Sunday, July 6, 2014

Top 2 Travel Tips for Couples

We are honored to be among the 4 traveling couples included in the "Travel Tips for Couples" editorial on and we're sharing our TOP 2 TIPS here! Be sure to check out the original post to read all 11 pointers for smooth sailing on your next voyage.

The Nomadic Newlyweds Top 2 Travel Tips for Couples: (say that three times fast, whew!)

1. Schedule Downtime.

Plan out every minute of your adventure…then delete ¼ of the itinerary.  Put RELAX on the calendar…go ahead – write it in! Prioritizing downtime is key to keeping your cool despite the travel blunders that will surely arise. This will help you enjoy your expedition and enable you to savor the company of your travel partner!

2. Be Authentically Spontaneous.

Don’t do it for the photo. Your most beautiful and romantic moments will happen when you aren’t concerned with your social media following.  (That being said – we always have the point-and-shoot camera in an accessible pocket – photos are important, just not more-so than the experience.)  

Keeping these tips in mind truly helps us experience our adventures more fully – here’s hoping they help you, too! 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Eiffel's “La dame de fer”

I say skip the Eiffel Tower. (If you know your visit to Paris will be a brief one, that is.) 

Why spend your precious hours in line below the tower, when you can enjoy its splendor from various spots around this stunning city?

In the 1890’s a Parisian might have suggested the opposite. In fact, the writer Guy de Maupassant was noted as having spent his lunch hours eating from the restaurant inside the tower…so as to remove the “eyesore” from his view!

The tower, built for the 1889 World’s Fair, celebrates the 100 year anniversary of the French Revolution and was meant to be standing only temporarily (a two year arrangement and then it was to be disassembled). Clearly though, the Parisians not only became used to the mammoth tower but eventually got in line with the rest of the world who already revered it for its originality and unique beauty. Most importantly, though, it gained recognition for its usefulness as a radiotelegraph station during WWI and again in WWII.

French stories have it that during the German occupation of Paris the resistance fighters cut the tower’s elevator cables, forcing the Nazis to climb the immense stairs.

Today the structure, that took nearly 20,000 pieces of iron and over two million rivets to assemble, employs over 500 workers to upkeep its daily operations! It welcomes 7 million visitors per year, which is more than any other paid tourist attraction in the world.

One of the most notable visitors of all time is Thomas Edison. Reading on the grandeur of the World’s Fair, I revel for a moment imaging this scene:

When Thomas Edison visited Paris to ascend the great iron spectacle, Eiffel invited him to his private apartment within the tower. High above the City of Lights they were serenaded on the piano by the composer of Faust, Charles Gounod, before Edison demonstrated his latest talking phonograph.

As this surreal scene pieces together in my mind, I can’t help but ask a very practical question: “How did they get a piano into this apartment in the sky!?”. After a bit of research, I have found that this piano was lifted by crane and placed within the designer’s home before the completion of its construction!

Once the tallest building in the world (surpassed after 41 years with the erection of the Chrysler Building in  New York City), the Eiffel Tower covers 2.5 acres of land and require 50 tons of paint every seven years. This world famous icon is also referred to as “La dame de fer”, which means The Iron Lady: A fitting name for the strong yet delicate design.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

"...thus far, Paris and I have had no chemistry".

In the name of full disclosure, I must tell you: Paris was not included on the original itinerary for our honeymoon.

Don’t hate me, but I’ve been and while I think it’s a lovely place, it has simply never spoken to me (more less whispered sweet nothings in my ear the way it surely does to nearly every other human who visits!). 

Paris gets around. She knows many lovers…but, thus far, Paris and I have had no chemistry.

My mother and father-in-law adore the city. They’ve been here a number of times and were crushed that my husband wasn’t going to experience it. So, Paris was added thanks to their loving persuasion…and, I must admit, Paris stepped up its game this time.

I love history and I’m a sucker for a great revolution story – so you’d think this glittering city would have already won my heart, but not until tonight.

Our hotel is just steps away from the famous Tuileries Gardens. Created by Catherine de Medicis, these gardens were private for a century before opening up to the public (just after the French Revolution). Now, in the 21st century: on any given day, these beautiful grounds can be enjoyed by the public for relaxation and socialization. That’s all fine and dandy…but for a few months during the summer, these peaceful gardens are turned into a wonderland that enchants the young and the old alike…

I’m like a moth to the flashing-carnival-light-flame.

I love the cheap games and the bing-bang-cling-clang noises of the rickety old rides. I think ferris wheels are charming, nostalgic and downright romantic. I dig the adrenaline rush of being scared out of my wits by a hideous clown as I get lost in the maze of mirrors in a fun house. So as we stroll out of our hotel in search of food and adventure, I squeal with delight when I spot the high-flyer spinning up above, with the Eiffel Tower twinkling behind it.

A gorgeous twist on the dirty, crowd-ridden fairs we experience each summer in the Midwest (again, not knocking them – I love them, goat auctions and all), this festival is saturated with European class - Stocked with vintage crepe carts and merry-go-rounds adorned with horses dating back to 1900! 

What was meant to be a pit stop before a fancy dinner has turned into an evening of cheap French wine sipped from plastic stemware, hotdogs smothered in spicy mustard, and an array of flavored crepes – (not the least of which is a Grand Marnier crepe that I believe may leave me with a headache tomorrow!)

We throw a few bucks away playing rigged games before we get the nerve to brave the fun house. We scramble as the floor drops from beneath us and we dizzily flop forward from a spinning trap. When our path leads us to a quiet (and, in retrospect, remarkably unstable) ledge atop the fun house, we take a break from the craziness to enjoy the City of Lights lit up in all its glory in the dark night. This vantage point is lovely, we can see the carnival below and the sparking city all around.

The only way down is through a huge, swirling slide. When we emerge from the giant tunnel, laughing hysterically, my hubby points out that the butt of my pristine white slacks is black with fun-house-grunge. 

The absurdity of the evening was well worth the fashion sacrifice.

Paris has won a piece of my heart through this silly festival. I’ve met the low-key, goofy side of the city – and we are getting along swell.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A Ham & Cheese Sandwich, in Paris

Our weekend in Paris, France begins ideally as we emerge from the underground subway station…popping up into the hustle and bustle of the city we turn one slight corner and are watching the sun set, right through the glass pyramid of the Louvre.

Having only stood here for roughly 20 years, this clear structure has quickly become an iconic landmark for the City of Lights. Though its striking appearance is an obvious lure, the commissioning of this piece was of a practical nature: The museum’s main entrance could not handle the immense amount of patrons it welcomed each day. Now, the pyramid design allows for visitors to descend into the spacious lobby and then re-ascend into the main buildings – distributing the crowds efficiently throughout the museum. Reading about the Louvre on the train this morning, I learned that the pyramids designer, I. M. Pei, is also credited with having designed the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio! Oooh-la-la! Sophisticated Midwest, taking notes from France!

Though we are exhausted from a day of navigating buses, trains and subways, (all in foreign languages, of course) we pull our suitcases along as we grab a seat just before the former royal palace and enjoy our first French sunset.

We don’t have the energy to rove about the city tonight but I am dead set on finding a shop with my favorite sandwich before I will retire. The Croque Madame. I dream of this savory delight. Literally. I wake up salivating, starving for this authentic, French, ham egg and cheese sandwich.

We snag a seat at a quiet cafĂ© on the walk to our hotel and have our sandwiches delivered in mere moments. Not too shabby for our first day here…