Friday, December 20, 2013

Day 15--Vatican City

May 3rd, 2012

Arrivederchi Roma! Buon giorno Vatican City. And buon giorno indeed. Holy holy, is it a prerequisite to be a sexy Italian man to protect the Pope. My word. Hot. Everywhere. So we had the most amazing tour guide for The Vatican. She knew everything. She legit had a lady boner for The Vatican. The small courtyard we started in was so pretty! I love churches and cathedrals. She showed us a small replica of the ceiling of the Sistine Chape depicting the story of Jesus on one side and Moses on the other and the middle photos and what they represent. They are so cool! The Last Judgment was talked about, too and this is beyond amazing. The facts she gave us were so cool just explaining the different sections. So excited to see it live!

Walked through some sculptures which were pretty cool. Saw the porfino marble that takes 1 hour to cut 3 cm. Shit son. Then we walked through some beautiful tapestries and paintings. THEN out of nowhere the guide tells us we’re going through the Borgia apartments. Say. What? I didn’t even know this existed! And that they were preserved! Eep! The Pope after them didn’t want to touch the rooms because of all the horrible things that happened there. Sad yes. But so cool! I was standing in the same rooms Rodrigo, Lucrezia, and Cesare were in. Holy hell. Pun intended. I could NOT get over it. Wow. And so unexpected! I did know some of the stuff she talked about which made me feel pretty damn awesome.

Then it was the Sistine Chapel!! Not as big as I pictured it but wow. I know many people wont get it or appreciate it which I get. T and I were the only Catholics on the trip. Represent! If I wasn’t I probably wouldn’t have really enjoyed it. So anyways, it was so breathtaking. I couldn’t grasp that I was looking at the legit artwork of michaelangelo. So moving. Bought a magnet and a rosary for Nonna. Then walked around St. Peter’s Square and stood in 2 places at once! Italy and Vatican City! Seriously, the structures around the square are gorgeous. Perfect day. Just loved it. Everything is so beautiful. Now it’s off to Venice!

The 2 hour nap we passed off as a night of sleep finally caught up to us all. Rach had puked approximately 4 times by now. Relaxing evening. Fantastic dinner. Journal time for the evening. SO EXCITED FOR VENICE TOMORROW!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Day 14--Rome, Italy

May 2nd, 2012

Viva la Roma!! The tour group hijacked the bus to the Metro station and into Rome we go! We started out at the Spanish Steps that was filled with flowers. Gorgeous. The plaza around it is so pretty. I love it here already. After the steps we walked to the Trevi Fountain. Eeep!!! Holy crap it is huge! And stunning! Seriously, words, pictures, nothing can do this justice! It is so pristine and clean looking. The sculptures are way more interesting and pretty than I thought. I enjoyed this SO much more and was so much more impressed than I thought I would be.

So they say, if you throw 2 coins over your opposite shoulder the first coin grants you a wish, the second coin guarantees your return to Rome. So romantic *sigh*. Of course, we all did that. Cross your fingers my wish comes true! There is also a drinking fountain to the side and the story goes that if you drink out of it your virginity is returned to you. Teresa and Rachel are going to have to drink quite a lot, haha. I drank it too even though clearly I didn’t need any help in this area. Still, ya gotta do it. When in Rome, right? I love this fountain. I just want to sit here and stare all day. Definitely in awe.

Then it was on to the Pantheon. Holy shit. This building is huge and epic and has been standing since 27 BC. Are you for real?! It. Was. Incredible. Oh my gosh, I couldn’t believe how old it is and how so many important people so long ago met here and discussed important things. Its unbelievable. Truly. The inside had beautiful altars and the hold in the ceiling is the only source of light so they obviously have a drainage system in the middle of the floor. Crazy!

Gelato shop was our next stop and had roughly 100 flavors. Caramel, tiramisu, and kit kat. Solid choice. After that we went to the Victor Emmanuelle Memoirial. Wow, I mean wow. It is intense! First, it’s huge. Nexty, it is so white and bright it almost glows. And after that, it is so intricate and detailed its literally insane. I could not believe how effing gorgeous it is. This is the man that nified Italy. Yay! But I guess to build it they had to destroy a lot of Roman ruins that included a medieval village. That quite sucks. The locals hate it for that reason and that it is so white it doesn’t fit in with the surrounding browns. Whatevs. I think its gorgeous. And they hve two eternal flames for the toms of the unknown soliders. Very cool.

We also saw Mussolini’s balcony where he lied to the Italian people during WW II about how he was going to restore Italy to its former glory. Lying bastardo.

After that a short walk to the Coliseum!! They view on the way there is breathtaking. Rome is officially my favorite city. Everything is so old and the ruins are so beyond beautiful. I want to stay and never leave. All of it I just want to take with me

SO! The Coliseum. Um, yeah. So. Frickin. Cool. First, the actual structure itself is everything and more of what I imagined. Its immense and old and just so amazingly cool. We ended up buying tickets from a tour guide who would give us a guided tour as well as entrance into the Palatine Hill and Roman Forum that also includes a guided tour. Our tour guide was incredible. He knew everything! It was so interesting and so worth doing. He walked us through the small rooms they got ready in, where they went oup through the floor, where they slept and the entrance they walked through. Wow.

