Pere Lachaise

On my second to last day in Paris I went to one of the most famous cemetaries in Paris, Pere Lachaise. Pere Lachaise is a gorgeous old cemetary; most people know it for some of the famous people burried there: Oscar Wilde, Edith Pilaf, and Jim Morisson.

I walked around the entire cemetary and was shocked when I wandered by Jim Morrison's grave. It was packed with people! There were at least 20 or 30 people hanging out there. I know I have the musical intellegence of a porcupine but I can't name a single song by The Doors. I saw so many beatiful stained glass windows, old grave stones, and met a 11 kilo cat names Fifi while there. I wonder how many people enjoyewd the cemetary or just went to take a picture with Jim and post it as their facebook profile picture?

For some creepy reason I actually really like cemetaries. I mean I also liked reruns of the Addams Family as a kid but that's a different conversation all together. There is something about the stillness that appeals to me. There is also an interesting cultural point about cemetaries; obviously someone cared enough about that person at some time to errect a stone but then over time they are completely forgotten. I don't really have an end conclusion to this point, but it´s something that I do think about while I am walking around.

I want to share some of my favorite pictures of the cemetary with you my loves:

Fifi the 11 kilo cat

My favorite picture of stained glass where you can see through the broken glass to the trees outside (turn your head to the side to see it because I can´t figure out how to rotate it on blogger, soooowwwwyyy)

And last but not least, my two favorite pictures I took the entire day:

My oh my I certainly have been MIA lately!

Where were we last? Paris? From Paris I took a train to Frankfurt, Germany and have been in Germany and Austria for the last week and a half.

I met Chris, Allan, and Eddie in Frankfurt where we immediately got on a train and headed to Munich and Oktoberfest! The boys' friend from college, Audrey, and her sister, Jill met us in Munich. The 6 of us had an amazing time prost-ing, eating way too many sausages, and belting out the cheesiest American music playing at Oktoberfest (Achey Breaky Heart-- can you top that?)!

After 4 days in Munich Jill and Audrey returned to Spain where Audrey lives and the boys and I continued on to Salzburg, Austria. Yes, the birth place of The Von Trap Family Singers!!! While we didn't take the Sound of Music bus tour like I wanted to do I was mentally running through the SoM soundtrack in my mind the entire time. With an afternoon trip to the German Alps and a day full of bike riding we had a great time in Salzurg.

Don´t worry I´ll give you the full scoop on all the stops, including Oktoberfest, in seperate posts!

once again, I'm awesome

I downloaded more photos!

only about 200 more to upload to the website.... I evidently take a ridiculous number of photos a day.

Check out the photos! Still unedited!

I love you all!

p.s. there are 2 girls sitting next to me and they are bickering so badly about choosing a train and it's HILARIOUS and you know me: I love listening in to other people's convos!

Paris has been great. I arrived 6 days ago and have been really busy walking around the city, seeing the sights, and trying not to break my budget!!

Day 1
After taking the world's most expensive cab ride in the history of all cab rides my flight to Paris was perfectly smooth and I arrive in my hostel around 12. The first hostel I stayed in was in Montemarte so I walked through Sacre Coure Cathedral and the surrounding neighborhood. While I was walking I stumbled into some sort of French festival complete with French singers and some sort of renamactment.

Day 2
I went on a great free 3 hour walking tour provided by NewEurope. We saw all of the major sites and I definitely got a better lay out ofParis in my mind. I also walked around the Latin quarter. This area is where the prestigois French school Le Sorbonne is located.

Day 3
I saw Notre Dame Cathedral. The stained glass windows are beautiful; actually the entire church is mannificent. When I am in these churchesI always try to image what it would be like to be present in the church right after it was built. These were built before cranes, computers, and modern architecture and engineering. The construction just completely blows my mind. After Notre Dame I went to an area of Paris called the Marais; it's the old Jewish area of town and is filled with delicious falafel stands, amazing bakeries, and tiny winding streets. This night I also went out to bars with some Californians from my hostel and stayed out way too late.

Day 4
While battling feeling tired from the night before I went to my favorite museum in Paris, and I might dare to say the world, Le Musee d'Orsay. I treated myself to a giant bowl of amazing soup in the cafe and then spent the next 5 hours in the museum. I'm going to write more about the museum later.

