Travel

When I first went to type the title of this post, I almost wrote “November 2014.” So that should give you an idea of what to expect from this post.

Aannnnnyyyyyway. Here are a few things going on that I just couldn’t make warrant full posts.

1. I went camping. 

This looks more dangerous than it actually was.

This looks more dangerous than it actually was.

Like, over a week ago. Obviously, nothing earth-shattering happened. But it was nice being in the woods. It was also Bogey’s first time camping. He loved it, but was EXHAUSTED by the time we went home. Guess it’s hard to get by without your usual 8-hour nap every day.

I didn’t take a ton of pictures, but I like the above shot. I’ve always been a little bit afraid of heights, but every year we hike this gorgeous area called Mohonk. It’s a literal rock scramble, and occasionally you’re clinging to a fairly slippery boulder trying to launch yourself over a narrow (but deep) hole in the mountain. I’m never exactly terrified for my life, but there are times I feel uncomfortable about the fact that I could get hurt.

At the end of the day, though, I like to chalk it up as one more thing I do that scares me or pushes me out of my comfort zone. No point in getting complacent at the ripe old age of 27, right?

2. I ran my fifth half marathon.

So fast. So tough.

So fast. So tough.

This was the first distance race I’ve ever done without really training for it. Granted, I work out 5-6 days a week, and I have a full marathon under my belt, but I was a little nervous considering I hadn’t run more than eight miles in one stretch since April.

Things went surprisingly well, though! I finished in under two hours, which was a relief after the bust of the Philly Half and my unpleasant Paris experience. It’s always nice to run a full race without ever wanting to die at any point.

Plus, this race gave you a crown and a glass of champagne at the end. So I didn’t hate THAT.

3. Bogey had his first tick.

This picture has nothing to do with the tick. But how cute is that face??

This picture has nothing to do with the tick. But how cute is that face??

I woke up this morning to our usual cuddle session, but got distracted by a pill-shaped mass clinging to the tip of his right ear. Surprise, surprise, our little fuzz face had an interloper.

We did the classic hold-a-blown-out-match-by-the-tick’s-head and then removed it with tweezers. We’re not quite sure when he picked up his little parasite (maybe camping? but that was a while ago…), so now I’m keeping an eye on him for any signs of infection. So far, though, he has been acting the same as always.

It’s weird having this little life form that we feel so responsible for. Like, we love the crap out of that dog. The thought of something happening to him kills me. Yet another reason why I firmly believe a dog is a great preview into parenthood. (I know, I KNOW that having a kid is a million times more complicated. I’m just saying it’s similar.)

So that’s pretty much everything of note. October is going to be busy, and then we take our California Adventure in November. December (I’m hoping) will be nice and quiet.

What have y’all been up to?

So I know I said I was done with the vacation posts, but there’s one aspect of French culture that we have not yet discussed, and I believe it bears discussion.

French customer service.

I’m not even sure if I should call it that because, really, customer service doesn’t really exist in France.

The French get a bad rap for being rude, smug, and snooty. In most cases I resist generalizations, but in this case, the French actually seem fairly proud of their above-it-all attitudes. And part of being above it all means refusing to deal with the plebes who come into your country asking all kinds of questions (usually in the wrong language).

Both times I’ve gone to Paris, I’ve encountered some variation of this attitude at least a few times. The first trip, it was a man at the metro ticket booth who (even though I had just heard him speaking English to the people in line in front of me) got snotty with me for speaking English to him. That, I can at least understand. I should have just asked first to be polite. FINE.

My friend Diana had a much worse experience when she lived in France where a woman at a car rental agency charged her and her friends over 2,000 euro for a car without telling them beforehand that it would cost that much. She then literally smirked in their faces while they sobbed and begged for mercy. And then charged them anyway.

And then there was my most recent trip.

I’ve mentioned a few times that my bags didn’t arrive until the fourth day of our trip. This was annoying (and distressing for the marathon), but it wouldn’t have been nearly as bad if I had been able to get any assistance from our airline. The day after we arrived (and after they had tried to deliver me the wrong bag), Diana, who speaks pretty great French, tried calling the airline to ask about the status of my bad. She was told that there was nothing they could do (MY ALL-TIME LEAST FAVORITE PHRASE) and that they didn’t know anything. Politely, Diana said — in French — that she was hoping to speak to someone in the baggage department who might have more information. The woman on the phone replied — also in French — “Well, don’t hope.”

And then our brains imploded.

That would have been bad enough, but the French weren’t quite done with us.

The day of the race, Joey actually managed to get a helpful person on the phone who told him that my bag would be delivered that day. Spoiler alert: It didn’t happen. But at least we had some reassurance that we were in some system somewhere. It turns out that they actually delivered my bag to the same wrong person again.

