Europe: Random Thoughts & Photographs.

[ Graffiti at the Eiffel Tower ] *Prepare for sleep-deprived and scatter-brained thoughts. Sorry if they don't make sense. :)

We've been in Europe for 4 full days and yet it feels likes it's been weeks. The first two days we just walked around the London, finding landmarks and wearing blisters onto our feet. The third day we took the train to Paris for a bus tour around the city, stopping at the Eiffel Tower and The Louvre, as well as taking cruise on the Seine. Yesterday, our last full day in London, we took a bus tour to Windsor Castle, Stonehenge, and Oxford.

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[ Roses at Windsor Castle ]

Thoughts from the first few days...

The flowers in England are ga-orge-ous. Especially at the castle.

Oh, tours. Let me start by saying the good things they offer. I do like that they take you every where you need to go so you don't have to drive, find a cab or take a bus or subway. Or walk. The tour guides know a lot of interesting information so you can learn quite a bit. But if you are at all independent like me, you will understand why I couldn't stand being given time limits on and being stuck in a group of strangers (who walk slow when you want to walk fast and fast when you want to walk slow). For Paris, I wanted to be able to meander streets and get a feel for the city. And, while I liked seeing the other places around London, like Oxford, I would rather be walking alone than even with my three family members, let alone 50 other tourists. I need time. I want to go at my own pace, whether that be fast or slow. I would rather learn nothing and take my time getting to know the city than being rushed around like cattle and filled with random facts. Okay, end rant. :)

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Oxford was incredible, beautiful, and probably one of my favorite places so far. Even though I was slightly annoyed while there (because of the tour), I loved the history and the atmosphere of academia (but I always have). If I could do college all over again, I would go to Oxford. Okay, just kidding. I'm not rich nor smart enough. But I would study in England for a semester.

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[ Look familiar? The stone J.K. Rowling happened upon in Oxford and inspired the shape of Harry's scar. More reasons to finally read the books. :) ]

Seeing the Moulin Rouge was pretty anti-climatic and it's in a pretty sketchy part of Paris. But then, it would be, wouldn't it?

There are cafes on literally every street corner in Paris. Which I love.

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<a [ I love signage of any kind. Also, colors, lights, doors and windows, flags, sun flares... ]

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Favorite foods so far: call me boring, but in Paris I got a ham and cheese (something similar to Swiss) baguette. And it was so delicious that I got another at the train station for dinner-- and this one had butter spread on it. I even got another in London, and it has me reconsidering my usual Jimmy John's order. Also in Paris, we all tried nutella crepes. I haven't really had a lot of nutella but these were amazing. I WILL attempt to make these. Party, anyone?

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[ Waiting Under the Eiffel Tower ]

I would rather walk around the outside of The Louvre than the inside. I love art but Renaissance paintings aren't my thing. I'm more of an Impressionist girl. Seeing the Mona Lisa was cool, but there were way too many people pushing that I couldn't see it as closely as I would have liked. My favorite piece was a sculpture that I had never seen before. When we passed, I was completely taken with it that I had to go back. My sister kept saying, " It's just an angel with no head," but there was just something about it. Turns out it is the Winged Victory of Samothrace, one of the most celebrated sculptures in the world, created in 190 B.C. in honor of the goddess Nike. Her head and arms have never been recovered. Yet, she is still striking.

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However, it was the building itself, shaped in a "U" form, that captivated me most. Between our short time limit and the people moving about on both sides, it's hard to stop and take it all in. I think sometimes, people get caught up in being there, a place so famous and foreign, asking someone to take their photo as they pose in front of it (I do this too), that they forget to truly look at it for what it is. I tried really hared and, for me, it was easy to be overtaken by greatness. I stood in the courtyard and felt essentially enveloped by this massive remnant of history, the intricate work of centuries past, and I suddenly wished I could lay in the middle of the courtyard in the dead of night, no one around, and look up at the walls rising above me, joining the stars I could, of course, never see beneath the Paris lights.

20120531-015701.jpg [ So I have a thing for lamp posts... ]

In London, I learned that you don't get attended to by waiters nearly like you do in America. Which brings me to my next point. I have learned I like coke with limes. Thank you, British pubs.

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Thanks for reading my sleep-deprived thoughts. There's plenty more to come. :)