On Orange, the Chillest Cafe Experience in Lancaster

Anyone who knows me knows I love food. It’s almost all I ever think about.

What’re we going to eat for lunch?

What time is breakfast?

Can we do brunch too?

I know we just ate but when is dinner?

I’m like a hobbit.. “But what about second breakfast?”

And Orange Street in Lancaster, PA just so happens to house the cutest and yummiest little cafe around. If you happen to be in the area, On Orange is a must. 

 It was small and crowded when Mandy and I walked in but fret not! There’s a basement with wooden booths topped with paisley pillows all around. We waltzed down the stairs and found a cozy little booth in the corner by the fireplace and took a seat.

Immediately I saw the chilaquilies, a Mexican dish of tortilla chips soaked in a spicy chorizo sausage soup, topped with feta, avocado and eggs. I was hesitant, but decided it sounded weirded enough for me and oh my goodness! It was so delicious.. Like I’m sitting here writing this and wanting more. I think I’ve just found my new favorite breakfast go to. And maybe lunch go to. And probably even dinner go to. 

   
Even the service was wonderful and it completely topped off the experience. Our server, Alan, a bearded man-bunned dude covered in plaid was so kind and gave me that little push I needed to venture towards the chilaquilies. Oh, dude’s got dance moves too.. He kept dancing out of the kitchen and making us laugh. He was great and definitely left us with a smile.

If I haven’t convinced you yet of this place’s awesomeness, then I have one last treat to throw at you – literally. The checks come with a cookie on the plate. Free dessert! 

 So, there you have it.. I’ve found you all the perfect cafe experience within Lancaster. Now, go try it out for yourself!

Dublin: A Last Stop On a Road of Yearlong Adventures

What does a broke American girl with 24 hours in Dublin do? Drink Guinness. Lots and lots of Guinness. 

 I’m on my last stop of adventures here in Dublin before returning to the US after being gone a year and only had 24 hours here in this beer-drowned city.

To get here was quite a struggle. First, I had to figure out how to get my two 50 lbs (each) suitcases around with me along with a similarly heavy carry-on and large purse. Yes, I traveled from Wales to Dublin with four massive bags all by myself. And I didn’t even cry once! So, that’s cool. But anyway, in order to even get to Dublin I hitched a ride, took a train, rode a ferry and then caught a cab to my hostel. Yes, that’s four different means of transportation with four very large bags that weigh more than I do collectively. Again, I reiterate – I DID NOT CRY ONCE. It was easy once I put all my weight into picking up one case and stacking it on top of the other so that I could wheel them together (my 2nd suitcase is actually a duffle and doesn’t have wheels) – and by easy I mean immensely challenging. I wheeled my two massive cases along together while toting my carry-on strapped across my front and my big purse across my back.. I’m telling you guys, I was a comic relief of travel to anyone who saw me.

But all of this is okay because I got to take a ferry from Wales to Ireland! It was so cool! I love the water and honestly could have sat there at the big windows staring off into the horizon daydreaming about the world for a full day. But I didn’t have a full day on the ferry – nope, I had a full day in Dublin! Literally just one full day. Actually, not even that because I arrived in the afternoon and am heading to the airport this morning.. So, technically more like 20 hours I guess but that’s okay! I made the most of it! While on the ferry, I met a fellow blonde American girl who I instantly connected with. She’s traveling with her dad and wanted some time away from him so we hung out on the ferry and exchanged info so that we could meet up together again later in the day. 

  

Minion voice: “He he, barf bags.”

 
Once finally arriving at my hostel – bags amassed in front of me towering above me – I checked in and left to get some grub. I wandered around the town center for a bit as I always do and then happened into a pub that my cabby had told me he likes and is pretty chill.

I walk in.

I cross the bar.

I look to a table to sit down.

I hear a man call out for me.

I turn and there’s a middle aged man sitting at the bar with an arm stretched out to shake my hand and he’s asking me where I’m from and what I’m doing there. Like seriously guy, I haven’t even looked at the entire pub yet and you’re already bugging me. But turns out he wasn’t really that annoying and he and his buddies were actually pretty cool.

