Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Where I've Been


Phew, has the month of May (that is now long gone apparently) been a whirlwind.

As my lovely followers know, January through April I am dead to the world with TAXES, and then this little blog o' mine usually picks up in May once I've regained consciousness. 

So, I came back, crafting with a vengeance after said consciousness was regained. I whipped up a few much needed accessories for my crafting life, including a crochet hook roll and a knitting needle roll. HOPEFULLY, I will get around to my double-pointed needle roll, circular needle roll, and a crocheting/knitting accessory case whenever I can get to my fabric shop and pick up some more of that pretttyyyy red and black sketchbook floral print used in my first two rolls. 

With all that said ... for 10 glorious days in the middle of May, I made a very impromptu* jaunt across the pond to Europe for the first time!!!
* defined here as "with less than a week notice"

Hubby had the chance to go to France for business and I thought, hold on there is no way you are going to Europe without me, especially when we haven't been on vacation since our honeymoon (almost 3 years ago)!

So with him I went.

Here is a run down of my trip. You guys know me. I am an accountant, I breathe statistics and itineraries (just ask our wedding party about the wedding weekend itinerary, apparently it was funny). They are the only possible way that I could begin to sum up the trip because I took so few pictures and basically the whole trip was a blur. 

Saturday May 11th

- Arrived in Geneve, Switzerland with Husband

- We picked up our cute little black Renault wagon rental car in Switzerland and climbed up from the Swiss Alps to the French Alps on our way from Geneve, Switzerland to Annecy, France. We weren't sure how to pay tolls and didn't really want to learn, so we set our GPS to no tolls scenic route and totally went for it. Driving through Switzerland and France was a BREEZE. If you have the time, take only the scenic routes. They were amazing. Phenomenal. Unbelievable. Breathtaking. They were all of those things. The little towns. The meticulously maintained gardens. Goats. White and beige cows everywhere (no brown or black, weird?). FRUIT TREES EVERYWHERE. Poplars. Flowering everything all the time. 

- We spent the day touring Annecy, a quaint little apline town so filled with history and amazing architecture. The best way I can describe the feel of the town is what A Swiss Venice in France. That doesn't make any sense until you've been there.

(Our hotel -- Privilodges Le Royal)

 (My cute Husband)

 (An amazinggggg crepe with tomatoes, ham, zucchini, and herb de provence)

(The town REALLY looks like this. I did not make up. See what I mean... a little Swiss Venice? The Alps in the background? AMAZINGGGG!!)

(Yes this was my actual real life!!)

 Sunday May 12th
(AKA the Day I Sprained my Ankle)

- This day can very easily be summed up by one photo ...


Monday May 13th 

- Hubby went to work for the day so after a few hours drowning my sorrows in copious cups of coffe and watching the French MTV, I decided I had to suck it up, throw back some pain killers, and get sight-seeing. 

- I actually didn't like Grenoble at all. SORRY. I didn't really give it a chance, but coming from Annecy where everything is gorgeous and amazing, Grenoble is just a little different and very much more a city than Annecy. It did have some VERY cute areas and cafes. I found one and promptly started drinking and crocheting to take away the pain.

 - On Monday night we had an AMAZING meal at a restaurant that served traditional Savoyard food. Our evening consisted of lots of wine, charcuterie, one of the most amazing cheese dishes that could possibly be consumed, RACLETTE!

 (Regionally made cheese called Raclette was served in the contraption that had a copper heating element which heats, melts, and crisps up the cheese which you then slice off and eat with potatoes (traditionally) or just eat the cheese straight up. IT WAS AMAZING!!!!!!!)

Tuesday May 14th

- Hubby had to work near Grenoble for the next few days, so I left him AND WENT TO PARISSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS! Just to give you guys some perspective, this was my train station in Grenoble which is very literally nestled in the French Alps. How beautiful.

- Some of my very best memories were my train rides. They were so picturesque! The French countryside is truly a sight to see. I can't even explain it. I also got some quality time with my crocheting :)

- As soon as I got to Paris I met up with my wonderful hosts Perinne & Giuseppe (who I found on airbnb.com) and was greeted with a lovely note from Perrine and some Bordeaux from only a few hours away that was AMAZING and now I am hooked!

 (View of the Eiffel Tower from my room!)

