London Day 5

Tuesday morning we took the Eurostar train to London. It literally travels underneath the English Channel through the Chunnel and in just over two hours – you are in The UK! It is much more convenient than flying – and much more affordable.

We knew our stay in London wouldn’t be long, so we fit in as much as we possibly could. We took the Tube to Westminster and saw Big Ben, the London Eye, and Westminster Abbey.

We then took the Tube over to Portobello Road to do a little shopping. We popped in and out of several shops and then had lunch at GBK – Gourmet Burger Kitchen.

It was SO good and the design of the restaurant was amazing! We then made our way up Portobello Road when it started to pour. We stopped in a few more stores before we made our way back to check in to our hotel. We let our coats and boots dry a bit before we left for Emirates Stadium.

When Zach and I realized that the Arsenal Football Club was playing in London the first night we were to arrive – we decided it was fate! We had to go to our first “football” game.

Zach and I have been to many professional sporting events…but NEVER have I seen that many people in one place at one time. We arrived at the stadium via the Tube and the streets surrounding the area were completely closed for the crowd. The people were flooding in from every angle. And with a stroke of pure luck – it stopped raining right before the game was to begin!

Our seats were fairly cheap and they were really close! Arsenal was playing Montpellier – a French team, what are the odds? The fans were NUTS. We sat adjacent from the opposing team’s fans and things got crazy fast. The French fans literally never sat down – the whole match. Before halftime the majority of them were shirtless and swinging their sweaters above their heads.

Arsenal won: 2 to 0. I am grateful, because I didn’t want to be around if they had lost the match. The Brits can be ruthless. We decided to stop at a place we had dined when we came to London a few years ago on our Study Abroad summer. Wagamama – a modern approach to Japanese food.

They have delicious noodles and one of the most unique and delicious desserts I have had: wasabi chocolate cake. Don’t knock it until you try it. We rode the Tube back to Kensington to our hotel and called it a night.

Paris Day 4 – Loire Valley / Chenonceau

When planning this vacation, the one thing I really wanted to do was take a day trip to Chenonceau. Zach was a good sport to come along with me, considering it took three train rides there and three train rides back. We rode those three seperate TGV trains from Paris > Tours > Chenonceaux [the town that the chateau is located in]. I knew it was going to be a hectic commute – considering that on one connecting train we had less than 6 minutes to get to our next train. It was a stressful morning – we only had confirmation numbers for our tickets and none of the self service kiosks were working. We basically got on our first train ride with less than 1 minute from departure. It’s crazy, quite a few people speak English in Paris – but as soon as you get to the train stations it is like they “forget” or are unwilling to help crazy Americans find their train platform. And we were crazy alright. Darting in and out of the other passengers, waving at each other from different platforms, and yelling “excusez-moi” so we didn’t plow over anyone. Zach also got in a fight [verbal, not physical] with a gypsy woman at the Tours station when he gave her money and she was angry with him for not giving her more. She followed us for a good 20 minutes and then called her boyfriend to come intimidate us. It got weird.

Needless to say, we finally made it to the tiny town of Chenonceaux. We made the short walk over to the grounds – an archway of trees and falling leaves. Zach turns into a 5-year-old when he sees falling leaves.

Chenonceau literally straddles the Loire River. It stretches from one side to the other, and with the moat is is almost completely surrounded by water.

We walked through the three stories of the chateau and through the galleries [which were decorated for Christmas] and then outside to both of the gardens.

The chateau had real fires burning in all of the larger rooms. This surprised me – in a historical monument you would think they wouldn’t ever want to burn a real fire, but the staff was constantly checking on these massive mantels.

After the gardens we ventured on over to the maze.

Zach wanted to take a break and get a crepe – he claims it was the best crepe he has ever had. I wouldn’t know. He gobbled it up before giving me a bite.

We then decided to explore the town before our train was to depart. Literally we saw three people the entire time we were there – and one of them was the most adorable little French man on a bicycle with a basket. I want to live in the town, with those three people. Also, it was completely silent apart from the occasional motorcycle that zipped by. And the sound of our feet on the stone sidewalks.

