Intermediate Pastry finished a week and a half ago. So crazy!!! It is passing so quickly.
We had about a week off (broken up by graduation- um who can say poor planning!). Tina and I decided a bit of traveling was due! So where did we decide to go! SCOTLAND! The land where men wear skirts and there’s an abnormal amount of red heads.
The trip started off pretty great- I was packed. Ready to go- met up with Tina at my apartment- walked to the bus stop. Chilling on the bus when mid-sentence I remembered… that I forgot the one thing you don’t ever want to forget. My passport. Unfortunately the bus wasn’t moving so I couldn’t do a dramatic- STOP THE BUS!!! But oh I could do a mad-dash to my apartment and up 6 flights of stairs! Of course on the one day I happen to actually see someone in my building. I think it was the apartment owner too. tehe. I hope he was impressed by my speedy staircase climbing.
leisurely jog run to the bus yet again and we were off. With no time to spare!
I would like to add here that usually I’m a good traveler… I’ve only missed 5-6 flights!! :-)
I would like to give Tina Beana a shout out for being the most amazing friend. Instead of freaking out, she was calming me down!
So we got to the airport (which by the way, the Roissy Bus is totally the way to go. That RER mess- no thank you!), more running to find the correct security entrance. More running to the gate. (I seriously didn’t need to go on my workout run that morning) We get to the gate and there’s no one there- well no passengers at least. There was a unyielding flight guru person at the desk (I can’t remember what they’re called.. :-D). So despite seeing the plane out the window on the tarmac, we were not allowed on. That is the worst!!
After a little thinking over a not so great cup of coffee at Starbucks we decided that even though we were losing a day- we really should go! 75 euros later- we were booked for a flight the next day.
After drinking almost an entire bottle of Ecrin de la Barde a Saint Emilion Grand Cru wine that night, our decision was sounding pretty solid. haha!
The next day we left a good 4 hours before our flight. Plenty of time for a baguette and hummus for lunch and then we were off. No issues at the airport, which I might add, we were now pros at. and oh the irony- the seat next to me was filled by a very sweaty Brit who like us had missed the flight yesterday and just about missed it today. He ended up being a French teacher so we had lots of fun discussing French expressions over a bottle of Rose on the way over with our French surgeon seatmate.
We landed to a brisk 60 degree and windy day in Edinburgh. Gorgeous!!!!!!!!!! I’d never seen so many red haired blue eyed people! and kilts! and bagpipes!!
*Look Dad- Hook ‘em Horns! He played Home Home On the Range after we took this picture.
Day 1: We got checked in, and then we were off! First stop dinner! We were staying right off the Royal Mile- the epicenter of all things touristy in Edinburgh. At the top of the hill is the castle, and at the bottom, Palace of Holyroodhouse. We did a bit of strolling and decided on a packed tavern that offered food in an upstairs restaurant called Deacon Brodie’s Tavern. For starters, we had Haggis with whiskey sauce.
When in Edinburgh- your first meal has to be Haggis! I would just suggest not reading what Haggis is before you try it though… :-) It’s quite delicious with some spice to it! Tina got a chicken mushroom pie and I had sausage and mash! yummmm!!!!
Next stop, a ghost tour with Cadis & Witchery Tour. Our guide, the deceased Adam Lyal and his helper… Steve. haha The tour was excellent.. a spooky but hilarious look into Scotland’s witch and murderous past- complete with many appearances by quick costume changing Steve. haha!
A couple awkward photos with Steve and Adam (Deceased.) (this was my best scared expression- don’t judge) and we were off to a Scottish tavern perfectly named Scotsman Lounge at the corner of Cockburn and High Street (aka the Royal Mile). We’d walked past earlier and it had been filled with a fantastic older crowd enjoying a couple beers and singing and dancing to live music. We did some Scottish dancing which consisted of swaying back and forth and snapping your fingers. haha! oh and of course the traditional swingish-type-lead-around-the-dance-floor dancing with the quite drunk but cute 80 year old who tried to pass us off to his son. A couple of Irish ladies attempted to show us Irish dancing much to our and their amusement.
We made our way down to Cowgate street where all the bars are located to a super fun make shift bar/live music venue set up just for the Fringe festival. We listened to three bands- the first was my favorite because they played Mumford and Sons and then American Girl- just for me. :-)
Day 2: A little bit of a late start :-) but we were soon awake after a full Scottish breakfast at the Southern Cross Cafe.
