Traveling Back to the States

This morning we got up early, got dressed, ate our last hotel breakfast in England, then back to the room to make sure we had everything packed up. I did not want to leave at all. This was the best trip ever! We had an 8-hour flight ahead of us back to the states. Once again, another layover in Philly. I was so bummed, so was Drew.
When we arrived at the airport, we got checked in and went through security, and decided to check out the shops in the airport. I was checking out Harrod’s. They had two stores one that was just clothes, and high-end designers. The other was their name and accessories.  I forgot to go to Harrod’s when we were in London, but it was nice to go there now, even though we were at the Airport. Drew realized he forgot his Fitbit in security, he went over and gave them his information, and said they would page him if they found it.
Then we checked out Harrod’s accessories in their brand. Drew bought me a super cute tote bag. He surprises me sometimes. We got coffee from Starbucks and picked up a London mug. It was from the Starbucks anywhere collection. Then it was time to head to our gate. It was soon time to board the flight. We got on the plane, got settled in our seats. As we circled the runway, I said goodbye to England. I was so upset. I had to hold it together though.

When the plan was in the air, the flight attendants eventually came around with the beverage cart. We ordered our drinks. I had two vodka tonics, and Drew had two whiskeys over ice. Dinner was yummy, it was a roast, potatoes, and veggies. It was hard to be sad about heading home when you had such good service.
At one point, I finished the last episode of the Miniaturist that was uploaded on to the televisions. I can’t believe what happened and how the guy died, but his wife will be just fine I know it! I was hoping to catch more episodes at home, our Firestick. I also wanted to check for GoggleBox, as well. I am already missing English television.

After the miniaturist, I watched I, Tonya.  It was pretty good, better than I thought it was going to be. I was surprised. Margot Robbie did a good job. I do feel a little bad for Tonya Harding, so crazy though! I do remember that controversy and what happened to Nancy Kerrigan. I was young, but it was a big story.  After the movie, I read some more of Hemingway. I couldn’t sleep. I was running on adrenaline.

When we arrived in Philly, it was 3:00pm. We were in desperate need of a beer. We were drained from our flight. Drew said, the first bar we find. We found this one bar, (I forget the name) everything is a touch screen. We took a seat, ordered our first American beer.  I chose a Summer Shandy. We ordered some cheese fries to hold us over until we got home. The fries were so salty and the beer made me feel so bloated. Ugh, I already miss the food and the beer over in England, it had no preservatives and just made fresh and so good.

After our beer, we made our way to the gate and waited to board the flight to Pittsburgh. I couldn’t believe it we were in the states. Once we landed in Pittsburgh, my mom met us at the baggage claim area. Once I saw her I gave her the biggest hug. I did miss my mom and I know she was glad we were home safe and sound. She helped us with our luggage and my dad pulled up the curb and gave us both a hug. He loaded up his car with our luggage. They had so many questions for us about our trip and wanted to hear all about it.

When we arrived at our house, we brought our stuff into the house and then we ordered pizza. They wanted to hear all about our trip. We gave them their gifts. We bought my mom a little plate with Harry and Megan’s picture on it from the Royal Wedding. We bought my dad a shirt with Union Jack on it. He requested one. We showed them the gifts we bought for ourselves and they were so happy we had such a good time.
After the pizza arrived, we sat down and told them more about our trip, but we were ready for bed. I couldn’t wait to just lay in our bed and go to sleep.

Last Day in England: Hampton Court

We took the train to Hampton Court palace today. When we got off the train, I noticed that the town looked kind of ghetto. We made our way to the palace and checked in, and we bought a guide book when we purchased the tickets. I was so excited. There she was the Tudor rose!

When you first enter into the courtyard of the Palace, it is like entering into a different time. It looks like a scene from a movie,  hidden corridors, tower, so many windows, and rooms.
The Great Hall was my favorite, this is where Henry VIII entertained his guest, with his wives and they ate, sang, and danced.

The dinner table where the King and his Queen would sit and eat, so cool!  
My second most favorite element of the palace was the ceiling in Jane Seymour’s room:

This is the privy closet, where Katherine Parr and Henry VIII were married:
 There is so much talk about King Henry VIII being this womanizer guy, and he gets so much bad rap, but I always have been a fan of his. I saw this quote on one of the walls, and I thought that is so true about him. He wanted virtue, glory, and immortality.  Upon the death of Henry the VIII Tudor version of the palace was pretty much destroyed by King William the III. The reconstruction was never finished, so the palace is now a combination of Tudor and Baroque style.  King George II was the last monarch to reside in Hampton court. As soon as you come across the Queen’s Stairs, you enter into the 18th Baroque life.

The great fountain (Below) is the view from the Queen’s bedroom. The Baroque half of Hampton Court was intended to mimic Versailles.

I could live here it was so beautiful.
Last,  but not least the magical and gorgeous Tudor gardens!

It really hit me, when we were in Hampton Court, that this was it. This was the last attraction on the books for our trip to Europe. Tomorrow, we had to head back to the states. I am so not looking forward to going home. I am already anxious to come back to Europe, especially France.
 On the train back to Westminster, Park Plaza. We were so tired and so hot after this day. When we got back to the hotel. We took a very long nap, and then got ready to head to dinner. We wanted to find one more traditional English pub. When we asked the concierge, he told us to go to Sherlock Holmes, or to Prince Albert’s pub. Both were a bit of a walk, but we didn’t realize how far a bit of a walk was. We decided on Sherlock Holmes. It took us a little while to find it, and some of the areas, were really shady that we were walking through, but eventually we found it.

We have been so blessed on this trip to see all that we wanted to see. I am so grateful for all of our blessings. We did not want to go back to the States.

Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, Kensington Palace, Parliament Tour, and Tea

This morning after breakfast, we got ready to head out. We walked to Buckingham Palace, which wasn’t too, too far away from our hotel. We first passed the Guard’s museum, it was so cool to see the Beefeaters in their uniforms. They marched a little, and did a little routine.
When we arrived at Buckingham Palace, there so many people everywhere. I thought maybe there was going to be a royal outing, or what. I wasn’t sure what the hold up was, or why the reasoning for the crowd. I politely asked someone, and I almost asked if they speak English, in French. I forgot where I was for a second. The woman said, “The changing of the guard is about to happen. I thanked her and walked away.

We found a spot to try and catch a glimpse of the ceremony. I stood on a railing and leaned on Drew’s shoulders to watch the guards ride in on horses. Drew took a video of it on his phone. Once the guards entered the palace gates. We walked up to the iron gates to try to get a better view. There so many people everywhere.

The guard changing ceremony lasts a long time. We didn’t stay for the whole ceremony. We had to make sure we were going to be back in time for our parliament tour. We had some time so we walked to Hyde Park:
Princess Diana’s Memorial Fountain:
Kensington Palace:
Parliament Tour:

St. Stephen’s Hall and when you first walk in, were the only places we could take photos.

There were some areas of Parliament where we could not take pictures. We were not allowed to take pictures in the Queen’s robing room; where she would prepare for the State Opening of Parliament, The Royal Gallery; where the royal procession would take place, Prince’s Chamber; part of the house of Lords,  this is where the sovereign would attend only the State Opening of Parliament. Piers Lobby; this is where the members of parliament discuss informal matters, Central Lobby; it is the crossroads between the House of Lords and the House of Commons, Members lobby, and the Common’s Chamber; this is where all the decisions are made. The sovereign can not enter the Common’s chamber.  If they would like to address parliament the sovereign’s usher would have to knock three times on the door with a black rod, and if given permission to enter, they must ask for permission on behalf of the sovereign to enter Parliament. There is such a respect for tradition here. I love it!

After the self-guided tour, we had tea in the banquet hall, overlooking the Thames
It was in this moment, that we started to feel let down about going back home to the States. We only had one more day in England, then it was home. Our tea was amazing! It wasn’t as elegant and glamorous as our tea in Bath, but still just as lovely.

When we got back to our hotel, we took a nap and then got ready to explore England go out for dinner. Drew wanted to go to a traditional England Pub. We were on a mission. On our way to the Red Lion, I saw this cute little setup, and had to take pictures with it:

The Red Lion was packed with not a place to sit, so we went and got fish and chips at a pub called the badger.  After our dinner, we tried the Red Lion again, and this time there was a spot to sit and have a drink!

At the Red Lion, there was this picture on the wall, and I read it and saw the name, Dickens! I was in the same bar as Charles Dickens! I love it. I was in literary lover’s Heaven!
While we were having drinks, in walks a couple. It was a father and daughter. They just got back from touring the Chard and seeing a show. They wanted to stop at Pub for a drink, before heading home. We offered her father, one of our chairs. He had to be in his ’80s, still enjoying a beer at Pub. I can respect that very much. We talked with them about the monarchy. They are big supporters of Charles and Camilla. One thing, I noticed there is this huge support for Charles and Camilla. They all believe in their love story. Rarely ever is there sympathy for Diana and the anguish that she went through.  My opinion on the matter is that yes it must have been terrible for Charles and Camilla to not be together, and to not be the one you love, but at the same time I can’t help but feel sympathetic for Diana and how she suffered from Bulimia all in the name of the duty. The Queen finally allowed them to be separated. Her death was tragic. I don’t know it is all so sad to me. I always thought there wasn’t a team Camilla, but there is and it is alive and well supported in England. I can’t say that I share those same feelings, but is that treason?
Well, what good is a blog, then if you can’t share your opinions on the matter, so here goes? I mean no offense to England or the English: When the Queen passes away,  I would like to see Charles abdicate the throne because the thought of Camilla as Queen turns my stomach. I would like to see William as King. He would make a much better King. My rant is over now.
After two drinks at the Red Lion, we were on our way back to the hotel, but not before some amazing pictures of Westminster at night:


Tower of London, Tower Bridge, & Rain Delay

This morning, we woke up early got showered, got dressed, and then went downstairs to have breakfast. After breakfast, we went back to our room, and packed up our book bags, grabbed our umbrellas and we were out the door to the metro station. We took the metro to the Tower of London. When we got off the metro, you walked through a tunnel and I saw this image of Anne Boleyn in the tunnel:

As soon as we saw the tower, I had a feeling that came over me like no other. It felt like an eerie feeling like some bad things went down here. I was so nervous. I didn’t know what to expect.
When we entered into the courtyard of the palace, there were guards in period costumes, who kept everything in order. They were not pleasant and didn’t like to help you or give you any history. They kept it very simple and straightforward.

The first part of the tower, we entered was the Medieval part of the, also known as St. Thomas’ tower. This is where King Edward the 1st stayed when he would visit the tower.

After the Medieval Tower, if you follow the map, it takes you to Lanthorn tower, this where they kept artifacts of Courtly life, from King Edward the 1st’s reign.

After Lanthorn tower, you enter Salt Tower, and this was probably the most chilling of all. People carved their hands into the wall before they died.

After you leave Salt Tower, you enter Broad Arrow, this is where the guards would protect the palace from being infiltrated by peasants, and the enemy. Look at that view of tower bridge!

One thing, Drew and I did, but I do not have pictures of, because they were not allowed was the Queen’s Crown Jewels. The building that houses the crowned jewels a guarded by British Military Guards. After we saw the crowned Jewels, I was standing in front of the Waterloo Barracks (those green tanks)  When, all of a sudden, I heard “Make Way!” It was so loud in my right ear. I jumped a bit and then moved out of the way.

Another set, of guards, was coming to relieve the guards, who guard the Waterloo barracks and the building where the Queen’s Crowned Jewels are kept. Drew said, “That is probably the only man, that you are going to let tell you what to do.” I laughed, because it is true!

