Paris – Notre Dame

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Notre Dame Cathedral was started in 1163. The dedication mass finally took place in 1345.

The first real tourist destination we went to in Paris was Notre Dame.  I was so shocked at how big it was, both inside and out.  Throughout Europe we followed a lot of Rick Steves’ walking tours.  We were on a major budget and anything that we could do that was free (rather than paying for a guide) was an automatic choice.  I got my tour out of my Paris 2012 book, but you can also find it here:

http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/destinations/france/paris1.htm

Here are some good things to know if you are going to visit.

  • Getting into the church is free, but to climb the tower will cost about 20 euro.
  • There is a line along the left side of the church (when you are facing it) and that is for the tower.  We almost got in this line to go into the church.
  • Go first thing in the morning.  When we went we just walked right in and we were there about 9 am.  I walked by a few days later in the afternoon and the line was super long just to go inside the church.
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The line to get into the church in the afternoon. There was no one in line in the morning and we walked right in.

  • The line for the tower climb is always longish, but shorter in the morning.  We had to wait about 1/2 an hour.
  • The climb up the tower is included in the Paris Museum Pass (a must have), but you still have to wait in the line (as opposed to a lot of sites where you can skip the line with the Museum Pass).
  • There are candles inside to light and say a prayer when you give a small donation.
  • Be warned that the climb up to the top of the tower is completely exhausting.  I also wouldn’t recommend it for someone deathly afraid of heights (yes, I just stated the obvious), or for someone having a hard time fitting through tight spaces.

And now for some pictures…

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Never. Ending. Stairs.

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Everyone poses for a picture with the bell. I felt I had to.

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It also felt required to pose for a picture going through this tiny little door. Or maybe I’m the only one who did it. Come on…it is a tiny door at the top of Notre Dame. How could I resist?

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J was mostly in charge of the camera. A picture of him is a rarity.

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Europe 2012 and 5 things I learned

In September Jonah and I finally made a trip to Europe.  It was one of the most exciting things we have ever done.  I spent a lot of time planning and a lot of time stressing over things like packing and what to see.  Here is our itinerary.

Sep. 12th – Arrive in Paris

 9/13 – Paris

9/14 – Paris

9/15 – Paris

9/16 – Paris to Chamonix

9/17 – Chamonix

9/18 – Chamonix to Cinque Terre, Italy

9/19 – Cinque Terre

9/20 – Cinque Terre to Florence

9/21 – Florence

9/22 – Florence to Positano

9/23 – Positano

9/24 – Positano

9/25 – Positano to Rome

9/26 – Rome

9/27 – Rome

9/28 – Rome

9/29 – Rome to Seattle/Home

I loved every minute of our trip.  Obviously.  Who wouldn’t?

When we get back from vacation I am always amazed with everything Jonah and I learn and how much more travel knowledge we come home with.  Vacation planning and I have a love/hate relationship.  I spend countless hours reading travel books and searching online for advice.  I suppose that is part of the inspiration for this blog.  I hope to help fellow travelers with the simple things and practical advice that you are wonder about while planning a trip – all those things I wish I would have known before leaving.

And so I begin with this…..

5 random things I learned from our September 2012 Europe trip.

  1. Do take a pair of tight skinny jeans to Paris.  For some reason I decided not to take jeans.  We only carried our backpacks and I just felt I didn’t have the room for them.  Then we got to Paris and EVERY woman around me was wearing tight skinny jeans.  They looked amazing.  Parisian woman always look amazing.  They look fabulous all the time and as soon as we got there I felt like the frumpy American trying to fit in with my striped dresses and black ballet flats when all I really needed was my dark wash skinny jeans that I left in my closet back home.  Damn!  I ended up having to buy a pair of skinny jeans at The Gap.  Plus – it is kind of cold in Paris in September so jeans are a must.  However, I’ve never been to Paris in the blazing heat of the summer and I imagine that would require some further research into Paris street fashion.
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Here I am in my brand new Gap jeans. They felt tighter than they look.

2.  Don’t overpay for food.  The best food we ate was simple street food that didn’t cost much  at all.   Crepe stands in Paris, sandwiches in Florence with Prosciutto and Mozzarella, sharing a quick plate of Pesto for lunch in Vernazza.  YUM.  Need I say more?

