Day 45

J’aime Paris
It’s safe to say that Paris is worth more than 1,000 pictures (see below). We ended our 45 day journey in none other than one of the most famous, romanticized cities in the world. It’s known to be dirty and a bit clique, but we still recommend you seeing it because a picture does this city no justice. The crepes, wine and formage (cheese in French) made this city ever more sweet and even more difficult to step on a plane home. Void of sore throats, dirty clothes and returning to school in the fall, we would have stayed, for in Europe there is so much more to see. We are wanders at heart I would say.

Bastille Day

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We arrived in Paris on July 14th, Bastille Day, marking the anniversary of the French Revolution when French rebels stormed the prisons creating a united force against the monarchy. The city was buzzing with life when we arrived and all the museums were open free to the public for the national holiday. To end our perfect first day in Paris we sat in front of the Eiffel Tower and watched the most exquisite firework show that danced with music off the tower. It was the most beautiful firework show either of us has seen. I’m sure we will find ourselves next 4th of July questioning, “where is the music and where is the Eiffel Tower?”. We sat among a group of French friends, Paulina, Brendan and Max who shared their wine with us and spoke “frenglish”, as we waited for the show to begin.

If you’re going to Paris we highly recommend the 14th of July, as nothing could top our first French experience.

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Our first French meal:
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French Onion Soup

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Croque Monsieur (SO GOOD)

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Pastries we bought at a local bakery, lemon and apple tarts

Norte Dame Cathedral
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Love Lock Bridge

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 The Louvre 

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The Louvre’s most famous painting:

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#Selfie with Mona, she was very popular the day we visited her, as I’m sure she is everyday, and just to get this photo we had to fight through a thick crowd of tourists, who were hoarding around her portrait.

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The River Seines

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The mini arc outside the Louvre, leading to the Jardin Touilleries (Touilleries Garden).

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The Eiffel Tower

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Arc de Triomphe

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From the Arc de Triomphe lead the famous, Champs Élysées, a street known for its high fashion shops, three story Louis Vuitton, and our favorite, the Macaroon Boutique, Laduree.

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Macaroons, a girl’s best friend ❤

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No, this isn’t a castle it’s an Abercrombie and Fitch… You’re surprised? So were we.

 

Panoramic View of Paris from Tour Montparnesse

La plus belle vue pour aimed Paris! The best view to fall in love with Paris!

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The Last Supper

It’s Paris, so of course we had to be adventurous for one meal!

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Duck Pate… Aka duck liver, let’s just say not our favorite

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Escargot!!! Actually really good, they are the oysters of the land. Marinated in garlic and olive oil they sure were delicious.

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French Style Veil

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Duck with sautéed peaches, lick your lips good.

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Nutella and Banana Crepe, pure heaven

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And finally Creme Brûlée, a french speciality and a sweet way to end Paris, magnifique!

We love you Paris, and we will be back soon for you Europe ❤ ❤

xoxo,

A&C

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The Day We Almost Sank

A city composed of islands; a city that floats. Canals curve through the small city while walkways line the mediteranan. Waves from the boats splash up onto the stone sidewalks separating city from ocean, while water bubbles from drains in the city center. There’s a rumor that one day the city will sink, succumbing to the ocean waters, and one night we caught a glimpse of the flood when it poured rain for four hours. Our hostel is right next to the canal and it was raining so hard there was 4 inch of water on the sidewalks and you couldn’t see a foot in front of you. It was a bit terrifying but exciting to witness such a storm.
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Tons of masquerade shops lined the streets of Venice, some even decorated with Swarovski crystal
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The Grand Canal

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Murano
A small island specializing in glass blowing

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The flood
Okay so it didn’t actually flood, but man did it pour, lightening, thunder, everything. And just imagine being just feet from the ocean waves… Yea scary

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Day 2 Venice
Lido
Another island of Venice, known for the beach
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Burano
The smallest island of Venice specializing in lace, and our favorite

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Ciao Bella

Cinque Terre

A stretch of 5 small fishing towns on the west coast in Northern Italy. They are beautiful and rugged little towns that sit straddling the blue Mediterranean and stark cliffs of the Italian Riviera. To get from each town you have a choice of hiking the coast, or taking a train the cuts through the mountains, so we chose both. If you’ve already noticed Cinque Terre is our cover photo above, and needless to say its impossible to over romanticize this place, because it’s beauty speaks for itself.

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Riomaggiore

Our personal favorite town where we stayed, it sits in a little marina, and the town and shops build upward from there.
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20140712-084318-31398148.jpgFocaccia, homemade salty bread with fresh pesto, just perfect.

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Fresh seared tuna from the Mediterranean

Monterosso al Mare

The only little town that has a beach, and not much of a beach at that, beautiful view but rocky, very rocky sand. ouch!

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More Focaccia, a Cinque Terre specialty

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Hike from Monterosso to Vernazza

1 km straight up hill, 4 km total. Still a beautiful hike hugging the mountain side, the ocean never straying too far from our right.20140712-090731-32851839.jpg

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Vernazza

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We made it to Vernazza, then it started to pour.

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Corniglia

The only town not on the coast. Corniglia sits on a cliff inland from the ocean but gives a beautiful panoramic of the coast and neighboring towns.

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Doesn’t look like much, but the best gelato we have had.

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Manarola

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Cinque Terre is known for their fresh pesto, and I can attest that nothing will ever compare.

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Vatican Smatican

Our last day in Roma we spent wandering around the city, visiting the Vatican, the Fontana Trevi ( which was under construction UGH) and the Spanish steps. While it was great seeing the Vatican and birth of Catholics in person, the combination of crowds, humidity, made for a mediocre experience. Nothing against Michelangelo, his work is spectacular, but unless religious art really gets you going, we would suggest skipping the Vatican and spending only one day and a half tops in Rome.

