La Vie en Rose

My days of croissants for breakfast, lunches in Luxembourg gardens, cocktails in the Saint Germain des près, and dinners in Madames house are coming to an end. I haven’t been updating my blog as frequently because I’ve really been trying to absorb as much as I can as my great experience comes to an end. My friends that I have met abroad are all on their way back to the states, and I will soon be joining them after a final two week trip to Italy and Greece.

I have been asked the question many times, “are you ready to go home”? The answer: no. Paris is a captivating city; it’s dynamic, it’s romantic, it’s intense, it’s charming, and it’s uniquely mine. The monuments, the limestone apartment buildings, the cobblestone streets and cafe crèmes are all seen differently through different people’s eyes.

It really is the little things that made me fall in love with Paris: the same old man setting up his book stand on my walk to school, how no dogs walk on leashes and follow their owners loyally through the city streets, children scootering down the sidewalks, sitting down and enjoying a small café-instead of rushing around with a massive to-go cup. It is the small details that I will miss most.

This is not goodbye though. This has only fueled my fire for my love of travel, wanderlust and Paris.

Lisbon, PT

I have a love affair with Lisbon. I’m cheating on Paris. There isn’t one thing that made me fall in love with Lisbon; it’s the little details that make this city so irreplaceable. From the cream colored taxis zooming by the mosaic walls to the friendly faces boasting from a small cafe about their special dishes.

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The sidewalks throughout Lisbon are black and white mosaic, otherwise known as “Portuguese Pavement”

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When we arrived, it was free museum day—even though we slept in the Madrid airport the previous night, we dropped our coats at the hostel and made our way via tram to Belem, a neighborhood that houses many museums.

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The tomb of Vasco de Gama

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Manueline style architecture found in the Cloister of Jerónimos Monastery

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At the Modern Art museum, there was a fabulous craft festival going on. I tried traditional pastries, picked up and marveled at antiques and even bought a few things for my friends and family.

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Across the street, still in Belem is the statue of Cristo Rei. It was the last thing that sailors saw when they left home, and the first thing they saw when they returned to Lisbon.

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Designed by same architect of Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco 

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An amazing salad made in an instant, costing under 5 euro, with a line out the door to match.

You can’t go to Lisbon without noticing a particular pastry in every bakeries window. It is the portuguese baguette. A staple for every trip to Portugal, the Pastel de nata. It is a flaky pastry with a warm custard inside. Don’t forget to sprinkle the cinnamon and powdered sugar on top.

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Details that made me fall in love with Lisbon:

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Notice the couple dining on the roof

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When in Portugal, you must treat yourself to a Fado experience. Think listening to a woman singing Portuguese love ballads, with old men hunched over their beloved guitars against a tile backsplash.

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My initials 

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I can’t wait for my next trip to Lisbon.  I heard marvelous things about Portugal, and I can’t wait to explore the entire country.

Ibiza, ES

Ibiza, an island notorious for partying and clubbing only seemed like the appropriate spring break destination for a group of girls in our 20-somethings phase. When we arrived on the island, we found out the clubs are closed for their “winter season,” so we took the opportunity to soak up rays with the sound of the Mediterranean waves crashing in the distance. 

The island is divided into different neighborhoods, the Italian, the Spanish and the British. As soon as we arrived, it was evident we were in the British neighborhood due to the signs boasting “english breakfast” and “rugby sports bar”. While Ibiza wasn’t culturally expansive for me, I owe it a ‘thank you’ for my tan.

Barcelona, ES

Spring Break in Europe, what could be better? Approximately a week and a half ago, I set out with my three girlfriends from Charles De Gaulle airport to begin our spring break adventure. We started this adventure in Barcelona, Spain.

The first few days of our vacation, we were cursed with a bad case spring showers. It rained relentlessly, every day for four days. We found ourselves taking shelter in the warmth of grand churches, taking cover in the expansive market La Boqueria, and hiding in authentic tapas bar to indulge in big glasses of sangria. Things could have been worse.

We ended up going to an Ice Bar. The bar, seats…even cups were made out of ice.

The market was my favorite experience from Barcelona. I loved walking from stall to stall, seeing the inexpensive fruits beautifully displayed, the meat hanging from the ceilings, and the candied nuts piled high.

You can’t help but noticing the gaudy buildings throughout this spanish city. By “gaudy”, I of course, mean the architect and artist Antoni Gaudi, whose buildings and details can be found in many parts of the city.

Park Guell, was like Disneyland for adults. It is a mystical park where every turn leads you to something unexpected—whether it be a mosaic wall or a guitar player hiding under the shade of palms.

The Sagrada Famillia was unfortunately under construction. I was still amazed at the look of this church. It looked as if Gaudi was building a sand castle, taking the wet sand and dripping it over the castle.

