Joined May 2022 Message
  • Day36

    Musée d’Orsay

    June 23 in France ⋅ ⛅ 81 °F

    This was a very cool museum with a lot of famous and interesting artwork, especially Monet and Van Gogh. It was smaller and much less crowded than the Louvre with a focus on more “modern” (like 1800s) art. I learned that I am not a huge fan of Monet - I found a lot of his art boring, although that may have been because we were exploring room after room full of his paintings. I really liked Van Gogh’s art though, not just because it is visually interesting but because I found the stories from his life to be fascinating, although also sad. His famous self portrait, probably the most famous thing we saw in the museum, was painted while he was in a psych ward and was an attempt at conveying his mental state to his brother.Read more

  • Day35

    Disneyland Paris

    June 22 in France ⋅ ☁️ 70 °F

    Going to Disneyland was frankly part of the trip I was not looking forward to, but Lexi is very into Disney and was excited about the opportunity to see a version of the park in another country, so we went. I will admit I had more fun than I expected, and compared to American amusement parks I’ve been to it was not very crowded and the lines were very reasonable, so that was nice. The park was also very small and it was easy to get done in one day; it felt even smaller than the Disneyland in Anaheim. Nothing felt that different from American Disney except for most of the rides were in a hybrid of English and French. Ultimately this is the Disneyland for all of Europe and so French was not really even the dominant language in the park. I would say we heard more English (mostly British and Irish) and Spanish being spoken by visitors than French, and there was also a lot of German and Italian. Overall I would say Disney is still not really my thing, but I did have fun on some of the rides, although I was very sick of the lines by the end of the day.Read more

  • Day34

    Palace of Versailles

    June 21 in France ⋅ ⛅ 63 °F

    Versailles was definitely one of the most amazing places I’ve ever seen, and the most absolutely ludicrous display of wealth imaginable. I said the Louvre made the Spanish palacio real look like a dollhouse, but Versailles does the same thing to the Louvre. The palace is amazing in itself, and Lexi and I spent a good few hours exploring it. The highlight in there was the hall of mirrors, which was not only beautiful and ornate room but also one of incredible historical significance, as many important treaties were signed there: the treaty of Paris ending the American revolution, the 1871 treaty of Versailles ending the Franco-Prussian war (and marking the beginning of the German empire), and the 1919 treaty of Versailles ending WW1 were all signed in that room. The palace was the home of the Kings Louis 14-16 (and their families and servants with an estimated 10,000 living on the grounds at once) until the family was driven out by the French Revolution, and later was also used by Napoleon Bonaparte. The really incredible part, though, was the palacial gardens. They are just unimaginably expansive, yet covered with ornate statues, fountains, and hedges that are still perfectly - and I mean PERFECTLY - manicured. Seriously, I would estimate that several thousand gardeners must still work there today to keep the grounds looking the way they are. The grounds we also home to some additional homes that the royal family would spend time relaxing in, as well as a series of cottages that Marie Antoinette had built because she liked to pretend she was a peasant (and she clearly had no clue what that word meant). Lexi and I were literally at this palace for over 8 hours, and even taking a bike rental and using their shuttle, we only were able to see a fraction of the grounds of the palace. It is really unbelievable to think that a family used to actually live there.Read more

  • Day33

    Day 2 of exploring Paris

    June 20 in France ⋅ ⛅ 68 °F

    After the Louvre, Lexi and I met up with Lucas and walked down the Tuileries Gardens - the Louvre’s palacial gardens - to the Place de la Concorde, an interesting historical site that has an Egyptian obelisk (that was literally taken from Egypt by Napoleon) and was also the location where many historical figures like Marie Antoinette were guillotined. We walked from there into a neighbourhood called Madeleine which had a lot of designer stores but also had a lot of construction going on so it was tough to navigate or hang out in. Lucas went back to his hostel from there and Lexi and I rented bikes to go see the Café de Flore - which according to Lexi is a famous cafe here - and then walked to the Luxembourg gardens, which were absolutely beautiful to explore.Read more

  • Day33

    Louvre Museum

    June 20 in France ⋅ ⛅ 59 °F

    The louvre was really incomparable to any other museum I’ve seen on the trip, or in my life at all. Lexi and I did a 2 hour guided tour and stayed for another 2 hours exploring on our own and I don’t think we covered even 5% of what is in there. I have never seen a museum of that scale, but despite its size and the fact that we visited at 9:30 AM on a Monday, I have never seen one so crowded either. The line to see the Mona Lisa was absolutely comical. We had an awesome tour with a very knowledgeable guide who showed us some of the most famous pieces in the French and Italian wings, as well as some of the historically significant jewelry and crowns that the museum has. Afterwards Lexi and I explored (some of) the Egyptian exhibit, which was super interesting because many of the artifacts were nearly 6000 years old - the exhibit went back to 4,000 BC. Surprisingly, it was difficult to understand what we were looking at in this wing as there were not many English translations of the placards explaining what the artifacts here. I did not know before the visit that the Louvre used to be the French palace before it was moved to Versailles. With that in mind, it was so ridiculously enormous that it made the Spanish royal palace look like a studio apartment. As huge as it is, the museum only takes up a fraction of what was once the palace. The palace (or at least sections of it) was built, expanded, destroyed, and rebuilt multiple times throughout French history, and you even get to explore the remains of the original fortress and moat when you enter the museum. The museum was so massive that it took Lexi and I over 45 minutes from deciding to leave to finding an exit. Super amazing - and exhausting - place.Read more

  • Day32

    First REAL day in Paris!

