Sainte-Chapelle, Jardins du Trocadéro and A Goodbye- Paris, France

A paradise of color, an ecstasy of diffused light all encased in a gothic masterpiece over 750 years old- that is the marvel of Sainte-Chapelle.

I’m getting ahead of myself though, because the day actually started at another church, Notre-Dame. The plan had been to wake up early enough to make it there before the crowds descended but we woke up rather late and by the time we had taken the metro line down, there was a line that snaked from the entrance over a bridge and then possibly even further beyond. It was honestly the longest line for an attraction/point of interest I had ever seen and though we weren’t exactly pressed for time, neither the bf or I really felt that it would be worth the wait when there were so many other places to see. We also really doubted this would be our last visit to Paris so, we trundled off a bit chagrined sure, but not with too heavy a heart.

The next destination on that days list was Sainte-Chapelle, a church the bf had picked out and I knew absolutely nothing about( this would be key later) and luckily it was situated only a short walk away from Notre-Dame. We were a bit smarter here and the bf managed to buy us skip the line tickets and we were inside and through security in less than 10 minutes.

We stayed on the first floor of the chapel for a while, because again I hadn’t researched ahead and didn’t know what there was to see here. But then I noticed off to the side, people going up a very narrow dimly lit staircase almost hidden into the wall. We figured why not go check it out?

It’s unspeakable hard to put into words what it was like stepping into that room and having absolutely no idea what you were going to find. Think of it almost like getting a crowbar upside the head- I think my heart actually paused it’s rhythm for a few seconds while my eyes tried to take it all in.

A stained glass gothic marvel is a good one sentence descriptor probably.

I think overall, from start to finish, we probably spent an hour here and we might have stayed just a little bit longer but then a tour group came up the stairs and we knew it was time to head back out into the busy streets of Paris and onto our next stop.

And where was our next stop? Why the Eiffel Tower of course. Well, lunch at a nice little bistro tucked into the street just near by first though.

A picture perfect way to say goodbye to Paris wouldn’t you say?

After spending about 2 hours in the area- sitting on the lawn directly in front of the Eiffel Tower and then leisurely making our way across the street to the overlook provided by the Trocadero square gardens, we took one last metro ride to catch sight of the famous Arc de Triomphe – it’s up to you personally if you would like to go up to the overlook it provides but we really weren’t enthused by the idea of waiting in the underground line when we’d already gotten some pretty amazing views already. Plenty of other people had the same idea we had too, and we even helped a couple take a nice photograph of themselves with it in the background from across the street.

After this, with the weather turning a bit gloomy and potentially rainy, we headed back to our hotel and the promise of ice cream and relaxation before we had to begin repacking everything for the next day’s journey back home. It was an easy and relaxed day to end our whirlwind European adventure and later as we lay in bed eating French chocolates and thumbing through all the postcards and souvenirs we’d picked up, it was incredibly hard to believe we’d actually been to all these incredible places. (It was also very hard to accept we had to go back home to Dallas- which for all its charms can’t honestly compare, at least to us.)

We know we’ll back though- actually we’ve already bought tickets for our next trip in December! There is a lot that’s happened since I began posting about this trip- both because I began back in April and also because of my severe wanderlust that’s only been fueled more these past few months. I usually do an outtakes post at the end of a long series like this one but I think I may skip it this once in favor of a short updates post in the coming week.

Either way a sincere and happy thanks to everyone who’s been reading from the start, popping in here and there and those that just recently joined. This is my very small and personal way to share my love of photography and exploration with people (and hopefully inspire them to explore themselves) and it’s genuinely nice to have a place to come to and recount my stories.

Not drowning in my coffee cups yet,

~ m

To the Louvre Once More- Paris, France

I visited the Louvre for the first time in 2017 last October, and it was at the tail end of a whirl wind two week first time trip ever to Europe. It was a dream come true and I have yet to go to a museum that could surpass it but, there was definetly still a lot to be seen . People asked, “Did you see the Mona Lisa?” to which I would reply no, and i’m quite alright not seeing it that up close and person with 200+ people thank you. The idea that there are greater works of art of be appreciated here was, is and will probably always remain my steadfast opinion.

