Posts in Europe
Paris: Visiting Musée de Cluny (Museum of the Middle Ages)

We decided to visit Musée de Cluny, the National Museum of the Middle Ages, because I have always been particularly fascinated by that time period and wanted to see the famous tapestry housed at this museum, the Lady and the Unicorn, that I had studied and fallen in love with in an art history class in college. The museum is located in the vicinity of the Latin Quarter of Paris nearby the Pantheon, so if you plan on visiting both, you should do so back-to-back.

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The Louvre: What to Know Before You Visit

The Louvre is usually one of the main Paris landmarks people plan on visiting while in the city. The building has a fascinating place in French history well beyond its current life as an art museum. In this blog, we’ll share with you all things Louvre - from fun facts to our personal experience to tips for your own visit. Have you been? For a museum as large as this one, I expect no two visits are alike. We would love to hear your own tips and experiences in our comments section!

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Visiting the Pantheon in Paris

First, when most people hear Pantheon, they are generally thinking about the famous Pantheon in Rome. (Not to be confused with the Parthenon in Athens.) But still, we were curious about the Pantheon in Paris and thought it would be worth checking out. A ‘pantheon’ by definition is a group of important people or gods. Paris’ Pantheon is currently a secular, state-run mausoleum that began life as a cathedral and houses the remains of some of the city’s most important historical residents.

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Street Art of Paris

The creativity and unexpectedly universal themes and elements that show up in street art always make for an interesting lens through which to view a city. Paris did not disappoint. The majority of these images were captured in the 3rd, 4th, and 11th arrondissements during a day where we spent a lot of time walking through the city.

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Three Irish Female Writers To Pay Attention To

Ireland has a long-standing literary tradition and is a country that values its writers and poets. Over the years, I have read many inspiring novels by the likes of Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, and others. But recently, I have found myself on a kick of reading contemporary Irish novelists without even realizing it! These newer-on-the-scene Irish female writers are making their mark in the literary world.

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Paris: A Week in the City of Love: Day 7 - Notre-Dame de Paris, Crypte archéologique de l'île de la Cité

The final day of a trip is always bittersweet: bitter that it is coming to an end and for the upcoming return flight home and sweet for the new memories and experiences.  I often get to the end of a trip having not done things I thought I would do but having done other things that led to unexpected surprises. 

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Paris: A Week in the City of Love: Day 6 - Musée de Cluny, Pantheon, Jardin de Luxembourg, Musée Rodin

With different itineraries, we parted ways with our traveling companions for the day. The first stop on the list for us was Musée de Cluny, the National Museum of the Middle Ages. I have always been particularly fascinated by that time period and wanted to see the famous tapestry housed at this museum, the Lady and the Unicorn, that I had studied and fallen in love with in an art history class in college.

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Paris: A Week in the City of Love: Day 5 - Picasso Museum, L'Atelier des Lumières, Jardin des Plantes

Our day started with what had become our Paris norm: flaky goodness of croissants. Adding some excitement to the mix, Dustin added a ham and cheese croissant, whereas I stuck with my you-can’t-go-wrong choices of croissant au beurre and pain au chocolat. Hey, if you can’t have chocolate for breakfast on vacation, when can you? (Never is not an option!).

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Paris: A Week in the City of Love: Day 4 - Bike Tour of Versailles

After long days of walking around Paris, our feet were sore and some blisters were starting to rear their ugly heads. So, we planned our fourth day perfectly: a bike tour of Versailles to give our feet a rest and use some other muscles for the day!

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Paris: A Week in the City of Love: Day 3 - Sainte-Chapelle, Louvre, Tuileries Garden, Musee l'Orangerie

While we are pretty active travelers, we are not over-active travelers; we know when to go-go-go and when to go slow! With a full week in Paris staying at one place, it was a perfect excuse to explore the city at just the right pace. What that meant is we whiled away some mornings over croissants, coffee, and conversation. Bonus: the day was able to warm up a little before we ventured out. Our April in Paris was a tad on the nippy side!

