Nov 30, 2012

Paris: Day 1

After an almost 4 hour train ride from Frankfurt, we arrived in Paris around 1 in the afternoon. Then came the fun part...hauling all of our luggage to our hotel, which was 3 metro changes away. It was an adventure to say the least, but we made it there, dropped off our bags and changed our filthy travel clothes, then made a beeline towards one of Paris's most beloved landmarks, the Eiffel Tower! As we were walking through the 7th arrondissement, we could see the top of the tower peeking out above the quaint cafés and businesses lining the Avenue de la Motte-Picquet. My heart could have burst from my chest when we rounded the corner onto the Champs de Mars and I finally had the full scope of the Eiffel Tower in my sights. There it stood...hard ironed, commanding, larger than I'd ever imagined; the iconic symbol of the city of love...right before my tourist eyes. I never thought that in my lifetime I'd be standing in Paris with the Eiffel Tower just inches away from me. I remember taking in that sweet moment, thanking God for blessing me, us, with the opportunity to be amongst such an elusive piece of history. Getting to share it with our dear friends was just icing on the cake! Having only ever read about Paris in books and seeing the Eiffel Tower in photos made the moment surreal, like it was a dream. Any second I was going to wake up and be back in my bed, shaking the sleep from my eyes. But it wasn't a dream. We were really there, standing below its iron beams. Naturally, after gazing in awe of it all for quite some time, we whipped out our cameras and took lots of photographic evidence of our good fortune. I could have stood on that patch of grass all day, but we had reservations to venture up into the Eiffel Tower the next afternoon, so we decided to make our way to Le Dôme Café for quick snack. Croque Monsieur's, anyone?

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A little French cuisine lesson for you:
Croque Monsieur-a broiled ham and cheese sandwich.
This ham and cheese sandwich becomes a Croque Madame when you add a fried egg on top of it. The French are brilliant...and cheeky, huh? These sammies were delicious. Worth every calorie and over-priced bite, for sure. ;)

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After our snack, we really had no agenda. All of our tours started the next morning, so we made our way across the Seine River and walked along the Champs-Élysées for a while. We passed lots of fancy stores, got macarons from Ladurée, and spent some time on the lawn in front of the Les Invalides on our walk back to the hotel before dinner. It was a nice little walking tour to get us acquainted with the lay of the city. As our feet grew tired, we made our way back to the Eiffel Tower area to eat some dinner and catch the tower lit up against the night sky. It couldn't have been a more perfect first afternoon in Paris!

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Up next from Paris...Notre Dame Cathedral, Arc de Triomphe, Montparnasse Towers, and our evening on the lawn of the Champs de Mars. Au revoir!

Nov 28, 2012

Ladurée Paris

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While in Paris, I had a bit of an obsession with macarons, specifically Ladurée macarons. I had eaten a macaron (not to be confused the macaroon, America's often coconut covered dessert) from France once before while visiting Strasbourg, but it didn't compare to the deliciousness that is a Ladurée macaron. We may or may not have stopped three times at various Ladurée shops around Paris (the shop just along the Champs Elysées being my favorite) just so I could indulge in these little pillows of heaven. They are that amazing. With flavors like salted caramel, vanilla bean, raspberry, and lavender, what other sweet treat could you desire? Each little shop we went into was perfectly Parisian and dripping in gold accents, adorable dessert plates, and the sweet smell of baking pastries. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see why it's hard to resist such a decadent piece of Parisian history like Ladurée. D and I even visited the store within Harrods while we were on holiday in London just 2 short weeks later. I could hear the pistachio macarons calling me from the tube station. Who am I to ignore them? So if you ever find yourself in the "city of love" (or London or NYC), make a beeline for Ladurée to taste one of their scrumptious macarons. And send me a box or two, will ya? ;)

Nov 26, 2012

Post Vacation Blues and Some Snaps From Our Belgian Getaway

It's Monday. The world's least favorite day of the week. It's even more scorned after a holiday weekend...especially one spent galavanting around Europe. I can't seem to get myself in gear today (except I did hit the gym, 20 awesome points for me!) and have no desire, not even an ounce, to blog or edit photos. In fact, I really have no idea how the computer sucked me into writing this brief post. It's because I love you guys, obviously. Well, that and the fact that I hate seeing stagnant posts just lurking from 3 days ago. But, I digress. 

Thanksgiving is over and the Christmas holiday is upon us! How in the world did that happen? Weren't we just at Oktoberfest and dressing up for Halloween? My life is literally flashing before my eyes. In just 2 weeks I'll be back in the states enjoying Christmas time in NYC and the holidays at home with my family in North Carolina! I'm praying that as soon as we land in America, somehow the time gods will grace us with some slowing of the clock (fat chance, right?). This Christmas is going to fly by, I can already feel it. But, that's how it is with all good things...just like this past weekend. Instead of braving the Black Friday stampedes back home, D and I spent an amazing 2 days in Bruges, Belgium and I'm already itching to go back! Bruges isn't a huge city by any stretch of the imagination, probably the reason why we enjoyed it so much. We had no laundry list of sights to see or schedules to keep, just plans to roam the Christmas markets, enjoy some Flemish stew (INSANELY delicious, I might add), and drink an ungodly amount of beer. And we did just that. I thought Germany had good beer, but boy was I mislead. Belgium is where it's at, folks. Mind=blown. Even though traffic through Brussels on the way up was a complete suckfest, it was really the only annoying part of our weekend. For D and I, that's saying a lot. We seem to run into a lot of annoying travel blunders in the winter time. And yes, I'm aware that winter doesn't officially start until December 21st, but when you live in Europe and haven't seen sun but 1 day out of the last 14...it's winter. And you can't make me like it.

So, for the sake of ending this post and going to do something else productive (like, oh, I don't know, the 8 loads of laundry awaiting me in my suitcase), here are some snaps I instagrammed/iPhoned from Bruges. Be looking out for a few posts recapping our weekend there sometime in 2014. Because, let's face it, I can't do anything in a timely manner.

**Warning: a lot of beer was harmed in the making of this weekend.**

Happy Cyber Monday, friends!

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