Posts in Western Europe
Scotland Road Trip: Edinburgh to Grantown-on-Spey (Day 3)

We left Edinburgh first thing in the morning and drove about 45 minutes west of town to Linlithgow Palace, situated about a block up the street from the main downtown of the small town of Linlithgow. This palace is definitely one of the top highlights of our trip. After our stop there, we visited a fascinating living history museum as we entered Cairngorms National Park.

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Scotland Road Trip: Edinburgh (Day 2)

Since we wanted to get an early start for our first and only full day in the city and to make it to Edinburgh Castle in time for our timed entry, we had picked up some breakfast supplies at Sainsbury’s the evening before. Still on a kick of croissants, a remnant from our trip to Paris a few months prior, we had picked some up along with yogurt, and ate in our apartment.

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Scotland Road Trip: Edinburgh (Day 1)

We arrived at Edinburgh Airport around 11:30am after an overnight flight from Washington-Dulles.  After picking up a rental car from Hertz, we terrifyingly adjusted to driving on the left side as we left the airport for downtown Edinburgh, about 25 minutes away.  The roads leaving the airport were strewn with signs reminding tired, weary travelers that they should drive on the left side, and I can only imagine how prone to accidents areas like that must be.  Dustin ended up being the sole driver for the entire trip.  As you can already tell – we survived!

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Scotland: 10 Day Road Trip - Highlands and Isle of Skye

As a couple who enjoy the outdoors, historic spots and places (Lindsey in particular really loves castles), and interesting geology, Scotland has long been on our list of places to visit. We also both have ancestors from the country, which always piques our interest in checking out a place.

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Our Three Favorite Restaurants in Paris

After one week in Paris, we had three favorite restaurants that stood out. Read more about these spots and what made them special.

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Paris for Book Lovers

France has long produced a steady stream of talented writers, thinkers, and philosophers and has served as a beacon luring expats to its literary center.

From the romance of Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers to Victor Hugo’s woeful, colorful characters of Les Miserables to France-at-war tales like Sabastien Japrisot’s A Very Long Engagement or Romain Gary’s The Kites to more stylistically unique works like Albert Camus’ existentialist novels and Alain Robbe-Grillet’s noveau roman novels in the 1960s, Paris has played a substantial role in the literary world.

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Off the Beaten Path in Paris: 6 Amazing Destinations

Paris is a popular destination with a long list of spots on most travelers’ must-see lists from the Eiffel Tower to the Louvre. If you’re looking to go a little off the beaten path and see some great but less well known spots, which are also usually less crowded, these are some places that may be of interest to you. From a unique art museum to underground early Paris city ruins to the northernmost Roman ruins and more, find a spot in Paris of interest to you!

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Paris: Visiting Crypte archéologique de l'île de la Cité

Crypte archéologique is a fascinating underground museum that holds the ruins of the early city center of Paris. Found on site and displayed in the museum are coins that show the breadth of early trade routes. The museum shows the evolution of buildings and the city’s development over time. Visiting this site helped broaden our view of the city and its residents over the centuries.

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Paris: Visiting Sainte-Chapelle

You will find yourself dwarfed by over 1100 stained glass windows at Sainte-Chapelle. With windows depicting religious scenes and rising to epic heights in astonishing proportions, this 13th century chapel was built by King Louis IX to house religious relics and enhance his political stature. Of all the churches we have visited in our travels, this one definitely stands out among the most beautiful.

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Paris: Visiting Notre-Dame de Paris

We had the good fortune to visit Notre-Dame de Paris about a week before the April 15, 2019 fire engulfed its roof. During our week-long trip in Paris, our apartment was basically right across the Seine from the cathedral and just a few minutes’ walk. We could hear the tolling of the bells that rang out at what appeared to be random intervals, and we walked by the cathedral multiple times a day.

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My Journey to Learn Some French Before a Trip to Paris

We both took French in school - Dustin took it in high school, and I took it in middle school - and neither of us were particularly good or successful at it. I have always said foreign language was my weakest subject in school and so I hopped from French in middle school to Latin for the four years of high school to two years of Italian in college (my political science degree required foreign language or else I would never have voluntarily taken more language courses!). That’s right, I hopped from language to language hoping to find one that would click with me, but not a one! It was not all for naught, as I came away with a love of etymology and Roman history from my Latin classes and just enough comprehension to be able to halfheartedly translate the occasional foray into any Romance language in a novel. I also walked away with some basics of other languages that are foreign to English-only speakers like the idea of gendered nouns.

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Paris: Visiting Père Lachaise Cemetery

This 110-acre, cobblestone- and tree-lined homage to many of Paris’ important historic figures is a change of pace from the rest of the city of Paris. Spend your time exploring interesting mausoleums and tombs and searching for specific graves.

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Paris: Food + Drink

Paris is known as a food lover’s paradise for a reason. Here are our top tips from a week spent dining in this food mecca.

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Paris: Travel Tips

These tips from our week in Paris will hopefully help you know what to expect and how to plan for your best Paris experience! Included in this blog are tips for getting around the city, money tips, some basic French language guidance, apps you may want to download, safety awareness tips, and some clothing recommendations.

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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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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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