Château de Versailles

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Just when we thought Paris couldn't be more luxUrious, there was the Château of Versailles.

With a quick train ride, just 45 minutes outside of Paris, you could easily spend 2 hours to half a day, at this beautiful tourist attraction. Formerly the kingdom for the king of France, King Louis XIV, today it stands as a museum for French history, taking you back in time to understand the inspiration for French style & the lives of the monarch. 

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Of course when you find yourself in such a space that seems to literally be dripping in gold, you too, might be inspired to dress up for your visit, like I did. 

Of course, with it being a museum, keep in mind to have comfortable shoes. You'll want to be able to make your way through the entire inside of the Château, as well as the famous gardens in the back. Just be aware that the entire walk up to the Château & around the grounds, is riddled with uneven stonework.

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To enter the château

First of all, it's closed on Mondays, so plan your days accordingly, just like how the Louvre is closed on Tuesdays. To enter the Château, save yourself some time & first buy your tickets on the left side of the courtyard, before the gates. About 60% of people who try to enter, see the line on the left side of gates, then join the line, only to be directed away to the ticket line. It's not hard to see why, since the doorway to the ticket room is a plain (almost unmarked) door on the left.

Once you do get inside though, and get through security, begin your self-guided walk through. If you're a big history buff, you can rent audio tours to wear. Depending on what kind of history you're into, there are different parts of the Château for you.

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Besides the actual history aspect, the hall of paintings weren't really my thing. My favorite was actually the walk-through of their living quarters, like the king & queens bedchambers, and of course the Hall of Mirrors (above). At some point you turn the corner, and almost everyone in your vicinity is in awe.  

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Do you see what I mean about incentive to dress up?

Anyhow, whoever told us we could do Château Versailles in 2 hours was lying. There's so much of the grounds to see! Due to the weather, we barely explored the Gardens, but we could have easily spent another 30 minutes there. Not to mention, there was also a special exhibit off the walk through course, that we really enjoyed. If you're in a rush, I would say, at least three hours, but half a day to really soak it in. All in all, definitely worth a visit! 

Coat from Express
Top from Zara

Getting around Paris on a budget

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We're off to the museums again today!

This time, we booked ourselves some tickets to the Big Bus Tour.  If you're like us & not a fan of following big groups or time constraints, this hop on, hop off tour bus works great for getting around. For €38, we got a two day pass to unlimited use of their buses. The Big Bus tours in Paris, have two intersecting routes, with double decker buses (some open on top), that take you around to most of the tourist attractions you would want to see.

Buses started at 9am, with one route picking up from each stop every 15 minutes, the other every 30 minutes. This included places like Grand and Petit Palais, the Arc de Triomphe (where our hotel is), the Louvre, Tour Eiffel, Moulin Rouge, Montmartre, and Notre Dame. Not to mention, there are headphones on board the bus for an audio guided tour of wherever you go, in 8 different languages. 

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Not to mention, there are headphones on board the bus for an audio guided tour of wherever you go. We started our day getting picked up at the Arc de Triomphe and heading to a short visit to the Petit Palais.

Then it was off to the Louvre

Despite this being my second visit to Paris, I was excited, since this would my first time inside the Louvre. (Last time to was shut down during Paris fashion week). 

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And of course, whilst I know that most people tell me it's slightly overhyped, we made a bee-line to the Mona Lisa. I can now confirm, that yes, it is smaller than you expect it to be & indeed in a very large room. Although not alone, it is on lone wall, and roped off. After we crossed that off the bucketlist, we wandered to other parts of the Louvre.

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The thing that makes me fall in love with Paris though, isn't their sweet confections, but their beautiful buildings. The Frenchs' attention to detail, from the grandeur of their arches, to their impressive vaulted murals, make their buildings beautiful works of art in their own right, in addition to the beautiful art pieces these buildings house. The French also have an admirable commitment to preserving their architectural history, and way of life. And for that, I will always appreciate Paris. Love, Jen

Coat from Express
Backpack from Michael Kors
Boots from Alexander Wang

Girls in Paris

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Good morning from Paris!

