Europe Travel Journal

Europe Travel Journal by Natalie Parker

Above, my Europe travel journal pictured at the top of the Marriott Istanbul Şişli.  That is, before I spilled water on it by placing an unsealed bottle in my purse while rushing to get downstairs and into a cab when we realized we left Mr. P’s credit card at a restaurant in the Old City.  It held together though and I finished recording the rest of the trip without a problem.

I don’t keep travel journals for every trip.  I certainly don’t make them for business trips.  This trip was a grey area — business plus fun.  I decided it was so epic that I had to make an exception.  Being gone for 25 days, I’m sure I wouldn’t remember all the details.  I didn’t document everything that happened on workdays, just that I worked and what we did in the evenings.

Documenting takes so much time and honestly, there are points in the trip where I’d rather be relaxing, reading, or something else.  We had such little downtime that anytime I could get a few minutes, I started writing.

Will all of this matter later?  Why do I do this?  Should I keep doing this?  Then I get home and have this tiny little booklet full of all the details and I’m so glad I did.

More: How to make your own travel journal.  Read more about why I keep a travel journal. For this journal, I used this paper by Fancy Pants Designs.

Trip Report II: Brussels

Brussels Snapshots Fall 2014 by Natalie Parker

Read Part I here.

Where we left off, I was finishing up work in Paris.  I had another week of work in London ahead of me, but I was missing one important thing.  What could that be . . . . oh that’s right, my husband!

Mr. P left to work in Brussels when I started my work in Paris.  I headed over to Brussels to meet him for the day and then it was on to London.

We could have just met in London, you say.  I went to Brussels because I wanted to visit again and because chocolate.  It’s that simple.

I had some lofty goals for less than 24 hours, including:

  1. Get there.
  2. Buy chocolate.
  3. Eat some frites.
  4. Buy some gifts.
  5. Eat a Belgian stew.
  6. Have some beers, namely at Delirium and not fall asleep there like I did last time.

Mission accomplished!  Usually my ambitions plans don’t pan out so well.

First order of business was lunch.  Mr. P did some homework on frites stands and as it turns out, you have to leave the touristy areas to find a good one.  Off we went on the tram!  It was worth it.  We got some great frites and sat in a park to enjoy them.

Brussels Snapshots Fall 2014 by Natalie Parker

We rode the bus to another area to visit a chocolatier recommended by Mr. P’s coworkers.  It did not disappoint.

Brussels Snapshots Fall 2014 by Natalie Parker

I’m glad we got out of the touristy area.  I was meh on Brussels before but it really charmed me this time when I got the chance to look around.

Brussels Snapshots Fall 2014 by Natalie Parker

We agreed that Brussels isn’t so much a destination city (you can see the big sights in a day) but it is a very livable city.  It’s just a notch down from the hectic idea of Paris or London but still very European.  Since we live in Oakland and not San Francisco, go figure that we’d make this assessment.

Anyway, we continued to wander.

Brussels Snapshots Fall 2014 by Natalie Parker 7

And wander.  This was tucked back in an alley with a few shops.

Brussels Snapshots Fall 2014 by Natalie Parker

It was definitely fall but the weather was beautiful.  Mr. P’s coworkers reminded him that the weather wasn’t normally that nice.  It’s more like Seattle except darker, he said.

Brussels Snapshots Fall 2014 by Natalie Parker

We wandered back to Grand Place so I could pick up some more candy and gifts.

Brussels Snapshots Fall 2014 by Natalie Parker

Mr. P got himself a waffle.

Brussels Snapshots Fall 2014 by Natalie Parker

Grand Place really is beautiful and the people watching is fantastic.  Last time we were there the temperature was just above freezing and it was unpleasant to be outside.  This time it was a totally different scene.

Brussels Snapshots Fall 2014 by Natalie Parker

The weather was so nice that we sat and had a beer while catching each other up on our respective weeks.  Very nice way to do “how was your day, dear?”

