Europe Trip – Highlights from Paris

View from the Arc de Triomphe | Europe Trip - Highlights from Paris |

Paris is always a good idea.
(Audrey Hepburn)

Now that we’ve been home in Austin for two weeks, our visit to Paris feels like forever ago. Even though we are back to our normal day-to-day, I can still feel the city’s energy as I look through these photos. It’s hard to explain why I love Paris so much — there are countless elements of beauty, magic, romance, and sparkle. Too many to describe. This is my happy place.

Here are some highlights from Paris:

After flying in from Vienna, we checked into our hotel and were welcomed with mini macarons. I couldn’t have asked for a more delightful way to get things started!

Once we unpacked, we headed straight to the Arc de Triomphe. We walked to the top and were greeted by the view in the photo above. From every angle, the city is gorgeous! We snapped a bunch of pictures of the skyline, then attempted to take a few of us together. Thankfully, a friendly stranger offered to take our picture when he noticed our terrible selfie attempts!

We headed back down as the sun began to set. My Mister captured the picture below as we were crossing the street. It’s the picture I have as my desktop right now — I cannot get over the way the clearing in the sky frames the Arc. Next, we headed to The Peninsula hotel for drinks at their rooftop bar, L’Oiseau Blanc. Our beverages were not cheap, but it was worth it for the view! I took this video of the Eiffel Tower sparkling just before it started rain.

Arc de Triomphe | Europe Trip - Highlights from Paris |

Since my Mister had days filled with meetings and work, we did not have time for any other major tourist attractions. Instead, we explored some different neighborhoods and enjoyed a few of the many parks in Paris. The picture below is from Square Louis XIII park in the Marais district. We also went on a morning run through the Jardin du Luxembourg, which was just a few blocks from our hotel.

 | Square Louis XIII Park | Europe Trip - Highlights from Paris |

When we visited Paris last summer, my Mister and I added our lock to the Love Lock Bridge (Pont des Amoureux). We jotted down the approximate location in an Evernote and hoped we would travel back to Paris one day. We had no clue that we’d return so soon — and somehow we also managed to lose or delete the note! I was skeptical that we would be able to find our lock without any guidance. Plus, the city of Paris has started to board up the bridge panels to discourage locks altogether.

Love Lock Bridge | Europe Trip - Highlights from Paris |

Somehow my Mister (who’s usually the “realist” in our relationship) was surprisingly confident! I was so doubtful and after a few minutes of looking, I gave up. He kept at it, certain that our lock had to be around here somewhere. I mean, look at all those locks!

I don’t know how I ended up with such a patient and persistent fiancé, but I am so very grateful for him. After what felt like an hour (which was probably more like 10 minutes), he found our lock… ta da!

Love Lock Bridge | Europe Trip - Highlights from Paris |

I was so surprised and excited! We took a bunch of pictures of our lock, then headed back to our hotel so we could change before dinner. The whole time I kept exclaiming, “I can’t believe you found it!” and he seemed pretty pumped about it too. I didn’t realize it at the time, but he had one more romantic surprise up his sleeve. We walked right into Ladurée and stopped in for some macarons. Paris is my happy place.

Ladurée | Europe Trip - Highlights from Paris |

We ate well in Paris… here are my restaurant recommendations:

  • Chez Gabrielle – we came here for our first meal in Paris. Many restaurants are closed on Mondays, so we were happy to find a good one that was open for business. The most memorable items from our meal were the desserts! We shared some amazing pain perdu (French toast) and truffles.
  • Le P’tit Bercy – we came here for lunch and it was my first time ordering mussels as my main course. Dessert was the main highlight again, with a unique take on tiramisu + oreos!
  • Oka – this is a relatively new restaurant that has received high praise on TripAdvisor. The premise is interesting, especially if you are an adventurous diner: they serve 7 courses with a surprise menu. It was fun to guess what we were eating next.
  • Firmin Le Barbier – this was our favorite restaurant from our trip to Paris last summer. We came back for another memorable meal, seated in a cozy corner of the restaurant. We savored every bite. Highly recommended!

Just like the last time we were in Paris, the days passed by way too quickly. There’s still a lot on our list for future visits, including: the Louve, Versallies, crepes, and falafel in Marais. Oh, and we would love to see more of France one day!