Hello everyone! Guess who's back in Paris! Last time I was here, was in September of 2016. I was two weeks into a solo backpacking trip & post my third ever Disney half marathon. This time though, I'm on a trip with the girls!

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Three girls, one week, and the beautiful city of Paris. I can't even begin to describe how excited I was, to start 2018 off this way. I've packed a little more than usual, I have more time here, and now we have each others company. You best believe that this trip is going to be a whole lot different than my last visit. It might be a little wilder, it might be a little girly (or a lot), but it'll definitely be a lot more stylish! You know, a girls girl kind of trip!

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For our first full day, us three girls were quite productive! We woke up early, had some breakfast at a cafe near our hotel, by the Arc de Triomphe. Then it was off to the Musée d'Orsay! We made our way, floor by floor, up to the famous clock up top. It was fun to see what changed since my last visit. Then it was across the Seine to the Louvre. Museum-ed out, we decided to leave the inside for another day, and we were off to the top of the Eiffel Tower (my first time up)! Lastly, we ended our night with dinner at Carbon Paris.

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Suddenly, everything I loved about this city was coming back to me. Coupled with the fact that I had been reading up on some French history & learning some more French words, this first day was more than I could ask for. I just can't wait to see what the next few days with these ladies have in store for more! Thanks for reading! Love, Jen

Coat & Top from Express
Backpack from Michael Kors
Boots from Alexander Wang

First of the Season

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After working like mad, a slight snow shortage & my trip to Scotland, I finally found time to head up to Stevens Pass for the first time this season! 

Some people  might not get it, but my love for skiing is a necessity, and this visit to Stevens was my first time back after spraining my ankle in early 2017.  I might not be the greatest, but it's something I want to work on for the rest of my life.  Maybe it's because I'm from the East Coast (which always gets ridiculous amount of snow), nothing is more beautiful to me, than the contrast of Washingtons evergreen trees against the fresh white snow.

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I went with my friend Tyler; one of the few skiers I knew. Most people I know snowboard for some odd reason lol. Anyways, I was hoping for some blue skies, since the forecast called for "partly sunny," but the image below was pretty much the only break of blue skies I could see. 

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Either way it was a great first time up & I was glad to take Becky (my car) up to the pass! Love, Jen

Lantern Light Festival

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Good morning loves! Last night my parents & I went to check out the Lantern Light Festival down in Puyallup, WA. If I'm correct, this their first time touring around the states. The festival starts at 5pm. Just in case we arrived at 4:15pm to a virtually empty parking lot. As 4:30 approached though, the parking got full almost instantly & a 40 foot long line formed from the gates. Boy, did we understate the popularity of this!

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To Avoid the Lines

I suggest buying your tickets online. First of all, they're cheaper that way. Online, they're $23 per adult, but when we got to the gate, they ended up being $24.50 per person. Secondly, a large majority of that 40ft+ line, are people waiting in line for tickets. It's January. It's cold! If you've already bought your tickets online & printed them out to be scanned, then you can walk around that entire line & check in at the window to your far left. It's a much shorter line & you be in before you know it! 

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Inside you'll find a pretty endless stream of light fixtures to keep you occupied. From a photography standpoint, this place had endless possibilities for me! If only they allowed you in before sunset, but all in all, we had fun. I hope you end up checking it out! :) - Jen

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24HRs in Edinburgh

With this being my first visit to Scotland, after 3 days, and no set itinerary, I ended up really liking the order of events that Lindsay & I lined up for ourselves. It ended up being our perfect introduction into the city of Edinburgh & a great way to immerse ourselves into the history of Scotland. While more time is always nice, if I had to recommend the best way to start off your first 24 hours in Edinburgh, this is how I'd do it (which is pretty close to how we did it).

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We arrived from London via train at 4pm, and dropped off our bags at (the freshly renovated)  Stay Central, our hotel just a block away from the Royal Mile (I’d recommend this one). 

First off, TRY SOME SCOTCH AT THE INN ON THE MILE

At the corner of The Royal Mile & High Street, sits what used to be a old bank, now converted into an Inn & restaurant/bar down below. If you’re one to appreciate repurposed architecture, this is the spot for you. 

