New Perspective

You know when you see something and know immediately you’d never be able to un-see it? It’s just going to be burned into your brain forever, even if it fades a little or gets built up or changes in your memory over the years.

I knew the moment I saw the first giant redwood tree that this was something I could never un-see. I’ll always remember these trees, how they smelled and how they made me feel. It was unreal.

This June we traveled out to San Francisco to visit Nate, one of my oldest and most dear friends. Our first day out there, Nate had to work so we rented a car and drove out early to Muir Woods to check out the famous redwoods.

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I was the driver this day, (she who holds the Zipcar membership, holds the power) and this was very hard to drive over for the first time! So much excitement and terror all at once.

To get to Muir Woods, you must do a lot of mountain-climbing. We spent a good bit of time taking winding roads up a mountain. It felt like our honeymoon when we were lost taking a shortcut off the highway to get to our apartment. Thankfully, at the top there is a nice pull-off to catch the view from the top.

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Anyhoo, by suggestion of every single source about visiting Muir Woods, we arrived close to 7:30 AM., scored one of the (very few, maybe 40 total) parking spots near the entrance to the park and spent the first hour with just a handful of other people near us. OH and if you arrive that early, there is nobody at the entrance to charge you for going in (#earlybirdsgetthetrees)

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We had quite the hike, and hope to get back at some point with appropriate hiking shoes and clothes for some more of this magical place.

Imagine this peaceful scene, just about 45 minutes later, packed with tourists. I can’t and glad I didn’t have to witness it – as we were leaving (~10:00 AM) busses were pulling up. Time to scram.

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Losing my Cool in Paris

I lost my cool in Paris and didn’t care.  As I mentioned in the London post, I usually try my best to look cool and like I fit in, but in Paris I just wasn’t up for the challenge. I wanted to see it all, eat everything I could, in comfortable shoes and with my camera around my neck.

And makeout with my husband in front of the Eiffel Tower.

DSC_4579This photo was taken in a small park we stumbled upon in Montmartre. There was a giant wall with “I love you” written out in every language. The story behind it is too beautiful for me to mess up, so you can read more about it here: http://www.lesjetaime.com/english/

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This photo was taken on what’s called “the most beautiful avenue in the world” – right near the Arc de Triomph. It was definitely beautiful with every shop imaginable. DSC_4679DSC_4686Ahhhhh Pairs. I still have one more post with photos from this stop on our trip, then I’ll move on with my life. Maybe.

I’m Ruined for Life, all Thanks to Paris

You know that moment when you realize you’ve been ruined? You see/eat/do/feel something so amazing and perfect you know you can never go back to where you came from? In one day in Paris (on Day 2, specifically), I had three very specific things ruined for me:

  1. Macaroons
  2. Cheese
  3. Bread

For a little backstory: since we’re terrible at picking out food, but fantastic at eating, we planned for a “Food Tour of Paris” for our first full day.  I decided that we needed someone to tell us what to eat and where to find it. We booked through Secret Food Tours and chose the Montmartre neighborhood tour.

Our group for the tour was small, a family of four from Boston and a couple from Melbourne who were on their honeymoon. Our tour guide was a true Parisian lady, who made us feel like she was just a friend showing us around her neighborhood. She knew all the shopkeepers and they all knew her and thus were very friendly to us tourists.

We walked for about two hours, stopping at a macaroon shop, a chocolate shop, a bread bakery, a cheese shop, a pastry and dessert bakery, a butcher and a wine store. At the macaroon stop we were allowed to sample, but the other places our guide made purchases (for our picnic) and we were taught how to order in that type of establishment, what the symbols mean on signs and labels (so that you know what you’re ordering and whether it’ll be good).

At the end of the walk we posted up in a park for a picnic to eat it all. It was glorious. A couple of the boys on the tour were picky eaters and didn’t like wine… thankfully I was there to pick up their slack.

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DSC_4571This was clearly a hard day to get through.
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Ahh Paris….

I’m Now One of Them.

“Paris is the most beautiful city” they said.
“The the best wine is French wine,” people told me.
“There’s nothing as romantic as getting lost on the streets of Paris,” I heard.
“Oh, these macaroons are fine, but they’re nothing like the ones in Paris,” friends claimed.

What snobs.

I honestly, never wanted to go to Paris because I never wanted to be one of those people. You know the type. F-them. Ok, the truth: I couldn’t go to Paris…because of the money stuff it required to get there… nor did I think I would be going any time soon (again, money. So F-them and their money.

But then, I ended up going to Paris … because it was cheap. Who saw this coming? I did not.

Since we were first in London visiting, then heading to Copenhagen (for the Big Fat Danish Wedding) we ended up with three weekdays to ourselves in Europe.  What to do, what to do… being who we are we first started spreadsheets of options with the intent on picking the best city for the budget.  With the Euro close to the USD, a beautiful AirBnB and nothing but a train ride from London necessary to get us there, Paris won.

