España and Death Mountain

7/1-7/2

Nico and I were on our way to Salamanca, Spain with our second ECYD Camp of the summer. We learned that we would be DRIVING down. A 17 hour drive. I'm not going to lie. I was nervous. That felt like an insanely long drive to drive through the night with a only a short break in between.

We stopped for a couple hours in Bordeaux for dinner and to pick up more kids. The drive was long. Our driver dosed off for a quick second and drove into the guard rail. Totally messing up the left side of the van and blowing out the trailer tire. 

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We had to move ALL of the kids luggage to inside the van. On very little sleep mind you. We were exhausted.

This was my view for the last hour of the trip.

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We arrived just in time for breakfast and headed out into the city to explore! The old city was BEAUTIFUL!

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My favorite spot to sit was in the square. Wonderful people watching.

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We were so happy to be in Spain. Nico was thrilled to be able to communicate with the locals easily. Y'all French is a very hard language to learn.

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We arrived on a Sunday and went to mass in the glorious old cathedral. It was the most stunningly, gorgeous cathedrals I have ever seen. 

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Pope John Paul sat in this chair!

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When you looking up to the ceiling you felt like it just kept going on forever!

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On the walk home we saw a a bull fighting arena...boo! Historically very cool, but I don't support it. 😒 

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7/3

The next day we decided to go back out into the city and find a good cup of coffee. I was needing it! The lack of sleep and constant traveling was finally taking it toll on me.

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We were exploring part of the city with some of the counselors. We were in the hunt for some jamon! The Spaniards LOVE their ham. They have pig legs hanging everywhere.

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It was only €3.  It was delicious! A perfect afternoon snack.

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The streets were so charming. You know I'm a sucker for pretty streets that are lined with flowers.

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Some of the guys were on a hunt to find the cheapest pints. Let's just say, they were cheap for a reason. Yuck.

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7/4 Happy Fourth!

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After a long day at camp, Nico wanted to get out and celebrate July 4th! Cue first day of feeling absolutely homesick. We missed our families and our tradition of being at Emerald Isle. We couldn't just hang around the camp. We had to get out. I honestly won't get into the ugly part of this trip, but in the short the camp was not what we were expecting. Unfortunely we were not needed and barely had a role. We were definitely frustrated to be trapped within the camp for two weeks just waiting around and feeling anxious that we were doing much. I was also the only woman around and I had to deal with a lot of crap. I'll leave that for in-person stories. It doesn't need to be on the internet.

ANYWAYS we stopped for a drink on the way to dinner. We wanted to find wifi so we could look up a place that may be celebrating the 4th.

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My fav! 

 We couldn't find anything! So we walked through the old city to find some paella! I had been craving since we decided we were going to Spain.

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It was everything I had hoped for. After a few days of tapas I WAS HUNGRY.

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Walking back to camp we found this beauty! The Irish Theatre was celebrating the 4th of July!

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Our hearts were happy.

7/5 Las Batuecas and Sierra de Francia

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The day had come for our two day adventure in the mountains!

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The ride up to start our hike was absolutely beautiful and terrifying.

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 Do you see the mountain goat? They were everywhere!  

Do you see the mountain goat? They were everywhere!  

The trail was lovely. It felt so good to be outdoors and taking in all the fresh air.

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 Look how flat and even this trail is. 😍 

Look how flat and even this trail is. 😍 

The first day was amazing! We followed the trail and found multiple natural swimming pool. (Even though, since being the only girl, I wasn't allowed to go swimming.)

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We climbed up and down these gigantic rocks along the stream.

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 Aimlessly wandering around to find a place to sleep. 

Aimlessly wandering around to find a place to sleep. 

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The plan was to hike for two hours. To find a nice spot to camp out and sleep. We lost the trail looking for a place to sleep. We realized we didn't know where we were going. We just kept circling around looking for somewhere flat. Once we finally settled it was after 11pm. We settled on the side of a mountain and a huge rock. SUPER UNCOMFORTABLE. Even though it was pitch black once we set up our tent, it was pretty incredible to be out in the wilderness.

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The moon was so bright. She seemed so much closer in person. Surprisingly we didn't see many stars! That was a little disappointing.

 

7/6

Good morning! This is where we slept. 

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Although we were super sweaty, dirty, and gross. The view was unbelievable to wake up too. A little scary when we stumbled out of the tent because we realized we slipped down the rock a good bit, but the tree caught us.

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Our wake up call was 7:30 am. We had a quick breakfast, no coffee, and we were on our way by 8. At this point in time we didn't think we'd be going for another 8 hours. We knew we were a little off the trail, but we did not expect our day to be what it was.

I didn't take any pictures of the brutal climb...that lasted 6 hours. I was too afraid of falling down the mountain. Nico is a thick, strong man. He was not made for rock climbing. I was not made for rock climbing, but I'm at least somewhat flexible. The scariest part for me was definitely seeing Nico struggle every step when we were going up. Now, they weren't normal steps. They were more like leaps. Stretching your hips and legs as high as possible to climb the next rock. With no proper training or a cord we were free scaling mountain after mountain. Every time we thought we conquered one and survived there was another one waiting for us. Up and down, up and down. We reached peaks of mountains and walked the range.

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These smiles held temporary joy as we successfully didn't fall down to our deaths. We were always the last of the group.

Our leader finally gave us a break so he could find the trail. He came back moments later saying he found the way to the trail, but we had to keep climbing up. The steepest slope of them all. Try to picture it. We're running on very little sleep, food, water, we had already scaled multiple mountains and we're about to climb a 90 degree angle. We were also surrounded by people who spoke French, and barely any English so we were always the last ones to find out what was going on. Out of frustration of the situation, I cried a little bit, but didn't let anyone see me so I wouldn't be perceived as weak. You have to be extra strong and tough when your the only woman in the group. That was also very tiring, having to constantly prove I wasn't tired.

It finally happened. I fell. I slid down a bit and banged up my legs. I grabbed on to a tree branch that saved me from falling further. I was cut, bruised up, dirt everywhere, and it started to get cold and rain. I re-injured my left ankle. I have severely sprained this ankle twice in my life and it's always problem. I'm bleeding, everyone is way ahead of us, and there was nothing we could do but continue on. Thankfully the group stopped and we caught up with them and I was able to get wrapped up. Luckily one of the guys had an ankle brace for me to wear the rest of the hike. We were in the middle of nowhere and I couldn't just quit and go home. Even though that's exactly what we wanted to do.

