Castles and Cathedrals

Ten Days
Seven Cities
Five Countries
Three Continents
Two World Travelers
One Unforgettable Trip

A Travel Journal by ​Alexandra Moss and Heidi Sneed

Pre-Trip​​

Planning

Heidi:  The one word I use to describe this trip is “whirlwind,” beginning with the planning process. Alexandra asked me to go on this trip seven days before our first flight would leave, and from there, I was off to the planning races. I found an old travel journal (that I’m pretty sure Alexandra gifted to me) and dedicated one page to each location --- listing out places to see in each city, potential prices, travel between sights, etc. Alexandra and her father had planned most of the trip, but we were looking at swapping out hotels to save a little money, so there was plenty to do.

Alexandra:  I definitely gifted that journal to her, and way before this trip was on the radar, so it was great to see her use it throughout the trip!  Planning was kind of awful, but it was much better once I was planning with Heidi rather than my dad.  

Alexandra:  I was visiting Lancaster, PA in December 2015 when my dad called me and asked if I wanted to take a trip to Marrakech, Morocco.  I wasn’t interested until he said we could make a stop in London.  Eventually, Marrakech and London added some additional stops including, Paris, Barcelona, Sevilla, Granada and Chefchaouen.  I was a little wary about seven cities in ten days (especially considering the eight hours of travel time between some locations) but hey, I wasn’t paying for it.  Well, at the last minute, my dad called me saying he couldn’t go and to have fun alone.  Traveling to Europe and Africa by myself sounded terrifying.  I convinced him to let me take a friend and Heidi (after some convincing) was up for the journey! 

Heidi: Most of the convincing was because I couldn’t believe the trip was an actual possibility! The timing was just too perfect! 
  

The Day Before: New York

H eidi : The day before our first flight, I had a six-hour drive to Pennsylvania and stayed the night with my family. I spent the evening re-packing, talking with a good friend who had previously visited Europe, and triple-checking all my research. Alexandra had a busy week, so the communication throughout our planning process was stressful, and I went to sleep not knowing if I would actually go on the trip. 

Alexandra : Before we left for Europe, I was going through so many changes I couldn’t keep my head on straight.  I was living in South Carolina with my grandmother who suffers from Alzheimer’s, but was planning on making the move to NYC after our trip.  So, I was in the process of leaving my job and packing my things, and making sure my grandmother would be okay without me.  All the while I didn’t have an apartment to move into once I made the move to the big city. I was basically trying to figure out how to live and travel the world for ten days at the same time.  I was trying so hard to communicate with everyone in my life and miserably failing.  Thankfully Heidi forgave me for being so awful.

Alexandra : I got to New York a few days early and got to spend some time with a few of my favorite people in the world.  It was so necessary after the past few months I had been having.  I figured out my last few packing necessities, and convinced myself that I could live ten days with just a carryon.

Heidi : If you know Alexandra, the idea that she could live ten days with just a carryon is a joke. In retrospect, knowing how much she was going through at the time, I feel badly for being such a worrier prior to our trip.
    

World Travelers​​

Day 1: Takeoff

Heidi: I’m actually not sure what to even consider “Day 1.” My adventure began with a bus ride to NYC, where I briefly met up with Alexandra, but even then, her plans ended up changing last minute, and I spent the day exploring New York City with another friend. To say I was panicking about the trip is a gross understatement. We had some friends send us off at the subway, where we said our goodbyes and took a train to JFK. After checking in with security, consuming the all-important Starbucks, and making my farewell phone calls, we were on a flight to London!

Alexandra:  Our friends making sure we got on the right train and seeing us off was one of my favorite parts of the entire trip.  I can’t explain how loved I felt.  I replay that memory in my head all the time.  When we got to the airport I opened a card from my dear friend Rachel who I had tea with that morning.  I proceeded to cry over a Starbucks gift card in the middle of JFK because I felt so loved.