They find out I’m from the US and traveling alone (shh, don’t tell my Mom that I told them that) and they are shocked. They can’t understand that an adventurous and independent woman wants to travel alone and experience the world. But that’s okay – a lot of people don’t understand it and I’ve grown used to it. The guys end up buying me a Guinness and we chat while I scarf down yummy fish and chips all afternoon. What started out as an encounter with an annoying dude in a pub, turned out to be quite the perfect Irish experience with beer and fish and chips. 

 Later my fellow blonde American friend, Robin, and I went out on the town together to Temple Bar. We ate, we drank, we were merry. It was so cool to just walk around and see the nightlife of Dublin. Cobblestones and neon lights take precedent at Temple Bar and there’s really nothing like it. We had ourselves a grand ole’ time. 

   
The only thing I’m bummed about is the fact that I wasn’t able to go to the Guinness factory. I arrived too late yesterday to make it in time and then have to head to the airport too early this morning to go today. But I know I’ll be back one day so it’s not the end of the world..

And now today, after countless adventures and memories over the past year, I’m leaving Europe and returning home.

Grillstock – A Day of Serving Up Ice Cream in England

Alright so I cannot believe what I just spent my day doing. I woke up bright and early with Gem and then drove in to Bristol to work all day at a BBQ/music festival called Grillstock serving ice cream. And eating it. Okay, I did a lot more eating it than I did serving it but still.. 

 Yeah, so the whole day was spent taking in music and eating food and sipping down ales. And get this, the festival was insanely Americanized and everyone was trying to imitate amazing American BBQ – so being from Kansas City, THE BBQ CAPITAL OF THE WORLD, I was so into it. And guess what? Some of the English can prepare some surprisingly delicious brisket. I was quite impressed to say the least.

There were so many awesome people there, including a group of “Where’s Waldos,” that I snuck up to to take a picture with. I creeped up next to them and posed all happy with my thumbs up, only for Gem to tell me that the photo didn’t take. Soooo, as I prepared myself to be creepy again, they all turned around and started putting arms around me and asked if I wanted a picture.

I laughed, “Yeah, did you guys see me trying to sneak one already?”

“Uh yeah haha, let’s go ahead and take one.”

“Oh right, yeah let’s go the less creepy route..”

Aaaaand the photo was taken. 

 There was even a dance floor where everyone was boogyin’ around and I just couldn’t help myself – as I was passing through, I just passed my way through the dance floor and boogied myself along. You always have to take time to dance in life. If you don’t have dance, then what is life?

Yeah, so the day was just spectacular and tonight I’m still so full from all of the yumminess that I indulged in today. But perhaps the best part of the day was the outrageously gorgeous manbun that was working the stand next to ours. I probably spent too much time watching him when I should have been serving ice cream but.. that’s alright with me.

BUT BACK TO THE POINT.

Today I got to serve ice cream, drink alcoholic iced tea and stuff my face with brisket.. Could I have asked for a better way to spend my last day in England? 

 ..nope.

Side note: Ivor’s Ice Cream is absolutely delicious and everyone needs it in their lives.

Edith Piaf, Long Lost Professors and Living the French Life

It has occurred to me that I should probably update all of you on what I’ve been up to the past few days – and it’s been a lot. First, let’s start off with the most recent French film I went to (alone again, because that’s my new favorite thing) – “La Tête Haute/Standing Tall.” Centering around a troubled young boy just trying to find his way in the world. He’s abusive and temperamental and a disaster to be around but by the end he’s grown into himself. Full of anger, hatred, compassion, love and a happy ending, it was as uplifting as it was upsetting. Oh, how I love these French cinema experiences that I keep all to myself. Next, I spent my Saturday afternoon exploring the Edith Piaf exhibition. I’ve loved her for years; that dark, smoky voice and soothing lyrics – I’m a sucker for French classics. Immediately upon entrance I was handed an audio guide full of about 50 Edith songs to listen to while walking through the exhibit. With movie clips, vintage mementos and even a live karaoke box inside, I became lost within history. The exhibit even had one of her little black dresses (her signature look) hanging from above in one of the sections. I learned so much about her and her tragic life and I have a newfound respect for the glorious French singer. For those of you not familiar, here is one of her most famous songs, La Vie En Rose:

