Act like a local. The Quincy Quarries.

I’ve been living in Quincy for the past four years and I’ll be moving to Somerville on June 1st. I decided to act like a local (I don’t really know if locals do this) and check out the Quincy Quarries which is filled with graffiti and rock climbers.  I wouldn’t really seek this place out as a tourist, but it’s worth checking out if you live nearby. There’s some nice views of the ocean and Boston from up high.

Thank you Mom.

Mother’s Day was yesterday, so I’d like to take the time to thank my Mom for taking me to so many places growing up.

1. Disneyworld in FL

2. Aruba

3. Hershey, Pennsylvania

4. Paradise Island, Nassau

5. Bermuda

6. Cape Cod, MA + Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket

7. Maui

8. New Hampshire

9. Maine

10. Vermont

11. Alabama

12. Georgia

13. Naples, FL

14. NY, New York

There may be other places we traveled to together that I can’t think of off the top of my head, but my point is that she has been a contributor to a lot of my travel experiences. My Mom loves to travel and plan trips, so I think it’s safe to say that I get this trait from her. While we don’t always agree upon what destination we’d like to go to, we both like to explore the world and enjoy the finer things in life.

Je ne sais pas. Paris – October 2011.

After a Thalys train ride from Amsterdam to Paris, we landed at our final destination The Duquesne Eiffel Hotel.  This was the view from our room.

We settled into our hotel and then took a walk over to The Eiffel Tower to see the lights come on around 7 PM. We got haggled by a few people trying to sell Eiffel Tower key chains and then decided to venture to the top of the Eiffel Tower.

Now this is the point where you should really pay attention to signs in Paris and wish you learned something from French class in middle school besides Je ne sais pas. I talked Kraig into going to the top of The Eiffel Tower from the entrance with a shorter line. Little did I know, I was choosing for us to CLIMB to the top of The Eiffel Tower instead of taking the elevators.

Here is a picture looking  down from The Eiffel Tower. You can see the Seine if you look closely. It basically looks like I took it on a plane, but I swear that wasn’t the case.

Next up on the menu was a cheap nightcruise along The Seine. I got to listen to an audio tape about the history of buildings and bridges along The Seine and see many beautiful sights. Unfortunately, the pictures taken on the boat did not come out well and are not worth sharing.

We finished the night off with dinner at a place our hotel concierge recommended 7eme vin. The food was good, but not as spectacular as I expected. We had great service here and enjoyed the atmosphere. There were locals and tourists dining here and some were even enjoying the bar.

The next day started off with an early rise and pastries from Bon’heur de pains.

We ventured over to Notre Dame to see Quasimodo, but had no luck finding him. It was beautiful inside Notre Dame and yes we climbed up the winding staircase to the top.

All the stair climbing and crowds of people made us hungry for lunch, so we grabbed a bite to eat at a restaurant close to Notre Dame.

We then proceeded to walk around Ile Saint-Louis which is filled with tons of cute shops.  I love this area of Paris.

We ended up walking near the Louvre and grabbed a glass of wine at this tourist trap, but I have no complaints because we just stopped to get a drink. I felt pressure to consume as much wine, cheese, chocolate, and pastries as possible in Paris.

After some wine, we headed to Montmartre to climb to the top of Sacre-Couer for a wonderful view of the city. *Heads up there are plenty of people around Sacre-Couer trying to get you to buy jewelry you could make in the fifth grade. They get very aggressive and I suggest staying away from them. Fighting them off is worth it for these views.

After all that climbing it was time for some wine and cheese. My favorite :).

Next stop Champs-Elysees.

We finished the day off with walking around the outside of the Louvre and dinner at Le nemours.  I want to go inside the Louvre one day, but there wasn’t enough time to go inside the Louvre and go to Versailles. I decided I rather see Versailles on this trip. The next day started with pastries from Bon’heur de pains again and then a train ride to Versailles. I’m so glad we went here because the gardens of Versailles ended up being my favorite part of the trip.  Make sure to get there early. We avoided massive crowds of people by getting there about 15-30 minutes before the doors open. It was a pretty magical experience.

We listened to some audiotapes and walked around the inside of Versailles.

We ventured outside to this…

The gardens are enormous and you could spend hours walking around in them. I was semi-jealous of people riding around the gardens in golf carts and on bikes.

Once we got back to Paris, we freshened up at our hotel and had dinner at Le Grand Colbert. Yes we basically went here because I saw it in the Diane Keaton movie Somethings Gotta Give.  The restaurant was definitely touristy, but I think everything I did was touristy.  Paris has so many wonderful dining options that picking a place to eat can certainly become overwhelming. I don’t think I necessarily dined at the best places there, but I’m hoping I’ll get to discover more places on my next trip there (whenever that is). My guess is it won’t be for a while since I have a whole list of other places I want to travel to.

Appetizer

A lot of food for dinner.

Dessert

We took the Eurostar from Paris back to London the next day.

à tout à l’heure Paris.

Amsterdam – October 2011

One plane ride from LGW to Amsterdam and I’m ready to party. Well, not really.  Maybe if I went there in college instead of as a 26 year old.  Amsterdam is wonderful in the fall. Kraig and I stayed at The Jackie O Bed & Breakfast in the charming Jordaan neighborhood of Amsterdam.   We only had two nights and one day to explore the city. Our first night we had dinner at a nearby restaurant Burgers Patio. The service and food were both good.  We decided to spend our day checking out the Van Gogh Museum and then taking in the scenery of the city by strolling the streets and walking through Vondelpark.  Besides taking in all the beautiful canals and fall foliage the city has to offer, I think my favorite part of Amsterdam was getting a beer sampler at ‘t Arendsnest.  It has a nice atmosphere with friendly bartenders and the beer did not disappoint.

I’ll admit that we walked through the Red Light District because I wanted to see what all the hype around it is about. Let me just say, I don’t recommend going there after visiting any coffee shops ;). It’s very crowded and seeing real life prostitutes sitting in windows bored on their cell phone is just a weird thing to see. All I can say is that it was a learning experience.

Hopefully I can make it back to Amsterdam one day in the summertime or during the Tulip festival. Next stop…Paris.

I see London, I see France, I see Amsterdam’s underpants. – October 2011

I love London. One of Kraig’s family friends was getting married in West Sussex, so we made a EuroTrip out of the event. We stayed at The Cottesmore Hotel for the wedding and enjoyed a weekend of dancing, drinking, and eating.

After the weekend in Horsham was over, Kraig and I made our way to Amsterdam, Paris, and then back to London for our last night. These pictures are from the wedding weekend in the beginning of our trip and the last 24 hours of our vacation spent in London. I recommend checking out Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese pub and ordering the  Fish and Chips with some beer. I have more details to come on Amsterdam and Paris in my next posts.

Au revoir!