country · drinkin' · earth · familia · friends · hotels · oooooooklahoma where the wind.... · osu · paaaarty · restaurant · Road Trip · touristy · travel · usa · weird · wine · wisconsin

Midwest USA Trippin

Hello? Is this thing on?

I’ve been doing some major road trippin’ in the USA – visiting friends in Oklahoma, meeting up with my parents for a road trip to Wisconsin where I hung out in Madison, attended a wedding in upstate Wisconsin and then another wedding where my Mom grew up, small town Manawa, WI, then hit Grand Rapids, MI. And naturally, hung out with LOTS of relatives. Ahhhh, it was all good. It’s actually amazing how things can change so much in so little time – in both good and bad ways.

Let’s start with Oklahoma, shall we? Flew into green (!!!) and blazing hot Oklahoma via Will Rogers Airport in OKC.

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The lovely Amy W picked me up and we were off to Stillwater – home of Pistol Pete, Oklahoma State University and where I have a zillion fantastical memories of growing up. We were getting the gang together. These are my OK girls that I’ve known since I moved to Stillwater at the age of 10. We’ve been through a lot – roomies, yelling at strangers, proms, drinking, smoking, car accidents, marriages, divorces, singing at the top of our lungs, dancing, deaths, sickness, skylab fallouts, the tumbleweed, the strip, babies, time capsules, cars, coloring hair red black grey blonde pretty much any color and I could go on and on but I think you get the idea. These girls and I understand each other so well that it only takes a look to get a meaning across and we have so many stories that nobody will ever know about but us. It’s true love, y’all. And I got tears in my eyes posting this picture below. XXOOOOOO

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The weekend was filled with HEAT, drinks, laughter, QUESO!, lots of tears and just a bonding again that we really needed. It was emotionally exhausting but this time together was so important for us all. We celebrated a life, we celebrated an engagement, we celebrated us. It was another Loo meet-up for the books.

Where to hit in Stillwater? Well, it had been a good while since I was last there and Stillwater has grown a lot. Of course, there is always Eskimo Joe’s for burgers and beer, Mexico Joe’s for well, mexican. Don’t forget to hit the strip for Coney Island (now I’m craving about 10 of their hotdogs) and the strip has fun bars and shops to check out too. Walk around the beautiful campus of Oklahoma State (wave at my awesome Zeta Tau Alpha sorority house across from Theta Pond) and if you’re there during school time try to catch a football or basketball game.

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Next up, road trip with Mom and Dad. I do a lot of these with my parents and I cherish each one immensely, no matter how minute. They drove into OKC from Phoenix and I stayed one more night with Amy, I needed my Amy time!!

It took us two days to get to Madison, WI. (You can check out my post about Madison, WI HERE) Where I enjoyed the peculiar items at the road side gas stations (pickled bologna anyone?) plus the sites along the way. I got to see the St. Louis Arch! And yes, my parents are one of those rare souls who still own a road atlas. I love looking through it. 🙂

 

We stopped one night in the hometown of Abraham Lincoln –  Springfield, Illinois. And had a delicious dinner at the Chesapeake Seafood House. They serve yummy seafood, steaks and a raw bar in a mansion from the 1800s.

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Off to the small town of Manawa, WI, where some of my aunts, uncles and cousins live. My Uncle David lives on the farm where my mom grew up, it hasn’t changed too much but more wildlife have returned lately. YAY!! I love to hear that. We saw these two bald eagles fighting over a catch of something (hopefully not a cat which my aunt said an eagle caught last year). And I was gonna go for a run but heard there was a bear prowling around so I decided to nix that. Wisconsin is such a pretty state, with lakes, sprawling farms and dark forests as far as the eye can see. I feel back at home whenever I’m there. Oh, and of course I needed to try out the tractor. Yep, lil me drove that.

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Now we go to North Wisconsin to Eagle River. I’d never been to Eagle River before, it was niiiiice. It’s a chain of 28 lakes, the largest freshwater chain in the world! Yo. ANOTHER aunt and uncle of mine (my mom has 5 siblings) just bought a lake house on Cranberry Lake and it was lovely to just chill there and be one with nature. Plus my gorgeous cousin got married there and the wedding and reception was beautiful and so much fun. Whenever I get together with my cousins we revert back to age five and just find each other hilarious. Beautiful spot for a wedding, no?

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After the wedding I tried to relax and enjoy the peacefulness. Okay, so you do have boaters driving by but their house was set a bit back so it was quite calm. Of course we had to ride in their pontoon boat around the Lakes and one of the near neighbors owns the house that was used for the horror movie Damien II: The Omen. I was taking pictures of the boat ride and my picture of that house was UPSIDE DOWN. Freaky. Check it out. So. Weird.

