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Filtering by Category: Travel

Yosemite National Park, California – Spring 2017

Hannah Fleming

The first time I went to Yosemite it was 1999, and I was 6.

I remember the tall trees, the shuttles bussing us around the park, being scared of bears breaking into the car, drinking out of the soda springs at Tuolomne meadow, and… the waterfalls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It's amazing looking through these photos, pulled from my Mom's scrapbook, all taken before digital cameras.

Fast forward 17 years to September 2016. Ben, my Mom and I were back in Curry Village celebrating Ben's birthday.

We had a great time hiking and enjoying the beautiful landscape, but, something was missing. Dark black lines ran down the granite walls where the waterfalls I so vividly remembered flow in the Spring and Summer. Almost as soon as we got back from that trip, we began planning our next trip.

I. Getting There
With friends coming in from out of state, logistics were important. Because Ben lives in Orange County, we chose the OC as our meeting point. We flew into various airports in the area, piled all of our gear into the rented minivan, and drove up to Yosemite. (If you can, flying into San Francisco is a better/closer option.) We also had a google document tracking everyone’s flights, expenses, packing lists, etc.

II. The Campsite
If you’re interested in reserving a spot, it’s crucial to plan ahead. Campground reservations open five months in advance, and fill up fast! It’s like trying to get tickets to your favorite band the minute tickets are released!

Our group stayed at the Upper Pines Campground. There were multiple bathrooms, sinks for foods waste, and water fountains. This location worked well as we were close to Curry Village (unfortunately renamed Half Dome Village in 2016), and a few of the trailheads.

If all sites are filled, another great option are the canvas tents we stayed at on our last trip.  

III. Itinerary
We’ve found that the best way to make the most of any trip, is to plan out the big hikes we’re doing every day, and have a few options for the evening.  We could not have planned them better. Doing the hikes in this order worked out perfectly! It's also important to do you some research and plan ahead according to the time of year you're visiting. HWY 120 into the park closes during the Winter, and was still closed when we were there in March. Check all of the conditions here

Fun fact: I used to hate crossing streams on the trails. Now, I love it!

Fun fact: I used to hate crossing streams on the trails. Now, I love it!

Day 1 (half day)

After stopping at Tunnel View and Bridalveil Falls* on our way into the park, we set up camp and set off for Four Mile Trail. When the full trail is open, this hike takes you from the Valley Floor to Glacier Point. After 2.5 miles, the clouds began to shift, a storm rolled in, and it began to snow. As we made it back to trailhead, the clouds rolled out of the valley, and we were left with a gorgeous evening. From the Four Mile Trail trailhead, we headed across the meadows to Yosemite Falls, and wandered around the Valley Floor Loop for a bit before heading back to camp.

Total Mileage: ~ 6
Total Time: ~2 hours

 

View from 4 Mile Trail

View from 4 Mile Trail

Wandering along the Valley Floor

Wandering along the Valley Floor

Day 2: Yosemite Falls 

We woke to the sound of the gushing waterfalls, cooked up our go-to breakfast of oatmeal and coffee, piled into our minivan, and made our way to the Yosemite Falls trailhead by 9. The hike is strenuous, so plan on spending the majority of the day on the trail.

Total Mileage: ~ 8
Total Time: ~6 hours

Before a Golden Hour hike at Mirror Lake we made a quick stop at the campsite for fuel (aka more Clif Bars, trail mix, dried fruit, and Chex Mix), before making our way to Mirror Lake for Golden Hour.

Hannah 1 , Hannah 2 (me), and Alex at the top of Upper Yosemite Falls

Hannah 1, Hannah 2 (me), and Alex at the top of Upper Yosemite Falls

View from Mirror Lake

View from Mirror Lake

Day 3: Vernal and Nevada Falls

On our last full day at the park, we chose another longer, strenuous hike to the top of Nevada Falls. Along the way, the trail passes the Vernal Fall Footbridge, up to to the top of  Vernal Falls.

There are a few different trail options to go all the way to the top of Nevada Falls*:

  • Mist Trail to Vernal Falls then continuing on to the top of Nevada Falls
  • John Muir trail down the Clarke Point Cut Off to the top of Vernal falls then continuing on the Mist Trail
  • John Muir Trail all the way to the top of Nevada Falls

We opted to take the JMT to the point at which it was closed - Clark Point. We then cut down to the Mist Trail, up to the top of Nevada Falls, and back all the way down the Mist Trail. This route was less busy/dryer on the way up. https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/conditions.htm

*Depending on what time of year you go, part of the trail(s) are closed. Make sure to check in before your trip with the Park Rangers, or online! 

