Monthly Archive: June 2013

Sunday

30

June 2013

0

COMMENTS

Paris Day 1-The Lay of the Land

Written by , Posted in Travel

Talk about exhausting! I don’t know if it was the fact that we had technically been traveling for 12 days prior or if it was just because Paris is so large and overwhelming…maybe it’s a little of both…but Mike and I were both totally spent after our first day in Paris. We arrived later than expected on Monday night, attempted to get a decent night’s sleep, then headed out on Tuesday morning for Day 1 in Paris with no specific plans…just a goal to see as much as we possibly could!

Courcelles Parc Eiffel Tower Room

Our room at Courcelles Parc

We started with breakfast of fresh fruit and croissants at our lovely little B&B, Courcelles-Parc. It is such a cute little place with a fantastic owner, Philippe, and is just a few steps away from the Villiers metro stop which made getting around much easier.

We started our day at La Basilique Sacre Coeur de Montmartre (Sacred Heart Basilica in Montmartre). Basilique du Sacre-Coeur is a beautiful church on its own,  but it’s also situated on the highest point in Paris, which makes for great views of the city. We arrived just around 9am when they open the entrance for the dome. It was great to arrive this early because the crowd was still very light…although we still had to navigate through a crowd of pickpockets. Apparently pickpocketing is a major problem here in Paris. They will try and make you a bracelet or get you to sign a petition, anything to distract you while their partners brush closely against you in an attempt to pluck anything they can. Philippe had warned us about their various tactics and it was quite obvious that this group was going to make an attempt, but we quickly brushed through and made our way up the hill to the basilica.

La Basilique du Sacré Coeur de Montmartre

La Basilique du Sacré Coeur de Montmartre

We walked through the inside of the church and then headed around the side to climb up to the dome. A trip up to the dome will set you back 6€/person and you have to climb a small, windy staircase of 300 steps to the top…but if you can make it up the views are fantastic. We had a bit of an overcast day but were still able to see the Eiffel Tower and take in a some great views of Paris.

View of Eiffel Tower from dome of Sacré Couer

View from the dome of Sacré Couer

From Sacre Coeur we decided to jump on a double decker tour bus. HUGE mistake! Mike and I are usually big fans of the double decker tour but at the end of the day we agreed this was a huge waste. Traffic is terrible so the bus moves incredibly slow and the pre-recorded commentary is just not very interesting at all. We rode this for a few stops and then got off to just walk and grab some lunch. We headed to Galette Café on the recommendation of a friend and had our first crêpes (galettes) in Paris! I had a buckwheat galette with salmon, potatoes, chive sour cream, lemon and onion…it was delicious!

 Salmon Galette, Galette Cafe

Salmon Galette at Galette Cafe

After lunch we stopped by the Louvre for a quick photo op since the sun was shining, then continued on across the Pont des Arts, better known as the love locks bridge. Since we’re on our honeymoon we shelled out 4€ to a guy selling locks on the bridge and squeezed our lock in amongst the hundreds (probably thousands) of others.

Louvre Pyramid

The Louvre Pyramid

Pont Des Arts Love Locks Bridge, Paris

On the Pont des Arts

Paris Love Locks Bridge, Pont Des Arts

Our little space on the Pont des Arts

After taking our fair share of pictures on the Pont des Arts, we stopped off at the Vedettes du Pont-Neuf office to buy tickets for a Seine river cruise later in the night. Then we headed a little further down the Île de la Cité for a quick tour of Notre-Dame de Paris. This was a little after 12pm and the line to get into the cathedral and the line to go up to the top were  both very long, but the one going into the cathedral seemed to be moving along quickly so we hopped in that line and took a quick look around the inside. The cathedral is a huge, beautiful, gothic style cathedral and its stained glass windows are the largest in the world. I would’ve liked to go up to the top to see the view and the gargoyles but that line didn’t seem to be moving much at all. We only had 3 days in Paris so we opted to skip that, but if you have time and would like to go, get there right when they open in the morning and the line should be much more manageable. The cathedral is free to enter but going up will set you back a few euros.

