s exceedingly grand and it’s exceedingly crowded.  I know that my pictures don’t really prove those two facts, but that’s because 1) I’m not a skilled photographer with a high quality camera so they look average at best and 2) any photo that isn’t packed with people was either taken of a room that nobody cared about or a room that people were banned from entering (in that case, we didn’t enter, we just looked in).  Now that that’s out there, we can proceed… DSC09963 DSC09966 DSC09973 DSC09980 Hello, Hall of People Mirrors. DSC09988 DSC09996 DSC00008 DSC00015 Around 11am, we finally found a cafe that sold some (overpriced) breakfast-type items.  We really tried to find something on our way to the RER station, at the RER station, outside of Versailles, and even right after entering Versailles, but just could not.  As will be a theme for the rest of my Paris posts, we really struggled with eating in Paris (more on that later), but enjoyed these very belated breakfast treats nonetheless. DSC00019 After ‘breakfast,’ we walked through a few more rooms, and then headed out to explore the gardens. DSC00021 DSC00023 DSC00024 DSC00037 DSC00040 DSC00043 DSC00052 We saw that row boats were available for hire, and although I was initially a bit reluctant, Danny convinced me into it.  We he rowed all around the lake for about an hour, and it was probably our favorite part of Versailles. We were able to escape the mobs of people and enjoy what felt like a taste of the summer we never got here in Colorado Springs (it was in the mid 80’s that day!).  It was just so peaceful and beautiful and perfect. DSC00055 DSC00065 DSC00064 We returned our boat, looked for some lunch (a fruitless search we quickly gave up), and walked to Marie Antoinette’s hamlet and the Grand Trianon. DSC00093 DSC00098 DSC00102 DSC00105 After we were sufficiently worn out and sick of gardens, we walked back towards the main palace.  We settled on a cheese pizza and a tomato and cheese sandwich for lunch around 3:30pm (did I mention we ate meals on a very irregular schedule?) and left Versailles.  It felt like we’d been inside the grounds for a week – we were so tired from all the walking and people and unexpectedly warm weather – so we stopped for ice cream on our way back to the train station. DSC00108 DSC00109 Once in Paris again, we walked from the train station back to our apartment, where we rested and tried to regain some energy (hello, granola bars we brought from home) before heading out again.  Around 6:30pm we took the Metro to the Arc de Triomphe, which we walked around and then up the 284 stairs to the top, which we enjoyed very much. DSC00111 DSC00113 DSC00114 DSC00118 DSC00121 DSC00127 From there, we walked down the Champs-Elysees for a while, but realized there wasn’t really much to see/do if we didn’t want to shop and spend gobs of money, so we took a side street in the direction of the Eiffel Tower looking for a place to eat dinner.  We settled on a restaurant called Prego, which offered a meal deal that we couldn’t turn down, so we split a salad, half a cheese pizza, penne pasta with a delicious red sauce, a smoothie, and a cup of tiramisu, and kept walking towards the tower, which with the help of some locals, we finally found. DSC00131 We took a 9:15pm Vendettes de Paris boat ride on the Seine, and ended up standing for most of it since the seats along the water and at the front of the boat were taken by the time we got on.  I was really looking forward to the boat ride, and it was neat, but…I don’t know…I left feeling kind of disappointed.  Perhaps it was the fact that we could barely hear the commentary or that we chose to stand the whole time or maybe I was just tired.  The city was pretty at night though, and all the lights reflecting on the water was kind of magical. DSC00137 DSC00142 DSC00161 After our boat ride finished up, we walked around the Eiffel Tower, and split a crepe with jam, which we ate while walking back to our apartment. DSC00166 DSC00168 DSC00170 DSC00172 When we got back, we found out that the washer/dryer fiasco was still not resolved, 24 hours later, and thus we didn’t make it to bed until 1am.  Sigh.  Our Airbnb experiences were really great and without complaint, but this washer/dryer situation…what a mess. Our first day in Paris was good.  We really enjoyed Versailles, however the mobs of people inside of the main part of the palace did put a bit of a damper on it.  The highlight of our time there was definitely renting a row boat, although I really enjoyed the rooms of King Louis and his family as well.  If we went back, I’d probably think ahead and pack a lunch to eat in the gardens (or on the boat?!), and rent bikes to ride around the grounds.  I’d also pay attention to the weather reports and not wear long pants if the temperature was supposed to be in the mid-80’s.  The rest of our day in Paris was fine.  I may touch on it in further posts, but I didn’t love Paris.  I did find the view of Paris from the Arc de Triomphe really neat, though.  It’s just so neat how so many of the building look so similar and then bam! the Eiffel Tower juts out in the middle of it all. Check out our nine days in London here, if you’d like.