They found the trail. It was all rocks. Perfect trail for my battered body and injured ankle. HA! Every step I prayed that my ankle would be strong enough to support me and not give out again. 

We were on this trail for an hour before it turned to dirt and leaves.

Looking at this picture makes me hot in the face, remembering how I felt at that moment.  

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Welp, I managed to snap a quick picture of us up high on the rocky trail. Why are we smiling?

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We were alone again. My walking stick broke and with my bum ankle it made us even slower. The clouds started to come straight towards us. We stopped for a moment because we couldn't see but a foot ahead of us. It was pretty cool.

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We climbed to the peaks of those mountains and along the range to get where we were standing for the picture below. 

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Do you see that thin trail on the mountain? It almost looks like it's cutting it in half? Well we were lead down that path for about 30 minutes until we realized to was the wrong way. Again.

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The whole time, the picture above, was the end goal. We were trying to reach a monestary that sits above the Sierra de Francia. You can kind of see it within the clouds. Imagine our feeling of defeat when we thought we were just about to turn the corner and be there. Nope. Another mountain to climb. I secretly cried again.

Not to get cheesy or weird, but this was a true test of our relationship. Nico never stopped being supportive, proud, and calming. We cheered each other on the whole way. I was being competitive and running myself into the ground just to prove I could do it. He reassured me it was okay to stop and rest. I couldn't have mentally (or physically) survived that trip without him.

We made it y'all.

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We made it to the top!

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That's a long way down...

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Because of the language barrier we still didn't know how we were getting back to the car. 16 hours of hiking later, we did NOT want to do that again. Our leader actually went to get the bus and picked us up. Yup. There was a road you could drive up to reach the monestary.

It was pretty satisfying to know we free scaled a few mountains! It's an exciting story now. A crazy adventure that I wouldn't willingly sign up for again. 

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But I am proud of us!

I debated on whether or not to put these up, but hey, why not?! They're my battle wounds. 

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I was bruised up pretty bad during the fall! Weeks later I still have sore yellow spots all over my legs.

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The bigger cut took a while to stop bleeding. It was pretty deep and will most definitely be a scar.

In the end this is an experience I'm happy we both had. Again, it is something I would never willingly sign up for, but it proved a lot of strength and determination I didn't know was within me.

WE DID IT!

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Love,

The Quintanas

Magic and Bubbly

6/28

I was looking forward to this day the entire trip. Surprisingly I have only been to Disney World once in my life and I was eight. If you know me, you know I'm a huge Disney fan. Walt, Mickey, Donald, Belle, and the whole crew. I am often find myself wanting to destress and watch a Disney movie. 

Nico and I took a bus for 30 minutes to Disneyland Paris!  

It was hard to believe were we were AND how small it was! Although small it was still very magical. The music always gets me.

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There were three entrances into the one of two parks. We decided to forego the studios side.  

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and there she was! Princess Aurora's castle!  

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I was on cloud nine! Again, if I'm remembering correctly Cinderella's castle at Disney World is much, much bigger.   

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First thing we decided to do was to go in and walk around the castle. They told the whole story through the famous book from the movie and stain glass.  

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Princess Aurora is my second favorite princess, behind Belle of course. It was so much fun experiencing her castle and reliving the story in person. 

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I was one happy kid.  

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 Wanna know a secret? Promise not to tell? We are standing by a wishing well. 

Wanna know a secret? Promise not to tell? We are standing by a wishing well. 

We decided to jump on a few rides and games. The lines were crazy long! Even though we arrived first thing in morning hoping to avoid crazy lines.  

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The toy story ride/ game got pretty intense. 

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 I mean what is that face?! It's the face of a winner. 

I mean what is that face?! It's the face of a winner. 

Here's a quick funny story. When I was younger I went on this Star Wars ride with my parents. You sit in a room, in your own seat, and 3D glasses. It's like you're in one of the ships and the chairs rock back and fourth, side to side, and they vibrate as a big screen shows you taking off into space. The screen also shows you almost crashing multiple times and squeezing through tight spaces. I screamed and I screamed and made a huge scene. I didn't not like that ride as a kid. I had to face my fears and do it again. I needed a little redemption. 

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It was so much fun! Nico and I both enjoyed this little ride! We wanted to do it again, but the line was too long. 

Next up was the haunted house. I am the WORST with jump scares, horror films, and anything that has the potential to instill fear in me. I was freaking out.  

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It was pretty disappointing. You basically ride around and look at puppets in a "scary" setting.  

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We spent the rest of the day getting lunch, riding a boat around a river, and just exploring! 

One of the biggest disappointments we had definitely had to be the lack of characters in the park. We only saw the Genie at his station and then a house to meet Mickey! I had to meet one character! We were there all day. Of course the legend himself was good enough for the day.  

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I danced with Mickey and Mickey pretended to be scared of Nico for dancing with me! It was pretty funny and a good way to end the day.  

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On the way out we saw all of these great shops. I of course had to get my coffee mug. I've been collecting a cup in every city we've visited. One shop had all of these old pictures of Walt and a beautiful crystal display of Beauty and the Beast! 

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Not cheap. If I didn't run the risk of breaking it while traveling I would have purchased the rose. 

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All in all where so happy we went! It was a full day of nostalgia and fun. 

6/29

If you know me well, you know my drink of choice is a glass of champagne. I love that bubbly stuff. It makes me so giddy and I rarely get a hang over with it which is surprising to most. 

One of my favorite champagnes is hands down Veuve Clicquot. When I found out we were only an hour from Reims, France (pronounced rance, by far the hardest word for us to pronounce) we had to make our way to the cellar tour and explore the caves. 

 

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Our tour guide was fabulous and so passionate about the champagne. 

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We followed her deep down into the caves. It was about 20 degrees colder down there. 

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It was amazing to be down there and see how the Champagne so produced.  

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Madame Clicquot was an innovator and an inspiring business woman. It was fascinating to learn about her. The word Veuve actually means widow. After losing her husband she was named head of Mansion Clicquot.  

