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My Thoughts on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them! (FILM + SCRIPT BOOK)

Oh. Em. Gee. You know how we thought the wizarding world of Harry Potter was over after the last movie's release back in 2011? Well, JK Rowling has given us a renaissance of wizardy goodness this year and I could not be more excited. First, we had the release of the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child play and script book (which I was pretty lukewarm about: read my thoughts on the Cursed Child here).

And now, we have Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a movie written by JK Rowling all about our favorite magizoologist (and Hufflepuff) Newt Scamander, author of the famed (in the wizarding world) book, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Set in the 1920's it follow Newt's first journey to New York City, his encounter with American wizards (good and bad) and all of the magical beasts he carries with him in his enchanted suitcase. Obviously a prequel, it's the first movie in a series of FIVE movies, starting in 1926 and ending in the 40's. So this isn't just a one shot thing. We're going to have another wizarding series on our hands! And we all thought the magic was over!

So like most die hard Potter fans, I saw Fantastic Beasts last week when it was released. I went in purposely not trying to know anything about the movie- and staying clear of spoilers is hard to do in this day and age! It was a bit of a weird experience to be going to a JK Rowling based story and not having had read the book it was based on first. Because there wasn't a book. JK Rowling wrote the script herself from that brilliant, imaginative mind of hers and I'm so glad she decided to share Newt's story with us instead of keeping it to herself!

Without giving too much away (and I promise, no spoilers! I'm leaving a LOT about the movie out of this blog post!) the movie starts as Newt and his magical suitcase filled with beasts arrive in NYC and after a series of mishaps (including his escaped Niffler, a ridiculously cute platypus-like magical creature that loves anything shiny like jewelry and coins and keeps it in a pouch on it's belly), he meets no-maj (aka Muggle aka non-wizarding folk) Jacob, an aspiring baker, and witches (and sisters!) Porpetina (aka Tina) and Queenie Goldstein. A misplaced and then accidentally opened magical suitcase full of magical beasts later, Newt, Jacob, Tina, and Queenie are thrown together and must recapture the escaped creatures and prove to the NYC wizarding community and the US wizarding government MACUSA (Magical Congress of the United States of America) that the dark events happening are not caused by the contents of Newt's suitcase. Hint: it's something (or someone), much more evil and power hungry.

It would be an incredibly vast understatement to say that I liked Fantastic Beasts. I LOVED it! It had a darker, more serious tone to it than even the last few Harry Potter movies, which I think will become even more ominous in the next movies, as dark happenings are starting in the wizarding world. But despite this threatening tone, there were some definite funny parts and one liners- Jacob added a much need sense of levity and earnestness- which seems like something only JK Rowling can add into such a serious and magical world. Seeing New York City in the 1920's was so much fun, especially as an avid lover of history and also with the added magical touches to it. But the characters to me were one of the biggest highlights of the movies: Jacob was the no-maj breath of fresh air in the group, seeing the wizarding world for the first time with new eyes and his relationship with Queenie, the carefree and beautiful flapper, may have been the sweetest thing I've ever seen in my life. Tina, the earnest rule follower, was tough, but kind, and I automatically identified with her serious nature (and her gorgeous powder blue coat. Seriously, I NEED that coat!). And Newt himself was adorably awkward, more relaxed around magical beasts than his fellow witch or wizard. And the beasts! Oh, the beasts!

The beasts were all inventive creatures, only mildly resembled normal, recognizable non-magical creatures, like eagles, rhinos, and the aforementioned platypus. We were introduced (well, if you hadn't actually read the text book version of Fantastic Beasts that JK Rowling released a number of years ago where it compiles a vast and descriptive list of magical creatures- with the added bonus of Harry's, Ron's, and Hermione's handwriting scribbled throughout it) to billywigs, a demiguise, a thunder bird, occamies, and so many more! (Most of which Newt had actually given names to, like Pickett the bowtruckle, who lives in his coat pocket and is more adorable than Groot, in my honest opinion) I think one of my favorite parts of the movie is when we actually go into Newt's enchanted suitcase, which is giant inside, and is just an enormous, multi-landscaped room, where all the magical creatures can live in their own, magically made natural habitat. The creatures were fantastical and wondrous, and I honestly could have been just as happy for the movie just to have been a tour of Newt's suitcase and a showcase of all of the beasts!