         Then, I spent all day Sunday running around in a real princess dress at another castle – Vaux-le-Vicomte – but that’s going into a separate post because it was so special to me and deserves more attention than a mention. Then, yesterday two things happened. One, I received my new custom made leather journal cover for my personal journal I’ve been keeping throughout my time here in Paris! I was so delighted when I saw the package sitting in my family’s flat that I literally squealed! It’s so beautiful and personal and everything I wanted. Thank you so much, Megan’s Mark for this wonderful work of art!     And then two, I met up with one of my French professors from university! She and her hilarious other half are in Paris for the week for the beginning of her last study abroad that she’s leading. This wonderful lady is one of the three main reasons I was able to go to France the first time two (!!) years ago and then decided to come back long term. She led my study abroad group back then and it’s only fitting that we met back up at a cafe for drinks while I’m living here.    Finally, last night I spent the evening with some of my favorite people in Paris just lounging along the Canal Saint-Martin having a picnic.       Honestly I couldn’t ask for a more perfect life to live, I thank God every day for my abundant blessings. I’m in awe at every moment of every day of this beautiful life I get to live because of Him.

Being All French

This past weekend, I spent most of my time indulging in crêpes, going to chocolate museums and viewing the Parisian skyline. Sprinkle in a few picnics and a couple of Brits and you have a recipe for the perfect three days.

  

       

Let’s start with La Maison du Chocolat. Because chocolate. So obviously from these pictures you can tell that I had a hard time not eating my way through the tour. Truffles and creams lined the walls and I was wondering the whole time how to get out without anyone noticing the smears across my face. 

Just kidding. Or am I?

Moving on.. 

     

After the chocolate, I fancied a crêpe, Orangina and strawberries & cream because in France we don’t eat anything healthy. Ever. 

 

End the weekend with Lady Liberty and you seriously have everything needed for the best weekend.

Oh, those Americans.

I have to share an encounter I just had at the boulangerie down my street.

As I was stood in line eagerly awaiting to order my quiche for lunch, an older American man was in front of me ordering in the typical American fashion – loud and specific. Everyone in line was helping him order and it was quite a cute spectacle to witness. I was just standing there smiling at how American we Americans really can be as I began my order. Fluent French and confidence exuded from my person as I demonstrated my stance as a “local.” Though no one knew I was American as well, I did and therefore I wanted to prove the stereotype wrong. I placed my order, paid and walked out still smiling over the old man.

Then, thirty seconds later, I look down to see that I’d in fact walked off without my quiche and as I’m turning to go back, one of the workers runs up from behind me to tell me I forgot my food.

So much for proving the stereotype wrong.

