Barcelona, Spain: Flamenco, paella, Gaudi and soccer are typically what the beautiful city of Barcelona is known for but pictures of this amazing city won't until after visiting the colorful and artistic city. The streets are filled with excitement and culture as well as the smell of traditional Spanish food. If you love fresh seafood, Barcelona is the place for you. La Boqueria located on the famous street, La Rambla, is filled with fresh seafood vendors who will prepare your fish of choice for you while you watch!
Some tips for you ladies/men who are hoping to travel to Europe is to always check the flight rates because they are always changing! My mama and I bought our tickets the week before we left for a very reasonable rate on Travelzoo and it included our flight and hotel from LAX to Paris then Paris to Barcelona and back home! As I mentioned in my previous post, travel with one carry-on bag because it'll reduce the risk of getting your belongings stuck in customs which is the worst. Another tip would be to definitely check the weather before you travel so you don't pack any unnecessary items that would just end up taking up space.
Paris, France: July 1, 2015 - July 6, 2015
My summer trip to Paris was one of the most memorable vacations I have experienced. After a nine-hour flight from LAX, I was ready to experience the city I have always dreamt of visiting while my Mom was ready to fall asleep as soon as we arrived at our hotel. Our first night in Paris consisted of experiencing French food and a trip to the Champs-Elysées. Since my Mom and I purchased the tickets for this trip the week before we left, we had no idea that there would be a heat wave so we were touring Europe in 100 degree weather. Apparently, during the middle of summer, everyone flocks to Europe so our whole trip felt like we were walking through a busy day at Disneyland. Our day at the Louvre consisted of thousands of people crammed into the museum even though the museum itself is massive. Because of its old construction, there was no air conditioning so we ended up being dehydrated after about two hours in the museum. My favorite part about the Louvre was seeing the Mona Lisa and Egyptian artifacts because being able to see what I learned about in high school in person was amazing to me. I truly began to appreciate the paintings I saw in my textbooks. Despite the thousands of tourists in Paris, we were able to see all of the beautiful structures that add to Paris' character. Being the foodie that I am, I was beyond excited to try the macarons from Ladurée and even more excited to keep the cute box the macarons came in and the bag (which I have pinned on my wall in my room). My mom was not looking forward to trying Ladurée macarons because the line was out the door. The picture below is of the six delicious macarons we bought and shared (even though I didn't want to share because they were so yummy). Another favorite and traditional dessert I tried was creme brûlée and I was surprised by how delicious it was. I was never a huge custard fan until I visited Paris. I loved being able to buy fresh baguettes while I was walking on the street and walking into cafes and boulangerie that caught my eye. Our stay at Hotel Banville near the Champs-Elysées so comfortable and really let me feel the true beauty of Paris. I couldn't stop opening the window to the courtyard to see the artchitecture of the buildings around our hotel.
One of the most mesmerizing aspects of Paris to me was the beautiful architecture and history that belonged to each structure. Seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time was one of the most memorable parts of the trip. I never realized how massive it actually is. I had the best sandwiches on French baguettes at a small cafe next to the Tour Eifel. Walking around the streets of Paris, I would look at all of the plaques on the buildings that stated when the building was built and who constructed it. It amazed me how old each building really was and how the city manages to keep each historical building in near perfect condition.
My advice for anyone planning to travel to Paris is to bring everything in one carry-on! It was very hard to decide what to bring because I ALWAYS overpack so I brought heels, dresses, jeans, and basically everything that I didn't need to bring. If you're traveling to Europe, check the weather beforehand and pack according to the weather! I only wore jeans when I was on the plane and I didn't wear any of the dresses I had packed except for a simple cotton dress. I traveled with one carry-on bag and one backpack where I put my makeup and camera so my suitcase was only for clothes and shoes. Summer in Paris is h.o.t. so bring lots of shorts and comfortable walking shoes. If you plan on visiting any cathedrals other than the Notre Dame, I would suggest bringing longer skirts for ladies because I wasn't able to enter a church museum because my shorts were too short. The Notre Dame doesn't have any strict dress code so I was able to enter wearing shorts and a tank top. Another piece of advice is to plan all of your tours beforehand! Buy tickets for the lift to the top of the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre before you arrive because it will save you a lot of time. However, you can buy hop-on-hop-off tour tickets for buses and boats which I recommend because the bus and boat tour is one flat price and you can use the tickets for 3 days! As you can see in the picture below of me in front of the Louvre, it was super busy and that was a day where it has rained in the morning so it was much less busy than the previous days we had gone. For those who are traveling on a budget, I would suggest renting a vacation rental so you have access to a kitchen because food is super expensive. Another travel tip would be to learn at least a little French before traveling! Everyone in Paris speaks English very well but out of respect to the French people, I would learn basic French rather than just "Bonjour." I highly recommend traveling outside of just Paris in France because Paris is purely a tourist town so other than the beautiful monuments, you won't really experience French culture unless you go outside of the big cities. If you just stay in Paris, you will have an amazing time as long as you plan ahead! Thanks for reading! Xoxo, Tiffany