Monday, June 13, 2016

Our European Adventure!

We are home! We just returned from our fun adventures in Europe and I had to blog about it so I don't forget some gooood times. 

This Spring my boss at work told me he wanted to send me over to London to help our EMEA team out with an event that was happening. After some discussion it turned into not just one, but FOUR events. Two were in London and two in Amsterdam and so naturally I was stoked. Since there was about a week in between London and Amsterdam I was also able to travel back to Dublin and spend a few days there doing trainings and meeting with the team in our Ireland office. Andrew was just about to start full time at Vivint Solar and had some flexibility with work so we decided it would be fun for him to tag along with me. THEN since he was coming along we figured we would go to Paris for a few days when I was done working and run around there. It worked out that this happened to fall on Memorial Day weekend so we were able to spend 4 days in Paris which was pretty dreamy.

I was pretty nervous about going over to Europe just because I've been pretty sick and tired with my pregnancy. It actually ended up going much smoother than I expected and even though I was pretty tired I was hardly sick at all! It was amazing and we had an awesome time.

We were able to fly directly from Salt Lake to London which was kind of a dream. I went out a day early and Andrew met me the following day in London. I had a lot of work to do in both London and Amsterdam so Andrew was able to run around during the day and we met up in the afternoons and evenings. (It worked out that I had already been to both Amsterdam and London so I didn't feel CRAZY jealous the whole time he was having fun while I had to work!) 

In London, Andrew was able to see just about everything (including Wicked, without me, which was a little devastating...) but he loved it all! I love how excited he gets about history and travel, he definitely enjoyed the whole thing so much. In London we were able to meet up and ride the London Eye and spend some time touring around a few of the main buildings and monuments. 

After I was done working in London we took a quick flight over to Dublin, where my company has an office. We were gone for just over two weeks but could have moved there with how much we packed...
I needed to be in the office Friday, Monday and part of the day on Tuesday, which meant we had the whole weekend in Ireland to do whatever we wanted. 

We decided to get a rental car and head out to Galway and then onto the Cliffs of Moher which FAR exceeded expectations! It was so dreamy to drive through the countryside with Andrew and stop whenever we wanted, jam out to the radio, eat treats, and take pictures of every little thing in sight. We lucked out with the weather and it ended up being amazing and sunny the whole time which is super rare for Ireland!
People thought we were so weird pulled off the side of the road taking pictures of cows and gates but I didn't care. This was everything I imagined the Ireland countryside to be and it was so charming and awesome. It was just how I envisioned with the old castles and abandoned buildings, the awesome winding stone walls everywhere, and the GREEN, GREEN, GREEN. It was seriously stunning and I was giddy the whole time.

When we got to the cliff's we were shocked. They came out of nowhere and were so awesome. This is also the place where Cupcake was dumped on the Bachelor. I still remember watching that episode and being nervous he was going to jump...
Anyways...here are some shots of this sweet place. I don't know how people can visit places this beautiful and not believe there is a God in Heaven. It was SOOO rad and I loved it all.
The weekend was a dream. Here are a few crappy iPhone shots from the cute city Galway we stayed in. 
Like I said I had to spend some time in our office and it was SO busy it flew by. Everyone was so nice and it was fun to see our company culture the same halfway around the world. Here are a couple shots of the office:
^^^Yes that is a PUB in our office. This is me pretending to serve up some booze. I thought I was hilarious since I am Mormon AND pregnant. I crack myself up. ^^^

Exploring Dublin:
^^St. Patrick's Cathedral^^

^^Exploring Trinity College^^

^^Hit up a local pub for dinner^^

My coworker and good friend from Dublin was so sweet and took us out to a super famous pub called Johnny Foxes while we were in Dublin. We had so much fun hanging out and experiencing the Irish culture. Andrew was chosen to dance on stage and it was so much fun! We watched river dancers, listened to Irish music, and had lots of yummy, hearty, Irish food! 
After Ireland we headed to Amsterdam, where I had to work two more events. I had also been to Amsterdam before in high school when my sister studied here abroad and I must say it is one of my very favorite cities. I love everything from the history, to the fashion, charm, and especially the active way of life everyone has here. Everyone rides bikes everywhere and I feel like this is one of the top places outside of the US I would love to live. People are also SO kind and beautiful and their Dutch accents are to die for. :) Here are a few shots from our time here:

