Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Ludlow, England

After we spent those incredible few days in Paris, we headed back to Burnham, spent a few more days with the British family, and then headed off to our next adventure destination, Ludlow, England! Every time we are in the UK we always try to stop by Ludlow so that we can visit two of our great friends, Dave and Jo. They live in the cutest cottage (It's named the Little Shortgrove cottage!), which is basically in the middle of nowhere. You have to drive down many bumpy, twisting, turning, dirt roads to reach their house. 
The remote countryside was such a nice change after being in such a busy city. Their house sits in the middle of several huge fields, most of which are filled with (the cutest) sheep. 

This is the Little Shortgrove cottage! Isn't it just about the cutest place you've ever seen?! I think I took about 30 pictures of this place alone. It has so much character inside and out, and its almost 600 years old!!

These two were even cuter than the cottage. Meet Hayward the horse and Bramble (aka Donk) the donkey! Did you notice Donk's smile? I think she rather fancied us by the end of our stay, at least I'd like to think so.

It was so great to see Dave and Jo during our Europe trip! My Dad and Dave have been best friends for over 40 years, how cute is that. They met in primary school (aka elementary school) and have been friends ever since. 

Peek-a-boo :-)

This looks more like typical English weather. When we got home from dinner, all of the clouds had rolled in.
Fun fact: It didn't get dark until 10 pm.

Donk was so sweet and gentle, especially with Connor, who had no fear whatsoever going up and scratching Donk on the nose. I fell in love with her, I want a donkey now (and a horse too, of course!). They really are one of the quirkiest and sassiest animals you'll ever come across. Donkeys have so much personality; you never really know what to expect from them. 

Connor was a little hesitant at first, but he successfully fed both Hayward and Donk. :)

How stunning is Dave and Jo's property! Hayward and Donk are livin' the life.

I couldn't get enough of this cutie patootie. 

Dave tries to act like he doesn't care for the donkey much, but this picture tells a different story...

While my dad was photographing Dave and Jo's cottage, Donk was up to no good. She went to investigate what he was up to, gave him a little nibble, and then got what she came for: a little scratch on the head. ;)

We had dinner over looking this gorgeous stream.

The town of Ludlow was the view from our table! Talk about picturesque.

Walking around the town of Ludlow with Dave and the family, was seriously a huge highlight of the trip! I absolutely LOVE Ludlow. It's so quaint, but rustic at the same time. All the streets look like they're straight from a movie.

Little tight, there?

Hmmm, maybe I should forget Flagler and transfer to here instead. ;)

After touring the streets of Ludlow, we headed to the Ludlow Castle. It was actually way cooler than I thought it would be. In fact, I probably enjoyed it more than Connor did! You actually get to walk into the different rooms of the castle, and climb up the old staircases. It was fun to imagine what the different parts of the castle were used for hundreds of years ago. 

Dave was the best tour guide! We couldn't of found our way around without him.

After our fun trip to the little village of Ludlow, it was time for us to leave. :(

We gave Donk & Hayward some final hugs and kisses and then we set off on our way home.

On our way back to Burnham we drove through the Cotswolds! The Cotswolds is an area in central England that consists of many villages lined with cobbelstone streets, and filled with the cutest cottages (like the one pictured above). 

I feel like the Cotswolds would be the perfect place to retire one day. A girl can dream, right?

Before we jumped back into the car to continue on our way, we stopped at a great pub in the Cotswolds. I can't remember the name of it, but you can't go wrong with the pubs in the UK (at least in my experience!)

Thanks for having us Dave, Jo, Hayward, and Donk! We loved seeing you all!!

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Friday, July 10, 2015

Weekly Wows

ONE // Cath Kidston
I found this great company at the airport in London last month. It's a vintage inspired line, teeming with adorable floral prints! It reminds me of Rifle Paper Co. a bit, but with a vintage twist. In the picture above, I included some of my favorite pieces. They have everything from clothing, to dishware, to lamps. Right now, they're having a fantastic 50% off sale! 

Holy moly is this coffee good. Have you heard about it? Starbucks just came out with the Cold Brew this week! What they do is brew the coffee for 20 hours, and then put it over ice. IT'S TO DIE FOR. It may even be better than my signature iced coffee drink. If you love a strong cup o' jo, you'll love the Cold Brew.

THREE // Alaska Trip 2015
One of my favorite bloggers, Carly, just went on a trip to Alaska. I've never really wanted to go to Alaska until I watched this video montage of her trip. Alaska is definitely on my must visit list now! 

FOUR // Kacey Musgraves New Album
I've been a fan of Kacey's ever since I heard her single "Follow Your Arrow" in 2013. All of the music she creates is so real, and contains advice that everyone should follow. I'm so excited for her new album, the sky's the limit for this talented lady!

