We are excited to share some of our adventures in Europe. We traveled to Paris, Rome, and Ireland in September 2015. The most exciting part for us was that this was our first actual vacation together and it was also the first time either of us had traveled to Europe. A little background on how we ended up going to Europe… Well it all started with plans for myself (Nicole) and my friend Krystle to take a “girls” trip on a cruise. Ryan didn’t want to be left out of the fun, so he and his buddy started planning a better trip than ours. As he was planning telling me all about how they were going to go travel through Europe I was super jealous and knew I couldn’t afford to travel to Europe. When he told me the cost… I was like um yeah, I want to go! So, with a “ton” of convincing, our girls trip turned into a trip to Europe. Sad to say Ryan’s buddy had to drop out… but the three of us had great time.
Our first stop in Europe was Paris. We would like to point out that we left the United States on Tuesday at 4:30pm local time and we arrived on Wednesday 6:10am Paris time (it was midnight back here at home). The issue was none of us were able to sleep on the flight meaning this was about hour 14 of our day and we had just begun. By the end of our day we had not slept for over 30 hours and walked all over Paris.
Our first experience in Paris was the cab ride and OH BOY was it an experience. There is always friendly banter that Ohio drivers can’s drive… no it’s the Kentucky ones that can’t but let us assure you… it doesn’t matter if you think you are the worse driver or the best driver… we all look like normal sane drivers compared to the drivers in Paris. Honestly, we do not remember street signs, speed limits, or even lane identification lines. It’s very hard to explain how they drive but all we can say is that we are VERY thankful we survived!
After a brief stop at our hotel to drop off the luggage and freshen up, our journey started off at the opera house Palais Garnier. This was a wonderful building inside and out full of stone artwork and ornate decoration.
Breathtaking is an understatement when describing Palais Garnier. We would definitely recommend that if you are ever in Paris you should stop and see this building as it will amaze you. Phantom of the Opera is based off of this opera house and as we walked though, we were able to locate the Phantom’s opera box!
From there we headed to Sacré Coeur, beautiful church on the highest hill in Paris. This was a long uphill walk with TONS of steps. Majority of the day it was raining on and off, but the view from the top was wonderful and as was the building itself. Side Note: After we walked up many hills and hundreds of stairs to reach the top of, we noticed a hill side trolley giving rides up to the church from below! The view and church were well worth the climb, we were able to see all around Paris. Outside the church we were taken back by the sound of accordion music. It added the most beautiful ambiance. (Ryan’s minor vent: so I will say I was upset I didn’t see any mimes, or organ grinders with monkeys. But I did see an accordion player.)
The last part of our first day adventure was visiting a couple of cemeteries around Paris. They had above ground burials. The encasing were very decorative, but we fell in love with the old broken tombs.
At the Montmartre Cemetery they were known for the stray cats that live in the area. One little guy, we named Pierre, was super friendly with humans (can’t say the same about the others we saw). He was so friendly that he even let Ryan pick him up!
Side Note from Nicole: I love my little brother/new apprentice/assistant, but he has a potty mouth. So, I may or may not have mailed him a post card from Paris that said “I know someone who went to Paris and all I got was an F’n post card.”
During our second day, we hit the local “hot spots” as part of a tour group. We got our tourist on! Our first stop was the Louvre. There was an overwhelming amount of amazing artwork! One of our favorite pieces was Victory of Samothrace (pictured below).
Sadly, our tour guide was a mover and a shaker, so we were not given the time to truly enjoy the piece. We were able to see great art from amazing artist including the Mona Lisa!!! The painting was a lot smaller than expected but just as amazing.
Part of travel arrangements for the day was taking a boat down the Seine. Our first view of the most iconic monument in Paris was seen while traveling on the boat. We had some great moments having friendly banter about the Statue of Liberty in Paris and possible post of Facebook. While riding on a boat we got to see a rare sight. The Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower. It was a chance to get a shot of both monuments in one frame. The task was very hard to do with the movement of the boat.
Later that day we were at Notre Dame. Once again, the architecture and stone work were amazing! We spend a good portion of our day both visiting inside and outside.
We were able to climb to the top where all the gargoyles were! We actually got to pet gargoyles. It was a very awesome experience except the hundreds of spiral stairs… yep stairs again.
To add to the experience of the view, we were there when the bell tower bells rang. They were very loud but beautiful. The details and intricacy of the stone work was amazing. We were able to see the Devil, demon’s begging not to be struck down to gargoyles in the bell tower keeping an eye out to protect the Notre Dame.
While were walking in front of Notre Dame there were pigeons everywhere. I, Ryan, thought it would be funny to get a shot of Nicole running through then to see if I could get a shot of them scattering. I offered to pay her 5 euros if she would run through them and yell “Pigy Pigy Pigy.” She was game. While she ran, we were able to get a few to fly off but most were unfazed. I was still able to get this wonderful shot.
One of the great things about taking public transportation or walking in a new city is you get to experience bits and pieces of the culture. We found this pretty little beauty… We were able to see how much more publicized sexuality was in their culture. But then again, this was in a shop across from the Mulan Rouge.
The next morning, we decided to try to get to the Eiffel Tower prior to sunrise, sadly were did not make it in time to get the dawn sky. We did get to spend some time around the tower without TONS of tourist as we were the first people to arrive. This morning visit was not our first time to the tower, but this was the first time that we were able to travel to the top.
There are situations where you learn something about yourself. I, Nicole, learned that I have a fear of heights. When we reached the top, I stayed up against the wall after I took a quick glance over the edge.
And what would a trip to Paris be without the standard selfie in front of the Eiffel Tower?
What is a trip to Paris without a stroll down the Champs-Élysées?! Crepes and Tiffany’s were a part of our stroll… Oh and the Disney Store. When we first arrived at Champs- Élysées, we came out near the Arch de Triomphe. The monument was larger than expected. The place was very crowded so we opted to take our stroll. We both found it amusing that we were able to get a great view of the Arch… in the middle of an 8-lane highway.
As we stood there to get the photo, Ryan was almost clipped by car but luckily he was not. Once again we survived the horrible Paris drivers.
Our last adventure in Paris was to visit the Musée de l’Orangerie. We were able to see Claude Monet’s Water Lilies. The paintings were in a circle room, actually 2 and would take up an entire wall each. The paintings were breathtaking and over-whelming.
Across the road from the Musée de l’Orangerie, were amazing water fountains. Nicole was super excited for the fountains except when we arrived the fountains were not on. Though the fountains were not working, the artwork was amazing. As we were walking away, the fountains came back on.
We spent our last few hours in Paris at the train station waiting for our train to arrive. Please check back to find out about our Roma adventure!
Until next time,
Nicole and Ryan!