After Paris we flew to Ediburgh for one last stop. I’ll share my highlights in the last post of this recap series next Tuesday.


Whole30 Round 2 – Day 11

Whole30 Round 2 - Day 11 |

Stay close to any sounds that make you glad you are alive.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a complicated relationship with food. I love it, I hate it, I feel like I deserve it. Completing the first round of Whole30 helped me embrace a more simple, less fussy approach. I ate real food, stopped counting calories, stopped weighing myself. (Here are my recaps from day 12 and day 26.)

Whole30 worked for me. More than any other diet, approach, or way of thinking about food has. Even as a collegiate athlete, I didn’t fuel my body like this. The results from my first round were nice too! My before and after pictures surprised me. (I really didn’t want to take before pics, but I’m glad I did).

With that said, my reintroduction was challenging. I added everything back into my diet all at once, while traveling through Europe for 3 weeks. My Mister and I had an incredible trip, and we ate and drank with abandon!

Intellectually, I wanted to enjoy every facet of the trip, especially the food! Emotionally, I felt like each unhealthy choice erased the progress I made in the past 30 days. It was a struggle to “just enjoy” the unique food, drink, and experiences at our fingertips. But, since my relationship with food is complicated and we went to a bunch of amazing restaurants, I ate it all anyways.

I haven’t uncovered the lesson in that experience yet. One thing I have come to realize is that it’s impossible to erase the past. Maybe the “fix” then is to focus on being fully present in this moment… rather than worrying about what was or will be. That thought is much bigger than food, but I think it applies.

When we arrived home, I was eager to start a new Whole30! This time I’m doing it for 6 weeks, which leads right up to the week before my wedding. Today is day #11 of my round 2.

I am feeling… much better! Cutting out grains, dairy, added sugar, and alcohol is a magical reset for me. The first few days were rough, especially because we went to a music festival this past weekend. I was ok without drinking alcohol, but my food options were limited. However, my anxiety about what it would be like turned out to be much worse than the actual experience. Once the music was playing, I was dancing and having fun like everyone else. With 10 days behind me, I am humming along and feeling good. It’s so nice!

I have been eating… simple breakfasts with blended coffees, followed by easy salads for lunch. For two nights, we devoured a spicy version of this Mexican Chicken Chili. And for other dinners, I have been pairing a protein with two veggies. I have a few favorite go-to “recipes” for cooking up the basics. My top three are: baked sweet potato, roasted butternut squash, and sautéed kale. I’m excited to cook up some slow cooker chicken curry for tonight and plan to serve it over spicy roasted cauliflower.

I have been loving… the kind and supportive Instagram community that I’ve fallen into. Seriously, the best! It’s so fun to get new ideas from others eating this way. I have also enjoyed connecting with some people who are curious or interested in Whole30.

I am thinking about… adding a few more things to the mix, like: giving up caffeine for awhile, working out more often, and increasing my water intake. I am also thinking about how I can integrate this way of eating with my normal life. What does that look like? How can I make choices I feel good about when I’m at restaurants, eating with friends, etc?

So, tell me, would you experiment with a Whole30? If you have tried it or are doing it now, let me know. I would love to connect about what has worked or not worked for you, and share some more of my experience with you!


Europe Trip – Highlights from Vienna

Train from Munich to Vienna | Europe Trip - Highlights from Vienna |

One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.
(Henry Miller)

During our trip to Europe last summer, we traveled a lot by train. It was relaxing and easy, and also a lot more timely than air travel. Unfortunately, most of our destinations on this trip were an 8-hour train ride away. We flew everywhere, except for our train ride from Munich to Vienna. The journey was relaxing, scenic, and productive! I was happy to get some work done while also enjoying the picturesque countryside.

Here are some highlights from Vienna:

Park Hyatt Vienna | Europe Trip - Highlights from Vienna |

We are building up Hyatt points for our honeymoon, so we were excited to stay at the Park Hyatt Vienna. The hotel occupies a 100-year-old building in the historic First District that used to be a bank headquarters. Our room was spacious, impeccably decorated, and full of modern niceties like touch-pad lighting and bluetooth Bose speakers. My Mister thinks this hotel has ruined me for any future vacations!