Up the Royal Mile we went to visit the Castle!
It was actually, and this is going to sound silly especially because there are so many things to do there, smaller than I thought it would be.
We decided to visit Edinburgh at such a perfect time. The Fringe festival was in it’s last couple of days, the weather was perfect, and the crowds were not that bad. In anticipation of long lines, we’d bought our tickets for the castle online a couple days prior. We skipped about 30 minutes of waiting. Lucky us!
There are I think 3 museums to visit (maybe more!), we walked through two and saw a chapel, the royal jewels, and so many other things! I think my favorite was the Prisoner’s of War museum and walking through their cells. There were little stories about each of the prisoners and information about their routines including a daily ration of beer. I also loved stopping to get tea and treats!
We stopped at a little cafe in the Castle for tea and crumpets (aka. Scottish shortbread and Carrot Cake!!)
Lots of shopping and wandering around and soon we found ourselves at the bottom of the Royal Mile at Holyroodhouse. Unfortunately it had just closed, but looming in the distance was Arthur’s Seat just begging to be hiked! Shopping bags in hand and aptly shod with ballet flats and espadrilles we took off!
Day 3: Rolled out of bed at 7:30am… why!!! aren’t I supposed to be on vacation! The Hairy Coo‘s we would hopefully be seeing later were my motivation! When we checked in Tina had pointed out a brochure for a day trip featuring very shaggy cows. I like cows! Brilliant! Unfortunately the tour was full when we checked online the day before, but! there was the possibility of joining if there were cancellations.
We showed up bushy eyed and way too excited outside Deacon’s Cafe on the.. wait for it… Royal Mile- seriously how convenient- and were greeted by a kilt wearing man in a beany. We got the last two spots and jumped on a bright orange bus. Our tour guide was great- an excellent mix of history and jokes including the Scottish way to say yes… Ay Freedom!!
On the agenda: the beautiful Forth Bridge.
A stop to hike to the William Wallace Monument outside of Stirling.
Pictures in front of the Stirling Castle.
A beautiful view of the only lake in Scotland that is not called a loch.
A hike through the Trossachs.
My favorite: Feeding the Hairy Coos!!!
Another solid favorite: Visiting Loch Katrine and biking around the edge of the lake.
Doune Castle- featured in Monty Python and Game of Thrones.
We finished off the night watching fireworks that were shot of the Edinburgh Castle. :-)
Day 4: We had a little bit of time before heading to the airport to catch our flight so we decided to go to Palace of Holyroodhouse at – you guessed it- the end of the Royal Mile! It was gorgeous! We had our own private tour of the old Abbey ruins connected to the palace. There’s just something about ruins… :-) Beautiful!
The tour inside the palace was great. I would almost say that I liked it better than Versailles- oh the blasphemy!
A brisk walk up the Royal Mile and a quick stop by some shops- I got the cutest gloves made from Shetland wool and a little knitted Hairy Coo. We picked up our bags and headed to the airport- with plenty of time. or so we thought. There must have been something causing us to have the worst of luck at airports because after smoothly going through a pretty darn cool security system, hitting a smile face for a positive experience, and a short wait at our gate, we were in line to board.
I was doing a little people watching and started to notice that all the passengers around us had a stamp on their ticket.. a stamp that we didn’t have. Right after I happened to notice this soon to be very important stamp, the flight attendant stopped by to check out tickets. We hadn’t gotten our passport validated at the check in desk downstairs. “You might just make the flight if you run now…” Tina and I just looked at each other- pure panic. More airport running?! nooooo!!!!! yes.
Running with full backpacks is quite difficult especially at the end of a trip. We flew through the airport though, back downstairs, got a stamp, almost got ushered through fast track security by some nice guys, and back through security (which had no line because well everyone was boarding!!). I think the though of adding yet another missed flight to my now lengthy list made my feet move just a little bit faster on the moving sidewalk. You know running on a moving sidewalk is actually quite fun- you feel like a superhero! hahaha! When we got to the late things looked very promising. There were still 3 people waiting in line to board. We got our tickets scanned, smushed our bags into a receptacle to check the size allowance and walked outside, sweating. ughhh.