After watching Fantastic Beasts and just being in awe, I was so happy that the same Friday the movie was released, the script book for the film was also released! I'm reading it now, and while it is the actual movie script, it's the script for the movie as we see it, without any parts of the script that may have been cut or deleted from the actual film version. While I'm really enjoying reading the script, it would have been nice to see the complete version, as I know that movies always leave things out, either for time or continuity reasons. Despite it being a script and pretty bare boned (bare boned? Bare bone? Barebone? If you've seen the movie you get it) but even the descriptions are so classic JK, with her little subtle quips of humor thrown in every which way, dialogue included. And don't get me started on the book jacket design and the designs inside the book! So gorgeous and art deco-esqe, but with a touch of curlieques and whimsy thrown in. The perfect mixture for the story!

It's fair to say that Fantastic Beasts exceeded my expectations and I can't tell you how excited I am for the next four movies. Fantastic Beasts was just a terrific start to a whole new series about the wizarding world that we knew nothing about and didn't even know was relevant to the fate of the wizarding world during Harry's timeline; we had just heard faint whispers and tales of certain figures referenced in the Harry Potter books. Thanks to JK, the magic is still alive and though we may not be seeing all of the characters we've come to know and love, we're still in this magical world, meeting new characters that have already worked their way into our hearts, and learning more and more about the wizarding community- in different places, like the USA (go Ilvermorny!), throughout different time periods, and all of the events that have gone on to shape Harry and co's lives. And for that, I am so grateful to JK Rowlingfor not only being a big part of my childhood, but now being a huge part of my adulthood.

Now on to more important things: buying every single item of Fantastic Beasts merchandise, including an exact replica of Newt's suitcase (I don't even need the magical creatures in there, that's not a deal breaker for me), and finding a no-maj version of a Niffler. Seriously, weren't Nifflers the cutest creatures ever to exist in the world, magical or not??? Are platypuses legal? How about echidna puggles? These are important things to know!!

What did you think of Fantastic Beasts? Did you love it as much as me? How many times have you seen it? (I've only seen it once but want to see it again to relive the magic!) Let me know!

Stay Weird,

I Went A Week Without Drinking Soda And Here's What Happened!

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash
There's no way around it: I like to drink soda. I'm not obsessed, I just enjoy a nice, cold glass of Dr. Pepper every once in a while (okay, maybe like a couple of times a week. If I'm being good).

But as pretty much everyone knows, soda is super bad for you. It has a buttload (that's an official term of measurement, I believe) of sugar (including America's favorite: high fructose corn syrup!) and so many different kinds of chemicals that I probably could never even pronounce, even if I studied the names on flashcards for a few weeks. And diet soda is no better than regular soda. Sure, diet soda may not have the calories, but the artificial sweeteners they use in most of them has been shown to cause cancer in people. Um, no thank you!

And while I love Dr. Pepper (regular, not diet), I decided to break the bad habit that I had brought upon myself: I was drinking more soda than I know I should have and wanted to try to quit for a week. I knew I could do it; a few years ago I decided to stop drinking soda because I got very badly dehydrated around the time I was drinking too much soda. I quit cold turkey and didn't have a soda for over a year (just lots and lots of lemonade when I went out with friends). But sadly, the siren call of soda lured me back and here I am, ready to make a change again!

So back in October, I went a week without soda. And boy, was it hard! And here are a few of the things I realized while going through my caffeine withdrawal period:

#1: I never realized how addicting soda is!