3.  Never check your luggage.  I love Rick Steves and we all know what he drills into our little traveler brains…..DO NOT OVERPACK.  Well, cheers to you Rick Steves.  You are a travel God and I thank you for this advice.  We met a few couples on our trip at random restaurants or a random train ride who lost their luggage and had to go a few days without.  Then we would see people like them trying to haul 3-4 large suitcases off a crowded train onto a crowded platform while we whiz past them with our backpacks and make the next train that they probably miss because they have 2 extra bags of s*** they don’t need.  Anyway, PACK LIGHT!

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My super hot husband, Jonah

4.  Learn some of the language.  Have some manners and say please and thank you.  Otherwise, there is always someone around who speaks a little English.

5.  Write some things down.  I know having a travel journal seems super dorky, but not having one is something I regret.  There is so much I have already forgotten about our trip.  I wish I would have recorded things like restaurants we loved, meals we enjoyed, our favorite places, good days, bad days, and people – we met so many wonderful people and just writing down a first name and how we met would have been a nice memory.

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Hello. My name is Karen and I have an obsession with blogs.  I love all kinds of blogs….home improvement blogs, family blogs, photography blogs.  If you’re a blog and you aren’t depressing, then I like you.  A lot.  I can spend hours and hours looking through them and planning things to improve my home or my life.  Most of which are pinned on pinterest and will probably never happen.  It’s the thought that counts, right?

Then one day my husband said to me, “Why don’t you start a blog?.”  I responded with the obvious answer of, “I have nothing good to write about.”  So I thought and thought and thought about it.  I considered a decorating/home improvement blog.  I like to think I am somewhat good at this (well, the decorating part and I have Jonah for the home improvements).  However, lets face it, I’m no younghouselove.com, or makingitlovely.com, or stylebyemilyhenderson.com (who I may or may not have a small girl crush on).  Besides, most of my decorating ideas I get from other blogs.  So, that idea quickly flew the coop.  A few of my friends have blogs about their families.  They are great and I love them as much as I love all blogs, but for now it is just Jonah and I in this little family and that could get really boring, really fast.

Then it came to me. That little lightbulb above my head switched on.  What do I love as much as I love blogs? Travel.  I’m not a travel genius or anything, but I do love it.   So…..Here we go! The start of my blog…..For The Love of Travel.

Now lets just get a few things out of the way.  A few disclaimers, if I may.

  1. Like I said – I am no travel genius.  However, I love to travel and I love to plan trips.  Every time Jonah and I go somewhere we learn so much and I’d love to share all that we learn.  We learn as we go, which leads to a lot of missteps and mess ups, but also leads to some great stories and some wonderful memories.
  2. I am not a writer.  I know the rules, but I tend to write like I speak.  So instead of excessively worrying that everyone out there is judging me, I’m just going to write how I write and hope for the best.  Besides, it’s not like anyone will actually read this, right? Anyway, I just want everyone to be aware of this.  There will be errors.  I’m sorry.  I did go to college, but for Nursing.  I can chart like a mad woman, but writing with absolutely no punctuation or grammar errors……not so much.  Again, I apologize.

Phew! I’m glad I got that out of the way.

One thing I know about blogs is it sucks when people ramble.  This is when you skip the never-ending words and scroll down to the next picture.  So, I’ll stop the nonsense and insert something here that you can look at.

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Jonah and I, Fiji 2008.

Here we are!  This is Jonah and I.  We have been married for 4 years, together almost 7.  We live in a small town in Washington and spend most of our extra money for our travel.

In September we did our very first Europe trip together.  It was an amazing experience and I can’t wait to do it again.  There were so many moments on the trip that I thought to myself, “I should blog about this.”  Hence, the new blog.

We started in Paris and ended in Rome.  Oh, Paris.  Seriously, who doesn’t love Paris? So, stay tuned for some good stuff about Paris! (I’m imagining there is actually someone reading this).  In the meantime. …here is a preview….

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View of Paris from the top of Notre Dame

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Me in front of Notre Dame. (Also, I love you Rick Steves.)