June 2, 2016

the city of love & lights

Originally, our plan was to spend one full week in Iceland and the second week in London. But after a little bit of arm-twisting, I convinced Drew that we should cut our time in London a little short to hop on over to Paris for three days because, IT'S PARIS. And it's safe to say that it was totally worth it!
For every person out there who thinks Paris is overrated, there are thousands who will tell you it really is amazing. I am now happy to report that I am one of those thousands! It's the most fawned over city in the world and is known as both 'The City of Love' and 'The City of Lights' for a reason! (hence this blog post title, because I looked it up and I guess both are equally valid nicknames). Many people think it's not worth the hype, but I disagree. Sure, there were things I didn't love about Paris like the insane crowds and the outdated Metro, but the city made it up to me with the stunning architecture, rich history, beautiful museums, and THE FOOD.
Because we only had three days, we really had to make those days count! After dropping off our things at the cuuutest AirBnB, our first stop was Musée d'Orsay. This museum was especially cool because the building itself used to be a train station and was later converted into a museum. It is home to the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist pieces in the world, so I loved seeing the familiar works of Monet, Manet, Van Gogh, Degas, Renoir, and Cézanne, just to name a few! After wandering around d'Orsay for a while, we walked along the Seine and marveled at Notre-Dame Cathedral. After a quick nap at our apartment, we headed back into the central city once it was dark outside to climb up Arc du Triomphe, which boasts of the most stunning view of Paris at night. It truly was magical, and despite our best efforts and SPRINTING up to the top, we made it in time to see the Eiffel Tower sparkle for only a few seconds (it does so every hour on the hour for five minutes). So, we decided to leave Triomphe a little earlier to get prime seats right at the base of the tower in time for the next hour. I know Paris is full of these kind of clichés, but it really was the one of the most magical and romantic moments of my life to see the dazzling display of lights on the Eiffel Tower in person. I was so happy to be experiencing it with my sweet husband! <3
Day two was a marathon day, starting off with a visit to Musée du Louvre. That place honestly overwhelmed me with both its grandeur and amount of tourists. It was so massive that I would need to devote at least a full week to see everything on display. We only had a few hours but managed to see some of my favorite highlights: Winged Victory of Samothrace, Venus de Milo, Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss, Dying Slave, Great Sphinx of Tanis, and Mona Lisa.
After the Louvre we got lunch in the Tuileries Garden, followed by a visit to my favorite museum of the entire trip: Musée de l'Orangerie. I loved how small and secluded this museum felt, especially compared to the insanity that was the Louvre. It didn't take long to go through the entire museum, which was conveniently located in the west corner of the Gardens. My favorite part was the eight gorgeous Water Lilies murals by Monet on the ground floor. They are housed in two large, white, oval rooms with each one spanning the distance of each of the walls. It was so peaceful just sitting there and admiring those masterpieces, I could've done so for hours. But I didn't, and following the museum we did some more sight-seeing at the Paris opera house Palais Garnier and Sacré-Cœur Basilica.

As I mentioned before, one thing that made Paris so wonderful was all the delicious food. We ate French onion soup, crêpes and crème brûlée at a cafe by the Eiffel Tower, baguettes, croissants, éclairs and beignets at street corner boulangeries, the best gelato of my LIFE in the Tuileries Gardens, and macarons from Ladurée. My favorite meal of the whole trip was dinner in the Marais at the world famous L'As du Fallafel. Shout-out to my foodie friend Emily for recommending this place because I am still thinking about that meal. If you ever find yourself in Paris, please go for me! It is 2DIE4.
On our last day, we took the train to Versailles to spend the day exploring the grounds and the palace. This was one of my most highly anticipated days of the whole trip. I even made Drew watch Sophia Coppola's Marie Antoinette with me a few weeks before we left so we were both equally as pumped to see the extravagance of Versailles in person. And let me tell you, it did not disappoint. Everything about that place can only be described as ornate, ostentatious, and over-the-top. I loved every bit of it! From the massive palace itself, to the gardens, Grand Trianon, Petit Trianon, and the Queen's Hamlet, the entire tour of Château de Versailles was so dreamy and so much fun!
It was, as you can imagine, very bittersweet to be leaving Paris and Europe in general. I had the most amazing two weeks with the coolest travel buddy ever. It's safe to say that traveling with your husband is the very best arrangement. Especially if said husband has a great sense of direction, becomes super friendly and chatty with all of your AirBnb hosts while you nap in the other room, knows how to budget the cash when you keep switching monetary systems, puts up with you complaining about tourists/the weather/walking all day, watches The OC with you every night (Icelandic Netflix > American Netflix), reluctantly becomes your Instagram husband, and takes the siiiickest film pictures for you both to enjoy and to later post on all of your obnoxious blog posts. I love being married to the perfect travel companion and I'm stoked that we have the rest of our lives to explore all the many countries we want to visit together!

For those of you still following along here on my annoying travelogue, here's a lil video that I put together from our trip. This is important because even though Drew is the actual professional around here, I did this (mostly) all by myself! As pathetic as it is to be impressed by myself for making it since it's not even that well done, I totally am. And it was a lot more fun than I thought it would be, so this probably won't be my last ;)
ICYMI: stories and pictures from Iceland and London can be found here and here. Thanks so much for reading!