Metz, France

After two days in Paris, we took the TGV high speed train to Metz, France.

I didn't know much about Metz before our trip. I read that it was a charming little town near the border of Germany, and that was enough to convince me to stay there for a week. Since we were working and traveling simultaneously, I figured it would be nice to kick back, relax, and focus on work for awhile. Metz fit the bill perfectly.

Our first day in Metz was a bit chaotic. We found our AirBnB quickly, but after our host left, we realized he gave us the wrong WiFi password. We tried to connect for fifteen minutes, but with no luck. We couldn't even contact our host, because we needed WiFi to message him. We decided to roam around Metz in search of free WiFi (luckily, that's common in Europe). We found a bunch of signals, but none of them worked. We ended up using a bartender's cell phone to call our host, but he didn't pick up, so we had to leave a message. Long story short, our internet was up and running about four hours later. 

After that crazy afternoon, the rest of the week was great. We became regulars at French Coffee Shop (they had amazing milkshakes and iced coffee), indulged in dozens of freshly baked croissants and pastries, drank more than our fair share of delicious wine, explored the Porte des Allemands castle, and admired the stained glass windows of the Metz Cathedral. We ate delicious pizza with champignon, chorizo, and fromage at a little Italian restaurant next to our flat called Le Pizzaiolo. We leisurely walked the meandering cobblestone streets and admired the 3,000-year-old architecture and history. And on our last night, we enjoyed savory crepes filled with roasted potatoes, smoked ham, and cheese. It was a refreshing, stress-free week that helped us adjust to the different time zone.

Fun fact: Metz is located near the tripoint of France, Germany, and Luxembourg! Because of this, the architecture and culture in Metz is heavily influenced by both France and Germany.

After a week of relaxation and exploration, we hopped on another train and headed for Germany to see Sara.

48 Hours in Paris

I returned from my backpacking trip over a month ago, but it's been difficult for me to sit down and write about it. I figured it would be easy for me to gush about all the beautiful places we visited, but instead, I've been intimidated and overwhelmed by the idea of adequately translating my experiences into words. This morning, I realized I just need to start writing. So, here I am!

We started off our trip with a quick visit to Paris. I'll be perfectly honest: Besides seeing the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, I wasn't very interested in Paris. I tend to shy away from major cities and gravitate towards small towns. However, I wanted our trip to be a balanced mixture of both. So, we ended up visiting several small cities, with a handful of major cities thrown in between. Paris was our first destination, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

When we arrived, we were extremely jetlagged. We flew from Baltimore to Reykjavik, and Reykjavik to Paris, and neither of us could sleep on the plane. I knew Charles De Gaulle was a big airport, but I didn't anticipate how enormous and busy it would be. We had to take a bus from the main terminal to a different terminal in order to get our train tickets, and I was in a foggy haze the entire time. 

Once we were on the train, it took 45 minutes (and two transfers) to get to Paris. Our AirBnB host gave us detailed directions to his flat, but we were so tired that we ended up getting lost. It was frustrating at the time, but it's funny to look back on now! We were both carrying 25-pound backpacks, sleepy and hungry and cold, wandering around in the freezing rain. We walked in a big circle for two hours and asked several people for help in broken French, but everyone shooed us away. Such a warm welcome, right? But in the end, everything worked out. We found our flat, drank some tea, and slept for the next 14 hours.

The next morning, we looked out the window and were met with gray skies and steady rain. We grabbed an umbrella, walked to the Louvre, and waited in line for an hour to enter the museum. We spent half the day walking around various exhibits, eating chocolate croissants, and drinking coffee, but we could have easily spent multiple days in there. It was huge! After that, we went back to our flat to work. 

The next day was for sightseeing and being typical tourists. Kyle bought tickets for the L'OpenTour bus, which was perfect because we were able to see many of the city's main attractions in a short amount of time. There were 19 stops total, some of which included the Arc De Triomphe, Notre Dame, and the Eiffel Tower. We were given headphones to listen to the audio portion of the tour, and my favorite moment was listening to Champs-Élysées while driving down the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. That song was stuck in my head for days afterwards.

We hopped off the bus at the Eiffel Tower, and I was freaking out from excitement. Standing right next to such an iconic monument was surreal and magical. We indulged in some delicious macarons from Ladurée and ice cream from a street vendor while snapping photos and walking around.

After getting back on the bus and finishing the tour, we were hungry for dinner. We went to SOPI Bistrot, a charming little restaurant just a few minutes from our flat. Kyle ordered the penne a la crème de figatelli, which we split, and we couldn't resist the clementine crème brûlée for dessert. Paired with a sweet white wine that our waiter recommended, it was a wonderful meal.

I ended up liking Paris a lot more than I thought I would. The patisseries filled with pastries and baguettes on every corner were charming, the fashion was flawless, the coffee was strong, and the umbrella-filled, cobblestone streets were romantic. I found that even though the people weren't incredibly friendly, they appreciated our genuine attempts to speak French. I also felt very safe there. Armed guards stood on every street, and our bags were inspected in every shop doorway before entering.

The next day, we woke up bright and early to catch our train to Metz.