Sunday, December 31, 2017

Day Six: Four Hour Queue, Notre Dame & Baguettes

Day six started our tour of Paris. We stood in line for four hours to get in the catacombes. I’m going to write that again to make sure you do not miss it...FOUR hours. Yes, crazy. It was one of those “how long do you think it will take?” events. “Four freakin’ hours” would have been the answer had I been holding a crystal ball. 

While waiting for the catacombes, we queued up for Notre-Dame via an app (Out of the Line). Love that concept, but you’ll learn later that didn’t work so well for us. 

Despite the long wait, the catacombes were cool. I wouldn’t wait four hours again, and I wouldn’t need to see it again, but it was cool. Those are all bones my friends...bones.

All the catacombes
 Catacombe Inscription

We exited the catacombs and made our way to Notre-Dame. Our “in line” app was telling us we were right on time. As we approached Notre Dame I was singing “...the bells of Notre-Dame...” the girls loved it. Not.

The queue we were in was moving quickly, so I ignored the app and kept walking. As we entered the church I released my turn in line on the app, as I thought we were wouldn't need it. Big mistake. 

Notre Dame

We walked inside and quickly learned there was another queue to enter the top (which is what the app was queuing you up for). full Notre-Dame tour today. Paradis wasn’t feeling well, so she went back to the flat. Anna and I picked up a Nutella crepe and took the Metro to the Eiffel Tower. 

Anna and I checked out the Eiffel Tower from afar, and made our way back to the flat. Anna bought two more baguettes (we had one for lunch). Is three too many in one day? Not while in Paris. 

It was a great day. 

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Day Five: Paris

Day five started with rain, so we hailed our first Uber in England. We picked up sandwiches at the St Pancras station and boarded a train to Paris around 11:30. 

I love the train. I chose my current home in Minneapolis because it is on the Blue Line - one of the few trains we have in the city. When I’m on the train I feel a sense of calm. I love the noise. I love the people. I love knowing it can bring me anywhere in the world (although I know the Blue Line can only bring me to TCF Stadium). Riding the train to Paris brought back so many memories of previous visits to Europe. It was surreal to be sitting next to my girls. 

We landed in Paris where a rainbow greeted us. The weather has been so much warmer than back home, but we have had rain almost every day. 

We settled into our flat (40 Rue Laugier - Airbnb), and unpacked our bags. We have a unit to ourselves, which will be nice for the next few days. We ventured out to get groceries, which is always an adventure...Annelies is a picky eater and super cautious about trying new things. Paradis and I have to hold back on buying too much. 

The elevator in our building is so freaking small. It says a max of four, but I can’t imagine fitting that many. I have a bit of claustrophobia, so I have to take deep breaths and go to my happy place the entire ride. 

We ended the evening making dinner. I should have taken a photo because we rarely do that at home. 

I did some planning for the next few days, and the girls watched TV. Favorite quote from Paradis “I have no idea what they are saying, but it sounds so beautiful I want to cry!”

Friday, December 29, 2017

Day Four: London, Scaffolded Ben & Tired Feet

I was told I forgot one of the best parts of day three, so a small addendum...Paradis and I ended our evening at The Stable where we enjoyed some yummy pizza and a flight of cider. I need to drink more cider.

Day four started with the alarm waking us for a 10:00 departure to Bournemouth Coach Station. We boarded an uneventful bus ride to Victoria Station. I just love traveling with these two, but I want to point out the entire trip is not smiles.


Once we landed in London, the first stop was to buy a hair straightener. Remember the converter blow up from day three? It is the little things that make us all happy. Please note the word "all".


We walked to our flat (Airbnb at 62 Acton) and dropped off our bags. Pasta was the dinner of choice, and we landed at Albertini. The food was superb (spaghetti & bolognese, a salmon salad, and goat cheese pizza).

Our next goal was to make our way to Big Ben for an iconic photo on our first night in London. We exited the underground to find Ben covered in scaffolding. I slightly recall reading this would be an issue when booking this trip, but blocked it from my memory. After standing on the street staring at it wondering if we were in some sort of dream...we looked at one another and laughed. All part of traveling, and we still posed for the iconic shot.


We walked a bit around Parliament Square and made our way back to our flat with a couple quick stops along the way. It wasn't even that long of a day, but I was so freaking tired I could barely walk back from the underground (lack of sleep the night prior had something to do with it I am sure). My body is a bit older than it was the last time I was in this beautiful city, but I hate to admit it. I'm having fun despite that fact.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Day Three: Bournemouth, The Beach & Sunset

Day three of Europe 2018 started with a few phones calls to readjust our plans a bit. We were scheduled to return to London at 4:00am on Friday, but decided to return Thursday instead to avoid that early wake up call. The next task was buying a new convertor. We failed to read the fine print "do not use with hair straightener". Note: I do not straighten my hair.

Next we decided to walk around Bournemouth. We are staying downtown, so our walk to the beach was about two minutes. It was cold, but the beach remains my happy place. I collected some sand and shells for my collection jars.

The shops around our hotel are typical of a beach town; clothing and souvenirs. As I was dropping my postcard into a postal box Annelies said "Watch it be a trash can." That made the quote wall. We thought about going to a movie, but they were all sold out so we returned to our room for a bit of R&R. 

Paradis and I wanted to catch the sunset, so we walked to the beach around 16:00. Annelies stayed in the room; I dig that girl, but she maxes out a bit earlier than Paradis and I. We ended our evening at the end of the Bournemouth pier enjoying a mulled cider and Baileys Hot Chocolate. It was a lovely day. 

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Day Three: New Forest, Hampton & Sex on the Beach

Day Three of Europe 2018 wasn't quit what we planned, but it ended nicely. The three of us slept until 10:30am! I was completely shocked, because that was fourteen hours...yikes. We showered and made our way down the stairs to find a note from Renata saying she had to go to the doctor for her eye.

Ollie and Alex (and their puppy Bella) came to get us for lunch in the New Forest (a national park). It was created in 1079 by William the Conqueror, which is apparently 'new' to the Brits.

My Gin & Tonics come with these cute little bottles

Yummy Celebration Chocolate cheesecake

Alex, Bella, Ollie, Paradis, Annelies and Rae Ann on Boxing Day

While eating lunch we learned Renata needed surgery for a detached retina, so we scrambled a bit to find a place to stay for the night so we could be out of her way when she returned. We packed our bags, and ended up at a Hampton Inn in Bournemouth. Very nice. 

The girls and I walked to a local pub where Paradis ordered her first (legal) drink "Sex on the Beach" - a whole pitcher for only £6 ($8). Annelies had a wine spritzer. I had...yes, a g&t with another cute little tonic bottle. 

It was a simple evening with lots of laughs. I just dig being with these two. The girls fell asleep around 22:30 while I sat in the hall for a couple hours talking to a cute boy; we discussed my next travel adventure, which hopefully will be to a warm climate this winter. 

Sex on the Beach and a Wine Spritzer