Sodas are the perfect storm of sugar, caffeine, and chemicals, all of which are addicting (and sadly delicious). I would literally crave a soda (instead of water) on a hot day. I mean, there really isn't anything more refreshing than a large fountain drink from a fast food restaurant (as the recent McDonald's commercials have taught me. Also, I live in Arizona, so I'm blaming some of my soda cravings on the weather. We don't really have a "fall" or "autumn". We have what some people may call "spring," but much, much hotter). With the lid, and the straw, and the condensation rolling down the sides of the paper waxed cups... there's really nothing better! I literally had to fight the urge to stop at a fast food place or a store to buy a soda, and instead either just stuck with lemonade (sorta healthier) and water (the healthiest!). It was struggle, but I did it!

#2: The caffeine withdrawal headaches and feeling tired were THE WORST

A couple of days into being soda free and while the cravings were at their peak, the headaches and feeling of being tired kicked in. HARD. I felt groggy and my head was pounding, which made me want a soda even more (it's a family home remedy to have a Coke when you have a headache. And yes, caffeine can help headaches- especially migraines- but I didn't just have one small amount for medicinal purposes- I would end up drinking way more than I should have!). But after a few days of literally dragging myself through the motions, I was over that wretched hump and doing much better! It just goes to show that my body was much too used to all of the unnatural caffeine that I was putting into my body and got very confused when I stopped consuming it. Which is a bit of a scary thought, and gave me that push to keep on my cleanse from soda!

#3: I was drinking soda when I should have been drinking water

They say when you're thirsty, that means that you're too late and already on the road to becoming dehydrated. So obviously turning to a can of soda is NOT the way to go if you're thirsty. I always make the mistake of thinking that water is boring or unappetizing and that I need something with flavor when I drink. When I stopped drinking soda for a week, I drank a lot more water, and honestly felt a lot better. I learned that I prefer water to be ice cold, but not freezing, and to always keep a water bottle with me, at home or on the go. That way I wouldn't be tempted to spend the money on soda (and ruin my perfect week without soda!). I know some people put fruit or cucumbers in water to mix it up a bit, but for me, just a glass of cold water with ice cubes is just perfect.

#4: Finding satisfying alternatives to soda are hard

Soda is yummy for a reason. You have all of the different sweet, unnatural flavors and the fun, popping bubbles. Nothing else tastes like it and is healthier for you, and that's the problem. There aren't a lot of good alternatives to soda. Lemonade, which I usually turn to in times of being soda free, though made with lemons, is chock full of sugar- maybe even just as much as soda! Just because sugar is made from real cane sugar doesn't make it healthier! I also turned to juice, which again, has a bunch of sugar, but I tried to drink ones that were actually made from real fruit, and not some artificial Kool-aid mix. I also diluted the juice to add to my water intake (and stretch the bottles of juice. Penny pinching is in my blood!). I've also tried drinking sparkling flavored water, just to have at least a less bad for you carbonated drink, with a little flavor in it. It's not the same as soda, but it'll do if you're desperate for the soothing and refreshing flavor of a Dr. Pepper (I really like Dr. Pepper guys).

#5: I actually felt a bit better after the week was up. And saved a bit of money!

Once I stopped craving/daydreaming about the bubbly, crisp taste of Dr. Pepper, my caffeine withdrawal headaches went away, and I stopped feeling like I had been hit by a truck (aka very tired), I actually felt pretty good. I was drinking more water, my energy level was back up again, and frankly, I was pretty proud of myself that I went through a whole week without giving in to my cravings. Plus, it's nice to know that the money I could have spent on random stops to get a bottle of soda can now go towards buying more books. Yay for more money for books! Books books books!! I'll take books over a soda any day!

#6: I burped a LOT less

Gross? Yes. But so, so true.