Total Miles: ~8

Total Time: ~6 hours

We ended the day with a hot shower, and pizza from Curry Village. For those plant powered folks, they will make you an awesome dairy-free, veggie pizza!

Day 4: Sunrise at Tunnel View

05:00 AM- We woke to the sound of our iPhone alarms telling us it was time to get up, pack up the our two tents, and make our way to the park exit. There was just one more stop on our itinerary – Tunnel View.
 

In front of Lower Yosemite Falls. Photo:  B. Fleming

In front of Lower Yosemite Falls. Photo: B. Fleming

IV. Gear

In addition to what is listed over on my my new gear page, other important items we brought were:

  • 6 person tent rented from REI
  • 2 Pocket Rockets
  • Rain Gear
  • Warm Gear

V. Meals

Breakfast/lunch/snacks: pretty standard for camping - lots of oatmeal, PB&J, fruit, trail mix, tortillas, Clif Bars and more PB. (I think I FINALLY over-did it on the Clif Bars. I'm back to homemade bars now!)
Dinner #1 - Hannah made an awesome Vegan curry!
Dinner #2 - Curry sweet potatoes (cut up sweet potatoes + curry powder + heat) and tons of warmed up canned veggies. This was our first time using canned veggies, and it worked great!
Dinner #3 - Ate out at Curry Village. There are ton's of choices. I went for a salad, and vegan pizza!

Hanging out in El Cap meadows

Hanging out in El Cap meadows

Denali National Park, Alaska

Hannah Fleming

3:06 PM Friday afternoon I’m outside my office in Santa Monica waiting for an Uber to LAX. Memorial Day 2016 will be spent in Alaska.

12 hours later (3:00 AM) we’ve safely arrived at our Dads, and are happily getting a few hours of sleep before heading to Denali.

Day 1: Meet Ned

After months of following my Dad’s trips (#RidinWithNed), I was very excited to finally meet the rig - Ned. By 10:00 AM we were on the highway headed North to Denali National Park with the hopes of clear skies and temperatures above freezing.

Four hours later we spotted it, Denali. The mountain is the tallest peak in North America, rising 20,310 feet into the Alaskan sky.  As we neared the park it became obvious we had lucked out with amazing weather, and were in for a beautiful weekend. I say this because while 50% of visitors are able to see the mountain from outside the park, only 30% of visitors inside the park are able to spot the magnificent mountain.

Following quick stops at the Wilderness Adventure Center to check in, and the Visitors Center to have our National Parks Passport stamped, we continued to mile marker 29.1- Teklanika River Campground.

We didn't have time to take another shot as a moose was standing 30 feet from us on the other side of the road!

We didn't have time to take another shot as a moose was standing 30 feet from us on the other side of the road!

Day 2: Teklanika to Toklat

The park is only accessible via one road - Denali Park Road. The road runs from the entrance, all the way to mile 89 - Kantishna Mile. The road is completely accessibly by bus (after June 1st), but only accessible by personal vehicles as far as Teklanika Campground. 

The bus costs ~$30/ day per person, and can be used “hop-on, hop-off” style.

Our first day of hiking we road the bus as far as you could – Toklat. We spent the rest of the day hiking back toward Teklanika, hopping on and off the bus, totaling around 8 miles of hiking. Throughout the day we spotted a ton of Caribou, Dall Sheep, Moose, and a few beautiful blonde Grizzly Bears.  The sky was still perfectly blue bird, and we had amazing views of Denali throughout the day.

The numbing glacial stream served as nature's ice bath.

The numbing glacial stream served as nature's ice bath.

Day 3: Last day in the park

We started the second day at Teklanika and decided to continue down the road deeper into the park. Because the road was not yet open for guests, the only traffic was a few worker vehicles and other hikers. As the most “wild” National Park I’ve explored, hiking down the road without the bus traffic found everywhere else was awesome! 

Important tips for Denali:

           1.    Buy the bus pass
                 There are two bus systems:
                         Green Bus- regular park bus that you can ride from point to point. The drivers give great information and stop for all wild life                           spotting. Tan Bus – more than 3x the price for a “guided tour.

2.    How long can you stay & what type of camping are you doing.
      Depending on how far into the park you want to go, there are minimum stay requirements. Also, if you’re a backcountry tent               camper, be prepared to hike far enough off the road that any other guests cannot see you.