    June 19 in France ⋅ ⛅ 68 °F

    In contrast to yesterday, today was absolutely packed with things to do. We started at the Paris Museum of Modern Art, which was fun and had a lot of interesting art, but their main exhibit with their most famous works was closed for some reason today. Afterwards, we went and had a picnic in the Champ de Mars (park) outside of the Eiffel Tower. From there we took a train to the Arc de Triomphe and went to the top and got amazing views of the city. From there we rented bikes through one of those bike share apps (through Uber actually) and had a great ride over that we intended to take to the Louvre, but ended up not being able to park the bikes anywhere near there, so we ended up going to the Île de la Cité, the island on the Seine that has the Notre-Dame cathedral and Sainte-Chapelle. We then crossed to the other side and explored the Latin quarter, then sat outside of the Pantheon for a bit. Then we met up with Lucas and got dinner with him back near the Latin quarter - I was a bit scared but I decided to try beef tartare after doing some research and being assured that it’s safe, hopefully I won’t get food poisoning in the next few days.
    So far the first real day exploring Paris was absolutely amazing and we are loving the city so far! The only real negative is that it is unbelievably expensive compared to Spain and Italy. The language barrier is also very strong and there are not many English speakers around considering it is such a touristy city. However, people are far nicer than I had expected and we have only had positive experiences. We even had a waiter who kept telling us about how much he loved the US and kept rattling off state capitals that he knew - unfortunately he thought that Minneapolis was the capital of Illinois, but props to him for knowing either of those two places exist!
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    Nice picture of you two! [Grammie]

    6/21/22Reply
     
  • Day31

    First day in Paris

    June 18 in France ⋅ ☀️ 97 °F

    We didn’t get to do a whole lot today as it was over 100 degrees most of the day and Lexi and I were both exhausted from flying (I flew from Barcelona and she flew in from Chicago), but it still feels surreal to be in Paris. I did have a bit of a travel nightmare on the way to the hotel. I took a cab from the airport and when we arrived, it declined my card. I tried to pay through their app with dad’s card (he sent me the number after my wallet was stolen) but since the accounts are connected both were suspended for suspicious activity (I guess from being in a new country). The driver spoke 0 English so it was impossible to communicate. We ended up going into the hotel to ask the receptionist to help mediate and he ended up saving me by just covering the fare with his personal card and saying I could just pay him back later. I have no idea what I would have done without that! Very lucky. Capital one is the villain of the story, as they sent me an email saying my card would continue to be declined due to fraud until I called their 1-800 number, which was not possible to do from overseas - pretty ridiculous for a card purely based around having no international fees. This is now the 3rd or 4th time I’ve been caught in a bad situation thanks to them randomly flagging my card and not giving me any way to remedy it until dad is awake and able to call them for me. Will not be using their cards in the future!Read more

  • Day30

    Palau Nacional de Montjuïc y Font Màgica

    June 17 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 84 °F

    Had a great last excursion in Spain visiting a beautiful area at the foot of Montjuïc. There is palace that seems to have been converted into the National Catalan Art Museum, which I did not go into, and a whole sort of park leading up to it. There is also a place called the magic fountain there which does incredible dynamic shows set to music. It was an incredible place to watch the sun set, get some last views of the city, and see some street performers.
    I can’t believe I am already leaving Spain! I can say without a doubt that Barcelona has been my favorite city on this trip and possibly my favorite city I have ever visited. It just has so much going on - lots of different cultures and neighborhoods with very distinct personalities, a mix of an old city with rich history and an incredibly modern new city built around it, arguably the most famous sports club in the world, and incredible art and architecture - all set in between mountains on the beach! Just an amazing place. I was there for 8 days total and wasn’t able to do everything I wanted. The city I stayed in the longest other than Barcelona was Rome with 4 days and I was ready to leave by then. No doubt I’ll be back to Barça in the future!
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  • Day30

    Barcelona MOCO Museum

    June 17 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 86 °F

    This was another modern/contemporary art museum that blew the other one I visited in Barcelona out of the water. They had a much larger exhibit with art by KAWS, Banksy, Basquiat, Murakami, Haring and Warhol to name a few. They also had some really neat immersive stuff as well as massive outdoor statues. It was my favorite modern art museum I’ve visited so far!
    Unfortunately at some point this morning or last night my wallet was stolen from the hostel - it was literally next to me while I was sleeping. It was gone when I woke up and I tried to track down the AirTag I have in it, which led me to a trash can a few blocks away - they must have seen it and thrown it out as they were leaving. Fortunately my passport and vaccine cards were separate, I had very little cash, and am able to still use Apple Pay (which is accepted literally everywhere here post-pandemic). So fortunately it is not much more than an inconvenience - and by the time I get home, my replacement cards and drivers license will already have arrived!
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  • Day29

    Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art

    June 16 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 86 °F

    This museum was pretty interesting, and far less crowded than other ones that I’ve visited on this trip. They have a big skate park outside and there were a ton of people skating all over, and there was graffiti everywhere - including a Keith Haring mural. It all seems to be promoted by the museum. The museum went through the different decades of 20th century art in Catalonia and it was very interesting - I learned a lot about the history here. Although most of my pictures are from this museum, the highlight of the day was getting a 24 hour electric bike pass - one of those things where they have electric bikes all over the city and you use an app to unlock them. The bikes are great as the motor makes them really fast. I rode all over town today and took a long ride along the beach at night.Read more

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