Notre Dame Cathedral Paris

Notre-Dame Cathedral

After Notre Dame we were getting a little exhausted so we hopped back on our double decker bus and drove down  Champs-Élysées where we saw the Arc de Triomphe. We stayed on for a bit longer to circle the Eiffel Tower a couple times then we hopped off and headed home.

Arc de Triomphe down Champs-Élysées

Arc de Triomphe down Champs-Élysées

After a quick recharge we headed out again to Pont-Neuf for a boat tour down the Seine at 8pm. I highly recommend the Vedettes du Pont-Neuf tour to anyone visiting Paris. The information given by the tour guide was very interesting and the views from the river are great. I liked the timing of our cruise because the sun was still out but on its way down, so we were able to see everything in the daylight and it looked beautiful. I think a night time cruise would also be fantastic (and very romantic) as you can see everything all lit up. The sun doesn’t set here until after 10pm so if you want a cruise in the dark, its going to be a late night!

Les Vedettes du Pont-Neuf, Paris

Les Vedettes du Pont-Neuf

Seine River Cruise

Along the Seine

Eiffel Tower from Seine River Cruise

Eiffel Tower from the Seine

After an hour long cruise we headed to our 9:30pm dinner reservation at Les Papilles. Les Papilles is hearty French restaurant I found on TripAdvisor; very small, great wine selection, and very intimate. The food was OUTSTANDING! Seriously delicious. They have only 1 set prix fixe menu of 4 courses for 35€ that changes nearly everyday, based on what they find that is fresh. They don’t have a wine list, just a large variety of bottles lining the walls of the restaurant so you can pick your own or the owner, Bertrand, can recommend one for you.

Les Papilles Paris

Les Papilles

Our first course was a giant bowl of cauliflower soup. They bring the soup out to you in a giant bowl with the dry ingredients in a small, individual bowl. You ladle the hot soup over the other ingredients (pancetta, croutons, and more delicious things!) and then enjoy!

Dinner, Soup Les Papilles Paris

Soup course at Les Papilles

Next up was the main course, the lamb. It was slow roasted along with a wide variety of vegetables for several hours…well worth it! So tender and delicious, I was so stuffed but I just wanted more!

Slow Cooked Lamb, Les Papilles Paris

Slow cooked lamb at Les Papilles

Like I said, at this point we were already stuffed but we continued on. Next was a cheese course of bleu cheese and a prune. I’m not a huge bleu cheese fan but I tried it and was actually pleasantly surprised. They followed up the cheese with the most amazing Panacotta I’ve ever had, topped with a fresh strawberry sauce. We polished off every last bite and headed home to get some sleep for our big day ahead-Versailles.

Bleu Cheese Les Papilles Paris

Cheese course

Pana Cotta Les Papilles Paris

Pana Cotta

Paris Day 2-Visiting Versailles

Paris Day 3-The Louvre, Musee d’Orsay, and Eiffel Tower

Saturday

29

June 2013

2

COMMENTS

Scotland…In a Nutshell

Written by , Posted in Travel

For those of you who have been following along on social media, you’ve had a bit of a sneak peak as to what I’ve been up to for the past couple weeks. On Saturday, June 14th Mike and I arrived in Glasgow, Scotland. On June 22nd we were married on the Isle of Arran. On June 24th we traveled to Paris to begin a 3-day tourist extravaganza, and today, June 28th/29th, we’re currently 10,000ft in the air…on a giant plane bound for Bali. I found time to write a few posts while we were in Paris but I’m just now sitting down to reflect on the whirlwind that was Scotland and our wedding. I wanted to give you everything in order, but I’ll give you a quick peek then start from the beginning…