It was absolutely beautiful inside. The floor was not there and you could see the tunnels of the Coliseum where they used pulleys to lift people up into the arena. Little unknown face for me was gladiators were a huge financial investment and because of that the battles between gladiators rarely ended in death; weird. Only 1 in 10 actually died in battle. And a lot of times the people would use hand gestures (thumb tucked in fist to stay alive) to signify what they wanted to happen to the losing gladiator (thumb sideways to kill them). At the end of the day thought it was the Emperor who decided life or death. I also didn’t know that animal were the first creatures to fight in the arena. People would spend tons of money to import exotic animal to fight. Weird. Oh! They also flooded it one time to stage naval battles with ships. WTF?! How cool is that?! Like I couldn’t believe that! Amazing. We also went in a small tunnel/room where they threw the dead bodies. Ugh, it still stunk like they were there yesterday. Ick.

After the tour we walked around and took some pics; had a very nutritious and late lunch of Pringles and it was off to the Palatine Hill tour which I hd never head of until today. Oops. So this place of ruins used to be a palace. It if effing huge! Parts of the wall are still standing and actual pieces of the marble floor are there. It was so wicked cool to see. PS-our tour guide is a legit voide twin to Robin Leach. That shit was crazy. You close your eyes and you couldn’t tell the difference. Amazing.

The palace was really interesting to see actually, moreso than I thought it would be. I kept trying to imagine what this place looked like when it was in all its glory. Probably ridiculously lavish. Most interesting story was about one of the men who lived here and used to have like 50 course dinners and for people to accommodate the massive amounts of food, they would have people in the bathroom tickle their throats with feathers to make them throw up. Then they would go back out there and keep eating. Ew.

Sidenote: after the Coliseum, Palatine Hill, and reading Julius Caesar, I have come to the conclusion that Suzanne Collins was so inspired by Roman history. All this stuff is in her books. From the puking, to the arena, the fight to the death, the fighters coming up from the floor, the names, all of it! Incredible! It is unreal and totally amazing. She is even cooler than I thought.

After the hill we did a quick walk through the Forum and took a pic of T stabbing me. Et tu, Brute? Famished—walked around until we found a restaurant. The entire staff was very attentive…and creepy. Meh. They gave us free champagne, so whatever.

Eventually made it back to near the Spanish Stephs. Long story short, Jarrah wanted to buy sunglasses so we went into a lot of the high end stores; Louis Vuitton, D&G, Burberry, etc. to try and find some. Well, she is so damn indecisive she can’t make up her effing mind and I’m dragging ass with this task because I don’t give a shit. They’re sunglasses. C’mon, it’s not that big of a deal. We literally walked in and out of each of these stores at least twice. Back and forth, back and forth. What also grinded my gears is that it was getting late, stuff shuts down early, and the ONLY thing I wanted to do and that I’ve been talking about for days is go to this bookstore underground that Becs told me about.

I finally asked the lady in Max and Co. where it was and I snapped that I was going to find my bookstore and I’ll be back and hauled ass out of there. Probably not the best decision objectively but I have a short fuse, I’m irritated with this superficial material bullshit, and I want out for a few minutes. But honestly, I’ll take my chances against a mugger or rapist rather than take it out on Jarrah for a few reasons. One- I would feel bad about snapping on her. Two-awkward would not begin to describe the feelings of the next 9 days after my having exploded verbally at her. And three-at least my rage at a raist would be rage well spent…SO, off I went. Got slightly turned around BUT I did eventually find the bookshop! Yay! And no English books. Fuck. Me. Bookshop worker told me about the galleria and they have inglese libres. Success! Bought a non-fiction book about the Borgia family. Score. Done. Purchased. Finito. Let’s go before Teresa ends up calling my mother to tell her I ran off alone in Rome. That rage I spoke about prior, remember that? Yeah, that would be child’s play compared to the Sicilian wrath that would be reigned down on me if my mother found out I started blindly running around by myself…in an unknown city…in a foreign country. I’d be fuckign every way for 20 years of Sundays. Shit.

Anyways, made it back to the store, they were all there. Thank goodness. Hopped the Metro and bus back to the hostel. Stopped at the mini market the hostel has and bought a pack of cards for my Nonna, she’s gonna love it.

Started getting ready, skulling rose wine, pure class. Rach and T finished a whole bottle of limoncella. Wonder how that’s gonna feel tomorrow? So we finished putting on the hot girl disguises, tried for longer than I’d like to admit to to tie a toga, and we were off to the bar. It was 11:30 by this point…oops. Still had a rockin good time. I don’t think you can’t NOT have fun running around in a toga. There was this totally cute lawyer from the other tour that Rach made take shots with us and I coerced into dancing with me. Apparently the girls on his tour told me he doesn’t do shots or dance…welp, I can be quite persuasive and I really don’t take no for an answer. However, while adorable, he was super awkward and made no move. Story of my life.

