Well, it’s been a busy, beautiful, restful, adventurous summer. There’s nothing better than a good Minnesota summer to help us to forget about the cold that’s headed our way!
This summer, my husband and I traveled with his family to Europe. I’m getting all the feels just thinking about it! We traveled to 3 different countries in 2 weeks: Paris, Rome & Barcelona. It was a dream come true and it was so much fun to travel with my husband’s family – now my family, too! Yippee!
We averaged about 8 miles/day walking around and touring different museums, gardens, cafes, historic sites… it is unreal how big and beautiful the world is and how much God has given to us to explore and appreciate the beauty that exists all around us (not just abroad, but at home, too!).
I’m going to cover our first city and some of the highlights from the trip to give you a glimpse into the beauty, too! I knew that as I soon as I started writing this post that there wasn’t any way I could write about absolutely everything, so I’ll give you a few snapshots – just know that there’s so much more that I loved & have photos of!… However, this doesn’t need to be a travel diary. No one wants to read that!
A few favorites
David and I went to Sunday Mass at this incredible basilica in Paris that is at one of the highest points in the city known as Montmartre. The views are astounding! We ended up flying in Sunday afternoon and decided that we would all walk together to get used to the time difference and because we wanted to soak in as much as possible (we had four days in each city). We ended up getting back around 11 p.m. that night because we weren’t that tired and if we were, it didn’t matter, because we all wanted to explore and wander the streets of Paris. This basilica was HUGE and it was astounding to see all the side chapels, artwork, massive architectural choices (I mean, how on EARTH did the builders get everything up this huge hill?!). St. Therese of Lisieux and St. Pope JPII both attended Masses here, so that was pretty sweet, that two of my favorite saints had walked in and had their breath taken away by such beauty. It was like a little love nudge from St. Therese (she’s my girl).
Need I say more? The Eiffel Tower was astonishing in size! I knew that it would be big – but it was BIG! We used the Metro to get around this big city and it was so cool to be riding in the train and to start to see glimpses of the tower in this picturesque neighborhood of Paris. It was like a movie! There’s something so surreal about seeing a monument or icon in person that you’ve seen so many photos and paintings of (it’s how I felt about the Golden Gate Bridge in SF). When we got to the park & tower, we decided to climb up the first two flights of the Eiffel Tower, but decided that that was high enough for all of us. The views of Paris are absolutely breathtaking! It’s incredible how many people live in this city and how packed in it is. I can’t really say too much about the Eiffel Tower because I’m honestly at a loss for words (imagine that!). The sites just take your breath away with the architecture, rooftop gardens, and traffic buzzing through the city.
Although the Louvre was INCREDIBLE, I really liked the impressionist museum because it was smaller in size and much more manageable to walk around. It helped me to be able to process what on earth I was actually seeing and also process the fact that ALL THE PAINTINGS ARE ORIGINALS. This blew my mind. As a kid, we played Masterpiece (it was my mom’s game growing up), which is an art auction game that allows each player to be the snobbiest of snobs to bid fake money on impressionist paintings and see who comes out with the most expensive paintings and money (the game doesn’t teach you the values of sharing or being kind, but it sure does teach you how to bid & spend wisely). I was surprised at how many paintings looked familiar to me until I realized that it was from the grand old days of having wads of fake money and bidding on expensive paintings trying to beat my siblings. Ah, the good old days. I digress… One of my favorite paintings is The Angelus. We had a copy of this painting hanging up at my old house in the kitchen and I always remember looking up at it and looking at the farmer’s, tired from work, yet still bowing their heads in prayer. It’s a really peaceful, serene moment and it was so incredible to walk into one of the rooms and see it, just hanging there on the wall. SO COOL.
Well, Notre Dame looks big on the outside, but it’s not all that crazy big on the inside. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still gorgeous! I think my memories from Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame sort of distorted my view of what it should look like and I honestly was really hoping for some talking gargoyles. I mean, c’mon. The Rose Window is phenomenal in beauty and in size! The inside of the cathedral is large and impressive, but simplistic in its architectural design. It doesn’t have gold painted frescos or tons of famous paintings (cue Rome’s grand entrance). But, it was still so incredible to be inside, to walk around, and to say a few prayers and take in such an old, historic cathedral that housed so many people during such tumultuous historical times. Europe definitely blows your mind in that way and makes you realize that America is really only in its toddler stages of life and years (let’s be real).
Cafes & espressos
Okay, so cafes are the bomb dot com. Even McCafe at McDonald’s. Now, before you go thinking, Why on EARTH would you go to McD’s?!, you should know that these cafes are swanky and serve some delicious scones and chocolate croissants. NOTHING like fake dog meat, people. Nothing. Some of my favorite moments of the trip were when we were so tired, but wanted to keep going, but knew that our bodies would benefit from just a bit of R&R. We’d find a side street cafe, sit down, have some espressos, maybe some desserts to sample and just people watch. Hearing the language spoken as people walked by was like music floating through the streets. The French language is such a beautiful, soft language that is quite musical and romantic. Although the French are much colder in personality and temperaments (from our experience), I don’t know that anyone can beat that passive aggressive Minnesotan behavior. At least you knew if people were annoyed with you or found your French utterly awful (raising my hand).
Okay, well obviously these are just a few snapshots from the trip and I tried not to write about all the touristy stops. I tried. But, you can’t leave out the Eiffel Tower!
A Wanderlust Wednesday
We stayed in Airbnb rentals during this trip and the experience definitely had David and I considering and thinking about our own city that we live in. If we were to have someone stay at our place, what would we recommend that they go see? What would be the highlights from our city that are musts?
I’m starting up this hashtag series, #AWanderlustWednesday, to get us sharing our own experiences and adventures – whether it’s a trip to Europe, up north, or a new museum in town! What are ways that we can explore our own cities and towns and appreciate the fun places that we live in?
It’s a chance for us to see places with new eyes and I definitely feel that way after our trip. It has been so fun, but I want to explore what’s around me and what I’ve totally missed out on as a local in my city! So, I hope that you’ll join me and share some of your #AWanderlustWednesday experiences!
Until next time!