After the crowned jewels, we went to “Lower Wakefield Tower.” Supposedly, there are only 23 documented cases of torture in the tower. England wasn’t big on Torture I guess, but the methods they used were so creepy.

All these methods look painful, and I would certainly tell them the truth, and all I knew, if I was being tortured like this. One thing that really gave me the creeps the most was seeing Traitors Gate. This is where Anne Boleyn entered:

Lastly, we saw the final resting place of Anne Boleyn and the others who were executed by hanging.

While they were waiting to be hung, they had to stay in Beauchamp tower. This was such a cool experience and awesome to see, but very creepy and very eerie. After we left the Tower, we went to go see Tower Bridge. We got to climb up to the top and go across to the other pillar, of the bridge, you could see the water below our feet!
Due to a rain delay, we stopped for Fish and Chips to wait out the rain:

After we finished our fish and chips, we made our way back out again. It was still pretty windy and rainy. We thought let’s just go back to the hotel for a nap and dry off, and try to see the Millennium Bridge tomorrow. I felt bad. He really wanted to see the Millennium Bridge.
Once we got off the metro, at Westminster station, we saw these amazing cupcakes, they were gourmet.  We had to get some for a snack and dessert later. They were from Lola’s Cupcakes: Pomegranate Apple Blossom, Vanilla, and I can’t remember the two Drew picked out. When we got back to the hotel, I made us some tea, and we one cupcake each, and then got showered, and then took a nap.
When we got dressed and wandered around Westminster Pier, and decided to have a beer on Thames. After our beer, we wandered back to our hotel, we had another busy day ahead of us tomorrow.

Au Revoir Paris, Hello Again England

This morning, when we woke up I was somber. It was time to leave Paris. I hope we will be back. I was quiet and sad this morning. We got showered, got dressed and then went back to Tea Follies for breakfast for the final time.
When we arrived to the restaurant, the waiter recognized us and smiled. He looked me and the eyes and he said, “Bonjour.” I smiled and said, “Bonjour.” We took a seat at the same table, as yesterday. It was a bit chilly to start this morning, but it was going to warm up to be another hot one in Paris.
When the waiter came to our table, we both ordered the double espresso again and the same food from yesterday. He smiled. He went back to make the espresso. We made eye contact a few times, when he was behind the counter. I wasn’t flirting. Okay maybe a little. I tried to be discreet.  I love Drew, but Paris has a hold on me. I blame Paris.
When he brought our espresso, he brought us croissants. I sipped my espresso and nibbled my croissants. They will never be the same to me again. It was so quick, when our breakfast arrived. The waiter brought us our breakfast and gave me a quick smile and rolled his eyes. He knew it was too fast and we weren’t even done with our croissants yet. I smiled.
Throughout breakfast, the waiter and I made eye contact a few times and I smiled. When it was time to cash out, he was getting super busy, but still making eye contact with me here and there. We paid our bill, and he asked us how long we are going to be in Paris for? I said, “we leave today. I don’t want to go home.” He looked at me and smiled. I hesitated saying we were going to England, because there is a riff there with the French and English still, and it has been so many years since Winston Churchill blew up their ships.
Eventually we stood up, at this point the waiter was serving a table behind us. He was behind me when I stood up. I had my back to Drew. The waiter was facing me. We shared a moment. He looked in my eyes and said, “bonne journee.” I smiled and said, “Merci beau coup.” I took a breath and said, “Au revoir.” He smiled and said, “Au revoir.” I turned to walk away. We walked towards the Stress Relief Cafe, to go back to our Airbnb. I don’t know what came over me, but I blame it on Paris. I take a deep breath and look back. I don’t know why I looked back. Paris, it was Paris. There was the waiter. He made eye contact with me. I can still see his face in my head. I smiled and then slowly turned my head. I don’t know if he continued to watch me walk away, or if he just went back inside. I will never know. I don’t even know his name, but we connected. I know I am married. I would never hurt Drew, but part of me kind of wonders, if Drew knew I was having a moment, and it was Paris, and I would probably never see that guy again. No, that is not like Drew. I think Drew didn’t know, and didn’t realize…
When we got back to the Airbnb, we packed our things and I hung out in the living room and watched TV. We had a little time to kill before we left for the train station. I turned on the television and my limited French was a success. I found Versailles Season 3, but it was in French. How sweet, how authentic! I was in love.
While we were watching television, one of Eric’s friends came into clean up. We thought it was Eric. He told us his name (I forget now.). He said, “Eric is in the states for the summer.” I said, “oh okay.” We were on edge wondering if he would ever stop in, or not. The friend of Eric’s ran the dishwasher, and his English was okay, but not that great. He asked Drew to slow down, when he spoke. I did most of the talking, and tried my best to communicate with him in French and in English. He only stayed for a little, and then left. He was going to come back, when we were gone. I guess someone else was coming to stay the night and be in Paris. I am jealous of them and I don’t even know them.
When it came to leave, I opened the terrace doors one more time to say goodbye to Paris and take in the air and the sounds.

One thing about me that is a blessing and curse, is that I am very sentimental and full of emotion and feeling. I feel things differently then others, and I really try to savor everything and all the moments in life. I really try to squeeze as much nectar as I can. Paris, you will be so missed. This was so magical. I have no words.
Once on the Eurostar back to England, Drew snapped a picture of me looking less than thrilled. 
They served us cold quiche on the Eurostar for lunch. Ugh,this was not France.














Before we left for Europe, I bought a book at Barnes and Noble, Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast. This is a memoir about Hemingway’s time in Paris. I cracked open the book on the Eurostar and began to read. I really haven’t had a chance to read it. I turned the page and it was the second paragraph on page 18, “I’ve seen you, beauty, and you belong to me now, whoever you are waiting for and if I never see you again, I thought you belong to me and all Paris belongs to me and I belong to this notebook and this pencil” (Hemingway 18).  I instantly thought of the waiter. Like Hemingway, who belongs to his pencil and pen. I belong to this marriage and to Drew, but we will always have Paris…
Once we made it to St. Pancras, we got a taxi and he drove us to our hotel in West Minister. It was so hot outside in England. On the cab ride, I took some pictures of Trafalgar square. The cab driver told us some things about the area and about this statue in particular, he asked, “Do you see the guy on the horse?” We both said, “Yea.” He said, “Well if you look really closely, you see the tail right?” We both said, “Yes.” He said, well right above his tail, you can see his the horse’s ass.” We all started laughing. I was waiting for something so profound. We were not in Paris anymore.

