London + Paris / Week Two | Quad Cities Wedding and Lifestyle Photographer
So. Ever write an entire blog post and go to save and then Safari just up and quits on you? No? Just me? faaaaantastic. Thanks, Safari.
You're going to notice pretty quick that most of the photos I'm posting from our trip are selfies. You can google any spot where we went and get a much better image than our little point and shoot, so I figured that if you're interested in seeing the places, you can google it. In the meantime, you're stuck with our semi-blurry selfies.
We were so excited for London! Daniel studied abroad at Queen Mary in London and I went on a Shakespeare's London trip right after college, so we were both familiar. We spent a lot of our time there exploring the places we had each been before. It was really fun to share London together after we had both fallen in love with it separately years before. What's so great about London is that it's a first class city and everything a city should be, but the people are way nicer and it smells less like garbage (usually) than, say, New York. We went to the V&A, Tate Modern, Camden Market, Hyde Park, Stonehenge, The Blackfriars pub (one of the oldest in London), flipped off Oliver Cromwell (it's a theatre thing- google it), rushed a few shows, ate, drank and generally wandered around our favorite city. Believe it or not, I still haven't made it to Westminster Abbey OR The Tower of London. Guess we better go back again :)
All in all, it was pretty relaxing. Oh, and there was the day we got lost from each other.
So, we were getting ready to get on the tube to go rush at show at The National Theatre when Daniel realized he forgot something back where we were staying. He hopped off real quick and said, 'I'll meet you at Embankment!', the tube stop for The National. So, I got off at Embankment and waited. 20 minutes went by and I was cold and it was drizzly and I saw a coffee shop across a little sidewalk. So, I went to the coffee shop, sat at a window and watched the entrance to Embankment. 30 minutes went by and nothing. I was getting pretty annoyed by this point because the trip should have taken Daniel 20 minutes- tops. I waited around for another 20 minutes or so before I thought 'hm, I wonder if he actually wanted to meet at The National?' So, I walked the one route across Waterloo Bridge, down the Thames to the National. Nothing. I waited around for 10 or 15 minutes before I decided I should probably just wait at Embankment like we said. So I went back to the tube stop. Another 30 minutes went by and I started to get pissed. I wasn't really worried about Daniel because he's a smart guy and knew London like the back of his hand. That's why I figured he had decided to take a 'scenic route' and had gotten distracted by something along the way. Buuuut it was starting to get kind of ridiculous so I went back to The National, again, to see if he was there. Nothing. Back to Embankment for another 30 minutes. Finally I decided 'ya know what, that *#^%&@^ can just come home when he's ready' and I went back to where we were staying. As I was walking up the front steps of the building, fuming by the way, I see Daniel at the door with the most heart-sick look on his face I had ever seen. He came bursting out the doors and gave me a big hug and said 'I thought I lost you!' Wanting to yell at him faded pretty quick when I could see that he had obviously been worried sick. Turns out, he thought he had said to meet at The National and must have walked out of Embankment sometime during the 90 seconds it took me to walk to the coffee shop. He too thought I had taken an alternate way to get to the National so he walked the Thames up and down looking for me. We were barely missing each other for like 3 hours. Wanna know the best part? The National wasn't even open that day.
London also had pretty decent food. I mean, we stayed away from kidney pie and black pudding, but in general it was pretty good. I even learned that I LOVE mussels! Fresh from the ocean, those babies are dynamite. You can see below the one meal we had where I was obviously disappointed. We ordered calamari (which I have since learned that unless you're getting calamari steaks, you're 9/10 eating pig anus) that looked like butt holes and bread with oil & vinegar that had a half teaspoon drop of balsamic vinegar in a puddle of oil and bread with slices of cheese melted on top. Our fault for going to a touristy place.
So yeah, London was all in all grand. We left for Paris via the Chunnel on Daniel's birthday. It was pretty great as long as I didn't think about how far under the water we were and how easily the weight of the ocean could crush the tube and then make us all drown. Turns out I'm a bit claustrophobic.
We were actually kind of nervous for Paris because neither of us took French in high school. I had studied for a few weeks leading up to the trip and I ended up being our asker of directions, orderer of food, and general French speaker. But at the same time, we were so excited because hi, Paris is supposed to be the most romantic place on earth. The sites, the wine, the food- we. were. excited!
Speaking of food; we were **really** looking forward to it. French cuisine in all it's glory. In fact, our first night in Paris we went out to a fancy 5-course meal to celebrate Daniel's birthday. The 5 courses had wine, pig hoofs, snails, fish, olives, some kind of amazing bean stuff, bread, chocolate, poached pears and ended in a glass of port. It was superb. Our walk back to our Air BNB lead us right by the golden lights of the Eiffel Tower on a warm night and I was thinking we truly were in the City of Love. Ahhh la vie.
Nnnnnnnnnnnnope. Prepare for crushing disappointment. Needless to say we had set the bar high for the next day's lunch. Daniel ordered a salad with what he thought was going to be chicken. I think the wait staff was playing tricks on us silly Americans because I kid you not, there were organs on his salad. Like, you could see what looked like an aorta sticking out of a lump of lightly seared red that looked like a heart. Peaking out from the lettuce were what looked to be liver and kidney chunks. Don't believe me? Scroll down and see for yourself. The waiter came and asked if everything was good (they don't ask those things in other countries) with a slight grin on his face. To avoid getting spit in our second course of pasta, we smiled and nodded. I still have my fingers crossed there weren't nose goobers in the marinara. Apparently you have to search hard- and off the beaten path of tourists- to find anything decent that wasn't a 5-course super expensive meal or a McDonald's with signs for the McBaguette. From then on, we pretty much stuck to loaves of bread and hunks of cheese. But hey, the French know bread. And that ish was gooooood.
Pretty much as soon as day two started and we encountered Daniel's organ salad, we decided we would never be coming back, so we checked out all the must-see sights: The Louvre, The Arc De Triumph, The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Notre Dame, Napoleon's tomb, Champs Elysees, a ferry ride down the Seine, the Holocaust Memorial a few more cathedrals and museums. We liked all the nerdy history stuff and learned a lot about the French Jews and how they suffered among the highest casualties of any country. It was really interesting to learn WW2 history (one of my favorite eras to learn about) through the eyes of another country.
But really we were just over Paris pretty fast. It smelled like pee, the people were rude and the food was gross. The lady we stayed with told us her favorite thing was to take a bottle of wine to the park and read. We were shocked and told her that in the US that's illegal. She grimaced a bit and said something along the lines of, Americans are so uptight. So, our best day ended up being the day that we got a few loaves of bread, some olives and cheese and a bottle of wine and picnicked all day in the park.
Needless to say, we were looking forward to getting out of the city of pee and on to Venice!
So, up next week: Italy in all it's glory!