Running in Paris


I can’t stop thinking about our week in Paris. It’s a good thing we’re going back; I’m not done with that city in the least. Jeremy and I have a housesitting assignment for an entire month there starting late July, and I can’t wait to explore more. Prior to our trip, my runs in Zurich really stood out to me, but running in Paris was something really special. I don’t mean to compare them – pretty much all my runs in Europe have been really fun and memorable – but there was something incredible about seeing the City of Love in that way.

Les Berges

I had done some research, and found a section of the Seine called Les Berges (which has a really great, interactive website) that has lots of shipping containers made into pop-up ateliers, food trucks, obstacle courses, etc. And a 100-meter track. It is basically between the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, so I knew it would be the ideal place to run. We had to take the metro from our Airbnb in the République, so we headed out somewhat early to make the trek to Les Invalides, which would land us close to Les Berges.


Pretty much every time you get off a metro stop in Paris, you go up the stairs and walk out onto the street to see something so beautiful you can’t believe your eyes.  After getting off at Les Invalides and walking a couple blocks, we came to the Pont Alexandre III covered in gold statues.


On the Pont Alexandre III with Les Invalides in the background.


IMG_5314We walked down to the Seine and saw Les Berges right away. A little ways down, we saw an obstacle course and the 100-meter track. There were tons of people running (which I love), and we ended up walking to the Eiffel Tower to check out how far it was (not far at all) and soon after I left Jeremy to get my run started.


I have a picture of me climbing on here, but it’s way too cheesy to post.



A plaque with instructions on proper sprinting form.

A plaque with instructions on proper sprinting form.


I ran along the Seine to the Louvre, past the Musée d’Orsay, stopping to take lots of pictures along the way. There were a ton of people out, but it didn’t feel overwhelming. The weather was perfect (albeit a little windy), and I even ran around the Place de la Concorde among all the tourists. Normally I wouldn’t like to do that, but there were so many other runners out, I felt like I could do whatever I wanted (strength in numbers, right?). At one point I got caught in a cluster of tourists at a red light, but I saw an older French man running fearless through them and I sprinted to get right behind him so he could lead the way. He met up with other running buddies and I tried to push myself to keep up with them, but their pace was too fast.




Little head, big tower.


Musée d’Orsay.







When I was done running (I ended up doing four miles), I met back up with Jeremy, and he took some totally candid, unplanned action shots of me sprinting slowly on the 100-meter track.





Perfect weather, beautiful scenery, strong-feeling legs… It really doesn’t get much better.

Parc de la Villette

When I was looking around online for things that were going on last weekend in Paris, I found a 10K that started near our apartment. I got really excited, and we planned on getting up early on Sunday and making our way to the start so I could register. I’ve been itching to run a race, even though I’m fairly out of shape compared to my fitness levels this time last year. But I figured it would be fun to run a race in Paris, and explore the different areas the route went through. The night before the race I was reading up on details to make sure I had everything I needed, and I noticed that the website said every runner needed a note from a doctor clearing them for running. I had seen this when I was looking around for a marathon to register for earlier in the year, but was surprised to see that it was necessary for shorter races too. A quick Google search made it clear that I was not going to be able to run without the note, and I was disappointed. Since I was pretty set on running 6.2 miles, I decided to head out from our apartment and run up along the Canal Saint-Martin. I came across the Parc de la Villette a couple miles in, and it was really great. I wouldn’t have visited this park if it hadn’t been for my run, and it was fun to explore the different paths and huge art sculptures. There was a different race going on, and I could hear the announcer cheering people on, so the finish must have been close. It made me want to run a race even more. On my way back, I actually ran alongside the 10K I had planned on participating in, and people were cheering for the runners, so I pretended they were cheering for me too. I was, however, running the opposite direction as the racers, which a man kindly informed me of in French.


Parc de la Villette, with a huge bicycle tire in the ground.






The rest of the bicycle… and some goats.


It was a beautiful run, and I was able to explore areas I wouldn’t normally have visited. I don’t think this running in new cities thing is ever going to get old.

Sunny Days in Zurich

When Jeremy and I set up another housesitting assignment in Geneva, Switzerland, we decided to spend the week beforehand exploring the country some. I’ve always loved Switzerland, and I couldn’t wait to share its beauty with Jeremy. We booked a flight from London to Zurich on British Airways. I’ve always remembered flying in Europe to be very pleasant: the flights are short, the planes aren’t full, there’s free food and alcohol and the service is always friendly. I know it depends on which airline you fly (the budget airlines like RyanAir and EasyJet are a different story), but I’ve always had such great experiences with flights within Europe on AirFrance and British Airways. This time was no exception. We also flew out of London City Airport (a first for me), which is close to central London, small, and hassle-free. We waited in absolutely no lines (not even for security!), the gates were nice, and each seat had multiple outlets.

