We the Sea


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August 20, 2015


August 8 - August 11

Our last stop of our journey was beautiful Paris! This was by far my favorite city. It was absolutely beautiful, and I felt so comfortable and relaxed here even though they spoke a different language and had different customs.  We arrived in Paris on Saturday morning and had to kill a few hours before we were able to check in to our studio apartment. We were staying in the neighborhood of Montmartre, which had a very hip Parisian vibe.  We found our apartment first, and then wandered down the street until we found a cute little bakery. We got pain au chocolat and espresso there, which were insanely delicious.  Around the corner from our apartment was the beautiful Sacre Coeur, a basilica perched up on a large hill. There was a beautiful square at the base of the church that we rested in until we were able to get to our apartment.

Our studio apartment was tiny, but super cute. It was one room with a kitchenette, bathroom, and murphy bed. It was decorated in a lot of purple, but it was perfect and made me feel like I was really in the city :) We spent some time hanging around the apartment, and then ventured out into Montmartre and did a little exploring. We got our first crepes in Paris for a late lunch, then went up and saw the beautiful Sacre Coeur. In the streets surrounding the church their were cute markets and shops, which we explored afterwards.  It was a wonderful afternoon.

The next morning we got breakfast at the bakery near our apartment and then set out for the Palace of Versailles.  We knew this would be a pretty long trip, so we set out early in hopes of beating the crowd. It took about an hour to get there with the metro, and when we got there we ended up waiting two and a half hours in line just to get in to the palace. When we got in we were kind of worn out, but we did the best we could to enjoy the experience.  It was a beautiful palace. After seeing the insides of the palace, we left for Paris again. We decided to see Notre Dame while we were out. Before this we grabbed a nutella crepe from a nearby stand and ate it down by the river. Afterwards, we headed to the church and took in the beautiful sights.

That night we decided to have a light picnic dinner in front of the Eiffel Tower.  We walked around Montmartre and picked up fruit, wine, and baguettes from our bakery.  After getting our supplies, we took the train to the Eiffel Tower and picked a spot near the base.  We ate dinner and relaxed, watching the people around us and enjoying the beautiful place we were in.  Eventually it got dark and the tower lit up for the night.  A secret that not a lot of people know is that every hour the tower sparkles for five minutes.  We knew this and planned to wait until it put on this beautiful show.  At 10 o'clock it finally sparkled, and was an absolutely beautiful sight.

Monday was our last day in Paris and also the last day of our entire trip.  We woke up and headed to the Arc de Triomphe, which we planned on climbing that morning. We got breakfast first, and then headed to the beautiful landmark.  After getting tickets, we hiked the 200+ stairs to the top. Its an absolutely gorgeous view.  All of the main roads in Paris branch out from this place, so you can see down every road from the top.

After this we walked down the beautiful Champs Elysees, and then went in search of a lunch. We wanted to try escargot before we left, so we found a restaurant that served three courses for a decent price, one of them being escargot.  It was actually pretty good, even though you literally have to dig the meat out of the shells in order to eat it. A little unsettling, but still yummy. They are drenched in butter and garlic so the only thing you have to get past is the chewy texture and the presentation.

Next we headed to the Louvre, where we spent a few hours exploring and trying to see the Mona Lisa.  That night we repeated our plan from the night before, but this time we bought french macarons as a special treat.  We parked in front of the Eiffel Tower again, feeling a bit bittersweet. We were very excited to be home, but the trip had been so wonderful. It was sad to see it end, but I am so glad that we ended in Paris. It was an absolutely beautiful city, and it was so nice to be able to relax in front of the Eiffel Tower, reflect on our trip, and think about all the beautiful memories we made in our seven weeks abroad.

August 19, 2015


August 5 - August 8

The second part of our ten day journey was to Berlin, Germany. We arrived on Wednesday afternoon, tired from traveling all morning and ready to take a rest. We had to take two buses to get to the house we were staying in, which was a little difficult but we managed it.  We stayed with an awesome family who we met through a friend I have from school.  They moved to Berlin from the United States ten years ago to start a church there. It was nice to stay for a family for a change and to have a wonderful room in a nice house with air conditioning :)

We went to a popular part of Berlin on Wednesday afternoon called Alexanderplatz. It was very crowded there, and there seemed to be a festival of sorts going on in the middle of the square. There were stands everywhere selling beer, hot dogs, clothing, jewelry, and other goods. There were street performers and people walking around everywhere. While it sounds fun, it was very hot (in the 90's) and we were super tired and overwhelmed. This was the first country we had been to where we didn't speak the language, and not being able to read signs or understand what people were saying was hard. Luckily most people spoke English, but it was still a difficult challenge. We hung around Alexanderplatz for a little while, ate some dinner, and then headed  back home to rest.