Our hotel is the Park Plaza, Westminster:

Oh, and they had our room ready for us, when we checked in. It was a gorgeous suite. Andrew immediately laid on the bed and it was so firm. We are going to sleep so good tonight.

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This is the inside, once you take the elevator up:
What a view! Once, we got inside our room, we changed and got ready to go explore Westminster. We had a reservation for the London Eye at 7:00pm, so we didn’t want to be too long exploring. We wanted to get showered and cleaned up before the London Eye.








After we did some picture taking, we went back to the hotel got showered, and got ready to go to the London Eye. We ate dinner at the bar of the hotel.  Before we left for the London Eye.















This is the bubble chandelier of the Champagne Lounge.

 I found a good window with some good natural light to get a couple selfies. I had a little photo session.   

When it was time to get on the London Eye, Samantha our tour guide called us to line up and she was going to walk us passed the general admission line, and then we would get into a pod, on the London Eye. We would all be in the same pod, and we will have another glass of champagne, once we are up.









When we arrived onto the platform, the wheel just keeps moving, there is no stopping it, so you can get on, you almost have to jump to hop on. Once you are inside the pod, it is shaped kind of like a pill. Our tour guide set up the champagne and once you are so many feet in the air, she starts to pour the champagne and hand it out. It started to rain outside, while we in the pod, the view of the sky was so beautiful, even though it was dark and cloudy. Seeing the rain, hit the pod was like seeing hail it the pod. The rain drops were so huge.

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Thankfully, the rain held off for a few minutes, for us to make it off the pod in time, we were half way to our hotel, and it started to rain again. We both didn’t have umbrella.
Also, one more thing to note about our London Eye experience is that, we were in pod number 4. This was the same pod, that the Queen was in, when she visited the London Eye, shortly after it was built in the year 2000 to honor the Millennium. pod 4.jpg




Eiffel Tower and More

This morning, we woke up got showered, and got ready to go explore Paris. We needed espresso, as well. When we stepped outside, we looked around and saw some cafes. Our Airbnb was on Rue Clazel street. If you walk up the street some, you will see some cafes all in a row. One of them was the Stress Relief Cafe. A man was outside spraying off the sidewalk, and the property. When we crossed the street, Drew walked right where we was cleaning off the street. I tried to step around it. I looked at him and did say, “excuse me and sorry.” It still didn’t matter he gave us an evil look and shook his head. It didn’t seem to matter to him. They are big on the little things like that over there. It really wouldn’t have mattered in the U.S. They know it’s a public area and people are bound to walk there eventually. The plan was to go to that Stress Relief Cafe, but apparently we caused some stress for one of the workers, and I didn’t want anything to happen to our food, the place two doors from the Stress Relief Cafe is this little place called, “Tea Follies.”

Tea FolliesWhen we approached Tea Follies, they had the menu up outside. While we looking at the menu, the host/owner said, “Bonjour.” I looked up, smiled, and said, “Bonjour.” He motioned for us to come and said, they were open. We took a seat at the table by the entrance of the restaurant.  He brought us two menus. I smiled and looked up at the water and said, “deux double espressos sil vous plait.” He smiled and went into the restaurant. He had to know I was trying my best. I think he respected it. While he was getting our espressos, we looked at the menu. Drew and I both settled on the l’Anglaise which means in French, that is cooked in the English manner.  The l’Anglaise came with an omelette, fresh greens with a vinaigrette dressing, croissants, freshly squeezed orange juice.

The croissants were amazing, so big, so fluffy, crisp, and buttery. I confessed to the waiter at one point that we were American, and that it was my dream to come to Paris. He said, welcome to Paris in French. I smiled and so did he. Once we were finished, we cashed out and said, “Merci, au revoir. he said, “Au revoir.” We walked in the direction of the metro station and I asked the woman at the information counter, in French if she spoke English? She said, “Yes.” I smiled and I always feel so silly, when they say yes. Then Drew took over and he told her where we were going and she printed us a ticket. It was good for the entire day.
After we got off the metro,  we walked what seemed like forever until we finally saw it in the distance. There she was, this was my first picture of the Eiffel Tower.

As soon as I saw it, I grabbed Drew’s arm. He knew how long I have been waiting for this moment. I was instantly starstruck. I wanted to fall to my knees. I could feel them buckling underneath me. I have been obsessed with France ever since I started learning the French language. Everything, almost everything in my house is the Eiffel Tower. It is a serious obsession for me. I couldn’t believe it and there she was. I took a deep breath and we kept walking.  We had to go to the History Group Center in order to check in for our tour.

As soon as we walked in, the receptionist behind the desk said, “Salut.” I said, “Salut, ca’va?” She said, “Bien, et toi?” I nodded and smiled, “bien, merci.” Then I confessed. I am American and she laughed. We told her we were there for the Eiffel Tower tour. She gave us our tickets and said, to come back in 15 mins, or we can wait in the lobby. I said, “We will be back in 15 mins.” We went together to see the Eiffel Tower. It was so magical.

I couldn’t believe we were finally there. After we took some pictures, we went back to the History Group, we met with our tour guide, Igor. He took us all to the Eiffel Tower, and then we skipped the line, and went through secuOnce through security, we entered the plaza part of the tower. This picture was taken underneath the Eiffel Tower:
 Once through security, we entered the plaza part of the tower. Once we entered into the Eiffel Tower, we had to go ups some stairs to an elevator.  At the elevator, Igor was telling us some primary information about the tower. I couldn’t help it. I took a selfie of me touching one of the beams of the Eiffel Tower.  I was so in love and so in the moment. Below is the view from the top of the second tier of the Eiffel Tower tower.

