Paris, London & Berlin 2015 | NYE Celebration 2016
After spending the last two years abroad with Tony, I can honestly say that we must continue to do a destination holiday and NYE celebration. It’s truly magical to experience how other cultures ring in the New Year. I’d much rather spend NYE with my significant other and a thousand strangers in a new place than in a club in Atlanta or a sh*t show bar. I definitely miss my family and friends, but December-January is the best time for us to take off work! I actually love traveling during the holidays. It sounds anticlimactic because movies portray traveling on the holidays to be chaotic–but it’s actually not too crazy!
So December 2015, was my first time to Europe and I immediately fell in love. Like I knew I would. The architecture, people and atmosphere are to die for. It’s just a completely different world. People walk everywhere, they walk and drive on the opposite sides that we’re used to in America, etc. You can watch shows and movies, but being immersed in it is so different. To keep this organized I’ll give an explanation of each city we stayed in!
First stop–LONDON.London: We stayed in London for one night in this quaint bed and breakfast called B+B Belgravia that is very close to the Victoria train station. Again, this was my first time abroad and there were some things I was prepared for and some things that were very odd to me. and our room was tiny, the outlets were weird and there was this heater in the bathroom that could potentially burn the entire place down! The view from our B&B was the epitome of how I imagined London.
On our first night we ate at this AMAZING restaurant called Steak and Co. We both ordered the Korean style BBQ–it was our first time cooking steak on a hot stone ourselves! Coolest experience ever. I got this crazy strawberry martini drink only because it came with a sparkler–doing the MOST on vacay 🙂 After dinner we went to the famous Leicester Square–similar to New York’s Time Square and everything was still decorated for the holidays!We walked around China Town as well. Every city has one! The next morning we had a “proper breakfast” at Baker & Spice. Complete with meat (bacon, sausages and black and white puddings), eggs, vegetables and potato all fried in creamery butter!We made room for some legit English breakfast tea! After that we headed out on our 2 hour high speed train ride to Paris. EEEK. We knew we were coming back to London after Paris and Berlin so we eased into our journey. I couldn’t wait to come back and see a Big Ben, a phone booth etc. all the basic London things!The train ride on the Eurostar was exactly what I thought it would be: amazing. There was a bar so we obviously had champagne. The waitress asked if we wanted the small or large and of course I said large… really cool experience. We went under the English Channel but it was dark so we couldn’t see anything but still cool to say that we did it! Paris 2016: We made it to Paris around 10:30pm from the St Pancras station. We stayed at this boutique hotel called Hotel Odyssey . Like most hotel in Europe the rooms are small with weird outlets, but the room was very clean with a comfy bed. It was dark, and I couldn’t wait for the morning! The city was still decorated for Christmas, with lights and that holiday feeling, but comparing Paris 2016 to Paris 2017 is that the terrorist attacks had occurred a month or so before we arrived and that had a really big impact on tourism. Security was at an all time high, the Louvre was closed and the streets were pretty empty other than in major areas. I didn’t really notice how dead it was until we went again in 2017. The first order of business was visiting the lovers lock bridge, which I planned ahead and brought a lock with us. I didn’t plan ahead with bringing a sharpie or something to engrave our names in it so it was interesting trying to describe what a sharpie was to a street merchant worker who didn’t speak English #winning. It ended up working out after some explaining and pointing! So we got our lock on the bridge and headed to the Eiffel tower to see it in action at night!Seeing the Eiffel tower was THE breathtaking thing I had ever experienced that far in life. The fact that the structure continues to stand now from 1887 is unreal. This particular year we didn’t make it to the top because the line was crazy and we didn’t have a ton of time before we left for Berlin. We did go in 2016–right before NYE 2017. After that unforgettable, epic experience –we had a lovely late night dinner at Bistrot Richelieu. People assumed we were American of course and some people were nicer than others, like in any city. We didn’t brush up on our French at all so we were using translators to at least attempt, at least Tony was… I didn’t even try!We had the steak tartare and lamb shoulder with a side of wine and cheese of course!The food in Paris is very gamy as far as meats go, so I stuck to crepes, cheese, bread and wine. The essentials. The bread is worth the calories– ALSO this dessert from Le Comptoir de la Gastronomie. This chocolate covered cake monstrosity was filled with vanilla ice cream.
On our last day we hit up my other bucket list item Notre Dame– a childhood dream I’ve always had since watching the hunch back of Notre Dame. So amazing. The weather was incredible–blue skies and light showers aren’t too common in Paris–so we were very lucky!