So I survived my week without soda! But after the week was up, you guessed it: I went back to soda. But, it's been about a week since I've had any soda (aka Dr. Pepper) and I'm determined to continue this winning streak! I don't think I can go totally soda-less (my family loves to drink soda, and it's so hard to resist the urge to drink soda when everyone else is drinking it around you), but I am totally for everything in moderation. So if I'm at a special occasion or function (party, out to eat, etc.) I'll allow myself one glass of soda. And that's it! I'll force myself to savor that one glass of Dr. Pepper (and it better be Dr. Pepper if that's the only soda I'm going to have for a while!) because who knows when I'll be having another soda again, so I'm going to enjoy it!

But all in all, I'm just happy knowing that I'm making a better, healthier decision for myself and my body. But I'll always remember you, Dr. Pepper. And love you. Don't forget me. I'll see you soon. One day...

What did you think about my week without soda? Is anyone else a Dr. Pepper fan? Please comfort me in knowing I'm not alone! Let me know!

Stay Weird,

How to Binge-watch Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life like a True Gilmore Girl!

You guys. It's almost here. Or, it's already here, depending on when you're reading this. But as I'm currently writing this, it's a week away from November 25th. Black Friday, you may think? WRONG. November 25th is hereby going to be remembered as the day that Gilmore Girls came back and gave us four new, 90 minute episodes titled Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life! After a very unsatisfying seventh season (was it just me that hated season 7?), we finally get our favorite characters back with the original writer at the helm and see how everyone we know and love are doing. How is Emily doing after Richard's passing? Are Luke and Lorelai finally together? Why are Dean, Jess, AND Logan (grrr) all showing up? And hurray for Melissa McCarthy returning as Sookie!

Words cannot express all the feels I am currently feeling and I cannot even fathom how I'm going to feel when I'm actually watching the episodes! My plan is to try to binge-watch all four 90 minute episodes in one day (in case you don't want to do the math that's 6 hours of Amy Sherman-Palladino quality writing of very fast and smart talking- and drama!), but of course, life happens so who knows if I'll be able to make it. Either way, I've compiled a list of steps I'm going to use, inspired by our Gilmore girls, to try to ensure that I have the best binge-watching viewing of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life EVER. And I'm here to share it with you because you only get to experience the return of our favorite coffee drinking, junk food loving, and fast talking mother-daughter duo, so you better do it right, aka Gilmore Girls style!

#1: Clear Your Schedule

Lorelai and Rory know the importance of binge-watching movies and TV shows (especially terrible ones but I'm hoping A Year in the Life will be the opposite of terrible!). So make sure you don't have to work or have any other prior commitments the day you decide to binge-watch the episodes. If you're going to binge-watch all 6 hours, you gotta commit! Like it's the 24 hour dance marathon. Only it's only 6 hours. And Dean won't break up with you in front of everyone.

#2: Tell Everyone You're Going To Be AWOL

Tweet it, text it, post a Facebook status, Snapchat it, put up a Do Not Disturb sign on your front door, or Instagram a picture of you holding the remote in front of the TV with the Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life page up on Netflix, as if you're a pause away from going back to Stars Hollow aka the cutest, most picture-esque town in America! Let people that you mean business and that they won't hear from you for 6+ hours. Extreme? Maybe. But I think it's more akin to a classic Rory Gilmore reading session. It's like diving head first into a good book that you've been wanting to read for forever. No interruptions and you'll see them when you've read the last page and closed the back cover. Disturb the reader-well, watcher in this case- and you'll pay the price!

#3: Make a Comfy Viewing Nest

WWLGD? What would Lorelai Gilmore do to make the coziest binge-watching station? Pick where you're going to watch the series: couch, bed, armchair, floor, hammock, gazebo in the center of town (hey, I don't judge. And as long as you got a permit from Taylor Doose, of course!), wherever it is, make it cozy and comfortable, because you're going to be there for a while. Blankets, pillows, your pet(s) (if you have a canine named after a lounge singer even better!), even some added Gilmore touches like twinkle lights, Hello Kitty stuffed animals, or a quirky monkey lamp are all key elements that'll make your space nice and binge-watching compatible. So settle in (with remote on hand, just in case and laptop or device plugged in and charged!) and get ready to binge in comfort!