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If an employee is with the company for over 40 years they have a room named after them.  

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Madam Clicquot is someone I fondly look up to now. I  borrowed this from the website,  In an era when women were excluded from the business world, she dared to assume the head of the company, a role she undertook with passion and determination. Madame Clicquot’s character might be summarized with two words: audacious and intelligent." 

She was a force to be reckoned with and really made huge leaps for women in her time!

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We learned that anchor is a Christian symbol for hope and it was a mark on their champagne before labels existed. 

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Madame Clicquot created the first riddling table. It helps to ensure crystal clear wine. This process continues to be used today, but was redesigned multiple times. Madame Cliquot becomes known to her peers as “La Grande Dame” of Champagne.

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We marked our place in the caves!  

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The motto of Veuve Clicquot! 

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The oldest bottle of Veuve Clicquot. That lone bottle is a 1893 Vintage. It was found in a British castle after being hidden for over a century! 

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Nico and I were both born in vintage years! 

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We really enjoyed our experience at Veuve and highly recommend it! Enjoy the pictures of the tasting!  

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We left with lots of goodies! 

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After our champagne tasting we were very hungry! We decided to grab lunch by the Notre Dame in Reims.  

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Like every major monument, it's under construction! UGH!

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It was breath taking. The kings of France were all coronated here.  Walking through here felt like we were stepping back into the past. 

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Next post will be all about our 2 weeks spent in Spain!  

Au revoir! 

The Quintanas  

We're definitely not in Paris anymore!

6/24

After two beautiful weeks spent in Paris it was time for us to jump on the train to Saacy sur Marne. A town just 45 minutes northeast of the city. 

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This train station was a nightmare. Our train was delayed 2 hours for unknown reasons and the train station was packed with pushy people.  

Once the train arrived we were packed like sardines. Literally standing on top of one another. It was awful and so stinky.  

Once we arrived in Saacy it was seriously like another world.  

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Peace and quiet. Rolling hills, vineyards, and farmlands. We're definitely not in Paris anymore!

After we were picked up from the train station by Father Francois he took us for some vino and pizza! 

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 Pepperoni pizza does not exist here. 

Pepperoni pizza does not exist here. 

The town was ever so charming. "Little town, such a quiet village," was on repeat in our heads.  Nico couldn't stop whistling the tune. 

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It was extrememly refreshing to have peace and quite after being in loud, touristy cities for the last month. There were no tourists, except us, here. All locals. Locals who were super proud to call their city the first city in the region of champagne. 

 

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6/25

The house we were staying in was a picturesque French country house. I felt right at home.  

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Flowers EVERYWHERE! 

Nico and I decided to walk down to the boulangerie  for a fresh baguette and do some exploring before going to the boys school for a feast! 

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Beautiful country roads.   

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A lot of champagne cities are located near the river. Saacy sur Marne, Mery Sur Marne, Charly sur Marne for example are neighboring towns that all sit along the marne, or river. 

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After a little exploring it was time for a lunch. It was a feast day for the school. They had a big party with a lot of food and good drinks!  

 No thanks. I thought I loved cheese. I just can't seem to pallet aged Brie or blue cheese. 

No thanks. I thought I loved cheese. I just can't seem to pallet aged Brie or blue cheese. 

 Our table was so fun and it was the perfect welcoming. We were feeling pretty great, but super tired after our lunch. We walked the mile home to get some rest. All of this traveling is catching up with us.

Our table was so fun and it was the perfect welcoming. We were feeling pretty great, but super tired after our lunch. We walked the mile home to get some rest. All of this traveling is catching up with us.

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6/26

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We woke up to a traditional french breakfast. Bread, bread, and more bread. (I really miss eggs, bacon, and my favorite toast with crunchy almond butter, raspberrys, blackberries and honey.) Oh and a huge bowl of coffee. I went to reach for a cup and the family were staying with told me to use the bowl. It was interesting, but I finished the whole bowl of coffee. I have to add that the yogurt here is probably the best yogurt I've ever had. When it's in a glass jar, you know it's good. 

We spent the day catching up on sleep and work.  

The family we stayed with didn't speak English so it was really interesting to communicate with them! We used a lot of google translate! They took the time to teach us and talk slow.  

Once dinner time rolled around we were given a local beer. We learned that the husband was a farmer! His wheat creates this beer! It was DELICIOUS!

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Our daily dessert! Divine. So simple, yet so good. And brown sugar on raspberries?! Why haven't I been doing this my whole life?! 

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After dinner Nico and I went on a stroll through the town and out into the farms. We wanted to chase the sunset. 

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Along our stroll we stumbled upon A DEER FARM! We were so confused. There were so many. These little guys just started coming up to the fence so we could hand feed them grass. 

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6/27  

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Nico and I never realized how much we enjoyed walking and "stumbling upon" interesting things and places. We can't get over the beauty of this little town North of Paris. I had never heard about it until this trip. 

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I think I mentioned this before, but there's one thing I learned for sure on this day. I do not like aged Brie. I love BAKED Brie, but when it's actually slimy (supposedly that's when you know it's "good") 

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I mean I didn't want to insult our poor hosts, but I could not pallet this. I am normally so open to eating new foods and I typically like everything. Especially cheese. I'm getting older and changing. I do not like all cheese. 

Another little thing we've learned since being in France for a month, driers are not nessesary. Yes, they make your life easier by drying your clothes faster, but let's be honest. How many of us dry our clothes and leave them sitting there for hours?

 (HAHA Nico's face!) 

(HAHA Nico's face!) 

Our clothes are so soft and in such better shape than before. I tend to shrink everything and hanging my clothes keeps them exactly the way they're supposed to be. I may sound naive and silly, but I don't care. AIR DRY FOR THE WIN!

Well that's half of our relaxing week spent we spent in Saacy Sur Marne! Tomorrow is all about DISNEYLAND PARIS!!!

Bye for now!  

The Quintanas 

ECYD Paris Week

Bonjour!  

It's time to catch y'all up on week 6/19-6/23!