Alexandra:  I woke up and had breakfast with my college roommate at Alice’s Tea Cup (If you havn't been, go.  It's every pleasure of a tea room without the stufiness you often find surrounding them).  I hadn’t seen her in almost a year so it was so nice to just sit and be in each other’s presence.  I didn’t even realize how much I missed her.  Then, surprise!  My dad randomly texted me saying he was in NYC (He lives in San Francisco) to see his little girl off to Europe.  This sounds like the sweetest thing, and it was, but at the same time, this was my day to spend with Heidi and finalize all the details from our trip (Also, he was so jet lagged, he fell asleep in a Pret a Manger..)  I will say, I was incredibly grateful when I lost my gloves and he took me to Macy’s to get a new pair and made sure I had a decent umbrella.  The two of us met up with one of my college friends and grabbed dinner before my college NYC crew met us at the metro.  Once we were on the train, Heidi and I finally got to talk about the trip.  My goals?  Drink Starbucks in every country (basic, I know) and mail postcards from every city.

Heidi: It was stressful to have the minimal remaining planning time interrupted, but I understood her father’s concerns. The time in the airport and on the flight to London provided a little bit of time to discuss expectations and plans for the trip.  

Day 2: London/Paris

Heidi : We touched down in London and immediately hopped a train to another London station. Deep down, my heart belongs in England, so I was thriving. I took note of a few British-isms that I enjoyed hearing on the train ride --- “brilliant,” “mate,” “queue,” “lift,” and “toilet.” The train station in St. Pancras was beautiful, and I indulged in some English breakfast tea (I mean, c’mon) while we waited for our train to Paris. Side note, the high speed train we took to Paris was reminiscent of the trains in The Hunger Games, especially as we passed through tunnels with graffiti on the walls.
Navigating to our hotel in Paris was hectic, and I was definitely more safety-conscious than Alexandra, but we eventually received direction from a nice man who somehow understood our English ramblings and Alexandra’s attempts at French. The highlight of the evening by far was our magical experience visiting the Eiffel Tower (before which we saw a man being arrested and were very confused about which train to take – Ah, Paris). Neither of us were aware of this beforehand, but there is a little ice-skating rink on the first level of the Eiffel Tower. A free ice-skating rink. While skating, the Eiffel Tower did its magical twinkle-lights bit, and with that, our European experience began.

Alexandra :  I won’t lie, I was a little concerned about the man being arrested, but I had done a ton of research on where we were staying and it was rated as a very safe area.  I also refused to let Heidi know I was concerned at all because she was already so apprehensive about the entire trip. 

Alexandra :  I slept for most of the flight to London, but I woke up when we were passing Ireland (anyone up for a trip there?). We landed in Gatwick and waited for customs for what seemed like forever.  I have plenty of patience for a lot of things, but waiting in line is not one of them.  The excitement of traveling the world along with a few interesting accents kept me a little grounded, but I was so ready to get on with the trip.  When we finally got through, we paid £10.30 for a bus ticket to Saint Pancreas (later finding out it would have been £8 if we had just walked a bit further).  When we got there, I was shocked by how beautiful the station was.  I got my first taste of Starbucks and Heidi and I grabbed lunch before boarding the Eurorail and heading to Paris (I would love to tell you about the train ride but I slept the entire way). 
When we arrived in Paris, we learned that you don’t get Passport stamps when travelling through the EU (except in London apparently.  Keep in mind this was pre-Brexit.)  When we walked out of Gare du Nord, I felt like I was walking out of a scene in “Sabrina”.  There was a light drizzle and I could hear Audrey Hepburn whispering to me “On your first day in Paris, it must rain.”  Heidi and I made it to Hotel de Bellevue Gare du Nord (which we loved by the way) by getting directions with my (embarrassingly) basic French and dropped off our bags before heading to Le Tour Eiffel.  Little known fact, you can ice skate on the first étage, and while we did, the lights started twinkling.  It was so magical, it made up for all the steps we climbed to get up there.  Afterward, we grabbed a steak dinner and tried authentic Crème Brûlée and Caramel Crème.

Heidi : Is it time to start planning our trip to Ireland? After a couple years, I’m sure we’ll be ready to venture into the unknown world again, since we did balance each other well on the trip. Unfortunately, one area in which we are the same is our dislike for waiting in line. Out of all lines, customs are the absolute worst. 
   

