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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Europe wrap-up( Warning: this is a VERY long post!)

Hi everyone!

I'd like to say its been a crazy hectic couple of weeks since we've been home and thats why my posts are so sporadic, but thats just not the case. Hopefully I will have the time to update you all on recent happenings in the Miller house tomorrow!

Im going to flood this post with some pictures of a castle I visited in Switzerland and than also all of Paris :-)

Wednesday we didn't do much of anything in Switzerland. I caught up on the sleep I was seriously missing out on at night and then hand washed some clothes because, well, I hate traveling with dirty clothes LOL.

Thursday I braved up enough to ride the train to Birr, where Brian was working all by myself! I met up with him at work and went with his group to a local restaurant for some "team building" time. Afterwards we drove to the little town where Brian's co-worker and his wife Susan live to join them for an authentic swiss meal. They prepared Raclette for us and it was A-MA-ZING! We got 3 different cheeses to choose from and any of the following toppings to add : garlic,onions, peppers, bacon, ham, spices, tomatoes...i think thats all..  Each person gets a small pan just big enough for a slice of cheese. You select your cheese and toppings then put it in the little grill until the cheese and toppings are bubbling and browning. You pull it out and scrape it out of the pan over steamed potatoes. Im sorry but thats just about as good as it gets for me. The only thing that could have made it better would be steak in my book. After dinner they made us coffee and swiss pudding for dessert. It  was nice to finally have a meal that we recognized and liked all the ingredients :-)

A Raclette grille


On Friday I felt pretty good about my first solo train ride to Birr that I decided to do it again! I met Brian and his co-workers for lunch at a cute little sit down chinese restaurant. It was soo good! Susan met us for lunch too and took me to tour a Swiss Castle on our last day in town. Now, you guys know me. I am certainly not the most athletic person..I guess you could even put me among one of the least athletic people you know so all this walking everywhere was really tiring me out! After passing this castle on the way to the restaurant I was able to see how high up on a MOUNTAIN hill it was and started to feel like I wasn't gonna make it. Tons of walking + no more than 3hrs of sleep a night for 5 days + pretty bad headache= this girl not wanting to hike a MOUNTAIN hill to see a castle! Susan assured me that there was barely a walk from where we park to see the castle, so off we went! Well, much to our surprise there was a "Middle Ages" festival going on so you could not park in the regular parking lot...we had to hike that hill LOL. By the time we got to the top I was completely worn out but so excited to see my first castle. They had someone from the festival checking you for leprosy as you came in the gate which was even more comical when you don't understand a word of German! I took a ton of pictures inside the castle and enjoyed another day in the beautiful Swiss weather!

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




Brian and all of our Swiss chocolate!

Saturday we started our journey to Paris. The train ride was very smooth and enjoyable. I slept the entire way. Once in Paris it was non-stop hustle and bustle until we left. We had issues buying metro tickets when we first arrived which took over an hour to sort out. We finally made it to our hotel and realized we didn't print the confirmation for our room. They are pretty serious about their confirmations! Brian was able to show him online and so he gave us our room key and we crammed ourselves + two 50lb suitcases + two backpacks into an elevator hardly large enough for two small people and up we went. When we got to our room the door was wide open, the beds were a mess as was the room. We just stood in the doorway for a few minutes staring at our room before someone from housekeeping came to let us know she would be cleaning our room next. She offered to let us go downstairs to wait but we didn't want to drag our bags around anymore so we just sat outside the door and waited.

I was so excited to see our room had climate control in it! The first thing I did was set it at its lowest setting! I couldn't wait for a cool nights sleep in an air conditioned room..we haven't had AC since we left! We washed our faces and headed out to see some sites!




First we headed to Sainte Chapelle which was amazing! The stained glass windows in the chapel are absolutely incredible. They share the Bible, window by window in order. I wish I had gotten more pics ( they are still on Brian's camera) because it was truly one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen.

