On Travel and Money

budget travel

^ Versailles, France 2013

Jordan and I both place a high value on travel and adventure: far away getaways, smaller weekend trips and various local excursions. Growing up, the trips my parents took us kids centered around visiting family; we always stayed state-side. The family trips were fun but my longing to visit places around the world has been strong from a very young age. Thankfully, I married a man who shares those desires! We want to see the world while being wise with our time and money.

During this early stage of our marriage, Jordan and I have chosen travel over what others might view as more normal steps for our age (i.e. purchasing a house), but we don’t regret our adventures one bit. We’ve seen lots of great things and hung out with some even better people. As an aside, we’ve been granted good health and seven years of marriage without children, which has given us more flexibility with our money. Travel requires a lot of planning and saving and we’ve learned a few things along the way.

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Weekend Links / / Labor Day

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Last week I mentioned the unromantic stage of moving was in full swing in the Short household. I’m happy to report that signing up for car insurance, new bank accounts, and our moving truck have been crossed off! We downsized prior to moving in with my parents for the summer, but we are still finding ways to eliminate more and it feels really good.

How are you spending this three-day weekend? Unlike me, I hope you actually have all of the days off (#retail). My brother, SIL, and little munchkins are visiting, so in-between work we’ll be soaking in a lot of family time.

A few of my favorite reads from this past week.

1 | Hannah’s weekly Wednesday walks around Paris have me itching to go back (and re-look at our vacation photos)! In my opinion, Paris is best viewed on foot.

2 | When we got back from NYC I decided to eliminate dairy again and actually it’s been going really well. I discovered that I like my iced americanos black. Sometimes I don’t recognize myself 😉 Tracy’s avocado & chocolate pudding sounds so delicious and a recipe I’ll keep on rotation.

3 | My hair is finally getting long enough for fun styles. I’ve been pinning a lot of braid and twists, but these three easy ponytails are a great alternative.

4| My So-Called Life premiered 20 years ago! Please tell me you’ve watched that show? It’s widely regarded as one of the best dramas to portray adolescence. Included in the 40 most important objects of MSCL are Rayanne’s crazy earrings, Jordan’s red car, and “Brian’s bike of perpetual loneliness.” Almost 15 years ago, I tried purchasing the DVD box set online not knowing I was purchasing a scam. This was pre-amazon/everyone-buys-all-the-things-online. Thankfully, the show was released officially.

5 | I’ve been toying with the idea of purchasing a sewing machine and taking lessons for a while now. Abbe
y’s easy kimono tutorial utilizing a scarf seems like a good, simple start.

/ / What have you been reading?

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A Shoe Story

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I’ve mentioned before about how Jordan and I packed for our European vacation earlier this year. Restricting ourselves to one carry-on suitcase + backpack/shoulder bag a piece was made possible by having access to a washing machine at various stages of our trip. It probably comes as no surprise to all the ladies out there, but the hardest packing choice I had was what shoes to bring!

Looking back, my feet probably would have appreciated if I had walked around with my New Balance’s, but I was trying to avoid the American tourist look. I wanted to bring my nice J. Crew leather riding boots, but I’m glad I listened to Jordan when he mentioned how the spring rain might not be kind to the soft leather. My shoe selection ended up being one pair of flats, black wedges, brown boots, and my trusty Hunter Rain Boots. The first day we arrived in London it snowed and a few subsequent days it rained, so my Hunters got the most use.

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Shoes haven’t really been an obsession of mine. In the past, I tended to find one pair of shoes that I loved and then wore them to death, but that also meant my shoes were either all-purpose or no real purpose (So many bridesmaid shoes!). Walking around London and Paris I noticed that all the women (and most men) have really nice shoes: practical but sexy. I was inspired to branch out with my footwear and make sure any new purchases would be versatile and functional, but also fashionable.

I decided to start assessing my shoe needs with my sandal collection. This summer I threw out all of my five dollar cheap sandals and replaced them with one, yes one pair of Salt Water Sandals. I wore them constantly, both at the beach and walking around town. I thought I would miss having a lot of options, but it was the opposite.

These wedge sneakers are from Superdry, which I bought on Regent’s Street in London. I fell in love with them during our trip and my shoe obsession got started off on the right foot.

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Scenes of Paris: Part 2

Shakespeare and Company, Paris
Shakespeare and Company, Paris

Jordan and I celebrated our five-year wedding anniversary during our stay in Paris. The original idea was to visit The Louvre, but unfortunately they were experiencing an employee strike. With no real plan for April 12, we continued to wonder that enchanting city. First stop was to visit the English-speaking bookstore, Shakespeare and Company. Pictures aren’t allowed to be taken inside, but if you want a peak, the bookstore has been featured in a few movies, including the Woody Allen film, Midnight in Paris. Our lack of extra luggage space was the only thing stopping Jordan from buying the whole store!

Luxembourg Gardens, Paris
Luxembourg Gardens, Paris

Continuing on from the bookstore, we walked right into the Luxembourg Gardens (I had forgotten it was so close!). Spring literally sprang for us on that day; the gardens looked so lush. We bought baguette sandwiches and McDonald’s Cokes (because sometimes you need something familiar) and enjoyed lunch on the lawn with the locals.

