New York City is my first travel love. The first time my parents took me here, at the wildly impressionable age of 13, I was blown away by how very, very different it was to my rural/suburban North Carolina upbringing. Some people are turned off by those differences. I was not. I fell in Love, with a capital L.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but Tours, France, may just be the love of my life. I adore that town. Paris is absolutely beautiful, and I love it in its own way, but Tours? Tours feels like home. So when we arrived, it wasn't so much showing up at a destination as returning to a sacred place inside us. It was also especially poignant, because we don't know when or if we'll be back. Then again, we said that last October. And, well, you see how that turned out.
While my trip to France ended about as cluster-y as is humanly possible, it didn't actually start off that illustrious, either. After the lengthy, overnight flight, I went into the restroom just past border patrol to change and put in my contacts. When I flushed my toilet, the water went...the wrong direction. My socks, shoes, leggings, and underwear were soaked. Thank God I'd only peed.
Luckily, I had brought jeans to change into, so I quickly changed into those, waddled out awkwardly in wet shoes to Brian, got some clean, dry footwear and underwear, and changed again. In a different stall. And laughed, and laughed, and laughed. Because what else can you do?
Today is a happy, happy day here at olive+yew, because WE ARE HEADED BACK TO FRANCE. The knowledge that this trip was in the works lit a fire in my heart that's been burning for a month now. Even though it's only for a week, I get to go back home.
But first, we've gotta get there.
My knowledge of Barcelona prior to this trip is not what you'd call inspiring. In 2011, shortly after B and I visited France for the first time, my mother went to Barcelona on a work trip. Long story short, a thief ripped her heavy gold necklace right off her neck in broad daylight. So there's that.
Before that incident, all I knew about Barcelona was that it hosted the 1992 summer Olympic Games, because I adore the Olympics, especially women's gymnastics (side note: can I get a hands UP for Team USA this year? Aren't they KILLER?!).
Needless to say I approached Barcelona with a certain...ah...apprehension. As far as I know no gymnastics were going on during our trip, but I'm guessing the petty criminals were still in business.
Our experiences with Spain have been different than with any other European country we've visited. In every other country - except France, for obvious reasons - we hit only the major cities: London, Dublin, Athens, Rome, Munich, etc. In Spain, we've really only been to smaller coastal towns.
Last year, we hit up San Sebastian, a tiny seaside resort town on the Bay of Biscay in the Basque Country, literally just over the French border. We hopped back across just in time to catch the Tour de France coming through.
This year, although we did take a long weekend in Barcelona, we spent the bulk of our time in the Costa Dorada region - namely, Reus, with some quick field trips to other areas. However, Reus is much smaller and less interesting than, say, Tours, so it was a hard week for me. Because here's a newsflash for you: Spain isn't France.
...okay, well, for a week, anyway. Team Stevenson is heading to Spain.
We'll be in Reus, on the coast near Barcelona, and I'm excited for the chance to explore a new place, try new food and wine, and stock up on all the Caudalie, Longchamp, and Desigual products I can get my hot little hands on.
For our first anniversary, we found ourselves in Bordeaux. That's because we found ourselves living in France for six months. As we toured the famed French wine region, B said, "It's just crazy that we're visiting Bordeaux before California wine country."
Well, that's because apparently the good Lord was saving Sonoma Valley for our second anniversary. Who knew? I guess when you meet your spouse at a wine festival, anniversaries tend to center around that kind of thing.
I don't really feel knowledgeable enough to write about San Francisco, seeing as we were only there about two hours, but I took a lot of pictures and they're pretty good, so you're getting my opinion on the city, for whatever it's worth.
Thanks to the wedding of a high school friend of B's, we had an excuse to visit California in April. The wedding took place in L.A., but while we were already on the West Coast we took the opportunity to visit San Francisco (briefly) and Sonoma Valley as a slightly early anniversary gift to ourselves. Needless to say, I took a lot of photos, but thanks to an over-full hard drive (6,000+ Europe pics, anyone?) and a MacBook Pro that had slowed to a crawl, we had to do a little technical refiguring and external hard drive purchasing before I could edit these to show you. But anyway. We're here now.
So. Los Angeles.