We arrived on Thursday evening, had a full day of work on Friday, then a wonderful weekend before leaving on Monday for Paris. We got the full Vienna experience, including a night at the opera and three morning runs through the city!

Schonbrunn Palace Gardens  | Europe Trip - Highlights from Vienna |

One of the highlights of the trip was our visit to Schönbrunn Palace. Photography was discouraged, so while we have a few sneaky pics of the incredible rooms, they don’t do the place justice. If you go, I recommend investing in the audio guide. I wish I was more of a history buff because much of the content was over my head!

Neither of us had major aspirations to see an opera, but we thought, “when in Vienna, do as the Viennese do!” Tickets to the State Opera (Wiener Staatsoper) were too expensive by the time we considered buying them, so we booked two seats at the Volksoper instead. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but halfway through the show we were both totally lost. Since we do not speak Italian or German, following along was quite difficult! I am embarrassed to admit that we ducked out at intermission and did not come back…

St. Stephen's Cathedral | Europe Trip - Highlights from Vienna |

St. Stephen’s Cathedral (Stephansdom) is a central landmark in the First District. After walking past it a few times, we went inside during Sunday morning services. The church is beautiful, with ornate details around every corner. Inside, there was a mix of tourists and parishioners — but everyone seemed to be in awe. Listening to the organs play and the choir sing, it was a magical way to start the day.

After St. Stephen’s Cathedral, we went to the State Hall Library (Prunksaal) at Hofburg Palace. It was neat to walk through the old imperial library, and my favorite part was the four globes by Vincenzo Coronelli. The tour inside Hofburg Palace and the Sisi Museum were a letdown compared to Schönbrunn Palace, but I am glad we went because it lead to one of my favorite (and unplanned) parts of Vienna!

Lipizzaner Stallions at the Spanish Riding School | Europe Trip - Highlights from Vienna |

When we walked through the entrance to Hofburg Palace, we saw the ticket office for the world-famous Lipizzaner Stallions at the Spanish Riding School. Then I remembered my grandma telling me that she, “didn’t get to see the horses” when she was in Vienna. We peeked into the ticket  booth to find out the 11am was show was about to start. We purchased two standing-room tickets and hoped for the best. To our delight, every part of the show was incredible! I would highly recommend it, and hope to go back with an actual seat one day.

Our three morning runs were another highlight. It was fun to experience the quiet stillness of Vienna, before everyone flooded the streets and started their days. We ran through the Naschmarket as it was opening on Monday morning, but I think we both wished we had been there during the day. It’s on the list for our next time in Vienna, for sure.

We had some great meals in Vienna, here are my restaurant recommendations:

  • Café Landtmann – if you were in Vienna for just a few hours and could only visit one cafe, I would recommend going here for weinersnitchel, apfelstrudel, and melange coffee. The full Vienna experience in one iconic location!
  • Freyenstein – this is a neat little restaurant. There is not a menu in the traditional sense. Instead, the chef prepares 7 courses comprised of many small plates. Each one was artfully prepared and full of surprising and delicious flavors.
  • Lola – on our “opera night” we went to Lola for tapas before the show. It was an early meal for Saturday night, so we had the whole place to ourselves. Our food and drinks were both wonderful, and so was the ambiance of the restaurant.
  • Glasweise – eating here was not part of our original plan, but we shuffled into this lovely restaurant across the street from the opera. We sat at the bar, enjoyed a few wine recommendations, and shared a tasting plate. Glasweise is an adorable restaurant with amazing customer service!

Vienna is a historical and magical place that made me feel small and young in comparison. It’s not somewhere I would want to move to tomorrow, but I could see myself visiting again in twenty years… I imagine things might be very similar to how they were this trip!


Creative Weekend To-Do List

Creative Weekend To-Do List | - image via Unsplash

If you always do what interests you, at least one person is pleased.
(Katharine Hepburn)

Hello, sweet friends! I hope you are having a great Saturday. Do you have any fun plans for the weekend? This is our first weekend home since getting back from our Europe trip, so part of me just wants to lay on the couch and catch up on the DVR. But, instead we have tickets to the Austin City Limits Music Festival (aka ACL)!