- I almost forgot to mention this ... the place I was staying was up 7 flights of stairs on a spiral staircase. Mind you ... I knew this before I booked the room but had no problem with it, until, I sprained my ankle. 


- I was staying on the border between the 9th and 18th Arr. in the Red Light District (woops!) so my first venture around Paris was to go to La Butte Monmartre which is one of the most famous and memorable places I visited.  Monmarte was exactly how I dreamed of a typical Parisian neighborhood. Winding streets. Secret Vineyards. Cobblestones. Gardens EVERYWHERE and ANYWHERE physically possible. Breathtaking beauty around every turn, really.
(View from the top of La Butte Monmartre, amazing views of Paris!)

 (Basilica of the Sacré Cœur)

 (Elevating my leg considering was in an aircast and could barely walk)

(I kept getting lost and actually had to walk down all of these stairs from the top of La Butte Monmartre, it was torture!!)

- After my travels through Monmartre, I was in desperate need for some comfort food so I ducked into this great restaurant and grabbed myself some Onion Soup ... FYI ... this is NOT called French Onion Soup in France. If you ask for French Onion Soup you WILL look like an asshole. It happens ... 

 Wednesday May 15th
(Otherwise known as the DAY OF FOOD)
- I had no immediate or really even future plans to go to Paris. Once I got there, I had like no idea what to do.  So, I made a list of all of the things I wanted to eat, circled them on a map, and went to as many as I could find. It really was the only thing that made sense to me.
- I also did some sight-seeing on my way in between food destinations 

 (Opera House)

 (The Louvre)

 (The Louvre)

 (Laduree - the best French macaroons in the world!)

(So I naturally got a box containing 1 of each amazing concoction they had and later that evening I took a bite from each. THE VANILLA MACAROON WAS THE ABSOLUTE BEST MACAROON ON EARTH. GO GET ONE RIGHT NOW)

(Jacques Genin - famous for their caramels! I sprung for a bag of 20 natural caramels and 20 mango passion fruit caramels. THEY WERE BEYOND UNBELIEVABLE BEYOND MY WILDEST DREAMS. I would not be lying if I said that Chris only got 1 caramel, total. "Sorry I'm not sorry")

 (I got a Baguette Monge from the famous Eric Kayser)

 (And traveled far and wide for some Bordier Butter that is supposed to be the best butter in the world (handchurned by children in Brittany or something) and sat on a bench like a true Parisian eating my bread and butter)

 (You have absolutely no idea how close I was to going in and buying a bag. I bought my first Louis in January in the city and I soooo would have waited had I know that I would be going to Paris!)

 (Arc de Triomphe)

 (As if I have to tell you what this is .... the Eiffel Tower!!!!!)

 (The smallest shop in Paris, possibly in the world. Literally it was 40 square feet and served cupcakes that were just as tiny and cute, plus the girls spoke English so I was just happy to talk to someone, I don't even like cupcakes!)

 (I opted for the lemon cupcake and it was heavenly)

Thursday May 16th
(Also known as the day I got hancuffed)
- The day started off promising. The sun was shining. My ankle was about 1/2 the size it was compared to Monday and Tuesday (which still left is 4000% larger than average). I started off my morning with an AMAZING rendition of a classic french breakfast item ... a Croque Madame ... which is french bread (obvi) topped with ham, gruyere, and a fried egg. PHENOMENAL. No, for the record, I didn't finish the whole thing. Now I am regretting it immensely, however. 

- It was my last day in Paris. Actually I lied, the sun wasn't shining that much, it was kind of rainy even though  I am not sure you can tell from the photos.

- My last day was spent at a place I searched and searched for, just knowing in my heart of hearts that it had to exist in Paris. It is called Le Viaduc des Arts. What do you think it is? A little piece of crafty Heaven! Le Viaduc des Artes is a very long street lined with what seemed like 1 building that went on for miles. This building housed about 65 little shops, that all had street facing storefronts. All craft shops! I knew that I wanted to get souvenirs and other presents but only wanted to get things that were either food or from local craftsmen and women and it worked! I spent my last hours in Paris in the 12th Arr. meeting so many wonderful artisans and their assistants. I met an Umbrella refurbisher, jewelers, metalsmiths, painters, etc. It was amazing. 

- My last Cafe Creme ... accompanied by some Jacques Genin caramels.

