The morning after we arrived in Germany we had planned a day trip to Paris by ourselves. We were dropped off at the train station early in the morning to catch our 7:10 departure on the ICE high speed train. Taking the ICE train cut our travel time in half, so it only took us two hours to get to Paris traveling up to 200mph! It's crazy to think we were going that fast but it was actually a really smooth ride and so nice that we didn't have to spend half of the day traveling to get to our destination.

We met a nice older couple from Colorado while we figured out how to even get onto our train…it's pretty confusing since nothing is in English and we were told that the trains don't wait for you, they literally leave right when they are supposed to (crazy concept). Anyways, it was nice to find someone  who was from the states so we chatted for a bit while we waited for our train. They said they thought we were "from the mountains" by the way we were dressed. Haha.
Our train:
The station in Paris is crazy, there were people running all over the place to catch their trains. There were gypsies walking up to us trying to sell us tickets directly and we saw a girl (who must have been high on something) hop over one of the many gates that leads down to the Metro but she did it right in front of the military guards with their big huge guns. They saw her and then look at each other and just shrugged their shoulders. It was kind of a crazy introduction to Paris.

After an hour of figuring out what to do and what tickets to buy, we found our way down into the basement where we could catch the Metro. We bought an unlimited all day pass which I'd definitely recommend if you are navigating the city by yourself. The Metro is like a tangled spider web that runs underneath the whole city. It took a bit to figure out how to navigate it, but we were pros by the  end of the day.
One of my favorite pictures from Paris:
We had 8 hours in Paris so we had to figure out what we really wanted to do that would allow us to see all of the main attractions without spending a lot of time waiting in lines. We had come up with a plan of action and grouped things based around Metro stops. The Eiffel Tower was the farthest away so we started there and worked our way back to the train station at the end of the day.
Rue Cler was our first stop.
We had heard a lot of great things about this street (Rick Steve's likes it too!) which is not too far from the Eiffel Tower.
Checking out one of the markets:
(so many things I've never seen or heard of before)
We had to stop and get crepes of course:
Caramelized bananas for Chris and Nutella for me:
Just 24 hours before, we had been in Amsterdam and now we were in Paris admiring completely different architecture. Talk about a whirlwind!
Hey look what we found!:
For weeks before our trip, we were worried about it raining on us in Paris, but we lucked out and it was gorgeous. 75 degrees and sunny which left us so sweaty since we were walking in direct sunlight all day long.

Two things I didn't love about Europe in general were that water isn't free anywhere, even if you're eating at a restaurant they don't bring you a glass of water when you sit down like they do in the states, you have to pay for it...we are spoiled for sure. Also, free bathrooms are a plus and they are few and far between in Europe. Unless we were eating at the restaurant, most places had a box outside the bathroom to collect your change before you went in, even places like McDonalds and Starbucks!
As we walked up to the Eiffel Tower, we were approached by a man who tried the "friendship bracelet string scam" and that was the end of our relaxed time in Paris. We still had fun seeing everything but we were definitely on guard after that.
(We went to Paris knowing that it's a HUGE city with lots of tourist and lots of scammers which I'm sure every large city has, but somehow I didn't expect to run into so many.)
They are doing construction on the Eiffel Tower's first floor and the lines were long to go up into it, so we admired it from afar:
I was amazed at how beautiful and intricate the steel design was when we were up close:
And looking directly up into the belly of the tower:
(nothing too exciting, just lots of scaffolding at the moment)
After the tower we went in search of some coffee:
Then we hopped on the metro:
and found our way to the Arc de Triumph:
and I took pictures of people taking pictures:
(seriously tourists everywhere…one girl even did a backbend for her picture in front of the Arc)
After walking down Champs Elysses we got a view of the Seine River on the Pont de Arts, or the "love lock" bridge:
(we forgot to bring a lock, but we weren't too sad about it because once we got up there a kid tried to pull the "ring scam" on us. I feel like we were targeted everywhere we went, which kind of turned us off to Paris…oh and Paris stinks like a sewer, but it sure is beautiful to look at)
We walked down to The Louvre through the massive Tuileries Garden which is surrounded by former royal palaces. I'm not really sure where the Louvre starts because it all just looks like one gigantic palace.
The garden used to be private just for the royals living in the palace, but has been a public garden since the 1660's. It's so beautiful and if we'd had more time I would've loved to see more of it:
Chris and the Louvre Pyramid:
There's actually a mall in the basement underneath the pyramid.
We went in to find a chocolate shop that was supposed to have great macarons. We also go to see the inverted part of the pyramid underground…you can kind of see it in the reflection of the window:
After macarons we set out to find our last stop, an obscure restaurant window called Las du Falafel in the middle of the Jewish Quarter.
After wandering through the narrow streets, we finally found it thanks to the line out front:
It really was amazing…even with the huge chunks of roasted eggplant:
 After a crazy 8 hours in Paris, we felt like big kids navigating a huge city by ourselves.
Back to the train:
With a baguette for the ride:
(when in Paris…)
Paris was great and beautiful and I'm sure we would've had a different experience if we had more than 8 hours there, but that would mean taking time away from the other amazing places we got to see on our trip. It's not Paris' fault that we had just been in Amsterdam dreamland…it kind of set the bar high with it's charming row houses and canals.
If we ever go back to Europe, I'd have a hard time not spending the whole time in Amsterdam.