Super fun time dancing. And then one of the chefs kept flirting with me…I said to him, ‘I thought you had a girlfriend.’ He said, ‘I do, I love her more than anything.’ Um…how about you stop telling me how beautiful I am then? Not that I was interested but if I had a boyfriend (lol), and he was telling other girls they were beautiful, he would no longer hold the prestigious title of boyfriend. Gosh, guys are such retards.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Day 13--Rome, Italy

May 1st, 2012

Well, after wonderful 3 ½ hours of sleep its up and out for a walking tour of Florence. Kill me. My feet hurt so badly it feels as if they are bruised across the entire bottom of my foot. Oh my gosh, the pain. Every step is agony. But I supposed it’s better than my hip…perspective. Florence is gorgeous. The Piazzas are supre pretty, the Duomos and Baptistery is where we started. Michelangelo designed the Duomo’s dome. The woman doing the walking tour was excellent. Super knowledgeable and informative but had way too many erroneous details that took too long to explain. We saw the pig in the maret that I rubbed for good luck and threw some money in. Hope that means I’ll be back!

The Ponte Vecchio bridge was quite pretty. The Piazza della Signoria had some amazing sculptures. I totally have a thing for sculptures. After the tour we had a short demo at Leonardo’s Leather which was actually really cool to see. And the guy was from Minnesota. Go USA! We at lunch at a restaurant Becs suggested—diavola pizza…delicious.

Did some market shopping after that and ate some tasty gelato. I am gonna eat my weight in this. No joke. When in Rome…er, Italy. And F me, we made it to the bus JUST as it started pouring. Phew. Then it was off to Rome! Eeep!

Got to Rome, had some amazing food. There was a traffic light party tonight but no appearances by us. I did buy a hilarious green t-shirt that says, ‘F*** Me I’m Famous @ Ciao Bella.’ My mother is going to kill me but I find it hil-arious! Spend the night hanging out and relaxing and writing in the journal. It’s nice to have a chill night every few days. Walking tour of Rome tomorrow! So excited!!!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Day 12--Florence, Italy

April 30th, 2012

Adieu Switzerland! Italy, here we come! Super long drive this morning and afternoon. I’m personally pissed at the world because Team New Zealand shoved their lame asses up to the front of the line for the bus and each took a seat for themselves. There are 6 of them. When the 4 of us have our own seat, we rotate. 2 of us go solo, the other two share. It’s just so childish that they all scrambled ahead, obviously so, to swipe their own seats. This is why I don’t get along with females, they are too transparent and predictable.

THEN the subject of reading came up and one of the guys told me he thinks a day spent reading is a day wasted. Are you fucking kidding me? I told him, ‘I think it’s the best way to spend a day. Why wouldn’t you want to spend a day enhancing your intelligence?’ Then they all started mumbling so I turned around and shut up before I said something id’ maybe (probably not) regret. Stupid, ignorant fools. People that don’t read or at least appreciate reading, I feel honest pity for. Reading give you stories and experiences of people and situations you would never be exposed to otherwise. You can travel the world and in time without leaving your house. Keep on with your linear one-dimensional experience of life. Have fun. Morons.

Ok, enough with the angry writing, I’m over it…ish. K, so loooong bus ride to Florence. Buon giorno Italia!! Ah! So excited! I felt home. I really did. I was also irritated at everybody on the bus because I felt protective of my homeland. I know that sounds weird but I did. Nobody else knows how much I’ve wanted this or how long I’ve waited for this. I felt it in my soul and my heart and I wanted to hear and know everything Italy has to offer in its history. Becs was talking about how Italians are super family oriented and they Momma runs the household and they have long life expectancies and 600 different words for pasta—all I could think of was, yep that’s about right! I felt so proud to be a part of a nation with such distinct and amazing history. I am home.

And if I wasn’t sure of it before I def felt at home in italy after Pisa. Its in a small square that is walled off in a courtyard and its beautiful! The Leaning Tower of Pisa is gorgeous and just incredible to look at. But the best part was Becs telling us how the Baptistery here has one of the jugs of water that Jesus turned to wine. AND there is building with a cemetery inside that is supposed to have the sand from Christ’s crucifixion, and if you bury somebody in there, the body disappears in 24 hours because of the sand. Goo. I just go chills. I love Italy. I love that we are in a Catholic nation with a huge emphasis on Jesus and spirituality. I cannot gush enough!

Got to our hostel in Florence, or Firenze in Italian, and it has a kickass bar, good drinks—strong—and good food. Run the World was playing when we started actively drinking. Bitch, please. Like that isn’t my favorite song of the moment. It was fate.

Hostel dancing was quite fun. Great jams. T and I did the Dougie and the Crazy in Love dance. Of course, Team New Zealand had to comment and ask why we always knew all the dances?, idk, because we’re awesome? We headed for the karaoke bar after that and the streets were PACKED. It was Notte Bianche (White Night) so everything was open all night long. It was a legit cluster fuck trying to get all these people to the same place. Wall to wall people. Becs said they usually see about 50 people on the walk…there were easily thousands. We finally got there and immediately signed up to sing the only song that mattered…Spice Up Your Life…hells to the yes. Shots tasted awful but were cheap so choking that down wasn’t the most fun. Ick.

By the way, Italian men are aggressive. Fuck. I like an assertive man but this was insane. Keep our hands to yourself, sir and stop being such a creepy bastard. Attention is nice and flattering but whoa. Rachel literally kicked a guy in the sternum. Yes…that happened. The guy made the mistake of saying he thought she was prettier than Teresa so Rachel yelled back, ‘don’t talk shit about my friend!’ and proceeded to kick him in the chest. Well played. We ended the evening with ‘It’s Raining Men’ because some fucking retard jacked Barbie Girl from me. Uh…that was my pick! I was so upset!