Day 5
I went to the Louvre, l'Orangerie, and a really cool English bookstore called Shakespeare and Company. I then had a little dinner picnic in front of the Eiffle Tower

Day 6
I was going to go to Versaille this day but after a hostel crisis (note to self: do not leave booking a hostel until that morning!) left me scrambling for a place to stay until 12:30 I had to change plans. So, instead I went to Pere Lachaise cemetery where Heloise and Abelard; Jim Morrison; Oscar Wilde; Edith Pilaf and others are burried.

Today I walked to the oldest still existing flea market in Europe, wandered around the stalls, and then just walked around Paris taking it all in.

I leave for Frankfurt tomorrow and will meet Chris and our friends Eddie and Allan there on Monday before we all head to Munich for Oktoberfest. I am so excited to see friends and to go to Oktoberfest.

I'll be sure to keep you updated about our progress along the way! I'm trying to upload photos as we speak but who knows how it will go on the hostel's computer. If not I'll fork out the 5 euro to have all of my photos downloaded to a CD just for you my loves!


Paris is going well.

I tried to do to the Museè d'Orsay today but there was a 2 hour wait. So instead I went Notre Dame and then to the old Jewish neighborhood of Paris saw the Jewish History museum, ate falafel, had a pastry, and saw a flower market.

My French is definitely not as good as it was 4 years ago when I was in Paris last. I know enough to get by, but only that. So usually what happens is I try to buy something or go into a museum and can say the basic statements but as soon as someone says something to me that I'm not expecting I'm completely lost!

I'm changing hostels tomorrow and I will give you all the scoop about living in hostels.

For my NC loves, by random chance in my six bed dorm late night the 2 guys in the bunk next to me were from Raleigh and Fuquay-Varina and went to State! Of all of the places to run into some random North Carolinians!

I promiss to post again tomorrow morning!

big x's and o's to you all!

"Oh, wow, do you take credit cards?"

Oh, I had one hell of a morning.

the back story:

For some inconceivable reason I booked my flight for this morning at 7:50. Which meant I needed to be at the airport at 6:30. At the time of booking I didn't thinking about needing to take public transport at an ungodly hour to get to the airport. Also to add to the difficulty of this morning, the airport my budget airlines is located was about 40 miles outside of the city and would take an hour and 40 minutes on three different buses across London. So, my only decent option was to take a cab.

the night before:
Last night I called a cab and asked the amount of time a cab would take and how much it would cost. I gave the dispatcher my address and post code IN London (this will be important later) and he said it would take 30 minutes to the airport and cost between 20 and 22 pounds. Awesome! 20 pounds? Done!

this morning:
I wake up extra early, head out to the street in the dawn light, and wait for the cab. Well, then I wait some more and then wait some more, and by more I mean 5 minutes. I call the cab company and they say these words to me:

"What's your postal code? That's not possible. You are in East Hampstead? Oh, you're in Hampstead in London? Oh. Oh. You're never going to make it to the airport in time.... uhhh or we can send another cab to you."

I wait 10 more minutes getting more and more annoyed and then get this call

"the cab who was on his way to you got in a wreck and no one can come now"

And this point I'm starting to slightly panic and really just want to kill the cab company. So Allyson and I walked down to the high street and pulled a cab off the street. When I tell him Luton Airport this convo happens:

Mer: "Luton airport please"
Cabbie: "That's a long way love"
Mer: "How long? How much will it cost?"
Cabbie: "130 pounds or so"

okay, that was just in my mind. What I really said was:

"Oh, wow, do you take credit cards?"

I made it to the airport on time and got on my flight and am now in Paris but goodness did I learn some important lessons this morning about booking early morning tickets!!

Food Friday 2 (Saturday edition)

Hello my loves!

This week has been a little out of the norm because I have been staying with a college friend and her parents for the last week. So, I've only done a little cooking, but don't worry I've been doing a lot eating!

I brought you photos this week! And, how fabulous am I?

We have had traditional meat pies and mash

It was delish! The meat pies are filled with minced beef and they are pies not pot pies so there is just meat and none of the extra yummy ingredients of veggies or gravy. The mashed potatoes were great too (not as good as my mom's though), the server put then or really scraped them onto the plate with a giant spatula. The green sauce on the side is called liquor and I really cannot explain it to you; it's some sort of cream and flecks of green? Who knows what it is but it was quite tasty! We shared a long table with some English people who told up the best way to eat it is with a dash or two of vinegar and a giant spoon. And at 2.80 a plate it's an amazing deal from one of the oldest still existing pie shops, M Manze.