Shot from my event just because the venue was so pretty:

Exploring the city:
We also were able to go to the Anne Frank House (no pictures) as well as walk around the main city area, eat my very favorite stroopwaffels, and have some yummy fries and mayo! We did a lot of shopping and browsing and it was so much fun! Once I wrapped up some of my work stuff I was FREE! and we took the train on Thursday morning to Paris, where the real party started.
Taking the train from Amsterdam was a lot of fun! We got to see the countryside and talk and sleep. We met some nice people on the train and had good conversation with them and it was fun just to sit and relax without having to deal with more airports, security, etc. Once we arrived in Paris we took a taxi to our hotel (which was AMAZING, Andrew booked last minute and got us into a hotel one block away from the Eiffel Tower for a great deal!)

Paris was amazing! It really felt like a dream to be there with Andrew and experience the city together. Paris is just such an awesome city, and although Andrew and I both learned we probably don't have as much appreciation for the arts as a lot of people, we definitely appreciated the history and beauty the city had to offer. 
Paris was awesome because we really had no plans. We were just there to relax and sightsee and intentionally didn't make an agenda. Once we got there we walked over to the Eiffel Tower and decided to do a Big Bus Tour, which ended up being the greatest thing ever! We were able to hop off and on whenever we wanted, and just sit on the top of the bus and cruise and listen to some of the Parisian music and the tour guided audio. We didn't have to worry about driving or traffic or where we were going, we just got to take it all in and take pictures and hang out. I loved this bus! 
We decided to just ride the first route all the way through and see everything and then map out where we wanted to go. It was insane how we just saw Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysees, Notre Dame, the Louvre, and SO many other amazingly famous and historic places in the span of 30 minutes. While on the bus we were able to snap pictures, listen to all about the buildings and area, and hop on and off whenever we felt like exploring. If anyone is thinking about going to Paris I would highly recommend this Big Bus Tour as the best/easiest way to see Paris.

When we got to Notre Dame we decided to hop off and check it out. There were lots of people at all of the major stops but we must have gone at a good time of year or something because none of the lines for entry were very long and we got around so easy! We got right in to Notre Dame and it was so amazing to see such a famous place.
The level of detail all over was insane! 
Being 5 months pregnant I was hungry the whole time. We stopped and got some cute yummy little sandwiches and rested lots. It was so nice to not feel rushed or like we had to be somewhere at a certain time. We really just browsed and took our sweet time seeing everything. 

After Notre Dame we hopped back on the bus and had fun checking out a lot more sites. I LOVED Champs Elysse - this is such a famous road and everything about it was dreamy, especially the sweet huge trimmed trees. 

We decided to hop off at the Arc de Triomphe. It was so cool to see such a famous historic landmark! I still am in awe that Hitler was able to just march his soldiers right through here. 
After Arc de Triomphe we rode the bus a little bit longer then decided to head back to the hotel for a nap. We were pooped by this point and I seriously had no clothes to wear. I always thought when I explored Paris I'd look super cute and glamorous, but no I rocked leggings and my Nike sandals and looked a little homely the whole time. I seriously didn't care - I was comfortable! 
After our nap we decided to shower (yes, believe it) and head out for dinner. We walked over to this cute little Cafe right by the Eiffel Tower for dinner and it was so dreamy! The whole time we just kept saying, "I can't believe we're here, I can't believe we're here!"

On our walk to the restaurant we didn't even realize, but we walked right over the tunnel where Princess Diana's car crash was. This memorial is always packed with flowers and trinkets of people paying their respects. 