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Isn’t that FREAKY?!?! I swear I didn’t flip it. And all my other pics that I took within minutes even seconds of that one are normal.

And somehow the stars aligned because I got to meet up with Jeannie in Grand Rapids, MI. – another American city that I’d never been to before. We stayed in the downtown area in two different hotels because one we needed to expense (the cheaper one) and one for fun. The JW Marriot was the one for fun. It’s on the river, has beautiful views, the room was clean and spacious and the steam rooms are free and lovely. The other was CityFlatsHotel and it was smack dab in the center. We could walk around to many bars, restaurants and shops. It’s a bit funkier with a big room but not as many nice amenities as the JW Marriot. I enjoyed them both.

My restaurant recommendations for Grand Rapids – Sunday night it was late and the only place near the hotel and open was the SpeakEZ Lounge. We walked there (bravely, I would say), the outside was a bit sketchy but we opened the doors to lots of people, a jazz band and a place in the back for us to sit. The food was good and I love a live band. HopCat is your typical American bar. They have TONS of beers and ciders on tap – Squishy cider was my fav (Squishy is a semi-sweet Fruit Cider fermented with Michigan apples, tart cherries, and English Cider yeast). For a breakfast/brunch place I can highly recommend Anna’s House. With an already extensive menu they have many gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian and vegan options. The waffles with strawberries and the breakfast sandwich were soooo delicious and we got to-go cups for our coffees when we left. Two huge thumbs up. Jeannie even went back the next day before she flew back to NYC!

 

And for a bit more classy experience, try Reserve Wine & Bar. We ordered a brand old fashioned to start (it was the cocktail theme for my time in the states if you hadn’t noticed and they are the BEST in Wisconsin) and then we each ordered a flight of wine. Later we decided to share a charcuterie board of cheese and meat – really yummy. A bit on the pricey side but I feel it was worth the money. Also there is a fun bathroom downstairs with a big mirror for fun selfies. If you ask really nicely I can send a video of a head growing out of my shoulder. Ahhh, yes, my time with Jeannie is always a blast and always too short, 36 hours was not enough with her. But I will take any amount I can get. I love that girl to the ends of the earth.

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And that was it. Trip was over (insert major sad face). A lot of brandy old-fashioned sweets consumed, time with relatives, friends were had and enjoyed and I flew back home to Mallorca. I hope you enjoyed the post with lots of good recommendations. Maybe they aren’t always in the fanciest of locations but sometimes one must venture away from the busy lights and hustle bustle of those.

Until next time, y’all. Cheers!

 

 

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earth · familia · friends · Girls run the world · love love love · Road Trip · touristy · travel · usa · wisconsin

Madison, Wisconsin

GOOOOOOOO BADGERS!!!

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Madison was famously described by a candidate for governor in 1978 as “30 square miles surrounded by reality.” He meant it as a dig, but many Madisonians embraced it, then and now. And for the record, it’s now 77 sq. miles.

Being born in Madison, WI and having lived there for the first ten years of my life, it holds a place in my heart that I will never let go. I think back fondly on that first house my parents built in DeForest, a suburb just outside of Madison. My brother and I making our first friends, running down to the lake behind us to throw bread at the ducks who always seemed to hang out on our yard and my mom letting me run up to my friend’s house for the very first time on my own. I can still picture the house, it was dark brown and split level, a pretty cool house that my parents designed. We drove by it when we passed through Madison last week, it’s now a beige color and I remembered it being a bit different but still put a smile on my face to see it again.

After DeForest we moved into a duplex in Madison. We drove by this too and I have even fonder memories of this house, but maybe not the scary basement – I still have nightmares sometimes of this basement. Fonder memories possibly because I was older and could remember more but maybe just because those first years of your life are quite meaningful.

 

 

I’m still in contact with a few of my friends from then – Jackie was my bestie in those years, Kathy lived the next block over and Joyce would visit from New York during the summer and sometimes at Christmas to her grandparents house behind ours. I would walk to John Muir School with my brother, slowly picking up our gang of friends along the way. After school we would walk over to the small store run by the chinese man where I would buy grape Hubba Bubba gum or those huge, chewy SweeTarts. I can still smell that gum when I think of it.

