Sunday, December 29, 2013

Paris Preview


video

Here we are with a quick preview of Paris! Nick and I were fortunate enough to have a view of the Eiffel tower from our hotel room, so here we go! At night it lights up and sparkles for about five minutes every hour, on the hour. Beautiful sight to see!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Hotel Review: First Hotel Paris- Tour Eiffel

The view from our hotel room of the Eiffel Tower
photo from First Hotel Paris

When Nick and I visited Paris for Christmas this past year, we did our research on the web and stayed at First Hotel Paris- Tour Eiffel. Neither of us had ever been to Paris before, so we weren't sure exactly where the best place to stay is. We decided that we wanted to be near the Eiffel Tower, as that and the Christmas Markets were the main attraction for us in Paris.

Upon arriving at First Hotel, the concierge, Antoine,  was incredibly helpful to both of us. He found our reservation, and was even able to upgrade us to a corner room on the fourth floor with a view of the Eiffel Tower. It was incredible to have a view of the Eiffel Tower at all times of our stay! After we had dropped off our luggage in the room, he provided us with a map of the city and directions to the Eiffel Tower, as well as umbrellas (a little bit rainy in Paris that weekend!)

Our room was very nice, and I would say a standard to large size for European hotels. The hotel had a very modern feel to it, and was relatively newly renovated. The only complaint that Nick and I had from the hotel was that with the black walls, it was often very dark unless you turned every light in the room on.

The location of First Hotel Paris- Tour Eiffel was perfect. For those using the metro, it is right outside a metro stop that is only 3 stops until the Eiffel Tower. For those looking to walk, like Nick and I, it was only about a ten minute walk to the Eiffel Tower and other sites, including the shopping. Around the hotel, there were plenty of cafes, bakeries, and restaurants for us to choose from within just a couple of blocks. Overall, I would recommend First Hotel Paris to anybody looking to go to Paris. We had a great stay, and would definitely return for our next trip to Paris!

One note that we had no problem with was the potential noise from the subway. If you sleep with the window open, it can get a little noisy at times- as long as you close the windows, the noise was never a problem for us!

Copenhagen: Tivoli Christmas Market!

Tivoli Christmas market
Entrance to Tivoli 
Tivoli Christmas market




Tivoli christmas market

Tivoli christmas market

Tivoli christmas market

Tivoli christmas market







Tivoli christmas market





Tivoli christmas market







Last weekend, Nick and I headed to Copenhagen for the night to stroll around the Tivoli Christmas Market. Of course, after the train ride there we were both starving- so we opted to stop in at the Hard Rock Cafe for some classic American food! It was delicious, and the customer service was so refreshing-- definitely one of the things I miss the most about the USA!

Once we made it inside Tivoli, we were able to have a lot of fun experimenting with our new camera and the different settings on it. Plus, of course, I wanted to get a TON of pictures from Tivoli! The entrance was beautiful- pictures don't do it justice- and right as we walked in I spotted the first great photo op! After this, it was time to grab some Glühwein- Nick's favorite, a spiced German wine- and start our stroll! Tivoli has an amusement park inside it- complete with a rollercoaster, swan ride, and arcade games. In addition to the amusement park, there are various themed areas of the park- an Indian village being one. 

One of my favorite parts about Tivoli was the "love" theme of it. As we walked, we saw three giant blue hearts (picture time!), a tree filled with heart Christmas lights, and later the giant hearts had turned red! 

After a cup of Glühwein, we stopped by the arcade area to play Robin Hood and attempt to hit some targets with our arrows. Of course, shooting with a plastic bow and plastic arrows, between the ten arrows we got I think two hit the target! 

Overall, Tivoli was a very nice Christmas market and a great first stop on our Christmas vacation! Nick said Tivoli was much more like the Christmas markets he has experienced in Germany. We left the market slightly before it closed at 11 and headed home to warm up and rest up before heading off to Paris the next day! For you readers, what are some of the best Christmas markets or Christmas traditions you have?

Samantha

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Bubbetorp Christmas Market













Last Sunday, Nick and I went and attended my first Christmas Market ever- Bubbetorp, near Karlskrona, Sweden! Although I've never been to a Christmas Market before, Bubbetorp wasn't quite what I expected- especially after hearing Nick talk about these markets for the last two years and building them up! The day started off perfectly, with snow lightly falling and truly making the area beautiful. However, as the day went on, this snow turned to rain- and trust me, being outside in the cold, wet, soaking rain is not fun! Luckily for us, many of the attractions were inside various buildings (one of the things I was not expecting!)