We wanted to tour the Catacombs but we didn’t plan ahead and get tickets in advance. So we walked around and ate and drank some more–SURPRISE. Tons of shopping, eating and sight seeing. Everything is picturesque. We were in Paris for two nights and saw all the cute alleyways with mopeds, pop up fruit stands and bicycles everywhere. We wandered back over to the Eiffel Tower to see it during the day. You definitely have to go see it during the day and at night because it’s an amazing light show. During the winter holidays the Christmas markets are up and the energy is amazing.
Please excuse the kissing–but this was actually the best day of my life.After visiting the Eiffel Tower again, we needed to check off the other bucket list item–which was having a crepe in Paris–even though you can get them pretty much anywhere in the world we stopped and got a delicious breakfast crepe from Coffee Crepes. The rest of the evening I gawked over pictures from the day and we called it a night ready for our next stop to Berlin to meet Tony’s friends for NYE!
Berlin: I didn’t know what to expect as far as what Berlin would look like, but I knew the food would be a little bit of a challenge for me because it’s SUPER heavy–Germans are big beer drinkers and sausage and cheese eaters. Nothing wrong with that, but I was trying to watch somewhat of what I was eating 🙂 BUT we IMMEDIATELY received a warm welcome with beers at this riverside bar called Ankerklause– PROST!We stayed at the Fjord Hotel that is walking distance to the train that would take us anywhere in the city. SO different then Atlanta… We went to the Alexanderplatz which was crowded but we experienced so many things. Amazing architecture and history, crazy word spelling on the buildings, authentic German food and I had mulled wine for the first time and it changed my life.Mulled wine, Pretzels, Brats and Cheese, OH MY! That’s all I wanted the rest of the trip! A must try during the holidays. THEN we took the train walked around until we arrived at the the historic Berlin wall–so insane.THE BERLIN WALL.Such a cool experience and so much history. Really hard to imagine that this now tourist trap was once a battlefield and this wall as so many terrible memories. We got some of the old stamps when we visited the wall and took the train to and from our hotel to get ready for our NYE celebration!
More Christmas markets were throughout the touristy areas and we watched fireworks and did the countdown with our friends and some strangers at their friend’s dads office downtown. Awesome views and we were happy to be indoors during the freezing cold weather and avoiding the chaos! It was quite the party. Made a few new friends in line to the restroom–HAHA.
After we rang in the New Year–we got some pizza and called it a night!
We spent our first day of 2017 visiting the capital building, a Holocaust Memorial and the Berlin Mall!
A busy day followed by dinner and ice skating 🙂
Final stop–London (again).
London: London is magical and I could 100% live there in a heartbeat. Between the street markets, yummy and diverse food and people with amazing accents. We stayed in shitty hotel our first night back in London–and we can’t remember the name of it or I would tell you NOT to stay there. We ended up moving hotels to a totally upgraded spot–the Russell Square Hotel now called The Principal Hotel. It’s right by the British Museum and a quick tube ride to Piccadilly circus. This hotel is indescribable by any other over word than a dream. I seriously felt like royalty in this place.We had some tea before heading out the Tube to Buckingham Palace! Tea time needs to be adopted into the U.S.I had flashbacks to every Disney movie like Princess Diaries and The Parent Trap that had scenes of the Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, a photo booth–worth waiting in line to get a photo, London bridge, the Eye (didn’t go up, but will next time) and we saw the renovated Globe where Shakespeare performed.
We continued sight seeing over to the Tower of London–it was a long wait so I didn’t get to see the Crown Jewels–so we will have to go back on a future trip! Made a pit stop to make Tony happy–see the Chelsea Premier League team stadium.Then–we had to make me happy and go see Abbey Road! Of course I had to get my photo walking across…After that we headed over to Soho for dinner at Wright Brothers for some delicious oysters and Bloody Marys! Another thing I love about Europe is the 3-4 hour meal time. Every meal is an event–so be prepared for that!
We walked through the beautiful Christmas markets in Soho and tried to find some Banksy artwork–but it had been removed sadly. BUT all the holiday decor was still up and we were taking it all in!
Then we ventured over to Camden town upon a suggestion from my college friend who studied abroad there. Amazing street markets, food, shopping and mulled wine.
The next day we made time to check out the British Museum which is incredible. So much history and tons of artifacts were brought over to this museum. Tons of stuff from Rome, Egypt, etc. We could have spent HOURS in there.
This was our final day so we were making the most of it! We stumbled upon this coffee/bake shop called Pret a Manger, which is essentially a Starbucks, but has healthier options. They actually bake everything in house and every that isn’t sold that day is given to the homeless! We headed home after that from an unforgettable trip and were anxious to plan our next one!
My favorite place this trip–was definitely Paris because it’s been on my bucket list to see the Eiffel Tower since I was little! Hope you enjoyed this adventure–I’ll be sure to post our more recent one soon from 2016 to NYE celebration for 2017!