For me, Europe has always been a place of dreams. Just being somewhere that looks similar to how it did hundreds or even thousands of years ago blows my mind. Especially coming from American suburbia where everything looks either 1)brand new or 2)fifteen years old and uber ugly (yes, I’m talking to you 15 strip malls all along Hwy 49).
My latest trip to Europe was to visit the lovely adventuress, Stephanie Hardy. Me, my husband and my best friend decided months ago that we HAD to go visit Stephanie as soon as possible. A free place to stay in Europe paired with a few graciously given ‘buddy pass’ airplane tickets was not an opportunity to be missed.
Daniel, Jill and I hopped on a plane a few weeks ago and began our marvelous adventure! For your viewing pleasure, here is a photo journey of our trip.
We began our time with Stephanie in her quaint town of Huntingdon. BTW, Oliver Cromwell was born there. I was very impressed.
Our first trip was to Cambridge. I always thought that Cambridge was one school but, in fact, Cambridge is made up of many universities/colleges. We went punting on the River Cam, which is equivalent to going on a gondola in Venice. We visited the market, found some very cool old bookstores and snuck through a beautiful churchyard.
The next day we took our first day trip to London. Our first stop was at Platform 9 3/4 ! We visited Hillsong London for church and then went to the amazing British Museum. We saw the Rosetta Stone and sculptures from Ancient Greece and Rome. After a delicious lunch of vintage ale pie and mashed potatoes we walked (A LOT) and took an unofficial tour of the bridges of London. The tour included but was not limited to: The Tower Bridge, The London Bridge and the Millennium Bridge.
Monday was day three and we headed to Oxford. Oxford, like Cambridge, is old and beautiful and full of history (and Harry Potter sites)! We visited Christ Church, shopped like madwomen at Primark, visited the incredible Bodleian Library and finished up this most incredible day with a meal at the Eagle and Child Pub! The Eagle and Child was where C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien used to hang out. The food was delicious and cheap but the best part of the evening was, of course, the company.
Tuesday we visited the High Street of Huntingdon then headed to Alconbury to set up and run Club Beyond with Stephanie. The games were wild, the youtube videos were hilarious and Stephanie’s message of the gospel was powerful. She encouraged the kids to come up after to share with her about how Jesus has worked in their life. One of my favorite pictures of the whole trip was this picture of Stephanie and one of her youth boys talking after the meeting.
After Club we went back to Stephanie’s and walked the 20 yards to the Samuel Pepys pub just across the street from her house. This magical night of laughter and conversation is not done justice by these pictures.
The next day we had to say goodbye to Stephanie as we headed to London and then to Paris. Our second day at London was enjoyed from the top of a “Hop On, Hop Off Bus”. We climbed the Lions at Trafalgar’s Square (a personal dream come true), toured the National Gallery and the Tower of London, stopped by Buckingham Palace and finally caught the Chunnel to Paris.
Our first day in Paris we went straight to the Louvre, ate a crepe, went to the tippy top of the Eiffel Tower, ate another crepe and then ate a very French dinner of lamb and ratatouille.
Day two consisted of visiting the Arc de Triomphe, walking the Champs Elysees, eating more crepes, lunching on Turkish gyros, ogling at the inside of Notre Dame, eating a fourth crepe and then climbing to the top of Notre Dame. We ended our day with a deliciously expensive dinner at a French Café. The finale of the night (and maybe of the trip) was the twinkling of the Eiffel Tower at night. Magical.