 

 


After that we walked over to Notre Dame and got to tour it before their evening mass. Again, it was like nothing I've ever seen in person. So beautiful and intricate! I did get a few pics of this one!


 



Brian feeding the Birds :-)


We made our way to a cute restaurant and had some chicken and fries for dinner, yes FRENCH fries ;-) And a very small amount of soda...because apparently its $7 for 4oz of soda and thats supposed to last me an entire meal?? LOL



After dinner we decided to do the Eiffel tower since we only had tomorrow left to fit everything else in. It was still light out when we got there to stand in line but the sun was just starting to set. Apparently the base entrance we chose to go up didn't have an elevator up that night. Someone mentioned we could ride the elevator once we got to the second floor so that sounded do-able. After climbing about 500,000,000 stairs we came to the realization that we were gonna be walking it all the way to the top. We got to the level where you can see out and still take pictures of the top half so we stopped there for a while. At 9pm they lit the tower up with sparkling lights and it was sooo pretty! We didn't journey all the way to the top but it was still beautiful from where we were!

 





After that we headed back to the hotel, excited for a good nights sleep in our Air Conditioned room. As soon as we opened the door we were hit with a huge wave of heat! Apparently the climate control remote was only for a heater so when I set it for its lowest setting, it was the lowest setting for HEAT!! Luckily it was cool enough outside and our room was small enough inside that we were able to open some windows and cool the room down.


Sunday morning we got up and ready for Versailles! This was my favorite part of Paris! It was a long train ride out to Versailles and a little hike from the train station as well. Once we got there we jumped in a VERY long line and waited it out only to realize it was the line for admission..not to purchase tickets. We hopped in the TICKET line and waited again. We got to tour the Ch√Ęteau de Versailles and also the Petit Trianon, both were beautiful! I took a TON of pictures! We spent most of the day there which didn't leave us anytime for The Louvre. We had dinner and dessert then walked to see the Arc de Triomphe before heading back to the hotel to pack up and leave on Monday.

 

 

 



 



 



 


Sun setting on our last night


We asked someone working the info desk at the Metro station what would be the best way to get to the airport in the morning. He told us definitely the RER, It was the most reliable because you never know what traffic will be like for a taxi or shuttle. We decided to go with RER and set out to leave about 4 /12 hours before our flight to make sure we have plenty of time to get through security.. Well turns out our reliable RER was not so reliable...they were on strike. We quickly took the metro to the Roissy Bus stop to take the bus to the airport. We had to sprint with all of our luggage from the metro to the bus stop only to find a line that went all the way down the street. The bus came every 15 -20 mins and then took approx. an hour to get to the airport!! Knowing that we knew we would miss our flight if we waited in line but it didn't look like we had much of an option. I got in line and Brian went to try and find a taxi. He finally found a taxi driver driving a minivan and he said he would take us as long as we had at least 6 people. We were able to get enough people and headed to the airport. We made it to the airport with about 2hrs left before our flight and stepped into the first of 3 loooooong lines before we could get to our gate. I again stood in line and Brian went to print our boarding passes...Of course it couldn't be that easy. Our tickets were frozen due to overbooking! We had to have someone assist us in getting our passes, luckily because we had a connecting flight, they couldn't bump us off. Once we made it through the baggage check/ boarding passes we had to get in line for border police. This line we just crazy! TONS of people pushing and shoving you in and out of a zigzaggy line. From there we ran to a tram that took us to security before our gate. Once we made it through security we had to take off running again( did I mention how un-athletic I am??) to try to make our flight. I ran for as long as I could and then just decided as long as Brian makes it, he will hold the plane for me LOL. Once we made it on our flight we were glad to know we had at least 9 hours before we had to possibly sprint again to our next flight! The rest of our trip was pretty uneventful aside from Delta bumping one of our bags to a later flight but it was delivered to us the next day with no issues.

All this to say it was fun but Im certainly glad to be home!

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