After a trip that had included a visit to Michelangelo’s David, not to mention the almost countless other works of art housed in the museums and palaces we had visited, there was almost a bit of trepidation that morning that we woke up to head to the Louvre. I was excited to get a chance to see the whole other section of the museum I had missed last time, namely the Egyptian and Mesopotamian artifacts but I was worried the bf might suffer a bit of art fatigue within the first hour.

Thankfully, this proved to not be the case and it was actually me who ended up sitting down just shortly after taking a walk through the newest department at the Louvre, the department of Islamic Art. After a short break to rest my slightly weary feet though, I was up and happily exploring and learning about the beautiful Islamic art, mosaics and artifacts curated in this section. It actually turned out to be one of the highlights of the visit.

I think in total we spent about 6 hours here, and once again I still feel there is so much left to be seen and marveled over and while I don’t think i’ll be back again anything soon (as in, next year or so) I do very much want to come back, possibly when my French is much better.

We headed back to our hotel to rest up- trust me when is say spending the day walking around a gigantic gorgeous museum and just trying to absorb everything around you can really take it out of you- and relaxed out until night had fallen. At that point, we got our walking clothes out and headed back to the Louvre to catch the illuminated pyramids and enjoy a short evening walk around the area. Off in the distance, before we headed back, we caught sight of the Eiffel Tower illuminated as well and we were almost tempted to take the metro there but, in the end, the fact that a light drizzle had started decided us against it and our very tired feet were happy to head back to rest for the next days adventures.

~m

Here We Go…- EuroTrip 2018

Dallas –> Paris –> Venice –> Rome –> Florence –> Paris –> Dallas

That was the itinerary for this last trip I just went on and though I’ve been back home for about two weeks now, considering just last week I finally finished posting about the last trip… you can imagine I’m probably not quite as on top of things as I would want.

But the honest truth is I’m actually really very excited to share photos and stories from this last adventure on here and I’m planning on going back to a 3 posts per week kind of schedule to accomplish that without take half a year to get through it all.

It’s gonna be a lot, I came back with over 1000 photos to go through, not to mention the countless stories, adventures and odd moments of travel to put together into some kind of coherent format but hopefully, with some patience, you guys will still be willing to come with me on this ride.

~ m

A Sunset at Sacré Cœur – Paris, France

After finishing up my visit to the Louvre with a quick trip to the gift shop to grab some postcards for friends and coworkers, I headed outside to meet up with my friend Rachid and embark on the last adventure of the trip. Being a resident Parisian, he offered me two choices for the evenings activities- we could either take the métro to the Eiffel Tower or we could go to Sacré-Cœur, another lesser known although still famous landmark. Having never been to Paris before, I was tempted to pick the Eiffel Tour choice, but then I thought, “Ok, you never do things as expected so why start now?”, besides which, I thought it would be good motivation to come back, and bring my bf with me so we could see the Eiffel Tower together. Also, why not visit yet another church?

Choice made, we set out on a walk through the Jardin des Tuileries to find the nearest métro station.

A short while later found us looking up at the tallest hill in all of Paris, Montmartre- at the top of which was my chosen destination. Given I had just spent the day walking around a very immense museum and hadn’t stopped to grab lunch in between, this was probably not the best idea but, onward and up we went. The climb was a bit of a huff and puff for me, though of course Rachid did it easily and I could only side eye him with a bit of probably not so well concealed fitness envy. It was at least a fun climb as it was made with a friend and if I had been alone I might have just plonked myself down at the bottom and enjoyed the crisp weather instead.

The view when we finally made it to the top though, that was worth the climb a hundred times over.