Brussels Snapshots Fall 2014 by Natalie Parker

Mr. P found a great place that does Belgian classics so I could have my stew.  If you’ve ever had boeuf bourgiugnon before, this is very similar except it’s made with beer instead of wine.

Brussels Snapshots Fall 2014 by Natalie Parker

We finished off our night at Delirium, which holds the Guinness World Record for most varieties of beer commercially available.  This place is beer heaven.  Pure beer heaven.  And people watching heaven, I might add.

Last time we were here I legit fell asleep sitting up.  We’d been running ourselves into the ground traveling and I was so very tired.  I wanted to stay up and enjoy this place and was getting cranky because I didn’t want to be tired.  Just imagine a tired toddler.  I’m so glad we got to go back and have a great time.  Below is a picture of the ceiling: beer trays.

Brussels Snapshots Fall 2014 by Natalie Parker

And just like that, we were on our way again.  Brussels, you really did charm me this time.

Mr. P and I just returned from a 25-day trip to Europe (work + fun).  It’s the longest we’ve ever been away from home and I’m sharing each stop in a blog post with some of the hundreds of pictures we took.  Doing my best not to include photos already Instagrammed.  Stay tuned for London next.

Brussels Fall 2014 Snapshots by Natalie Parker

Scrapbook Layout: Niece’s Birthday

Kids Birthday Scrapbook Layout by Natalie ParkerKids Birthday Scrapbook Layout by Natalie Parker

The Story: My little niece turned 2!

Keep it Simple: Kind of like her brother’s layout earlier, I spent a ton of time laboring over this page.  Experiment with rounded corners?  Make the photos black and white so they look more nostalgic?  I know, pretty much everything I do is labored, but it was moreso here.  In the end, squares always work and I love how it looks!

New Color Combos: I’m really starting to make use of my Scrapbook Colors pinboard to stretch outside color combos I use all the time.

Kids Birthday Scrapbook Layout by Natalie Parker

Fonts: Nevis (letters), Futura MD (number) | Tools: Silhouette SD (headline), Epson Stylus R2000 (photos) | Supplies: Pioneer SJ-100 Jumbo Scrapbook (scrapbook & pages), Epson Semigloss Photo Paper (photos), Webster’s Pages/Citrus Squeeze/Backyard Fun (patterned paper) | Keepsakes Included: none.

Trip Report I: Paris

Paris Fall 2014 Snapshots by Natalie Parker

Photos are off the DSLR and on the hard drive, so let’s get going with the sharing!

Our journey began in Paris.

Actually, our journey began at SFO’s international terminal, then an 11-hour Air France flight, but those are details for another post.  However, do see Saving Mr. Banks, that was an awesome movie and I got teary at the end.  Hope the Frenchman next to me didn’t think I was odd.  Oh wait, I was taking pictures of my food on the plane, too.  Carry on.

Our journey began in Paris.  Every time we go to Paris (see here and here), the idea that we’ve gone multiple times and we get to go again isn’t lost on me and I feel like we’ve won the lottery when I board the plane (intense fear of flying doesn’t set in until we take off).

My work brought us to Europe for this trip.  In fact, we spent most of the days working but managed to turn what was a simple trip into a 5-city affair.  Mr. P also works for a multinational company, brought his laptop, and tagged along.

Back to Paris.  Our first stop is always lunch before we grab a nap to ward off the jet lag.  This is from one of my favorite cafes:

Paris Fall 2014 Snapshots by Natalie Parker

I love getting pictures of buildings.  The architecture of the city is what evokes that romantic and wistful feeling (at least in me).  We arrived a couple of days before my work started (because, duh, Paris) and took a walking tour of Le Maris one afternoon:

Paris Fall 2014 Snapshots by Natalie Parker

We finally visited the Pompidou Centre.  I’m learning more about what I like art-wise.  I found I loved the contemporary pieces like these lights much more than the Picassos and Pollocks.