I've also eaten some amazing Indian food this week

from Spicy World

Chinese food in London's Chinatown

And have eaten some delicious fresh fruits, veggies, delicious prosciutto, and amazing cheese from the local Borough Market

I'm headed to Paris tomorrow and will start cooking again soon!



Uploaded photos tonight. That's right; I uploaded photos tonight.

Check them out here:

and you can check out things like this:
(be warned now there has been no editing and it's all a little rough and scrambly  in there!)

happy trip gift to me!

Hello sunshines,

It's a beautiful day here in London, perfect really! 70ish and sunny with a nice breeze! The weather in London hasn't been bad at all, just a little chilly at times with constant humidity. 

I've decided to make a big financial decision for my trip: I'm buying myself a new camera. I brought a compact digital camera with me but it just isn't making my heart happy with the pictures it is taking.  I have a super deluxe nikon camera at home but I decided not to bring it to Europe with me because it's heavy, really obviously screams "I'M A TOURIST!", is easy to pawn, and I would be really really sad if it got stolen. 

So, I bought at Fujifilm S1500 at an adorable local camera shop where they helped set up my camera and gave me a 10 minute camera lesson. 

I took my first pictures today while doing some typical tourist sights.  Surprise surprise I haven't uploaded them yet because I NEVER EVER EVER EVER upload pictures, it's physically impossible for me to upload photos in a timely manner. 

I'll try very hard to upload them tonight. 


Food Friday 1

At home, I'm a great cook. I love cooking and can make almost anything (except Indian food, you don't even know my frustrations). The majority of things I made for Chris and I were fish, south western inspired meals, Mediterranean, and always lots of veggies. However, I do make a killer chicken pot pie!

Now that I'm staying in a series of hostels the cooking supplies and budgets are extremely limited. But, I'm still determined to eat healthy meals, try to get my daily servings of fruits and veggies, and stay under budget by cooking regularly.

Each Friday I'll update you with what a girl with 7 frying pans can create from 10 American dollars, hostel kitchens, and a lot of creativity.

I forgot to start taking pictures, but I will this next week!!

breakfast- muffin on the plane
lunch- out at a Middle Eastern counter. Order the lamb shawarma and have left overs for dinner. cost: £3
dinner- combine leftover lamb with pre-marinated squash, bell peppers, red onions, cherry tomatoes. cost: £2.05 and a definite success

breakfast (8 am)- hostel provided cornflakes and jam sandwich
lunch (11 am)- Ham sandwich made from hostel breakfast bread, half an orange cost: £1.29 with leftovers remaining
snack (3 pm)- half of orange, rice with veggies and tomatoes from Sainsbury mixed with ham, 1 plum cost: £3 with leftover plums
Dinner (8pm)- pasta with zucchini, spinach, bell peppers cost: £2.20

breakfast (9 am)- hostel provided cornflakes and jam sandwich and terrible instant coffee and leftover plums
lunch (11 am)- Chicken sandwich using hostel breakfast bread with plums cost: .69£ with leftover chicken
snack (3 pm)- cup of coffee with semi skim milk and evidently lots of sweaty palm inducing caffeine cost: £1.80 and the ability to blink for several hours
dinner (8pm)- inspired by one of my mom's favorite dinners of asparagus and Parmesan shavings I made a full bunch of asparagus topped with tomatoes, blue cheese, and cut up chicken deli meat cos and plums: £3 with left over tomatoes and blue cheese

I'm only three days in and so far i think I'm getting enough fruits and veggies. See the plum trend starting on day 2? I do realize that on day 2 I ate 4 meals, but I walked 10+ miles!

I'll be keeping good records for the next Food Friday!
hi hi hi!

I'm so sorry that I have been MIA these last few days. It's been kind a whirlwind of emotions ranging from excitement and joy to complete fear and panic.

So, I'll give you the scoop on all that I've done in the last three days:

