Well, the readers (all two of them) have asked, and I will answer. Here is my update from our amazing trip from Europe. Depending on how much I write, it may turn into multiple posts.
So where to start….Jon and I spent the three weeks prior to our trip researching and booking hotels. We did not plan any activities for the actual trip itself. To avoid boring you or appearing as though I am bragging, I will try to share some fun experiences or funny stories from our trip…or maybe even some travel tips if you ever travel overseas. This was my first time travelling overseas, and seriously travelling “over a sea” made me quite nervous. It just felt like if we crashed in the water that no one would be able to get to us fast enough to save us. Yes, sadly, these thoughts went through my head, and they just suddenly popped into my head a week before the trip. We were blessed though. The Lord protected us at all turns, and I know it was because of our prayers and the prayers of many friends and family. We received many e-mails and notes saying that you were praying for us, and I want to publicly say thank you.
Travel Tip #1 – Do not book plane tickets or more importantly plane meals based on New Year’s Resolutions. If you remember (which you probably don’t because I checked, and I didn’t post it on the blog only on facebook), Jon surprised me on my birthday with a France Travel Guide on which he wrote “Jon and Ash’s Trip Guide.” It was his way of telling us we were going. So, once we got approval from our employers, we watched the plane tickets for a couple of weeks, and in February we booked our tickets. This was a month after the new year, and I was doing well at my goals. I was exercising AND eating right…maybe even back on my vegetarian kick. Have you figured out why this tip is important? Yes, I booked a vegetarian meal. On the first flight, that looked a little something like vegan curry that smelled HORRIBLE (and I don’t like any kind of Asian, so the smelly rice was not helping matters). My meal also came with a very stale role, a smelly vegetable side, and a very stale cookie. SO sad. Thankfully, Jon was able to sweet talk the flight attendant into giving me some pasta. I say sweet talk, because she was NOT friendly, but man was I happy that he was able to get me something else. She wouldn’t let me have anything other than pasta, so my sweet man shared some of his chocolate cake and fresh roll. The flight attendants on the Swiss flight home were MUCH friendlier, and they gave me a normal meal with all of the fixins.
Travel Tip #2 – Ride as many bikes as possible. Riding bikes is VERY European. They are everywhere, and I wish the trend would make it to the states. We got off of the plane and headed to our hotel. It was 6am London time, but we figured we would check to see if we could check in early or at least drop our gear. We were able to leave all of our luggage and begin our exploration to find some free internet. We thankfully found a Starbucks. While enjoying some hot chocolate and coffee, we decided to peruse www.tripadvisor.com to figure out something to do. For some reason, #6 caught our eye. The Fat Tire Bike Tour of London (they have since moved to #4) intrigued us because they also had a tour in Paris, so we figured if it was good, then we would check out the tour in Paris. Well, it was beyond good. The tour covered 8-10 miles of London and oriented us to the city. It was SO beneficial when we went around that afternoon and the other days when we were exploring. So, we ended up doing the Paris tour as well. Our tour guide was a guy from Kansas City who had minored in French and knew a LOT about the area and the buildings. The Paris tour was a bit scarier since we spent most of our time on the busy Paris streets, but it was still amazing and very helpful to orienting us to the city.
Travel Tip #3 – Always know the last stop on the subway line that you need. Those of you that ride subways, metros, or trams might already know that, but I don’t ride any of those frequently, if ever. When I have been on subways, I was not in charge of where I’m going, so I have never paid attention nor worried about it. London was VERY easy to navigate…something about the fact it was all in English. The moment I stepped foot into France was a bit different. I felt my blood pressure rise, and just the thought of ordering food made me not want to eat. I didn’t know a lick of French, and I was afraid I would let that fear minimize the beauty around me. We arrived in France late one evening. I asked the ticket agent at the metro in some feeble French for a ticket to St. Michel (Pronounced “Michelle”), Notre Dame stop. We made it…once I figured out Travel Trip #3 and figured out the last stop on that line. I realized I didn’t take too many subway pictures. I guess that was for fear of being robbed and just too busy making sure we were getting on the right train. We only got on the wrong subway direction twice, but we were never going somewhere in a hurry, so it all worked out!
Random memory….Once we exited the metro in Paris on our first night, we found our way to the hotel tucked away in a small area about a ½ mile from Notre Dame. In French, I told the lady that I had a reservation. She sweetly asked in English if I was more comfortable speaking English. I did not take that as an insult to my French. I knew I was awful, and I felt good for at least trying. After working with my firm for three years and never spending any of my hotel points, this hotel was well worth all of that saving. The sweet lady said, “Mrs. Sutter, we thank you for being a Platinum member of the Priority Club. Due to your status we have upgraded you to a room with an Eiffel Tower view.” My knees buckled. I had not even seen the Eiffel Tower yet. The two pictures below were from the balcony of our room.
The view from the room was beyond amazing. Just the thought of standing with Jon in awe of our view brings a little twinkle to my eyes. As we went to sleep one night, Jon said “I don’t want to close my eyes because I’m afraid I will wake up in Greenville.” Thankfully, we got to enjoy that night for three nights.
I do have more travel tips, but this post is getting too long. Stay tuned for some more. I will not be posting all of the pictures or sadly, even a fraction, but some highlights are posted on facebook if you have access. I also have SO much to tell of things that have happened since that great trip, but I am a bit back-logged.