Last night we saw Sam Smith, Foster the People, and Outkast. Sam Smith was by far my favorite! He is so genuine and talented. The stories he shared before songs were fun, and his performance was incredible.

It’s terrible weather this morning, but I’m sure the skies will clear… some of the bands I am excited to see today and tomorrow are Icona Pop, The Avett Brothers, Eminem, Lorde, Calvin Harris, and Pearl Jam. Oh, and I started my second round of Whole30 on Monday, so it will be interesting to navigate a music festival sober + without any food truck adventures.

Even with ACL this weekend, I plan to spend time relaxing and catching up on life. The following creative weekend to-do list is intended to inspire. Consider this a friendly nudge to seek out little delights and exceptional joys in the days ahead.

listen to some new music or follow the ACL live stream
try making a homemade pumpkin spice latte
… then keep with the pumpkin theme and make this soup
catch up on magazines and cut out inspiration for a new vision board
make a photo book from Artifact Uprising
shop for cute thank-you cards, like these
search Pinterest for recipe ideas for next week’s meal plan
consider the possibility of a capsule wardrobe

I hope you have a lovely weekend! Let me know what’s on your creative weekend to-do list in the comments below.

Image via Unsplash

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Thirty Before Thirty 1/2 Birthday Check-In

Thirty Before Thirty 1/2 Birthday Check-In  | - image via Death to the Stock Photo

Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.
(Henry David Thoreau)

My half-birthday was last Monday, September 29. I didn’t do anything specific to celebrate, although we did arrive in Paris that day and ended up with some great memories to mark the occasion! When I created my thirty before thirty list 3 months ago, I only included things that were exciting, possible, and felt like a celebration. Now that I have reached the half-way mark, I am more excited than ever about this project.

Thirty Before Thirty 1/2 Birthday Check-In

Here are the items I have crossed off my thirty before thirty list so far:

  • Plan a great 30th birthday for my Mister – We had a wonderful time celebrating in Charlotte with his buddies from college.
  • Have a picnic in the park – We went to Blues on the Green in Zilker Park earlier this summer with my Mister and a group of our friends. We packed a picnic dinner and sat under the Austin sky hanging out and listening to music.
  • Buy a pair of designer jeans – Before we left for Europe, I went to Nordstrom and picked up a pair of Paige Denim jeans along with a few other items for our trip. Love the way these feel!
  • Travel to at least 1 new country – With our Europe trip, I was able to check Germany and Austria off the list!
  • Run in a race – I ran a 10K last month, and finished much quicker than I was expecting! While I would love to set my sights on another half marathon, I’m sticking with shorter races for now. I just registered for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K in Austin the weekend before our wedding.
  • Go paddle boarding – My friend Jen took me out on Town Lake for my first paddle boarding experience this summer. I also went out a few times on Lake Norman when we were visiting family in Charlotte. I was always nervous about paddle boarding, but it’s much less scary and way more relaxing than I thought it would be!
  • Have a makeover for the first time – When I went to Nordstrom for the shopping trip mentioned earlier, I also booked a makeup lesson at the Bobbi Brown counter. It was a great experience! Special thanks to Chelsea Bea for encouraging me to give this a try.
  • Drink all of my tea before buying more – I’m going to consider this done even though I didn’t technically drink all of my tea. Instead, I gave some away and threw the rest out. Many of the teas I owned had sugar and other ingredients that are not Whole30 approved. Instead of forcing myself to drink them, I have decided to start with a clean slate and be more conscious about the teas I buy moving forward.
  • Learn how to curl my hair – I purchased my first curling iron and brought it with me to Europe. Forcing myself into the new habit while on our trip turned out to be a great plan (since it was my only hair styling option). It took some practice, but it was was easier than I thought it would be to style and I love the way it looks curled!

So, that’s 9 things down and 21 to go in these last six months before my 30th birthday. Looking at the items that are complete, it’s interesting that several of them were things that I was nervous about, but really wanted to do. The lesson here is that I need to go for it more often… no matter what “it” is!

Looking ahead, there are a few items already in the works, like a mini-moon in Vegas just after our wedding and a trip to New Orleans for Mardi Gras! There are also other items like cultivating a daily meditation practice that I need to spend some time on. I’m excited about what’s left on the list, and I am looking forward to sharing another update in 3 months!

