On our final day in Paris we tried to fit in a few last minute things, while also keeping it low key and enjoying our last bit of vacation. We went to the Museum de l’Orangerie to check out the Monet water lilies, but didn’t see much else here. We were honestly overwhelmed with all the museums we had seen. We had lunch at L’Imperial Rivoli, where I tried a Croque-Madame for the first time… When in France Right?!? We did some last minute walking around the Marais neighborhood, and checked out the Picasso Museum. I loved that we had the museum pass for this trip. We never had to wait in line for tickets, or for entry, and we didn’t have to feel bad about the museums we breezed in and out of since we had already paid for the pass. We had our last chocolate croissant, packed our bags and enjoyed one last view from our colorful balcony. It was a WONDERFUL trip!!
This wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t show us being the ONLY people in the Charles de Gaulle Airport. Always the timely traveler Sean had us at the airport hours before it even opened, which feels hard to do at an international airport the size of CDG but we managed…
I could say this about all the days of the trip, but Day 6 was one of the best. We took the train to Versailles early that morning. We got there almost as it was opening and it really was not crowded (with the exception of the crowd you see in the Hall of Mirrors photo, which I think may always be like that). I think visiting in November also helped with the crowds. One thing I will say about our trip to Versailles in low season was that much of the furniture and other things that the audio guide mentioned seemed to be missing, possibly it was being cleaned or restored, and the famous gardens were a little lackluster with nothing in season. However, we enjoyed there not being much of a crowd and still getting to experience this famous location. We stayed a few hours and then took the train back in to Paris. That afternoon we explored Montmarte. I loved this area and would love to spend more time here. There are so many amazing shops and streets that you could spend days wandering here. We watched the sun set over Paris from the Sacre-Coeur, which I highly recommended. The view at sunset was magical. We wandered from here to the Hotel Particulier for some fancy drinks in a cozy spot off the beaten path. (Also happy to report we are still making the drink the bartender here taught us.) We finished up with dinner at Buillon Pigalle. The restaurant was a mix of tourist and locals, and the food was fantastic. This was one of our best “authentic” French meals. We are still trying to recreate the beef bourguignon.
Our the 5th day of our trip we covered a lot of ground. We started with a tour of the catacombs. I cannot express how much I disliked this. Sean had booked this as something he wanted to do, and I had no clue what we were getting into. I do not like small spaces, I do not like being underground, I do not like dead bodies, I do not like there being no emergency exit. The catacombs are all of those things. That aside our tour guide was really knowledgeable and engaging. We were lucky enough to be in Paris when the Rembrandt collection was on display at the Louvre. We had reservations that afternoon to check it out. We hit the highlights of the exhibit and hit the road. The Louvre was overly crowded to the point of not being enjoyable, as it turned out our reservation was only to see the Rembrandt pieces not the rest of the museum and we weren’t sad about it because it was such a cluster. That night we had tickets to see a ballet at the Palais Garnier. I had mostly just wanted to see a show inside the famous opera house so we could see the inside. It is definitely worth seeing in my opinion. It’s gorgeous. We wound up loving the show we saw, we had amazing seats that I had purchased basically by accident, and it was great to drink champagne and feel fancy for a night.
Day 4 of the trip was a museum and shopping day. We started the day with breakfast at Brasserie Le Bourbon. There were lots of business people here having meetings and eating. We enjoyed eating here. We followed that up with walking to the Rodin museum, which allowed us to take in some sights around the area. The Rodin museum was probably my favorite that we visited. I loved that it is both inside and outside, it wasn’t crowded, and you could walk around the gardens right in the middle of the city. We then went to the Museum D’Orsay, which has lots of great highlights, but we were lost most of the time we were there. It was crowded and difficult to navigate but we did manage to see some beautiful art! From here we walked to Rue Saint Honore to do some shopping. We stopped in Laduree since no trip to Paris is complete without the famous macarons. After our shopping we hurried back to change and head to our dinner reservation at Frenchie. We made a huge mistake and tried to take an Uber since we were all dressed up, we ended up sitting in so much traffic that we were late for our reservation. The restaurant staff was so great about it, but they have a strict cancellation policy so Sean was freaking out the whole drive there. The food at Frenchie was AMAZING. It is one of the best meals I have ever eaten. We had the sommelier do the wine pairing for each course also. We were lucky enough to have seats at the bar looking into the kitchen, which was a great experience. After dinner we walked to get a drink at the Experimental Cocktail Club, which was a fantastic spot our server told us about. When we were ready to head home we tried Uber again, but had no luck as our driver drove away as we were walking toward the car. We opted for the metro back, and I was not please about being in the metro late at night in high heels, but what a cool looking metro stop.
