Paris

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We’re that annoying couple that got to go to Paris on their honeymoon and loved it.  So naturally our hopes and expectations for the second go-around were pretty high (at least mine were).  I wanted the experience to be the same as the last — picnics in front of the Eiffel Tower, nutella banana crepes everyday, and experiencing new sites together. But this time it was different.  And that’s okay, but it takes a while or a little bit of effort for it to be okay even though it’s different.

Our first afternoon in Paris was like reacquainting with a friend that talks nonstop.  It was busy and noisy and we needed to adjust.  We’d just been in quiet, introverted San Sebastian and now we were hanging out with loud mouthed, extroverted Paris.  Needless to say, as two introverts ourselves, we were a bit overwhelmed.  We found our groove eventually and saw new sights, ate delicious food (mostly brunch and pastries), and enjoyed the days we had in the city of light. But… oh I hate that there is a but!… we didn’t love it like we loved it last time. I almost hate to admit that because my heart for Paris was on par with my 14 year old heart for Josiah (ie, majorly enchanted by those good looks).

But, despite the difference between this visit and the last we had some great experiences that will be highlights of our trip in their own right.  First, and most important, was the brunch we had (twice) at Holybelly.  Holy it was – probably the best brunch we’ve ever had (and we’ve had a lot).  When you see the photos below you might think, “this is the best you’ve ever had?” and YES it was.  The food was simple and perfect; creamy eggs, crispy bacon, crunchy on the outside and tender in the middle hash browns.  I think there are a lot of places that make really good eggs, bacon, and hash browns, but Holybelly stands above them all with both fists pumping in the air and rays of sunlight shining down upon it (whoa, I went a little overboard there but I think you get the point now).  Besides the food, everyone working were incredibly welcoming and made us feel at home.  I wish we could transplant this place to Portland.

The most unique experience we had in Paris was funneling ourselves into the fan zone, set up right behind the Eiffel Tower, for the first game in this years Eurocup between France and Romania.  France is the host country this year so everyone was pumped.  There were so many people, lots of yelling, lots of chanting, and lots of beer getting thrown on us.  It was almost as exciting as eating the hash browns at Holybelly!  We also walked a ridiculous amount (two 15 mile days in a row followed by a 13er), ate passionfruit macaroons, had a picnic in the park, and sat in the Jardin de Tuileries staring into the fountains and watching the baby ducks.

You know, all in all, Paris is still pretty magical.

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View from our room in the 15th Arrondissement.

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Les Invalides

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I love that water spout.

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I could wax poetic all day about those eggs and hash browns…

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JoJo B at Notre Dame.

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Best cream puffs in Paris.  Pistachio, Salted Caramel, Chocolate, and Pistachio.

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The Louvre!

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Jardin de Tuileries

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Arc de Triomphe – the first time I went to Paris this was the first monument I saw.  We drove past it and I was in awe.  Time two and three have been just as enchanting for me.

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Espressoooooo

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Bacon, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich at Frenchie-To-Go.

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Pont Alexandre III

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Eurocup/Eiffel Tower – everyone was still waiting for France to score.

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All lit up instead.

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I’ll take two of each. 🙂

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Picnic at Parc de Sceaux.

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This only about 1/4 of the park!

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Macaroons at Lauduree.

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Macaroons from Pierre Herme.  My favorites were the ones with passion-fruit.  Jos loved the very top, which was olive oil vanilla.

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Another view from Jardine de Tuileries.

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Monmarte, 18th Arrondissement.

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Goobs.

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Sacre Cour.

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View from Sacre Cour.

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Bubblegum building in Montmarte.

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Paris Brest – named after the cycling race from Paris to Brest because the cyclists ate this pastry for it’s high caloric intake.  I ate one after a long day of walking so I felt pretty good about life.

Barcelona

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Oh Barcelona, so vibrant, high energy, and eclectic.  From hilltop views to lazy beach afternoons, crazy architecture to the ancient old city, beautiful parks and the best street lamps.  Barcelona has a lot to explore. I could easily get lost and overwhelmed in the busyness of Barcelona. One stroll down La Rambla and I wanted to hole up in a quiet corner for an hour to recover.  Okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic but it did take a while to adjust to a bigger city and find the bits of Barcelona that really “jived” with us.

When I think back on Barcelona now the things that keep sticking out most were the kindness of some of the people we interacted with.  Most notably was our host Doris.  She is the sweetest lady and she and her family warmly welcomed us into their home for the week.  I ended up getting sick while we were in Barcelona and Doris was kind enough to give me some medicine, offer to get me water, and just check in with me when she saw me each day.  She even invited Josiah and I to have dinner with her and her son Alejandro our last night in Barcelona.  While the language barrier made conversation a little more tricky, we (mostly) understood what each other were saying after hand gestures and trying a few different ways to describe things.  I felt so cared for and loved by their generosity.

Barcelona is home to the famous Antoni Gaudi and his quirky architecture.  We really didn’t know much about Gaudi before coming to Barcelona so we took a Gaudi walking tour to get the low down on him and some of his most famous works.  We also spent a day relaxing on the beach and watching a myriad of interesting people.  We explored Parc Güell and Montjuïc, finding beautiful views at both.  Josiah got his first man bag, and we ate brunch like nobody’s business.  I’m sure there are a ton of things we didn’t see but here are some of the things we did.

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Cathedral of Barcelona.

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Small, quiet courtyard outside of the Barcelona History Museum, which features Roman street and building remains.  We toured through the museum one day and really enjoyed it.

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Views from Montjuïc.  The parks up there are beautiful – we could’ve wandered for hours!

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When we walked up on these slides Josiah almost immediately started climbing up to the top so he could slide down.

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National Art Museum of Catalan.  The views up here are great too and the plaza and fountains leading up to it are rather impressive.

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Placa de Catalunya.

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Casa Batlló, the second of Gaudi’s work that we saw on the tour we took. Fun fact: people still live in the apartments on the third and fourth floors and only pay around 300-400 euro because of the rent control laws that were put in place when the house was built.

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Casa Milà, also known as La Pedrera.

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Sagrada Familia!

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The next few photos are all in Parc Güell and are more work from Gaudi.

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Barceloneta Beach – so much good people watching here!  It was really crowded and there were lots of people trying to sell stuff from hair braids to cocktails to bags.  The guy selling fresh coconut was the best/worst because he just yelled jibberish as he aimlessly weaved through all the sunbathers.

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I loved the streets lamps in Barcelona!

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There it is, the man bag in all its glory.  Look for a photo montage of the bag at the end of our trip.

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Old city streets.

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I liked that pop of pink poking in between these two buildings.

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The dome on this building was magical – the colors in person were vibrant blue, green, and yellow.

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The fountain at Ciutadella Park.

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More lamps because I was obsessed…

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Arc de Triomf.

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Walkway leading up to the Arc de Triomf.