Thursday morning we decided to do a free walking tour of Berlin.  This tour was awesome - it was technically no charge, but you tip the guide however much you think the tour was worth. It was a three hour tour around the center of Berlin, and we went to places like the Brandenburg gate, the Jewish Holocaust Memorial, the location of Hitler's war bunker, a remaining part of the Berlin wall, and a few other beautiful places around Berlin.  One of the things that the guide said stood out to me - Berlin is not a beautiful city, but it is an incredible one. Having experienced some cities that people would consider "beautiful", I saw his statement to be very true. It was not a pretty nor a beautiful city in most aspects, but there is history everywhere which makes it quite interesting.

We went to a museum that afternoon about World War II, and then walked around town. We tried to go inside as much as possible as it was so hot out. We found a little jumble of food trucks and got some currywurst, which is well known in Berlin. It is basically hot dogs covered in tomato sauce and curry powder, served alongside french fries.  Later that night we found a funky biergarten, where we relaxed with a beer in the shade of some beautiful trees.

Friday morning we spent shopping around town. Erin and I both were in search of Birkenstocks because they are made in Germany and much cheaper there. We hit a few shoe stores, and I ended up finding a pair but Erin left empty handed. For lunch we head to the neighborhood of Kreuzberg. This place was a little more run down than the middle of Berlin, but it had some character as well. We got doner kebab for lunch, a popular food there that is similar to greek gyros. That afternoon we decided to go on a kayak tour down the river spree. This was a great idea because it was almost 100 degrees out, but felt much cooler on the river.  We kayaked for a few hours around Berlin. It was cool to be able to see the city from a different perspective.  That night we headed to a square in the center of the city and got pretzels and dinner, enjoying our last few hours in Berlin.

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August 1 - August 5

At the end of our trip to Europe, we spent 10 days visiting three different cities. The first city we decided to visit was London! We originally wanted to study abroad here, but it was so expensive that we chose Galway instead. Because we still really wanted to go here, we decided to spend four days exploring the city and seeing the sights.

We arrived in London after almost 8 hours of travel from Galway. We stayed in a cute little house on the edge of town found through airbnb. We had our own room and bathroom, and the house had a beautiful garden and nice kitchen. We relaxed at the house the first day and walked around the neighborhood, saving up energy to hit the city the next few days.

Sunday, our first full day in London, we walked around the town and got ourselves oriented. We walked through Trafalgar square and some of the surrounding areas, figuring out our way around the city. Later that day we decided to go to the Tower of London, which was a really cool experience. We got a tour from one of the Beefeaters, which were men dressed in old uniforms that new all sorts of information about the tower.  According to them, the tower has been a plethora of things. It has been a mint, a zoo, a home for kings and queens, an armory, and more. The tour was so fun and informative, and our guide was hilarious.

After taking the tour, exploring the Tower a bit more, and going through the exhibit of the Crown Jewels, we decided to walk across the amazing Tower Bridge which was close by.  We walked across it, taking loads of pictures along the way, and once we crossed to the other side we got to watch as the bridge rose up for boats to pass underneath. Later on we had dinner at a cool food truck near the Tower Bridge and enjoyed a mojito with the bridge and the setting sun as our view.

We had bought tickets for the Hop On Hop Off bus that travels around London and decided to use them on Monday. We sat on the top deck of the bus and took it around the city for awhile, enjoying the sights and the quips coming from the live tour guide.  We hopped off for a quick burger for lunch, and then hopped back on. We rode it through Picaddilly Circus, near Big Ben and Westminster, and over towards Buckingham Palace. We got off here and went to go see where the Queen stays, taking pictures and walking through Hyde Park nearby.

Later on we headed out to dinner, and then went over to the London Eye. We had bought tickets for the Champagne experience on the Eye, which was the coolest thing.  We were escorted to a Champagne bar and waited for our guides, and were then lead onto the Eye and got to skip the whole line. We decided to go at 9 at night, which was the perfect plan because the sun had just set and we got to see the city light up from 450 feet above ground.  They gave us a glass of champagne as we entered the pod on the Eye, and then rode it around for half an hour. It was so beautiful from the top! This was definitely one of my most favorite experiences in London.

Tuesday morning we decided to head to Notting Hill - partly because of the movie filmed there, and partly because we had heard it was beautiful and wanted to check it out for ourselves. The neighborhoods there were so cute and the Portobello Road market was really fun.  Afterwards, we explored London a little bit more.

With our Hop On Hop Off tickets we got a free River Thames cruise, so we got on this after getting back into the city. It took us down to the Tower Bridge again, where we got off and ate a delicious lunch of bangers and mash (mashed potatoes, gravy, and sausage). Sounds a bit weird, but it was sooo good. We hung out down by the river while eating, enjoying our last day in London.  After this we hung out a bit more, found a place to eat dinner, bought a few knick knacks, and then headed home to pack and rest for the next leg of our trip.

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