FIVE // Shark Week
Yes, it's that time of year again! Although sharks terrify me, I find them so interesting. Usually, the Discovery Channel does a phenomenal job with Shark Week, but this year seems to be different. The episodes so far,  seem to be focused on the equipment they're using to film the sharks, rather than the sharks themselves. No one gives two hoots about the balloon camera, people just want to see the gigantic sharks swimming around. Hopefully they'll  turn things around with these last few days of Shark Week.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Paris, France

While we were in the UK, we took a quick detour and spent 4 glorious days in Paris, France. A month or so before our trip to the UK, my parents surprised me by telling me they'd booked a mini trip to Paris, as a graduation gift!!! I actually teared up when they told me. To sum up our trip into one word: INCREDIBLE. It was a trip I will remember for a lifetime. Paris is by far, the greatest city I've traveled to. There's just something about it that makes you fall in love with it instantly. For me, I loved how different it was from the United States. The architecture alone is breathtaking, and unlike the U.S., in France (and all of the UK infact) they tend to reuse old buildings instead of knocking them down and building a modern skyscraper in its place. This keeps the history intact, along with the beauty of the historic landmarks. Another significant difference between Paris and the U.S., Is the way Parisians simply stop and savor each moment of the day. For example when it comes to food & restaurants in the US, industries move at a mile a minute. We are surrounded by fast food joints at every corner, drive-thrus at every turn, and it's the food industries moto to get your food to you as soon as possible. In fact, not once did I see a drive thru throughout our 4 days in France. In Paris, a typical meal runs for multiple hours, because their moto isn't to grab a quick bite and go, it's to sit and enjoy the meal and each other. Although the food is exceptional, I even noticed that when Parisians enjoy a meal, they're really there for the conversations, not just the food. I envy the way they live life at a slower pace, and it's something I aspire to incorporate in my day to day life.

Fun fact: All the pictures in this post were taken with my iPhone! Don't freak, I did take my camera along but I've been having problems getting the pics off. But it's lucky for you, or else this post would of contained about a thousand photos. 

This was taken on the train ride to Paris. We took the Eurostar, which I highly recommend! It was simple and easy to use (except they didn't have the wifi they promised!). But all you need is a good book and you'll be set. I'm currently reading Into the Wild by John Krauker, it's a very interesting read.
It's sort of funny, I look back on our trip now, and I honestly could write an entire post alone on our shenanigans of getting to and from Paris. We encountered a couple bumps in the road to say the least. I have to say the only negative about Paris was getting to and from it. On the way there we had to take about 8 different trains, one of which was the wrong one, and we ended up going the opposite direction of where we needed to be going. It was an adventure to say the least. My poor dad was deemed the sole navigator, so all of our trust was put in him, and he really did a great job guiding us through Paris, especially since he hadn't been in years. Thank goodness we had him, because the rest of us had no clue!

This is Rue Cler, the street we stayed on! Isn't it so picturesque? It was the perfect street, lined with cafés, flower stands, and aromatic cheese shops. If you're headed to Paris soon, I definitely recommend staying on this street. It has just about anything you'll need during your stay, just steps away from your hotel. 

Doesn't this look like it could be on a postcard?

Look at that beauty!! It was so surreal to see this huge tower in person. To me, it seemed smaller than I had imagined, if you can believe that. But it was even more magnificent than I expected. It's a great place to sit and have a picnic, or it's great for people watching (or go wild and do both!). Guess what, while we were sitting by the Eiffel Tower, we even got to witness a wedding proposal! She said yes!! How magical is that.

Definitely framing this one!:)

Our first breakfast in Paris! Of course, we had to try out one of the cutest outdoor cafés on Rue Cler (mind you, just about every café in Paris is outdoor, which I loved!). We had a delectable breakfast: café creme (aka the best cup of coffee you'll ever have, more on that later), fresh squeezed orange juice, brioche, French baguette toast, and jam! Yum.

Can I have one of each please? The Peonies were especially gorgeous.

I loved exploring the city with these cuties!!

#sorrynotsorry I took a million photos of this tower

Selfie with Mom:-)

The iconic love locks bridge!!! For years, I've seen pictures of this bridge circulate around Tumblr, and I was always so fascinated by it. So naturally we had to walk across it and add a lock of our own. 

Don't even get me started on the phenomenal bread, ham, and cheese in Paris. There really isn't anything like an authentic French baguette, crusty on the outside and soft on the inside. Almost anywhere you went you'd see people walking down the street with a baguette in hand. Some just couldn't wait until they got home to have a bite, so you'd see people tear of a chunk and snack on it as they walked home. I saw women all over the city do this, which is just something you wouldn't see regularly in America because of how society encourages women to only consume a certain amount of calories a day and to be as thin as a rail. It was just refreshing to see the women in Paris not have a care in the world and enjoying every bite.

The beloved café creme! I swear we probably had a cup after every single meal. It's the best cup of coffee I have ever tasted, and that's a bold statement coming from a coffee connoisseur. It's basically just espresso and steamed milk, but there's something the French do that make it all the better. I'm determined to find a place in Orlando that will make the perfect café creme!