#4: Get Your Junk Food On!

If there's one thing the Gilmore Girls know, it's junk food. They love all of it. They love eating candy while watching Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. They live to eat pizza while watching The Donna Reed Show. And perish the thought of a salad, how dare you! That's something you only eat at Friday night dinners! Give them a burgers and fries any day! Plus, they can eat a LOT of food (remember their four Thanksgiving dinners in one day? They still had room for the rolls at the end of the day!) So in honor of the girls and their terrible yet delicious eating habits (from which they magically never gain any weight from), here's a list of Gilmore Girls approved foods to have on hand (like literally right next to you while you're watching the show so you don't have to take the time and pause to get up and get your food like a sucker. That's for your boyfriend at the moment to do. Sorry, Max and Dean!):

-Candy (all kinds, you pick your favorites! Chocolate is a must though)
-Poptarts (any kind, but bonus points if they're arranged on a plate with an apple in the middle)
-Pizza (duh! And if you don't want to order a whole pizza, pizza bites are also acceptable and Gilmore approved)
-Cereal (a staple of Rory's home life and college life. And the more sugary the cereal, the better!)
-Burgers and fries (a classic staple at Luke's and one of the Gilmore's main food groups)
-Breakfast foods (another mainstay for the girls. You got your pancakes, waffles, french toast... all are favorites and while yours may be good, everyone knows that Luke makes the best pancakes. Much better than Caesar, anyway)
-Mac and cheese (Rory loves it when she can't sleep and Paris will eat it even though she always gets an allergic reaction when she does!)
-Ice Cream (not that I'm going to say that you're going to wallow after finishing the series, but you may be a little sad. Ice cream is the perfect pick-me-up if you have the post "I-finished-all-four-episodes-of-Gilmore-Girls-A-Year-in-the-Life-and-now-I-don't-know-what-to-do-what-myself" blues. And the ice cream does not have to be from Taylor's Olde Fashioned Soda Shoppe Unless you annoy Taylor while being there in honor of Luke and Lorelai)
-Doughnuts (the essential staple for any time of the day. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, on the go snack? Doughnuts got you covered!)
-International Foods (of any kind, in honor of Al's Pancake World, which used to sell pancakes, but then Al decided to try his hand at food from around the world. A new country's cuisine every week!)
-Tacos and Mexican food (best cure for a hangover. But only Rory is brave enough to eat the beef burrito after a long night of drinking. And you know, crying about Logan while hugging the toilet)

And of course, have a bottomless supply of coffee at your disposal! You're going to be watching (and trying to keep up) with 6 hours of Gilmore-isms and storylines- you'll need the caffeine!

#5: Watch and Enjoy!

This is the moment we've all been waiting for, so enjoy it! No one knows how it's going to go, but we're going to enjoy the ride anyway! So cheer whenever your favorite character comes up on screen, and hiss and boo when your least favorite ex-boyfriend comes back in to the picture (that'll be me whenever Logan pops up on screen. If Rory gets trapped in his web of preppy, womanizing ways again, I'm going to be VERY upset). Laugh whenever Kirk does something ridiculous, and roll your eyes when Taylor gets in a tizzy. And just get swept up in that drama and humor that Gilmore Girls is known for. For 6 hours, we'll be back with Lorelai and Rory in Stars Hollow and for me, there's no other place I'd rather be! Now excuse me while I cry and sing "Where You Lead" for a couple of hours...

*One last note: please don't spoil the last four words of the series for anyone. Lots of Gilmore Girls fans are going to be watching at different times and the last thing they'll want to see on Facebook or Twitter are the final four words revealed before they've even started watching the revival. So, much like the people who have seen or read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child play/scriptbook, please be kind to your fellow fans and keep the secrets aka the last four words spoken on Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. Copper boom!