And I regret to inform you all, that I’m not one of those people. I loved it. It was beautiful, it was romantic, the food was ah-maze-ingggg – and I can’t wait to hopefully get back again.

Upon arrival into Paris we couldn’t wait to go see the Eiffel Tower. We stayed in Montmartre – which is on a hilltop – and we decided that we needed to reach the peak ASAP to get a view. So, we began the long, steep climb up to the Basilica of the Sacré Cœur – which it much higher than we expected.

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Ugh. I’m exhausted just looking back at these.

Upon arrival to the top we were ecstatic. It was like the feeling when we finally reached the Spanish Steps in Rome – WE’RE HERE! Except, this was different because we couldn’t actually find the Eiffel Tower from on top of the steps. We looked in every direction, pulled out or phones to check maps to make sure we were looking in the right direction, and then gave up. It must be too small to see from way up here. Darn.

So after a quick stop into the church we went exploring the hilltop town. Looking into shops, pretending to read menus, watching artists peddle their goods … it went on like this for about an hour before we starved ourselves into eating at the first restaurant we could get a table outside at.

Kyle and I make a pretty good team, both at home and on travel, except when it comes to feeding ourselves. We just can’t do it. It’s not that we’re too picky or unadventurous – and that’s the problem.  We want good food and we want to try new things but we aren’t good at planning out when and where that will happen. So we frequently find ourselves realizing we’re absolutely starving so we eat whatever is right in front of us at that moment (and 9 times out of 10 regret it).

This was one of those times. While it had one of our required qualities (good seats outside on a crowded street for people-watching) it didn’t exactly qualify as french food. I also ordered spaghetti. It was gross.

So by this point the sun was starting to set, our stomachs were full but unsatisfied and we still hadn’t even seen the Eiffel Tower. Whose idea was Paris, anyway? Bad idea.

We were just starting to make our descent off the mountain to head back to the apartment, when we took a wrong turn down an alley, and there it was. It was unmistakable and completely beautiful. I guess coming upon it by surprise put it into a perspective of having no expectations. So we climbed up on the fence a bit and spent the next 20 minutes taking a boatload of photos.

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It was just us up there except for a couple girls who looked like students on a study abroad. They left us alone until we were packed up and started to turn around to head out. One literally shouts at us (in a British accent, “you can’t leave now! It’s about to sparkle!”

SPARKLE!!!!

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The memories of the steps we had to climb and the food we ate in desperation were long gone at that point.

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London Tourists

We only had a limited time in the Old Smoke (confession: I Googled, “nickname for London” to find this) so we didn’t want to do our typical #ZellerTrip thing and spend a day in museums. We wanted the quick and dirty weekend in London – I want nothing but the highlights and quick.

So the first thing we did (after a lovely, relaxing tea time) was head over to Westminster Abbey, which is conveniently right next to Big Ben and conveniently close to the Palace of Westminster. We were able to get all the token tourist photos within a 30 minute span. Even some from a classic phone booth (note: do not go inside these things if you ever encounter one).

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The queen lives there. NBD.

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Obligatory guard photo.

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Oh, and a gang of nude bicyclists went by. So casual.

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Doing it Right: Tea Time on a Yacht

Our good friends Phil and Jonathan have spent a year across the pond and we couldn’t pass the opportunity to visit them (we’ve really missed them in DC) and of course take advantage of a free place to stay.

Going into London we naïvely had no worries or concerns. They speak English, we knew things would be expensive and they do tea in the afternoon – what more did we need to Google-search before we went? We also knew our priorities for the visit would be simple: spend time with friends, ride a double-decker bus and drink tea with small sandwiches as a snack. OH and enjoy traditional pub fare. Live like the locals, right?

We were also pretty confident in our word-traveling-chops. Having flown across the ocean before, we knew not to make the same mistakes and arrive either exhausted (as we did in Italy, 2013) or hungover (as we did in Copenhagen, 2014). This plane ride we limited ourselves to exactly one movie and one glass of wine. It was sadly uneventful but we did arrive somewhat ready for a day of touristing.

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Thank god, too. The Tube line we needed to take to get to Wimbledon was down when we arrived so we quickly needed to figure out the bus system. The bus we needed was a double decker (!!) – check that one off the list! We were also on a time-crunch as Phil told us we were doing tea on a yacht and needed to meet Jonathan on the boat by a very specific time.

I was NOT going to miss this yacht-tea-event. Unfortunately the bus took for-freaking-ever to get around town. After about 30 minutes of weaving around narrow London streets I had had about enough of my double-decker experience and was ready to move on to the next item on my list. A few Dramamine pills later we were walking the streets of Wimbledon (note: it’s a neighborhood AND a tennis facility) on our way to the apartment.

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Heading to the yacht, Kyle and I were panicked. We were definitely running about 10 minutes late and the assumption was that Jonathan was about to sail off for tea-time without us.

And you know what they say about assumptions … it turns out the yacht doesn’t actually sail.

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Also, as you can tell from the photos, tea time in London is properly amazing. A perfect way to start this #ZellerTrip!