We found this huge chalkboard by the love locks bridge!

This is what my Dad came up with :,) It may be half French and half Spanish, but it's sweet all the same.

The River Seine

The streets of Paris!

I spot macaroons! They're a french delicacy. 

Dad opted for the raspberry tart and needless to say, none of us got a bite!

The first of many macaroons, the pistachio was délicieux!

Oh boy, the escargot! I figured I had to have some while in France. I've had escargot before, and really liked it. BUT I've never had it come out with the shells still intact. Honestly, it put me off a bit. The overall taste wasn't bad, but for me it was hard to enjoy them when I had to dig them out of the shells. 
I totally had a Pretty Woman moment though, I grabbed the snail tongs and was grasping the shell too tight apparently when it snapped out of the tongs and hurled across the table. Luckily no one was hurt in the process! 

Did I mention we had a cafe creme with every meal? I wasn't joking!

The Eiffel tower all lit up! Did you know that is only glows and doesn't twinkle? I kept waiting for the twinkling lights, but apparently the Parisians hated it so much they requested to have the feature removed. 

Connor got his very own glowing AND twinkling Eiffel tower! 

Paris was even more stunning at night. 

The next morning we stumbled upon a guy on Rue Cler who was making homemade crêpes! We got a round of ham, egg, and cheese crêpes, which were out of this world. We nibbled and walked as we made our way to the bus tour stop. FYI during our trip we used the L'Open bus tour service to maneuver our way through Paris. We highly recommend them!! It's a great way to see the whole city in a short amount of time, and they have an open air top which is perfect for taking pictures, and it's great getting a nice breeze as you take in the city!

This was one of my favorite things about Paris; the outdoor cafes! Almost every corner we walked by was filled with small tables and chairs. When the weather's great, locals typically opt for the outdoor seating to watch the city go by as they enjoy their dinner.

Laduree!! Have you heard of this famous macaroon place? Well if you haven't, its a famous pastry shop in the heart of Paris! You can go to their restaurant, or head to the bakery and grab a macaroon! Their are so many flavors to choose from. I picked the Marie Antoinette Tea, Rose Petal, and Vanilla Bean flavors. They were all fantastic!

Champs de Elysee, the place to go for high-end shopping! We strolled and window shopped. ;)

I swear the tour bus barely fit through!!

Once you got through the scary tunnel, this is what you saw on the other side; The Louvre museum. I couldn't even fit the whole museum in this panoramic shot it's THAT huge. 

This iconic landmark is truly stunning inside and out.

I've wanted to visit this museum ever since I took AP art history during my junior year of high school. So many of the works we studied that year, are located in the Louvre. It was surreal to even step foot into such a place, let alone to be able recognize some of the works inside of it!! 

This is one of the works we studied in AP art! It's called "Liberty Leading the People" by Delacroix, it's one of the most famous paintings from the French Revolution.

Even the ceilings were unbelievable!!

This is the one and only picture I snapped of the Mona Lisa, she's totally overrated (and surprisingly tiny), just saying! 

My favorite thing in the entire Louvre; the Winged Victory of Samothrace! It was so powerful and stunning in person, it gave me goosebumps. It's mind blowing to see how the fabric on the greek goddess, Nike, is so beautifully draped and seemingly soaked with water. Even the skin of the goddess looks like it could be real. It's a true masterpiece. 

The first ever selfie!! My dad and I could not stop laughing after we noticed this.

We almost touched the very tip top of the pyramid! I know one things for sure, this little guy has my heart forever. He was such a trooper during our trip, he walked his little legs off, and didn't complain once! 

Champs de Elysee and the Arc du Triomphe! BTW, notice all the cars. The driving in this city is absolutely nuts. I have never and will never drive in this city! It's so crazy to the point that it stressed me out and I wasn't even the one driving. Drivers make up their own lanes and just expect everyone else to abide by it. Then you have suicidal motorcyclists weaving in and out of traffic at all times. It's insane. Whatever you do, don't drive in Paris!

The Arc du Triomphe!

I'll never stop loving the streets of Paris!

This shot unfortunately wasn't taken by me, it was taken by my fellow blogger friend TJ! She was in Paris around the same time I was, how crazy is that! Check out the fabulous post on her trip here.
One thing I regret not doing during our trip is getting an aerial view/picture of the city. We meant to multiple times, but ended up running out of time. But I couldn't end this post without sharing this picture with you all. 
It's just to breathtaking to miss.


I never would of thought in a million years that I'd be lucky enough to visit this spectacular city, let alone with some of my favorite people in the entire world. Mom and Dad, if you're reading this (which I know you are!), thank you for taking me on the trip of a lifetime. I'll never be able to express my gratitude to the both of you for taking me on this adventure! I love you both endlessly.
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