Anyways, I lost the other girls at one point and walked home with Becs. She is the best tour guide ever. She is just awesome. Lots of creeps overall for the night though. I think Teresa may or may not have punched a guy in the face at some point…not too sure. Italy must bring out the aggression in everyone, eh? Stumbled in to the hostel at around 4 am…oops.

OMG!! I forgot the BEST part of the night! One of my life’s bucket list check marks has been completed. Drumroll please…I threw some guy The Face…and held it…and it worked!! Jenna Marbles, I thank you! So, here’s the story. Creeper was bothering us, rach tried to throw The Face and couldn’t hold it so I did it. I threw it, committed to it, and the guy totally laughed at first, looked around, and slooooowly walked away. Works every time. Jenna Marbles, you are genius.

Go Florence. Play hard. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

What I Learned in Switzerland

What I Learned in Switzerland

1. Don't trust anyone from the Czech Republic 
according to the lovely woman at the desk
...or anyone from the Eastern Bloc
...cuz that's isn't totally prejudiced or anything...
Not that it matters that not only am I Czech but also Polish and German
...Eastern European mutt and proud of it right here.

2. Apparently the entire town of Lauterbrunnen knows when a Czech man is in their midst. 
Turn your locks...oh wait, you don't have any...

3. Dancing on tables singing Spice Girls and N***** in Paris and Miley Cyrus, in that order, is totally normal and totally epic.

4. Swiss people go crazy over 'a little wind.'

5. Switzerland does not need to be in the EU because they are financially stable enough not to need it. This is because of all the money they basically embezzled after the Nazi's couldn't get their money back out of their Swiss bank accounts. I have quite an opinion about this and it is not a positive one. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Day 11--Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland

April 29th, 2012

This. Weather. Sucks. The wind is too strong and we cannot go up the mountain or skydive. Noooo!!! I am so frickin’ sad I wanted to do it so badly! I would have felt so badass. Ultimate sad face.

So we spent the morning writing. Went and sat at a bar. Walked up a hill to overlook the town. Breathtaking. Wow. I couldn’t believe where I was in my life. How did I get so blessed? I felt so lucky to be sitting there enjoying lunch just overlooking the town. God’s work. It was a perfect day.

We walked around the little town, saw some Swatches and Swiss Army knives. Went to a café where they had this book swap thing where you can exchange books. They actually had quite an impressive collection! Lots of populat books! Except they had a copy of The Historian and it was so destroyed I had to walk away, it was too sad. But since I didn’t get a book in France, I bought an English UK edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I’m saying I bought this in Paris and it counts as my daring sword fights, magic spells, and princes in disguise book. I almost bought The Alchemist for Switzerland to count as my inspiration book but I decided I didn’t need it…I have to watch the luggage weight after all.

And we got hot chocolate! Check! It actually tasted only okay but still, gotta do it. Rachel talked to the waitress and she told us about a walking trail to see waterfalls inside the mountain. Sweet.

So we set off and it should have only taken about 30 minutes to walk there…it took 50. I was so slow, my hip didn’t hurt but it was weird achy. I finally found a walking stick which helped kind of. Teresa kind of irritated me because I was getting kind of cranky because I was kind of hungry, my hip ached, like wtf? I just got off crutches 4 days before we left. You’re gonna be a doctor so you should know that the way I pushed this hip to walk probably wasn’t the best way to go. Rachel and Jarrah were all, ‘we’ll take a bus back, are you okay?’ So nice and supportive. Teresa? Opposite. I ask one time, not even in a mean way, ‘how much farther?’ and I get massive attitude and this response, ‘Well do you wanna go back? It closes in 20 minutes and then this walk is for nothing.’ Whoa. What the fuck. I just got off crutches and limped about
3 miles. Show a little fucking compassion. Some future doctor. Do I still feel this way? No. was I pissed and enraged at the time? Yes. So I didn’t talk to her the whole time we were in the mountain. Took my pics, saw the waterfalls, and had a good time. It really was cool. It reminded me of that movie Gold Diggers for some reason. It was cool. AND the elevator up the mountain was like a mine shaft. So of course, I had to drop a District 12 reference…obvi.

We did catch the mine shaft down and started walking back, which clearly I was dreading…however, the man who ran the elevator drove up and asked if we wanted a ride. Now I must premise this with yes, objectively this is a very, very bad idea. Random stranger man, foreign country, accepting to get into a car…BUT this is the safest country we will be in, these people don’t even put locks on their doors, my hip hurts, there are 4 of us, it’s down the road…well, giddy up, let’s go. One safe ride and we arrived at our hostel all in one piece. Solid. BTW, the second he asked if we wanted a ride, 2 thoughts popped into my head. 1. Only Teresa and me 2. How do I get in these situations?

So one of the Team New Zealand girls was outside and goes, ‘who is that guy you got a ride with?’ L.O.L. We totally called that in the car that we hoped these bitches would see us riding in style—well, you know what I mean. THEN 2 other Team New Zealand girls came out and told us the lady inside asked who we were, about how dangerous it is, we were so unsafe, yadda yadda yadda. These bitches are so passive aggressive and catty I just wanna punch them. Shut up already. Keep wearing your “trendy” clothes in bumfuck Switzerland, population 20 and wasting a perfectly good outfit on nobody. You’re so cool. I can’t stand these girls. After this encounter, we all decided to be as obnoxious as possible. Might as well live up to the perception. You’re nobody until you’re talked about.

