London and Paris pt.1
And so it begins
A trip of my dreams, maybe even a trip of a lifetime. My trip to London and Paris was something I’ll never forget. Both cities were unique and beautiful. I recommend going to each place for different reasons and just providing an overview of my experience wouldn’t do either city justice. But as a travel blogger, I will try my best. Here’s part one of my trip to London and Paris.
The Night Before
I couldn't sleep. I was too excited. Perhaps a better word would be anxious. That night, I had a slight panic because my husband's passport was missing. No worries we found it. Later, I could not sleep because I knew I wouldn't really sleep on the plane even with sleeping pills. So I did what any other person does when she can't sleep: watch TV. At about 2 a.m. I finally made my way to the bed.
Day 1 - Travel
I’ll spare you the details of heading through TSA, but I was pleased to receive a compliment for the way I displayed my electronics from a TSA agent. The struggle to keep my luggage to just a carry on and a personal item was real though. I packed strategically with a duffel bag stuffed with clothes inside my carry-on suitcase, with the intention of bringing souvenirs in the carry-on to check for later. Genius, right? We met two lovely older couples while waiting for our flight. They were funny and friendly but I thought to myself, “I can't be older and traveling. I want to do it now!”
We boarded the plane and flew to Charlotte. Then we waited there for hours. I noticed Raiders fans were boarding the plane to our first stop in London. As a Kansas City sometime-Chiefs fan, I wondered what are they going to London for and why are they wearing very touristy Raiders gear but I let it go. Who cares? I'm going to Paris and London.
American Airline is not quite as luxurious as Delta Airline. Though we were seated in the main cabin with “extra legroom” and first dibs on boarding, I don't know if it was worth the upgrade. Sitting behind us were some annoying guys incorrectly rapping Drake lyrics. I put my headphones on and try to tune them out. The meal and the wine on the plane didn't really help me fall asleep and, as expected, neither did the sleeping pill. I knew I was going to arrive in London in the morning and wanted to get some sleep. I think I eventually dozed off. But I never missed meals or the snacks.
Day 2- London
Finally after an 8-hour flight we landed at London Heathrow airport. It was a breeze through customs because we had nothing to declare. We also didn't have any luggage at baggage claim. We headed to meet our chauffeur after a quick bathroom stop and a change of clothes. The chauffeur was holding a sign that said our names on it which is pretty cool. An hour drive later, watching the chauffeur take time to check his Facebook feed, we made it to the President Hotel. I enjoyed listening to the radio in the car. Driving on the opposite side of the road was very confusing though. I was happy I wasn't driving. We checked into our hotel and didn't spend any time resting. We had things to do.
Major Announcement Revealed
The day has come! My major announcement is I'm a Travel Consultant! I believe this mixes all the things I excel at, from planning to meeting the needs of others and of course my love of travel.
Working with me means I'll provide you access to your Dream Vacay! Whether your dreaming of an international trip for a week or just want to relax in the USA,
Ready to chat about your Dream Vacay?
Five Must-Haves Travel Items
Packing for a trip can be both exciting and dreadful in the same breath. To truly enjoy packing, you must be a planner or be so doggone elated about your trip that you just can’t wait to pack. Over the years, I've learned what matters and what doesn't. I'm pretty keen on being a light packer and only want to bringing what's needed. Shocking, I know. It was learned behavior after trial and error. I used to be the girl that would have such a heavy bag that when the flight rep weighted my luggage I would get nervous. In my defense, I was coming home from college... so ya know, not just a week's vacation. Here are five of my must have travel items.
This is by far my must have item. I don't know if it's just because I'm always annoyed by my hang nails or what but a nail clipper comes in handy when you are thousands of miles away from home. I use nail clippers to cut things. I surprise myself how useful and necessary it is to have something to cut. Whether you want to clip that tag of that new dress or need to open a difficult wrapper, a nail clipper is surprisingly handy.
Scarfs make me feel like I'm on vacation. No matter if it's the middle of the summer or an icy cold of winter, a scarf is a travel must have. Why you ask? Well, on chilly nights, a scarf keeps you warm. If you are enter a church overseas, it's encouraged to cover your bare shoulders, hello scarf. And it can add a pop of color to your outfit. Bonus! I'm not a scarf girl at home but I'm a scarf girl on vacay.
I know what you are thinking, fabric girl? You already said a scarf, what's the difference? This isn't something I bring with me per say. I place a colorful scarf on my luggage, so it can stand out. It's cheaper than purchasing a new bright set of luggage. Although new luggage is definitely on my wish list.. My current luggage is purple so the pink scarf I wrap on the handle really helps me find it at baggage claim. Thank me later.
I have yet learned why I can't bring a bottle of water through TSA. I feel like TSA just wants me to pay for overpriced water bottles. NO! I always pack an empty water bottle with me. No matter if it's plastic (insert store brand) bottle or a fancy one, I'm carrying it. Carry this on your walks so you don't have to purchase a bottle. I personally hate paying for water so I'm quite passionate about bringing a water bottle. Staying hydrated is also a healthy way to travel and frankly live well. Bottles up!