6/19

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Nico and I were a team at this camp. We had an hour and half long English class at 11am each day and a cooking class at 3pm each day. Between classes we helped with games and set up for the next activities. The theme of this camp was "ballerina." Four beautiful Mexican girls flew into Paris to be the camp counselors! Their energy was contagious and they really made the camp so much fun for the girls. Each day the girls watched a movie called "Ballerina." It's about a young French orphan who is from Brittany who dreams of being a dancer at the famous Opera Garnier in Paris. The movie then led us to actually visiting the Opera house.  

Our first English class was spent getting to know the girls! We instructed them to draw a portrait of themselves and tell us about them in English. Here are a few!

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Lourdes, the consecrated woman running the camp, suggested that we come up with something very simple to have the girls cook or bake. We decided on chocolate chip cookies. Let's just say each day got better. The first day...we'll see for yourself. 

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 Hahaha way too big.  

Hahaha way too big.  

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The girls watching Ballerina. 

Our gracious host Aline was so kind. She spoke very little French, but wanted to teach us. We also helped her a little with her English.  

The first night she made us a homemade quiche with salad, bread of course, and wine.  

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6/20

We woke up to a traditional French breakfast set out by Aline! Bread, jam, and fruit! 

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Our street.  

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Nico doing what he does best! The girls loved him! 

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On the second day we walked to the Trocadero to picnic under the Eiffle Tower.  

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Cookies were so much better! The girls went crazy for the cookies. Literally every time the girls saw us, they screamed "ZE COOKIES?!" 🍪 

 We were so tired we couldn't imagine walking 30+ minutes home. So we finally decided to take the Metro. The first time ever since we've been in France. We were a little upset we didn't work up the courage to do it sooner.  It was so easy and not scary at all, just a little stinky. 

We were so tired we couldn't imagine walking 30+ minutes home. So we finally decided to take the Metro. The first time ever since we've been in France. We were a little upset we didn't work up the courage to do it sooner.  It was so easy and not scary at all, just a little stinky. 

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6/21

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On the third day we returned to Palais Garnier. We were so excited to see it again with an actual tour guide. We also got to go inside and sit. 

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6/22

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On the fourth day it was back to the same schedule! We decided we needed to go out. Aline lived near the Statue of Liberty and that was something we haven't checked off the list yet! We had a delicious dinner and I discovered my new favorite summer beer! 

 Hello yummy Grimbergen!  

Hello yummy Grimbergen!  

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As we were walking towards he the Statue of Liberty we started to hear very loud music. We also saw a bunch of young people walking around with beer and clear water bottles filled with everything but water.  

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As we made our way below the street we discovered a rave! It was seriously so much fun. Some of the best people watching experiences we ever had in Paris. Little did we know we were experiencing La Fête de la Musique. It's a street music festival held every June 21st in Paris, and is supposedly one of the year's most popular events. We stayed there for a few hours, drinking, dancing, and people watching! 

6/23

It was out last day at the camp and our second to last day in Paris for a few weeks.  

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We loved the time spent with all of these girls! We are so happy we had the chance to help them learn a little more English than they already new and make a lot of cookies. The last day was long and most of it was spent preparing their play and dance they had to present their parents. All in english!  

It was our job to help them with pronunciation.  

It was adorable.  

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Afterwards the parents came up to us and thanked us for helping their girls during the camp and that the girls really loved having us as their teachers! A proud moment!

After camp we met with another couple who were also in Paris celebrating their anniversary! We met at the riverboat bar for a few drinks.  

Here are a few pictures of our walk to meet our new friends! 

 Amazing. This man that created this had no hands. 

Amazing. This man that created this had no hands. 

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It was the perfect way to end the week!  

Next stop Saacy sur Marne! AKA CHAMPAGNE REGION! I'll make sure to write a blog post tomorrow as well! So many amazing things happened last week. 

Au revoir! 

The Quintanas 

Our One Year Anniversary

6/16

PSA: There will be an overload of Eiffel Tower pictures in this post. 

We had a very early morning wake up call. Aside from melting away and getting very little sleep we're we're excited to meet with Maggie LaLonde of Margaret Kathleen Photography. She flew in from Canada to shoot our Anniversary Photoshoot. Like us, here favorite city is Paris.  

We travelled to the Trocadero, Alexander Pont III, the Lourve, and our spot on the Seine. We popped a bottle of Moët and finished it before 8 in the morning. Breakfast of champions right?!

 screen shot from a video! 

screen shot from a video! 

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She showed us a few sneak peeks on her camera and we cannot wait to see the rest! She is also a film photographer so we're counting down the days until we know they have developed.  

 iPhone photo.  

iPhone photo.  

 photo: Margaret Kathleen Photography

photo: Margaret Kathleen Photography

 photo: Margaret Kathleen Photography  

photo: Margaret Kathleen Photography  

 After the Champagne hit. iPhone photo.

After the Champagne hit. iPhone photo.

Once the shoot was over we went home for a nap. After we rallied, we were HUNGRY. My cousin Jennifer told me I needed to order the Croque-monsieur. It is like a delicious fried grilled ham and cheese. So. Much. Cheese. 

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Also Monacos are super refreshing on a hot day. I read that it's basically like a spiked Shirley Temple in the states. Mostly young people in their late teens order it, oh and tourists.  

Later that evening we met our new friends Maggie (our photographer) and another photographer living in Paris named Lisa! Lisa took us to a funky restaurant in the city center. Close to Le marais.  The Marais is a super trendy neighborhood of Paris. 

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After dinner and drink we decided to get GELATO! 🍧 

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6/17

We started the day in our favorite spot on the Seine. First we had to stop by the wine shop "Nicolas" to get a bottle of Rosè. 

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Afterwards we picked up some baguettes of course and continued our walk. 

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We sat here for a fews hours just reminiscing on the past year. Watching our wedding video and looking through all of our pictures. 

We noticed there was a cork floating closer to us. Nico had to check and see if it was the cork that we (accidentally) popped into the seine during our shoot. We had to save it if it was. 

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Nico used the selfie stick to get it closer and almost fell in trying to get it! HAHA! It ended up not being the same cork. It was an old nasty one covered in slime.   

 

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After a few hours we decided to stroll along the Seine.  

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 I would love to live on the house boat!  

I would love to live on the house boat!  

We crossed a bridge and walked back towards the Eiffel Tower. We stumbled upon a boat bar. It had live music, dancing, and AFFORDABLE drinks. Basically all of my favorite things.  