Igor,  tour guide pointed out that everything in Paris runs on a line and is all connected. The giant sky scrappers in a cluster are called the “financial district.” We would call it downtown Pittsburgh, or corporate. Igor pointed out the area of  Montmaire. This is where the Sacred heart is, and where the events of the movie “Midnight in Paris” took place. Montmaire is where all the writers like Hemingway and Fitzgerald got into some drunken trouble. I would love to have seen that town, but we don’t have time and I heard it is not that safe, which is unfortunate. He also pointed out the Concorde, where Marie Antoinette was executed. I had to stop myself from getting so excited. Unfortunately, there is no plaque dedicated to her, or to mark her execution site, which is sad. She didn’t do great things for France, but still.

This is the military training location. Napoleon built it to train the French military. Drew wanted to go there after. I was excited to see the view of the tower from that area.
After we finished at the second tier, we took a selfie with Igor, our tour guide:














Then we made our way to the Summit. An elevator took us to the top of the tower. The view from the Summit was so breath taking. We had champagne at the top of the Eiffel tower.

On our way down, we found a macaroon stand, so of course we had to have macaroons, while being in the Eiffel Tower!

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We also stopped at a souvenir store and I got Angie an Eiffel Tower key chain, Drew got a bottle of XO; the bottle is in the shape of the Eiffel Tower. I also picked up a miniature Eiffel Tower in the french flag colors for my desk at work, Lord knows I have so much Eiffel Tower stuff at the house already. 🙂









On our way down from the tower, we took the stairs down one of the legs of the tower. It was so cool! I was walking down the stairs of the Eiffel Tower.  Look at at sun! I like to think. It was my Grandma shining down us. My Grandma wanted to take me to Europe when I turned 14, but her knees were not in good shape. It would be too much walking for her. I understood, but there she was that sun, shining down on me, making sure we had a warm and beautiful day for this memory to occur.















The next stop was Napolean’s military training center, but the view of the Eiffel Tower from there is amazing!

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When Germany took over France in WWII. This where Hitler stood to admire the Eiffel tower and his victory over France.










The next stop on the list was the Arc De Triomphe:
The Arc was built to honor the members of the French military. In order to get over to the Arc and see it you have to cross this busy intersection. In order to cross, you have to run. As soon as we found a break in the traffic, we ran so fast to the other side where the Arc is.










So worth it! I was a sweaty mess in this picture. There I am directly under the Arc, so cool!














The next stop was the Louvre. When you think of the Louvre, you think of the pyramid structure and you think that is all it is, right? Maybe it was just me, but I was confused. How is this the Louvre? and where is the pyramid structure thing? I asked a random person if they spoke English, in french? and she said, “Yes.” hehe another. I asked what this place was. She said, why it is the Louvre! I said, “Oh okay. I didn’t know this all was the Louvre. I thought the Louvre was just the glass pyramid structure.” She said, “No, this is all the Louvre. It is the biggest museum in France. This is also where all the Kings of France lived, except for Louie the 14th. He built…” I cut her off and said, “Versailles.” I smiled, and wanted to give off the impression like yea, I know lady. I said, “Thank you.” We walked away and just were in awe of the structure. I learned something.

Oh, there is the glass pyramid structure. *palm to forehead*










After the Louvre, the last stop on the agenda for the day was to see Notre Dame. We walked 18 mins from the Louvre to reach Notre Dame for quick picture, then it was back to the Airbnb!

Once we got back to the Airbnb, we showered and got ready to go to dinner in Pigalle. It was a metro ride away from our Airbnb. We ate at a mistro outside of the Moulin Rouge. This area of Paris was kind of trashy. There were so many sex shops and weird people in the streets. I wasn’t all that comfortable, but this was Drew’s idea.   Rouge Bis

I didn’t want to leave Paris. I wanted to stay. I dreaded the thought of going back to England. I knew we would have a good time, but Paris has been my dream for so long, now just leave me here.
Our waiter at this place was so cool. I tried out my French and he was appreciative, but we communicated better in English. I was in the mood for a burger and fries, so that is what I had. I also had two vodka and tonics, then it was time to go back to our Airbnb for our last night in Paris.

Paris, France

This morning we woke up, got showered, got dressed, and then went downstairs to eat the hotel breakfast again. This time we had double espresso. It was so yummy and the little cup is so cute.
After breakfast, we went to our hotel room gathered up our luggage, and went downstairs to the desk to check out, then we got a taxi to take us to St. Pancras, where we had to catch a train to Paris. I was so excited. The Euro Star station, was so huge. It had a bunch of stores in it, including a Chanel store. Drew gave me some notes to get coffee to distract me from the Chanel store. 🙂 I bought my first coffee with a British note.

Image may contain: 2 people, including Danielle Hornyak, people smiling, people sitting Once we got on the train, I made sure to get the window seat, so I could see us arriving into Paris. When the train operator made the announcement that we were in Paris, I instantly freaked out! I was so excited. Right before we arrived to the station, I kept looking around for the Eiffel Tower, and I think I may have caught sight of it for just a moment. I can’t wait to see it! Once we arrived in Gare Du Nord, we followed the signs for taxis. All around us, we could hear the French language. I was in heaven. I was loving it. I heard “Salut, Ca’va, Monsieur?” I saw French police patrolling the station. On our way to the taxi area, a woman approached us and asked if we were looking for a taxi? I said, Yes. She told us to follow her, but we decided against it. It seemed shady. We walked outside and followed the line for the taxis, so apparently there was a demonstration (protest) happening, which was causing all the taxis to be late.
Once we finally got a taxi, it was around 3:30pm-4:00pm Paris time. We were so ready to get to our Airbnb, but so happy to be in Paris. On the taxi ride, I took some pictures out  of the window, we were finally in Paris, my dream city:
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Once we arrived at our Airbnb, I took a picture of the outside of it. Our Airbnb was located in the 9th Arrondissement of Paris. You need a code to get inside the red doors.
Then go past the mailboxes, where you enter another set of codes.No automatic alt text available. Now you are in the lobby of the building, there is a tenant office, a staircase, and a small elevator, that looks like you could only fit one person in it. Drew took the stairs, with two suitcases. I got into the elevator, and I stacked one suitcase on top of the others, so the door would close, automatically. Then I pushed the second floor. Once, I got to the second floor, the doors opened, right in front of me was the door to our Airbnb. Drew came up the stairs at that point with the two suitcases. We used a card key to open the door. You put the card up to the door and turn the door knob to the right then the door, unlocks. You have to do all motions simultaneously for it to work.