Wedding Dress, Scotland, Arran

3 years ago Mike and I visited Scotland for about 2 weeks and we absolutely fell in love. We fell in love with the country’s beauty, its people, really just everything about it. About halfway through our trip we visited the Isle of Arran, a small island off the west coast. We stayed there for 2 nights at a B&B called Darven Cottage that I found through TripAdvisor. It was quaint and quiet with a beautiful garden that looked straight out to the sea. The owner, David, welcomed us in and treated us like part of his family…lending us his dogs to take on walks, serving us the best meals we had our entire trip, sharing a bottle of wine (or 3) over dinner, and just making sure that anything we needed was taken care of. We didn’t want to leave and when we returned home Mike and I both agreed that the days spent on Arran at Darven Cottage were some of the most memorable we’ve ever had.

Highland Cows, Scotland, Arran

Highland Cows near Brodick Castle, Isle of Arran

Fast forward about 1½ years…we’re engaged and starting to think about where to get married…Mike and I both land on the idea of getting married at Darven Cottage. We wanted a small wedding, we loved Darven, it was incredibly beautiful…would David go for it? Would our families come? After one email and a yes! response from David, Mike and I knew that it was meant to be. We talked to our families and when they agreed to follow us to Scotland we began planning our wedding on the Isle of Arran.

Sannox Beach, Isle of Arran, Scotland

Sannox Beach…who wouldn’t want to get married here?!

Mike and I arrived in Scotland a week before the wedding, staying in Glasgow for 2 days to do a little shopping and get settled before heading to Arran. We stayed at a cute little B&B called The Ashton in the West End neighborhood…just around the corner from Ashton Lane-a small, cobblestone side street lined with busy bars and restaurants. We shopped along Buchanan St and in Princes Square Shopping Centre, had a couple great dinners at Bothy Glasgow and Number Sixteen, sweated it out at a Bikram yoga studio each morning (only me!), took a double decker bus tour, checked out BrewDog Glasgow beer bar and several other local pubs, and really just started to enjoy being on vacation.

Brewdog, Glasgow

Beer at BrewDog, Glasgow

Glasgow Cathedral

Glasgow Cathedral

Number 16, Glasgow

Dinner at Number 16, Glasgow

Then it was on to Arran. As we headed to the ferry terminal in Ardrossan it felt as though we had never left; even though it was 3 years earlier and we had only stayed for a short period of time, everything felt familiar and we knew it was meant to be. Returning to Darven, seeing David again, meeting his lovely partner Carol, playing with his dogs in the yard…it just felt so good to be back. Our families arrived two days later, which gave us a few days before the wedding to show them a small piece of the beauty that Arran has to offer. We had some delicious meals, hiked, shopped, relaxed, and took in as much of Arran as we possibly could.

Sannox, Isle of Arran, Scotland

Morning walks with David and Carol’s dogs

Scottish Breakfast, Darven Cottage, Arran

Breakfast by David…the best meal you could ever ask for!

Darven Cottage, Isle of Arran

Just another night enjoying the view from Darven’s sitting room

Fish and Chips, Scotland, Isle of Arran, Sannox

Fish & Chips at the Sannox Bay Hotel

Whiting Bay, Scotland, Isle of Arran

Views from Whiting Bay

Then, on Saturday June 22nd, with all the worrying and planning behind us, the rain let up and Mike and I finally became husband and wife on the beach in front of Darven Cottage.

Scotland, Wedding, Isle of Arran, Bagpiper

A must-have photo op with the bagpiper before the ceremony

Fidler, Scotland, Arran, Wedding

David captures us posing with the fiddler playing in the foreground

Scotland, Arran, Wedding, Sean Gannon Photography

On Sannox Beach as husband and wife. Photographed by Sean Gannon.

 With the ‘I Do’s’ behind us, we were ready to let loose and get the party started! David created the wedding feast to end all feasts…smoked salmon and mackerel, langoustines, poached salmon, lamb 2 ways, venison burgers, potatoes, salads, cheese, chocolate…it was never-ending and completely delicious…I will be dreaming about that meal for a very long time!
Scotland, Isle of Arran, Wedding, Salmon, Darven Cottage

Just a small portion of David’s delicious feast…poached salmon, lamb (slow roasted and tikka style), potatoes

Scotland, Isle of Arran, Wedding

Officially Mr. and Mrs.