But we made it- 1.5 hour flight to Paris, an hour bus ride to get into the city. and we were home. :-)
A return of scarves and black articles of clothing has to mean one thing–> The Parisians are back! I might have been watching movies at an open air cinema in Paris and doing day trips. :-) Not a bad deal!
I’d actually been anticipating August since getting here after hearing all about it in the travel books I read. Would it live up to the hype? Does everyone really leave Paris for the entire month? But how?
Well I’m here to confirm that yes indeed Paris is dead! I saw a funny post on Facebook the other day showing pictures of major streets with absolutely no people.
It is so weird!!
One day I woke up at 6am to traffic outside my window and a couple days later, quiet. No it wasn’t the weekend, just the beginning of August.
If you’re planning a trip to Paris, I wouldn’t plan it during this month – It’s so hot! And so many things are closed! Well because they’re clientele are all out of town!
Something neat is that the city puts on events for the people that are in town- music concerts, outdoor movies, and the famous Paris Plage! A beach on the banks of the Seine.
There’s actually a law in France that a certain amount of boulangeries are open at one time – 400 to be exact. You can visit a website to see where the nearest open bakery is!
Following August, there’s what is called “La Rentree” aka. “the return!” – a return from vacation and a return to school!
Check out these mega- cute candies in a store window!
It was the first rainy day in my new apartment and despite a couple rain drops coming in through the open window above my bed, I didn’t want to get up. Didn’t even want to close the window. But, the thought of being homeless mid-September if I missed my RDV at 11:30 however might have jolted me awake. I had a meeting to see an apartment one boulevard off the Champs de Mars (the garden in front of the Eiffel) toward the middle of the garden. It happened by chance, I was looking at the Roommates in Paris FB group and someone posted about renting out their apartment for 6 months while they were in Beirut starting in September. Bingo! A very intense interview later and we set up a RDV! So I grabbed my umbrella and headed out in the rain.
The apartment was so cute! And bigger than I thought (never happens in Paris). The view … A small window but it looked right through the middle of a break in the street right into the park. Amazing! I’ll save pics of the apartment for September.
Then I was off to the train station- Gare de l’est to catch a train to Provins with Anna and Tina. The rain had let up so we were feeling pretty good about the trip.
No sooner did we step off the train and take two pictures, did it start to pour. Soaked to the bone and freezing pour! And the town? Well I’m always up for an adventure, but it didn’t look too exciting. And of course all of my research on the town had left me with my hungry belly!
We headed toward the middle of the city past some buildings that looked a little sad, and several restaurants that were closed and stopped at an express pasta place. Warm pasta (that wasn’t so good) and a little while later, it was still pouring. The store owner started to close up shop so we headed out, bought some stamps, turned a wrong direction, and somehow made our way up a hill where we saw some more tourists. Hmm…
Then the rain cleared up! Another turn toward a huge church and ah ha! This is where we were supposed to go!! A turn at an amazing tower and we kept walking and bumped into the cutest little square.
Provins as I was now remembering has two parts, the lower village, and upper village. The lower village in the center was rather cute with a Hotel d’Ville decked out in flowers and a couple cute restaurants, but the upper village is the place to be. The town is a UNESCO site and an amazingly preserved site of Medieval France. You can see and walk (!) on the walls surrounding most of the upper village.
After getting a coffee and dessert at a cute little café and hitting up way too many shops that’s where we headed to finish our quick trip.
The town is also known for their Medieval Festival, medieval themed shows, and roses! Rose products were everywhere from tea to chocolate to soap to creams and syrups.
It ended up being an awesome day trip. Give girls great shopping, a cute café, and some beautiful views and we’re set! We’re hoping to go back in a couple of weeks for the Medieval Fair!
Practical Info: Catch a SNCF train from Gare de l’Est in Paris. Trains leave every 30mins to an hour depending on the day. The trip is free with a Navigo pass if you’re traveling on the weekend or an inexpensive ticket from the automated machines. Check out the TV screens to find the number of the train platform for PROVINS. The train usually gets there just 10 minutes before departing so keep an eye on the screens for the platform number to pop up and head that way! Once you get to the town, head to the left across a bridge and follow the signs to the city centre, and then uphill to the upper village. Tourist information is located off the town square amongst lots of little boutiques.