Mom & Dad Take France, Pt. 1: Paris

I FINALLY SAW THEM! Eight long months after leaving my loving parents, we were reunited in Paris! I gotta say, that long wait at the front of the greeting line at the airport was quite tense for me.. Waiting, watching for those two faces while grasping a fresh baguette and doting a black beret and striped tee, I was ecstatic and all over the place to say the least. I’d waited so long for them to finally arrive and these last few moments at the airport were tough. I can’t even imagine what all the Frenchies around me were thinking.. “AMERICAN,” “Idiot,” “Who’s this weirdo making fun of us?” “I feel bad for whoever she’s waiting for,” but I didn’t care! I looked like a stereotypical American idiot but I was overjoyed that Mom and Dad were about to arrive in the first country outside of the U.S. that they’d ever been in and I wanted them to have the best greeting ever.    Therefore, the costume was very much needed. Trust me. So anyway, I’m waiting at the front of the greeting line for them and then all of a sudden the military guys come over and start yelling at everyone to get back and they shove all of us away from the gate. “BUT NO BECAUSE MY MOM AND DAD ARE HERE AND I DON’T CARE WHAT’S HAPPENING, JUST LET ME SEE THEM.” Then, I realize why we’re all being pushed back and it’s because a large black bag has been left in the middle of the area where I’d been standing and the police are treating it as a bomb. “Oh.. Okay.. Well. Maybe this was a good reason to shove me away from the big black possible bomb bag.. BUT STILL.” A few minutes later, everything is okay and turns out it’s just a regular suitcase someone dropped and we’re all allowed back at the greeting gate. I rush over to the front again grasping my now not-so-fresh baguette and wait. And wait. And wait. And then I receive a text from my Dad stating, “We’re taking turns going to the bathroom, be out in a few minutes.” ARE YOU KIDDING ME, GUYS!? I’ve been waiting 8 months for this and you’re wasting time in the bathroom!? COOOOME ON. So, I wait. More. Then.. THEY’RE HERE. I duck under the bar and run to them in front of everyone at the airport and grab them both in a baguette-filled hug. I’m sure all the Frenchies now understood that this was a big deal and they all got a good heartfelt reunion showing. Despite what everyone probably thinks, surprisingly no tears were shed. We were all too excited about the moment to cry. So, we shuffle ourselves over to the side and what do we do? We take a selfie. Yeah, first thing we do. Take a selfie.   After the selfie, I proceed to lead them through the airport to the metro where they take their first metro ride in Paris. It was full of horrible stares at me, English speaking tourists and plain just full. My parents got their first taste of Parisian life on that metro ride – so many stares at them. My Mom didn’t like it one bit. But they learned to get over it and ignore all the looks throughout their time here just like all the other Parisians do. During their time in Paris, we went to all of my favorite places, met most of my friends, ate crêpes, drank wine and champagne, met my host family, had picnics, explored all of Versailles and climbed to the summit of the Eiffel Tower.               

Speaking of climbing the Eiffel Tower.. I’d never been to the tippy top. I was saving this bucket list moment to experience with my parents. And boy, am I glad I did. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m terrified of both heights and elevators. Sooooo, going to the top of the Eiffel isn’t exactly an easy feat. BUT! I’m not the type of person to let fears control my life and I have no problem with conquering my fears. I never hesitate to try new things and escape fear. So, I climbed the Eiffel. It was terrifying sure, but I had my Mom there to comfort me when I started to have a (teeny tiiiiiiiny) panic attack at being 300 metres high. Even so, I walked to the edge and stared over the bars onto my beautiful home of Paris. I walked along the entire perimeter of the edge and am so proud of myself. I finally conquered the Eiffel! Thanks to my parents.        During their time here, my parents both embraced French life. If you know me, you know I love wine. Like, loooove love wine. I want to work in the wine industry. I love wine. Anyway, if you know my parents, you know they don’t drink. Like anything. Ever. I think I’ve seen my Mom take a sip of wine twice in my life and those two sips are the extent to which I’ve ever seen her consume alcohol. And I’ve never seen my Dad drink before in my life. So, when I saw them embracing French life in the form of wine and champagne, I was overjoyed. Mainly just with the fact that they were trying to see what it’s like to live like me and that they were open to so many more things.   They both enjoyed the wine and champagne that France had to offer them in addition to so many more things. They tried foie gras (without knowing what it was), they tried all kinds of French cheeses and they let me show them around Paris as a true Parisian. They were truly open to broadening their horizons and I couldn’t be more overjoyed with them. To sum it up, I had the most wonderful time with my Mom and Dad while they were here in Paris with me for two weeks. Saying goodbye yesterday at the airport was harder than I thought it’d be but it will only be two and a half more short months before I see their shining faces again.   I am one happy American girl in Paris.

Side note: I crossed two things off of my Paris Bucket List.