The Black Forest in autumn

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This year, for my birthday, Marco took me to the Schwarzwald (Black Forest) in Germany for a long weekend. We rented a little Fiat 500 with a sunroof, and set off on Friday the 3rd October for our forest escape. We were incredibly lucky to have good weather (crisp, cool, clear, and sunny) the whole weekend, which allowed us lots of outdoor exploring opportunities. Unfortunately I’d hurt my back a few days beforehand, so I was unable to do any strenuous hiking, but we did lots of walking, and saw plenty of things for one weekend! I’d go back in a heartbeat.

I fell swiftly and deeply in love with the Schwarzwald region, with its kilometres of thick pine and spruce forest, winding and sometimes terrifying mountain passes, small towns nestled in the hills,  squat and imposing farm houses, lazy mountain cows, and rich folklore. I had read a few Brother’s Grimm tales before leaving, and I was secretly delighted by the traditional wooden homes on the edge of the forest – I imagined Hansel and Gretel huddled before a wood-burner in autumn, fearful of the dangers in the woods that loomed behind their small house.

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Paris is Always a Good Idea

The first time I visited Paris was in July 2003, in the middle of summer. I was 13 years old, in Europe for the first time with my family, and everything seemed impossibly magical. All the wonderful things I had only read about or seen in movies came to life in vivid colour that summer – the huge, imposing Eiffel Tower, the delightfully colourful and symmetrical flowerbeds and hedges of the Jardins de Tuileries, the sophisticated sidewalk cafés, the delicious pastries, and the famous artworks I had only ever seen in musty old textbooks in my art class back home.

I fell in love with Paris swiftly and deeply. As we sat on the steps below Sacré Cœur on Bastille Day (July 14th), I watched the fireworks over the city and felt incredibly blessed to be in one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, and to have the opportunity to soak up the sights and culture.

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