Image via Death to the Stock Photo


Europe Trip – Highlights from Munich & Oktoberfest

Double Liters | Europe Trip - Highlights from Munich + Oktoberfest |

Nearly all the best things that came to me in life have been unexpected.
(Carl Sandburg)

I had very few expectations for Munich and Oktoberfest. I figured we might drink beer and eat some pretzels, but the rest was pretty up in the air. My Mister had a conference outside Munich that was the impetus for this whole trip. We didn’t know it was during Oktoberfest until after he confirmed his attendance and started booking our travel.

Here are a few highlights from Munich & Oktoberfest:

We stayed near the conference, which was in an industrial, business-y suburb. Our hotel did not offer Instagram-worthy accommodations, but we were comfortable and near my Mister’s meetings. It was the longest leg of our trip, 6 nights in total. There were days filled with fun, others that were busy with work, and some that were a mix of both.

Beer Delivery | Europe Trip - Highlights from Munich + Oktoberfest |

Our first day of Oktoberfest was certainly the most memorable. According to Wikipedia, “it is a 6-day festival running from late September to the first weekend in October with more than 6 million people from around the world attending the event every year.” We arrived early on opening day, hoping to secure a spot inside one of the tents, but 8am was not early enough!

It was a rainy day, so we searched the various beer gardens for seating under an overhang. We finally found two seats at a table with a bunch of young kids (the drinking age in Germany is 16 for beer) and a group of retirees behind us. As we waited until 12pm for the first kegs to be tapped, we became fast friends with the older bunch, specifically George, his wife Ingrid, and their friend Helga. (Such German names! Dressed in full Oktoberfest garb!)

We went to Oktoberfest 3 different times, and the short version of the story is: we drank lots of beer and ate a few roasted chickens (the “1/2 Hendl” is a Bavarian tradition). So glad we had the opportunity to check this one off the bucket list!

Even though Oktoberfest was the main focus, we managed to explore Munich too.

Walking Across the Isar River | Europe Trip - Highlights from Munich + Oktoberfest |

Inside the city center, we walked through the Marienplatz, then checked out the Rathaus (Town Hall) and St. Peter’s Church. We went for a walk around the market and English Garden, both of which were amazing sights and good people watching.

Predictably, one of my favorite parts of our explorations through Munich was the time we spent in Chinesischer Turm, sharing a few pints. I also enjoyed walking over to Schwindinsel, which is a small island in the middle of the Isar River in Munich. In the picture above you can see the Bavarian State Parliament off in the distance.

Here are a few restaurant recommendations from our time in Munich:

  • Sapori – if you ever find yourself in Unterschleißheim (outside Munich), I highly recommend trying this small Italian restaurant. My Mister and I went twice! Their Picante pizza was complete perfection!
  • Albarone – this little gem is ranked highly on TripAdvisor, and worth every rating. We made reservations in advance and were the only patrons for the night. It was a unique experience and a fancy meal. Albarone is one place we would be happy to visit again!
  • Geisel Vinothek – on our way out of town, we stopped by this restaurant only a few blocks from the main train station in Munich. This place is completely charming, with decor that I would happily “borrow” for our house one day. We shared the prosciutto and buffalo mozzarella to start, and it was the best we’ve ever had!

Our week in Munich was interesting and memorable. If we go back, we will stay inside the city center… and hope for better weather! Our next stop was Vienna, Austria — a new city and country for us. I will share our highlights from that part of our journey next Tuesday.


Sunday Sounds – Tunes for Travel Playlist

Sunday Sounds - Tunes for Travel | - image via Unsplash

And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet
and the winds long to play with your hair.
(Kahlil Gibran)

Hello, loves. Happy Sunday!

After three weeks on the road, My Mister and I are traveling from Edinburgh to Austin today. We had the most amazing trip, but I am looking forward to getting back into our normal routine! Since the past 21 days have been filled with many indulgences, I am planning to dive back into Whole30 and daily exercise like it’s my job. Just 48 days until the wedding… that’s insane! Time to refocus on the things that make me feel calm, healthy, and happy.

One thing I really love is making playlists. So, I am trying something new. Every other week I will post Sunday Sounds — playlists from me to you. I made this Tunes for Travel playlist before we left for Europe and I’ve been listening to it since. There’s a mix of mellow and upbeat songs, perfect for travel days and autumn afternoons. I hope you enjoy!

