A Weekend In Paris

This weekend in Paris was a dream!! 300 photos in three days, Nutella crepes, and snails. I am ready to go back!

Our weekend began early Friday morning – we boarded the bus at 7am to head to Kings Cross Station for our 9am train from London to France. Throughout my month in Europe, I have taken numerous trains through the United Kingdom. BUT taking the Eurostar through the Chunnel to France made me feel like I was on a spaceship. I was pretty giddy that we were driving under the English Channel at 348 km/hour. We arrived in France and immediately made our way to (you guessed it) the Eiffel Tower. Luckily, our hotel was a five minute walk away. We rented bikes and took the scenic route through Paris. I may have almost hit more than one French native and gotten some interesting stares, but we had the best time. We stopped for croques and quiche for dinner before ending the day. We were on cloud nine – Paris!!!!

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On Saturday, I got to spend the entire day exploring Paris with my sweet family. We started our day at the Musée du Louvre. We saw world famous pieces of art – the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, Winged Victory, and so many more. It was an amazing moment to stand in the presence of such history! After touring the Louvre, we stopped for lunch at a nearby cafe…where I tried escargot (spoiler: it’s delicious!!!). We spent the afternoon strolling down the River Seine. We saw numerous artists painting and drawing right on the river. We stopped at the famous Love-Lock Bridge, where my dad bought my mom a lock for the bridge and wrote their names on it (#goals). We made our way to the massive Notre-Dame Cathedral. We ate dinner that evening at Ladurée and shopped along Avenue des Champs-Élysées, which has a beautiful view of the Arc de Triomphe. A perfect day with the people I love!

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On our last morning in France, we took an early morning walking tour of the city. After spending two days in the most crowded tourist spots in Paris, I was thankful our tour guide took us through the small empty streets of Paris. This allowed me to truly appreciate the beauty of where I was. We walked through the Luxembourg Gardens and stopped for lunch by Notre-Dame. We took a river cruise down the River Seine. This was my favorite part of the entire weekend. Not only did I get to see so much of Paris this way, but from a peaceful, quiet perspective. We ended our weekend by sitting in the lawn behind the Eiffel Tower reflecting on our weekend of a lifetime!

Paris, I’ll see you again soon!!

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In & Out Of The City

Two whirlwind weeks! Two weekend trips in two days and lots of London exploring. I am a week behind with this post, and currently sitting on the EuroStar on the way to France while writing. Life has been busy to say the least.

Last Friday, we traveled two hours northwest of London to Salisbury, England (the home of Stonehenge). We spent much of our day exploring the ancient streets of this tiny town. When trying to desperately escape the rain, sometimes you get lucky and find a delicious a French cafe with kind waiters and yummy salmon croques that are just what you need.

Following lunch, we took a class tour of the Salisbury Cathedral…WOW. The massive cathedral is full of huge stain-glassed windows and gorgeous architecture. Separate from the cathedral is The Chapter House. This room is home to one of the four surviving original copies of the Magna Carta (year 1215…crazy thought). The delicate architecture around the room tells the stories of the books Genesis and Exodus. It depicts beautiful scenes of Adam and Eve, Abraham, and the Tower of Babel, just to name a few. These scenes made me feel connected to the people of centuries past. We learn & read about, and love the same Jesus. He works when we don’t even know it!

We hopped on the bus and rode 30 minutes outside of Salisbury for Stonehenge. The rain and wind were brutal, but I didn’t mind. We were in awe.

On Saturday morning, we again boarded the bus and drove to Woodstock, England to visit Blenheim Palace. Home to the Duke of Marlborough of Oxfordshire during the Baroque period, the Palace of Blenheim is, interestingly enough, the only palace in the United Kingdom that is a non-royal residence. Instead, it is considered a piece of history. The large palace is full of amazing paintings and tapestries that tell the stories of Britain’s history. It was beautiful.

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After recuperating from a tiring weekend of travel, I continued my exploration of London. After three full weeks here, it feels like London-life is my new normal. I can navigate the London underground, make my way around the city without getting lost, and confidently give food and pub recommendations (call me a foodie?). However, just when I think I have mastered it all, London shows me new wonders. That is the beauty of this city – there is always a side yet to be discovered. Because of this, my list of places to see and food to eat is multiplying rapidly.

During week two, we bought tickets to Wicked at the Apollo Theatre on a whim (I’m so glad!!), explored the shops of Covent Garden, visited St. Paul’s Cathedral, viewed the collections at the National Portrait Gallery in Trafalgar Square, drank a little wine, and ate a few macaroons. My favorite part of the week: afternoon tea at Soho’s Secret Tearoom. Raisin scones, strawberry jam, and lavender tea with lovely gals!!

