Amsterdam architecture

Travel Diary – Amsterdam

What better way to kick off the new year than travel to an undiscovered place? One of my goals for 2015 is to travel more around Europe, to discover it while I can, while I live so close to it all. Amsterdam was a spur of the moment trip, booked 1 month before, and it was exactly what I needed.

The first thing that struck me was how easy it was. I’m so accustomed to international trips being a huge production, very expensive, involving long plane rides, annoying layovers, and credit cards that may stop working at any moment. Living in the US, most people are so far removed from foreign countries that when the time to travel comes, one must uproot themselves and plan, plan, plan.

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Road trip to San Francisco – A Travel Diary

Last week Erik and I took Highway 1 – a short road trip to San Francisco. Pacific Coast Highway is the road that hugs the pacific ocean, dangerously close at some points. It provides amazing views along the way though, and the curves in the road force you to slow down both literally and mentally.

We stopped in Big Sur, the Overlook Trail of Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park to be exact. It wasn’t so much of a hike, more of just a pathway to a lookout point. If we had more time, we probably would have done a proper hike, but this view was amazing regardless. That water was incredibly turquoise, which is really unusual for the Pacific ocean, at least for the beaches near LA. I’m used to the water looking a dark murky green.

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Mont Saint Michel

Road Trip Day 3 – Mont Saint Michel

My best friend Natalie and I decided to take a quick 4-day road trip through France, more specifically, Normandy.  What follows is an account of the events, sights, and stories that took place.  This is the final instalment – you can see day 1 HERE and day 2 HERE.

After waking up in our cute and comfortable Airbnb room, we decided we couldn’t leave Bayeux without seeing the famous Bayeux tapestry, which is recognized as an official piece of world heritage by UNESCO, and for good reason.  It’s a major source of historical, cultural, and artistic information.  I strongly recommend following the free audio guide because it guides you through the crazy (and sometimes funny) story being depicted.  I usually bypass the audio guides at museums, but this one was truly entertaining, and essential in my opinion.

Next, we hopped in our car, and headed toward MONT SAINT MICHEL!  After getting lost, of course.  My favourite part of the drive was seeing little glimpses of the mont from a distance.  The land leading up to the fortress is mostly flat grassy land, so the Mont really stands out on the horizon.  It was incredible, really.  The closer we got, the more it made me feel like I was headed towards Hogwarts!  Too bad I didn’t get sorted into a house upon arrival… (I was hoping for Gryffindor).  I wouldn’t be surprised if Hogwarts was inspired by the Mont.

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France Road Trip Cider Route

Road Trip Day 2 – Calvados & Bayeux

My best friend Natalie and I decided to take a quick 4-day road trip through France, more specifically, Normandy.  What follows is an account of the events, sights, and stories that took place.  This is just part 2 – you can see day 1 HERE and day 3 HERE.

We arose bright and early in Rouen that partly-cloudy September morning, had a breakfast of chocolate-covered madeleines, then jumped in our little European car.  After 25 minutes of driving in circles, a car ride that was interspersed with frequent shouts of panic and confusion, we finally found our way onto the correct motorway!  The roads in cities can be absolutely impossible with their roundabouts, one-way streets, and indecipherable road name signs. (Somebody please tell me why the road names are in size-2 font and buried on sides of cluttered buildings???) Almost as soon as we found the correct motorway, we were already exiting onto smaller roads that ran through rolling green hills, dotted with cream-colored cows.  Every so often we’d see lines of apple trees, evidence that we’d entered the region of cider production. Our first stop of the day was Cambremer, a central town on the Cider Route, which runs through an area known as the Pays d’Auge in the Region of Calvados.  We didn’t do the entire route, which consists of cider distilleries, gardens, farms, and gorgeous country roads, but the few stops we did make provided a nice overview of the entire area.

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Late Summer at Giverny

Road Trip Day 1 – Giverny and Rouen

My best friend Natalie and I decided to take a quick 4-day road trip through France, more specifically, Normandy.  What follows is an account of the events, sights, and stories that took place.  This is just part 1, you can read day 2 here and day 3 HERE.

Day 1 technically began with an extremely early wake-up alarm, a bus ride, lengthy walk to the car rental office, and subsequent loss of direction.  Somehow, we ended up on the wrong motorway about 20 minutes into the trip, but with a bit of spontaneous redirection, we were able to get back on track.  It seemed this first mishap would set the tone for the rest of the trip, as we became lost – without fail – every single time we turned the car engine on.  More on that later…

Our first real stop (if you don’t count a McDonald’s egg McMuffin pitstop), was Giverny!  It was my second time there, and it was just as beautiful as the first.  Last time, it was early spring, the garden overflowing with multicolored tulips.  This time around, it was late summer, so the greenery was much taller, much more overgrown, and the dominant flower was the Dahlia.  Dahlias as big as your head, no joke.  Here I have inserted Natalie’s hand for reference.

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Elopement marrigae in NYC and sightseeing

Change of Plans: NYC Elopement

Moving to France to eat croissants and macarons all day might sound “easy” or “spontaneous,” but it actually takes a lot of planning and, how do I put it? …logistical manoeuvres. There are a few ways to get here: as a student, as a student/au pair, as a worker, or as the family member of a European person. The option that made the most sense for Erik and I was to become family members, i.e.: get married.

Up until last week, we had been planning on marrying in Sweden, Erik being a Swede and all. We had the tickets bought, we had plans for me to finally meet his family, and we were about to leave in less than a week. However, when we found out that some documents we sent hadn’t been deemed “official” enough, we had to make a sudden change of plans. It’s not like we have all the time in the world, either – there’s a definite timeline to apply for residency, which is constantly hanging over my head.

Our solution? New York City.

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