So I recently went to New York City. It’s known for Broadway shows, famous people, flashing lights, lots of fashion statements, and the movie Elf. Needless to say, I went in with really high expectations. I did my research, looked up my coffee shops, was really ready to get into the city.
I think you can learn a lot about a city from the coffee shops there. Are they rustic and homey, serving the lattes in hodge-podge mugs? Is it cleanly decorated with white walls and prints, or is it filled with wooden accents and plants? In America we often just grab our coffee and go, but since I work in a coffee shop, I find myself spending about 50% of my time seeing what a coffee shop can say and do for a city.
So you might know that I spent November of 2015 in Marseille, France. Since then I’ve done nothing but sing praises for the south of France. Everything there is a little bit brighter–mainly because, unlike in Paris, the sun actually shines there. Instead of my normal post where I ramble forever about how gorgeous everything was, I’m going to hit my hard and fast favs of this little region. Continue reading Marseille & Aix-en-Provence: the fast version
The beautiful and historic city of Budapest. I was able to visit this place for only a day in December when my dad was there on a business trip. I was in extreme panic for about five minutes- What do I do? I know nothing about Hungary. I have never been to eastern Europe before, how do I plan for this trip and get as much as possible out of it in just a mer 24 hours? It was after my initial state of panic that I thought to check my new favorite European travel resource: USE-IT maps. These maps are made by locals for travelers who want to explore like locals. I printed out the one for Hungary before I left, but you can find them in the city for free, and then also have an app available! Seriously guys, check it out.
I traveled to Maastricht in May of 2013 and it was a breath-taking trip. It’s amazing how the culture can change in only an hour long plane ride. The top three things I learned there were to (1) not be afraid to walk on the grass. There was so much green everywhere, and sometimes I wasn’t sure if i was supposed to walk on the lawn or follow the path. Then I saw lots of people running and biking over the grass, so I learn it was okay. (2) They plant a tree when they get a new queen. I didn’t quite understand this tradition, but it seemed to be a specific type of tree that was planted and had a dainty little gate around it. (3) There were roman baths here. I was walking through a square and I saw different colored tiles on the ground. The family I was visiting there explained to me that there used to be roman baths in that area. Instead of preserving them by not building over them, the builders of the town decided to remember the baths differently. they outlined them in different colored tiles. Now that I knew, I started seeing them everywhere! Interesting!
During the winter of 2012, I was able to learn to ski. So the first on my list of the top three things I learned while in Zermatt was (1) to ski, and that when you’re skiing you should look forward to where you are going. This was helped by me being able to look at the giant moutons around me. (2) I also learned that some ski villages don’t allow cars! We had to park our van and then get on a little elctric trolly to go up to the ski resort. This made the snow super beautiful and stay white! (3) The villagers who were there skied EVERYWHERE. Outside of every restaurant I saw little places for people to stick their skis or ski boots. So cool!
I have been to Annecy plenty of times, but I am never quite over the quaint beauty of this town. It was the first town in France I had visited actually, all my time previous to my first visit was spent in Geneva. So to me Annecy was like WOW. Everything I turned to look at I was like wow, there are canals and colors and bikes! Now, of course I am a little more seasoned so even though Annecy had still stood out to me, I’m not as easily pleased.
Something that has stayed true of my thoughts about Annecy is that is really is beautiful and quaint. I usually stay in the la vieille ville, there is something about being around really old buildings that makes me excited. Like, I can’t get super old building in Ohio. I need to appreciate them here and now.
When I was visiting one time, there was a giant market going on. I love being able to buy jams, meat and fruit straight from the person who produced it. It also gave me a chance to practice my french. The people there would be pretty patient with me as I struggled to pronounce some names, but I came away knowing more and with armfuls of goodies.
Of course there is the lake. In the summer, and I’m assuming a little into the fall as well, you can rent paddle boats, canoes, and boats. It was incredibly relaxing to be able be in the middle of the lake surrounded by laughing locals and tourists. You get out there and then when you look around it’s an incredible view. Both the huge mountains and the city around, very picturesque.
London, such a great city. It’s super amazing how it can be filled with such amazing history and also be so modern. When I was here, I was with my family. First lesson learned, when you’re traveling with a group of people, don’t be selfish. Maybe you don’t want to go to the London Tower but your group does, just be selfless and go with them. Then try and see if you can do something you really want to do afterwards. The second lesson is that you should do your research about where you are going. Look up the old antique bookstores, the statues that you want to see, the bus routes. If you do your research, it’ll be a much smoother trip. Lastly, and possibly most important, your plans will most likely go wrong. Something will go wrong. You have a group of six but you can only find taxis for five people. There is a event happening in the garden you wanted to take pictures in. You have to be flexible. I cannot stress that enough.
Belgium was another amazing country. It is one of my favorite countries I’ve ever been to, and by that time I had been to a few. There were so many huge buildings there that looking nothing like buildings I had seen before! You can sit there pinning the pictures on Pinterest of places and think they are beautiful, but thats very different then being right underneath them. I found myself overwhelmed to take super gorgeous pictures, but (1) don’t pressure yourself to take the kinds of pictures you see everywhere else. Try taking things from a different angle or of everyday objects that are slightly quirky. The photo of the yellow bike against the door I almost didn’t take. Now, it’s my favorite photo I’ve ever taken. (2) Try to learn about the history of where you’re going. I didn’t know anything about Belgium and it’s history so when I was there I asked as many questions as possible. You should also always (3) look for unique things in each city you go to, find out what makes each city special.