After dinner was my FAVORITE PART OF THE TRIP. The night River tour. This was probably one of the top 5 memories of my life. We had decided to go to this on a whim at 10:00. We didn't know that right as we pulled away the Eiffel Tower, which was RIGHT in front of us, would light up and be the prettiest and coolest thing I've ever seen. It was seriously so romantic and dreamy, and I felt the baby kick and almost started crying because I'm a hormonal psycho. It was such a good cool moment and I felt pretty overwhelmed with happiness and love. We didn't take tons of pictures because it was so special we just enjoyed it! 
After the river cruise we were back at the Eiffel Tower, we got ice cream (again) Andrew bought me a rose, and we just strolled around and people watched at the Eiffel Tower. It was the best day I can remember having in a long time! 

The next day we slept in and decided to head to the top of the Eiffel Tower before heading over to the Louvre. Again I was so pleasantly surprised by how quick all the lines were. It looked like a long line when we got there but we were up to the top within 45 minutes of arriving there. It was fun to go up and we decided to be crazies and take the stairs down, which was a blast! It was cool seeing how huge and compact this city was, and I how I can cross "kiss on top of the Eiffel Tower" off my bucket list. We really kissed a lot on this trip and it was awesome. Andrew still gives me butterflies with his luscious big lips and beautiful long eyelashes. (especially in Paris!)

The Louvre was also cool - but like I said we realized we didn't appreciate the arts as much as we thought we did. We walked around a few areas but really didn't spend a ton of time here because we didn't really care to see rows and rows of paintings and sculptures. 
I know the Mona Lisa is so significant and has such a cool history, but I didn't really have any sort of emotional connection or think how amazing it was! I was actually way more impressed with some of these HUGE paintings and the time and detail in them than some of the more famous ones, but maybe I just don't get it? Haha I think we would have had more fun at a horse race or tennis match but you have to go to the Louvre and see the Mona Lisa at least once right? 
While we were in the Louvre it started POURING rain. It rained really hard while we were inside but after we left the rain had calmed down and so we hopped and the bus and headed up to Sacre Couer. On the way we also passed Moulin Rouge which we thought was fun!
A few shots from Sacre Coeur..
There were some vendors selling these cute wooden trains outside Sacre Coeur and we couldn't resist. We had just found out we were having a boy a couple days before we left for our trip so we decided to buy a little train and name him Chance (totally not intentional that it rhymes with France and we named him while in France).
After Sacre Couer we decided to head back to the hotel for another nap. :) Later that night we got a pizza and headed over to the park near the Eiffel Tower to watch it light up. I had fun people watching and just relaxing with Andrew and stuffing our faces with pizza and Coke.
 ^^I was sad because they gave me the wrong pizza - then I realized I was still eating pizza in Paris and got over myself! :) ^^

On our third day we had talked about going to Versailles but when we woke up we decided it would be more fun to just take it easy and enjoy the city. So instead we decided to rent bikes, shop on Champs Elysees, and take it easy. Biking through Paris was SUCH a fun memory and I'm so glad we decided to do it! 

We biked ALL over. I got pretty pooped toward the end but it was worth it. One of my other favorite things we did was stop at the Love Lock bridge and lock our love away. Yet another bucket list item to cross off! 
I'm pretty sure the weather gods were looking out for us this whole trip because the second we took our bikes back and were ready to head back to the hotel it started POURING rain. We had so much fun walking back in the rain and it kind of topped off the whole romantic trip! When we got home we were shocked to find out it hadn't stopped raining since our last night there and the whole city was flooded. They even evacuated the Louvre and had to sand bag the whole city because the river was flooding. We definitely lucked out with our timing! 

We decided to walk to dinner in the rain and after we were done we walked even farther to La Duree, a famous macaroon store on Camps Elysees. It was so fun being in the rain and the macaroons were fancy! 
On our walk back we had a fun time hanging out on the bridge staring at the Eiffel Tower. We definitely made out multiple times under our umbrellas while staring at the Eiffel Tower and it was absolutely awesome.
 Sorry for all the kissing pictures but there was a lot of love on this trip. It was so romantic and such a blast, I'm so glad we got to go together!

So sad to leave! Until next time, Europe!