Once inside, it looked just like the pictures. We put our suitcases in the bed room, and then we both go showered and got dressed in clean clothes to explore Paris and have dinner at a cafe, and sit outside like Parisians. We stopped at this place called, Cafe Marguerite.

First Night in ParisNow is the time to try out my French. When the waiter came by, I said “Bonjour Monsieur.” he said, “Bonjour.” He handed us our menus. I looked at the menu. It was most certainly in French. My eyes widened a bit. I only had French 1 and 2 in high school. I ordered a glass of Rosé, so I said, “Une Rosé, sil vou pliat.” and smiled. I was really trying here. Drew said, the name of the beer he wanted, and said Sil Vou Plait. I gave him a crash course of French basics, as much as I could before we arrived, plus he heard me speak French here and there.
When it came time to order our dinner. When the waiter came back over, I broke down. I said, “We are Americans. I am trying.” He said, “No problem. I will get you the English menu.” He took our French menus away, and brought back English ones. I sighed. I felt disappointed and bummed. It took the fun out of it for me a little. Drew tried to reassure me that I am doing well. I sneered. I wanted so badly to be good at this and perhaps wanted them to think I was Parisian. It mattered a little to me.
When the waiter came back with the English menus, I have to admit it was easier, but definitely less fun trying to deceiver what everything was. He gave a us a few minutes. I was going to try the chicken and spinach thing with potatoes.
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Drew at first ordered a burger, and the waiter said, “How American of you.” he had a little smile, but not really. We both laughed at the awkwardness. He said, “Okay, what do you suggest?” He said, “Chicken Cordon Bleu.” He said, “alright I will do that. I said to Drew, “You have had it before, however it is not like back home where it comes out of a freezer.” He said, “True.” Dinner was amazing. We had another drink, then thought about going some place else, or calling it a night because we didn’t want to be out and about after dark. We had a day of exploring Paris tomorrow.

When we arrived back at our Airbnb, we got ready to go to bed. The only down fall about our Airbnb is that it did not have air conditioning. It was so hot. We slept with the balcony doors open. We weren’t sure if Eric (the guy that owns our airbnb) was going to come back or not, or if he was gone for the summer and rented his place out, while he was away, but we were never sure if he was going to show up or not. It was 80 degrees while we were in Paris.




Bath, England

This morning we got up early at 6:00am. We both felt so well rested having finally slept in a bed. A firm bed to be exact. We got showered, dressed, got ready, and went to the hotel breakfast. When we were seated, they asked if we wanted coffee. They poured our coffee for us, then we could get up and go to the breakfast buffet. Contrary to popular belief, I am a simple gal when it comes to breakfast. I am not much of a breakfast person either. I did see they had croissants and I love croissants. I put one on my plate, then I went to the hot foods area. I noticed they had scrambled eggs, but it was the runny sunny side up scrambled eggs, and the bacon was whole bacon, and probably delicious, but I like simple thin bacon not used to seeing bacon like that, baked beans; I only eat those at cook out if that, black pudding; some kind of food that was shaped in black circles with pork in it I passed on that, but I did see someone making an omelette. Omelette? yes please! I asked for an all vegetable omelette the guy said, give him “5 mins.” Okay, so I made my way over to the table with my croissant. I nibbled on my croissant and waited until Drew came back with his plate, which was full, before going to check on my omelette.

When I approached the omelette station, he handed me my plate. The omelette looked so good. I sat down at the table across from Drew and we ate breakfast, and planned our day. I had so much I wanted to in Bath and I was so well rested! I couldn’t wait to see Bath!

When we finished breakfast, we went up to the room and got ready to leave. We grabbed our book bags, then went downstairs, out of the hotel, and into the madness that is the metro station. We approached the information desk, and waited to see what platform the train for Bath was departing on. This was where everyone else was standing around.  (I forgot to add, after we got showered last night we went down to the station and bought our tickets for the train to Bath.)

When they finally announced the platform, everyone ran to their assigned platforms to board the train. It was a mad dash to the platforms. I almost got lost in the crowd, but being short I was able to navigate my way successfully. Drew is so tall and I can pick him out of a crowd anywhere. I always have been able to. 🙂
When we boarded the train, it was an hour and 26 minutes, until we arrived in Bath.
We had no clue where to go, once we got off the train, but we saw this sign so we knew we were in the right area. Bath is the cute historic town. Everything looks like it is from another time, so well preserved. bath








This is me walking, quaint shops, narrow streets, no pavement, but cement blocks. It is so cute and peaceful, very relaxing. Our first stop was the roman baths. I didn’t care too much for the history. It is a bit too far back for me to imagine, but Drew really enjoyed it. They had statues of Julius Caesar and various baths that were in this Spa and what they were used for. There is still a working Spa where you can go for wellness and massages, but we didn’t have the time or money for all that.


We did get to put our hands in some really old water, that roman’s used to bathe in.

After we did this, we saw the sign that says, “Do not touch the water, drink it, or bathe in it. k the water, or bathe in it.” hehe oops!