As for the food, I found myself indulging in tapas plates of every kind; from grilled green peppers to spicy chorizo platters to colorful paellas. Of course, every meal was accompanied by a fruity sangria.

I don’t know the next time that I will be back to Barcelona but I know for sure that I will be back.

Zurich, CH

*Through doing my titles in this format, I am learning country codes. I mean honestly, who would have guessed Switzerland is abbreviated as CH?

Honestly, I was contemplating even going to Zurich. I already had my flight purchased, and while researching the city, I wasn’t finding anything that got me excited about my weekend trip. I thought to myself—I can always come back to Paris, when is the next time I will be able to go to Zurich. So with a ticket already in hand, I booked my hostel and closed the case. I was going to Switzerland.

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My first day was spent in the city of Zurich. It was a rainy morning and the mountains were barely visible as you looked across Lake Zurich, the grand lake that is a central point of the city.

We walked on the famous Bahnhofstrasse, the luxe shopping street, and looked in the windows of the watch stores that could be found everywhere you set your focus.

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For lunch, we wanted to try the traditional plate of Switzerland, Raclette. We didn’t know what we were in for, all we knew was that it was slightly similar to fondue. Thank goodness our waiter gave us a tutorial. The waiter placed a small grill and gave us a plate full of veggies, pear, and lots of cheese. Oh, and a sack of steaming potatoes. It was a workout of a meal, you were constantly having to put a new slice of cheese on the grill, put your vegetables on, make sure you didn’t fry them and while they were grilling, you were to be cutting up the potatoes to pour the cheese that you were grilling on top of it. Repeat- there are still 10 slices of cheese left and an entire sack of steaming potatoes.

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The rain was really infringing on walking around the city of Zurich, and coming from a newly-pleasant Paris, we decided to go back to the hostel and relax. We returned only to be glued to the TV to watch the Boston lockdown, manhunt. It was a strange feeling, being so far away yet so attached to this situation. As people from all over the world learned of what was happening in the USA through social media, a crowd gathered around the television and we sat in silence and stress, watching together.

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The forecast called for rain again our second day in Zurich. My friend Kate and I decided to bite the bullet; put on all the layers of clothes in our suitcase, run to the closest connivence store and buy the warmest gloves we could find, and hop on a 10 hour long bus to take us to the top of the Alps, Mount Titlus.

This was a great day. We stopped in a small Swiss town, Lucerne, which was actually quite touristy, but you were still able to feel the swiss charm that it offered. We then made our way through windy roads and small towns to the base of the Alps, where we took not one, not two, but three different Gondola lifts to the top, where we reached a height of 3200 meters, that is, two miles up in the sky.

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At the top, while snow was blowing all around us, we walked across the highest suspension bridge in Europe, went through glacier caves, and had ice cream from a famous Swiss creamery.

It was snowing, all day actually, and we were curious as to why the skiers we saw at the bottom of the mountain weren’t at the top with us. Apparently, there was a sever avalanche warning.

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I can’t put up this post without mentioning how expensive Zurich is. The prices were astonishing. It is double the price of everything in America, and then you have to consider the money conversion. A plate of pasta from a normal restaurant  $45 CHF ($53 USD) a whopper from Burger King $17 CHF ($21 USD) a bottle of water $5.50 ($7). It was insane. Thank goodness pictures are the best souvenirs.

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South of France

France holds a true treasure in its southern region. Avenues lined with palm trees, the South of France is a paradise for all; offering mountain views, ocean breeze, city amenities with a small town vibe. 

Dress made completely of waterbottles

It was rainy on my first full day, so my friends and I started off our day by walking through the markets consisting of dried fruit stands and soaps made in Provence, making our way towards the Nice Modern Museum of Art. I loved the layout of the museum, and thought it was conceptually beautiful because of the way they would mix pieces by different artists contrasted by windows showing off the colorful city. 

Obsession with rose gelato

The next day was beautiful. With clear sunny skies, we put on our dresses and headed to the beach. Being Easter Sunday, there were many people out dressed in bright colors and cheerful. We basked in the sun and planned our trip to Monte Carlo. 

Reddest strawberries I have ever seen 

We took a train 30 minute train to Monaco (which by the way is its own country) to visit Monte Carlo. Other than the crystal blue water (after all, it is the Côte D’Azur) and the casino, nice cars and luxe shops—that was pretty much all Monte Carlo had to offer. 

After Monte Carlo, we took the train to Beaulieu (meaning “beautiful place”) and walked through the antique market and then headed back to Nice.

 Our last day, Brigitte and I woke up early and took a train to Antibes. We went to see the Picasso museum, and unfortunately it wasn’t open! So, we walked around the town, through the markets and had a nice lunch. It was then back to Nice until the six hour train ride back to Paris!