Our next adventure took us to Stuttgart, Germany. We stayed with Moritz and his family, someone I met because he stayed with my family 5 years ago while he attended IDEO camp with my sister. Last summer, he and a friend visited again while they did a tour of the West Coast of the U.S. So fun to see him again after four years, and when I mentioned I was doing a Europe trip the following summer, he invited me to stay with him for a couple of days. Sabrina also met him last summer when we had a fun dinner at my house.
Our flight arrived at 10:45pm and Moritz was nice enough to pick us up! We made a pit stop at a view point of the city before heading back to crash after a long day. The next day Moritz had to work (I sorta forgot that people have to go to work 😉 ) so Sabrina and I were on our own to explore the city. Moritz’s mom, Sonya, kindly dropped us off in the city center. Sabrina and I headed up the tower at the train station, which gave us a great view of all of the city. Next we wandered around all the shopping streets before finding a yummy salad place for lunch. After we read in Schlossplatz, which is a lovely plaza with benches, fountains, and grass. After 2 hours of lazing around we headed back to Moritz’s house to shower and do some much needed laundry. That night we went to dinner with Moritz and his parents at a delicious Italian place.
The next morning we had a lovely breakfast with Moritz, which consisted of fried eggs, fresh croissants, and sourdough bread. It doesn’t get much better than that. Our first stop of the day was the Ritter Sport Chocolate Factory. We walked through the museum, which explained how the chocolate is made and how the company got started, but obviously the best part was going to their store and buying way too much chocolate!
After the chocolate museum we headed to the Mercedes Museum, which was awesome. It mixed history with amazing cars. We had so much fun picking which car was our favorite on each floor (of which there are 7!).
Definitely a highlight of our time in Stuttgart! After the museum, we drove back to Moritz’s house to change for our night out. We picked up food from a restaurant owned by a friend of Moritz and went to another friend of Moritz’s house to eat and hang out. After eating, another friend showed up and we began playing drinking games, which is always fun with new people. Once alcohol had been consumed, we took the metro to Schlossplatz, where Sommerfest was taking place. It’s basically an awesome outdoor festival where all of Stuttgart shows up. Tons of good food, music, and of course, alcohol. We meet up with more of Moritz’s friends and drink some more wine. Fairly quickly we head to a club on the plaza and hang there for a couple of hours. It’s always fun to meet locals and find out more about their lives. Around 3:30am we finally take a cab home, and quickly pass out at Moritz’s house. Boy oh boy do I not function well after being out that late. In the morning, Sabrina and I rally to pack our things and Sonya rushes us the train station. Moritz struggles to even get out of bed to say goodbye, so you can imagine the pain Sabrina and I were in getting to the train station. We barely make it on to our train, but alas we were able to crawl on the train at the last minute.
Off to Paris we go!
Our first night in Paris was spent in the Generator Hostel Paris. It was a little far from everything, but for one night we made do. The main thing we did that night was visit the Eiffel Tower as Sabrina had never been to Paris before! We sat on the lawn and read until the light show went on. It’s so beautiful when it’s all lit up.
The next morning we went on a free walking tour and saw some of the big attractions in Paris including the Lourve and Notre Dame Cathedral. We also met two teachers from Boston and ended up having lunch with them after the tour. Right after lunch, Sabrina and I rushed back to our hostel to grab our things and head to the center of Paris in the 6th arrondissement where we were meeting Uncle John and Aunt Amy!
They helped us settle into our (awesome) apartment which is owned by a friend of my uncles before we all had a drink at Freddy’s. Sabrina and I could not be happier about having our own space and our own shower. Such a treat after staying in so many hostels. It was also amazing to see my aunt and uncle. After drinks, we all took a siesta before meeting up for dinner at Semilla, a super nice restaurant that Sabrina and I cannot afford on our travelers budget! We had a spectacular time talking with Amy, but unfortunately someone who knew my uncle sat down with us so my uncle didn’t end up being able to talk with us very much. The food was amazing though, and the wine wasn’t too shabby either ;). Amy, Sabrina and I decided to ditch John and we walked to the Lock bridge to watch the light show on the Eiffel Tower from afar. A wonderful night all in all.
The next morning Sabrina and I took a train to the Palace of Versailles and met up with the teachers we had met the previous day. After walking around for a bit, we saw that we could rent row boats! We piled in one and took off to explore the palace grounds by water. Super fun!
Next, the four of us took the train back to Paris where we had cider and crepes! So delicious! We said bye to Jackie and Valerie and headed home to nap before meeting my aunt, uncle and two of my uncle’s life long friends for drinks and dinner. Always fun to see “Grapp” and Craig. In case anyone was worried, there was plenty of food and alcohol to go around that night 😉
The next day was filled with pampering! Amy took Sabrina and me to get a mani/pedi, and boy were we excited! Our nails did not look our best after 2 months of traveling… not that we were complaining! After nails we went to a delicious falafel restaurant and Amy treated us to lunch. Sabrina and I took off for a long run before meeting Amy for popcorn and a movie! We saw Bad Moms and we all thought it was hilarious. It was nice to do something so familiar. It was almost as if we were back in the US for a couple of hours.
Our fourth day Sabrina decided to venture out on her own and meet up with her cousin so I spent the day with my aunt and uncle. We started the day with pho along with Grapp and Craig. The tres amigos were nursing big hangovers because they had had a big night and the only thing my uncle was willing to get out of bed for was pho. After some filling food, Amy and I set off for Sacra-Coeur Basilica in the Montmartre area, which is known for its many artists who have been populated the areas since 1880. We walked up the hill to the Basilica and then found a cafe to sit and people watch. Overall a lovely afternoon.
That night the 6 of us all had plans to get dinner so we met at John and Amy’s hotel and headed to the restaurant. Another delicious meal filled with all different types of food, good wine, and fun conversation. Craig kept saying “I am my own brand. I control the content” and Grapp said “put that on the blog” every 15 minutes. There were definitely wise guys 😉 Unfortunately the four of them were off the next morning so we had to say our goodbyes then. It was so much fun to see some family after being gone for 2.5 months so I was sad to see them go.
Sabrina and I spent our last day each going on a run. I did a nice 6 miles running to the Eiffel Tower and back! Next on the agenda was walking over to Paris’ beach (!). Every year for about 3 weeks in late summer, Paris brings in sand and creates a faux beach along the Seine. We brought along our books and enjoyed some time in the sun. We decided to visit Luxembourg Gardens one last time before we were both leaving. It’s definitely worth a visit if you are in Paris. Lastly, we took a nice bottle of champagne and took a river cruise during sunset. Couldn’t ask for a better way to end our time in Paris.
The next morning I left at 6:30am to catch my train to Barcelona! I spent two nights in the hostel I stayed in last summer, which I absolutely loved! I didn’t do much sight seeing as I knew I would be here for 2 months and would have plenty of time to explore. I did go to the beach because I missed the ocean though! Unfortunately, I felt a little run down so I didn’t go out either night, but I did play drinking games with everyone before they went out.
Now I am off to begin my real adventure in Barcelona: Studying español! I can’t wait to practice and improve my Spanish! Les hablo pronto!