Week three in London: We strolled through the pretty gardens at Kensington Palace and viewed the unique collections at Tate Modern Art Museum (some of these included Monet, Picasso, and Warhol). We saw Mamma Mia! at the Novello Theatre. (I recommend!!) We spent Tuesday afternoon strolling through Harrod’s department store, looking at designer collections, and grabbed lunch at the Godiva Chocolate Cafe (heavenly). The best part of the week: my family arrived safely in London!!!!!

The next week will be spent playing tour guide while my family explores London for the first time! Jesus is good!!

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Scotland: Castles, Climbing, and Harry Potter

Scotland – my first weekend trip of the month. Three days in Edinburgh, Scotland were unlike any experience I have ever had before. I was excited for the weekend, but I was not prepared for just how taken I would be with the gorgeous countryside. I must admit I was less than excited to learn that part of our touring of Edinburgh would be done through a coach bus window. But, surprisingly, this gave us the opportunity to view so much of Scotland’s beauty in one day.

My days in London have been a dream. However, a weekend out of the city was a breath of fresh air. The beautiful countryside filled with horses and rolling hills of green made me thankful for the beauty of Kentucky, as well.

Our jam-packed weekend began early Friday morning with a five-hour train ride from King’s Cross Station in London into Edinburgh. We toured all day through the cities and countryside of Edinburgh. We stopped for delicious fish and chips and souvenirs along the way.

After a dinner and touring of our rooms at the University of Edinburgh, we made the decision to conquer the 6 mile climb of the hill Arthur’s Seat. It is the main peak of the group of hills in Holyrood Park in Edinburgh. Robert Louis Stevenson (born and raised in Edinburgh) described Arthur’s Seat as “a hill for magnitude, a mountain in virtue of its bold design.” I don’t disagree!

The next day, we took off to tour Edinburgh Castle. The beauty of the medieval architecture from centuries past was astounding. We strolled down the Royal Mile and Victoria Street, which is full of authentic shops, stores, restaurants. One of these being The Elephant House, the coffee house where J.K. Rowling began to write the first Harry Potter book!!! We ended the day with fish and chips for dinner at a Scottish pub.

On our last day, we hopped back on the coach and drove two hours south to Alnwick, England (pronounced An-ick). Here, we toured the massive Alnwick Castle, home to the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland. The best part of the day was learning that the courtyard and guest rooms of the castle were used in filming the first Harry Potter movie!

 

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This weekend was peaceful, sweet, and full of adventure. Thank you, Jesus, for instilling in me a spirit and love for travel and seeing Your creation! I’ll be back, Scotland!

LONDON (First Four Days)

This weekend was a whirlwind. Pinch me! Is this real life? I’ve conquered a lot in the last 96 hours, and lots of sleep is not one of those things. Nearly 12 hours of flying from Louisville to Chicago to Heathrow Airport, London. It’s 1:36am here in London – 8:36pm at home – and my body is finally beginning to understand what time it is.

I am in a dorm right in the heart of the London Borough of Southwark. On my 8 minute walk to class, I get to explore the streets of this gorgeous city and pass dozens of cozy coffee shops and sweet bakeries. I have tried out a couple of these but I can’t wait to try more (priorities, people).

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On our first day in London we toured the Waterloo district, attempted to navigate the Tube, and (despite our lack of sleep after 12 hours of flying) stopped by our first pub for chips and drinks. Incredible + delicious.

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On Sunday CCSA took us to tea! Made me feel like royal-tea (sorry, I’m cheesy). After, we walked to visit Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and Buckingham Palace. Incredible!!! Absolutely wow. Breathtaking. We strolled through Trafalgar Square for coffee. We ended the day by taking the Tube up to Tower Bridge for a yummy dinner. As a group, we collectively ate Europe out of pizza and pasta. Delicious dinner and even better company.

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Yesterday was my favorite day so far! First on the agenda: my first class at King’s College. I am studying journalism and media relations around the world. We will be taking trips to a wide variety of locations around England. From the London Museum of Brands, Packaging & Advertising to the Manchester United Football Stadium. I can’t wait for these adventures! Next, Borough Market. This unique corner of London is full of authentic food and rich in European culture. European cheeses and wines, herbs and spices, beers and delicious food, all sold within feet of each other. I tried a Spanish spinach and ricotta empanada and beer (pictured below!) yum!!! We strolled around the South Bank, grabbed some burgers for dinner (American grease is good for the soul), then made our way to Covent Garden. Good thing we did! This has been my favorite area of London so far. Designer shops, beautiful storefronts and architecture, delicious food (GELATO! See photos!), and theaters. We have yet to make it to the theatre, but with tickets at only forty pounds a show, I won’t pass that up.

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Today! Cooler weather and notorious London rain, but that did not slow us down. I started the day with coffee at my current favorite coffee stop closest to our dorm. After lunch, we browsed Soho and Oxford Circus. We ended our day with the London Eye. The prettiest place the view the city. A place to pause and allow the beauty of this city to sink in.

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I’m eating lots of European cuisine and drinking some wine and loving every second! This adventure keeps getting sweeter!!!