Mont Saint-Michel: The Big Flood

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Guillaume had long had his heart set on a trip to France’s iconic monastery so we decided to time our visit with one of the special periods each year when Mont Saint-Michel becomes an island, with access to the mainland completely cut off at high-tide. We didn’t have the best weather for our October visit — gray skies with periodic rain showers — but watching those tides come in and surround the giant rock island completely was incredible, even in the chilly mist.

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Tromsø: Chasing the Aurora


If you’ve never joined an organized Northern Lights chase, let me attempt to paint you a picture: A minivan full of people from all over the world clad in matching thermal suits, an eager guide craning his neck out the window to search the sky while WhatsApping others for intel, and, later, a bonfire with a bag of just-add-water Norwegian-style camping food to fill your belly while you wait, wait, wait. Finally, when you’re starting to feel your toes go numb in the hard core winter boots you were issued, the sky (hopefully) comes alive. To be clear, not with the same bright green color you’ll see in photos — that’s only visible with your camera using a long exposure, as the human eye (and your cell phone camera, for that matter) cannot take in the same amount of light. It’s more like someone is shining a flashlight from the other side of the sky, with beams of light filtering through pale, milky green clouds for seconds or even minutes at a time.

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Two-Year Anniversary

I experienced a bit of déjà vu on Wednesday: I pushed through one of the enormous glass doors of the Geneva Apple store, weaved my way through the sea of eager customers trying out the latest Macs and made my way to the left side of the room where I knew I would find the iPad-wielding employee that essentially serves as the bouncer for the Genius Bar. As far as I could remember, I had not set foot in the store since the several-week debacle over my MacBook shortly after moving to Geneva, during which I helplessly relied on my husband to communicate on my behalf. But this time, I reminded myself, things were different. I took a deep breath and approached the smiling bouncer.  Continue reading

Loire Valley: Princess for a Weekend

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My obsession with Mary Queen of Scots dates back to the month before we moved to Geneva, when I boarded a plane with my dear plant Nigel to relocate him to his co-parent’s home in Cleveland, Ohio. It would turn out that the co-parent’s cat would try to eat Nigel and he would have to be relocated yet again, but that’s a story for another day. The main point is that my friend got me hooked on a CW show called “Reign” about Mary Queen of Scots during that visit, and thus when Gui made our itinerary for the Loire Valley of France he knew that visiting the castles that Mary had lived in was a necessity.

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Sigtuna & Uppsala: Autumn in Sweden

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We decided to take a day trip during our four-night stay in Stockholm and settled on a visit to Sigtuna — the oldest town in Sweden — followed by Uppsala, known for Scandinavia’s largest cathedral and its university. Some people take a day for each, but we had plenty of time to check out both in a one-day excursion — and if you want a taste of Sweden outside of its trendy capital I would highly recommend the trip. The tree-studded landscape was especially beautiful during our autumn visit, making me a bit nostalgic for our annual drive to Shenandoah National Park while we lived in DC to see the changing leaves.

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Galway & Cliffs of Moher: Roadtrippin’ in Ireland


Last Saturday, we woke up early and walked to the rental car center in downtown Dublin to pick up our wheels for our Irish roadtrip. Thankfully, my friend is a left-side-of-the-road driving professional from her time living in Uganda and India, so we made the two-hour drive to Galway without any mishaps (see my post on our Scottish highlands auto-rescue for a comparison).

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Dublin: Sláinte!


We met one of my dearest friends and her fiancé in Dublin last week to celebrate their engagement and gosh did we have a lovely time. Even without the first-class company, I think I would have been a big fan of Ireland’s capital, from the abundant supply of bookstores to the bright facades and lively pubs. It reminded me more of the states than any other destination we’ve visited in Europe, and yet had a distinct European — or dare I say Irish — flair. We somehow managed to have particularly great weather, despite Ireland’s reputation for gray, rainy winters, so I’m very thankful to the leprechauns (I’ve got that all wrong, haven’t I?) Continue reading

Palermo: A Very Cannoli New Years

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Palermo made all of my cannoli dreams come true. But before I get to that, I must apologize for my four-month hiatus from the blogosphere! When you’re falling asleep reading anthropological texts for school at 1am and waking up at 6am to read some more before you head into work, there just doesn’t seem to be any time to blog. Luckily, I finished up my coursework last week and now only have my master’s thesis and regular work to occupy my days, so it’s catch-up time! I’m going to go a bit out of order, but for now I’ll start with our most recent adventure: Palermo, Italy.

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21-Month Anniversary

Optimized-118I don’t mean to disappoint, but I think it’s only fair to share bad news up front. This post is from Guillaume. You may know me as Melissa’s husband, a supporting character in the Plaid Shirt Diaries known for erratic driving through the Balkans and an unquenchable thirst for history. Have no fear! This is temporary! The Plaid Shirts Diaries is not about to become an unwanted history lesson. Thankfully, Melissa will soon return to the stage. Over the past few months, other projects have sadly pulled her away from this blog. But I can assure you that she will return and cannot wait to fill you in on our latest adventures.

Soon to come are posts on:

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