On our third day of the trip we took the train to Reims to explore the champagne region. It took a little over an hour to get there and was well worth it. This was maybe my favorite day of vacation. Reims was a fun town to see and we found it very walkable. The Museum of the Surrender allows you to experience the location where the German’s surrendered World War II. The map room is still exactly as it was on the day of the surrender. We really enjoyed this museum. It is next to a local school and we accidentally went into the school looking for it. Ooops. From here we walked to the Reims Cathedral. It is absolutely beautiful, the stained glass is unbelievable! The history here is fascinating; It was built in the 13th century and was the location for all of the coronations of the French monarchs. After this we walked to Brasserie Le Gaulois for lunch. Our waitress was great and talked about how much she loved having a chance to practice speaking English, however the food was honestly not good. Kind of reminded me of the French version of Applebees. I should mention that we came to Reims on a Monday and many places are closed so we didn’t have as much to choose from. We knew that going in to the day and were fine with it, but I do wish we had been able to try some of the places we heard about. One cool thing about the restaurants in Reims was they have great champagne selections so we were able to try a few from places we weren’t able to visit. From lunch we walked to Tatinger where we had made a reservation for a tour and tasting. Most of the larger champagne houses require reservations for a tour. We enjoyed the tour and our guide was great. We did a tasting and ended up buying some to have shipped home. From Tatinger we walked to Pomery. We did a tasting here and bought a couple more bottles. After a full afternoon of champagne drinking we found l’edito brasserie to stop in for dinner. We enjoyed the food here and our server was great! It was the only restaurant of the entire trip we went to where the server spoke no English (our problem not his – for being in France and not speaking any French), but he kept apologizing to us and was just so nice! Our last stop before the train was the local grocery store. This was a great stop as we found many of the local champagnes we hadn’t been able to try for sale here.
One of the best things we did in Paris was to book a photo shoot with The Paris Photographer. Remember how I said I didn’t love how our wedding photos turned out. Well, it is so great that we booked these photos before even getting our wedding photos back, because we have some images that we love from this special time in our lives. A colleague of mine heard about our trip and told me about The Paris Photographer. Her sister had been married in a small ceremony in Paris and they had taken absolutely beautiful photos from the ceremony. I did some research and found that they book mini sessions that are totally affordable (the wedding packages would have been out of my price range). We booked our session with Ioana and she was so much fun! The session included these 15 images, which in my opinion is plenty. She happened to get stuck in the metro on the way and ended up being very late to the session. She was texting us updates the entire time and it was totally not her fault, but I think she felt really bad so what was supposed to be a 30 minute session ended up being nearly two hours, so we had a lot of images to choose from and I just love these photos!!
On our second day in Paris we got up and had photos taken at the Eiffel Tower with a photographer from The Paris Photographer. I have mentioned before how I wasn’t too happy with our wedding photos, so we were SO HAPPY we did this! The photos turned out great and are such a fun memory. After our photo session we went back to our apartment to change into more comfortable clothes before heading out to explore the Jewish Quarter in Marais. We had heard about the food in the neighborhood and decided to go for lunch. The crowds were crazy and there were lots of long lines, we went to L’as du Falafel first but couldn’t even find the end of the line so we went to another spot nearby where we could be seated right away. I’m thinking it was Mi-Va-Mi, and it was really quite good. We took a little nap after lunch before heading out for the evening. We decided to head for rooftop drinks at Perruche, which a very cool spot on the top of a Printemps department store. We arrived just before closing time, but they were so great and let us come in for drinks anyway! The view from here is awesome and we really enjoyed this spot!! It was a Sunday evening so it was a little tough to find a spot to eat. Apparently lots of places close up early on Sunday. We weren’t far from Champs-Elysees so we decided to walk here from drinks in search of food. Since it is a more touristy area the shops and restaurants were still open. We browsed a few of the high end store before finding Cafe di Roma for dinner. It was definitely one of the more touristy places we ate, but there were locals there too with families and children. The pizza was good and we were happy to find a place that was open!
