Notre-Dame and Shakespeare & Company | Paris, France

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When you visit Paris, it's almost guaranteed that you'll make a stop at Notre-Dame.  I know if I didn't my parents would've been quite sad and disappointed. We only intended to stop by and take a look outside, but the line was quite short, we couldn't say no. Once inside, we realized why the line was moving so fast. They were packing everyone inside. It was quite impossible to get a good look at anything, but we still walked around for a bit and then headed out. Notre-Dame is a beautiful French gothic cathedral that is unlike any I've seen before. 

Afterward, we crossed the bridge to Shakespeare and Company. I've always wanted to visit the independent bookstore because many famous authors used to gather there. Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and many others would gather and spend heaps of time there. Since it's such a popular and well-known spot, it was just as crowded at Notre-Dame. It was impossible to look at books and soak in the atmosphere. Still, I'm glad we stopped by because it's been on my bucket list since I was in high school! 

Strolling Around the 7th arrondissement | Paris, France

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In Paris, there are 20 arrondissements and we barely scratched the surface of even one. On our second day, I made a reservation at the only Michelin starred restaurant still open in August. All the other restaurants were boarded up for the summer holiday or were ridiculously expensive. I know that it's a once in a lifetime to eat at a French Michelin starred restaurant, but it doesn't have to be thousands of dollars. Do you know how many shoes and sweaters I could buy with that money? No thanks.  I'll share more about our incredible meal in a future post.

Before our lunch reservations, we left our hotel a bit early so we'd be able to explore the 7th arrondissement. I honestly couldn't tell you how we got there, but we passed all these beautiful storefronts and buildings. We even came across the Assemblée Nationale and the Hotel Matignon, which I just found out is where the Prime Minister of France lives. It totally makes sense why all those people were staring at me strangely when we were taking photos. They must've been like, "Look at this strange person taking photos in front of the Prime Minister's house." What can I say? I can't pass up a pretty door, especially if it's a big, beautiful and blue! 

Louvre and Jardin des Tuileries | Paris, France

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One thing that I knew that I did not want to do in Paris was go inside the Louvre. As someone who really likes art and museums, I tend to get annoyed at museums, especially if they're popular ones. They tend to be overflowing with tourists who want to get that obligatory photo in front of "that famous painting". Also, I kept reading that I should avoid the Louvre at all costs. So that's what we decided to do. We didn't even plan on being in the area but on our first day we somehow found ourselves at the Jardin des Tuileries at dusk. As we walked through the garden we realized that it led to the Louvre. Since we didn't know when we would ever get the chance to see the Louvre, we walked over. It was probably one of the best decisions we made because there were barely any people around. Walking around the courtyard and seeing the glass pyramids without the crowds was a pretty cool moment. I'm glad that we decided to skip the lines and just "happened" upon the Louvre.   

Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, & Champs-Élysées | Paris, France

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On our first official day in Paris, we did way too much. In the morning, Markus and I trekked all the way to Montmartre and visited Sacré-Cœur and the Cafe des Deux Moulins from Amélie. Then we decided to try head over to the Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Élysées and the Eiffel Tower since they were sort of close together. In all of my research on France, I was led to believe that the entire month of August was the dead season and that the streets would be empty. Whoever said that was a liar, the entire city was swarming with tourists and made it sort of impossible to linger anywhere for long. We wanted to go into the park outside the Eiffel Tower, but the lines were impossibly long. I think if we had more than three days in Paris, I probably would've pushed for it more.  Unfortunately I didn't get my touristy photo in front of the Eiffel Tower. C'est la vie, maybe we'll make it back to Paris one day! 

Giant's Causeway: Part 3 | Northern Ireland

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As I've stated in previous posts, the hike through Giant's Causeway is quite stunning. The end of the hike led to a suspension bridge, but due to the strong winds it was closed. We didn't learn of this till we go to the end, but there was a silver lining. As we approached the bridge area, the clouds parted just a bit and a rainbow slipped through. I kid you not, I couldn't write this stuff. It was such a great moment at the end of a long trek, and one that I won't soon forget.