Weekends away

I only have three weekends left in Paris now. How weird is that?

As I’ve said many times before, the weekends are there to be treasured. We try to do as much as possible while we have the time; there are so many places to visit in Paris, and I just want to get out there and see everything!

As soon as I moved to Paris I knew that I’d never want to leave. I resolved to make the most of my weekends, to fully immerse myself in French life, and to try and as much time exploring the city as possible.

But there is another side to the story. When else will I get to live in a European city with no real work commitments and a handful of free weekends? Everyone says to make the most of the Year Abroad to visit as many different places as possible, and I know I should have explored France a bit more while I’ve been here – I haven’t even made it to Versailles! The European rail system is so good, and I still haven’t been interrailling yet, so I could have visited a few different countries if I’d planned ahead and booked cheap tickets in advance.

Also, it is so easy to get to London on the Eurostar, as proven by my sister, who has already popped over three times for work!

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Going to Scotland feels like a real trek (it kinda is, I guess), but London is basically next door. So I decided to hop on the train a few weeks ago for a couple of days of R and R. The Eurostar was even easier than I expected and, although I’d been out late the night before and my 9am alarm felt pretty painful, it didn’t really feel like much of an affort to arrive in time for lunch.

We had a spoiling time at Ham Yard Hotel, and I managed to fit in quite a lot, despite only staying for one night.

I explored the hotel…

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 Roamed the streets of London (and visited Wholefoods which is right next door!)

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I even made it to the gym!

We went to look at Grace’s new flat and then had a girly Sunday lunch at Ottolenghi.

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Before I popped round for tea with friends and put my Deliciously Eliza skills into practice!!

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Although many people assume I’m a Londoner, I’m actually not that big a fan of the city. I don’t like the tube, I find the streets too claustrophobic, and I can really only last a few days before I crave Scottish air and quiet. However, now that I am quite the city dweller, I felt weirdly comfortable in good old London, and was extremely jealous of Grace’s new Islington flat. (I accidentally wrote ‘fat’ there instead, haha!)

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I came back to Paris rejuvenated and reenamoured with the city – it was definitely worth tearing myself away for a night!

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So, why not branch out even further and take a trip to Amsterdam? My lovely friend Alex is doing her Erasmus exhange there, so I thought I’d profit from the amazing train system and spend the weekend with her.

I’ve never been to Amsterdam before, so had no idea what it would be like. It actually took me completely by surprise. The city felt bigger and more modern than I’d been expecting – I think I’d been imagining small bendy streets, rather than the neat system of canals and trams.

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It was so nice to see Alex, who was the perfect tour guide.

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We ate extremely well (if you’re ever in Amsterdam, try Cannibal Royale for the best burgers in the city!)

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Visited a fantastic flea market across the bay (it is literally the competitor of Les Puces for the title of ‘the biggest flea market in Europe’)

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Spent a rainy Sunday afternoon inside the Van Gogh Museum, followed by a solo visit to Stedelijk while Alex was at rowing training.

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And took a few touristy snaps around the city!

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I had a lot of fun travelling around the city on the back of Alex’s bike – when in Rome!

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But my favourite thing about the weekend was just seeing Alex and having a good catch up. Although I’m loving Paris and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else, I am quite jealous that Alex gets to spend the whole year in such a cool city. And the Dutch people seemed much more friendly than the Parisians!!

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 Finally, although it wasn’t technically a ‘weekend away’, I sneaked away to stay with my family when they came to Paris for mum’s birthday last weekend. It was the first time we’d all been together for months, and it was so nice to see them all and to show them around the city.

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My parents wanted to see ‘my version of Paris’, but I was up for a bit of luxury and fine dining. So we did both!

A bit of hotel life.

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Saturday in Saint Germain, where we found the collest shop/gallery/treasure trove. How great are these bird pictures?

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Poor Kevvy choking on his éclair at Les Deux Magots…

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Sunday was spent celebrating mum’s birthday and wandering around the Marais on the hunt for a crepe for my brother..

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We also had two delicious dinners back over in the 4th. I’d been to both of the restaurants before and, after testing it twice to make sure, I can hands down say that the steak at Chez Julien is the best I’ve ever tasted. It may even be my favourite restaurant, and that’s saying something!

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It was a lovely weekend, and I really enjoyed playing tour guide. For some reason none of them really love the city – I’m going to blame food poisining, a couple of stolen handbags and phones, a serious illness and a strong love of London and it’s great hotels -, but I tried my best to convince them that Paris really is as great as everyone says it is.

It’s not for nothing that thousands of people say it’s their favourite place in the world!

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So, with only four weeks left, I will now be staying put until Christmas!

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