My gang of girlfriends ruled the neighborhood. We had our secret hideouts in the forest close to my house where I had my first kiss with Jason Cook. Oh those sweet innocent years in the 1970s. No cell phones, no Instagram, no need to make a duck face. In the summers we ran around from after breakfast til before dinner, we never wore bike helmets, we made gross concoctions of mustard, mayo, bugs and more to dare each other to eat and we still made it out alive.

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My Wisconsin girl gang. We were tough! 😉

The duplex is where my love of musicals began. I remember my parents taking me to my very first movie – Grease and I was in love. Not necessarily with Mr. Travolta but just the beauty of movies with singing and dancing. And the joy of music evolved from there – Billy Joel was my first record, then Xanadu, J. Geils Band, The Muppet Movie soundtrack – it wasn’t until my later years that I got into the big hits from the 70s – Joni Mitchell, Blondie, Fleetwood Mac.

My parents both graduated from UW – Madison so we drove around the huge campus while my parents told stories about their days. The campus has changed a lot since they were there and I loved all the stories. There was a terrible snowstorm and the streets were too icy and full of snow for any vehicles; Mom had to walk all the way from campus to our duplex – it took maaaaany hours and by the time she got home she was practically frozen. Another story – There is a statue of Abraham Lincoln that has watched over campus atop Bascom Hill for over a hundred years. Dad said the story goes that Abe would stand up whenever a virgin would walk by, and he hasn’t stood since 1953. Haha Dad.

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We parked the car and walked down State Street. A pedestrian street lined with shops and bars. And sadly this time we walked down it there were a lot of beggars. It was a bit depressing to see. It was really warm that day and I stupidly wore jeans for some reason so we rushed through it a bit but I can see where it would be a lot of fun during the night. Definitely go get a brat at State Street Brats!

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At the end of State Street is the Wisconsin State Capitol which houses both chambers of the Wisconsin legislature along with the Wisconsin Supreme Court and the Office of the Governor. It is a beautiful building both inside and out. And it was air conditioned! ahhhhhhh

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The UW – Madison campus is so beautiful and next time I would like to explore it even more. Both my mom and I were craving a Garibaldi sandwich and a brandy old-fashioned sweet from Paisan’s so we headed there, enjoyed our food and drink and looked out over the serene view of Lake Monona. If you want a cool spot for dinner which also serves the Garibaldi go to Porta Bella just off State St. It’s funky, cool, old vibe, the small rooms and wooden booths make it perfect.

Madison, Wisconsin thank you and I love you.

england · familia · flying · food · friends · hotels · i loooooove advertising! · london · love love love · restaurant · touristy · travel

A hotel, a restaurant and an airline

I have three, no wait, FOUR, fantastic recommendations for you. I went to London the other weekend (no, not for the wedding, my invite must have been lost by the Spanish Post) and thoroughly enjoyed my hotel, found a great restaurant and a free product from the hotel which I recently ordered a larger bottle of their fabulous pillow spray.

Let’s start with the airline since I needed one of those to get to London in the first place. This was my first experience with Easy Jet and I was happily surprised at how smooth the transaction was with everything. I thought I had paid for my small suitcase to be carry-on but when I got to the gate she put a tag on it for me to check it when I boarded. In the end the plane wasn’t that busy so I was able to just keep it with me. With the return I did check it in London Gatwick and it was a super easy, do-it-yourself process. Plus the flight was pretty inexpensive and the flight attendants were some of the nicest I’ve experienced in quite awhile. Thanks Easy Jet! I will be a return customer.

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Okay, what do you want to hear about next? How about the hotel. I met Jeannie at the Andaz London Liverpool Street hotel. There wasn’t a single thing I can complain about. The staff was delightful, the hotel was modern and hip, the room was spacious and clean. It’s a 5 star boutique hotel located in the heart of bustling East London, just next to the Liverpool Tube Station. We used the Central and Circle Line for getting around and getting back but it also connects with the Hammersmith and the Metropolitan. Perfect for traveling cheap!

The rooms have free Wi-Fi, a free (non-alcoholic) daily stocked minibar and we were welcomed with a lovely bottle of Prosecco in the room when we checked in. And in the room they also had a free sample of REN & Now To Sleep Pillow Spray. It’s a soothing natural perfume, blending floral notes of lavender with deeply restful Frankincense, to relax both the body and mind. I loved it so much I just bought two larger bottles for my bedtime routine. I’ve been sleeping like a baby.

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You also have free access to the Health Club, where we really enjoyed the steam room. And the free apples for after you have sweated everything out. The last night we were a bit tired and decided to try their sushi restaurant. Try the saki sampler!