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Go in & warm your soul up with some good comfort food, like soup, or the juiciest fish & chips you’ll ever eat (think fish covered in crunchy battered rooster skin). More importantly, when in Scotland, get your first glass of scotch. If you’re unsure of what to get, the bartenders here can set you up with a few to try. At the very least, don’t forget to check out their penny covered bar & the former bank vault downstairs! 

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GO ON A GHOST TOUR AT NIGHT

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After dinner, or preferably when it’s dark out, walk off your dinner by strolling up The Royal Mile & sign up for a walking Ghost Tour. There are a few booths along the mile & you will not be disappointed. Over the span of 1-1.5 hours, your tour guide will walk you throughout the city, down a few alley ways & tell you darkest pieces of Edinburghs history. It also works as a great first day introduction into the city.

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You’ll even get to walked through a cemetery, where you’ll learn of the Edinburgh series killers, Burke & Hare (more about them later). If you’re a scaredy cat like me, bring a friend, so you can hang onto them when they take you underground. Maybe you’ll even see a ghost there.

 

HAVE BREAKFAST AT SOUTHPOUR

What kind of travel post would this be, if I didn’t recommend another deliciously, Instagram friendly place to grub?

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For breakfast the next morning, take a 10-15 minute walk away from the Royal mile, and enjoy the city as it’s waking up. If you can’t wait until breakfast, there are also plenty of amazing coffee shops along the way, like Black Medicine (recommended to use many times over). Southpour also great coffee & tea (with fudge), but it’s their tasty breakfast options that sold me twice. They’re vegan & gluten free friendly, and they also have trivia nights!

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SEE THE BOOK MADE OF HUMAN SKIN AT THE SURGEON’S Hall MUSEUM

Another reason to visit Southpour for breakfast, is that on the way back towards the Royal Mile, you’ll run into the Surgeons Museum on your right, as well as the Wohl Pathology Museum, in the same building. 

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The museum covers how the biggest advancement in medicine, started it’s root here in Edinburgh. As two people in the medical profession, this was a must visit for us. It was also a great follow up, because the Surgeon’s Hall Museum is also the home of the famous skin book; mentioned on the Ghost Tour we went on the night before. It's  a “leather bound” book, made from the skin of serial killer William Burke, after he was hung. Now if that isn’t worth checking out, I don’t know what is. (Sorry we weren’t allowed to take pictures.)

 

EDINBURGH CASTLE

If you haven’t already lost your lunch from the Museum of Pathology, or ended up sucked into their rabbit hole of specimens, start walking back towards the top of the Royal Mile, to Edinburgh Castle. 

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It’s about £17 to go inside, but it also includes a great 30 minute guided tour, starting at the entrance of the castle, and ending at the very top. The tour gives a great understanding of how Edinburgh came to be, and how the Scottish & English monarchs came together. Plus, after the tour, you have an idea of what you want/where to explore more of, on your own, as you make your way back down. Don’t forget to check out the royal crown!

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MAKE YOUR WAY DOWN THE ROYAL MILE

Now that you've hit the major spots, exit the Edinburgh Castle & work your way down the Royal Mile. You’ll find plenty of Scotch shops along the way, places to eat, as well as shops selling wool/cashmere scarves with tartans. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, make your way to the end of the Royal Mile & check out Holyrood House, otherwise known as the Holyrood Palace. It's the official residence to the British monarch, in Scotland.

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And there you go! 3 days of trial & error for us, plus lots of Christmas souvenir shopping later… we’ve condense for you, the best way possible to do 24 hours in Edinburgh. Tried & tested! Hope this was a helpful post! Cheers! - Jen

The other things we'd highly suggest doing are: 

  • Walk through Princes Street Gardens (and say hello to Wojtek, the bear).
  • Spend half a day at the National Museum of Scotland (it's big!)
  • Go Shopping along Princes Street - you'll find stores like Allsaints, Jo Malone, Topshop & Dr. Martens.