Today’s jetsetter is pretty much a girl after our own hearts. Loves Europe? Check. Drinks “too much” wine? Check (psh, as if there is such a thing as too much wine). Went through a phase in high school where she pretended to be a French girl everyday at lunch? Check & check. And! After six weeks of traveling through Europe, Jen of Ms. Morphosis is coming back with her own hubs to be! Follow her story @msmorphosis, and keep reading below.
(Also, her fiance proposed in the Rhine Valley so props to the future Mr. Morphosis, too.)
Favorite Place: Probably the Rhine Valley in Germany, specifically Beilstein. It has these lush rolling hills covered in steep vineyards and the Mosel river running through it. It the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. Plus, we celebrated our two year anniversary there, and my boyfriend/travel buddy proposed! I didn’t think it could get any more magical than it already was, but it did!
More importantly, favorite meal: We only had one night in Arles, France. We decided to splurge, and went to a nice restaurant called L’Autruche. It was tiny. There were only a few tables inside. When you ask for the menu, they bring over the little chalkboards with that day’s options, and prop them up on chairs by your table. We kept joking that being there was like being at a museum. Every bite was such an experience! The food literally melted in your mouth with some of the most complex and delicate flavors I’ve ever tasted in my life.
By the end of the evening, it was just us and a couple tables of locals. They drew down the curtains, and everyone just sat drinking wine and talking (well, not to us, since we don’t speak fluent French). They applauded the chefs as they left to go home. It was one of the most special and authentic experiences of the whole trip.
The moment you caught the travel bug: Studying French in high school. I had a fantasy that I was going to buy a small dog and move to Paris. I’d live the most elegant life as a chic French woman. I even went through a period where I brought baguette with pate and a little piece of chocolate to eat for lunch every day! (I know, it was as nerdy as it sounds). Anyways, turns out I have settled into a very happy American life. I’m far from an elegant and dainty Parisian lady, but my fascination with escaping to other places never really went away.
First experience traveling alone: Sadly, I’ve never traveled alone. I think I would get lost/injured/freaked within the first week. I’m a great planner, but not the best navigator (especially after a few glasses of wine!)
Ever been (or thought you’ve been) in imminent danger while traveling?: Yikes – I’m about to get really boring.. But no, I can’t think of anything, really. On our last trip we were very aware of our surroundings and since we switched locations so much (17 times!) the early morning train rides meant not too much “being out late drinking.” I’m also convinced it was helpful that my boyfriend has a pretty big build (he’s 6’1 and pretty darn muscular). Compared to the smaller European men, he looked like a linebacker. I think that helped.
The only thing I can think of that was scary was when I got my foot run over by a car in Nice… but I think that was my fault (I wasn’t paying attention to how narrow the street was when I leaned in to see what was around the corner). Chase couldn’t stop laughing, although I was crying, traumatized, and sure my toe was broken. It wasn’t, and I learned not to walk in front of moving vehicles.
Worst hotel/hostel experience: The Etruscan Chocohotel in Perugia. I had such high hopes for this place. The pictures made it look wonderful, and comfy rooms, a rooftop pool, and chocolate everywhere! Unfortunately it was one of those situations where it was totally gimmicky – the staff was terrible and rude (the worst we encountered on our whole trip), the rooms were pretty gross and uncomfortable, the pool was closed, the internet was awful, the location was terrible, the breakfast was terrible.. It went on and on. So many dreams were destroyed.
Best hotel/hostel experience:
Ostello Bello in Milan, absolutely. It’s a hostel so the prices are incredible, but we had a great private room – air conditioning, big bed, overlooking a terrace with a private bathroom. The whole hostel was so much fun – the walls were covered in wonderful drawings by a local artist, there’s a great bar downstairs, and the nicest staff we met our whole time in Europe. At night they accompany happy hour drinks with free food, so the whole place filled up with locals and travelers sharing big tables and meeting one another.
Favorite family vacation: It’s cheesy, but I think Cabo, Mexico. There’s something nice when you’re with a big group of different ages and energy levels about having just a nice place to stay with a gorgeous beach and great food. Our family belongs to the Inspirato travel club and the Inspirato home we stayed at in Cabo was literally breathtaking – my favorite parts were just sitting out by the pool, grilling a big dinner, and playing cards after a day in the sun.
Must-have packing item: iPad mini. It was small and light enough to carry around throughout the day, and we downloaded the app Offmaps to help us get around when we were sans-wifi (it was a lifesaver). I was also able to load it up with books (and download new ones on a whim) for long train rides, and set it on a little iPad keyboard for blogging en route.
Most unbelievable travel experience: We spent a full day hiking through the Swiss Alps, which was one of the greatest days of the trip. We live in Colorado so we know and love mountains, but the Swiss Alps were enormous, and unlike this little desert Colorado, the Swiss Alps were lush – filled with moss, big trees, and waterfalls. It made us miss home and fall in love with exploring at the same time.
Favorite “I can’t believe I’m doing this” moment: Amsterdam. That’s all I’m going to say about it.
Place you can’t wait to return to: Spain! It was our last stop on the trip so we were getting a bit tired (and were running out of money…) but the food was cheap and delicious and we saw some of the best museums in all of Europe. I would love to dedicate a whole trip to exploring Barcelona, Madrid, and the coast.
Place you can’t be paid to return to: The Etruscan Chocohotel
Any exciting trips coming up?: I wish! Now we’re planning a wedding, but I guess with that means hopefully we can plan a honeymoon, too…?
Dream vacation: Wandering through Italy (being able to take our time more than we did on our trip) and hitting Siena, which we missed, and spending more time in little towns like Perugia and the countryside. Then I really would love to go to Greece, which we weren’t able to do on this trip and it broke my heart.
Favorite tourist attraction?: The Electric Ladyland Museum in Amsterdam!
Favorite “I’m trying not to look like a tourist” attraction?: The Sistine Chapel in Vatican City, Rome.
Favorite travel photo:
If you want to be a jetsetter just like Ms. Morphosis when you grow up, drop us a line!
the romantic & the wino