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Day 3: Paris/Barcelona

  H eidi : “Pure, wide-eyed, slack-jawed wonder and inspiration.” This is what I documented about our day in Paris. The city is absolutely full of art: musicians playing in the metro station, beautiful buildings around every corner, and of course the art actually inside buildings like The Louvre and Notre Dame Cathedral. It’s crazy to talk about this trip in “Days,” because we stayed up so late every night. This night ended with a delayed flight, which meant the subways in Barcelona were closed when we arrived, but it was amazing how alive the city was at 1:00 AM.

Alexandra :  I forgot that Paris had bombings not too long ago so security was extra strict.  It was my first time being patted down and I even had to take bobby pins out of my hair to get through.  It was awful, but not nearly as awful as our delayed flight that took off after our estimated ETA.​

Alexandra :  Our second day in Paris did nothing more than turn my life long dreams of visiting to dreams of living there for months at a time.  We made our way to Notre Dame first thing in the morning.  On the way, we found a Creperie called Les Galandines.  I promise, you haven’t had a crepe, until you’ve had a crepe in a creperie on the back streets of Paris.  We visited the gorgeous Cathedral and found the cutest little bookstore (which we were not allowed to take pictures in).  Daffodils surrounded some of the nearby parks and we took a breather before heading to the Louvre.  While we got the see the (tiny) infamous Mona Lisa, I was stoked to see impressionist paintings which happen to be my favorite.  We learned that the Louvre doesn’t have French art.  How weird is that?  We spent the rest of the day walking down Champs de Elysse which is famous for its shopping.  We made our way down the avenue to the Arc de Triomphe before grabbing our luggage and heading to the Aeroport Charles de Gaulle.  When we finally made it to Barcelona, the air was crisp and clean, not at all like Paris.  The city was beautiful.  I couldn’t wait to explore but was anticipating the weariness that was bound to hit with the lack of sleep we had gotten.

Heidi : I feel at a loss for words when discussing Paris. The crepes were amazing. The back streets were so charming. The Mona Lisa was underscored by the giant, wall-sized paintings and by the intricately carved sculptures (my favorite). Overall, though, the attitude of Parisians was very reminiscent of New Yorkers, and I am most definitely a Southern girl.

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Day 4: Barcelona

Heidi:  Fun fact about Barcelona: They have escalators in the streets. Even more random, they have escalators going up, but only stairs to walk down. Anyway, this day is hard to put into words. We saw so much, yet there was so much more I would have loved to do and see. Alexandra climbed an orange tree in the garden of a castle, so that was exciting.

Alexandra :  That orange was the most disgusting thing I had ever tasted.

Alexandra :  We started our day with breakfast in our hostel, Residència Erasmus Gràcia (Which was so nice I thought it was a hotel).  So far on this trip I learned that all hot chocolate is not created equal.  I had to add milk and sugar many-a-time to get it to taste right.   We made our way to Parc Gaulle.  So many beautiful animals and plants I had never seen.  I never realized that walking through Barcelona was basically hiking. When we left the park, we figured out the metro and headed to Castell Montjuic.  We took the life halfway up and had to force ourselves to leave the castle so we could visit the rest of the city.  We hiked back down and saw so many tourist attractions by accident.  Then we went to a pier to go shopping.  At this point I was getting chilly and since I had lost the gloves I promised my dad I wouldn’t lose, I was on the lookout for a new pair.  The shopping on the pier was excellent but Heidi enjoyed her food much more than I did. Then we were off to the Gothic Quarter.  The cathedral was beautiful.  In the courtyards, there were huge swans roaming free.  Afterwards, we did a little shopping and grabbed some treats.  The entire trip people told us that we must see La Sangrada Familia to which we responded, “Maybe.  If we have time.”  This was one of the biggest mistakes we made on this trip.  We saw the outside at the end of the day and it was absolutely breathtaking.  I wish we had gone inside when it was open during the day.  On the way home, we grabbed some Tapas for dinner and finally got to bed by 2am.