3.    Bring Layers
I finally broke down and purchased a nice pair of hiking pants instead of my workout regular workout clothes, and am already eyeing a few other pairs I want. They’re awesome. Because you’re so exposed the whole time you’re hiking, it is very windy and I would recommend some wind layer.

4.    Animal Safety
It took me a few hours of hiking before I really got comfortable with the idea that a bear could walk out into the road at any point in time. Make sure you are familiar with animal safety (follow this link!) Bring bear spray whenever you're hiking, make noise, and be aware of your surroundings!

I'm lucky enough to have family in such a beautiful place, and can't wait to visit again soon!

Portland, Oregon

Hannah Fleming

Mt. Hood: taken out of the sun-roof on our way to the mountain.

Mt. Hood: taken out of the sun-roof on our way to the mountain.

This past weekend my family and I checked off another two states off our list, Oregon and Washington! We chose Oregon so we could go skiing, check out a cool new city, and the travel expenses were pretty reasonable (especially for us living on the West coast!)

View of the Columbia River from the riverwalk behind our hotel

View of the Columbia River from the riverwalk behind our hotel

To make the most of a 3-day weekend, we all flew into Portland Thursday night, picked up our rental car and headed East to Hood River. Hood River is a small, outdoorsy town, home to some bigger companies such as Dakine and Tofurky, as well as mom-and-pop stores and local breweries. We stayed along the Columbia River at the Best Western Plus, known in the area as having the best breakfast in town!

 

 

 

 

Day 1

We headed to Mt. Hood Meadows bright and early Friday morning to make the first chair up (or 6th, close enough). Something we’ve learned over the years is the importance of getting to the mountain early during spring skiing. The snow quickly softens after lunch, cutting a full day of skiing short. The mountain was beautiful, and had the snow been a bit better, would have offered a great mix of groomers and technical runs.

Friday night we grabbed dinner at Solstice Wood Fire Pizza, checked out downtown Hood River, and crossed the Hood River Bridge to White Salmon, Washington! 


Day 2

A 5:30 AM wake-up call had us eating our talk-of-the town breakfast by 6 and back on our way to the mountain by 7. The parking lot was filled with locals by the time we arrived at 8, an hour before first chair.

Nonetheless, the skiing was better the second day and the longest wait for a chair was still less than 5 minutes!

Ski selfies with Mom

Ski selfies with Mom

We ended our last run at the parking lot around 2, packed up, and headed back towards Portland. We wanted to give ourselves plenty of time to stop at “Oregon roadside attractions”, AKA AMAZING waterfalls.

As some of you may remember my obsession with fountains while travelling in Europe, my mom is equally obsessed with waterfalls. We stumbled upon Tamanawas Falls, and the touristy 611-foot tall Multnomah Falls. There were many more areas we could have stopped on our way into Portland, and I definitely want to go back and explore!

For dinner Saturday night we went to Laughing Planet Cafe, and walked a mile to the famous Voodoo Doughnut for dessert. 

Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls

Day 3

 

Sunday was all about exploring Portland! Portland is a very walkable city, and we were easily able to go everywhere we wanted.  The day started with breakfast at Cheryl’s on 12th. They had a great menu, with options suitable for every diet.  Following breakfast we hopped between neighborhoods to check out some of our favorite stores (including REI, I have a problem!), along with Powell’s Books and the Portland Saturday Market.

 

 

In the afternoon we settled into a booth at a local bar for a few hours to catch the Portland Timbers vs Columbus Crew game. After the game we made our way to the oldest public Rose Testing Garden. However, as soon as I opened the car door, the skies opened up and it began to rain!

We took this as a sign to head to the last stop before the airport, Salt & Straw! If you travel to Portland (or LA), I HIGHLY recommend stopping and treating yourself to a waffle cone. I don’t often come across a “regular” ice cream shop that has amazing dairy free/vegan flavors, but Salt & Straw takes home the prize!

 

Overall, we had a great weekend and I can't wait to to go back to the Pacific Northwest!

Bear Mountain & Snow Summit Ski Weekend

Hannah Fleming

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Since landing back in California after Thanksgiving break with ski bags in tow, I’ve been itching to make it to the mountains! After debating making the trip to Mammoth, we decided to save some time and money and spend the weekend at Bear Mountain and Snow Summit instead. 