london day 9

Our last day in London wasn’t a full day, but almost.  We started out with breakfast on the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral.  We bought a variety of (terribly unhealthy and un-vegan) breakfast pastries (four mini jam-filled donuts to share, a lemon filled muffin and croissant for me, and a cinnamon roll for Danny) at M & S Simply Food across the street from St. Paul’s and ate them on the front steps.  We were the only ones there at that early hour of the morning, and we didn’t even have to fight off any pigeons…you could say it was a major success.



After breakfast we went inside and did some of the audio guide tour and wandered around the cathedral for an hour before our 10am guided tour.  Our guided tour took a little over an hour and a half and one of the perks was that we were able to snap a few photos, while most visitors are not allowed to do so.  The inside of St. Paul’s is much different from Westminster Abbey, which is probably London’s most famous church, and although I’m sure a list a mile long could be made with the differences between the two, the one that I noticed the most is the lighting.  St. Paul’s is flooded with light and it’s (primarily) white walls/ceilings/etc. really help as well.  Our tour also took us to see a staircase that was used in the Harry Potter movies, which means very little to me, but was interesting for Danny (and basically everyone else on our tour).



After the guided tour, we took the stairs up to the gallery and the two upper levels of the dome.  It was a hazy day in London, but if you look hard, you can see some of the most well-known landmarks of London’s skyline, in particular the Tate Modern, the Millennium Bridge, the Shard, and the London Eye.







When we finished up at St. Paul’s, it was much more crowded than when we arrived.  One thing that I realized on our trip was the huge benefits of going early or going late to popular attractions.  I just find places much more enjoyable when there aren’t throngs of people all over, and St. Paul’s was no exception.


Since our breakfast was so successful (both tasty and inexpensive), we went back to M & S Simply Food for lunch and carried our goodies across the Thames on the Millennium Bridge to eat outside the Tate Modern.  It was a busy area with lots of pigeons vying for our crumbs and people for our seats, but fun too – lots of street performers and interesting people to watch and entertain us while we ate.




After lunch we walked along the Thames one last time to get back to our room and snuck in one last look at the London Eye as well.  We packed our bags, which took longer than anticipated, and chatted with Irene, our host, for a bit before we headed out.  I mailed a few postcards, and we took the tube from Waterloo to King’s Cross, where we transferred to St. Pancras and waited for the Eurostar to Paris.




I think my expectations for the Eurostar were a bit high.  I mean, our first disappointment came as we waited for the train and there was only one restaurant for the entire Eurostar waiting area.  Plus, the train just seemed to have seen better days, the food onboard was sub par (and expensive) and we never really knew what was going on – communication between staff and passengers was nonexistent.  We boarded the train at 5:15pm and in less than an hour, we were in France.  It was obvious, not because we could tell we had just come out from underneath the English Channel (we couldn’t), but because it just looked different.  It was beautiful – the sky was a pretty shade of light pink and the countryside was charming.  The train was going so fast, though, that taking (decent) pictures was impossible.  We shared a mushroom risotto and fruit couscous onboard, but mostly we looked out the window and read magazines and newspapers.


DSC09942Two hours after we left London, we were in Paris.  The Eurostar may not have ‘wowed’ us, but all we really needed was a way to get from one place to another, and it certainly did that.  We waited in line for a taxi for about an hour, and eventually made it to our next humble abode and met Etienne, whose apartment we’d be staying at for the next five nights.  He showed us around, we unpacked a little, put some laundry in the washer, and went to bed.  Unfortunately, the washer woke us up repeatedly throughout the night with its bizarre alarm feature and ended up breaking completely…but that’s a story for another time.

DSC09949All things considered, day 9 was pretty good.  We saw one of London’s most famous churches, walked along the Thames, and ate our first reasonably priced breakfast and lunch.  Packing up and traveling to Paris was not my favorite – anytime I’m hauling a suitcase up stairs (oh wait, Danny did that, not me) and on a subway and through throngs of people more skilled at packing light than me, I’m stressed.  But we made it to Paris without too many complications and once we got to our apartment and found that it was just as the pictures had portrayed it, it was worth it.  Seeing some neat things plus traveling to another country and not running into much trouble…I’d say it was a successful day.

Check out day 1, day 2, day 3, day 4, day 5, day 6, day 7, and day 8 of our time in London, too.