Heidi : One disappointment of Barcelona was our inability to rent bicycles or mopeds. However, we saw so many amazing places simply walking between our destinations. Parc Gaulle felt so beautiful in a completely different way than the city life we experienced in Paris. There were dirt paths, unusual plants and birds and dogs, and uniquely constructed, colorful monuments. The Montjuic Castle was on top of the city and beside the Mediterranean Sea, providing magnificent, panoramic views of Barcelona. The pier was one of my favorite places. Even though I did not care to shop, it was exciting to be exposed to the different styles of clothing and food. I still fail to remember what caused us to discard the idea of visiting Sangrada Familia, but I do wish we could have seen that place in the daylight. Barcelona was one of the cities that, we did the best we could with only one day, but I could easily spend a week or more exploring and soaking in the natural beauty.
  

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Day 5: Sevilla

  Heidi : This day was hard. The beginning felt impossible. The middle was breathtaking. And the end was draining. It started at 3:30 AM, the metro was closed, Alexandra lost a glove and spilled her bag, the ATM wouldn’t work, the taxidriver charged us double what he should have, and the hotel didn’t have a free shuttle (like they advertised). All that to say, Seville ended up holding one of my favorite stops of the trip: The Palace of Seville. Game of Thrones and Star Wars both filmed at the Palace of Seville, which immediately caught my attention, but I was even more amazed by the history that happened in the palace, along with the beauty of the scenery. Now, I’d really like a palace. Also, Alexandra climbed on my shoulders to snag an orange and a lemon from the trees in the palace gardens. New tradition of the trip: Stealing palace fruit?

Alexandra :  I knew the cab driver was charging us too much and I tried to fight back but I was so exhausted I lost the drive to argue.  No tip for him.  That orange was also gross.  I wanted it to be good so badly.  You’d think castles would know how to cultivate better fruit.

Alexandra :  Oh my goodness.  We planned Sevilla as a rest day.  We were both really tired by this point.  Nothing went as planned.  Nothing.  We figured we would spend a few ours in the city and then retire for the night.  Wrong.  So, Wrong.  Sevilla is gorgeous.  The entire time I couldn’t help but think, “What is this place?  What is this life?” This was definitely the stop with the best food and the weirdest language.  So far, we had been able to get by with my French and Heidi’s Spanish but here, we were at a loss.  It sounded like French, Spanish and Italian mixed together and barely anyone spoke English at all.  I had tried to use Google translate to figure out a menu and it couldn’t detect the language (We had to leave that restaurant.  I wasn’t taking any chances).  We found a few places (including a Starbucks) where we could actually interpret the menu and let me tell you,  it was the best food I have ever had in my life.  I had cous cous and curry chicken for lunch at Toc Toc Tapas (which is attached to Toc Hostels and I will definitely be looking into staying there next time. It was more beautiful than our hotel). We had dinner at Tabern a la Autentica and I would go back just to smell the pizza again.  Our plans to be home by sundown were very quickly foiled.  The city was beautiful.  We wanted to enjoy it.

Heidi : Seville was an intriguing stop because it felt the most like a tourist location, yet they had the least set in place to cater to tourists. In every other city, we had easy access to an English menu, or a waiter could typically understand a bit of English. While the language barrier at first felt like a struggle, it was wonderful to feel like we had found a hidden gem. However, our plans to be home by sundown were foiled by cultural differences of which we were unaware. Most shops and restaurants closed sometime in the afternoon, and did not reopen until as late as 9:00 PM. I almost cried when I realized we would have to walk an extra half-mile back to an open restaurant for dinner. My feet have never been so sore.  

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Day 6: Madrid

Heidi : The most exciting thing that happened on Day 6 was that we paid to use the bathroom, and the bathroom had a gift shop. Welcome to Madrid? But really, the fact that that was the most exciting event of the day was a relief. We finally had a chance to catch our breath in Madrid, where a friend’s uncle let us stay at his beautiful home, where we saw the value in little things like strong Wifi and sleep.