Remember when I told you guys that we got bed bugs on our honeymoon. Yeah that was great. In all of my googling, everything said do not panic, WELL allow me to be the first person on the internet to tell you it’s fine if you want to panic. Go finishing panicking and then come back and I’ll tell you what to do to remedy the situation.
First things first, I highly recommend that you tell someone at the place you are staying. Whether it is an AirBnB, a hotel, or a fancy resort, it’s really not their fault entirely. Bed bugs can easily hitch a ride from one place to another, like from one hotel to another, or maybe even in the airline cargo area from one suitcase to another. GROSS RIGHT!? And it doesn’t mean the place you are staying is dirty. Although you may feel as though you will never feel clean again once you encounter a bed bug. Someone needs to know, so they can treat the room and prevent other guest from having the same experience.
Also, let me be the first to tell you that people who check mattresses and other areas of hotel rooms when they travel in search of bugs, may not find them. These creatures are tiny and they only come out at night. Unless you have a full blown infestation don’t expect to seem them easily. So it’s fine if you’re checking, but that’s not fail proof.
I am no expert on this, but bed bugs have a life cycle such that they only need to feed during certain times. If you encounter them during the feeding part of the cycle, you will see the blood spots on the sheets at night. A new infestation may not yet be at this stage, and thus you won’t know about them. So we were kind of thankful for the bites in some sick way.
Bed bugs are killed by heat. There is no cleaner or chemical or anything that will get rid of them besides high heat. Ever since we came across the creepy little creatures on our honeymoon, we have followed a strict protocol when we return home from traveling just about anywhere. I’m going to share our routine with you so that if you’re in the same situation you know what to do.
When you return home take *all* of your clothes off before entering your home. [Could be complicated if you live in an apartment or shared living quarters]
Place all of your clothes directly into the washing machine. Wash and dry them.
Do not bring your suitcases in your house. Leave them in the garage, on the porch, in the yard. Not in the house.
Unpack the suitcases into trash bags. [your neighbors will think you killed someone on vacation, it’s fine]
Anything that can be washed and dried goes into a bag that will be taken to a wash/dry/fold service. 1)the commercial driers get much hotter than the ones at home & 2) you don’t take a chance on the creatures getting in to your house
Certain things that may not be safe in the washer, are fine in the dryer only. Remember it’s the heat you’re after not the soap. Think hats, certain kinds of shoes, purses or backpacks etc. Anything that is safe in the dryer should be left on high for at least 30 minutes.
Anything that can’t be washed/dried goes into a trash bag with one of these for at least a couple of days.
After a few days in the bag, cook everything in this oven. We cook our suitcases, our shoes, sometimes our toiletries.
The thing is, this may seem nuts, but if they infest your home it could be thousands of dollars to have it treated and get rid of them. It can also ruin hardwood floors and other more delicate items inside like artwork. If you can prevent them do it. After encountering bed bugs once, we assume that we have encountered them on every trip since and do this routine after every trip.
And now to really up the creepy factor of this post… a few pictures.
This is what your creepy crawly friends will leave behind.
This is when the neighbors will start to get suspicious.
Beginners Luck. Fishing the Gallatin on the first day!
Fishing the Madison
Stacey’s Steak House
Waiting on Old Faithful!
Exploring Yellowstone National Park. Grand Prismatic Overlook.
Big Sky Ski Resort in the summer time!
Gallatin River views
Sunrise over the Yellowstone River
Fishing the Yellowstone River
Goodnight Big Sky! We’ll be back!
Our first post pandemic vacation!! The last vacation we went on together was our honeymoon to Paris in 2019. The last flight I was on was in February of 2020. WOW! What has changed since then?!
We spent a few days in Big Sky, Montana visiting friends who basically moved out there during the pandemic. They bought a house right on the Gallatin River that they’ve been renovating, and we were lucky enough to be some of their first guests. It is absolutely beautiful and we had the BEST time. It was fun to get away, relax, and enjoy some new scenery.