Hopefully this list is helpful for all of your Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life binge-watching needs! I'm already planning out my snack list for my binge-watching session. Is eating pizza, doughnuts, and mac and cheese too much to eat in one 6 hour period?? 😋 But seriously, how excited is everyone for the show to come out??? Are you going to binge-watch it or space it out to savor the series?


My First Trip to Paris aka Crepes Are My New Favorite Food (Travel Tuesday)

Photo by Anthony DELANOIX on Unsplash
Bonjour, everyone! Here is my last travel blog post from Europe, all about my trip to France! Right after my trip to London, we left on the Eurostar to the City of Lights!

It was such an incredible experience. I got to tour Paris and see the Eiffel tower and see the Arc de Triomphe, and explore the Palace of Versailles and walk down the Hall of Mirrors. I visited a small French village of Chartres that has a cathedral that's almost 800 years old and has some of the most magnificent stained glass you'll ever see. I strolled along the river Seine in the rain and when it was sunny, and window-shopped (and regular shopped!) at the green bookstalls along the river and were able to avoid the pickpocketers that were sprinkled around the city (thank God!). I ate fresh French baguettes, which were life-changing, pain au chocolat (chocolate croissants), and even had real French crepes twice (because they were so good! Who knew I'd actually like a crepe that would be made out of buckwheat of all things?? Screw dessert crepes, savory French crepes are the way to eat crepes!) I got to eat dinner with my dad's French former co-worker and his family, and see how real French Parisians live and eat (his kids were Harry Potter fans as well so we had a riveting and extensive conversation about The Cursed Child. Harry Potter unites us all!) We also stayed with another former co-worker of my dad's as well, who were the most wonderful and welcoming hosts, and for breakfast had some of the freshest baked bread in the world, from their town's local boulangerie (bakery) and they took us on a tour of their small town which had Roman ruins, beautiful woods, a church that was hundreds and hundreds of years old, and thanks to them, I learned that Emmental cheese is quite delicious! And sitting in the sun in a park behind Notre Dame on a sunny, warm pleasant day and being in awe of the beauty of the Opera National de Paris (Paris Opera House) was the best way to spend our last day in beautiful Paris.

The trips was full of highlights, but of course, since there was so much to see in Paris, we couldn't see it all and we missed out on seeing: the Louvre, Monet's gardens at Giverny, and the Catacombs of Paris (which I desperately wanted to see!). Even though we did visit the Musee d'Orsay, it turned out to be a bust because we had a limited time to visit and both my mother and I had to use the restroom, but 3 out of the 4 stalls were broken and we were in the bathroom line for over 30 minutes! By the time we had both used the bathroom, it was practically time to leave but at least we got to visit the gift shop and buy some gifts for people! (It's the little things, haha)

Despite missing some of these big things in Paris, my trip was still terrific and I wouldn't trade the experience for anything else in the world! Those missed chances are just opportunities to go back and have new adventures and explore more things in Paris. There was so much that I saw and did, that I'm sure I'm missing some fun and interesting aspects from my Parisian escapades, but for now, enjoy the pictures I took from my trip to the City of Light and my funny and witty commentary* to go with it!

*What I think is "funny and witty" is more likely "gushy and filled with the words 'loved,' 'delicious,' 'gorgeous,' and 'beautiful," because Paris is stupid pretty. Like seriously. It's ridiculously pretty.

PS. And I still never really got used to paying to use the bathroom! I guess as an American I'm just used to most bathrooms being fair game and free. It was a total culture shock. The bathroom at the train station even had a time limit!

My first look at Paris from the top of the Tour Montparnasse sky scraper. Bonjour, Eiffel tower! ❤

I was eating a fresh French baguette while viewing the city. That's how everyone should sight-see in Paris.

C'est magnifique!