Alexandra :  I still have my ticket from that bathroom.  Heidi’s right.  That was the most exciting thing we did that day (other than my great nap).

Alexandra:  Thank goodness for a real rest day.  We were exhausted.  We decided not to kill ourselves and skip Granada and Chefchaouen.  Madrid allowed for a good nap and a better mall (Do you really think I went anywhere without shopping?).  At this point the adrenaline was running low.  We stayed with our friend Jonathan’s uncle (Jonathan lived in New York).  This year, Jonathan is overseas (for eleven long months) while I’m in New York.  This was also the night of the Oscars.  I was convinced that I was going to wake up at 4am and watch.  I was way too tired.  But alas, Leo got his Academy Award so I have no real complaints.

Heidi : Checking out the mall in Madrid was very cool because there were almost no other Americans around. I value the moments where we could blend in, people watch, and truly experience the culture. However, I exposed my American roots when I asked the Starbucks barista for a caramel white chocolate mocha (my typical order), and he had never made one before. I love first experiences; giving someone else a “first experience,” in something that felt so commonplace to me, was fun.

Day 7: Madrid/Marrakech

Heidi : Madrid was beautiful. We made a habit of seeing a castle and cathedral in every city along our journey, and the palace of Madrid was so beautifully intricate and elaborate. Aside from roaming the palace (because I cannot deny that every palace was my favorite stop and “Guys, I want a castle,” is the most appropriate movie quote for the trip), one of my favorite moments of this day was sitting in a coffee shop and writing post cards to friends and family back home. The coffee was delicious, for one, but it was also nice to catch our breath and just take in the atmosphere of another city.

Alexandra :  We started the day by stopping into a restaurant that celebrated Bull fighting.  I never realized how gruesome it was until I saw pictures of blood all over the walls.  At this point we had deemed this trip Castles and Cathedrals because they were pretty much our favorite part of every trip.  This was definitely the most beautiful castle we saw.  I was ready to hit ancestry.com and find my long-lost royalty blood line so I could skip the flight home and be a princess.  Madrid doesn’t have a ton to offer which was great for us.  We were in desperate need of rest.  At the end of the day Jonathan’s uncle drove us to the airport and my belongings were no longer fitting in my carryon.  I basically carried an entire bag on my body.  My coat barely buttoned and my pockets were overflowing.

Heidi : As boring as touring the city was, this day deserves an extra-long journal entry, because the ending of it felt extra-long. The transition from Madrid, Spain, to Marrakech, Morocco is in my journal as “the trip that went awry!” And oh, it did. Alexandra and I lost each other in the airport (with no Wifi and no phone service); we waited at the wrong gate and almost missed our flight (literally, the dramatic running-to-the-gate, last ones on the plane, moment); it was the loudest and most surreal flight – everyone felt like they knew each other and literally (LITERALLY) cheered as the plane landed; our hotel was in a super sketchy area and was overbooked; and the new hotel was way overpriced. It was an adventure, to say the least. Our taxi driver was undoubtedly a Godsend, and even went out of his way to advise that Alexandra not leave her wallet lying around on random hotel lobby couches.

Alexandra :  I thought Heidi was going to cry when we couldn’t find each other.  I almost did.  They changed our gate after they told us where to go.  I have never seen so many people so excited to get off a plane.  Our driver was very kind and after some negotiating, we got a fair price for a cab.  Turns out, the street where we booked our Riad wouldn’t fit a cab so our driver called the owner to meet us where we learned that it was full.  Our hotel was overpriced for Morocco but still the cheapest place we stayed.  It wasn’t just my wallet, it was my entire purse.  I heeded his warning.
 

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Day 8: Marrakech

H eidi : Marrakech holds one of my favorite memories. Alexandra and I rode camels. It was amazing. I was thriving. Alexandra was panicking, but she made me shop in every. single. city, so I made her ride camels. It was the best. I will say that I was definitely more safety-conscious than Alexandra and felt scared at times, but the people of Marrakech were extremely friendly and helpful. 

Alexandra : I hate camels.  They smell bad and one tried to lick me.  The only reason I rode it was because I made Heidi shop with me the entire trip and I knew I was going to make her shop more.
 