Dinner was amaze. Chicken with roasted potatoes. *drool* We started drinking a little after that and another tour group had arrived and we were challenged to a flip cup game. Oh. Hell. Yes. Fools. You don’t know who you’re dealing with. 30 minutes later these idiots finally got organized. We were the anchor of the team. Duh. And after a very nerve-wracking observation of the front half we pulled it out and legit dominated. Holla! We ended up talking to the other group and were super cool…while the people from our group went back to being hermits. Have fun!

Drank a little more and eventually got on the tables to dance. Eesh, I am so not like this at home. Going out in other countries is so much better than at home. Must bring out my wild side. Of course, our fan club were very keen observers. Such loyal fans we have. This place was hot as hell by the way. I was sweating like I was in a boiler room. I had to sleep in my underwear because I just couldn’t cool down. Oof. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Day 10--Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland

April 28th, 2012

After another very restful night of 4 hours of sleep, we're back on the bus. Croissant breakfast and eggs--tasty. Everyone on the tour was all, ‘oh, how are you feeling? What time did you get in? Blah blah blah.’ Shut up. Story trying to pretend you actually care when in reality you’re wishing we looked and felt like shit because you know you’re lame as hell. I don’t know what’s wrong with these people that they don’t want to go out and have fun. I mean, that’s fine, do what you want but don’t judge me for my choices.

Anyways, got a seat to myself which was glorious. Totally able to curl up and sleep sporadically. Various stops throughout the day until we got to Switzerland around 5:30 pm. The scenery during the drive was (of course) beautiful. Pictures don’t do it justice—again. You can’t see the depth and color and intricacy of the landscape. It’s ridiculous. The cabin we’re staying in are nice. Only bad part is that the bathroom are like across the street. No lie. It’ll be fine.

The optional for Lauterbrunnen are the train up the mountain to the highest point you can get to without being a legit climber. Totally want to do that. And skydiving!! Out of a helicopter!! Made of a glass floor!! Over the Alps!! Eeep! Sign me the F up. YOLO. However, the weather is debatable due to the wind so I’m HOPING it all works out because I wanna do this SO badly. It’s just a little wind, right?

After settling in we had dinner at the bar at the camp grounds. This is the bar where all the coasters are all over the walls and hanging up! Teresa said Adam and his sister have coasters somewhere in here; he wants her to find it…good luck with that. In Swiss fashion, we had fondue; so good!! I love using the little skewers. We stayed around for a little while chatting and hanging out but hell, we partied hard last night, we were tired and left to journal. And get a good night’s sleep in prep for skydiving!!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

What I Learned in Paris

What I Learned in Paris

1. The Notre Dame was almost torn down until Victor Hugo wrote a book about it and it was saved. 
Yay Quasimodo!

2. Children will pretend to be deaf and mute in order to steal from you. 

3. It is ok to drink in the public; 
one does not need to skull wine from the inside of jackets.
Good to know.

4. Apparently they can 'make sex' in Paris.
Who knew?

5. Boys names Romeo actually do exist in real life.

6. Louis XIV was a prick and spent all the people's money building Versailles; 
Louis XV enjoyed it all;
Louis XVI paid for it all in death alongside Marie Antoinette.

7. The Lourve used to be a palace where Louis XIV lived--he built Versailles because the Lourve was too small.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Tips and To-Dos--Paris

Paris. The city of love. 

1. Use an over the shoulder purse that can zip.
I found Paris to have a TON of pickpocketers. Beware the children around the Louvre and along the Champps Elysses trying to get you to sign a petition. DO NOT SIGN IT. It is their attempt to rob you. Just ignore them and keep walking. Harsh but true.

2. Go off the beaten path. 
Restaurants close to the Champps Elysses will be super expensive. Wander around a little and find something farther away to keep from paying an arm and a leg for a baguette.

3. Use the Metro system. 
 This will be my tip in every city. Familiarize yourself with the public transportation system. It will save you heaps of time and headaches and money from trying to hail a cab.

4. Speaking of cabs...
It's obvious you won't have any clue where you are going, that's what cab drivers are for, right? Just make sure you're not being driven in circles. This happened to me and I refused to get in a car if the driver didn't speak English. This might sound rude but it's true. Keep your guard up. 

5. The Lourve will try and trick you.
I didn't experience this personally but a friend of mine was trying to exit the Lourve and the signs were completely confusing AND misleading. Be aware of this if you venture inside to try to expand your cultural knowledge. 

Must See!
The Sacre Cour Cathedral
I think this is prettier than the Notre Dame. The view is unlike any other I've ever seen. Hidden tip! Beware of the men that weave bracelets on your wrist. They will come right up to you and start to make a bracelet...then refuse to let go until you give them whatever amount of money they want. 

The Lourve
I'm cheating a little because I didn't go inside BUT if you don't have time to see the Mona Lisa, just going to see the former palace is beautiful. And you can see that pyramid monstrosity. Shudder.

