Tag Archives: Europe

#CatTravels: Let the derby begin!

Game day!

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You know it's game day in London. Everyone is dressed in their team jerseys and colors. This was the scene was we walked to Emirates Stadium, home of the Arsenal Gunners.

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Before I met Derek, I knew very little about soccer.

Like, it involved a ball, two goals, and a grassy playing field.

I didn’t grow up playing — or watching — the game, and the only time I actually kicked around a soccer ball, my friend accidentally kicked me in the left shin and fractured it. (So I get why players wear shin guards.)

Derek, on the other hand, lives and breathes the game. He’s played soccer most of his life — even in college — and would still be kicked around a ball had it not been for two knee surgeries and a distraction called his Ph.D.

And as a good girlfriend, I sat through a few televised matches and read about the World Cup. Lucky for him, I actually do enjoy sports. And lucky for him, I learned to really appreciate what he calls “the beautiful game.”

The last time we were in London, we caught the Tube to Emirates Stadium, home of the Arsenal Gunners, one of his favorite teams. On my urging — if you can believe that! — we bought very expensive tickets and sat through what’s really a truly English experience.

Premier League soccer — or football, as it’s called here — games are nothing like their American counterparts. For starters, they consist of two 45-minute (or so) halves; meaning, they only last about 90 minutes, not all day. And the spectators are more like college fanatics — they dress up, they cheer and sing, they stand the entire time. It’s really an experience.

So since we were back in London — and since Arsenal was playing that Sunday — we bought tickets from a slightly sketchy Russian (another story) and went to the league’s first derby of the season.

Follow my #CatTravels adventures in Europe and Japan on Twitter @thedailydish and on Instagram @catherinetoth.

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#CatTravels: Wedding bells in London

Since many of you are having problems with my photo galleries — and I don’t blame you; scrolling down for every photo is mighty annoying — I’ve posted the gallery up top. Hopefully that will suffice until I get this all sorted out. Thanks for your patience!

Let's get there first!

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The first thing we needed to do was get from Paris to London in time for the afternoon wedding. So we caught a Eurostar train that took us through the Channel Tunnel, a 31.4-mile undersea rail tunnel.

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After all, we were here for a wedding.

That was the whole purpose of this jaunt to Europe. Derek’s friend from his days living in Japan was getting married to a woman from a small island off Greece.

We had stayed with them three years ago when we first visited London — and when we got the invitation to their wedding earlier this year, we saw it as yet another excuse to fly halfway around the world.

Guy and Maro were getting hitched at Hackney Town Hall, in the borough of London where they both had lived. It was going to be a fairly simple ceremony, done in the courtroom with maybe a few dozen friends and families in attendance.

Then we were off to — where else? — a pub for drinks, food and festivities.

What could be better than that?

Follow my #CatTravels adventures in Europe and Japan on Twitter @thedailydish and on Instagram @catherinetoth.

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#CatTravels: Walking to eat in Paris

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The last time I went to Japan I ate so much I swore I had gained at least 10 pounds.

Turns out, when I hopped on the scale at the gym, I had actually lost weight.

It didn’t make sense.

I told a few friends who all said, “Yeah, it’s all the walking you did.”

But I can’t imagine how walking can really burn off the massive amount of calories I consume when I’m traveling. And here I was, in Paris, among boulangerie and patisserie, surrounded by maracons and croissants, with real butter and real milk and the kind of hot chocolate you have to eat with a spoon.

How in the world was I going to eat all this food and not come home and buy an entirely new wardrobe?

Maybe walking would work.

So we spent an entire day on our feet, walking instead of catching the metro, and we ate every step of the way.

Here’s what we ate — and what we saw — as we walked the streets of Paris:

Good morning!

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Every morning I ate a pastry from some boulangerie. (This is why I love Paris so much!) Today, I got up and grabbed a creamy chocolate eclair. Great way to start my morning!

Follow my #CatTravels adventures in Europe and Japan on Twitter @thedailydish or on Instagram @catherinetoth.

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#CatTravels: A day in Versailles

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Derek told me to keep Thursday open.

It was a surprise, he said. And wear comfortable shoes.

So I got up on Thursday morning, put on a comfy dress and slippers and packed a Diet Coke, ready for anything. Maybe a picnic beneath the Eiffel Tower? Maybe a boat cruise on the Seine? I had no idea what to expect.

Turns out, Derek had planned an entire day in Versailles, a small and affluent city about 11 miles southwest of Paris. This town, with less than 89,000 residents, is best known for its palace and gardens.

The Palace of Versailles is a royal chateau in Versailles in the Île-de-France region of France. When it was built in the 17th century, it became the center of political power in France when Louis XIV moved here from Paris in 1682. The royal family resided and ruled from Versailles until 1789, when revolutionaries stormed the chateau, thusly starting the French Revolution.

Today, it’s a museum that millions of people visit every year. While many come to walk in the footsteps of royalty in the chateau, I have always been more interested in the sprawling gardens outside the palace. We’re talking hundreds and hundreds of hectares of manicured bushes and flower beds, of tree-lined paths and mazes, of fountains and canals.

I couldn’t wait!

So here’s what our day in Versailles looked like:

My surprise

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I didn't know where we were going when we jumped on the metro first thing in the morning. I was just told to wear comfortable shoes.

Follow my #CatTravels adventures in Europe and Japan on Twitter @thedailydish and on Instagram @catherinetoth.

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#CatTravels: Last full day in Amsterdam

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If four people in Alli’s flat in Amsterdam wasn’t enough, we were adding two more.

Our friends, Rick and Josh, from Hawaii arrived today and were going to spend the night in Amsterdam before heading to the La Tomatina Festival in Bunol, a small town in Spain.

It gave us an excuse to visit a few favorite spots in the city before they jumped on the plane to throw rotting tomatoes at each other.

So we went back for some Dutch pancakes, walked along the canals, ate stroopwafel at the Albert Cupy street market, and went for dinner in the bustling Leidseplein.

I will say, there’s a lot to do in Amsterdam, more than I had anticipated. And on my last full day in the city, I started to take an account of the things I didn’t get to do. I didn’t bike through Vondelpark or see windmills or visit a cheese farm. I still hadn’t been to any museums since I got here.

I wish I had another day — or week.

There’s so much to see, do and eat in Amsterdam. I was going to spend my last full day doing as much as I possibly could.

Here’s what it looked like:

More friends!

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Monday morning brought two more Hawaii friends to Amsterdam — Josh and Rick. They were staying for one night before heading, with Alli, to Buñol, Spain for the annual La Tomatina. We all had to figure out how to fit in Alli's flat for the night.

Follow my #CatTravels adventures in Europe and Japan on Twitter @thedailydish and Instagram @catherinetoth.

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