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We ended up staying here for hours. Dancing, drinking, and watching the Eiffel Tower light up every hour in the hour.  

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It was the perfect Saturday night! 

We even ended it with late night Chinese food. It was ok.  

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6/18 Our Anniversary 

We woke up and had our morning coffee and quiche and looked through wedding photos and watched our wedding video, again. It's so hard to believe we have been married a whole year. They say time goes by so fast, but you don't believe them until you actually experience it. This year went by in a blink. It was full of obstecales, but mostly love and happiness. We had a lot of firsts which is surprising and new since we have been dating for 7 years. We feel so lucky to be in a city we love, with family and friends, and to be in jobs we love. We also love that our jobs allow us to travel and experience new adventures together!

Most of our day was spent without phones and cameras. It was spent doing our favorite things with each other with no distractions. 

We brought out the phones for our special dinner. Nico made reservations at Les Ombres.   It was a beautiful restaurant sitting under, you guessed it, the Eiffel Tower.  

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I'll let the pictures speak for themselves! 

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 I am so lucky 💕 

I am so lucky 💕 

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 risotto

risotto

 Veal

Veal

 Still not tired of the view. I warned you in the beginning of the post there will be an overload of the Eiffle Tower. 

Still not tired of the view. I warned you in the beginning of the post there will be an overload of the Eiffle Tower. 

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It was by far the best meal we have ever had. We loved every second of those three hours. 

Thank you to all of our family friends who reached out to us to wish us a Happy Anniversary. It made our day 10x better! We love you! 

 

Love,  

The Quintanas

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Back in Paris and Palais Garnier

Where did I leave off? Obviously I have been very slack with writing my blog. I do have quite a few things to catch you up on! I'll need to break it down into a few posts.  

6/11

 Our last morning in Nice! 

Our last morning in Nice! 

We woke up super early to catch the train to Paris. It only took 5 hours. Shorter than the drive from Atlanta to Raleigh.  

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After arriving in Paris we headed straight to our AirBnB. Because we were so spoiled with such amazing accommodations before we had to have a bit of bad luck thrown in right? Pierre greeted us and welcomed us to our loft. Thankfully there was an elevator and no crazy stairs. 😅 

 tiny elevator.  

tiny elevator.  

As we were getting settled we couldn't help but also notice how hot it was. Before booking I had asked the hostess if she had a fan or two to create some air circulation and give relief from the hot summer days. Top floor, in a sunny apartment, during the summer? It was bound to be hot. She insured us that she had one. Pierre (her helper/friend) didn't know where it was and told us to contact Anais about it. The hostess was out of town, actually in another country. So she was hard to contact. 

To wait for her response and escape the baking apartment we decided to walk up the street to McDonald's. Yes. Judge us. We don't care! It was delicious.  

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 Who'd ever think McDonald's could look this good?  

Who'd ever think McDonald's could look this good?  

After hours went by we hadn't heard from the hostess. We were a little miserable. We noticed mold all over the shower and the shower curtain. Two of three living room lights were missing light bulbs. Two of the three bathroom lights were BROKEN. The couch was dirty. The HDMI cord was broken so the tv didn't work. NO FAN! It was a mess. Also, to add our AirBnB host still had not contacted us. 

At least we had a good view.  

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The weather started to get crazy. The wind was howling and now the main window wouldn't shut. It kept blowing open. Again we try to contact our host and see if there is some special way to close it. No answer. We see the handle is loose and the bottom is not aligned. So we aligned it and voila it closed. 

Next day, still no word from our hostess and the window now won't open. It was stuck. this sunny apartment now has no air circulation whatsoever.

6/13

The weather in Paris has been sunny and warm! Not a drop of rain. We needed to get out and get fresh air. It was actually cooler outside than in our apartment.  

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We decided to stop by a local boulangerie  for baguettes 🥖  

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Last year we couldn't go on Champs de Mars because it was closed for the Euro Cup. We finally got to sit under the Eiffel Tower! She is just so magnificent.

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After a couple of hours and a bottle of wine we decided to walk around. It was time to journey to the Opera! 

On our way we stumbled upon the location where Princess Diana was in her car accident. It was very moving. We stood there for moment to look at all the pictures.  

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We walked around 6 miles this day! Here are some pictures from our walk from the Eiffel Tower to the Opera. 

 My favorite bridge in Paris decked out in gold.  

My favorite bridge in Paris decked out in gold.  

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 "I love goooooold." - Goldmember  

"I love goooooold." - Goldmember  

 No one seem startled by the smoke. Never heard about what it was.  

No one seem startled by the smoke. Never heard about what it was.  

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We finally made it!  

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 This has to be one of my favorite buildings in Paris. If you know me well, you know my obsession with the Phantom of the Opera. The story was based here.  It is not considered a true story, but many of the events actually happened. Like the chandelier accident. It wasn't the actual chandelier, but two counterweights that fell. There is also a "lake" underneath the opera House! Supposedly a branch of the Seine kept flooding the construction site. They decided to contain the water and build on top of it instead of moving the Opera. AHH!

I could go on and on about it, but enjoy all of our pictures from our visit to Palais Garnier.

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Walking down the Grand Staircase! Also, girl to the right was judging.  

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There it is! Box number 5, the Phantom's Box. Always leave Box number 5 open. 

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"Close your eyes and let the music set you free!"

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 They say box number 5 had a hollow column where the Phantom would watch the plays and ballets from. He hid there so no one could see him. Also, when you peek through the windows the only box that's wasn't lit was box number 5.  

They say box number 5 had a hollow column where the Phantom would watch the plays and ballets from. He hid there so no one could see him. Also, when you peek through the windows the only box that's wasn't lit was box number 5.  

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The Grand Foyer was my favorite part. Completely took my breath away. It was designed after the Palace of Versailles!

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Totally recommend visiting the Opera if you are in Paris. Try to see a show, it is only 15€! We somehow ran out of time. 