The Eiffel Tower
Obiv. I'd also suggest taking the free steps up to the first level. I didn't get a chance but I hear the view is amazing!

Cabaret Show
It's not necessary to go to the Moulin Rouge, but see a show somewhere. It is so perfectly Parisian that you can't miss it if you're there.

The Champps Elysses
The street glows. Just walk it. You don't even have to buy anything. Just walk to the walk girlfriends. 

Notre Dame
The church is beautiful. The architecture of the building is amazing. You can't miss taking a picture looking like a hunchback in front of it...look out for the gargoyles!

Hope this can help you guys in some planning! I'm always available via Twitter or email if you want more details, have questions about my experience, or just want to talk traveling! 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Day 9--Paris, France

April 27th, 2012

Wow, big day today. Got up early and headed out with our newly purchased Metro cards to the Notre Dame. First we found a totally local, all French menu for some brekkie. Had  my first croissant in France! So delicious. It was like it was melted in butter *drool*. It felt amazing to just sit in a Parisian café and eat breakfast. Check.

The Notre Dame was a short walk away with amazing scenery. These buildings are incredible. The Notre Dame was no joke. Wow. I cannot believe how beautiful it was. The gargoyles have been spotted! Quasimodo is that you?! Insdie was gorg. Another candle lit for the fam. Of course, the angels were my favorite part. There was one at the back that I loved. It was just so neat to bein the place that inspired The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

We did some street shopping and I found a Tour de France hat for my Dad! Yay! He’s gonna love, love, love it! The Lourve was next and after narrowly missing getting robbed by a 10 year old with a cigarette in her mouth we made it to the courtyard of the Louvre. Sidenote: these children pretended to be deaf and mute and as you sign their petition to “help” them, they try and rob you. Ew. Paris, I’m not impressed right now. Dirty. Anyway. SO. Holy hell, this courtyard is no joke. Neither is this former palace. This used to be the home of Louis XIV before he built Versailles. I had no idea how big it was! It is massive! And that glass pyramid that is famously in the middle of the courtyard felt so out of place to me. I did not like it at all. It was this huge, modern monstrosity in the middle of all this old architectural glory.

The fake Arc de Triumph was right in front so we decided just to walk straight down to the Champps Elysses to the real Arc. Um, the Champps Elysses is ridiculously legit. First, it’s beautiful. Its like this shiny, bright spot with marble and gold and beautiful clothing everywhere. The Louis Vuitton store was unreal. I want everything. The Zara store had so many cute things I want to hoard it all. The damage I could do with unlimited funds would be ridiculous. I would like Victoria Beckham fabulous every frickin’ day. I did personally splurge and buy a clutch that’s cream with gold studs—it’s bloody beautiful. And I bought a really nice scarf for Mom which I can’t WAIT to give her. She can tell all the wonderers she got it from her daughter when she went to Paris. Yeah, I’m excited about that.

We got yelled at—twice—in H & M because the line for the dressing room was entirely too long. So we guerilla changed into the dresses we wanted to try on over our clothes in the corner. Yeah, that didn’t go over well.

We finished the shopping Mecca and found the Arc de Triumph to take some pictures. Then we went in search of food. All we wanted were some baguette sandwiches and macaroons. It wasn’t too much to ask for in Paris. It took forever and our blood sugars were probably about 36 and we were cranky as hell. We finally found some macaroons and then a little café to eat at. Seriously though, how hard is it to find a damn café in France. What the F.

On the way home we stopped at the liquor store where we spend a whopping 5.37 Euro on wine and 1.33 Euro on champagne…no joke. So of course, we bought another bottle. We drank, got ready, jammed to Disney music, and headed out for a night out in Paris. A frickin’ hour Metro ride later as well as a confusing walk in front of the Eiffel Tower later—as well as a pitstop in a bar—we finally found our tour group…we were only 50 minutes late…oops. Becs saved us food, thank goodness. We skulled (Australian for chugged) our bottle of wine—classy—and headed to the cabaret show.

Sidenote: So we made time in our day to make sure to go back to the hotel to change and look nice. Everyone else must have come straight from whatever they chose to do that day because they were all staring at us like wild animals. I don’t understand. Um, hi, yes we dressed up, that’s what Becs said to do. Sorry you all didn’t time manage properly and look like scrubs. I don’t know if you know this but we are in Paris—fashion capitol of the world, the hell if I’m not busting out my hot girl disguise and smokin’ fabulous dress. This is what I brought it for. Stop staring. I know that sounds terrible but it was so weird.

The cabaret show was really cute. Topless girls, shirtless guy dancing on a rope and trapeze. Pretty entertaining. Not the best thing I’ve ever seen but I’m glad I’ve seen a cabaret show. Check.

So yeah, after the show everybody, I mean everybody but us, bitched out and went home. What the flying hell?? We are in Paris! Why aren’t you partying!? If I’M telling people to party, there is a serious problem here. Idiots.

We almost got scammed by our first taxi driver who drove around in circles trying to get to the Notre Dame. Jara was finally like um, no. Threw 5 euro at him and yelled for us to get the fuck out of the cab. Good girl. We walked around skulling wine out of Jara’s jacket. Pure class. Oh yeah, I kind of stole that bottle of wine from the cabaret show…sorry not sorry.

