Bonjour fellow travelers and readers! As you can see; we have made it up the 107 stairs and back down again, as well as all around France and a good part of England. We are back and can’t wait to tell you all about it. Yes, you are right, it has taken me what feels like a million years to finish this post, but we have had A Lot going on in the meantime. Our trip was in April, but as you will see we have been very busy.
Ps…we found Vegan Chocolate Croissants; so if nothing else I say interests you; just know that!
Now that we are finally back into a semi normal groove, I can sit here with coffee in hand (yes I am drinking 1 cup per day, no judging!) and daydream a little bit about our European adventure.
After layering with 3-4 sweaters each and sweating all the way through security; I was both happy and disappointed to realize that the airline did not weigh our bags. We chose to do carry on only with our brand new Tortuga backpacks. The only caveat was that the carry on could not weigh more than 22 pounds in combination with your personal item (ie, purse, camera). The backpack itself weighed about five pounds, so yes, that means we could each only pack seventeen pounds of clothing/shoes for two weeks! If you have ever even seen me pack for a weekend; you should honestly be very impressed.
Compared to our honeymoon trip to Bali, the 6-7 hour flight didn’t feel so bad at all. We arrived in Paris at about 10am the next day, exhausted and ready to make the trek to our Air BNB. The majority of the airport wasn’t that bad to navigate until we reached train station portion. We had to take a specific train and we quickly realized that this would not be as easy as your regular subway. As to be expected, everything was in French and the signs were not clear with their directions and arrows. Our backs were already burning from carrying our packs and the lack of sleep was not helping at all. After much deliberation, we picked a set of stairs and boarded that train. To our delight; this ended being the right one.
When we arrived; the view as we exited the train station felt like a movie scene. The sun was shining and all of the buildings were breathtakingly beautiful. The architecture was not of this time and unlike anything we had seen before. Everywhere we walked, we saw cafes with people drinking espresso, eating bread, and smoking cigarettes. Amanda did her best to navigate to our destination; but this was not an easy task as we later realized that the audio portion and the visual portion of google maps were telling us opposite directions. This meant that we probably walked for an extra 30-40 minutes more to find our Air BNB than we really should have.
The next adventure was the 107 stairs that I had been worried about. Truth be told, I only practiced on my own stairs at home maybe two to three times. The real stairs were dark, old, and spiral. We let our host lead the way so I could stop on the landings to take a breath. Not bad for a 6 month pregnant woman, if I do say so myself. The studio ended up being a bit smaller than we had originally anticipated and the ladder a bit uncomfortable. However; it was a great choice as the location was exactly what we needed and it did the trick.
Just picture this, but going up a million times!
This picture is in the Air BNB just mentioned after a very long day full of walking. Doesn’t she look cute like a burrito?!
Paris at night was beautiful.
Finding new food is one of our favorite things to do when we are traveling. However; we realized very quickly that most Parisians were not willing or happy to speak English. We tried to use what phrases we knew; but this seemed to make people more annoyed. As a general rule, the French didn’t seem to be mean, just not friendly. This made going to restaurants that were not vegan a bit more difficult. Usually, we would be able to ask questions/make changes on a menu; but with the language barrier this was not as easy. This meant that we would primarily stick to vegan/vegetarian restaurants. The only issue with this is that being vegan is not yet huge in France and the restaurants that we could find ended up being reservation only. After a bit of planning, we did find a few hat we loved. Some of the highlights were VG Patisserie, Cloud Cakes Abattoir Vegetal, and Cafe Vert. VG Patisserie was a completely vegan bakery full of freshly made chocolate croissants, coffee, and any other indulgence you could think of. Cafe Vert hosted a beautiful 3-4 course brunch with the sunlight shining in; and Abattoir Vegetal had unique entrees in a eclectic atmosphere. These were located in a mix of Paris as well as the South of France.
The first photo is one of the beautiful courses from my birthday brunch. The second photo is a vegan cheese/ charcuterie plate; and the third was our vegan hot dog adventure at Hot Vog.
Amanda’s favorite phrase in France was “un baguette si vous plais”. This ended up being one of the only phrases we really knew, but also one that was easily understood with no questions asked. Their was amazing bread everywhere, so we were happy to at least be able to say Bonjour and ask for a baguette.