Alexandra :  I texted my mom that morning saying, “How did I end up in Africa?”  She texted back, “You are Africa.”  I’m pretty sure she’s going to be disappointed when she finds out how I embraced “being Africa”.  Marrakech is home to the kindest people I have ever met.  We spent the entire day shopping except for the camel Heidi made me ride (never again).  We had a different cab driver this day.  He was wonderful.  He spent the entire day with us for five dollars.  He drove us all over the city and took us to lots of shops.  We bought spices, lipstick that changes color depending on the PH of your skin and beautiful handcrafted bags.  We met Brits who invited us to party with them that evening (My idea of a party begins and ends with tea).  Our lunch was $2.50 and dinner was around $6. My biggest issue is that I couldn’t buy too much because I still had to be able to take it back to the US.  Thankfully I had an extra carry-on on this flight.  I was bursting at the seams with all my purchases.  Sorry Mom.  I’m not Africa.  I’m an American and I can bargain with a wall.

Heidi : It was fun to see the dichotomy between Alexandra’s bargaining styles and mine. It was a true “good cop, bad cop” scenario.
 

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Day 9: Marrakech/London

Heidi : The Motherland!!!!! I was by far the most excited to visit London. Today was mostly a travel day; finding our Airbnb was quite the task, but I was reminded of the kindness of humanity when a British woman used her dying phone to pull up directions to the location. We wanted to ride the London Eye first thing, but it unfortunately closed right before we got there. If this trip taught me anything, it taught me that planning can only go so far. Flexibility was essential; otherwise, it could have been far too easy to lose sight of the amazing sites and new experiences that were all around us. Instead of mourning the closed London Eye, we wandered the quiet streets of London at night --- saw Big Ben, Westminster, Parliament, Buckingham Palace... It was beautiful. My (deep down) British heart was soaring.

Alexandra :  I will be forever impressed by the kindness of that woman.  Also, there was a church with a sign advertising a festival of daffodils so that’s now on my bucket list.

Alexandra :  Thoughts: "If Heidi calls this place the Motherland one more time I might hit her… No, I won’t.  She’s going to have to shop with me here too."  I was finally fulfilling my other life-long dream of visiting London.  We checked into our Air BNB, got the London Eye times wrong and missed our plan for the evening.  Thankfully, London is filled with beautiful sites and we loved wandering.  I was really upset that we couldn’t walk in to Buckingham Palace (it’s only open in the summer when the Queen doesn’t live there), but was more upset that I couldn’t climb the statue across the street.

Heidi : I unconsciously, unintentionally used a British accent whenever completing a transaction with a shopkeeper. It is the motherland. This cannot be denied.
  
  
  
 

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Day 10: London

Alexandra :  We saw the crown jewels-I want them.  The Tower of London was stunning and if we could have, we would have spent the entire day there.  Alas, we had many other stops, including the London Bridge (which was super underwhelming) and Saint Paul’s Cathedral where we climbed to the top (surprisingly worse than climbing the Eiffel Tower).  In the meantime, we embraced our inner Mary Poppins and fed the birds and failed at touring Shakespeare’s Globe (I was super bummed but I felt even worse for Heidi.  This was the main thing she wanted to do on this trip).  The main food I wanted to try on this stop was Fish and Chips and I was not impressed.  But, we did get to see a show on West End which was my main goal.  I also discovered Hotel Chocolat which is the best chocolate I have ever had in my entire life, and trust me, I’ve had a lot of chocolate.  It has been a year and I'm still obsessed.

Heidi : Feeding the birds was my least favorite thing. I was disappointed about not touring the Globe, but being in London was heartwarming, no matter what tourist-y sites we saw or did not see. However, touring the Globe and seeing a show there will remain on my bucket list.