After Rachel asking a police officer where we can party, we found a trip of Latin bars aka the Latin Quarter. It was okay. Nobody really knew what was a good bar to go to, everyone we asked was clueless. Do you people not live in this city? I knew the French were arrogant but I didn’t think they were this stupid. Random French guy we were talking to tried to all of the sudden kiss me on the mouth. What the fuck? Then he told me he wanted to take me back to his house to make sex…and this is when we walked away. How does one make sex? Strange wording. Creep.

However, all was not lost. This adorable English-speaking French boy came up to us and asked if we would accompany them to an Irish bar because they can’t get in without girls. Sure. Why not? He was skinny and I told him I could take him down if I needed to. His name is Romeo. Is this real life? And he’s half Italian. I think I’m in love. HAHA.

We get to the Irish bar and the boys still couldn’t get in. Oops. Sorry not sorry. This place had excellent music and we danced and had a fabulous time. Ok, Paris, you have redeemed yourself.

So, another hidden talent I found I have is busting out random French. Sweet. Trying to flag down a cab I refused to get into one that didn’t have an English-speaking driver. So the first four cabs I saw, when I opened the door I asked, ‘parle-vouz ingle?’ Yeah…it’s a common phrase but I don’t know where that came from. 5th cab was the charm and we made it back safe and sound. Tomorrow we say au revoir to Paris but stay tuned for some thing I learned while there.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Book Breakdown--France

'I'm goin to France, y'all!!'...Who doesn't a Bridesmaid quote?...Anyone? Ok, so here are my picks for some books that take place in France and are definitely worth to check out prior to touching down in Paris...or if you'd like to feel like you're there :)

This book is phenomenal and will be featured in my future 'Inspirations to Travel' post. This book captures the beauty and freedom of France perfectly. The whole book does not take place here but the story afterwards is just perfection. This book is one of my favs and it could be yours, too! Just keep in mind, this book will inspire you to do more than just travel; it will inspire you to live life to the fullest. 

Historical fiction about how Brittany fought to keep their independence. You learn about the history of France a bit and the story will be impossible to put down.

This book is a bit of a stretch for France but it does take place just don't get a lot of scenery. This book is SO worth it though. It could probably count for England more than France but I had so many for England I waned to share the wealth. This book is one of my ABSOLUTE FAVORITES so if you get a chance just read it because you want to. It's incredible. 

Do YOU have any books that take place in France that I missed?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Day 8--Paris, France

April 26th, 2012

Top Deck tour!!! Day One! After a whopping 4 hours of sleep—which felt like I blinked and my alarm went off—it wasn’t as bad as I anticipated waking up. We checked in and met our tour guide Becs who seems super sweet. Quick breakfast and it was on the bus to Paris! 2 hours later we got to the ferry…’I have a thing for ferry boats.’… Sadly, no McDreamy on this boat. I was so nervous I was going to be sick with all the rocking and swaying but after sitting down and some food it was all good.
90 minutes later we officially arrived in FranceCalais to be exact and all I could think of was the battle in ‘The Queen’s Fool.” Such a good book but such a sad part, however still amazing to have been there. More bus ride with beautiful scenery. Green valleys and I was thinking of Beauty and the Beast. Besides YOLO, my other motto for this trip is ‘I want adventure in the great, wide somewhere; I want it more than I can tell.’ Which is so true. I felt anxious at certain points, like really scared and nervous to be away for so long in a strange place where I really have no fall back or resources. But then I remembered that life doesn’t happen when you’re sitting on your ass. Life doesn’t happen until you step out of your comfort zone. I read that somewhere and I didn’t understand it fully until this trip and it is SO true. You have to go out and find life. I want to find life and experiences. I want to be able to tell my kids stories one day of all the amazing places I’ve been and seen and all the cool ass things I’ve done.

Emo moment over. We got into Paris around 5 pm. We got ready and went to a local restaurant across the street. We all know how adventurous I am with foods so y’all might want to sit down. I ate escargot—yes, that is snail, tasted like a mushy meatball—and frog’s legs—bland, soft chicken, haha. The dinner was SO good! Onion soup and beef bourgeon with noodles. Yum! Oh, and of course, tons of baguettes.

We did a city lights tour after supper and got to do an impromptu stop at the Sacre Cour cathedral. Oh my gosh, it was breathtaking! Its on top of a hill which took a hike to get up but was so worth it! We were looking out at the entire city of Paris. Shit son. I cannot describe how amazingly beautiful it is. Indescribable. Pictures do not do it justice. The church itself is gorgeous and I made a donation and lit a candle for Granny, G-Pa and Auntie Nina. It’s tradition. Gotta do it.

After that we saw the rest of Paris via bus. I’ve had the Anastasia song ‘Paris Holds the Key to Your Heart’ stuck in my head since we got here…well, that and N***** in Paris. The first thing we saw was the Red Light District which is home to the Moulin Rouge!! It was so frickin’ cool. Weird though because it’s stuck in the middle of the strip of building on the street. The Arc de Triumph with Napoleon’s eternal flame which I didn’t know existed until today, was beautiful. We got some night pics at the Eiffel Tower! Eep! I could not believe I was seeing it in person with my own eyes. Unbelievable. I can’t wait to just walk around and be in the city. We also drown down the Champps Elysses. Holy hell. Can I puh-lease have the means one day to afford a small shopping spree through this amazingness? It’s not even that I want expensive things. I want the design and look of the expensive things, haha.