Click here to listen to my Tunes for Travel playlist on Spotify:

alt-J – Left Hand Free
LP – Into The Wild
alt-J – Breezeblocks
Radiohead – Lotus Flower (Jacques Greene RMX)
Hozier – Like Real People Do
Bear’s Den – Sophie
Daughter – Smother
The National – I Need My Girl
Benjamin Francis Leftwich – Pictures
Noosa – Fear of Love
Balmorhea – Bowspirit
Banks – Waiting Game
Trampled By Turtles – Wild Animals
Muse – Madness
David J. Roch – Skin & Bones
Jónsi – Go do

Image via Unsplash


September Recap + October Intentions

September Recap + October Intentions | - image via Death to the Stock Photo

You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestation of your own blessings.
(Elizabeth Gilbert)

Hello, friends. I hope you are having a very happy start to October. It really does not feel like a new month since I’m in a travel time warp. We’re traveling from Paris to Edinburgh today, then home to Austin on Sunday. When we step back into our apartment, things will start feeling a bit more real.

Similar to how the start of October has been eclipsed by our travels, September was magical, strange, disorganized, and amazing. Everything considered, I am quite pleased with how my intentions for the month turned out.

To review, my intentions for September:

  • Make two playlists – Easy, fun, and done! I put together this playlist for my 10K and another for our travels (that I’ll share in an upcoming post).
  • Run in my first race since back surgery two years ago – Yes! I ran faster than planned and had a blast with my Mister.
  • Buy some new art and finishing touches for our bathroom – No progress. Preparing for our travels took priority, so I’m planning to revisit this in October.
  • Read one fiction book – I went on a bit of a fiction binge this month, reading: Big Little LiesThe Husband’s Secret, and Me Before You. All three were great.
  • Read one non-fiction book – I am still working on Secrets to a Healthy Metabolism
  • Finish my Whole30 with total commitment – Done! I am really happy with how this went and I’m planning to start another Whole30 when we get back from our trip.
  • Go on our 21-day trip with 2 pieces of luggage + 2 carry-ons – Did it! Here’s how.
  • Write & pre-schedule some blog posts to go live during our travels – Sorta, not really.
  • Take at least one solo-trip during our Europe adventure – Nope. Our travels have been busy and I’ve dedicated my solo time to working, resting, exercising, and reading.

Since it feels like the stakes are high, I am trying to keep my October intentions realistic. I want to use the next few weeks to become reacquainted with our normal, non-travel routine. I want to do what I can to be proactive and strategic with my time.

Here are my October intentions — what are yours?

decorate the “empty corners” of the apartment
eat clean and exercise often because there’s just 7 weeks until the wedding now!
put together weekly meal plans + make some freezer meals
work on our wedding to-do list: vows, songs, gifts, seating arrangements, etc.
post the remaining Europe trip recaps (like these highlights from London)
order photo books from our last 2 international trips
finish Secrets to a Healthy Metabolism and Daring Greatly before starting another book
share a thirty before thirty check-in

Image via Death to the Stock Photo

This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click + purchase I will receive a small commission. Thank you for reading & supporting An Extraordinary Adventure!


Europe Trip – Highlights from London

Europe Trip - Highlights from London |

Travel is more than the seeing of sights;
it is a change that goes on,
deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.
(Miriam Beard)

The first time I had my passport stamped was last summer. My Mister and I went on vacation to celebrate our engagement and him finishing business school. We visited London, Rome, Cinque Terre, Lucern, and Paris. It was 19 days of romance, delicious eats, and lots of wine. During that trip, I never thought we would travel to Japan and Korea a few months later, and back to Europe again this year. Life is surprising. We are grateful for these travel opportunities through My Mister’s work, and it’s lucky I have the flexibility to come along.

Two weeks ago, we packed a few small bags and headed on a direct flight from Austin to London. I celebrated the completion of my Whole30 with a glass of champagne and we watched the movie Chef before catching a few hours of sleep. We had four fantastic days in London before packing up again and leaving for Munich.