The day after the race (after I’d purchased an entire outfit at a nearby store because I couldn’t just keep wearing my new race shirt forever), I called the same number Joey had, and that is when I encountered the worst woman in the world.

I actually started out the phone call speaking with a different representative. But when I pressed her for a few details (you know, like where my bag was and when I could possibly expect to receive it), she passed me to another rep without telling me. The new rep (the aforementioned WWITW), liked to interrupt me mid-sentence to remind me that she was a new rep so I would have to start from the beginning and shouldn’t expect her to know what I was talking about. (She actually said this.)

With the very last of my patience, I explained my situation and that my bag had been sent to the wrong person multiple times. I wanted to know where it was to see if I could possibly go get it myself.

“It’s far away,” she replied.

Come again?

The rest of the call is honestly a bit of a blur to me. I know she interrupted me every single time I was speaking to tell me that it didn’t sound like I wanted to hear what she was saying (I mean, she wasn’t wrong), to tell me that that I was wasting her time (she said this twice), and to again tell me there was nothing she could do (ROAR). She also, at one point, told me it would take three more days for me to get my bag. Also known as the day I was going home. (This turned out to be a total lie. She may have just been screwing with me.)

The highlight was when I asked if she could at the very least tell me when they expected my bag to arrive back at the airport — silly me believing there was any kind of system in place to track these things.

Her reply?

“I can’t tell you that — I am not God.”

Well, THANK YOU FOR CLEARING THAT UP.

Now that I knew I was dealing with the antichrist, the call dissolved even further. I was basically crying into the phone begging this woman to show some sympathy and give me any kind of information, while she kept cutting me off and telling me I wasn’t listening to her (repeat herself for the seventh time). Then she hung up on me.

Let me repeat that: Customer service hung up on me. Customer service got upset with me for getting upset that they had lost my bag for half of my vacation.

I may have had a tiny breakdown in a French cafe.

In the end, things worked out. I actually got my bag the next day, thank the not-God. And the trip went on as planned. The rest of the trip was actually so good, we joked that France had been having a little fun with us. But they were sorry now, and here’s a park filled with puppies and rosé and sunshine!

BUT BE FOREWARNED. The French do not want to help you. They don’t really want to deal with you. So don’t take it personally — and please stop assuming they are all God.

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The vacation posts continue! If you’re already over it, never you worry — this is the last one.

The title of this post should technically be “How to: Spend 12 hours in an airport (without losing your mind), but that seemed like kind of a long title for a blog post. Anywho.

As I mentioned in Wednesday’s post, our return flight included a 12-hour layover in the Moscow airport. I’m not sure what it is about me, international flights, and ridiculously long layovers, but apparently it’s my thing. And when you throw a little Russian into the mix, things only get more interesting.

All I can say is that the flights we booked were about $400 cheaper than everything else we looked at. Yes, we were aware of the long layover when we booked, but at the time we thought we could maybe turn it into a day-trip into Moscow. Fast-forward a few months later when we realized that you need a visa to enter and exit the city, a tedious (and kind of expensive) process we ultimately decided to skip.

What that meant is that we were now faced with an almost half-day stay in the airport. Clearly, something would need to be done.

Fortunately, my bizarre life is your gain! Here are my four tips for surviving a (really) long layover.

sleepinairport

1. Master the art of sleeping in an airport.
Airports are a notoriously difficult place to catch some shut-eye. It doesn’t help that pretty much every single bench has immovable metal arm rests between the seats, making it impossible to stretch out comfortably. We actually saw one family who had brought some sort of fold-up air mattress to counteract this — effective, but possibly overkill. And there was no way I could fit something like that in my carry-on.

Since we had arrived at the airport around 3 a.m., we started by grabbing a bit of breakfast and surveying the lay of the land. In our quick lap around the airport, Diana and I determined the two best techniques for sleeping on an airport bench. The first is the Upright Fetal Position, demonstrated by me above. You need two seats and a pillow. The second is the Origami Technique. We actually stole this idea from a few other passengers. It helps if you have three seats. All you have to do is hinge your body around the first arm rest and slide your feet through the second. It also helps to put your bag between your knees so there’s less pressure on your hip. We both slept for about four hours with these techniques. (Joey genteelly guarded us and then slept at a table later.)

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2. Spend a thousand dollars on snacks.
Obviously I’m kidding. The above receipt is in rubles. But now is definitely the time to treat yourself a bit. Spring for the large bottle of water (international flights are drying, yo), get a few snacks, and try to pretend like this is still part of your vacation.

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3. Eat real food.
Airport sushi might sound a little suspect, but stick with me on this one. Airplane food is never going to be anything to write home about, so you have to take advantage of real restaurants in the airport before you go. Eating something besides prepacked nuts and candy will help you feel like a human being — even if you’ve been in a terminal for over six hours. The Moscow airport has an actual sushi restaurant, so we made use of that before boarding.