Then we made our way back to the platform back to St. Pierre and then on back to Paris.

We ate dinner outside at a cafe on rue Cler. A tiny detail I debated on leaving out, but am divulging to you know: there was a mouse at that cafe. He ran by my leg. Paris is an old city, undoubtably filled with rats and mice that I could have never seen, and we were outside…but I couldn’t stop thinking about the mouse the rest of the meal. Also, Zach kept calling him Ratatouille. I didn’t eat much – and my pasta was really good, too. So, on the way home we stopped at a fancy creperie on our way back to our apartment so I could get a crepe. Banana and Nutella please. The staff kept offering us fancy alcoholic beverages, for free! We kept refusing, the most polite way we knew how. When they kept offering – Zach announced “She’s with child, she can’t drink. Pregnant. Yep, she’s pregnant.” Everyone looked at me with the same expression, ‘This child…is having a bebe?’ Obviously I am not “with child” but Zach thought it was pretty hilarious when he saw their faces. They didn’t offer me anything after that. They probably thought I was starring in the hit MTV Show, 16 and Pregnant – the French [especially the teenage/younger generation] love American TV shows and music. They also listen to Michael Jackson. A lot. I mean, I miss him too…but come on. Literally at every cafe we stopped at.

We enjoyed our crepes back at our apartment. Just the two of us.


Paris Day 3

Monday morning, our third day, we rode the Metro to Les Halles to visit the Pompidou – our favorite modern art museum.  We had lunch at the museum’s cafe and toured the galleries.

Zach could not stop laughing about this bear.  He was freaking out and made me take a photo next to it.

If you take the escalators to the top floor there is the most amazing view of the city.  It’s really hard to see in the background, but if you look closely you can see the Sacre Coeur off in the distance.

After our walk through the museum we did some shopping in the surrounding area.  There is also a big shopping complex nearby where we spent some time.

Later we went to dinner at a delicious Italian restaurant [our favorite place to eat was closed – Little Italy] that happened to serve popcorn instead of French bread as an appetizer.  Zach was elated.


After a long and crowded Metro ride back to our apartment, Zach begged me to stop at the Monoprix to get some supplies.  I LOVE French supermarkets.  The breads, cheeses, and pastries are so tempting, but we resisted.  They also had all their Christmas candy out on display.  Towers of European chocolate.

We did, however, splurge on a world wide favorite – some mini Haagen-Dazs glaces and bought a good supply of soda for our fridge.  Coca-Cola Light is phenomenal in France – so much better than Diet Coke in the US.  [Although it does have calories – just a fair warning for those of us who drink 2 + a day.]  We drank our beverages, devoured our ice cream, and hacked someone named Nour’s wireless internet.  It was a good night.  Thank you Nour for providing free wireless internet for the remainder of our time in Paris.

Paris Day 2 – Versailles

Sunday we decided to take a train to Versailles.  We both had been to the palace before, but we wanted to explore during the off season with less tourists.  I was nervous that going in the fall would be a disappointment, but I was dead wrong.

I have this weird love affair with French history – in particular, I adore Marie Antoinette.  I know, she kinda has a bad rep, but I wasn’t a French commoner during her reign, so I still love her.

The gilded gate, a sight to be seen all on its own.

The Hall of Mirrors.

After walking through the royal apartments, we stopped to eat in the cafe before we ventured outside to the gardens.  It was drizzling off and on for the majority of the day but luckily it stopped raining as soon as we were done walking through the palace.  The chateau is stunning, but the gardens are incredible.  True, the fountains weren’t on and the flowers weren’t in bloom – but it was still breathtaking with the colorful leaves.

We spent most of our time at the Grand and Petit Trianon – The Petit being my favorite.

We also explored the rest of Marie Antionette’s estate, including the farm.  If you were to ask Zach what his favorite part of Versailles was, he would tell you it was the goats.  He loves goats.

