Eurospectacular Vacation: Part Deux

Paris, France
Ah, Paris! Every little girl's dream, n'est-ce pas? Thanks to books, movies and art, it had pretty much reached the status of a magical, mythical place for me. I imagined high fashion strutting down narrow streets, bakeries and cheese shops on every corner, parks full of canoodling lovers and myself speaking impeccable French of course. It was a bit of a culture shock when I first arrived and discovered I had to look past the stifling heat, noisy motorcycles and difficult dialect for these bits of my fairy tale, but, rest assured, I found them. And honestly, I wouldn't have it any other way. The city of love it was indeed — I fell in love with it all!

Despite my long-time crush on Paris, I was actually quite surprised at my reaction when first seeing its iconic monuments in person. Nothing can prepare you for the moment you turn the corner and the Eiffel Tower is standing before you. It literally took my breath away and brought tears to my eyes. We parked ourselves at its feet for hours, watching the sun set behind it until the light show began. It didn't get old — every time I looked up at it, I couldn't help but smile. I was in Paris!

I was also surprised by Le Louvre. Ever since I did a project on French art in elementary school, I have wanted to visit this museum that, to a 12-year-old girl, seemed to hold all the best art in the world. There were definitely some jaw-dropping pieces in there, the sheer size of which astounded me, but it was the building itself that made the greatest impression on me. I spent half of my time standing in corridors, looking up at crown moldings and painted ceilings. I guess I better start planning a return trip to catch all that I missed!

The Palace of Versailles and its gardens were pretty over-the-top. This is where some of the greatest Kings and Queens lived, including Napoleon and Marie Antoinette. It was decorated to excess, which was rather overwhelming at the time (especially when fighting hundreds of other tourists), but it's these textile wall coverings and architectural details that were the most inspiring to me from a design point of view.

Sightseeing aside, there were countless other moments from my visit here that I will cherish forever, romantic moments that I'm sure inspired it's fame as la ville d'amour. Sitting at an outdoor cafe, sipping a cup of tea and lazily picking at a fresh, flaky croissant, while gazing out over the River Seine, an old accordian player striking up a familiar tune in the background. Is there anything more Parisian than that? Le sigh.

Don't forget to check out my Picasa Gallery for many more pictures.

Next up... Part 3: A lesson in power travelling — 6 cities in 6 days!

Eurospectacular Vacation: Part 1

I'm baaaack! Well, technically I've been back for nearly three weeks, but returning to reality after four weeks travelling the most beautiful cities in the world is a tough pill to swallow, so I've been cautiously adding one layer of my life at a time. And the time to blog has come!

As expected, I have returned with fresh ideas and renewed energy that I am super excited to channel into Dear Edna this fall. I'll share all of that fun stuff with you in due time, but first things firstvacation recap!

London, England
Despite all the travelling I've done in the past, believe it or not, I have never even had a stopover in London. I was thrilled to begin our journey there, easing the transition while staying with family and speaking English! Overly excited about the trip that lay ahead, I'm afraid I feverishly dragged poor Mikey J around to all the tourist sites he had seen before, plus a few extras. Our feet were aching, but it was worth it. As a lover of historical fiction, this city was a treat. Add fashion, farmers markets, and pubs on every corner, and you've got a tourist for life.

Amsterdam, Netherlands
Of all the cities we visited, I could most see myself living in Amsterdam. I loved it from the moment I arrived. Everything from the people to the weather has an effortless style about it. More bikes than cars, more handmade than brand name, more old than new. sigh.

Bruges, Belgium
As much as Amsterdam was pure style, Bruges was pure beauty. I don't know if it was the time of year or the height of the buildings, but the light always seemed to reflect off the walls on those narrow streets in the most beautiful way. It felt like every street we looked down was a picture-perfect moment. The Flemish people were the most friendly we met on our whole trip and we were delighted to find their reputation held true for having the world's best chocolate, waffles and beer! Bruges is also known for their handmade lace tradition; I was honoured to get to see a demonstration of their lightening fast skills and to bring back a couple samples.

Brussels, Belgium
I feel like we owe Brussels an apology, as we've been bad-mouthing it a little ever since we left. We were there for less than a day, so we only saw a small portion of the city, and we were there when the heat wave of the century hit, so we were dragging our feet and grouchy, to say the least. I will say that their Grand Place was impressive. All of the buildings in that square had incredibly gorgeous and detailed architecture. I can only imagine what it was like as a bustling centre of commerce back in the day. You may also be interested to know, the chocolate, waffles and beer were also yummy here (we factored enough time in for that of course)!

You can see these pictures in more detail, complete with captions, plus many more in my Picasa photo gallery.

Stay tuned for Part 2... The City of Love! Ooh la la!