Landed at Heathrow bright and early. I made my way through a huge customs line and when I finally got to the customs official I definitely got a through examination. I have told some of you, but in preparation for my trip I printed out bank statements, flight itineraries, and purposely went ahead and booked a hostel and a flight out of the UK and came to customs with all of these in hand. I did all of this because I have heard 5 or 6 stories from friends and read about strangers in the Dallas Morning News who were delayed in customs or actually denied entry into the country because they didn't have proof (or actually have) of return tickets, enough money, or a semi-solid plan of itinerary. So I walk up to the desk in my regular kill them with kindness (some jaded people might call it ass kissing) attitude and am immediately here's how the convo went:
- How long are you going to be here?
answer: 2 weeks and then I'm going on to Paris, sir *insert award winning cheesy smile*
- Can you prove you are going to France in 2 weeks?
answer: yes, here is my ticket, I'm actually leaving from this airport
- How long are you going to be in Europe?
answer: 4, well, no, 3 and a half months, I'm going to Turkey too in the middle. *start getting nervous*
- Can you prove you will be leaving Europe?
answer: yes, here is my return itinerary *begin looking around the area to make a Bourne Identity-esk escape... if I ninja kick that dude and steal his gun I can make it into that air vent and sweet freedom will be mine!*
- How much do you think all of this is going to cost?
answer: Well I have ##### in available funds, and then can access an additional #####. do you want to see those reports? *o.m.g. I'm never going to be allowed in!*
- No.

Then the customs official gives my passport the hard stamp as if he doesn't really want to let riffraff like me into the country but I've come too prepared to be denied.

Deep breath. I made it in!

I then took the subway/underground/I never know what to call it/tube to my stop to find the hostel. I wander around confused for about 5 minutes until I find some sort of information desk and am told which way is north. Let me warn you now, I have wandered around lost a lot lately, so prepare yourself now. Started heading north. Got kind of lost. Then due to my tremendous map reading skills (people-- i had drawn the map from the subway wall map because I hadn't bought one yet) became un-lost and found the hostel!!

Checked into the hostel. Then made my way into the the neighborhood, Camden, around the hostel. Camden is kind of a working class neighborhood filled with cheap ethnic restaurants, markets, and bars. I got a delicious giant plate of lamb shawarma for 3£. There was so much food on the plate that I was able to take leftovers for dinner!

At this point I'm still feeling fairly energetic and decide to try to press through the rest of the day to battle any jet lag I might be feeling by trying to stay busy. I decided to go to the British museum, consult my map, make it about 15 or 20 blocks, and then get lost. Stop in a random hotel and ask the concierge where the museum is; she informs me that I am approximately 300 meters away I just needed to keep on walking. It was a little embarrassing.

On the way to the museum my energy starts to wain. By the time I'm in the museum and looking at the Rosetta Stone I'm so tired I can barely keep my eyes open. I stayed in the museum for approximately 8 minutes before I decided to bail (the museum was free, so no worries about my budget!), walk home, do NOT get lost. Make it home, lay in my hostel bed and write this in my journal:

"First night, it's 5:05 so tired too tired to have feelings or write"-

Pass out for 2 hours and wake up around 7 pm with nothing to do, no friends, not really hungry, and really sleepy. Shockingly, instead of letting myself go back to sleep I blasted some Brittney Spears on my ipod (Ashley, I know you would approve), went downstairs, made dinner of leftovers and veggies. Next to the hostel kitchen is a little tv room and I settled in with my dinner with some of the other hostel stayers (what do you call us? hostelers? guests? members?) and, I kid you not, watch that cheesy American show 2 and a Half Men (or something like that) with Charlie Sheen with them!

Whew! That was my day. I'm going to quit here and post about Day 2 and 3 separately.

All and all everything is going well. I've fought a little bit of homesickness and loneliness, but I am feeling great and even made a friend last night!

Get ready for posts later about my other days, the museums I've attended, and more!

I miss you all very much!

Biggest hugs,

i'm here!

I made it safe and sound to London. Slept on the flight, made my way through Heathrow to the underground and then walked to my hostel.

just a quick update!

good news: I'm not tired and think I might be able to defeat the majority of the jet lag today

bad news: "international" black berry is not working

more (and longer!) updates soon!

xoxo, M

your flight is now boarding

I'm now sitting in the Dallas Ft. Worth airport waiting to board my flight. I keep think about how it's not too late to make a run for it and head back to the safety of my deliciously comfortable bed.

This is really the first time that I've been truly apprehensive about my trip. I've been nervous or felt like I should do more research but now that I'm actually here I'm feeling a little more pressure.

Of course I'll go; I wouldn't want everyone to think I was a chicken (obvi I didn't learn the moral from Back to the Future).

And gah! I just remembered I forgot to bring my fleece jacket. Um, Chris, bring it to me in munich? Please?

Okay, so, where was I? I'm not going to bail out of spending 4 months backpacking in Europe. I know it's going to be such an amazing experience and I am going to have a wonderful time. But, I'm still nervous or maybe just ready to start the trip.

So, send me your best wishes! It's really actually time for me to get on the plane.

Bon voyage a moi!