Paris Fall 2014 Snapshots by Natalie Parker

I loved this street art next to the church outside the Pompidou.  Paris means many things to many people and it is always changing.  The burger trend has hit Paris hard since we were there this spring.  We saw lots of young Parisians queuing up outside trendy burger joints.  Anyway, street art!

Paris Fall 2014 Snapshots by Natalie Parker

Always using Le Metro to get around.  I love love love public transportation and using it in a city is as fun as trying the food.

Paris Fall 2014 Snapshots by Natalie Parker

I worked on my cafe photography this time.  I love effortless pictures of Parisan cafes but haven’t been able to get it quite right myself.  Practice, practice, practice.  Practicing on a Monday when there are fewer people in touristy areas helps.

Paris Fall 2014 Snapshots by Natalie Parker

On Instagram, I celebrated making a restaurant reservation by phone in French for the first time.  This was the place — for our favorite steak frites.  I’m planning on writing a post about it so Mr. P was kind enough to wait while I got a picture.

Paris Fall 2014 Snapshots by Natalie Parker

After our weekend, Mr. P jetted (trained? as in choo-choo.) off to Brussels to work and I met up with my team for some marathon workdays.  Luckily it wasn’t all work (I learned to Segway, jury is still out if you get to see those pictures).  I took this picture from the top of the Galleries Lafayette, wherein my manager trespassed into a closed area of the roofdeck so we could get this view and I could get this shot.  Then we scurried out when someone came to shoo us.

Paris Fall 2014 Snapshots by Natalie Parker

Late after dinner on my last night in Paris, I walked with some of my coworkers to Notre Dame.  The weather was beautiful and I didn’t need a jacket even though it was pushing midnight.  Notre Dame is my absolute favorite building in the city and I loved being able to show it to someone for their first time.

http://instagram.com/p/twkerNMBqP/

At the end of the week, I packed off to meet Mr. P in Brussels.  I love that Gare du Nord uses this old flip-style departure board.  I’m saying “love” a lot.  It’s Paris.

There are some digital placards elsewhere, but I sat for a while watching and listening to the letters flipping.

Paris Fall 2014 Snapshots by Natalie Parker

I always get a achy sad feeling when I leave Paris.  Not this time though, I had four more cities left to go and I knew I’d be back.  A couple weeks later in fact.  Our transatlantic flights were in and out of CDG, so we came back to Paris for one last afternoon before heading home.

By that point, we were exhausted.  We took it easy and did one of our favorite things: read our books in the loungey chairs (technical term) in the Jardin des Tuleries outside the Louvre.  So much time passed by the time we left, it was definitely fall.

Paris Fall 2014 Snapshots by Natalie Parker

Mr. P and I just returned from a 25-day trip to Europe (work + fun).  It’s the longest we’ve ever been away from home and I’m sharing each stop in a blog post with some of the hundreds of pictures we took.  Doing my best not to include photos already Instagrammed.  Stay tuned for Brussels next.

Paris Fall 2014 Snapshots by Natalie Parker

Scrapbook Layout: USC Football Roadtrip

USC Football Roadtrip Scrapbook Layout by Natalie ParkerUSC Football Roadtrip Scrapbook Layout by Natalie ParkerUSC Football Roadtrip Scrapbook Layout by Natalie Parker

The Story: We traveled to southern California to watch our team.  They lost, we were disappointed, but we still had a great time.  Check out my tips for how to have a great football roadtrip here.

Orderly Disorder: Totally my personality and this would probably be the name of a band if I ever had one (which is a hint I should never have one).  Anyway, I tried to make this a general collage and I just couldn’t. get. it. right.  I looked at my pinboards for some help and got the idea to arrange everything on an axis.  See how everything hugs an invisible line down the middle of the page?  Ha!  You can’t un-see it now.

Tickets: What I love about this design is how well the different photo sizes and tickets marry well together on the page.  Ephemera doesn’t have to work against the design.

