Cruisin Onboard the Freedom of the Seas

Ready to set sail for a week of fun onboard Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas cruise ship!

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Ice Skating at Sea – early in the week the rink is reserved for ice shows and performances, then they open it guests for open skate sessions. When we arrived the ice hadn’t been smoothed over with the zamboni in a while, so there were quite a few gashes in the ice. We made a few laps around for the experience, then left to avoid a mid-vaca mishap.

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Late night strolls on the ship – Royal Caribbean always has such beautifully decorated ships and late night is the easiest time to really capture the beauty and detail of the ship. All is quite, except the pizza spot which stays open until the wee hours in case you need a late night snack. We stopped here many nights to refuel after dancing all night on the ship.

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Wine Bar

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Irish Pub

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Dinner in the dinning room – my favorite spot to eat for lunch and dinner, and the one structured thing I like to have during my cruise vacation. My server knows my name, exactly what I want, and even caters to my vegetarian needs. I had some amazing vegetarian Indian food a few nights during the trip, and its always fun to see the chefs and servers sing and dance.

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Parties on the pool deck – the place to be when you embark the ship, during your at sea days, and as you sail away from your port call. A few times though there were some pool deck faux pas, i.e. playing golf on the big screen and no music in the middle of the day….no bueno.

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Dancing the Night Away at Sea – there are parties and live music happening every night on the ship. My favorite event of the cruise was the Silent Dance Party. It was so much more fun than we all expected!

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When you need to getaway from it all – Take a moment for a midday nap or just to have some “me” time, escape to your room and enjoy a glass of wine. And who can resist a towel animal :) I came back to the room one night to a lovely surprise of sweet treats and wine from the cruise staff. Thanks again!

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Have you ever take a cruise vacation before? What’s your favorite cruise line?

Wishing you safe and happy travels! -xo AGT

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When in Rome…

See the Sites– I made stops to the Spanish Steps, the Vatican, the Trevi Fountain, and the Colosseum.

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Explore the City – walk the neighborhoods

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Eat – Fresh pasta, seafood, pizza, and gelato! Let the foodie in you indulge in delicious Italian cuisine.

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Party – with fellow travelers and locals. If you stay at a hostel they usually have nights where they take travelers out to bar hop and hit the club scene. Your hotel concierge can give you some recommendations as well.

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Roma Travel Tips:

  • Rome is a walkable city, but if you want to use the metro the Roma Pass is awesome. The Roma Pass is good for 3 days of unlimited use on the trains and buses, and you get free admission into two museums or sites and reduced admission into others (I used it to get into the Colosseum). Roma Pass can be used at more than 40 monuments, museums and archaeological sites and ofter allows you to skip the long lines. You can purchase one at Tourist Information Points in Rome including Termini, Fiumincino Airport, travel agencies, hotels, and news stands.
  • Be sure to keep your belongs close to your body, don’t leave the zipper of your purse or backpack exposed to pickpockets, leave valuables lock in your hotel safe or locker of your hostel room.
  • Remember that Vatican Museums are closed on Sundays. I totally spaced out on that during the planning phase of the trip, so I only had the chance to visit St. Peter’s Square because my flight landed too late in the day on Saturday to make it to the Vatican.
  • Keep a water bottle with you to stay hydrated. There are lots of fresh water fountains around the city to refill your bottle.

Wishing you safe and happy travels! -xo AGT

We’ll Always have Paris

Breathtaking views atop the Eiffel Tower, spectacular architecture, a history well-preserved, yummy crepes for breakfast, a glass of wine with dinner, and a sunset cruise on the Seine; Paris equals love.

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Sunset from the Eiffel Tower

Love of art, love of food, love of wine, love of music and dance. I first fell in love with Paris 10 years ago as a teen. A love so strong I knew I’d one day return to experience it again. The city was equally, if not more, amazing than it was during our first encounter many years ago. We opted to rent a flat for 2 nights using AirBnB instead of staying in a hotel to have a more local experience, and found one in the 19th arrondissement of Paris (more details on the flat and AirBnB in a later post). I would love to go and spend about 6 months to a year, to dive into the language, and submersed myself in the city and the country as a whole.2 days in city will have to do for now though.

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The trip began with a relaxing ride 3 hour ride on the ICE train from Kaiserslautern, Germany into Paris Est (or Gare de l’Est, “East station” in English). We picked up metro passes and maps from the INFO center and made our way to our flat to drop off our bags.