Here are a few restaurant recommendations + highlights from London:

Berners Tavern at The London Edition | Europe Trip - Highlights from London |

We stayed at The London Edition, which is a Marriott hotel. It was modern and nice, with a great restaurant and busy nightclub in the basement. They also have a small reservations-only bar known as the Punch Room. We may or may not have ordered seconds of the Oxford Punch, which is a blend of port, Cognac, rum, green tea and sherbet. Yum!

Our hotel room was spacious enough for me to unroll my travel yoga mat and practice during our stay. We were quite comfortable, aside from the noise from construction next door. Perhaps we should have complained to the front desk, but I think we are just used to it from living in downtown Austin.

Notting Hill | Europe Trip - Highlights from London |

Since this was our second time in London, we focused our sightseeing on things we missed last year. Our first stop after arriving into town was the Notting Hill neighborhood. I loved all the cute houses and shops. Another highlight was St. Paul’s Cathedral, even walking the 528 steps to the top. The view was worth it!

View from St. Paul’s Cathedral | Europe Trip - Highlights from London |

We also walked through the Southbank area and went to the Tate Modern art museum. I especially liked the pieces from Picasso and Jackson Pollock, and my Mister’s favorites were by Yves Tanguy. We stepped onto the balcony for a cappuccino break and watched a band finish their set on the steps of the Millennium Bridge. The lead singer was dancing around like crazy… even from far away, the mini rock show was fantastic.

View from the Tate Modern | Europe Trip - Highlights from London |

We had some great meals in London, here are my restaurant recommendations:

  • Lal Qila – our first dinner in London had to be Indian, of course! We tried the Madras and Vindaloo Chicken Curries with Garlic Naan. The chef prepared everything deliciously spicy… just the way we like it.
  • Berners Tavern @ The London Edition – I had a solo lunch here while my Mister was out on business meetings. Their rendition of a Caesar Salad has a flattened and grilled chicken breast as the base, with lettuce and dressing on top. Very good!
  • Bonnie Gull Seafood Shack – this was a tiny little restaurant with a focus on seafood (the name might give it away!). The crab starter and Rosemary Salt Skinny Fries were our favorites.
  • The Wahaca Southbank Experiment – we ate lunch here during our last visit to London and had to come back! The restaurant is built out of shipping containers and they serve Mexican street food. We loved the black bean dip and the Pork Pibil Tacos.
  • Edwins Borough – our last meal in London was at another small and cozy restaurant! Their Rabbit, Polenta & Parmesan starter was unbelievable. We also enjoyed their cocktails, I had the Bourbon & Ginger Flip and my Mister had the Pear & Cardamom Sidecar.

We had such an amazing time. As we were walking around the city, I could imagine how fun it would be to live there. It’s so beautiful, lively, and interesting! My Mister kept trying to remind me that it’s been unusually beautiful weather during both of our visits to London. After our four days, we headed to Heathrow for a quick flight to Germany. I will share our highlights from Munich + Oktoberfest in another post soon.


Packing List for 21-Days in Europe

Packing List for 21-Days in Europe  | - image via Unsplash

All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveller is unaware.
(Martin Buber)

Hello from London! My Mister and I arrived Tuesday morning and have been enjoying the beautiful late-summer weather. One of my September Intentions was to travel here with just one bag + carry-on for each of us, and I’m happy to say that we did it!

This trip is a long one (3 weeks total) and it will take us to five different destinations. We are visiting London, Munich, Vienna, Paris, and Edinburgh. The weather forecast is a range of 40-70 degrees with chances of rain. So far it has been nice, and warmer than expected!

My packing list for 21-days in Europe

The process began a week before our departure and included one “test pack” that was followed by me adding several items to the list. My bags are heavy, but manageable. There isn’t a lot of room for souvenirs, but we try to take lots of pictures and I usually collect tickets, business cards, and other paper things from the places we visit.

The Actual Bags

We each have one of these Travelpro suitcases that we bought during an Amazon luggage sale. They are great little bags for travel because they meet all major requirements for overhead bins and you can really pack a lot in them!

I have a purse very similar to this one that I’m using as my carry-on.  For travel days, it gets stuffed with my laptop, iPad, Kindle, makeup, and liquids bag. It’s also great for carrying around when we are exploring, especially if we want to bring our umbrella and pullovers.