View from my hotel room. I really couldn't believe I was actually in Paris. I had to take photographic evidence from my hotel window, just to prove it to myself!

My hotel room bathroom had a freaking BIDET!!! And no, I did not use it. Was I tempted? Sort of. Was I more terrified than curious? Yes, yes I was.

The first night in Paris we walked to a local creperie that our tour guide recommended and I'm so glad we did! The restaurant was tiny, but the hostess was so sweet, gave us two different ciders to try with the crepes, and for someone who doesn't really drink alcohol, I fell in love with the sweet cider! I took this picture to document it and see if I could try to find it in the States (I probably won't be able to, but you never know!) We loved the crepes so much that the hostess even took us back into the kitchen to show us how they made them! It was a fantastic and delicious way to spend our first dinner in Paris. (I still dream about those crepes...I had one with cheese, scrambled eggs, and potatoes. So simple, yet so good! But of course I forgot to take a picture of my actual crepe! I was so hungry that I just started digging in!)

The beautiful river Seine. Midnight in Paris got the beauty of Paris exactly right! (Minus all the crowds, the traffic, noise. But despite all that, Paris is still beautiful!)

I love this shot I took of the Eiffel tower as we were driving over the Seine. But of course the reflection from the bus window sort of ruined it. Oh well. I still love it!

And here it is: the famous and iconic Eiffel tower! This shot makes me smile because of all the people posing in front of it, ready to take a picture and post it on Snapchat and Instagram. No shame, it was what we were all doing!!

And since I don't trust anyone else to take my picture, I of course had to take a selfie in front of the Eiffel Tower. And had to hold my hair away from my face since it was super windy. (That was a behind the scenes scoop!)

Even the lamps in Paris are pretty! What gives??? Why can't everywhere else be just as pretty??

The Arc de Triomphe aka the busiest place in Paris (according to me). There's a traffic circle surrounding it, plus people trying to cross the street to go visit and then climb to the top, and then there's the people across the street, like my tour, just staying out of the way and taking pictures from a distance. Even from afar it was still awe-inspiring and beautiful.

The gates of Versailles. It seemed like everything was in gold. Everything. You could kind of see why the peasants revolted all those years ago.

Guady, gorgeous, and ornate! Literally everything that Versailles is and stood for. The grandiose nature and size of Versailles was literally jaw-dropping. It really must have been something to see back in the day! You know, before all the revolutions...

The Garden of Versailles is magnificent. But HUGE! We walked around maybe like one-fifth of it, and the rest was way too far to walk. I wouldn't be surprised if they had a maze somewhere on the property with a Minotaur pacing around in it.

A really crappy photo of the beautiful gardens of Versailles. Like, you can't tell in the picture but there are gorgeous topiary and lovely designed landscaped hedges. Trust me, it's gorgeous. Just blame my photography skills and lack of photographic evidence.

One of the few times I've taken a good photo and it's of this either ancient Roman or Greek god guy just lounging by a man made lake. Or is it a pond? Or a reflecting pool?

One of the MANY fountains in the gardens. None of them were running on the day we visited. Apparently they only run the fountains certain days of the years, to help prevent water erosion. But I talked to my aunt about Versailles and she said when she visited back in the 70's, they ran the fountains but because of the stagnant water that just sits there, it filled the gardens with the smell of rotting eggs. Gross.

A grotto to make Hugh Hefner jealous.

Yet another fountain! This one even bigger than the last! I'm sure you can't see, but there was a bird sitting on top of the statue at the very top. So many people were trying to take pictures and simultaneously shoo the bird off in hopes of getting a better shot. I think the bird adds a nice, how do you say, je ne sais quoi?

The turtle and frog fountain from a distance. Not pictured: a horde of school children on a field trip racing up behind me and corralling me off of the stairs as I was trying to climb up. Never underestimate the power of children out of school and on a field trip!

Pretty much the same statue as before, just on the other side of the lake/pond/body of water thing. You know you're royalty when you have MATCHING giant statues.