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After leaving we walked back home to our enferno. This was just the beginning of what was a horrible experience with AirBnB. I probably won't talk about it much further, but for a quick conclusion she only contacted us once and did not resolve anything. NOT until I contacted AirBnB customer service she contacted us again apologizing and had a friend come by and fix what she could. The window was never repaired. AirBnB gave us $100 for our trouble even though we requested to leave. They wouldn't give us more because they saw Anais was "trying." We reached out to Anais about some kind of refund and we have yet to hear from her a week later. 

6/14

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We walked to it local Starbucks because I was craving a Grande Latte! Again there's an  "e" at the end of my name! 

After spending the day walking around the city and window shopping we decided to grab dinner at a local cafe and it was delicious! We haven't had a bad meal yet. Afterwards we decided to find a bar with live music!

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We found this place called the Celtic Corner. Filled with locals and there was actually a group meeting there for beer and practicing their English!

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6/15

Today is the day we met with Lourdes! Lourdes is a consecrated woman living in Paris! We are helping her with a girls camp planned for the week of 6/19-6/23. 

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On the way to the house we had to find some ice cream. On our walk we noticed a man setting up for a big jump into the Trocadero fountain. It's very shallow. I'm pretty sure he was drunk. 

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After watching this man flail around in the water we continued our hike up to the Regnum Christi house.

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Some of you may not know, but half of our adventure is being spent volunteering.

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During our meeting we learned that we would be teaming up and teaching an English class as well as a cooking class. We also found out who our host family would be. 

After our meeting we walked passed this beautiful bunch of Peonies. They were perfect for our shoot the next day. 

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We spent the rest of the night grooming and prepping for our sunrise session with Margaret Kathleen Photography. We're so thankful to be able to capture our one year anniversary in Paris.    

I'm going to end this post here! It's already too long! Tomorrow I will try to update the following days. Our anniversary photoshoot, meeting new friends, a boat bar on the Seine, and our one year anniversary! 

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Until then, au revoir! 

Love,

The Quintanas

"Shaken not stirred."

Where did we leave off?  

 6/7 

Nico and I decided to spend a couple hours on the beach before jumping on the train to Monaco.  

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Let's just say the last two days in the sun I jumped from Bobbi Brown's Foundation shade Sand #2 to Natural  #4! The south of France is wonderful. We almost didn't make it to Monaco just because we wanted to take it easy on the beach all day. 

I'm so glad we got the energy to get ready and head out to Monaco.  

On the way, we walked through the square during the day. It was bustling with tourists and locals alike. There was also a man singing and performing the Macarena. We later learned he was still performing hours later when we returned! 

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Once we reached the train station I was struck with a splitting migrane.  I was hoping it was just the lack of water and too much sun. So no coffee, we purchased a bottle of water in hopes that would help. 

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After a quick 20 minute train ride we arrived in Monaco and HOLY COW.  

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She's gorgeous. Monaco is a whole new beast compared to Nice. Luxury, luxury, luxury. So. Many. Yachts. 

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I would love to spend the day on that beauty on the left. 

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The buildings and architecture were absolutely stunning. I totally looked like a tourist taking these photos. 

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Nice gave us a little bit of a south beach vibe and Monaco definitely gives off a Hollywood feel. 

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I was trying to ignore the major migrane I had. After a bit of exploring we found a Starbucks. I thought, maybe it's a lack of caffeine.     

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I ordered an Iced Chai Tea. Everyone over here wants to add an "e" at the end of my name.  

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I have fought the misspellings of Meghan, Meagan, Megen , Maygen, etc. Never Megane. 

The migrane was still raging and almost paralyzing. I honestly could barely move. We decided to go on a hunt for a Pharmacie . We googled and it directed us to this beautiful luxurious mall. 

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I mean my heaven. Those chandeliers.  

Unfortunately google misdirected us and we were told to go back up the hill and turn right. Once we found it, we purchased some  Ibuprofen that almost immediately kicked my migrane in the ass. 

We decided to relax in a local park and let the medicine work its magic. 

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I felt much better and it was time to work our way to Monte Carlo Casino. I think on the way I counted 6 Chanel stores. These strange little hubs were luxury stores such as Chanel, Alexander McQueen, Miu Miu, Louis Vuttion, etc. There were so many.  

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We finally reached the Casino! And oh boy, that parking lot! This place was gorgeous. 

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We walked up the stairs and attempted to walk into the Casino. We were rejected. "Madame, Monsieur. No athletic shoes." Damn you Keds! 

This was the start to our next adventure. Finding affordable shoes in Monaco. We weren't going to come all the way here and NOT go to Monte Carlo and throw money away.  

We saw a girl with a Zara bag. Our mission was to find the Zara. We walked all over looking for the store when it was actually right next to the Casino. :( We probably walked an extra 3 miles. Not kidding. 

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It ended up working out because the flats I purchased I will also be wearing for our anniversary pictures this Friday!  

After we purchased our shoes we decided to have a photo opt outside the Monte Carlo and then attempt to go in. 

 

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We walked in with our new shoes on and our old ones in our Zara bag. The man laughed at us, but we didn't care. We were in!  

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She was beautiful. Again the detail and beauty of this building was exquisit. We weren't allowed to take pictures in the Casino, but we played slots and lost. We ordered drinks. Nico had a Moscow Mule and I had the Vodka Martini, "shaken not stirred." 

It was the perfect people watching location.  

As we were enjoying our drinks we watched a lady win multiple times on our slot machine. We decided to throw the drinks back and get out of there.  

Although it was just a few hours in Monaco with a migrane and a witch hunt for affordable shoes we loved every second! 

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Once we left the Casino we realized the time and had to hustle to get to our train. We sped walk to the train station. Once we reached the station we realized our train was already there and boarding. We ran and ran and we barely made it as the doors were closing! 

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Once we arrived back in Nice we had to run home quick to freshen up and get ready for our dinner.   

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We had reservations at a three  Michelin star restaurant Le Sejour Cafe. 

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They were so friendly and it actually felt like you were walking into someone's home. The hostess and waiter were so kind and welcoming.

First things first, we ordered a bottle of wine. 

They have a big menu that is shared with the entire restaurant. Nico ordered the Tartate de Bouef and I order the Risotto de Homard Breton Frais. 

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YUM! 

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This meal was most definitely one of the highlights of our trip and one of the best meals we've had. We were beyond full after our entree and couldn't get dessert. We were so happy rolling out of there. We will definitely be back next time we visit Nice.