Graham stayed home with his grandparents and they had a great time as well. It was our first time leaving him for an extended period. We are so lucky to have them take such great care of him and allow us the freedom to travel still. We are looking forward to his first big trip in the near future and hope he will be a big traveler, but it’s also great to go just the two of us!
We flew into Bozeman and spent some time walking around, eating lunch, and exploring the town. It’s a cute little downtown with shops and restaurants. We had lunch at Ted’s Montana Grill, and also got our first taste of the beers from MAP brewing. We had wanted to go to MAP to eat and do a tasting but they were closed. Sean liked the IPA and I LOVED the Mexican Party Lager. So much so that I pretty much ordered it everywhere for the rest of the trip and I’ve tried to find it since being home with no luck.
After our afternoon in Bozeman we headed for Big Sky. It is about a 45 minute drive. We went straight to Riverhouse BBQ, which was just down the road from our friends house for a few drinks. This is a cool spot with an outdoor stage, and when the weather is cooler there are outdoor firepits. We didn’t try the food, but it was a fun place to hangout. After this we headed home, Sean tried fly fishing for the first time walking across the street and wading in the Gallatin. Beginner luck was on his side, he caught a fish on his first try. We grilled out dinner together and called in a day.
The next day we were up bright and early for our first guided fly fishing trip. We fished the Madison River with guides from this company. We met up with the guides super early due to something called Hoot Owl Restrictions, we had to be off the water by 2 pm, so in order to get a full day in we had to leave by 6 am. We split up and the girls went in one boat and the guys in the other. If I’m being honest we kind of hated our guide. The guys had a guide that was having all the fun and we had a guide that was all kinds of serious and taking his job way too seriously. But overall we still had a great day, we caught a few fish enjoyed the beautiful scenery and the lunch that was included was surprisingly good as well!
We finished up the day right near the town of Ennis, so we spent the rest of the day exploring the area. We had snacks and drinks at the Gravel Bar. We did some shopping at Trout Stalkers and a few other local shops. We did a whiskey tasting at Willie’s Distillery. It was a cute little town.
On the drive back we stopped at Stacey’s Steakhouse for a traditional Montana steak dinner. This place has all the old school vibes, and was popular with the locals and the tourist alike. It was a fun stop for sure! Our guides recommended Land of Magic Steakhouse and Sir Scott’s Oasis for similar traditional Montana vibes. Maybe we will have the chance to try them out on another trip.
The next day we were able to sleep in and we decided to drive to Yellowstone and spend the day. It was just over an hour from Big Sky into the park. We went to see Old Faithful and had a picnic while we waited. We hiked up to the overlook to see the Grand Prismatic. We drove around the park and saw a few elk. We went in to West Yellowstone for ice cream. A fun day exploring the park.
We stopped in Big Sky to check out the little village on our way back in to town. There are a few cute shops, a brewery, and a few restaurants. On the mountain at the ski resort there are a few more restaurants and shops. We had a drink on the mountain and watched the mountain bikers using the ski runs. It was pretty quiet on the mountain, I can only imagine in the winter it’s a lot more crowded. We got home and watched the sun go down over the mountains and grilled out again before another early morning of fishing.
Our second day of fishing we went on the Yellowstone River. We had the same guides again except this time the girls went with the fun guide and the guys went with Mr. Serious. We had another early day, we watched the sunrise over the mountains as we were loading up the boats to head out. In my opinion the views from the Yellowstone were better than the Madison. We had another long day of fishing, but I enjoyed this day so much more! I convinced the guide to go in swimming with us, and basically abandoned the fishing in favor of sightseeing. So much more fun! If I’m being honest, I did not need to be up at 4 am to go fishing, I could have spent a couple hours doing it and been just as happy but it was a great experience either way.
We went in to Livingston to explore the town after our day of fishing the Yellowstone. I wish I had taken more pictures of the town, it looks like it is from a movie set for a western movie. There were a few cute shops and a really nice art gallery that we went in. We had cocktails at the Mint Bar and the Stockman Bar, before dinner at Campione. The food at Campione was absolutely amazing! It has major big city vibes in this old western town. SO GOOD!!
