Bonjour & many cheers from across the pond, Ravens!
Joanna Listino - August 9, 2016
If you haven't had the pleasure of traveling to Europe, Ravens, I highly recommend you begin to research doing so. There is a wonderful feeling, unlike any other, when you stroll the cobblestone streets of a historic city and allow yourself to absorb the culture. The next time you visit a new city, allow yourself some quiet time to explore with your own thoughts. Walk around, scope out your surroundings, talk to the locals, and allow yourself to take it all in.
Paris was an exceptional experience this past weekend. I decided very last minute to join a friend I met on this trip who was traveling alone and looking for a buddy to join her; so I happily obliged. We had no set itinerary, but agreed once we arrived to sail wherever the wind took us. I've discovered that is the ultimate way to travel when you have the flexibility. With apps like 'Hotel Tonight,' I had the ability to book my hotels for London and Paris on the fly, and the rates were quite low! And Uber was a true godsend that allowed us the ability zip about with no fuss at all.
So here's the skinny on Paris: it's breathtaking. I am sure over the years you have heard people complain that "the French hate Americans" and "how rude they are to us." Let me just tell you from experience: don't listen to the haters. Yes, sometimes you will have an awkward interaction if you don't speak the language—but that can happen anywhere! If you speak slowly, and are polite, you will have no issues at all! In fact, we met some wonderful people! Do not let what other people say deter you from seeing the world—No. Matter. What. Everyone is different and will have unique experiences wherever they go.
The food in Paris was absolutely delightful. I couldn't eat enough charcuterie, croissants, drink enough delicious wines and espresso, and let me tell you—I could spend hours listening to Parisians in conversation; what a beautiful language French is. So we ate, we drank, and we saw all that we could in two days: the Eiffel Tower, the Arc De Triomphe, Notre Dame, sailed the Siene River, got tickets to Moulin Rogue, and strolled leisurely through the Louvre. Truth be told, it was difficult for us to drag ourselves to the train on Sunday and head back to London. I will absolutely be returning to the city of love.
Upon our return to London, we decided to board the London Eye for 360-view of the city and tour the neighboring London Dungeon. We snapped some awesome photos, drank a few pints, and had ourselves a grand ole time. But in the evening, it was time to travel back to Oxford and join our pals for a late dinner. After some weekend recapping, much laughter, as always, and of course more mediocre English bites, it was time to collapse into bed.
Today was our last day at Christ Church and it is with a bittersweet feeling I begin to pack my belongings for our departure. We spent our final day touring the Hook Norton brewery, located about an hour outside of Oxford in Cotswolds. The tour guides were knowledgeable, jovial, chaps that made our experience a great one. We learned, laughed, and sipped on some of their finest beer selections. It was a nice way to end our travels together. I have met, traveled with, and made friends with some truly outstanding people on this journey and I look forward to continuing our adventures when back in the states.