Heidi : Even by Day 10, we really struggled with planning, whoops. I remember running into quite a few snags – poor timing with the Metro, hitting the Globe right as a show was about to start, etc. But this day held awesome history lessons at the Tower of London, delicious foods at the Borough Market, and a West End show where we witnessed technical difficulties, cursing children, amazing dancing (by the cursing children), and where random strangers gave Alexandra tissues because she was crying so loudly. Oh, and one of the favorite moments of the stop:
Heidi: *trips over “Mind the Gap” sign*
Alexandra: It had to happen at least once.
*cue laughter from a girl sitting on the metro*

Alexandra :  I totally forgot about the stranger next to me giving me tissues.  I was so embarrassed.  I thought I was so quiet.  Heidi tripped in every single city.  We renamed out trip “Castles and Cathedrals: A Trip Around the World.”

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Home Sweet Home

Heading back to the US

Heidi :  I don’t have any pages journaling the flight home which means it didn’t happen and this is all just a dream… Just kidding. I remember Alexandra being extremely dramatic on the flight. Also, waiting in the line for customs was literally the worst. The walk back to our friends’ place in NYC felt endless. But man, the hot shower felt amazing, and as soon as we started sharing our stories, I knew that this adventure was one for the books.

Alexandra :  It was the longest flight of my life.  I have never been so close to skydiving in my life.  Normally when you get me in a moving vehicle, I sleep.  For some reason, I couldn’t sleep at all.  When we landed I literally yelled “Praise the Lord we are back in America!  Land of the free, Home of the Brave!”  I didn’t realize how loud I was until people started looking at me.  Oops.

Alexandra : Before we left London, we had to go shopping.  I had accumulated so many things that I had to purchase another bag and actually pay for luggage for the first time.  The most exciting part of this day was visiting Platform 9 ¾.  Heidi and I both love Harry Potter so there was no chance we were going to pass on the opportunity.  We stopped by and grabbed some souvenirs for friends at the gift shop.  Then off to the airport we went!  My checked bag was originally over the limit so I moved around everything I could until the kind man working at Norwegian let it go with only two kilograms over.  We got on a plane for eight hours and I thought I was going to die.  It was awful.  When we got home, the wheel on my suitcase broke, I was tired and miserable, and just wanted to shower and crawl in bed.

Heidi : How did I forget about Platform 9 ¾?!? That was such a simple joy and one of my favorite moments of the trip. I love how easily it happened – how naturally we were in these locations that composed bits of our favorite stories and adventurous tales, creating our own adventurous tale

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    London

Reflections

Heidi : This trip was really, really difficult. I kind of thought I would kill Alexandra, or that she would get us killed, but at the end of it I’m so thankful I went. We saw seven cities in ten days over five countries and three continents. I realized my true calling is to be a European palace owner and that I can 100% pass for a Brit. I had no idea what that trip would mean to me, how many times the random stories or experiences would come to the forefront of my mind and I would remember all over how crazy those ten days were. The main takeaway from the trip: I feel like I can do anything now. After conquering that many different cities, language barriers, metro systems, and monetary systems, planning a trip (or spontaneously taking a trip) feels like a piece of cake, compared to spontaneously tripping all over the world with one of the most peculiar persons I know.

​​ Alexandra :  I was super conscious of making sure Heidi and I didn’t hate each other during the trip.  We were both great about taking a break from each other when we got frustrated.  If we hadn’t, we might have actually killed each other.  I’ll never forget walking around and reminding each other that we were in Europe or forcing Heidi to take pictures in every city.  I am forever thankful that we got to take on that adventure together.  I thought I’d need a few years before I could go on an adventure this packed in such a short amount of time again but I’m already ready to pack my bags and get on a plane!  One thing this trip did bring, a sense of wanderlust.  I love living in New York City but I cannot wait to leave the country again.  I just want to see the world.  Anyone up for a whirlwind trip?  I’ll join you in a heartbeat!
 

Alexandra and Heidi are college friends and former roommates.  This trip was taken February-March 2016.

Sunshine and Lace congratulates Heidi on her recent engagement.

  1. Alexandra and Heidi in Madrid
    Alexandra and Heidi in Madrid
  2. Alexandra and Heidi in Morocco
    Alexandra and Heidi in Morocco
  3. Heidi and Fiancee Jeremy
    Heidi and Fiancee Jeremy