For some reason this panoramic shot I took has a watermark on it when I post it on here. But I still think despite the pesky watermark it's a great shot! If I do say so myself.... (just let me have this one thing!)

Just a simple entryway, welcoming us into the former French royalty's humble abode aka the PALACE of Versailles.

The Sun King: "I don't think they know I am wealthy enough just by seeing this simple door."
Architect: "My lord, I assure you they know"
The Sun King: "Make the door fancier. And more gold!"
Architect: "But sir-"
The Sun King: "Fancier, I say!!"
Architect: "But my lord, this door leads to the chamber pot storage room..."
The Sun King: "No matter! Just make it fancy!"

I forgot who is depicted in this portrait, but I took a picture of it anyway. Chances are she was royal ;)

A bed fit for a king. Or queen. Or whomever. You know it's a fancy bed if there are FOUR feather plumes on top of it!

Isn't this clock magnificent? I feel like it totally would have come alive in the Beast's castle. And would have been totally terrifying because the clock was HUGE.

The Hall of Mirrors! I have always always always wanted to see this in person and now I have! And it was just as magnificent as I thought it would be. My pictures do not in any way do it justice! I seriously couldn't stop thinking about how Marie Antoinette walked down these very halls.

Yes, I took a selfie in the Hall of Mirrors. Was it embarrassing to do? Yes. Was it worth it? Totally!

This was was scroll-work done on a window shutter. A WINDOW SHUTTER!!!

The beautiful stained glass at Chartres! Even after hundreds and hundreds of years the colors are still so bright.

On a whim (aka because I had seen pictures of it on Pinterest of places to visit in Paris that weren't the Eiffel tower or any of the other typical tourist-y things) we visited the Paris Opera House and I'm so happy we did! It was huge, gorgeous, and ornate, even more so than Versailles. From all of the paintings, the statues, all the gold and scroll-work, the chandeliers and lamps, there was so much to see and it was all so lavish and elegant. In fact, I think I liked the Opera House even better than Versailles! They had costumes from different ballets scattered around and you could peek out at the stage and the grand staircase was fabulous and jaw-dropping. Plus the gift shop was ballet-centric so my mom and I had a ton of fun shopping for my ballet loving sister. We even grabbed a quick baguette to snack on and ate it outside on the front steps and just gazed up at the beautiful building. It really was so pretty that we just wanted to hang around it for as long as we could before heading elsewhere.

I just had to take a picture of the bathroom tours in the Paris Opera House! They were just so elegant with the "dames" and "messieur" yet they made me giggle knowing they were "toilettes" and looked so fancy. And even the bathrooms were pretty!

On our last day in Paris, we just strolled around, visiting the green bookstalls and doing a bit of shopping. We stumbled across this ornate clock on the corner of a building. It's amazing what you can find just walking around this fabulous city! I didn't take as many pictures on our last day, but that was because I wanted to put away my phone and just enjoy our last day in the city and just take it all in. Who knows when I'll be back again! (Hopefully sooner than I think!)

An Art Nouveau metro station entrance! Isn't it just beautiful?? I've always wanted to see one in person and on our last day in Paris we were just strolling around and came across this one! It was fate! Fate, I tell you!

After we walked around Paris a bit, we decided to visit Notre Dame and after admiring the front and the long line of people standing out front to tour the inside, we decided to rest our weary legs at the small park behind the cathedral and just enjoy the sunshine, the back of the beautiful building, and people watch. It really was quite pleasant and lovely. Plus, there was a little public restroom that was FREE! Score!

This wasn't the last picture I took in Paris, but I thought the picture I took of the Eiffel tower at night would be a nice way to end my blog post. I can't believe I went to Paris! And London! It was literally the trip of a lifetime and I cannot wait to go back and explore more of this fantastic, old, and fascinating city!

Au revoir, Paris! Je t'aime!

Stay Weird,

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