I love the structures at the farm, it reminds me of a fairy tale.  It’s a true fact that Marie Antoinette had this farm and its other buildings constructed so she could pretend to be a milk maid and escape “royal life”.  An interesting fact?  She had all the cows washed before she would touch them and would take lambs for walks using silk ribbons for leashes.  Her estate is my FAVORITE part of all of Versailles – truly extravagant and unnecessary, truly French royalty!

After seeing everything we wanted to see [and almost renting a golf cart to get us back to the chateau] we made our way back to the train station for Paris.  We went to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants in a public square near the Paris Opera House.  We ate here on our first trip back to Paris for first anniversary.  The only thing we could understand on the menu?  Cheese and chicken.  We got both of those things.

We stopped for a view of the Opera House on our way back to the Metro station.  It is so gorgeous lit up at night!

We ended our late night at McDonald’s so Zach could get a cone glace [an ice cream cone] this is, in fact, the only food item Zach knows how to say in French.  He says it with an authentic accent, too.  Amongst all the finest desserts and pastries in Paris, Zach wanted Mickey D’s.

Some things will never change.

Paris Day 1


We had been planning this trip for our 4 Year Anniversary for months.  We were originally torn where we would go – but when your husband asks if you want to go to Paris – YOU SAY YES!  I said yes before he could change his mind, to be honest.  We both have been dying to go back to Europe, and so we made the arrangements and have been prepping for it ever since we booked our airfare.

We flew the direct Delta flight from Salt Lake City to Paris – not first class, not even comfort economy.  My boss told me, “You two are crazy for flying to Europe in coach.  It’s not even worth traveling to Paris if you can’t fly first class.”  Trust me, you can fly to Europe in coach – with the help of a neck pillow and a sleeping aid, of course.

We arrived in the city on Saturday morning.  We decided to try something new with the lodging this time.  We rented a small studio apartment near the Eiffel Tower.  It had a tiny office space, a kitchenette, a dining room, and a very clean bathroom.  It also was located near Laser Quest Paris, in case you were wondering.  The view was awesome, even with the fog that had settled in.

We checked out our digs, brushed our teeth, and set out.  We walked around our old stomping grounds.  We got a Coca-Cola and Coca-Cola Light at our market on rue Viala, spotted our old hotel [where we stayed on our Study abroad trip in 2008] and walked along the Seine.

Paris in the late fall is a dream.  It was over 50 degrees our first day.  There were tiny French children everywhere bundled up in the most adorable and expensive clothing you ever seen.  There were still colorful leaves on the trees.  There were not as many tourists crowding the streets.  It’s by far my favorite time to go.

Zach thinks it is hilarious when people ask me for directions.  They are always disappointed when the gibberish that comes out of my mouth is English.  Either way, we love making friends, haha!

We made our way to the Eiffel Tower, where Zach got some “french fries”, and we walked through the streets to one of my favorite boulangeries – Lemoine to get some macarons.

On the way back we noticed that a Saturday market was still open and we walked through the tents.  There was vintage Mies van der Rohe furniture, piles of candy, china, books, and tons of vintage clothing.  We stayed there until dusk – it felt like Christmas shopping with the Christmas light banners strung across the alley!

On our walk to dinner we passed the tower again, right on the hour while it was illuminated with all the glittering lights.

Then we ate dinner at Pizza Amalfi – I have eaten here every single time I have visited Paris.  They have the most amazing Margherita pizza and pesto pasta.  I also have a crush on the old Italian man that owns the restaurant – he’s always there!

We stuffed our faces, drank some more soda, and ate our macarons for dessert.  Nutella flavor was my favorite – Zach had vanilla.  But are you suprised?

We decided to make it an early night, considering we were dealing with an 8 hour time change.  We cozied up in our tiny apartment, excited for the next morning.


Away We Go

We are off to celebrate four years of marriage.  Paris – London – New York City.  We couldn’t be more excited!!

We plan to visit the Loire Valley in France, to attend some local sporting events, walk through our favorite museums, and indulge in way too much French food – note two things, please…let the record show that we are attending more than one sporting event on our anniversary and also that I only mentioned French food.  True English food is not my favorite.

Cities and sports…and we’re off!!