Vacation 2013: Paris and Barcelona!



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Paris 6 imp

Bonjour! Hola! It’s been a few weeks since Ryan and I got back from a wonderful, crazy busy/relaxing vacation split between Paris and Barcelona, so I decided it was about time I share a few pictures with those of you who are actually curious what my life is like outside of the kitchen. ;)

I can’t tell you how much I was looking forward to this vacation. To say it’s been a rough two years would be an understatement, although I always remind myself that things could be worse, and we’ve experienced so many blessings along the way. 

In August of 2011, my dad was diagnosed with lymphoma. Talk about a shock! You never think it’s going to happen to someone you love. Three months later in November ’11, my sister’s sweet little baby suffered a stroke in utero, or shortly after birth and was whisked off to a different hospital to get more specialized care. That December, I underwent major jaw surgery and dealt with a recovery that was much longer and harder than I ever anticipated. Things were relatively “normal” after my recovery, my Dad won his battle with cancer and things were looking good. We were feeling so blessed, but little did we know that it was just the calm before the next storm.

In August of 2012, my mom almost lost her leg due to complications from diabetes. A wound vac helped save her leg, and she was doing so well. That quickly changed though, in November ’12, shortly after Thanksgiving. She stopped breathing out of nowhere one day; my Dad was able to do CPR long enough for the paramedics to arrive and takeover and save her life. When I saw her sedated and on a ventilator, I knew it wasn’t good. Somehow though, she managed to pull through that trial too, and made it home right before Christmas. 

Things were going well for my Mom, all things considered. It finally felt like she was on the mend for good and life would soon return to “normal.” Just two weeks after she came home from her month-long stay in the hospital, she fell and broke her leg. Back to the hospital she went for surgery to repair the broken bones. After everything she had been through, from being close to needing an amputation, to requiring life-support, foot surgery seemed like a non-event. I thought to myself “it’s just a broken leg, she’s got this!” Boy, was I was wrong. Two nights later, she peacefully passed away in her sleep at 63 years old. January 14, 2013 is a day I will never forget.

I know, lot’s of serious business here. Let’s get on to the fun stuff….

With a rough couple of years behind us, and my 30th birthday and our 10th wedding anniversary approaching, Ryan and I decided it was about time we plan a vacation. We spent 4 busy, jam-packed, fun-filled days in Paris, then went on to spend 4 relaxing days in Barcelona. Never in a million years did I think I would ever be lucky enough to have the opportunity and the means to travel to Europe. I loved just about every minute of it (minus the few instances where the language barrier became frustrating)!

We started off our trip at this cute boutique hotel in Paris called LeWalt, a little gem we discovered on TripAdvisor. Within the first hour we were in Paris, we made our way to the Eiffel Tower. The lines, oh the lines! If you’ve experienced the lines at Disney World, you know what it’d be like at the Eiffel Tower. It was beautiful, especially at night when the lights twinkled. 

Paris 3

We did fun things like walk to Sacre Coeur Basilica

Paris 4

and climbed 400+ steps to the stop of Notre Dame Cathedral to experience some fabulous views of the city! We happened to stumble across love-lock bridge, not even realizing what it was….


and eventually, we made it to the tippy top of the Eiffel Tower where we were blown. away. by how cool Paris looked from above! It was fun to try and locate the landmarks from way up top, like the Arc de Triomphe.

Paris 6

We ate more than our fair share of pastries, bread, and all things carb related, visited the Catacombs, went to the Lourve to check out the Mona Lisa, walked and walked and walked some more, then headed off to Barcelona! Our four days in Paris were JAM-packed, so it was nice to arrive in Barcelona to this….

Barcelona 2
Both of these photos were taken from the roof-top terrace of the fabulous Ohla Hotel! It was so nice after a day of sight-seeing to come back to the hotel and enjoy a super peaceful, relaxing, and tranquil space.

Barcelona 1

Our room was pretty sweet too…modern and minimalistic with a fancy rain-shower! We’d go have breakfast and come back to a cute towel animal on the bed which was a super nice touch. We’d be out for dinner or exploring the town and come back to delicious chocolates on our pillows. It’s the little things…

Barcelona is all about Gaudi, so one of our first stops was La Sagrada Familia. Aaaaaamazing. There are no words for how beautiful and complex Sagrada Familia is and pictures don’t do it justice. It’s been under construction for over 100 years, with an estimated 13 more years until completion. Insane!

Barcelona 3

The outside has these intricate facades with an enormous amount of detail. The inside has massive pillars, modeled after tree trunks and branches. The elaborate detail in this church is like nothing I have ever seen. After our day at La Sagrada Familia, we took the subway out to Park Güell which is this huge park designed by the same architect behind La Sagrada Familia (Gaudi).

Barcelona 4

We spent plenty of time wandering the streets of Barcelona, and discovering cool looking houses like this (another Gaudi design): 

Barcelona 5

And of course we hit up the beach, ate delicious food, slept, relaxed, and enjoyed the break from the hustle and bustle of every day life back in Chicago.

As much as we enjoyed vacation, I’m not going to lie, it was super nice to get back to our sweet little dogs and in some ways, it was even nice to get back to a routine.

What a super fun trip though! I feel so lucky that we were able to pull it off and experience two very different cultures, and it has left me itching to see more of this beautiful World we live in!

Hi, I’m Ashley & I’m so happy you’re here!

Ashley is the founder of CenterCutCook and a former teacher that now spends her days in the kitchen so that she can share her favorite recipes with you!