 - Ok. Here it is. The Story of My Life. 

I'm in a train station in Paris. Gare de 'Est I think. IIt is 3:15 and my train is supposed to leave at 4. I am going to Germany to visit My Sweet Charli and her Momma (my close friend Tricia who is VERY pregnant with my soon-to-be second Godchild), and her husband. I will be with them my entire visit in Germany and then I will be heading right to Geneve to meet back up with Chris. So I take my sweet little time around a chocolate shop, get some more treats (as if that was even necessary at this point in my bender) and spent the last few euro I have on me. 

Well. My train gets cancelled and we all have to somehow fit on the next train that is not for several hours. I am irritated. Oh well. Nothing a little beer can't cure. I head to the German bar in the train station to get in the mindset of my destination country. I order a pretzel and a beer because at this point it has been like 6 hours since I've eaten and I am hungry. And bored. But hungry too. 

I take a little sip of my beer while the dude is cashing me out at the register. Eek my credit card won't work. Not a problem, I brought a visa, mastercard, and AMEX, all which have been working swimmingly during my trip. No, they aren't maxed out I am not a moron. Yes, of course I called the credit card companies before I left to tell them I'd be in Europe, again I am not a moron. Ok credit card number 2 doesn't work. Let's try the Amex. Nope, nothing. Dude behind the bar proceeds to try all of my credit cards several times. 

45 minutes pass of this dude trying my credit cards, yelling at me, laughing about me with other customers around the bar (ALL OF WHOM ARE VERY INVOLVED IN OUR DISCUSSIONS YET NONE OF WHOM OFFERED TO COUGH UP THE 3 EURO FOR MY "MEAL"). 

Dude behind the bar starts screaming for the police. SCREAMING. 

Apparently all of the police were predisposed at the moment, so these two HUGE African-American (African-French??) men in camouflage with assault rifles come RUNNING TOWARDS ME. 

I am like ... uhh... ok. 

They grab me by the arms, flip me over, throw me against the bar and handcuff me.

My chocolate goes everywhere.

I got cuffed. 

But given the circumstances and the consideration that I had no money, no phone, no working credit cards, and, oh yeah, I DON'T SPEAK FRENCH, I just started crying like the dumb American that I am.

I was literally helpless. And still none of the 12 men around the bar offered to pay 3 euro for my meal. I guess I understand that it isn't really their responsibility. But, that would NEVER happen in America.

Also -- sidenote -- the military men DO NOT- in fact - accept chocolate as payment. Even the finest Parisian chocolate worth hundreds of dollars will not do. No, no.

Eventually the men in uniform started yelling at the a-hole dude behind the bar and I have absolutely no clue what was said, but the hot men in uniform threw their hands into the air (with frustration I presume) and uncuffed me. 

I gathered my chocolate and got as far away as possible from everything and waited all the way outside in the cold for my train. No beer. No pretzel. But no arrest either so I guess I got off easy. 

Moral of the story --- have all denominations of cash on you at all times and lots of it because God only knows when your credit cards will all mysteriously stop working at the same time (sarcasm).

- I eventually got on my train. I actually had to sit in first class because there weren't enough seats for everyone in coach. HOWEVER .... the stewardesses refused to serve me food or alcohol because I wasn't officially first class, so the other 5 people I was seated with in our little private first class room were served dinner and drinks while I had to sit there and watch. At that point in the train ride we were all rather friendly with eachother, so everyone kept telling me to just buy a drink ... well I didn't really want to say to them "I have no euro on me and none of my credit cards work" so I just said that I wasn't in the mood to drink. I have never spoken a more false statement in my life. Oh well. 

Friday May 17th
(The Day I spent in the Hospital)
- I went to Germany to visit my veryyyy good friend Tricia, her Husband Zach, and my Goddaughter Charli. Welllllll, it just so happens that Tricia was about 37 weeks pregnant with my second Goddchild, Adam. 
- At approximately 9:30 in the morning on Friday, Tricia went into labor. 3 weeks early. 

- I spent the next 24 hours in and out of the hospital with Charli in tow, awaiting the arrival of baby Adam. 

- He was born an hour before I had to leave for Geneve.

- I got to hold him the entire 10 minutes before I left. 
- I forgot to mention that I was supposed to leave at 6pm Friday night by my flight was cancelled and I was forced to take a train the next day. Can you say fate?  Had I taken that flight I would have missed seeing Adam.