We did get to drink actual Thermal water, just like Kiera Knightly did in the movie the Duchess, but I didn’t get to wear a pretty dress, while drinking it. The water tastes like mineral water. It is warm, and has a sulfur taste to it. It isn’t too bad. I had a couple cups of it.

After the spa, we had tea in the Pump Room:



The best way to describe this experience is like having a tea party with the love of your life. I have always had tea parties as a little girl, but having one like this with the love your life, in this gorgeous Georgian style room was a dream come true.
We had a tray full of goodies, scones, sandwiches, macrons, etc. We could not finish it all, but we were so relaxed.

After Tea in the Pump Room, we went to go explore more of Bath. I stumbled upon Jane Austen, in her novels, Persuasion and North hanger Abbey both take place in Bath.

“Oh, who can ever be tired of Bath”-Jane Austen
I am not really a huge Jane Austen fan, but it as great to stumble upon her and take a picture with her. I do like the time period of her novels, and the characters, but something about the style of her writing, but I don’t have beef with her. We did not have time to go into the Jane Austen center.

We had tickets to see the Fashion Museum, which was going to be held in the Bath Assembly Rooms. I was so excited. The Bath Assembly rooms was one of the locations where they filmed my absolute favorite movie, “The Duchess.”
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When we walked into the Bath Assembly rooms, we told them we were here for the fashion museum, we showed the receptionist our tickets, and she told us that the museum is downstairs, and she told us what room to go, but we were free to look around. They were having an event going on in the Tea Room. We couldn’t enter, it as the Bath Festival so there was a group of speakers there, but the Tea room is where they filmed this scene in the movie, where the Duchess Duchess is presented to the admiring crowd and is titled, “the empress of fashion.” I was a little bummed, that I couldn’t see this room.

Straight ahead was the Great Octagon room this the room where in the movie The Duchess,” Georgiana is confronted by the Duke in Bath. He gives her an ultimatum give Grey up. If she does not return to London with him, then her dreams of changed world and Grey’s dreams of becoming Prime minister will be “dead as ash” and she will never see her Children again. We were able to step inside the Great Octagon room. Although there was a book fair going on, I was still able to see the room where they filmed the scene.






After the Great Octagon room, we went downstairs to the Fashion Museum. The exhibit was titled 100 Years of Fashion. had on display, all sorts of dresses, and outfits from the different time periods leading up to modern day fashion. It was so cool to see. We even got to try on period costumes.










When we finished at the Fashion Museum, we had one more stop to make. I couldn’t wait to get there, #1 Royal Crescent:








The royal crescent is another location where they filmed a scene from the movie The Duchess: Image result for the duchess royal crescent


We also went inside #1 Royal Crescent: “Henry Sandford was the first resident of No. 1 Royal Crescent. He lived at the house from 1776 until his death in Bath in 1796. Recent research has greatly improved our understanding of who Henry Sandford was and how he might have lived in No.1  Royal Crescent and the interpretation of the museum has used these details to bring the house to life.”-

There were so many gorgeous rooms in this house, and they all reflected the time period, but this room in particular gave me a certain feeling.

This is the lady’s parlor. Where the women would retire and have tea, and play the harpsichord. I snuck a picture of the harpsicord. The woman said it is on loan and there for we cannot take pictures.
However, in this room, there is a painting on the wall above the fire place. The woman looked so familiar. I thought it might be the Duchess of Devonshire. I inquired about the painting. The guide said, “It was an unknown woman of the time.” I didn’t believe her and the look of disbelief was written all over my face. The guide asked me, “Who I thought it might be?” I said, “It looks like the Duchess of Devonshire, Georgiana Spenser Cavendish.” She said, “That is really observant of you, but it is not her. She typically wore those big hats, and feathers.” I smiled, but she didn’t always have them on. Then, I thought how sad to be marked as an unknown woman of the time. I looked at her and she looked back at me, it felt as though she and I connected it is weird, I know. The guide handed me the binder, that explains all the artifacts in the room, the paintings, and the origin. She let me flip through it. I read the blurb about the painting, “an unknown woman.” I read it and felt so sad and so haunted.

After we left the Royal Crescent, we made a stop at a pub for a drink. 
Then we checked out Bath Abbey, before heading on the train back to the madness that is Paddington, London.

Once we got back to the hotel, we showered and got ready to go dinner. We wanted to go to the most traditional English Pub we could find. We went to The Pride of Paddington, where I had my first English beer titled, “The Proper Job” and fish and chips!
That night, I went to bed so thankful. That night  was our last night in Paddington. Let me say, if you are thinking of traveling to England. Do yourself a favor do not stay in Paddington, unless you don’t mind the crazy amount of people. If you are low key and border line between bougie and hipster like I am, then stay away from Paddington. Stay in Westminster, which I will tell you about later! 🙂 The next day, we traveled to Paris. 🙂

Chelsea Stadium

This is the part where I am playing the role of the supportive wife. I do not know anything about European football, but Drew does. I wanted to make this a good experience for him and I didn’t want to take away from the fun he was going to have checking out this stadium, so I tried to just suck it up for him, but all I wanted was a shower.
When we arrived in Chelsea, there were signs up on the lamp posts that lined the streets of Chelsea players in action, kicking a ball, or posing. I knew we were close. We found the stadium, and had to have our bags checked for security. Then we made our way to the team store first. We had some time to kill. I checked out all the merchandise. It would be cool, if I was into the sport. Drew ended up buying a shirt. I was happy he got what he wanted. Then we made our way to the field.
When you first walk in there is a guest services counter, we checked and said, “We are actually here for the 11am tour.” he said, “not a problem we can fit you into the 10am tour if you like.” We both said, “Yes, of course that would be awesome.” The tour guide  made us all sit down on these stadium seats that were in the lobby. In front of us was the FA cup. Chelsea won this cup the weekend before we arrived. I thought that was cool. We weren’t allowed to take pictures of the cup, but I secretively snapped one with my phone.