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Castel San Angelo
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The Vatican
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Our illegal photo of Michelangelo’s fresco in the Sistine Chapel

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The Trevi Fountain
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Currently under construction.. But at least we still threw our coin in!

The Spanish Steps
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Gaudi is a must see

There is no single word to describe Barcelona. It has a whole different personality than any other city we have been. I had a pitiful, Spanish conversation with our cab driver, who has lived here his whole life. He was explaining to me that Barcelona is the perfect combination of beach and city, and the people can’t help but be happy, which is why he has never left, and never will; and I can’t blame him. Even the architecture is a blend of modern, historic, formal, and abstract, it’s simply perfect. The building range the gothic stone architecture of gaudi in casa batllo and casa mila to the stained glass and tile work in park guell. Down the street you’ve got modern high rises with floor to ceiling windows and steel Art Deco. Next door there’s Victorian era flats with floral wallpaper and steel balconies with potted plants.

I know we have said this before, but the architecture is simply breathtaking, and no other city has thus to compare. Our photos don’t do Gaudi’s work justice, but you’ll have to trust us on this one, it’s a must see.

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Park Guell, designed by the famous architect Antonio Gaudi

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A view worth the 800 step climb

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Las Ramblas

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Drinking fountains around Spain!

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Celebrating the Fourth of July on the beaches of Barcelona!

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It’s Bar-th-elona not Barcelona, duh

So if you’ve never been to Spain, you know that they are infamous for their “th” sounding slur in the place of every “c” and “z”. It’s a bit difficult to understand if you think you know a little Spanish, but just remember to practically spit while slurring “gra-th-ias” NOT “gracias”. Once you understand the difference of phonemes in Spain, and master the lisp, you’re basically golden, because you can’t go wrong in Barcelona. Our hostel is only a few metro stops and a 5 min walk to the beach, and there is so much to see we will be busy girls for the next 4 days. first stop the beautiful Sangrada Familia church designed by Antonio Gaudi. While hunting for paella ( Spanish rice with seafood), we came across the Arc de Triumpf, and La Carreras de Las Ramblas. Las Ramblas is a strip of green amongst the city that stretches it’s length to the beach filled with markets, small vendors, and so much food your senses go insane. Enjoy!

La Sagrada Familia

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Paella, Spanish rice with sea food, soo good

Arc de Triumph

20140705-115354-42834135.jpgClaudia climbing to the top of the arc apparently

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El mercado en la calle Las Ramblas

La Marina y La Playa de Barcelona

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The famous W Hotel

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Xoxox,

A&C

Ten bites of Madrid

Bienvenidos a Madrid!

Finally crossed Europe, beginning our adventure backpacking! Our first stop, Spain, where the sun is shinning and the tapas never end. For those of you unfortunate souls who have never tasted a tapa, they are Spanish appetizers and they come in every shape, size and flavor. Our favorite stop was El Mercado de San Miguel, a market full of tapas, expresso and desserts, it was almost too much to handle. Excuse us while we binge eat some more tostadas and ice cream as we eat our way through Madrid. Yum!

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Puerta del Sol

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Museo del Prado
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Las Meninas by Velazquez

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The famous Goya!

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Palacio Real

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Cathedral de la Almudena

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Puerta de Alcala

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Parque de el Retiro
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Mercado San Miguel
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Tapas, tapas, y mas tapas

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20140703-163358-59638606.jpgChurros and Chocolate

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So full we are about to burst

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Watching the USA gaMe!!!

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Adios Madrid, we love you

Xoxo

A&C

Farewells to the Queen

Farewell London,

Spending three weeks with you truly felt like home. We may not have the accent but we sure do know a thing or two about riding the tube and blending in. So here’s what we learned:  tea is cheaper than coffee, ordering a coffee you will get an americano, there aren’t trash cans rubbish bins anywhere, always stand on the ride side of an escalator, BATHROOMS ARENT FREE, napping in the grass at a park is a must, mushy peas are served with mint (yea yuck), bacon is not bacon but in fact sliced ham, tap water is delicious and free, and if you don’t jay walk you’re clearly an American.

There’s a lot more we can say about London but there just isn’t time. The city was busy and gorgeous and even three weeks wasn’t enough. We hit every museum from Greenwich to Chichester and had a blast meeting other student from our program. So much as shaped London to make it what it is today, from the Black Plague to cholera epidemic, London has experience every social and infrastructure change you could imagine. it truly is the world in one City. Now it’s time to pack our packs and let the real adventure begin, let the backpacking commence, next stop Madrid!

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Oxford

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Greenwich palace

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View from one tree hill, Greenwich

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Only photo of Chinatown…. Don’t eat the big white dumplings, they are deceiving.

Hampton Court Palace
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National Gallery
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Xoxoxo

A&C

Flying high in Amsterdam!

Oh Amsterdam, our second favorite place we’ve been. Whoever you are, wherever you are, put this little Dutch paradise on your bucket list right now. There are canals that cut through each curve in the city and the eclectic architecture is to die for. In a place like this you can’t help but enjoy the alley ways full of coffee shops and restaurants, flower markets and Heineken. It’s urban, it’s walkable, it’s green, it’s historic and not afraid of a little nudity. Even the faint marijuana stench and dozens of bikers made Amsterdam the feel good place it was.

P.s. Dutch words are very long and impossible to pronounce but of course you should look like an idiot trying. Goedemorgen and proost!

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Old Amsterdam Cheese, one word, DAMN. It was soooo good. Crying while having withdrawals.

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Rembrandt square, and our new buds

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Heineken factory! We love our Dutch bier.
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It’s Nutella crepes,  long live Nutella 

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There were more bikes than people in this little city 

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Yes you did read that one right…

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Xoxo

A&C