Leaving bright and early on a Saturday morning, our anticipation was pretty built up by the time we pulled in to Big Bear Lake just two-hours later. However, it seemed the rest of LA thought this was a great weekend to go skiing as well, and long lines were everywhere. After picking up some rentals for Hannah, waiting in line for the shuttle, and finally getting to Bear Mountain it was around 11:00. While the crowds, late start time, and overall chaotic vibe of Bear Mountain were frustrating at the time, it was a great first day of the season! We were all pleasantly surprised at the overwhelming beauty of Big Bear Lake. It provided an almost "Tahoe-esque" feel to skiing in Southern California.

After a great meal and some sleep, we arrived at Snow Summit for Day 2 feeling optimistic and ready to go with a beautiful blue bird day ahead of us. Geared up and parked by 7:30, there was plenty of time to grab some breakfast and caffeine (they serve Starbucks!) before the lifts open at 9:00 AM. We got in a great morning of groomers before the California sunshine turned the snow to mush by 2:00 PM. Finally leaving Big Bear Lake around 3:30, we made it back to the city by the time the sun was setting. 

Overall, a great first time the mountains for the season! Next time, I will only ski Snow Summit, as Bear is a bit crowded and rowdy. 

PC: btfleming.com

PC: btfleming.com

London

Hannah Fleming

 

We arrived to our Airbnb in London, by the tube, in enough time to head down to Picadilly Square. We bought an Oyster pass since we planned traveling along the Underground a lot, and this made it super easy to do so. In Picadilly Square we bought tickets to see Gypsy, and hopped on the hop-on hop-off to get our bearings of the city. 

Our second day in the city we went to the National Museum where we saw some works of Monet and Piccaso. From there we went to the Tower of London and saw the Crown Jewels, then took the river cruise along the River Thames.  We also made it to the iconic Abbey Road to reenact the Beatles cover, and to King's Cross station to Platform 9 3/4.

Our last full day began with a walking tour to Buckingham Palace where we saw the changing of the guards. This was cool to see, especially because it's a ceremony that takes place ever day. We continued on to Oxford Street to do some shopping before seeing the amazing musical Gypsy! After the show we rode the London Eye, walked through Harrods,  and found Elizabeth James' house in Parent Trap. 

Overall, London was one of my favorite cities so far. This could be partly due to the lack of a language barrier, or because I felt completely confident riding the Tube. Either way, I know I want to go back!

 

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Bath

Hannah Fleming

 

First stop in England- Bath.

Our first full day in Bath we took a train to Cardiff, Wales for the long awaited One Direction concert!! We headed to Cardiff early to look at the Cardiff Castle, and spend some time wandering around the Cardiff Market. The market was a very cool mix of a farmer's market and a supermarket.  After we had wandered through the city enough we headed to the concert! As a big One Direction fan, it was cool to see them in a foreign country.We returned to Bath after the concert, where my mom happily greeted us at the airbnb! 

The second day in Bath we did a mini-bus tour with the company Mad Max through the English countryside. We visited Stonehendge, Avebury, Lacock and Castle Combe. This was a great way to see picturesque English towns, as well as learn the historical significance of the region. After returning from the tour we did a hop-on hop-off bus ride around Bath. The natural hot springs contain 43 minerals that have a wide range of physical benefits, and originally drew in the wealthy to the town. 

The third day we did the second hop-on hop-off route through the Bath countryside, and ate at Sally Lunns tea house before heading off to London!

 
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Rome

Hannah Fleming

 

Our first full day in Rome was a national holiday, so there were tons of festivities going on. We ventured just outside the Vatican City, mainly around the Villa Borghese. Here we saw beautiful gardens, fountains, views of the city, and really impressive roller blading. We enjoy wandering through the streets people watching, and taking in the gorgeous architecture.

Our second day Abbi's family arrived and we toured the Vatican Museum, including the Sistine Chapel. Again, we were not disappointed by the beautiful statues, fountains, and art work. It has been interesting to see the various styles of paintings throughout the countries, especially in the detailed pieces. We ended the evening climbing the Spanish Steps, and having a nice dinner in the city (followed by Gelato of course!)

We started our final full day bright and early back in Vatican City at the St. Peter's Basilica. Although the line (or que as they call it here) was long, it moved quickly and was definitely worth the wait. We then went to the Pantheon, the Colosseum, and the Roman Forum. All of these were amazing, and places i've wanted to go since learning about them in Latin back in High-School. We bought the Roma pass which allows you to skip the lines, free fare on public transportation, and free entrance to your first museum. Because of this we were able to get into the Colosseum quickly, and without having to buy additional tickets. 

We're now headed to London (or will be once the weather clears up enough for our flight to leave) and can't be more excited, even though or Italian tans may fade. Once landing in London we will head right to Bath!