USC Football Roadtrip Scrapbook Layout by Natalie Parker

Fonts: Bebas (headline), Arial (headline) | Tools: Silhouette SD (headline), Epson Stylus R2000 (photos) | Supplies: Pioneer SJ-100 Jumbo Scrapbook (scrapbook & pages), Epson Semigloss Photo Paper (photos) | Ephemera: football tickets.

The Miracle of Flying

Air France A380 by Natalie Parker

I remember the first time I saw it.

I mean really saw it.  Up close.  I’d read about it, seen pictures, and picked it out from far away.  I’d never been this close to one.

But there we were, in the sparkly new Hall M at Charles de Gaulle.  We turned the corner and there it was.

The A380.  The largest passenger plane in the world.  A superjumbo with two full decks.  “It’s so big,” was all I could say before running off to take photos.

Big indeed.  So big that Air France’s configuration holds over 500 passengers and uses three jetways to board.

So there we were on Sunday, back in Hall M, about to take our third ride on the big one.  I suppose that makes me a pro by now but I’m not quite over it.

Pushing away from the gate, it’s hurry up and wait.  Longest taxi ever.  I get busy with my sudoku book trying not to think about this behemoth flying over the ocean.  Still taxiing.  The flight attendants are still milling around 15 minutes later.

The plane is so big, you see, that it has to taxi out to the very edge of the runway so it has enough space to take off.  It needs that much space.

There’s a tail camera and the screens inside the cabin show us the view of the taxi.  The flight attendants buckle up and I look up and see us round the corner and inch out onto the runway.  Here we go.

The pilot hits the gas, I tighten my seatbelt.  I always tighten my seatbelt.

And we begin to move.  Faster, but it really doesn’t seem that fast.  We’re in a huge plane and surely we’ll need more speed to take off.  Come to think of it, how is it really possible that something this huge can take off in the first place?  Can it really happen?  I ask myself that every time.

And there it is.  I feel the nose lift off the ground.  We’re airborne.

Flying really is a miracle, you know.  If you take a second to just marvel at it, it really is a miracle.

Mr. P and I returned on Sunday after spending 25 days in Europe.  We stopped in Paris, Brussels, London, Munich, and Istanbul.  The trip was for work but we did what we do best and fit in as much fun as possible plus added a few vacation days.

It was our third time flying the A380 and it got us home safely after 11 hours, which included Air France’s complimentary champagne and a Hugh Grant fest (for me, at least — great movie selection).

Some of you were following along on Instagram, but that was just a tiny bit of what we saw.  I’m still sorting through pictures from my big camera and can’t wait to show them to you and tell you all about our adventures.

Scrapbook Layout: My Nephew is Born

New Baby Scrapbook Layout by Natalie ParkerNew Baby Scrapbook Layout by Natalie ParkerNew Baby Scrapbook Layout by Natalie ParkerNew Baby Scrapbook Layout by Natalie Parker

The Story: This little girl’s baby brother was born!  He was born early, I might add.  I had to make sure and get his original due date from my sister-in-law so I could mention it on the page.  The handwriting talks about my perspective hearing he was born — there are a lot more details to his story that I could have included.  However, this book is my story from my perspective, so I talked about what it was like hearing about his arrival and meeting him.

Not Great Photos:  The photos I took are very dark and aren’t the best.  Thinking about my rules of scrapbooking, the story always matters more than the photos.  If not-great photos help tell the story, so be it.

Very Simple:  I almost over-designed this but in the end, what looked best was a very simple layout.

Colors Inspired by: This image from this pin.  I sampled the blue and orange colors then tweaked them a bit until they printed the way I wanted.  Check out my Scrapbook Colors pinboard for more color inspiration.

New Baby Scrapbook Layout by Natalie Parker

Fonts: Klinic Slab | Tools: Epson Stylus R2000 (photos) | Supplies: Pioneer SJ-100 Jumbo Scrapbook (scrapbook & pages), Epson Semigloss Photo Paper (photos) | Keepsakes Included: none.