4. Wash your face.
It sounds simple, but the face wipes that Diana packed were practically a Godsend. Napping on an off combined with dry airplanes turns my face into an oil slick, and it’s hard to feel comfortable if you feel gross. Pack face wash and a toothbrush and toothpaste and make good use of them both off and on the plane.

At the end of the day, the time we spent in the airport wasn’t that bad. We landed tired, but not feeling like total zombies. Hopefully these tips can help some of you get through any heinous layovers you have in your future.

Anyone else have tips I forgot?

Ok, so Monday we covered the marathon. Now it’s time to talk about the more fun (and less sweaty) portions of my trip. Like the wine. And the architecture. And the wine.

francetrip

{1} We arrived in Paris around 11:00 a.m. Our luggage hadn’t made our connecting flight, so we headed to our apartment expecting it to be delivered between 3 and 8 p.m. (Because that’s what the airport told us.) We booked our apartment through Vacation in Paris, which I highly recommend. Our 2-bedroom apartment also had a living room and kitchen (plus a washer/dryer), which was not only plenty of room but also made it possible for us to have a few meals at home. There’s just something a million times more enjoyable about relaxing in a real living room than in a depressing tiny hotel room. This was our actual rental if anyone is looking for a place to stay near Paris.

Joey’s and Diana’s bags (mine was still MIA) didn’t end up arriving until about 10:30 p.m., so we had to cancel our dinner reservation. Instead, we grocery shopped and snacked on cheese and wine at the apartment. Di and I also picked up our race packets from the expo (and may have grabbed a celebratory glass of champagne).

{2} The Paris Marathon offered a 5K “Breakfast” Run the morning before the marathon. I’m putting breakfast in quotes because it was literally bananas and bottles of water, but it was nice to take an easy jog through the streets of Paris.

{3} That night, we had dinner at La Gauloise, a charming, very French restaurant where we consumed as many carbs as possible for the impending race. That included what can only be described as the best chocolate mousse I’ve ever had. EVER. Seriously, if you go here and do not order the mousse, you have done your mouth a disservice it should never forgive you for.

{5} Race day. After the run, we headed back to the hotel to rest up and shower before going out for the evening. We broke tradition and had Italian for dinner at a place called Fuxia, which I’ve sinced learned is actually a chain. The food was SO GOOD, and I’m not just saying that because I had just burned 2,500 calories. Plus, the staff was extremely nice, which can be kind of rare in Paris.

{6} For me, the real vacation didn’t start until the marathon ended. For the first time in over three months, my whole life didn’t revolve around my running schedule. It was pretty freeing. We had been pretty sure we would be sore the day after (we were right), so we had booked an hour-long cruise on the Seine with Vedettes du Pont Neuf to see a few landmarks without having to stand up. The cruises feature a student tour guide who describes the surroundings in both French and English, and you’re allowed to bring drinks and snacks aboard. (We may have brought a bottle of champagne.)(I imagine you’re picking up on the theme of the trip by now.)

{7} After the boat ride, we grabbed lunch at a cafe along the river before hitting up a few shops (I still didn’t have my bag, so I needed underwear, yo) and doing some more sightseeing. Dinner was at Au Pied de Fouet, an 8-table restaurant that literally defines hole-in-the-wall. It has been in business for over 150 years without changing much (they’ve added a bathroom in the last ten years), at it’s about as French as it gets.

{8} The original plan for Tuesday was to hit up a market in the morning, visit Monet’s home and gardens during the day, and then cook dinner at home that night. Finding the market took a bit longer than expected, though, and by the time we’d returned home and eaten lunch, we were kind of pooped. Instead, we pushed the Monet visit to Friday.

But can we just talk about this market for a minute? If you go to Paris any time in the near future, I strongly suggesting visiting. It was probably my best impression of the French the entire time. Not only was all the food we purchased incredibly fresh and delicious, but every single person we came in contact with was extremely kind. (It helps that Diana speaks really great French, but locals were even nice to me with my not-at-all perfect Français.)

Bonus: My luggage arrived that night. Yay!

{9} Wednesday was wine tour day. We started the day bright and early at a cafe where we met our all-day wine tour group. Paris Wine Day Tours take a group of up to eight people to tour a local market, vineyard, and chateau in France’s wine regions Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé and Coteaux du Giennois. The tour guide picks everyone up in a van around 7:30 a.m., and it takes about an hour to get to the first stop. At the market, we were able to sample a few local treats like goat cheese and chocolate truffles. In other words, everything I love to eat. {10} After that, we visited a family-owned wine estate, Domaine de Villargeau. There we sampled about five different wines and learned about how French wine is made. We brought home three bottles, so, what I’m saying is, we liked it. {11} Next, we toured what was probably the most picturesque village in all of France. Seriously, I’m pretty sure the song “Belle” was written about this town. We also got to see a few stunning vistas of the French countryside. {12} Finally, we toured a family-owned chateau and garden. I may or may not want to live in a castle now.