But the best thing and maybe it’s just me but the hotel serves complimentary (that means FREE to me) wine and canapes (one night it was small sushi rolls and the other some bread with paté) from 6 – 9 pm. It was lovely to come back from a long day of sightseeing and relax in the lounge area with a snack and a glass of wine. Or two. 🙂 FOR FREE Y’ALL.

And now what I know you’ve been waiting for – FOOD. The restaurant. It was fabulous. If you love Indian food you must go. Dishoom in Shoreditch (they also have a few more locations around London) was where I had the best Indian food of my life. It’s a big restaurant and they only take reservations for parties more than 6. So arrive a little early, put your name on the list and head over to the bar for a tipple or two while you wait for your table. I highly recommend the whiskey sour.

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Jeannie doesn’t eat foods with gluten and they had a large variety of items that she could eat. So feel free to eat your heart out. We shared the Crunchy Pomelo salad (with fresh kale, pink pomelo, pistachios, mint and coriander) and the okra fries (not gluten-free but Jeannie had a few). I haven’t had okra since my Oklahoma days! For the main dish I had the lamb Sheekh Kabab and Jeannie had the Chicken Tikki. It did not disappoint. They are also open for breakfast and the menu and teas look totes amazeballs. Just go already.

And I actually have one more rec for you. The good stuff just keeps on coming! If you do go to the Dishoom Shoreditch locatation and you feel like going out and dancing a bit, stop by Momento Lounge bar for some drinks and good tunes from the live DJ.

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And there you have it. Great times are made even greater with a good hotel, good food and good experiences.

But nothing compares to GREAT FRIENDS. And when you have this kind of happiness and fun together, it doesn’t really matter where you stay or what you eat.

Happy weekend y’all!!

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favorite things · friends · osu · paaaarty · sporty · Things To Bring · usa

Things To Bring – To a Tailgate

It’s TAILGATING time y’all! Time to gather up your friends, some brewskis, slap some dogs or burgers on a grill and enjoy. I like tailgating better than going to the actual game. There is something special about hanging out with friendly peeps on a beautiful fall day to enjoy some good ole’ American football. Speaking of which GO OSU COWBOYS!

I rounded up some things you definitely need for a perfect tailgate get-together.

  1. HOORAY SPORTS DO THE THING WIN THE POINTS – For those who don’t really follow sports but like hanging out, this shirt’s for you! Buy here with lots of different products available.
  2. This cooler is Amazing. Capital A. It has a Blender! Plus outdoor speakers, a USB charger, bottle openers and a lot more. Buy here.
  3. Sir Kensington’s is one cool company. All of their products are not only delicious but MUCH healthier. Their ketchup has 50% less sugar and NO high fructose corn syrup. Awesome. This one is my favorite – Sir Kensington’s Spicy Ketchup features chipotle peppers, cilantro, lime juice, and hint of coriander. Put this on your hotdog and hamburger NOW. Buy here for all their products
  4. You can’t go wrong with Velveeta and Rotel Queso. If you’re feeling really crazy throw in some chorizo with it! Available at most grocery stores.
  5. A portable, fold-up grill is exactly what you need for your next tailgate. Buy here
  6. This Killer Hogs BBQ RUB has won championships. Get it now. Buy here
  7. A flannel stadium blanket for sitting on those cold benches is needed for those colder autumn days.  Buy here
  8. The chef needs a beer and a cool apron. I like this one – SAVE WATER DRINK BEER. Buy here
  9. It is a MUST to have your football team’s banner flying around your tailgate. Buy here with lots of teams available.
2014 · church · fiestas · food · friends · Germany

A lovely quick white fun-filled holiday

Dec. 24:

Left Mallorca for Germany. Adieu!

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Flew over the Alps. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

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Landed in Düsseldorf in complete fog.

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Landed safely. Whew! Ordered an extra large coffee and went upstairs to meet my boyfriend to head off to Wesel for the Christmas celebration to begin. We arrive, pour some champagne. But first, lemme take a selfie.

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Awwwww, I love it. Mama N always decorates her house so beautifully and Christmas time is no exception.

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Opened all the presents. Dr. Dre Beats headphones!! Thanks Santa! Now time for the FOOD. Meat fondue. So delicious.

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And now we are stuffed. Upstairs for some laughs and wine. Next day we did a quick trip to Xanten, Germany to visit the cathedral.

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Then drove to Detmold and went out to dinner at the Greek restaurant. Yummy. Next day was time to fly back to Mallorca. And we woke up to a white winter wonderland!

