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. 

 

Memories to last a lifetime

I feel it’s time to follow that last sappy post up. With another sappy post. But in the opposite way. So, here goes.

I’ve been in Paris for seven weeks now. And I have to say that I’ve met some absolutely wonderful, beautiful, stunning and kind people. I have to start this post off with my first two friends in Paris and talk about how super duper cool they are.

Picture me, sitting in my apartment one night when I get a text from a random number addressing me by my first name and everything, asking me to lunch. I’d been in Paris for like two weeks at this point and hadn’t really met people yet so imagine my surprise and intrigue at this text. The person(s) sending said text were Aimi and Julia. These two ladies were best friends with the previous au pair to my family and had my number from her and decided to reach out to me and welcome me into the city.

It couldn’t have come at a better time.

So, I text back and tell Julia that I love bagels and she proceeds to find a DELICIOUS bagel place called, “Bagels and Brownies,” that I’m just obsessed with now. We went to lunch at the Luxembourg Garden and ate on the grass and this chick made me feel so welcome in a city I was feeling so lonely in. She and Aimi reached out to me (quite creepily in an awesome and weird way, I might add) and I can’t thank them enough for all they’ve done already – listening to me complain, directing me throughout the city, calming me down during stuck-in-an-elevator-panic-attacks. They’re great. And I found out later on that before sending me that first text, they had debated it for a while and eventually decided on being creepy and not caring to send some random girl a random text out of the blue. And thank goodness that they did.

Julia and Aimi introduced me to some of the most wonderful girls I’ve met in my life. Just tonight, some of us had a dinner party at Aimi’s with home cooked food (thanks Aimi and Gemma) and homemade desserts (even homemade crusts, thanks Julia). It was soooo good and the company was terrific. These girls are teaching me so much about the world and life and for instance about the fact that I’m apparently “incredibly American.” Whatever that means.. Just kidding, I know exactly what it means. These girls are from all over – Wales, England, Ireland, New Zealand, America. Just everywhere. I’m learning so much from them and I’m so grateful for this experience.

Also I love the way they talk.

I find myself speaking with a terrible, fake British accent after being around them for extended periods of time and they just deal with it. And for that I love them.

I’ve made so many memories already after this short time and can’t wait for the numerous more with them. This experience has already been life changing and though it gets tough at times, I wouldn’t change a thing about this choice I made and the year I’m spending in Paris. After all, I’m living out a dream.

Nobody said it’d be easy.

Well. I’m finally ready to admit it (although those close to me already hear this constantly). I miss home. Like reeeally bad. I knew it’d be a struggle to move an ocean away from everyone I love but I never imagined it’d be this hard. Don’t get me wrong, I love Paris and don’t wish to change a thing – I just need to get a few things off my chest.

I think I’m going through the first wave of homesickness that I knew would come. And I’ve been going through it for quite a bit now. I constantly find myself thinking of home, questioning my reasoning for being here and missing my family.. Like A LOT.

I miss everyone so much.

Let’s start small. And by that I literally mean “small.” Right before I boarded my flight to France, my cousin Kourtni had her first baby. A precious little girl. I’m watching her grow her first year through Facebook and social media and that crushes me. Because anyone who knows me knows that I ADORE the three babies in my life. Like I’d give my life for them I love them so much. So you can understand why it kills me to be so far away for this little one’s first year of life. Especially considering that I was sick when we visited her in the hospital and I didn’t get to hold her but once before I left. And then there are my two babies. Not literally mine, I didn’t birth them, but I’d claim them as my own. Abagail and Aliveia have been the highlights of my life since Abagail was born 6.5 years ago. I try to FaceTime them as often as possible but it’s just not the same as real cuddles and kisses. It does help though that my Momma told me Aliveia (2) has been asking about me: “Where’s Megan?” “Megan come?” “Call Megan.” So obviously they do and it makes my day to see those little faces on my iPhone screen.IMG_4910

I also miss my best friends whom I talk to (almost) daily. I miss them so dang much. I miss having someone to regularly go on El Mags dates with. I miss having someone to tell me it’s okay to eat that ten pound second round plate of HuHot that I just brought back to the table. I miss having someone to sneak into movies with. I miss margaritas every Thursday. I miss all the little things. And texting just doesn’t do all of their awesomeness justice. Even though most of them tend to blow my phone up daily – it’s just not even nearly enough. And it pains me to say this but I can feel some slipping away from me and becoming distant and that honestly breaks my heart. It’s so hard to lose a relationship when you’re so far away. It’s heartbreaking, honestly.

But most of all I miss my parents and baby brother. Man, I honestly never thought I’d miss fighting with someone so annoying so much. But I miss all the little spats with my kid bro. And I miss our frequent sibling movie dates. And I miss having someone to rescue me when I need help in the middle of the night. That kid may drive me crazy but I love him to the ends of the earth and can’t wait to punch him again. And my Daddy. Our song came on my iTunes yesterday and usually it’s too sad and deep (I know, I know) for me to listen to so I skip it so I can stay peppy and happy. IMG_4663But yesterday I listened to the whole thing and just cried. That man is my superhero and I miss him so much. He must miss me too because he FINALLY got with it and bought himself a smartphone so that he could actually communicate with me while I’m here. Now we text and Skype regularly and it still makes me chuckle to see his big smiling face excitedly say, “Hey Sweetie!” literally every time that he answers. Warms my heart. And anyone who knows me knows that my Momma and I are inseparable. Like really. She is my rock and what gets me through every tough situation. I miss her more than words can describe and what breaks my heart the most about this is that I broke her heart by leaving. I know everyone will roll their eyes and be like, “It’s just one year, chill.” But this one year of separation between my Mom and I is like an eternity to anyone else. I hate the fact that I don’t get to go on Walmart trips with her. I hate the fact that I can’t surprise her at the front door with a visit. I hate that I don’t get to interrupt her work day with a visit. Honestly it’s all of the little things.

I know my parents will be crazy upset after reading this post but I just had to  finally get it all off my chest. And now that I have, I feel loads better. And I do have to say that this experience has taught me that I can never live halfway across the world from everyone ever again. I don’t plan to live in Missouri again, but I do plan to live my life in the US.

Although I miss home tremendously, I love this dazzling life that I’m living in Paris. It’s beautiful and filled with awe and it’s truly an adventure I never thought I’d actually get to go on when I started dreaming about it in 6th grade. I’m cherishing every moment and living out a dream. I’ve made new lifelong friends, explored weird places and eaten such fattening food. OH! And drank lots of wine. It’s safe to say that I love my life. You just gotta let some things off your chest sometimes. And now that I have..IMG_4887

OH LOOK. The mom just brought me home a baguette. I’ve been hoping for one for two days this week now. And now that I finally have one, all is right with the world. And you bet your booty that I’m about to eat the entire thing. With butter. Go ahead, judge.