 

St. Peter's cathedral  

St. Peter's cathedral  

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Vatican Museum

Vatican Museum

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Fountain by the Spanish Steps

Fountain by the Spanish Steps

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Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona

Pantheon

Pantheon

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National Museum

National Museum

Florence

Hannah Fleming

Second stop in Italy- Florence! Our first full day here we went on a 12 hour tour through Tuscany. We left Florence and headed to Siena, where we did a walking tour of the city. Siena is an interesting city that is heavily based on tradition. It is also home to the banking system, and holds the oldest, fully functioning bank.  

From Siena we went out into the countryside to enjoy a 4-course lunch and wine tasting at an organic farm. This was my first time having pasta since in Italy, and it was amazing. It was also interesting to learn the proper wine tasting technique, even if I didn't enjoy all of the wine. The tour continued on to San Gimignano, where we tasted award winning gelato, and took in more amazing views.  

Our last stop on the tour was Pisa! We were able to explore not only the Pisa Cathedral, but also climb up The Leaning Tower of Pisa.  

Our second full day in Florence was spent relaxing by the pool, doing some shopping and enjoying a nice dinner. Tomorrow we're off to Rome! 

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The whole floor was made of marble artwork  

The whole floor was made of marble artwork  

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Starter: bruschetta  

Starter: bruschetta  

Main Dish: pasta was tomato sauce, this was followed traditionally by a meat and cheese course (mine was instead boiled vegetables)

Main Dish: pasta was tomato sauce, this was followed traditionally by a meat and cheese course (mine was instead boiled vegetables)

Dessert: almond cookies dipped in wine

Dessert: almond cookies dipped in wine

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View from the top of the tower. 

View from the top of the tower. 

Inside the Pisa Cathedral

Inside the Pisa Cathedral

Sorrento

Hannah Fleming

We began the Italy leg of our trip in Sorrento. We flew into Rome, took a train from the airport to a central Rome station, from there to Naples and then the local train from Naples to Sorrento. We had heard this train was a little sketchy, but it's the only way to get down there without paying an excessive amount. Our Bed and Breakfast, Casarufolo Paradise, picked us up from the train station and took us way up into the mountain where we would be staying.

We woke up to an amazing view overlooking Sorrento and Mt. Vesuvius across the water. We headed to Pompeii via the same local train line, the SFSM Circumvesuvia. We were planning on doing Vesuvius in the afternoon, depending on how long we stayed at Pompeii. It ended up raining early afternoon, which meant Vesuvius would be closed anyway, so we headed back early to Sorrento. Our Bed and Breakfast only picks up guests at 9 or 10 pm, so we decided to brave the hike up the mountain. We made it to the top ready for a shower, and thankful we hadn't hiked up Vesuvius too. For dinner we tried a restaurant the owner recommended, and were not disappointed. 

Our second day we met up with friends to take the ferry over to the island of Capri. The ferry is a bit pricy, 39€ round trip (price varies depending on which ferry you take), but it was definitely worth it! Capri was beautiful. We had a great day going on a long hike to one of the highest points on the island (we think), and catching up with friends who were also traveling across Europe. 

 
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Austria

Hannah Fleming

 

First stop is Salzburg.

We got into our 4 star hotel, which I'm still not sure how we got for so cheap, before heading to Fortress Hohensalzburg. The Fortress was used to intimidate others from attacking Salzburg. It was extremely large and can be seen throughout the city! We wanted to get a feel of the town before heading out for the....SOUND OF MUSIC tour!

We went with the Panorama tour company, who actually drove the cast of the Sound of Music around during filming, so we knew they would have some good facts. It was awesome to see all the places used in the film, as we are both big Sound of Music fans. 

 After the tour we took the 2.5 hour train ride over to Vienna (we've now logged over 24 hours on the train!). We went to an awesome restaurant for dinner where Abbi tried the Wienerschnitzel, and loved it. Sunday night we just hung out at the hostel. So far we've been very happy with our hostel experience as they've all had nice atmospheres, good music, and clean facilities. 

Today we woke up to no rain and slightly warmer temperatures! We toured the Belvedere, where we saw more amazing art. We noticed we've spent most of our time in beautiful palaces looking at famous paintings, which is just fine! From there we headed to the "old town" and looked at more amazing buildings, but didn't do any more tours.

Tomorrow we fly out to Italy, where our first stop is Sorrento! 

See if you recognize the different Sound of Music locations! 
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Do-Re-Mi!  

