the beginning of something beautiful { e u r o p e 2012 }

The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page 
{ St. Augustine }

I have been M.I.A. for many months from the blogging world, and it was much needed as I transitioned from the busy grad-school life in Seattle to the post-grad life as a pediatric nurse practitioner in Vancouver area. But one of the most exciting parts of the last 9 months is that I got to do one of my favorite things in the world:  t   r   a   v   e   l

I was in London, Paris, and South France in July. In short, I was on cloud n9ne. It was such a blessing. A once in a lifetime opportunity ( I thought! ). I also got to see one of my best friends get married in SoCal in December (and visit Disneyland!), enjoyed the sunny skies of Phoenix in January, and returned to my beloved Seattle a few times to visit friends and the city.

Well, now I am excitedly awaiting two trips in the next few months: NYC in one month (!!!) and . . .  I am returning to London and Paris  --with a cherry-on-top finale: Nice, France -- at the end of the summer! I will be exploring these beautiful cities with my soon-to-be-graduating youngest sister and will be meeting my parents in Paris.

So, after spending some time pinterest-ing tonight, I found an amazing blog with a girl who chronicled her trip to Italy and France. And I realized, what a great idea to capture the best memories of a trip as amazing as Europe! I have a journal, posted pictures on Facebook, and have random knick-knacks in a memory box, but to put my memories on the blog would be fun as I add on new experiences in the next few months.

So here it goes: the beginning of something tres belle. I will try to share some of my favorite travel memories as well as capturing the beautiful blessings that showered me during this fun adventure.

First off, I want to mention that this trip was a blessing. Yes, you'll hear me say that many more times, but it is true. Here are just a few reasons:

  1. Cost. It was super affordable because my plane ticket was covered by my parents' travel points through Delta. It was also affordable because I stayed with family in each of the cities.
  2. Family. Yes, you heard that right: I am blessed (there it is again!) to have cousins in London and Paris as well as an aunt and uncle in south France. They were all so gracious to host me during my trip, which, as a recent graduate with small funds, was beyond anything I could ask for. Not only did they show sweet hospitality, it was so awesome to catch-up with family from around the globe. I had not seen these relatives for 6-8 years, so it was great to meet them again!
  3. Experiencing life. I had become so engrossed in finishing my master's program, passing my board exam, and getting a job as a PNP that I had become stressed out and stuck in my little bubble of getting things checked off a to-do list. It was so great to be immersed in cities with cultures so different than my own. It was a great reminder that my little bubble is not the only existence out there.
  4. Realizing I could navigate my way around foreign countries definitely boosted my confidence before starting a new job. If I could figure out the Paris metro, I could learn to navigate my way around a pediatric primary care clinic!
  5. I saw God's faithfulness over the last two years. I had plenty of time to sit, stare at the beautiful scenery around me, and tearfully explain, "Father, you are good!" I would recount the many times He had taken care of me in the previous two years (which were filled with valleys as well as mountain top memories) and then realize, "I am in Paris!! Wow, God, thanks!!!"  

f i r s t  s t o p : LONDON {5 days}

Home of the Royal Family, the elite Oxford and Cambridge geniuses, tea time, literary greats (Shakespeare, Jane Austen, C. S. Lewis to name a few), and a great bell named Big Ben.

Oh, I loved London. There is just something so proper and eloquent about this historic city. I loved people watching --- and my personal favorite hobby while waiting for the tube was looking at shoes. The men all wore such fancy footwear. Granted many were on their way to work, but still, they looked so polished and handsome, it was fun to notice how spiffy everyone looked around me.

My first day in London was mostly travel time and resting at my cousin's house. I stayed with my cousin Lili, her husband, and their adorable daughters in a suburb about 40-45 minutes (by train and tube) from London. Lili helped me navigate the tube system and hooked me up with an Orca card, which is a must when getting around London.

Day two was filled with amazing experiences.

I booked a ticket for a day pass on the Big Bus Tour. I highly recommend it. Some will snicker at the thought of a bus tour, but really, this is a great way to go for an all-in-one-day appetizer of the city. It was a great way to see London if full, then explore the next several days in greater detail once I knew the layout of the city. And I met a middle-aged women who was from the Caribbean who was studying English in London and was taking the bus tour and asked if she could tag-along with me because she never gets out and would likely get lost. This worked out well because we each had someone to "ooh" and "ahhh" with and we each had a personal photographer to chronicle our day!

Here are some highlights from the day:

Buckingham Palace and a photo-bomber on the right

And because I fell in love with not only London, but instagram during this trip, here are my favorites:

Some of my favorite memories during the Big Bus Tour:
  1. Seeing Big Ben over and over and over again. I fell in love with this iconic view!
  2. Paul Cafe and Pret Manger, two great cafes in London that put Starbucks to shame
  3. Getting lost in the beautiful artwork at the National Gallery (which was free!)
  4. River cruise (included in the Big Bus Tour ticket) 
  5. Beholding the historic Westminster Abbey and St. Paul Cathedral (both only from the outside)
  6. . . .  and the Buckingham Palace!!  I was thisclose to royalty.
  7. Navigating my way into and around London on my own. I looked every bit the tourist with my maps in hand, but I did not care. Even when I got lost, I was still enjoying the views!
I'll finish it up with my giddy self as I was passing my beloved Big Ben:

Next up: My adventurous day trip out of London to the Cotswolds and Oxford! Stay tuned!


  1. So much fun! I love seeing you travel pictures!! You are going to LOVE New York! I can't wait to see pics from that trip up too!

    Love, Denise


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