Also, it took me forever to realize that I accidentally published my last post from our time in Germany before it was done…you may want to go back and reread it because now it's finished and will actually make sense. :)
(blogger should not put the "publish" and "save" buttons next to each other..dangerous for tired moms I tell ya)
Germany was kind of our home base while we were in Europe.
Our wonderful friends lived in the tiny town of Otterberg which was about an hour southwest of Frankfurt. Germany really is exactly how I imagined it to be…lots of stucco, brick and terra cotta roofs:
There were a few things that kind of surprised me about Germany:
-The autobahn is crazy, yet efficient…I believe our average speed was about 90mph!
-People do not drive old cars. (Every car we saw was made within the last ten years, or maybe even less. They have super strict standards.)
-Eventhough the houses are super old, a ton of them had solar panels on their roofs.
-Wind farms are everywhere.

Our first meal in Germany consisted of Schnitzel, fried mashed potato log things, and gnocchi with a creamy gorgonzola sauce:
(don't judge.)
The oldest house in Otterberg:

They had an awesome bakery at the end of the street:
(I'm pretty sure we had a chocolate crossaint every day while we were abroad)
We took a day trip to Heidelberg which is where Gage and Jessica had just moved from and they said we had to see it. Heidelberg has a river that runs through it and a castle up on the hill…it really is as beautiful as everyone said it would be.
Us with Remi:
Coffee in Heidelberg:
(our first stop of course)
Kisses for Remi:


A view of the castle on the hill:
The outdoor shopping area was awesome and huge:
(Chris and I even splurged on some sweet European kicks!)

Lederhosen are sold in the department stores in Germany:
(not the technical term, but I'm sure mine is better anyways)
Our lunch spot:
Pretzel-shaped bread:
Not the castle…just someone's house:
(no big deal)
Back at the house in Otterberg, Chris took me for a ride in Gage and Jessica's bakfiet:
He's serious about it:
(this always reminds me of Flight of the Conchords)
Jessica made a raclette dinner for us. We had no idea what it was but we were pleasantly surprised.
Raclette is in the same vein as fondue, but instead of dipping, you cover the grill with cut up veggies and sausage while your slice of raclette cheese gets warm and gooey in your little tray slot under the grill. 
Once everything is cooked, you take whatever you want and put it on top of your potato, then scrape the melty cheese on top of the veggies, then you top it all with hollendaise sauce.
Not something you would eat all the time, but it was amazing and fun.
(Chris and I actually re-created this a few weeks ago with our griddle and broiler…an actual raclette grill would be so much easier but our makeshift way worked great in a pinch.)
And our last meal in Germany was a kebab salad of sorts, with the best tzatziki sauce for the dressing. It was from a little hole in the wall gyro place down the street from Gage and Jessica's house...apparently the same restaurant has a cart somewhere in Portland and I'm determined to find it.
(It's amazing we didn't come back home 50lbs heavier, but we walked everywhere for 9 days so I guess it kind of cancelled it out. The food in Europe was also a major factor for me deciding to get my gall bladder out…there's no way I would've been able to eat anything I did on our trip otherwise. Also, we never eat like this but we were on vacation!)
And because we hadn't had a true pretzel in Germany, we got one at the airport and ate it on the plane as we were taking off to head home:
(we flew out of Germany at the very end of our trip…but I still have more places to share!)
Next up: PARIS!

Stay tuned...