Obligatory Eiffel Tower photo
Lastly, the Notre Dame. I am grateful to say that we were fortunate enough to have visited the Notre Dame before it caught on fire. We had been there about two days prior to the tragic event. Having originally planned on just admiring the outside; we had a change of heart and decided to head inside. We’re so glad we did. It was a beautiful place. Paris was full of good bread, to many stairs, and beautiful sites. However; a few days there was plenty and we were eager to see the south and the coast.
We rented a tiny Fiat and it was perfect for what we needed. It was amazing to drive through the countryside on our own time and pace. This allowed for random stops at odd cafes and small towns. We visited Aix en Provence, Lyon, and Marseilles.
Aix en Provence
While each had its own beauty, Marseilles, the oldest city in France, was on the water and our Air BNB was a beautifully decorated room with a rooftop terrace. We saw a beautiful beach and really relaxed before our trek to England next.
After a week of managing the French subway with little to no communication with other humans; a young English man on the tube approached us almost immediately to ask if we needed help figuring out the map etc. We were so shocked by this that we almost ignored him. This was great start to our week in England.
We found our first Air BNB there late at night and it was perfect. This was a “tiny home” created from a garden shed and was located in someones backyard. It was beautifully decorated and more than peaceful.
Everyday after this, we would find our way to the tube or a red city bus to find our adventure. We saw Big Ben (which we almost couldn’t recognize due to scaffolding lol), the London Eye, Hyde Park, Covenant Garden, Picadilly Circus, and Amanda surprised me with a night cruise. Their was so much to do. England ended up being our favorite part of our trip. The people were kind, the weather was warm and sunny; and the food was AMAZING! Their was vegan food everywhere and cool things to do!
The photo to the right was a slightly hidden garden/hangout area with a local band, a bar, snacks, a lot of weed, and many friendly people. It was kind of an amazing place to be; although we only stayed for a short time and did not partake in the activities.
Our favorite part had to be Camden Market; or sometimes called Camden Lock. Camden Market is an open market, open everyday, filled with food stalls, local shops, and lots of people. It also happens to be located on a quaint river way that attracts all types. We ate along side both tourists and locals who really seemed to be enjoying themselves. Camden is known to attract a bit of an “alternative” crowd and it was honestly wonderful to see so many different types of people in one place.
People would grab something delicious from the market, or even just a beer; and sit by the river or take a stroll; watching the house boats, tourist boats, and cute ducks swim by. The market seemed endless and was filled with more vegan options than I have ever seen in one place in my 7+ years of being vegan. We had sandwiches, Banoffee Pie (our new obsession), arepas, burgers, ice cream; and so much more!
Regents Canal (where you would walk to see the boats and ducks) , Tripadvisor.com
One of our favorite places was Rudy’s Dirty Vegan Diner.
If you were sitting at Rudy’s picnic tables; you were only allowed to eat food that was vegan. While we were eating a bowl of loaded fries, a gentleman was asked to leave due to his foot long meat hot dog. He took it well and understood. I can’t even begin to describe to you how many different things we ate; but we visited here at least two to three times during the week.
This was the home of the Banoffee pie!
Although the food was a major highlight of our trip, we also met some amazing people and saw some beautiful things. One of our favorites was getting to see the Lion King on Broadway in London! The costumes were bright and so creative; and the actors/actresses very very talented. We were so happy to be able to experience this.
As I mentioned, we have been pretty busy these last few months. Our condo is finally done (minus some much needed art work); and it is officially on Air BNB. Please check it out and share it with your friends!
On top of this, our baby is due in three weeks (our baby is the size of a Romaine ❤,) and lastly…..we bought a business with two other wonderful humans!!! Yayyyy! While I won’t tell you all of the details about this just yet (next blog post to be posted very soon all about our business); we were so excited to meet local entrepreneurs in both France and England. We are hoping to add some of those unique products to our shop. In the meantime; take a look at our website, Bonafide Green Goods.
Looking forward to sharing more very soon!
All you need is a suitcase and a playlist.
A & M