With everything seeming to fall into place so perfectly with the help of our family and David’s, Mike and I couldn’t have felt more loved, more blessed, or more fortunate than we were that day.  With all the worrying that inevitably goes into planning a wedding, small or large, when it gets to that day you just have to let it all go and appreciate every little moment. It was exactly what we wanted and so much more.

Scotland, Arran, Wedding, Sean Gannon Photography

We didn’t want the night to end…staying up in David’s living room to watch the first period of the Hawks’ game

It definitely wasn’t easy…making wedding plans across an ocean by email…but every single person that played a part in our day was absolutely fantastic. Adele Smith made our beautiful and delicious wedding cake and went above and beyond to make sure everything was exactly as I envisioned.

Scotland, Arran, Wedding, Cake

Adele and our cake, photographed by Sean Gannon

Eleanor McCue from Eleanor’s Flowers handled our flowers and created a bouquet and centerpieces that were absolutely gorgeous…after only exchanging a handful of emails and pictures.

Scotland, Isle of Arran, Wedding, Flowers

My wedding bouquet, made my Eleanor’s Flowers

Anne Marie McElroy traveled to the island to do my hair and make-up as well as my mom’s and she was definitely my saving grace that day. She was so sweet, so positive, she kept me calm, poured me champagne, and made me and my mom look beautiful (if I do say so myself)…I just can’t say enough great things about Anne, she was amazing!

Scotland, Arran, Wedding, Sean Gannon Photography

Anne in action, photographed by Sean Gannon

Then there is Sean Gannon, our photographer. As soon as we made the decision to get married in Scotland and David agreed to host, finding a photographer was my main concern. We may have only had 18 people there, but capturing that day with those people was of the utmost importance to me and when I saw some of Sean’s photos I knew he was the one to do it. He rolled up his pants to get in various bodies of freezing cold water, got stung by nettles, left his plate of food behind when someone yelled rainbow, and slept in a “shed” next to a chicken coup…he went above and beyond to capture our day and when I see the images I am so thankful that I found him!

Scotland, Wedding, Rainbow, Sean Gannon Photography

When there’s a double rainbow, you drop everything you’re doing and get the shot! Photographed by Sean Gannon.

And last but certainly not least, if I haven’t mentioned them enough already, there is David, Carol, his son Roddy, and the rest of his family that were there to help make our day so special. These are truly kind and generous people that you do not come across very often and it just wouldn’t have been the same without them!!

Scotland, Arran, Wedding, Sean Gannon Photography

David announcing the menu, photographed by Sean Gannon

We spent one last day on Arran after the wedding before saying our goodbyes and heading off to Paris. Saying goodbye to Arran this time around was even harder than the first, but this time we left knowing that we would definitely be back soon! Thank you to everyone who made our time on Arran and our wedding so incredibly special, it wouldn’t have been the same without a single one of you!

Darven Cottage, Isle of Arran

The beauty of Arran from Darven’s window

Scotland, Isle of Arran, Moon

Arran moon

Isle of Arran, Scotland

Goodbye Arran!

Wednesday

12

June 2013

1

COMMENTS

Color Me Styled

Written by , Posted in Beauty

Hi there! Sorry for the radio silence since Amsterdam. This Friday Mike and I leave for Scotland for our wedding on the 22nd and after that we’re heading to Paris and Bali for our honeymoon…so the blog has taken a back seat to planning, packing, and all the last  minute things that go along with a wedding and a 4 week trip to 3 different countries!

I did, however, write a quick guest post for Erin over on her blog, Color Me Styled, where I talk about how I style my summer…so head over there and check it out! Wedding and travel posts coming soon…

Lauren_SummerStyle


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