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Control Booth on the ICE Train

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passing the scenic German countryside bound for Paris

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passing the sweet little towns along the German countryside bound for Paris

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Pare Gare EST

We spent our first day walking around the city taking it all in, grabbed lunch, made the climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower just in time watch the sunset, and enjoyed drinks, dinner, and shots with the owner at an Italian Restaurant near our flat. The line to take the elevator to the top was reeeaaallly long, so feeling ambitious and knowing  we were planning to indulge ourselves at dinner we opted to make the climb to the top via the stairs. And it was well worth the 670 steps to the observation deck. As the sunset it got cooler so we sipped hot chocolate and enjoy the amazing view before making our way back down the stairs.

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We decided to make the long climb to the top on foot

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we made it!

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The ironwork of the tower is so beautiful

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travelbuddies!

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That night, despite the a long day of traveling and walking, the flow of wine, and all of the yummy food I couldn’t sleep,

so I reviewed my DK Paris travel guide and researched the city and planned our Friday adventures. All of the “Must See” places, metro stops, historical info, and great places to eat.The metro system in Paris is very efficient; with trains running just mins apart, 303 stations, and 16 lines it is the fastest and easiest way to get around the city. We got an early start – walking and hopping from train to train exploring the city making stops at:

Sacre Coeur Basilica

Visible on its hill (highest point in Paris) in Montmartre from the Eiffel Tower it is absolutely beautiful on the inside. We used the Funicular instead of walking the 300 steps to the summit since we planned to make the climb to the dome. At 108 m (354 ft) long, the funicular climbs and drops the 36 m (118 ft) in under a minute and a half. It carries two million passengers a year.We walked around the main floor o the basilica, then purchased tickets to explore the crypt and the dome.

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Moulin Rouge and the Red Light District

There are no tours available, but you can make dinner/show reservations

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Arc de Triomphe

You can make the climb to the top here too, but we’d had about enough of steps by the time we got here.

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ChampsÉlysées – where were walked, window shopped (there was no room in anyones tiny luggage totes for anything else), and stopped for lunch

Musée du Louvre 

After taking pictures near the main entrance, use the second entrance to enter the museum and purchase your ticket at the electronic kiosks. There’s little to no wait and and you’re inside making your way around the famed museum in no time while everyone else is still outside waiting to get in.

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The Mona Lisa in all of her glory hangs alone in the center of the room

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Venus de Milo

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Notre Dame

We must have been delirious from all of the walking and stair climbing because when we got off the metro we didn’t realize it was behind us and definitely ran in a big circle, make a mad dash hoping that it wasn’t closed. Out of breath we arrived to see the grand cathedral and made our way to the line to go inside. 

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Lit a candle and said a prayer for continued safe traves

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We tried to stop at Verjus for dinner, I’d heard great things about it from Coco & Cowe,but unfortunately they were full booked for the night. Just around the corner we found an amazing restaurant to relax from the days adventures and enjoy happy hour and dinner.We opted for sleep instead of nightlife since we had an early flight to Rome Saturday morning.Getting to the airpot was a breeze – we opted to use the metro and connected to airport line. All in all it took us about 1 hour and 15min to get to the airport to jet-set off to Rome.

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Make sure that Paris is on your travel list. It is a wonderful city to experience and so full of history. See the history, experience the love, take in the views, eat, drink,  dance, and be merry! Here’s some additional info and tips for planning your trip!

  • The earlier you book train and plane tickets the cheaper they are. I bought our tickets (everyone gave me their money) about 2 weeks out due to scheduling, but found that I got the best deal for my train tickets to Paris from Germany on www.raileurope.com. The ICE train tickets were $188 per person, and we went from Kaiserslautern to Paris and then from Paris to Stuttgart and we took the regular train from Stuttgart back to Kaiserslautern. We took the ICE train to Stuttgart on the return trip because of scheduling. Tickets from Stuttgart to Kaiserslautern were purchased in advance on www.bahn.de for $24 per person
  • Download the Paris Metro App on your smart phone to help get around the subways without a giant map in your hand.
  • Metro Passes are broken down in price by number of days and zones you’ll be traveling in. You’ll need a pass for Zones 1-3 if you only intend to explore the Parisian city center which is all of the museums and historical sites are.A 2 day unlimited pass was 17EUR.
  • Taking the Metro is 2,50EUR per ride without a pass and getting to the airport is an additional 11,30EUR

If you have any additional questions or need help planning your trip I’d be happy to help, just leave a comment below or send me an email!

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“No city seduces as skillfully as Paris. With a sly, knowing wink, the City of Light steals your heart with one clear, small joyous moment after another. Linger too long on the Pont des Arts and passion may nudge your slumbering spirit awake, or kiss your lips, or turn you into a whimsical work of art.”- H. Thompson

Wishing you safe and happy travels! –xo AGT