Do-Re-Mi!  

Where Maria hits the high note! 

Where Maria hits the high note! 

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Munich

Hannah Fleming

 

We arrived in Munich about 7 hours later than expected due to rail workers striking. Our night train was cancelled, we were put in a hotel, and took the day train instead. We quickly dropped off our bags at the Wombat Hostel in downtown Munich, and headed toward Nymphenburg Palace. This was used as the summer residence for the Bavarian royalty. 

Our second day we took a tour that left right from our hostel to the Neuschwanstein Castle. It was a two hour train ride each way, but definitely worth it. King Ludwig II grew up in the Hohenschwangau Castle in the Bavarian Alps and built the castle Neuschwanstein Castle nearby to have a place of his own.  It was cloudy and cold (as in actually cold, I have on a T-shirt, running jacket, down vest, rain coat and we bought scarves) but the landscape was beautiful.

Tomorrow we will hopefully make it to Olympic Park in the morning before heading off to Salzburg!

 

 

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Drinkable fresh water from the mountains. 

Drinkable fresh water from the mountains. 

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Amsterdam

Hannah Fleming

After settling in to our first hostel, the Flying Pig in downtown Amsterdam, we headed out to tour the Anne Frank house. This was one of those things i've always wanted to do, and so glad I finally had the opportunity. After this we took a canal tour. We opted to buy a combination 24 hour hop-on hop-off canal boat pass with a museum pass.  

On day 2 we did another canal tour (well really two more...we had time to spare), ending up at the Rijcksmuseum. We saw lots of amazing art, including Van Gough and Rembrandt. After the museum we wandered and grabbed some food. I learned a ton about Amsterdam through the combined canal tour and museum, I would definitely recommend both.

Now we're taking a night train to Munich!

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Paris

Hannah Fleming

We arrived in Paris mid-day, picked up a museum pass for €50 at the train station, made it to our Airbnb and were able to make it to the Louvre by 2. The museum pass allowed us to skip the whole line and get right to taking a selfie with the Mona Lisa.  After seeing amazing artwork (we enjoyed the sculptures the most), we had plenty of time to take a leisurely stroll down the Allée Centrale. 

Our second day in Paris we woke up bright and early to head to the Eiffel Tower. It took an hour to walk along the river, but was a nice way to start the day. After waiting in lines and being rejected by security because of our State flag, we ended up not climbing up. Instead we were able to head to the Arc de Triomphe and walk down The Avenue des Champs-Élysées (where we so gracefully ate our packed Nutella and jelly sandwiches). We then toured the Notre Dame, and enjoyed some more fresh bread at a local bread festival. We ended the night doing an illuminated Paris night bus tour, this was amazing. Unfortunately, we were not in an open top bus so the pictures didn't turn out too well. Nonetheless, the Eiffel Tower lit up is amazing, as well as the Arc de Triomphe (one of my favorites).

The third and final day we had planned on going to Versailles....until we remembered it was closed on Monday! This was disappointing, but we regrouped and headed back to climb the Eiffel Tower. We spent the rest of the day enjoying the beautiful architecture, visited the Conciergerie, ate lunch in a cute cafe, and enjoyed a crepe (Nutella, of course) for dessert. 

All in all, we loved Paris! We were able to see a LOT because we walked everywhere, and actually felt comfortable without looking at a map! Our biggest takeaway is to always make sure wherever you're going is ACTUALLY open. A lot of museums are closed on Mondays!!

Off to Amsterdam!

Disclaimer: it's a lot harder to post from my iPad than I originally planned, so my photos may not have the best formatting. 

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Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe

View from the top of the Arc de Triomphe

View from the top of the Arc de Triomphe

"Love" Lock Bridge

"Love" Lock Bridge

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View from the top of the Eiffel

View from the top of the Eiffel

Flame of Liberty

Flame of Liberty

Belgium

Hannah Fleming

First stop: Brussels!

After a restless night (around 3 hours of sleep) on the plane we hit the ground running to see the city center in Brussels, before catching an afternoon train to Brugge. We enjoyed a Belgian waffle in the city before hopping on the hour train to Brugge.

Brugge:

The first day we enjoyed wandering along the picturesque streets of Brugge, found a nice place to eat, and crashed. We stayed in an Airbnb here that worked out perfectly. On the second day we toured the Bell Tower in the city center, saw the only Michelangelo statue outside of Italy (Madonna and Child), tried Belgian chocolate and wandered the city for hours. We're off to Paris in the morning!