Early night after the tour for a big sight-seeing day tomorrow! Eep! Oh and since ive left England now I can recap what I’ve learned! Stay tuned!

Peace out, London. It’s been real.

Friday, November 22, 2013

What I Learned in England

What I Learned in England

1. They treat ketchup like a gold commodity--really, it's just a condiment, c'mon people. 

2. London is quite ashamed of the bloody history of the Tower and would really love for it to be recognized as a palace--not gonna happen, give the people what they want. 

3. Hampton Court Palace is the most underrated tourist attraction...ever.

4. I have an innate talent to get men I barely know to buy me 267 pound champagne and rack up a 500 pound bar tab.

5. British girls suck major if we Americans can wrangle in men with no make-up, casual clothes, and flat boots on. Charming.

6. I really want a castle.

7. Harry Potter is still the greatest thing of all time and always will be. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

TIps and To-Dos--London

So, I know I said I wouldn't use this as anything but a transcription of my journal...yeah, I wanted to do more than just "read" my journey to you guys. Now, I am NOT an expert by any means. This feature is for very basic tips and tricks and my favorite to-dos in each city. Everyone is different, everyone has different likes and dislikes and ways of doing things so don't take my word as law is all I'm sayin'. 

London. One of my absolute FAVORITE cities in the world. I have now been there twice and have a plan to go back in June with my sister who has been dying to go there forever! There is so much rich history and culture. The West End holds the theater district and it is just incredible. You could easily spend 2 weeks there doing something everyday and there will STILL be things you haven't done. My goal the next time I go is to get out to Wales and Oxford. I wanted to go this year and we just didn't have time! Plus there was a wind issue--eep. Ok, here we go.

1. Get an Underground map and buy your Oyster card. 
London is massive and you just cannot walk everywhere you need to go. The Underground is also massive and the system can be confusing but DON'T FREAK OUT. Calmly look at the lines and connections. Or ASK FOR HELP. Once you get the hang of the Underground, you can get anywhere. The world is your oyster...see what I did there?

London is SUCH an expensive city and don't be fooled by thinking the British pound is equal to the American dollar (if you are American and reading this, if you are from another country, sorry. However, the conversion still won't be the same...anyway). Every attraction you want to go to will cost money. Food is expensive. Shows are also expensive (see next tip). Just make sure you really look into your finances and save as much as you can before you go because London is the most expensive city I've been to. Of course, it is also where there is EVERYTHING I want to do.

3. Love the theater? Want to see a show? 
Research into the show's Day Tickets.
 I went to see Let It Be and We Will Rock You when I was just there and because I bought my tickets the day of the show during a certain time, I got AMAZING seats at a very cheap price. Grab brochures for shows you want or inquire at the box office. You will save yourself a ton of money buying the day of. Of course, not every show will have this, just do your research. 

4. Don't overestimate yourself and the concept of time. 
Because there is SO much to do you might think you can get in all 3 attractions you want to go to. Don't overreach. Traveling via Underground takes more time than you will probably think, especially if there isn't good service on the line. Don't get frustrated with crowds either. It is a huge tourist city so lots of people want the best experience. Give yourself more time than you think to get around and get to your destinations.

5. Do a hop on-hop off tour.
I would recommend this in any city. If you are traveling along and not with a tour group, it might be overwhelming to know what are the best things to see in each city. With London, there are too many things to see unless you move there. Doing a hop on-hop off tour will get you around to at least SEE all the major palaces and churches. You might not have time to go in all of them but at least you can say that you've seen it. London, again, is huge. Get a feel for it by getting on a bus tour. They usually run about 2 hours if you stay on for the whole tour. It also is a good way to get around during the day. Hop off at the Tower, hop back on and it will eventually get you to Buckingham Palace. Efficient.

6. Research your accommodation site. 
Do a little research into where you are staying. Make sure it is near a Tube station and, if at all possible, a popular one. 

Must See!
The Tower of London
Lots of history. Site of executions. Crown Jewels. What's not to love?

The Making of Harry Potter
Uh...need I really explain?

Buckingham Palace
Quick stop. Take some pictures. See the change of the guard--check the schedule. Off season they only change the guard every other day. Peak season (summertime) they do it every day.

Westminster Abbey
See where Kate and Will got married! The cathedral is beautiful on the outside and my number one goal my next trip is to get inside! It was closed when I went :(

Hampton Court Palace
SO underrated! This place is outside of London so you will have to take a train, takes about 30 minutes, but it is so worth it. I swear, the gardens inspired Lewis Carroll. Home of Henry VIII, it is a must see for me, if you love history, it will be for you, too. 

You Can Skip

Shakespeare's Globe
I was so disappointed in this. Small exhibition. Nothing really to see. If you LOVE Shakespeare, go to say you've been there, if you're not, you can definitely skip this. 

Abbey Road
Don't be fooled by the Underground stop labeled Abbey Road. I learned the hard way it is NOT the infamous Beatles site. That is much more centrally located in London. Do your research. I would tell you myself but I can't remember either!

Hope this can help you guys in some planning! I'm always available via Twitter or email if you want more details, have questions about my experience, or just want to talk traveling!