europe 2017

Long time, no blog! The last time I posted I'd just arrived home from my week-long trip to England, France, and Germany, and I think I needed some time to get back into the groove of normal life (and then some) before I recapped. My trip schedule was crazy and hectic and overwhelming, but looking back I was so lucky the way it worked out - from timing to weather and everything in between. My schedule went like this:

Fly into Manchester, UK on Friday (get there at 6:15 am - eek!)
Friday in Manchester to explore my friend's town
Saturday in Liverpool for a charity Liverpool soccer game
Sunday take the train to London for some reminiscing
Monday take the chunnel to Paris
Tuesday - Thursday, #parislife
Thursday evening, flight to Germany
Thursday - Sunday, Germany exploring

Here is where I made a critical mistake that I will never make again.

Monday flight home, 5:30 pm

Maybe you would think, why is that a big deal, Emily? It's because I left Germany at 5:30 pm, then flew to Washington, DC, where I got in at 7:30 pm Eastern time (11:30 pm according to my internal clock). Then two hour layover, including going through customs. Then a 1.5 hour flight to Charlotte. Get in at 11:30 pm Eastern, 5:30 am internal clock time. THEN drive 1.5 hours home, getting in at 1:30 am, or 7:30 am internal clock time. THEN GO TO WORK AT 9:00 ON TUESDAY.

Learn from my mistake guys - never take a return flight back from Europe at the latest time available, even if you don't want to go home. It will make returning that much more depressing.

But I digress... photos (in no particular order) and loooong recap below!

To start the trip I was hit with the worst case of jet lag I've ever had in my life. I'm not sure why, as I've flown abroad several times, but this round really knocked me out. To be honest, I was somewhat jet lagged the whole week, but Friday was the worst of the worst. I stayed on my friend's sofa until about noon (6 hours after my arrival...), and spent the rest of the day with her exploring Manchester. Since I needed an easy day, we ended up seeing Beauty and The Beast that evening, which was so much fun! There were several kids in the audience, and it was really cute to hear their commentary in such teeny, tiny British accents!

Saturday Eveie and I woke up bright and early to get the train to Liverpool for a charity match at Anfield Stadium. Eveie's dad had booked a table at the stadium's suites for her mom's birthday, so I got to meet Eveie's whole family, visit with her mom (who is like the British fairy godmother I never had), and get taught more soccer rules and game facts that I never knew existed. I kept telling them that I'd never go to another game, since it was so fun to be with experts (and complimentary prosecco, and a three course meal)! To totally change pace from that meal Eveie and I stopped by Nando's for dinner that evening and spent the night in her apartment listening to The Guilty Feminist (go listen now!!!)

The next morning (again, bright and early), Eveie and I took the train to London. We checked into our Camden Airbnb and quickly ran around the city, visiting my old flat from studying abroad, my favorite coffee shop, and Kensington Palace. That evening we had dinner at Sketch. I'd seen Sketch all over Instagram and had hoped to do afternoon tea, but due to reservations already being taken for Mother's Day (word of advice - reserve a spot as soon as you can!), we visited for dinner instead. Eveie and I both got the most #english meal we could've ordered, fish and chips, but the food was great and the environment was so cool! You almost feel like you're in a dream - everything pink, the weirdly funny art, and waiters in gray jumpsuits circa 1984. We didn't want to leave, but stopped by the egg bathrooms before heading out!

Highlights

Sketch London - it's a bit pricey and I'm not a swanky restaurant type of person, but I'm so glad we visited because it's an EXPERIENCE
Sitting by the Kensington Palace gardens people watching
The Liverpool soccer game (with hot tea at halftime)!
The Guilty Feminist podcast - if you haven't heard of it, listen to an episode ASAP

 

Monday morning, for the third morning in a row, we hustled over to St Pancras station and hopped on the Eurostar to Paris! The journey was super easy (even though my seat was changed last minute and Eveie and I didn't get to sit together??), and we took the metro to Le Marais, where our Airbnb was. Once settled we took advantage of all the touristy spots, since Eveie had somehow lived her whole life in England and had never been to Paris. We planned plenty of time to wake up early and see sights each day, but always left a few hours toward the end of the days to park it on a bench and relax. In total we visited the Notre Dame, the Sacre Coeur, Moulin Rouge, the Louvre, Palais Royal, Berthillon, the Eiffel Tower, though we mostly spent our time walking around with our mouths open at how many amazing places and buildings there are... just around! All the time! Our favorite spots: Place des Vosges, the Louvre park, the fountain at Palais Royal, and Place Dauphine.

On Wednesday night at the request of one of my friends, we booked bikes on a Fat Tire bike tour, which ended up being one of our favorite parts of the whole trip! Though it was a bit intimidating at first to be weaving through Parisian traffic, especially at night, our guide was so knowledgeable, fun, and knew exactly what to do to keep our group alive.

Highlights

L'as du Fallafel - a great first lunch in Paris
Palais Royal
Le Marais (the whole neighborhood!)
Fat Tire night bike tour - a MUST, even if you've already visited Paris!

After only two and a half days in Paris Eveie and I had to say goodbye. The trip was way too short, but I told myself that it meant I had to come back within the next few years for an even longer visit! Since our flights left Paris in the evening we stopped by Merci, a shop that we'd bookmarked on Instagram and lived up to our expectations. We also stopped by the Picasso Museum's standalone gift shop, which had surprisingly cool and not-kitschy things for sale! I was thisclose to getting a few tableware items, but knew they wouldn't survive in my luggage.

We took the Metro from central Paris to Charles de Galle, about a €10 ticket, and from there I flew to Frankfurt while Eveie returned home to real life.

Germany was a much different portion of my trip than England and France because I stayed with my friend, who is German, in Wurzburg. Wurzburg isn't a major city, so I didn't feel the rushrushrush that I did in Paris and London to see everything that I could before I had to leave, and instead we had a much more relaxed time.

My first full day in Germany we visited my friend's hometown, the vineyards in Wurzburg, and Rothenburg ob Tauber, all of which were beautiful! I'm not sure why I hadn't thought of Germany as a "beautiful" place before visiting, but maybe that's a good thing? I was constantly surprised and ogling around at the rolling hills and scenery each place we went.

 

Saturday we visited the Residenz Wurzburger, which was like a mini German Versailles, if you can picture it. Of course they had a no photos policy, but believe me, it was overwhelmingly ornate and kind of otherworldly. Next was the Marienburg Fortress, which is up a hill so massive and steep that it almost isn't worth climbing. But then you get to the top... and it so is.

This picture doesn't make the hill look crazy steep, but it is!!!

On my last full day, Sunday, we woke up bright and early to drive three hours to the Neuschwanstein Castle at the German-Austrian border! I'd seen the castle on Instagram and across tons of travel blogs, so I'm glad that my friend let me drag him/make him drive me because it was absolutely beautiful! When you first see the castle, it's from a bridge both far from the castle itself and scary high above a waterfall - if you're afraid of heights, be warned! My favorite part, though, was climbing up the side of the mountain to get an even higher view of the castle. The trail isn't exactly clear, and my friend and I were nervous about being able to get down, but the views were so worth it.

 

  

To be honest, the tour of Neuschwanstein was cool, but definitely could be skipped if you're crunched for time. Most of the castle is off limits so the tour is pretty limited. The views of the castle from the mountain and the Swiss Alps behind us made the whole trip with it though!

Even more than a month later I can't believe I'm not back in Europe. Traveling is so easy and affordable, so I can't wait to go back again! Next places on my list are Amsterdam, Barcelona, and Edinburgh! Until then, I have to start looking for a credit card with travel rewards...