My Love Affair with Paris

Ah, Paris. Where to start…

I love the city for so many reasons, and I loved it long before I visited as an adult. I love the food, the wine, the fantastic beauty products, the sights, the language, the history. I love the laid-back culture, that je ne sais quoi, that perpetual shrug, as if to say, no worries. It’s hard to truly pin down what makes the city so special. It is, as many artists have tried to show, not a city so much as a character, always evolving, always calling the other characters to action. Continue reading “My Love Affair with Paris”

Medieval Charm in the Walled City of Langres

Now here is a city I never expected to see again. Built sometime in the third century, Langres is literally a city on a hill, surrounded on all sides by massive stone walls. Its fortifications and 360 degree views made it a powerful military stronghold against invading troops for many centuries, and today it enjoys the distinction of being named “the most beautiful fortified town in France.” (See the runners up here.) Continue reading “Medieval Charm in the Walled City of Langres”

Une Promenade à Chaumont

On our first full day visiting my grandparents, Mamie and Papy served us a delicious breakfast of carbs and coffee (the holiest of food groups). Dan and I cleaned up and got ready, though for what, we weren’t sure. Our conversations with Mamie and Papy started out pretty rough. Lots of blank faces, eyebrows raised, listening closely for even one word that we recognized; Mamie and Papy exchanging despairing looks of their own as they tried to slow it down for us. I realized on that first day that we embodied the stereotyped clueless Americans, and felt even more embarrassed that we hadn’t practiced the French language before visiting…well, France. I was grateful we got to practice our clumsy language skills with family first, who love us no matter what, before venturing out to Paris.

After a lot of nods, hesitant smiles, and “ouis?” we realized that Mamie and Papy wanted to take us into Chaumont’s centre-ville, or downtown area. Continue reading “Une Promenade à Chaumont”

Introduction to Chaumont

Sorry for the lateness of this post. I have so many excuses. I’m painting my apartment between shifts and it’s taking way longer than expected. I’ve adopted an intensive new fitness regime that sees me sweating it out six days a week and spending a lot of time grocery shopping and cooking. Add in one veeeeery slow computer and the need for a hefty new external drive, and you’ll understand why I’ve been avoiding editing, uploading and sharing my 3,000+ Europe photos. Continue reading “Introduction to Chaumont”

Euro Trip 2016: Our European Itinerary

Nearly two years ago today, I boarded a flight from Seattle to Paris, on a trip that would upend life as I knew it. This was more than a family vacation. It was a pilgrimage, to see the place where my mother grew up and where my grandparents still live today. It was on this trip that I finally bridged the gap between fantasy and reality, and found myself in the place I’ve known I belonged in my entire life. Continue reading “Euro Trip 2016: Our European Itinerary”

Where to Next?

What a year it has been. So far I’ve visited family in Washington State, taken a weekend trip up to Canada, and vacationed in France and Italy. Before I get to writing about Europe, however, I wanted to take a moment to talk about what comes next. Dan and I spent a year and a half saving and planning for Europe. All that saving meant we didn’t have much money left over even for small trips to the beach. It’s an odd feeling, now that our Euro trip has ended, to have full wallets and no big trips on the horizon. Continue reading “Where to Next?”

Bavarian Charm in Leavenworth, WA

Leavenworth is one of those cities which, despite growing up in Washington, I never visited before moving to the other side of the country. I’ll be honest, in high school I thought Leavenworth was a small town with plenty of cows and not a whole lot of nightlife. One of those blips on the map that we passed by when making the long drive to visit family in Spokane.

How wrong I was. Continue reading “Bavarian Charm in Leavenworth, WA”

The Embassy Inn: Casual Comfort in the Heart of Downtown Victoria, B.C.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve shared my weekend adventures to British Columbia with my childhood friend Nadya. Having never visited Victoria before (no, a forgotten childhood visit does not count), I was anxious to see as much as possible. That meant doing a little research beforehand, traveling with reputable companies, and basing ourselves in a central but affordable location. Continue reading “The Embassy Inn: Casual Comfort in the Heart of Downtown Victoria, B.C.”

Beauty in Bloom at the Butchart Gardens

I feel like I’ve been leading up to this post for weeks now. I got to visit the Butchart Gardens with my friend Nadya back in April, and absolutely loved it! It’s hard now to believe that we ever considered skipping it altogether  – read more about that lapse in sanity here.

In the end, we did choose to visit the Butchart Gardens, and we arrived hoping to be wowed. As we paid the $30 entry fee, I couldn’t help but think of all the other things I could buy with that money. 1/3 of a one day ticket to Disney World. Dinner for two at Kobe. A one-way ticket to visit my sister in Utah. Surely no garden could be worth all that?

How happy I was to be proven wrong. Continue reading “Beauty in Bloom at the Butchart Gardens”

A Snapshot in Time: Craigdarroch Castle

I don’t know about you, but when I hear about castles, I immediately think of far off places and fairy tales. Castles are the stuff of fantasy, places that exist only in the pages of a book, or in countries far, far away from the one I live in.

So when I read that Victoria, B.C. boasts not one, but two castles, the only question was which one to visit first. Continue reading “A Snapshot in Time: Craigdarroch Castle”