An extra bag
An extra small to medium bag comes in handy during your packing and while you’re on vacation. You can even use a trash bag. No judgement. Here's how I use it. You can place your shoes in this bag to keep the bottoms from touching your clean clothes. You can place your underwear and undergarments in this bag after you have worn them. You can also use this bag to carry your items throughout your travels.
A few other helpful tips I love to do during or after travel are:
What are your travel must-haves?
Honeymoon of my dreams!
In between planning a wedding which is already stressful enough, we were tasked with planning our first international trip to Italy. We booked the trip way in advance and had to leave the next morning after the wedding.
Sleepy but excited, my new husband and I wore our matching t-shirts to board the plane. (It matched the movie theme of our wedding. I’m a commitment to the clap kind of girl. So get into it.) Midday, we landed in Detroit. I was ready for a coney and to go to the Foreign Exchange booth. I also recommend using your credit card, Travelex card, and be sure you let your bank be aware of your travel dates. It was odd to have foreign money. I felt like a baller for a hot second.
I was anxious but excited for my first international flight. We flew Delta. After doing some research I knew I would be receiving a few meals and I could have free alcohol. I was surprised by the options available on the menu. It wasn’t basic food. On the menu was Thai Chicken Salad, Herb Roasted Chicken Piccata or Burrata Agnolotti in Classic Pomodoro with Tuscan Tomato and Nut-free Pesto. I mean come on. They were out of the Thai Chicken Salad so I opt for the Herb Roasted Chicken.
I couldn’t sleep. David, my husband, was knocked out. I watched movies until the movies finally watched me. Finally, we landed in Paris. This was not our final destination, but it was so cool to get my passport stamped from Paris.
That airport was stressful! We were told we were late getting here. Sorry! I just got off the plane. But we made it to the gate. I had to get something from Paris. I didn’t know if I would ever come back. (But I am!)
Finally, we made it to Firenze (Florence). We had to wait an hour to secure our rental cars. Don’t worry, they drive on the same side of the road as we do in America. But they drive fast! Learn from my mistake, if you plan to rent a car, bring your own GPS! But honestly, don’t even rent a car. The trains are much easier to help you navigate the city. After we passed the tolls, which was a struggle within itself, we finally made it to the hotel. It was a castle.
We greeted the front desk person and pulled out our passports as identification. Overwhelmed by the ride in and the confusing GPS, it was nice to be warmly greeted. We headed to our room. The bed covered with rose petals, which I kept.
We enjoyed room service and a couples massage. After all the dancing from the wedding it was a relief to have this massage.
Rome was the first stop. We took the train from Florence to Rome. We had our passes for the hop on hop off tour. This offered a ride and a guided tour around the highlights of the ancient city. I had to go to the Vatican. We had a private group tour of the Sistine Chapel. Sorry, no photos were allowed. You’ll have to take my word for its beauty or just see it yourself.
Gelato and pizza were a must-have on the trip. And in actuality, we ate pretty inexpensively on most days.
Pisa was our next stop. We planned to drive down there and have a walking tour. But we got caught up in traffic. The hour trip turned to 90 minutes and we missed the tour. The GPS lead us to underground parking. We were instructed to leave the keys in the ignition. I politely grabbed all my stuff out of there thinking well if they steal the car at least I can get back into the hotel. I put my faith in good people and hoped for the best.
We walked towards the main attraction, the Leaning Tower. I was met by hundreds of people trying to get that perfect photo holding up the tower. What do you think of mine? (Oh before I forget, everything worked out with the car.)
Back at the hotel, we sipped Italian wine and met some amazing travelers. People from America and people from Canada, Dublin, and Amsterdam. The wine was flowing and I was enjoying every sip. I purchased a bottle and have yet to drink it.
We spent a day in Florence to admire the artwork of great artist before I was ever thought of. David loved the art. I was excited about the three-course lunch with wine pairing for about £40 per person. I noticed in those restaurants, waiters are in no rush. In Italy, the waiters don’t need you to tip. So we didn’t.
We purchased leather in a store near the wine restaurant. Florence is known for its leather. Afterward we hopped back in the hop-on-hop-off to visit more sites. Back at the hotel that night we had a long cooking class where I learned to make gnocchi.
Venice. One word, breathtaking. The water gave me peace just when I needed it. It was calming to sit right by the water. The highlight was a gondola ride with my husband down the Grand Canal. The waves and currents were a bit rocky as the Gondolier pedaled us through the waters. I’ll never forget the sun kissing our faces as we held hands. This is what a honeymoon is all about. This was my favorite day.
The final day, a Sunday was sent hanging out around the town of Figline. We didn’t make reservations but were still able to have a table at a luxury restaurant. I wanted the steak but I didn’t get it. The waiter didn’t understand me I guess. But I loved the wine, the pasta, and the company.
Things I learned
The world is a beautiful place. Americans can learn a thing or two about kindness. Not only did I feel no racism but I felt quite welcomed. I felt they just embraced me. Though I was worried about pickpockets, I felt safe. The country felt so peaceful and perhaps it was because I was so full of love in my heart or maybe it was just the truth. I would return to the country again.
Where is your dream destination? Share in the comments below.
The girl who didn't get on plane until 18, but now just can't stop.