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Paris: A Week in the City of Love: Day 2 - Père Lachaise Cemetery, Place des Vosges, and Other Wanderings

If you like wandering without a goal in mind, Paris is a great city for absentminded discoveries. Our first full day in the city can be summed up in that sentence. Along the way we explored a huge section of the city on foot, wandered much of the famous Père Lachaise Cemetery, lunched in the oldest planned square in the city at Place des Vosges, which dates to the 17th century, and dined casually along the Seine.

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Paris Overview: A Week in the City of Love

We talked about going to France for several years before we actually took this trip. When we finally booked it, we weighed whether to spend a handful of days in Paris and then head out to the French countryside or to just stick with Paris. I can’t think of another trip we have taken where we stayed in one city the entire week but we knew Paris had so much to offer and didn’t want to feel like we were rushing to jet off to the next spot. We easily filled our 7 days in Paris and didn’t even get to every spot on our list! Don’t worry, we feel other regions of France deserve the same dedicated focus, so we will be back to France at some point!

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Book Review of Normal People by Sally Rooney

Ever since coming across a review of Normal People back in January, I had been interested in reading this second novel by Irish writer Sally Rooney. Longlisted for the 2018 Man Booker Prize and winner of the ‘Best Novel’ at the 2018 Costa Book Awards, clearly 28 year old Rooney is immensely talented. When I found myself book-less before an 8-hour flight back from Scotland, I was happy to come across it in an airport bookstore and tore through it in a single sitting.

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Southwest Ireland - Counties Clare, Limerick, Kerry, and Cork

I have always loved Ireland for its beauty, history, and accents.  In the 1870s my great-great grandmother and grandfather emigrated (likely separately) from County Cork, Ireland, to San Francisco, California, where they married.  So, for my first trip abroad, it’s no wonder that Ireland topped my list.

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Iceland: Geology

I feel as if I’m probably in the minority here, but I love noticing interesting geology in the places I travel. Knowing a little about how an area has formed helps me to put its current appearance into perspective and allows me to better appreciate the uniqueness of every place I travel.

Iceland is packed with wonderful natural features not seen in most other places in the world and especially not found right next to each other. Check it out!

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Iceland: Food + Ethics

As always it is important to do your homework when traveling to ensure that you are not inadvertently contributing to practices that negatively impact the planet. Then you can make informed decisions. In Iceland some of the items to be aware of include shark, whale, and to a lesser extent Puffin. Below we explain more about each of these animals. For our general blog on food + drink in Iceland, check out more here.

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Iceland's Ring Road in 10 days

Ten days in Iceland is just enough to make it around the country’s famous Ring Road. This overview goes over the basics of our trip.

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Iceland's Ring Road - Reykjavik (Day 1)

We booked our flight on Icelandair in September 2017, about 9 months before our June-July 2018 trip. We planned to arrive a little before midnight and spend two nights in Iceland’s capital city of Reykjavik. But, as we’ve experienced before, the risk of booking a flight so far in advance is that the airlines may shift their schedules. A few months before our trip, we learned that our flight had shifted to being a red-eye, getting us in the following morning at 6:30am local time. We contacted our Airbnb hosts, who had no problem with the delayed check-in.

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Iceland's Ring Road - Reykjavik to Hvolsvöllur (Day 2)

From Reykjavik we headed toward our first destination of the day, Þingvellir National Park. The most densely packed tourist spots on our trip were during this day. While we didn’t complete the so-called Golden Circle just outside of Reykjavik (ours was more of a Golden Half-Circle), the stops along the way are very popular for individuals and tour buses taking day trips from Reykjavik. Getting photos without inadvertent photo bombers was ranged from quite tricky to entirely impossible.

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Iceland's Ring Road - Hvolsvöllur and Heimaey (Day 3)

After a quick run to Hvolsvöllur for some basic groceries at Krónan grocery store, we headed to the shore to catch a ferry from Landeyjahöfn to Heimaey, the only inhabited island of Vestmannaeyjar (Westman Islands).

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