Then the tour guide, took us around the field, into the dressing rooms, and the room where the players get worked on if they are injured. It was pretty cool to hear about the team. then I saw this:

Image may contain: Danielle Hornyak, standingI never knew Beckham played for Chelsea. Okay, I am interested now! After the tour, we checked out the museum. There was this room, that was closed in, on the wall were signs with various points on it. There was a soccer ball in the room, so Drew and I kicked around the ball and tried to see who could score the most points. I was trying so hard to be the supportive wife.

After the museum, we were supposed to have lunch  that we bought with our tickets to the tour at this one diner, but it was closed. However, they partnered with this swanky upscale looking restaurant outside of the stadium. I forget the name of it. We were able to order off their menu and it would be included.

When we sat down at the table, I was so tired. I needed to shower and that is all that I could think about. I am sure Drew felt the same way, but he channeled it differently, as always. I am the overly dramatic one. The waitress came over to take our order and I was in the middle of powdering my face. I felt so gross. I said, ‘You have to excuse me. I am not myself right now. We just had an 8 hour flight, our hotel room isn’t ready yet, I haven’t had a shower yet, and I am a mess.” She laughed and said “no worries, I understand. I have had that happen to me before too.”  I was craving a burger. We both ordered a burger, fries, and a coke. They serve lemon with the coke! What a fabulous idea! I never thought to ask for that before.
After lunch, we made our way back to the hotel where our room was ready! When we arrived back to our hotel, we checked in, and they gave us our keys. The front desk woman looked like she about had it with us. I couldn’t wait to shower.
Once we got to our room, we showered, and I got comfy clothes on and laid down in the bed. While I was waiting for Drew to get out of the shower, I flipped through the channels on the television and tried to find something interesting to watch. I found this show called Gogglebox. It is the funniest show ever! British families hanging out watching television and commenting on various shows. This camera, or camera crew is set up in their living room, taping their reactions and the things they say. It was hilarious.
When Drew got out of the shower, and got into bed with me we watched the rest of the show. We laughed so hard at their comments regarding the Royal Wedding. A woman was crying and her husband told her, that she wasn’t being very British and she needed to have a stiff upper lip. She said, “No, Harry wants us to cry.” He did this whole thing on mental health and he doesn’t want us to hold our emotions in anymore.” Drew and I both laughed. There so many other funny statements in that show and reactions to various shows, such as the BBC show about Jeremy Thrope, which was so scandalous. The other show, they commented on was Jamie Oliver’s 5 ingredient cooking show. Where you can make these recipes with just 5 ingredients. The one guy said, “Where I am going to get clams in a landlocked county?” Drew and I laughed so hard. At one point, we turned off the television to go to bed. We have a busy day tomorrow.

Landed in Heathrow, England

Once we landed in Heathrow we got off the plane, had to go through border security. One the plane, we filled out our landing sheets. The flight attendant said, we could use one, since we had the same last name. No need to fill out two landing sheets. Okay, then the border patrol said, “Who told you that? You need to fill out one for yourself too.” I said, “We have the same last name.” He said, “It doesn’t matter.” I was so frustrated, but I took the time to fill it out. I didn’t want to get nasty with the border police. I was holding back my emotions, and said to myself, “Girl you are in England.”
After we passed the border police and got the stamp of approval on our passports we got our baggage at the baggage claim and then made our way to the Heathrow express.
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“Mind the Gap” is written everywhere in England. They always say, “Mind the Gap.” Drew and I said to each other all the time over there. It as funny. We took the Heathrow express to Paddington, London where our hotel was. We were hoping our hotel would be ready for check in. It was around 10am when we arrived at our hotel.

As soon as we got off the heathrow express, and dragged our luggage off the train, we were at this super busy metro station. People coming and going. Everyone had agendas, and plans for the day business men, business women, tourists who have been here a few times, older people, college age people all coming and going. We walked over to the information desk. We told them were are staying at the Hilton, and asked how do we get there from here? They said, there is a lift (elevator) that will take you to the second floor of the metro station. Make a left and you will see Starbucks on your right and straight ahead of you is the entrance to your hotel. So we found the lift, and pushed the button to go to the second floor. We got off of the elevator, dragged our suitcases past the Starbucks, and into the entrance of the hotel. We made our way to the reservation desk. The lobby had an art-deco design to it. It kind of reminded me of the Great Gatsby.
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The front of the hotel is so beautiful. It supposedly was a Victorian castle that they transformed into a hotel.

At the front desk, we gave them our name and told them that we had a reservation for two nights. They pulled up our reservation, and said that our room isn’t ready yet, and asked us to come back in a couple hours, and hopefully it will be ready then.

However, we are able to leave our luggage with the concierge and he will take it up to our room, when it is ready. I sighed. All I wanted to do was brush my teeth, shower, and get ready to head to Chelsea. We had plans to tour the stadium, museum, and eat lunch close by. I did not want to go like this.  I was beginning to think I had no choice. We handed our luggage over to the concierge and then he told us how we are going to need an Oyster card, while we are here. I said, “a what?” He said, “An Oyster card.” He said, “Come with me, I will show you.” We walked across the street with him and then to the metro station. Then I realized, an Oyster card is like our Pitt ID back home, except this is for the metro. I said, “oh okay.” He said, “here I will help you.” He showed us how to work the machine. We both got cards and loaded 30 pounds on our oyster cards. We didn’t rent car, so it was either walk, metro, train, or hop on and off bus. I guess these would come in and handy.

We went back to the hotel, and still the room wasn’t ready yet, so we stopped for at a coffee shop called Acosta. I looked at the menu and I ordered a small Americano, which is espresso and water. Drew ordered the same. It was the closest to a red eye (Coffee with espresso). We sat down and drank our coffee. We both were so tired, but knew that we were going to have to leave for Chelsea soon, even if our room wasn’t ready yet. When we got back to the hotel, still no room available so we got on the metro and made our way to Chelsea.