There and Back Again

At the end of August, I started to gear up for a very busy “autumn,” as the British call it. (As long as there is pumpkin spice latte, I don’t care what you call it.)

First, one of my oldest friends came for a visit and, as all Americans are wont to do, she requested a trip to Paris. As you know, my experiences with Paris have gotten increasingly better, although it has been a slow burn in terms of growing to love it. This trip solidified that, though. Paris, je t’aime!

I of course had to hit the best spots in the world, such as Les Refuges des Fondues, Champs Elysees, the Jardin de Tuileries and the Luxembourg Gardens.

Wanting to branch out a little bit, since I tend to be in the City of Light quite a bit, we explored lots of areas I am less familiar with, including Montparnasse, Abbesses and the 18th.

I would highly recommend Coutume on the Rue de Babylone for lunch, its a new (delicious) discovery.
My favorite tombstone from the Montparnasse Cemetery.

 

A place I’ve been to a thousand times, and will go back to thousands more!

 

Finally, FINALLY got to try Berthillon ice cream- the salted caramel flavor is literally the BEST thing in the world, can you tell?!

The day we got back to London, I had to pack up (and eat a cronut) because I was on my way to #epicwed, the nuptials of two good friends (and all-around amazing people) in Colorado.

Once I got there, though, I figured, since I’m in the neighborhood, I might as well go to my favorite place on earth…who knows when I’ll be around again! With views like these, can you blame me?

Shaking off jet lag, I jumped in the car and drove the seven hours to Santa Fe.

Our first day, we decided to run up to the San Antonio Hot Springs. I hadn’t been up there in years; the last time I was in New Mexico there was a massive fire near the hot springs that made the sunsets heavenly but devastated a lot of the local area, including the area around the springs. We drove up and started our 5.5 mile run up the trail to the springs, but came across this:

I promptly decided we needed to turn around. I wanted a piggyback ride back to the car but being about two miles in, I didn’t get one. Luckily, I escape unscathed anyway.

Liquor tasting seemed like a much safer idea, so we hit the Don Quijote Distillery and Winery in Los Alamos on the way back from the hot springs. I tried the merlot, sangria, vodka, bourbon and gin. I was surprised by how good everything was. The vodka, gin and bourbon were made from blue corn, a signature New Mexican product. I found everything a bit sweeter than their “regular” counterparts (which I like, being American and all). I left with the merlot, sangria and gin, so you can probably tell I kiiiiind of loved it.

Feeling a little worse for wear after our tasting, and determined to do something outdoorsy, we stopped by White Rock National Park, which overlooks what I personally think is the best view in the world.

On the way back to Santa Fe, we came across the second Don Quijote location in Pojoaque. We decided to do the tasting all over again. I tried the port and chardonnay but stuck with the liquors. We also had an amazing chat with our bartender. Everyone in New Mexico that I’ve ever met is ridiculously nice.

After all that drinking and hiking, we needed food pronto. Luckily, New Mexico is known for massive portions. We went to Maria’s, a new place for us, where I had what I always have when I’m in NM: chile rellenos. I basically finished everything, including a few sopapillas, and I’m not ashamed to admit it!

Even though I was slightly buzzed and exhausted from a long day and digesting a massive amount of amazing food, the sunset was too amazing to turn down. We drove to our favorite lookout, where you get a truly amazing panoramic view of Santa Fe, the Sangre del Cristos and whatever is southwest of the city. Have you ever heard of God’s light? Growing up, my sisters and I would always say that when streams of light were penetrating the clouds and shining down on the ground, it was God’s light. There was a lot of that, that evening.

New Mexico is truly a special and magical place. I hope I have the opportunity to go back soon even though I never see myself returning to the Southwest to live again.

After a few days in the south, we hopped back in the car and drove like madmen up to Tabernash, where the wedding was taking place. Tabernash is about 20 minutes outside of Winter Park, a pretty popular Colorado ski resort. The fall colors (yes, switching to American-isms now!) were out in full force at altitude, adding to the decorations.

I was really busy running around with the rest of the wedding party all weekend, so I didn’t get many snaps of the beautiful bride or the party. But I will say one thing: It. Was. Awesome.

The day after the wedding, I pulled my tired (and slightly worse-for-the-wear) little self out of bed and spent the next day and a half catching up with old friends around Denver. There just wasn’t enough time to take advantage of everything the city has to offer, but I DID go to my favorite, Pinche Tacos. Just looking at the menu made me miss cheap midwestern city prices.

Sufficiently stuffed with an amazing last supper from my favorite restaurant in Denver, I climbed into bed that night happy as a clam. Sunsets, desert views, (almost) hot springs, autumn colors, good friends and the Louvre, all in just a few weeks. Plus, a few snaps of home from the sky.

Whirlwind, but worth it!

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