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This is a picture of our last night in Nice. We loved our stay here and can't wait to return! We truly wished we had more time spent in the French Riviera! 

Until next time!  

Love, 

 

The Quintanas

 

 

Nice is nice!

6/8

Where do I begin? Visiting Nice, France in the French Riviera has been on my radar for quite sometime. Especially since one of my best friends, Maddie, always spoke so highly of it. Maddie lived there for a few years during her childhood. (SO LUCKY!) 

Getting from Annecy to Nice was an adventure in itself. Has anyone seen the movie, Trains, Planes, and Automobiles?   It's one of my favorites so if you haven't you better get to it! I always get nervous travelling. Nico helped calm me down by making me laugh and quoting the movie. Instead our adventure would be called "trains, planes, and autobus."  We arrived at the train station to catch our bus to Lyon. 

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Don't let the smile fool you. I was a wreck for the entire hour and fifty-two minutes it took to get there. Our driver seemed like an experienced driver, but he was tailing every car we approached and would weave in and out of the lanes. WE WERE IN THE ALPS! It was not a flat highway. There were a ton of steep hills! A woman in front of us was a little more terrified and whole lot more vocal about it. There was an 18 wheeler that was grinding on the guard rail and our bus driver thought it would be safe to tail him until we could get over. The woman was livid and yelling. I was happy she was speaking up. We threw our hands up in unison.

I wanted to kiss the ground when we arrived in Lyon.  

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We had a 4 hour train ride ahead of us. It went pretty quickly. Travelling by train is the way to go. No more buses.  

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When we started to see that gorgeous blue water we perked right up!  

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Once we arrived we took a 10 minute Uber towards the sea! We decided to treat ourselves to an apartment with a sea view. By far the best AirBnB we've ever stayed in. 

Again...the staircase. We huffed and we puffed and somehow dragged out 50+ pound bags up. 

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Once we reached the top it was all worth it. 

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and the best part.

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We were actually speechless. Our host also named, Nicolas, showed us around the place and gave us a bottle of Rosè. 

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We dropped our bags and opened that baby right up!

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We decided to walk down the street and get some groceries and grab a pizza to go. Oh and another bottle of Rosè of course! We just wanted to sit on our deck all night. 

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It doesn't look very pretty, but it was AMAZING!  

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6/9

After a night in, we woke up the next day and had the most peaceful morning coffee. 

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We didn't have major plans. We took this trip day by day. We decided to stop by the local boulangerie for a fresh baguette. We planned to pack a lunch and spend the day on the beach. 

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We picked up sunscreen on the way back. 17€!!!! For this. Hawaiian tropic. Meh. 

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 Yum! 

Yum! 

We were warned the beach has rocks instead of sand. Pretty uncomfortable at first, but honestly you get used to it. 

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Time for more Rosè! 

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After hours spent at the beach we decided to head home and freshen up. We needed to explore this city we were falling in love with so quickly.  

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 #ilovenice

#ilovenice

The streets are lined with flowers and old, beautiful architecture.

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This was one of my favorite buildings. 

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After strolling around for a little we decided to grab some dinner. They have this little market area lined with artisans and restaurants.  

We chose this restaurant based off their happy hour selection! 

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 Yum! Yum! Yum! 

Yum! Yum! Yum! 

There were armed military men all over the place. It honestly made me feel very safe knowing they were patrolling the area.  

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After dinner we wanted to keep strolling around.  

We found Lady Liberty!

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The square!  So. Much. Shopping. 

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The weather couldn't have been more perfect. We continued our exploration, aimlessly wandering the streets of this enchanting city for a few hours. 

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Next day: Monaco! Let's just say Nico and I didn't win big at Monte Carlo Casino, but that will have to be another post. 

Until next time!

love,  

The Quintanas  

 

The Old Town and Lac d'Annecy

6/6

This morning we woke up to a crazy thunderstorm. The wind was wailing and we could hear something pelting against our windows. I took a peek and at first I though it was sleeting, but I then realized it was hail! It stormed and rained for a few hours cutting into our paddle boating plans. 

Once the weather cleared Nico and I decided to walk through the city today and check out the local bakery that was suggested by our AirBnB hosts. On our way we found so many beautiful canals. Supposedly Annecy is nicknamed the "Venice of The Alps."   

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You can see why! Water everywhere! Annecy is surprisingly very touristy. Although busy, people really take their time here. They're enjoying every bit of this city's beauty. We found it's quite hard to find an open bench to sit on and relax. 

It was finally time to go pick up my new dress for our dinner cruise tonight!  

 

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Isn't she a beauty? It was hard to not go crazy and drop lots of money in this store! It's so cute. Naf Naf is a woman's clothing store located all over France.  

After freshening up it was time to head to the boat.

 We love a good dinner cruise.  

We love a good dinner cruise.  

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When we had purchased our tickets we bought the "Dragonfly" package. Appetizer, entree, and desert. When we arrived there were two menus. Struggling to understand what we were looking at we asked our waiter  if the two menus were all of our options for dinner? He responded saying, "yes those are your options and there's no difference between the two menus."

So we ordered what we wanted.  

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 fried escargot  

fried escargot  

 Salmon appetizer  - so good! 

Salmon appetizer  - so good! 

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Nico ordered Froie Gras (duck fat) 

 Fish of the day (not sure what it was, but it was YUM!) veggies, and legumes

Fish of the day (not sure what it was, but it was YUM!) veggies, and legumes

 Nico ordered pork, carrots and sweet potatoes - DELISH! 

Nico ordered pork, carrots and sweet potatoes - DELISH! 

We really had the opportunity to see the whole lake while were in the cruise. 

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We were on cloud nine. Hard to believe what we were looking at was right in front of us. Then unfortunately we had to deal with a little situation regarding the bill.  

Our waiter brought out a cheese plate before our dessert. I knew immediately something was wrong because the cheese plate was only in the highest packaged dinner. Nico walked up to our waiter and mentioned that we didn't order this and we wanted to make sure we ordered the right package.

Basically, long story short (there's a whole lot of back and forth that happened,) we ordered one appetizer and one entree off of the "highest package menu." Remember how I said there were two menus at our table setting and our waiter said there was no difference? Well there was, there was a 60€ difference. We were told there was nothing that could be done because we ordered off that menu. Yup. We were played. Kind of ruined the rest of the ride for us. 