I’m not very good about packing light when it comes to electronics, but that’s ok. I am willing to carry them around with me. While packing, I lay all my tech out and make sure the corresponding chargers come along.

A note on workout things: this makes me exercise more often while traveling. It isn’t a surefire solution, but it definitely helps. I was excited to bring my Fitbit for days when all we do is walk and explore, and my GPS watch + heart rate monitor for running.

Mini Medicine Cabinet

I got really sick when we were in Japan earlier this year. It was miserable when I ran through our medicine stash. I don’t plan on needing these things, but better safe than sorry!


  • Toothbrush + toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Razor + blades
  • Contact solution
  • Spare contacts
  • Q-tips
  • Lavender towelettes
  • Compact mirror
  • Nail polish remover pads
  • Nail file + clipper
  • Hair ties
  • Bobby pins
  • Wide tooth comb
  • Round brush
  • Curling iron
  • Hair products
  • Makeup bag
  • Rollerball perfume

As I mentioned in my packing tips for multipurpose trips, I collect sample sizes of my beauty products. I do not pack shampoo, conditioner, lotion, or a blowdryer since hotels usually have those for guests. My “liquid bag” is always busting at the seams, so I ask my Mister to carry the toothpaste and contact solution in his.

Jewelry + Accessories

  • Silver clutch
  • Small tan purse
  • Statement necklace
  • Everyday necklace
  • Nice watch
  • Earrings (5 pairs)
  • Black scarf
  • Blush infinity scarf
  • Umbrella
  • Sunglasses
  • Glasses

I just bought my first-ever statement necklace and am in love! It was a must-bring item, along with several pairs of earrings, and two scarves. These little things help keep me from feeling like I’m wearing the same outfit over and over.


  • Nice long sleeve dress
  • Nice black sleeveless dress
  • Cranberry sweater
  • Black sweater
  • Two-in-one top
  • Cream blouse
  • Casual sweatshirt dress
  • Long sleeve pullover
  • Grey v-neck t-shirt
  • Black t-shirt
  • 2 black + 2 white tank tops
  • Exercise tank
  • 2 pairs of leggings + 2 pairs of jeans: one dressy, one casual each
  • Pajama/sweatpants
  • Underwear (6 pairs)
  • 2 everyday bras + 1 sports bra
  • Socks (2 running, 3 everyday)
  • Black tights
  • Black leather jacket
  • Olive green jacket

I really cannot imagine bringing any more clothes. In my first round of packing, I did not include the nice black sleeveless dress, exercise tank, or the extra pair of leggings. Those were impulse additions to my bag, but I’m hoping they will prove to be useful. There’s nothing worse that bringing something around with you to five cities and not wearing it, so I am planning to keep track of how well I’m rotating my outfits. Also, we are planning to do laundry a few times during the trip!


  • Black boots
  • Black flats
  • Running shoes
  • Grey TOMS

I tossed my TOMS in at the last minute. They pack flat and are comfortable walking shoes. My boots and flats are brand-new for the trip… so, I should have broken them in before leaving. Guess that’s why I brought band-aids. Also, this is the blister cure we swear by. Ha!


  • Water bottle
  • Yoga mat
  • Pages from my day planner
  • Notebook
  • Pens
  • Wite-out
  • Headphones
  • Lip balm

This is my collection of creature comforts that, for the most part, I would not travel without. This water bottle is very light and it filters the water as you drink it. This yoga mat folds up and fits nicely in the front zipper section of my luggage.

Taking a few pages from my day planner is more practical than bringing the whole thing. I just hold what I need together with a binder clip, then tuck it away in a small notebook. This pouch holds my pens, whiteout, lip balm, lavender towelettes, headphones (cord-wrangled with one of these), plus one packet of Emergen-C and EBOOST.

That’s everything!

Creating a packing list for 21-days in Europe is no small feat. I might have brought slightly more than I will need, but that’s hard to tell at this point. My bags are heavy to carry, especially upstairs and through uneven sidewalks, but I can manage it all on my own and it’s comfortably under the airline weight limits.

I hope this provides you with some inspiration and helpful information for your next trip… whether you are leaving for a few days or going on a long, faraway journey! Let me know in the comments, what are your top must-pack items?

Image via Unsplash

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