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I hope your Christmas was blessed too. OX

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2013 · architecture · beauty · france · friends · just do it already · love love love · paris · sporty · travel

La Tour Eiffel

The Eiffel Tower is an iron lattice tower located on the Champ de Mars in Paris.  It was named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the tower. Erected in 1889 as the entrance arch to the 1889 World’s Fair,  it has become both a global and cultural icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world. The tower is the tallest structure in Paris and the most-visited paid monument in the world; 7.1 million people ascended it in 2011. The tower received its 250 millionth visitor in 2010.

The tower stands 324 metres (1,063 ft) tall, about the same height as an 81-story building. During its construction, the Eiffel Tower surpassed the Washington Monument to assume the title of the tallest man-made structure in the world, a title it held for 41 years, until the Chrysler Building in New York City was built in 1930. Because of the addition of the antenna atop the Eiffel Tower in 1957, it is now taller than the Chrysler Building by 17 feet (5.2 m).

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The tower has three levels for visitors. The third level observatory’s upper platform is at 279.11 m (915.7 ft) the highest accessible to the public in the EU. Tickets can be purchased to ascend, by stairs or lift (that means elevator to all you non British speaking folks), to the first and second levels. The walk from ground level to the first level is over 300 steps, as is the walk from the first to the second level. Although there are stairs to the third and highest level, these are usually closed to the public and it is usually accessible only by lift.

The line for the elevators was too long for our liking so we bought a ticket to walk the stairs. I can’t remember how much it was but no more than 10 euros. And the climb began! Up and round and up and round we went. Finally we made it to the first level! It was much higher than I thought it would be. Like everyone else, we snapped some pics.

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You can see Sacré-Coeur in the background

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And a lovely picture of us! I have this new habit of sticking my tongue under my teeth for some reason. But aren’t we adorable!?

We decided to keep going. Up to the second level. Yeah, we’re cool like that. That was about another 300 steps and we were getting high! As in elevation, my friends. I am usually fine with heights but I was getting a little dizzy and trying not to look down. Possibly it was being more claustrophobic with the people climbing the stairs up and down alongside me but the stomach was starting to do some flip-flops here and there. We arrived at the second level and took a quick walk around. Snapped some more pics …

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.I took this one leaning back as far as I could. After that, vertigo kicked in and we had to GO! On the walk back down 600+ steps, Jeannette joked that we should start telling everyone, “Sorry, it’s closed.” I laughed the entire way down. Miss my Jeannie!

So there you have it. Maybe next time we will go to the top but maybe I will chicken out. Or maybe we will just hang out at the restaurant for hours and have several beers – will that make vertigo better or worse? Whatever the fact, time for you to climb the TOWER.

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friends · paris · travel

Paris This N That

Paris Paris Paris! What a lovely city. Have you been? I would love to hear your favorite places.

I was in Paris last year, with Jeannie! With her job she sometimes needs to travel to France to meet with some French peeps and talk about French things … in English. Er, so I think. What the hell do I know? Anyways she had to go to Paris last month and asked me to meet her and the answer is always the same. OF COURSE I WOULD LOVE TO MEET YOU!

I did the same thing as last time, flew into Orly (with the WORST turbulence ever) and caught the Paris metro. It is SO easy! And saves me about 40 euros had I taken a taxi. We were staying at a different hotel this time. While it was nothing exciting and the room was quite small, it had a balcony which was fantastic. If you stay at the Mercure Paris Royal Madeleine hotel, make sure you ask for a room on the top floor with a balcony.  Just do it.

I arrived around 4 p.m. and we walked a few blocks to a bistro and ordered two bieres. It was a bit chilly and I never seem to pack right for Paris. The time before I seemed to have only packed denim, I made quite the fashion statement. Oh yeah, I brought denim back y’all. After that it was all the fashion rage! And this time I was prepared for summer. I had a miniskirt, a tank top, a pair of jeans, a light cropped jacket and a flimsy blue scarf. And the temp was NOT summer. Alas, I survived. While enjoying our beers, a drunk guy aged about 30 years old was almost run over by a bus. But he retaliated by punching the bus driver’s window, so no worries. And then he stumbled away. There never seems to be a dull moment when Jeannie and I get together.

We wandered a bit. Stumbled onto the Champs-Élysées and took a quick (and blurry pic) of the Arc de Triomphe before being flattened by one of the speeding cars rushing by.

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Then a pic of our shadows on the sidewalk a la Paris. (In my mind pronounced PA REEEEEEE)

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.And because anything that says Felix  always catches my eye (and my heart).

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.Next up for the Paris blog post(s) – Eiffel, Louvre and cool bar on the Seine!

OH MY!

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