Dessert came out and it was wrong, but it was ice cream so we didn't care. We didn't want to bring up another problem. We were just ready to get off.  

 

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Overall the ride was beautiful and well worth it. Just make sure your waiter knows what package you purchased when getting your tickets so you don't end up spending way more that you thought.  

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6/7

Nico and I spent our last day in Annecy on the Lake. I swear the view never gets old! 

We decided to pack a lunch to eat on the water or in the park. 

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We walked around the lake a decided what we wanted to do. We knew we wanted to get on the water somehow! Whether it was a boat tour or paddle boats. 

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Lunch on the lake it is! We rented a paddle boat and enjoyed our meal, the view and the weather! 

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After an hour or so on the water we wanted to check out the other side of the lake. There is a beach called Imperial Beach! Our hosts highly recommending going there for drinks. 

On the way we had to get some ice cream! 

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 The birds have no fear. They get so close to you. This little guy wanted the last bit of my cone.  

The birds have no fear. They get so close to you. This little guy wanted the last bit of my cone.  

Along the way we came across this beautiful swan! Picturesque!

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When we arrived at the beach it wasn't nessisarily a "beach" you'd think of. There was a lot of grass and a swimming area. There were also playgrounds, putt-putt courses, restaurants, bars, and volleyball courts. There were tons of people laying out on the grass. We didn't realize it was a topless beach! It was super family-oriented. Kids everywhere. 

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We decided to head over the bar and lounge and get a few drinks.

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Nico and I ended up hanging out at the bar for a few hours and just soaked it all in. It was the perfect last day! We enjoyed every bit of our trip and can't wait to return to Annecy!  

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Love,  

The Quintanas  

Inception: A vacation within a vacation.

6/4

After the terrible events at the London Bridge and Borough Market, fear took over us. I didn't sleep the night of and it hindered our plans to see the Eiffel Tower. We decided to stear clear of large crowds for the day and stay local. 

There's this famous crepe restaurant called "A P'Tit Grec." Every time we walked passed it the line was out the door and down the street long! This day was no exception. This picture was taken after standing in line for 20 minutes. 

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Let me tell you, it was well worth the wait! We both ordered jambon, fromage, oignons, laitue et tomate. It was MY idea to get a Nutella, banane et amande crepe. Nico was worried we'd be too full. HA! It was quite possibly the best idea I've ever had. IT WAS DELISH! 

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Is your mouth watering yet? This baby literally kept us full the rest of the day.  

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That's it. We were spent. The day would typically be considered boring, but we enjoyed each other's company and watching the city go by. 

It was our last night in Paris for a week.  As we packed, cleaned, and prepped for our train ride to Annecy we were watching the Ariana Grande's One Love Manchester concert. It was moving and I can't help but cry thinking of the pain all these victims and victims families have had to endure. 

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6/5

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I borrowed this picture from google since I didn't have a chance to take a picture of our train station. It was beautiful! We departed from Gard du Lyon.  

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I read reviews online about how horrible the sinage was at this station and that it was hard to find your train. Not the case at all. Basically you follow the crowd. They all stand and stare at the boards to see what voie or platform your train is scheduled at. Once it's announced they all run like a herd of cattle to their assigned train. It seems that trains are assigned at the last minute. 

We wanted to be sure we knew what we were doing so we got there an hour early instead of the suggested 5 minutes. :) 

Lattes and a croissant were calling our names since we arrived at the station at 7am, 1am EST. 

 Still not used to the time difference.  

Still not used to the time difference.  

Before we knew it, it was time to go! We ran with our crowd to catch the train. Suddenly I had a pain behind my knee. (getting old) It almost felt like it needed to be stretched. I'm almost 100% sure I have a pinched nerve in my lower back or left hip. 

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Besides my left leg tingling and wanting to go numb the train was super comfortable! I highly recommend travelling the country by train if possible!

 The train was surprisingly pretty empty!  

The train was surprisingly pretty empty!  

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The view was beautiful! Even if I wanted to sleep I couldn't. I was in awe of the French country side! 

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Once we arrived in Annecy we had a brisk 10 minute walk to our AirBnB! 

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Annecy is easily one of the most charming, storybook cities I've ever seen. Immediately my mind started singing "little town, it's a quiet village, everyday like the one before. Little town, full of little people waking up to say, Bonjour! Bonjour! bonjour! Bonjour!" Nico and I are staying in the "Old Town." Many of the streets are for pedestrians only. They're all cobblestone and narrow.

We dropped our bags off at our apartment since it was still being cleaned. I wanted to head straight for Château d’Annecy, the little castle that guards over the old town.

HUGE DISAPPOINTMENT. It's under construction. 😫 Bummer.

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Other than that this city is perfection.  

 We had to stop in for a prayer.  

We had to stop in for a prayer.  

 We were blown away.

We were blown away.

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Seriously. Add Annecy on your lists of places to visit. We can't wait to explore more of this beautiful city. It feels like we're on a vacation from a vacation.  

We decided to grab a sandwich and eat by Lac d'Annecy. We talked plans of a dinner cruise and paddle boats tomorrow or Wednesday depending on the weather! 

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I'll take this view any day! 

We decided to head back to the apartment and get settled. On the way back I stopped in a few boutiques (poor Nico) and found the most gorgeous egg blue crochet dress. Planning to go pick it up tomorrow! 😍 Just wait until you see it!

After a few stops we finally made it to our building. Little did we know we signed up for an apartment with a crazy staircase again!  

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But what was waiting for us at the top was worth the climb. It's the perfect little studio. Tres chic!  

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They even surprised us with a bottle of wine and a sweet note. 

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We keep taking turns asking, "are we really here?" It feels like a dream. Oh and Nico came up with the title of this blog. Haha! Make sure you show him some love for it.

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Our street is lively and entertaining! As I'm writing this I'm listening to a drum player and watching a crowd of people dancing. I feel like we need to get down there and join them! 

Thanks to Nico's massages I'm feeling much better, but I'm going to take it easy so we can go full speed ahead tomorrow! 

Au revoir! 

The Quintanas