{13} Thursday was our anniversary. We slept in a bit, then wandered to a park Diana had discovered online called Bois de Boulogne. And, you guys? I’m still not entirely convinced this park wasn’t a dream we all had simultaneously — it was that perfect. The weather was beyond gorgeous, there was grass to stretch out on, there was a pond with ducks and geese, and everyone in the park had super friendly, well-trained dogs they let just wander over to you so you could pet them for a while. Diana went for a stroll and accidentally found a cafe about two minutes from where we were picnicking that served rosé and gelato. (Her exact words when she came back were, “I don’t even know if I can say these words out loud, but do you see those orange chairs over there?” My response: “Diana, I know it’s my anniversary, but you didn’t have to get me every single thing I like.”)

{14} After the park, Diana went to grab a drink with some friends she had in the area while Joey and I got ready for dinner. We made a quick pit stop at Pont de l’Archevêché, which is famous for couples locking locks onto it’s sides and then throwing the keys into the Seine to symbolize the eternity of their love. It was a tradition I hadn’t known about when we visited Paris on our honeymoon, so I was happy to check off this bucket list item on this trip.

{15} Next was dinner at Ciel de Paris, which sits on the 65th floor of one of the tallest buildings in Paris and provides a panoramic view of the entire city. If you go, try to make your reservation as far in advance as you can so you can request a table near the window. We had a spectacular sunset and were there when the Eiffel Tour light show began.

{16} On Friday, Joey and I finally visited Monet’s house and garden, something I’ve wanted to do ever since I was a little girl. It was, in a word, spectacular. Giverny is so beautiful, I completely understand why Monet spotted it out a train window and had to live there. The gardens themselves are one of the most colorful things I’ve ever seen, and the house is adorable — most of the rooms are done all in one color, giving the feeling of being inside a doll house. Basically, Monet had good taste.

After that, it was time to head to the airport for an overnight flight to Moscow, our layover. (I know…it was weird.) We actually ended up spending about 12 hours there, but that’s a story for another post. We finally got back to New York on Saturday.

All in all, it was a great trip. The weather, food, and experiences were incredible. I’m not sure when the next time I’ll visit Paris will be (there are too many other locations on my list to visit), but it was definitely a fantastic way to celebrate our third anniversary.

 

First, thank you for all the kind words so many of you sent me after reading this post. I didn’t write it in a cheap attempt to get compliments (I swear, I really am over it now), but it was still nice to realize how far that support system I mentioned reaches. You’re all wonderful.

Now, let’s talk about something frivolous, shall we?

As you may know (from the 8 million times I mention it), I’m taking a little trip this week. To Paris. The primary purpose is to run my first full marathon, but the rest of the week will be dedicated to enjoying France. (Life is such a trial sometimes, isn’t it?)

I started packing last night, and then I thought, you know what I haven’t done in a while? Written a “what to wear” post. Heaven forbid this blog goes legit and only posts about feelings, right?

Here are three variations of outfits I’ve put together for three of the activities I’m most looking forward to on our trip. You know, just in case anyone out there is looking for a little Parisian inspiration.

First, a general sight-seeing uniform:

Paris Sightseeing

Next up, what I plan to wear whilst touring Monet’s gardens:

Touring Monet's Garden

And finally, my ensemble for our all-day wine tour:

French Wine Country

I’m hoping to contain my overpacking instincts by sticking to a simple color palette — only black, white, navy, and pink/coral are making the cut. Anyone else have good tips to avoid overpacking for long-ish trips?

I can’t even begin to express how excited I am for this trip! I’ll be back in a week with (hopefully) tons of great photos and stories to share. À bientôt!

Today, I did something a little crazy.

I signed up for a marathon. In Paris.

All together now: Eeeeeeeeee!

 

Taken from the Eiffel Tower on my first Paris trip.

Taken from the Eiffel Tower on my first Paris trip.

 

Really, I could not be more excited to go to Paris again. And heck, to run a full marathon for the first time. I just can’t think too hard about it. Or about the training.

Oof, the training.

I’m running it with my pal, Diana, who ran the Philly Half with me, and of course Joey will be there to support. It’s actually the same week as our anniversary, so it will be nice to celebrate by revisiting one of our honeymoon spots. (You know, without getting food poisoning this time.)

So I’m psyched. And terrified. And totally open to any marathon training suggestions/schedules my marathoner readers have to share.

Allons-y!