Tuileries Garden, Paris
Tuileries Garden, Paris

Many of the large parks in Paris have these green lawn chairs sprawled about to use for picnics. I love the idea! The Parisians seem to take full advantage of any public outdoor space. This is the Tuileries Garden, located outside of the Louvre Museum. Even though we weren’t able to go inside of the Louvre we were able to see many statues, including a few Rodin, that were sprinkled around the garden.

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After lunch, Jordan wanted to walk to see the location of the Bastille prison. The only remains left are surrounded by a park but this is the beautiful July Monument, marking the event that pushed forth The French Revolution.

Maybe you can see the huge storm that was brewing in these clouds because right after visiting this monument the rain fell hard and we were drenched! In fact, the rain fell so hard part of the roof in a local grocery store (we took refuge for a few minutes) starting caving in! An employee and I had an interesting interaction where because I greeted her with a simple bonsoir, she continued laughing and joking about the rain in French. I enjoyed being considered a local for a few minutes!

Those two days in Paris, where Jordan and I were able to wonder leisurely, were some of the best days.

Scenes of Paris: Part 1

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“Paris is always a good idea”

Sabrina, 1954

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Arriving into London I didn’t experience culture shock. It felt comfortable and familiar, but that is not how Paris was for me. Paris is equal parts beautiful and intimidating. Like a mysterious women, who at first, appears to be cold and distant. You must be polite, respectful and eager to learn her ways, but once you do, you are welcome to stay and know her better.

We stayed in Le Marais area. It is found in the 4th arrondissement (district) of Paris. Only one major street separated us from the Seine, which made it extremely convenient to walk to everything.

On our first full day in Paris, we decided to use the river as our guide. We saw Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower and the Arc De Triomphe among many other enchanting sights. Below are a few photos from our day in Paris.

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This bridge was covered with locks that couples affixed to represent their unending love. It was a sight to see.

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To our pleasant surprise, Notre Dame was open to the public and non flash photography was allowed. Every inch is covered with beautiful carvings or stained glass windows.

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Walking under the Eiffel Tower was a surreal experience. It feels larger than life, especially for a structure that was intended for temporary use. It’s hard to fit the whole structure into a picture and we had to walk awhile until we were able too! The lawn is filled with runners, school groups and locals eating lunch; seemingly unphased by the beauty surrounding them.

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To avoid interrupting the intense roundabout, entering the Arc De Triumph is accomplished through an underground tunnel.

Our bodies were sore from walking so much this day, but we were ready to tackle Versailles on day two.

A Gentlewoman and Her Stuff

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While traveling in Europe, Jordan and I had four layovers, stayed in three cities and took a variety of buses and trains. All the maneuvering between cities not only required good time management but also necessary reading materials. My goal was to pack light (1 carry-on suitcase, 1 tote bag & a small purse) so I brought one book and two magazines (which I had intended on leaving in Europe). I saved my book for the later leg of our journey, but the magazines were devoured quickly.

After the first week of London and Oxford, I realized I would need something additional to pass the travel time. Jordan was the first one to spot The Gentlewoman at the Gare Du Nord train station in Paris. I initially passed, I wanted to spend pounds instead of euros, plus it couldn’t be difficult to find the magazine upon our return to London, right? Well, I was wrong and the search for it proved more difficult than we imagined! It was like searching for buried treasure as we traversed the entire city. Every news stand and bookstore we visited either didn’t carry it or had just sold out. Eventually we found The Gentlewoman in the Spitafields neighborhood of London. It’s been a few weeks now since I got the magazine and I’m still going through it. The articles, images and design come together to create a truly beautiful end product.

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Another aha! moment while traveling, besides bringing insufficient reading materials, is that a backpack would be more practical than an over the shoulder tote for carrying around the necessary odds and ends. This realization happened around day three of our trip, but alas I had to deal with what I brought for the duration. Once we got home, I made a mental note to look for a cute backpack for the future.

While looking for shoes at Madewell on Rush Street in Chicago, I noticed an entire wall of backpacks. I walked out of the store with a polka dot Herschel Supply Co. bag.  Herschel Supply Co. originally was a barrel making company in the early 1900s, but have since moved on to various items that help carry our belongings.

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Versailles

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Marie Antoinette: This is ridiculous.

Comtesse De Noailles: This, Madame, is Versaille.

Marie Antoinette, 2006. 

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Yes, Marie Antoinette, Versailles is a little ridiculous but oh is it mesmerizing. Prior to leaving on vacation, Jordan and I created a list of places that we would like to see and places that we must see in London and Paris. My must see in Paris was the Palace of Versailles (despite being located slightly outside of the city!). I am drawn to royalty and couldn’t deny the pull to see first hand where the demise of the French monarchy took place.

We really need to thank the people of France. During the French Revolution someone had the wherewithal to know that the Palace shouldn’t burn down! Most of the furniture and paintings were sold (and subsequently many have been re-bought) but the structure was kept intact during all the upheaval.

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We spent the whole day exploring the three structures (the Palace, Grand Trianon & the Petite Trianon) and the gardens. My favorite was Marie Antoinette’s estate, which includes the Petite Trianon as well as a working farm, styled like a British village.

Versailles is one tourist site that is completely worth the admission price.