Sunday, April 27, 2014

Paris, une journée et (part of) deux jours.

Get ready for a TON of Paris posts - I took over 1,000 pictures on my Nikon alone, and want to use my blog as a type of travel diary, so I apologize in advance if you either hate Paris or are sick of these posts (they will be intermixed with other events/posts too, I promise!). 

When Edwin and I planned our twelve-day trip to France (seven days in Paris, five in the country), we decided together that we didn't want to stay in one place for too long. We went to AirBnb for all of our bookings after we looked at hotels and saw how expensive and tiny they were - we figured we could use the same amount of money (or a little less) and get 3x the space. 

In hindsight, we were a little ambitious since:

a. Neither of us realized that elevators in old buildings is not really a thing, and we booked apartments on 3rd floor walk-ups (and Parisians do not consider the ground level the first floor, so by 3rd floor, I mean the fourth by American standards).

b. Neither of us realized what a pain it would be to lug our suitcases/backpacks around the city/on the Metro in between locations, or how much of a pain it would be to never fully unpack. 

c. We thought that Wifi would be the same as it is here - plentiful, free, and always working/connectable, and at our first apartment, we found that the Wifi was NOT working whatsoever, which made it a little difficult/stressful since our families had not heard from us, and we weren't in touch with our next host to set up an arrival time. 

In the grand scheme, these are MINOR things and did not in any way, shape, or form hurt our trip or keep us from enjoying every single moment of it. It enabled us to easily see new sights, discover new restaurants and areas, so that for our next trip, we have a clearer idea of where we want to stay for longer stretches of time/what we want to do in those areas. 

My parents insisted on a going-away shot of us... and they then insisted on waving to us until we got through security. 


$12 Sam Adams Summer Ale to start off our trip. Thanks, Newark Airport. 

We had a night flight and then a stopover in Oslo, Norway, and the two of us decided that when we arrived in Paris (at 1 p.m., or 13:00) we would NOT go to sleep, but would instead go to our apartment, settle in/shower, and then walk around so that we could easily adapt to the six-hour time difference. We had intended to sleep on the plane, which was not possibly because of mother who took Ambien on the plane and then was knocked out to ignore the persistent cries and screams of her five-year-old (no joke). Even that couldn't take away the excitement of finally being in France!

Our first apartment was ten minutes from Montmartre, a beautiful area where Sacre Coeur and many adorable cafes are located. The apartment was very bare-bones - a bed, couch, a table with two chairs, one plate, two glasses, two forks - and was in an area that seemed a little sketchy, but our host assured us was totally safe. We hiked up the six floors (with our huge suitcases), and headed out to explore and buy dinner. 

Our game plan was also to eat breakfast and lunch (petit déjeuner et déjeuner) out each day, and then buy baguettes, cheese, and wine for dinner each night, and go out for drinks and snacks later on. This ended up being one of the best decisions since we spent a lot of cozy time together just decompressing - we did go out to dinner once in the city,  and once in Troyes, just because we felt like it. 

After we showered, unpacked, and checked out the apartment, we headed out to explore and see what we were in the mood to eat/do. We ended up walking for a while, popping into stores (saying, "Bonjour" to everyone we encountered, which I am in love with), and settled on buying a baguette and vin rouge to have for dinner. which we ate by the little window in our apartment. 

This became our staple almost every single night for dinner, and it was the best - we never went to the same boulangerie twice, so we were able to try a ton of bread (and also lots of red wine, which with two exceptions, we never spent more than 5€ for - and it was honestly ALWAYS good). 

We were in bed (or couch) by 7:30 p.m. that night, and ended up sleeping until 8 the next morning - apparently no sleep on a plane will do that to you. 

The next morning, we decided to just walk (and seek out Wifi so our families knew we weren't mugged in Paris and were actually alive and loving it) to get our petit déjeuner. We headed towards Montmartre (slowly), reading the menu for each cafe (okay, I read and translated them for Edwin) before deciding "Eh, maybe the next will be better," and continuing to walk. It is VERY hard to be decisive on where to eat in Paris when everything looks amazing. 

We finally decided on a little cafe that had a good petit déjeuner, which included a boisson chaude choix (hot drink of your choice) jus d'orange, une croissant, and tartine (toast - but on a baguette). I NEVER eat breakfast in the States (brunch and bagel Saturday/Sunday being the rare exception), but I could totally get into the idea of having this each morning (which we did, no exception). 

After breakfast, we just walked, and without directions or anything, we stumbled upon Sacre Coeur, which was one of the most gorgeous churches I have ever seen (Edwin and I actually went into this church, since it was the only one that we encountered during our trip that did not have a 2.5 hour wait). 

Of course, you first had to work for the gorgeous sights, and we climbed up EVERY single one of these stairs. This picture doesn't come close to showing how many there were. 

It also boasted an incredible view of Paris. 

Edwin and I were obsessed with the gargoyles, and the fact that no two of them were alike. 

So there is the recap of the first day, and first half of day two - I know it's VERY photo heavy, which is why I'm cutting day two into two parts. I don't want anyone getting too tired of all my Paris posts. 

How is everyone doing??? Have you ever been to Paris/Montmartre? 

Currently: Trying to unpack. It's been three days and my suitcase is eyeballing me. Ugh. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Au revoir, Les États-Unis!

See you in (a little less than) two weeks, America! Edwin and I head off for Paris on Monday - we stop over in Norway before arriving at CDG on Tuesday to begin our adventure. 

I'm starting to get nervous that I won't be able to:
sleep on the plane
stop spending money
stop drinking wine
stop eating, therefore gaining outrageous amounts of weight 
avoid paying unreal baggage fees because I cannot help how much I am packing/how much I am likely to buy

I am excited for:
everything... (no, seriously)
but especially macarons, crepes, vin rouge, bière, eating lots of bread
seeing a totally new country/place, especially where my family is from (Ireland, you're next)
staying in various apartments
going to Fontaine (in the Champagne region) and touring wineries and vineyards
Paris in the spring

Be prepared for probably forty-five Paris posts when I come back - and for your Instagram to be blown up by probably everything that I am seeing and eating and drinking and experiencing (@littleallygator).

Love you guys!