- The baby literally went from Mommy to Daddy to Godmamma (me).

- It was amazing and my girlfriend Tricia is a Rockstar. 

- I eventually got my German pretzel

- My trip ended with a beyond amazing train ride from Kaiserslautern, Germany to Geneve, Switzerland. I would pay for a flight to Europe just to take the train from city to city because words cannot accurately depict the views from the train. My trip from K-town to Geneve was particularly unbelievable because I was on the left side of the train, going south-ish, which meant my direct views were backyard wineries, lakes, and the Alps.

It was very diffcult to take pictures because I was on a bullet train, which apparently moves faster than the speed of light.

For the record, in the pictures below, you should see a backyard winery, a gorgeous lake, and THE ALPS in the background. Those aren't clouds, those are the Alps. 

- We had a wicked cute hotel room in Geneve and ending the trip with an amazing meal.


I snapped this picture for you on the way to the airport back to the States. I thought you crafters out there would appreciate it :) 

General Statistics:
- Croissants eaten (4)
- Croque Madames eaten with a vengence (1)
- Macarons eaten (16)
- Caramels happily consumed (18)

- Baguette Monges ripped into shreds on and eaten with butter on the streets of Paris (2)
- Bottles of French (obvi) wine drank without regard for time or place (8)
- Train rides (6)
- Metro rides (5)
- Cab rides (3)
- Plane flights (4)
- Bus rides taken (5)
- Miles walked with a limp in Paris (~12)
- Flights of stairs I climbed to my room in Paris = 7 flights per trip at 4 trips per day = 28 flights per day for 3 days = (84)
- Hospital visits (2)
- Limbs injured (1)
- Cafe Cremes drank with a smile in a Parisian cafe (17)
- Cafe au Laits consumed before I knew that a Cafe Creme was my drink of choice (2)
- Crochet hooks lost on public transit somewhere (2)
- Granny Squares completed - more on that in posts to come! (34)
- Times I got cuffed (1)
- Times I had others arrested for harassing me and trying to screw me over, which I didn't even mention here because I *tried* to talk about only happy things (1)
- Glasses of Parisian tap water drank during meals (117), yes (117)
- Run-ins with extremely welcoming and helpful French men and women (~75)
- Run-ins with the rudest of rude Frenchies (<5) I know, I was delighted it wasn't more
- Times I got lost in Paris because I was using a wildly incomplete and inaccurate map (>50)
- Times I sat on the streets of Paris and cried, literally (2)
- Instances where I spoke Spanish when talking to a Parisian because I didn't know French (4)
- French words mispronounced (~200), or, every time I spoke
- Serious conversations had with myself about never going home and moving to France forever (3)
- Meals eaten alone in a restaurant and I was surprisingly OK with it ... mainly because I was making these tally charts (14)
- Children I wanted to tranquilize on public transportation (3)
- Instances where I walked directly into and out of a bathroom without going because it was just a hole in the floor and I am just not that cultured (2)
- Times I got scolded by a shop owner for touching the goods/products in a store (6), apparently I am toucher, who knew?
- Times I was on the autobahn (4)
- Godchildren I had before I went to Germany (1)
- Godchildren I had by the time I left Germany (2)
- European countries visited (3)
- Belgian men I met who invited me and my husband to stay with him and his wife in their 17th CENTURY estate they are restoring (1)
- Times I was so thankful to be an American and couldn't wait to go back to my home (~1,000)
- Regrets (0)
- Well, actually, that's a lie. I regret spending all my damn Euro on chocolate.

C'est la vie.



  1. this is the best blog yet lol i love the pix of charli and adam and the summation at the end hahahaha - sublime! come back for round two, sans legal issues, anytime!
    The Rockstar :)

  2. I think there's a book in this trip, Lauren! What adventures you had! I was with you every step, wondering what would happen next and smiling from ear to ear as I read the point by point recap. LOL

    Sounds like an amazing, unforgettable trip. Glad you survived and a wee bit envious over the sights, the food, the sweet godchildren and the chocolates. ;o)

    Thanks for your brilliant post. Now I feel as if I've travelled across the pond. ;o)

  3. Overall, I think it was a nice trip. You should come again and visit Europe.