Our last day we had breakfast at Cafe 191 in Big Sky. It was a standard breakfast spot, but still very good. We packed up and headed back to Bozeman to the airport after breakfast. We had such a great time on our trip. Montana is honestly like nowhere else I have ever been. It is so beautiful. I am looking forward to going back soon, maybe in the winter to ski at Big Sky. We also would love to go back and do a glamping trip with one of the companies that delivers RV’s to the airport when Graham is a little older. It seems like such a fun way to explore with him!
After our wedding at the Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall, we left early the following morning for a mini honeymoon. We stayed at the Rockhouse Hotel in Negril for three nights. It is a little over two hours to drive from Montego Bay to Negril. Our travel agent had suggested several resorts that were near the Hyatt, for a quicker getaway. In hindsight, I may have taken her advice but we wanted to see Negril, and I had been wanting to stay at the Rockhouse or the Caves for years.
Our driver arrived at the Hyatt in the later morning and we were off for Negril. About halfway into the trip he pulled over at this small roadside store/shack for us to use the bathroom. While we were inside several people offered to sell us pot, no big deal since this seemed pretty standard in Jamaica. We weren’t interested so we got back in the car which is when he went around to the side of the car and peed. OK. So maybe they wouldn’t let him use the facilities since we didn’t buy any pot?! Unclear. Also at this stop, the owner of the company driver worked for appeared out of nowhere to tell us that we hadn’t paid enough. This had all been arranged through the travel agent so we were unsure what was happening. He decided that we had paid the rate from the airport to the hotel in Negril, but since the hotel in Montego Bay was a bit farther from the airport we owed more. We said fine and assumed we would pay it later. We got back on the road, and headed to the hotel. The same man must have followed us to Negril, because once we arrived at the hotel he appeared again asking for $30 dollars. We paid it to get rid of him, but it was just strange.
After the week of festivities and staying up late celebrating the night before I was EXHAUSTED (see below). Once we arrived at the hotel the check in process was SO SLOW! They wanted to show us around, and tell us all about the resort. Nice, but all I wanted was to finish my nap and to order room service. I finally had to tell them I was not interested in the tour and please take me to my room. We ordered food and spent the rest of the day resting.
The view from our room was amazing, we could see the water and partially see the sunset. The rooms are thatched roof individual huts. The bathroom is inside, but the shower is in an outdoor area off of the room. We loved the room and showering outside was fun. While it is outside, it’s private and still feels clean. There is a mosquito net that pulls down over the bed at night, we used it nightly but didn’t see any mosquitos in the room. Our room had a little porch area with chairs and water views, as well as its own private sun deck with nice lounge chairs. Pro tip – the air conditioning in the room is connected to the main door, when you open the door the air cuts off. We found the way around this was to leave using the sliding glass door – this left our room unlocked but it stayed nice and cool! The resort was the perfect place to rest and relax after a crazy week. It is so tranquil, and peaceful there. Because, everyone is in their own little hut, you don’t really see or hear other people, and basically anywhere on the property has a view of the water, you can hear the waves crashing, and feel an ocean breeze.
On our first morning we woke up to the most beautiful double rainbow over the ocean. I mean are you serious with that rainbow. We took some pictures and then had breakfast at the Rockhouse Restaurant. The food there was fantastic. They have fresh squeezed juices and you can tell everything is prepared to order. We really enjoyed it. As part of our honeymoon package we were treated to an Aqua Detox foot soak in the spa. It was very strange. You put your feet in this vibrating tub and the water turns dark brown and foamy over time. It claims to be removing toxins through your feet. It was free with our stay, but I don’t know that I would pay for it since it didn’t really seem to do much. The spa looked really nice, but we did not have any other services done since we had just had a massage before the wedding. After our spa treatment we headed out to the pool and spent the day by the pool. We LOVED this pool. It never really got crowded, they play great music all day, and the food from the pool bar was SO GOOD. The drinks that we ordered from the pool bar were all really good too! The location is the best part, the ocean breeze, the view, watching the sunset. This pool is amazing. We had dinner that night at the Pushcart Restaurant. Again it was an excellent meal. I had fish that was fresh from the ocean. SO GOOD.