As we walked along, there were TONS of opportunities for great photos! Bubbetorp is a very pretty area in the winter, with the snow falling everywhere, a few rolling hills, classic Swedish-style red buildings, and a cute little creek running through. One of the attractions I had heard about at Bubbetorp were the alpacas- apparently, some of them were even for sale! I really wanted to pet one, but after hearing that they aren't very nice and will sometimes bite you, and probably spit at you- I passed on my opportunity!

Right after the alpacas is when the rain really started coming down, so we ducked into the food tent. The highlight to me was definitely the "frosting-like" creations! You can see all of the different creations there were-- hippos, snakes, pigs, mushrooms, carrots, and unidentifiable elf creatures! As we checked out the food tent, Nick and I each had a glass of glögg- somewhat disappointed that it was non-alcoholic, but it helped to warm us up nonetheless! Glögg is something Nick has made back in the US for me- it is a type of spiced, warm red wine; occasionally mixed with rum or brandy; usually served with raisins and nuts inside. Absolutely delicious!

Afterwards the food tent, we explored the rest of Bubbetorp, bought some chocolates, and headed home! Personally, I think Bubbetorp was a cute, quaint little Christmas Market- although not exactly what Nick has described to me! However, I will be experiencing both Tivoli (Copenhagen) and Paris Christmas Markets this weekend! Stay tuned for those posts :)


Samantha

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A New Years Resolution?




Well, heres the deal: I don’t believe in New Years Resolutions. My main reason for this is simple: If you have something so important in your life that you want to change, shouldn’t you just start doing that NOW, versus waiting for a certain day of the year to start? I think your chances of success are much higher if you have the guts and motivation to begin that change immediately. However, New Years Resolutions are such a common thing, and I for one begin thinking about them approximately a month before- and whatever I come up with in December (or November!) I call my New Years Resolution. Doing this, I have had a much better success rate at keeping my resolution (if you can still call it that) because it is a change I decide to implement and I do so immediately. 

This year, I’ve decided that my New Years Resolution will be to work on finding the silver lining in everything negative; and choosing to focus on that. This is something I have been working on lately- but especially realized I need to do this after my day yesterday. Nick and I had been planning on trying to go to Copenhagen or Germany to view some Christmas markets this weekend, as he was supposed to have Sunday and Monday off. However, because of the poor weather last weekend; their schedule changed and they now have a game- meaning, only Sunday off and no Christmas markets this weekend. Not the end of the world, right? Especially when we discussed we will just leave for our Paris trip a day early and see the markets in Copenhagen. However, for some reason to me it felt like the end of the world. Probably because I had been looking forward to it for awhile, and I know Christmas markets are one of Nick’s favorite things. However, this small change of events pretty much ruined my day- until I got to the gym and started doing some thinking. Why should pushing this trip by a whole four days ruin my entire day? Its not like it was cancelled completely- no, just postponed by a few days. So as I was at the gym, I decided that although I can’t change the situation, I can change my attitude about it.

The silver lining in not being able to go this weekend? Now, we will have two nights at home- with no plans in the evening! I mentioned a few days ago how I would really like to make a nice dinner at home and just relax, having a slow-paced evening at home. Perhaps some champagne, a fire, and decorating a Christmas tree. However, as we went through our next 10 days— we had something scheduled every evening! Therefore, my silver lining is getting to have that nice relaxing evening at home.

Anyone else out there try to make their New Years Resolutions early- or late- so that they will actually stick? For me, I know I will work on always finding the silver lining!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

It's Beginning To Look Like Christmas!


It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas here!
As I was taking a little walk this afternoon, I really noticed all of the Christmas (or seasonal, if you must) decorations popping up everywhere around me. The lights in the city have been up for awhile, but have just started being turned on. In addition to the lights, I have noticed people go all out as far as window decorations here!
As I was seeing all of these things for the first time, I realized that I don’t really know what Christmas in Minneapolis looks like. I’m sure there are lights and trees up, but I couldn’t tell you what they look like or where they are located. I think sometimes, you need to be in a new place to appreciate the beauty that is all around you- otherwise, it is just every day life.
So this year, I am going to try keep my eyes open just a little bit more and appreciate everything around me. After all, tis the season!

Monday, December 2, 2013

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Sunday, December 1, 2013

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