We didn’t attempt to go inside the basilica as the crowds were rather large and tour group after tour group seemed to be lining up already, but I made a mental note to come back for this as well in a later trip. What we did instead was take a walk in the neighborhood behind the church, which Rachid stated was one of this most favorite areas in all of Paris. After turning the corner onto the cobblestone charmingly crooked streets, I could easily see why it had captured a spot in his heart and it grabbed a corner of mine as well.

The smell of good food wafted to us in the cool breeze, artists painted portraits and landscapes on almost every street and beautiful houses and shops lined up one after another on the winding streets and I feel like if I had been less tired (and feeling the impending stress of the next day’s journey back home) I would have liked to have stayed here well into the night.

Eventually though, the fading light from the sunset brought us back to Sacré-Cœur and I took the chance to take a couple of photographs of it’s exterior during a moment when the crowds lessened a little.

While I would never advise someone who’s never been to Paris to not take the chance to see the Eiffel Tour, for me at least, choosing instead to pick another landmark as my last visit of the trip, it was well worth it and a choice I don’t regret at all. Yes the climb is steep (though I’m pretty sure there’s a cable car type deal you can take up as well) and you couldn’t quite call this a hidden gem given the number of tour groups I saw and the accompanying souvenir hawkers posted everywhere, but. Just one full minute of gazing out at Paris laid out in front of you and everything else just fades into the background.

By the time got down the hill and had made our way to yet another métro station, I was ready to call it a day. It was still relatively early and a Friday night to boot, but I had some last minute packing to do, not to mention I had to be up tat 4am the next morning to catch my shuttle to CDG airport. And so, my last night in Paris concluded with a fiercely tight hug to Rachid and about a dozen thanks for having made the city feel that much more fun and lovely and wishes that we would get the chance to meet again soon.

Upstairs in my hotel room, I opened the balcony windows and let the noise of the city float over to me on the cool breeze and while I felt bone achingly tired and ready to head home finally, there was a part of me that would have been happy to stay another night, another week even. That’s the magic of Paris though, that even when your heart longs for home and the familiar, there’s a part of you that’s captured by the city and won’t ever be let go of.

~ m

This is my last full post about my 2017 EuroTrip adventures but my at this point tradition “outtakes post” is still coming up later in the week and in it I’ll talk about where all hotels I stayed at, give some tips about traveling in multiple countries throughout Europe and also give mention to my upcoming travel plans. Thank you for everyone that stuck with me and read along even when it seemed like procrastination was gonna make it a year before I finished!

The Musée du Louvre, pt 2- Paris, France

A continuation of my previous post, photos from my visit to the Louvre.

I know I usually write words upon words for my posts but the thing is, not to cop out or anything, it’s just that words really don’t do this museum justice and even my photos can’t quite touch on how magical it was to get to explore this building all the treasures it holds.

In total I spent around 5 hours here, just walking from hall to hall, and the further I got from the main central exhibition area the less people I saw, until I was sitting down somewhere reading an info placard and realized I hadn’t seen anyone at all in the last 20 minutes, unless you counted the museum attendants. Eventually though, I had to start making my way back to the main area as the time was approaching when I would be due to meet up with Rachid for whatever that evenings adventures would hold.

Of course I got a little sidetracked when I passed a section with Mesopotamian artifacts, because I mean come on,  how could I resist? And then of course I pass through what I think is the loveliest section in the whole museum, where it’s just sculpture after sculpture and you can’t help but lean in closer to catch all the details carved into the stone.

Eventually though, I got a msg from Rachid saying he was on his way so I knew I had to tear myself away from it all if I wanted to have time to hit up the gift shop (you know I had to). 

I exited the museum with a head and heart almost to bursting with all the beauty I had seen and a slightly lighter wallet, breathing in fresh air and getting hit right in the gut with the realization that I would be leaving Paris the next day and I wouldn’t be able to come back to this museum any time soon. But I shook that feeling off, promising myself I would come back as soon as I got the next chance and went off to find Rachid amid the crowds outside the Louvre and then finish up the day with a visit to the Sacré-Cœur basilica.

~m