The next day was more of the same. Breakfast. Pool. Sun deck. Lunch at the pool bar. Drinks. Sunshine. Nap. Sunset. Dinner at the Pushcart. Good stuff.
I did rent snorkel gear from the pool and venture out into the ocean. There were some waves and a bit of a current but I felt safe. Sean wasn’t interested in snorkeling due to the waves and current. I saw a few fish, but nothing amazing. I wanted to jump from the bridge at the hotel in to the ocean but, Sean said absolutely no way he would let me. We considered going out to Rick’s Cafe to see the famous cliff jumpers and also considered taking the hotel shuttle out to the sister property Skylark, but ultimately decided the food, the view, and everything we had at the hotel was all we needed. It is so tranquil there. I honestly can’t think of many more relaxing places I have been.
But this is where things get weird. That night before bed I noticed a few VERY SMALL blood spots on the bed. I mentioned it, and we decided that maybe one of had a bug bite that we scratched and we didn’t worry too much about it. BUT. The next morning we woke up and there were more. And I FREAKED. I immediately went to google, and determined that it was probably bed bugs. (Before you’re all like don’t ruin this for me, I have friends who work in the travel industry who have assured me that almost every hotel you or I have ever stayed in has dealt with this). I panicked for a second and then we decided to call the manager to our room. We were packing up to leave for the airport anyway so we felt like it was our responsibility to tell someone so they would know before the next guest had the same experience. I was very nice and just told her to look at the situation and we wanted her to know so that she could do whatever she felt she needed to with the information. She immediately got angry and defensive and told us that couldn’t possibly be what was wrong and she knew it was just sand fleas that had gotten in under the net. That made me absolutely FURIOUS and left such a bad taste for the whole stay. Everyone who worked there had been so friendly and helpful for the entire stay, and all she had to say was thank you I’ll take care of it. Whether she did or not was up to her, but denying the situation was infuriating.
Our driver showed up early, and we quickly loaded up to head to the airport. At that point I was OVER IT and ready to get home. It was pouring buckets and several times we mentioned to him that we were so thankful he could pick us up early since the weather was so bad it was nice to not have to hurry to the airport. Well he didn’t take the hint. Everyone there drives like complete maniacs. The roads are narrow two lane roads, and the rain had been coming down so hard they were flooded out. Despite this I fell asleep. I woke up to a big crashing sound. We were in a car accident. On the wrong side of the road. I have no idea what we were doing on the other side of the road or how the accident happened because I was sleeping. But y’all as if the the bed bugs weren’t enough we got in a car accident too!
We quickly got out of the car because the front end was smoking. And as we are standing there in the mud with the rain pouring down on us, locals keept appearing out of nowhere. A few were arguing about how the accident happened and who’s fault it was, but most of them wanted to help us. They started throwing our stuff out of the car (I get the feeling I wasn’t the only one who was afraid the car was going to catch on fire). Then I said we were going to the airport, what are we going to do. And that’s when “Captain Black” saved the day. Everyone started tossing our stuff into another car, and before you know it we were in a car with a stranger named Captain Black headed to the airport. Before we ever even had time to think about if he was going to kidnap us and murder us we got in the car with him because we needed a ride to the airport, and because the day had gone from bad to worse. He ended up being very nice and he took us right to the airport. The company the driver worked for never reached out to see if we were hurt and never offered a refund, so definitely would not recommend them.
So would I recommend the Rockhouse? It’s tough because we loved it there. It is so tranquil and it feels like you are in another world because of all the beautiful foliage, the thatched roof huts, the ocean breeze, the sound of the waves. The food and drinks at all the restaurants was amazing. BUT. We got bed bugs. And the manager told us we didn’t. [Oh. And they refunded 20% of the cost of our stay. Just incase it might have been bed bugs. Because it was.] But the truth is almost EVERY hotel you have ever stayed at has probably dealt with this, so this could have happened anywhere. And at least the bugs have a nice view there.
For us, Montego Bay is a two hour direct flight, and there are tons of nice resorts within 30 minutes of the airport. So on our next trip we probably won’t go back to Negril because it’s just easier to stay closer to the airport for a nice quick getaway.