Relaxing in the London City Airport. Look at those outlets!

Relaxing in the London City Airport. Look at those outlets!

Getting on the plane to Zurich!

Getting on the plane to Zurich!

The flight was only a little over an hour long, and we were served drinks and sandwiches as soon as we got in the air.


Tiny bottles of wine: the way to my heart.

It was such a pleasant experience, I actually hope that we get to fly again soon.

Arriving in Zurich, the train we needed was right downstairs, and it dropped us off five minutes from our Airbnb. The apartment itself was SO nice, and it was really a highlight of our adventures so far. The weather was perfect and sunny, and everyone was enjoying it outside by the lake, drinking and having a good time. It was infectious. We visited a grocery store to get our picnic, and joined the rest of the people. We ended up doing this almost every evening we were there.

Taking the train from the airport to central Zurich.

Taking the train from the airport to central Zurich.


Enjoying our first evening in Zurich.


I really liked this beer can.


Nice sunset picnic.


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Put this with all the other pictures of me holding tiny bottles of wine.


Interesting cans of beer at the grocery store in Zurich.


The whole city seemed to be eating and drinking by the lake.

The rest of our days there, we walked around town and explored. The entire city is incredibly clean (all of Switzerland is, actually), and the public transportation system is great, albeit expensive. Luckily you can walk around the whole city for the most part. We tried to take a tram up to a cemetery to see James Joyce’s grave, but it didn’t come to the stop we were at (and we had already bought the expensive tickets… ugh). We figured this meant it wasn’t running that day (it didn’t), so we started walking. It ended up being a really long and steep walk and it took about two hours, and Jeremy’s knee was really bothering him, but we managed to take the tram back down to town. The cemeteries in Zurich are some of the most beautiful scenes I’ve ever seen. There was one in particular that we had to walk by to get back to our Airbnb, and it looked like it was straight out of a fairytale.


The view from Lindenhofplatz.








Swiss men playing chess at Lindenhofplatz.


There were a lot of neat gravestones in the various cemeteries in Zurich.


The cemetery we walked by every day to get to our apartment.


James Joyce’s grave.

The pretty cemetery where James Joyce's grave was located.

The pretty cemetery where James Joyce’s grave was located.


I love Switzerland’s alleyways.

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Opernhaus Zurich in the main square.






Jeremy drinking coffee on the little balcony of our Airbnb.


Pretty good looking picnic if I do say so myself.

When our time in Zurich was up, we reluctantly got on the train and headed to our Airbnb in Wunnewil, between Bern and Fribourg. When booking it, I thought it would be a little easier to reach Bern or Fribourg and that it was in a little village, but it turned out that it was so expensive to take the 15-minute train ride ($40 round trip), we just stayed in the village (if you can call it that, there was nothing really there) and went to Bern on one of the days. It was really pleasant though, and it was good for Jeremy to rest his knee.

Another great thing about Switzerland... all the public fountains with drinking water straight from the Alps.

Another great thing about Switzerland… all the public fountains with drinking water straight from the Alps.

Next up: our day in Bern!

Housesitting in Kent

About a month before Jeremy and I were leaving Santa Barbara to depart on our adventures, I was scouring travel blogs to find tips and advice on how the hell to pull off this whole open-ended trip we had semi-planned. The amount of time we are able to travel obviously depends on money. Traveling costs money, and if we aren’t careful, we’ll be forced to return in a month. We have been using Airbnb for years, and depend on it when we travel in the States, and knew we’d be using it a lot in Europe. Even though it’s usually cheaper than hotels and even hostels, it still all adds up. Then there’s Couchsurfing, which we haven’t resorted to, but it’s nice to know it’s there if we need it. There are also sites where you trade labor (not heavy labor for the most part) for lodging and food, such as HelpX, Wwoof (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms), and Workaway, to name a few. So really, if you do it right, all you’d have to pay for is transportation to and from these stints. We are most likely going to try one of these sites a little later on if we are finding that we are going through our allotted money faster than we were hoping, but for now, we haven’t done it yet.

On one of these days I was glued to travel blogs, I had an epiphany when I read about housesitting abroad. People from around the world post on various websites (,,, for example) that they need people to housesit (and usually petsit) for a certain amount of time. Jeremy and I immediately knew this would be a huge opportunity for us and we needed to get on it right away. I looked at the different sites, and could kind of tell which ones were more legit and had more opportunities. There is a fee to sign up on almost all of them, but it’s not bad and it’s for an entire year. Some of the sites are less expensive, but we ended up going with TrustedHousesitters, which had the highest fee ($79 for a year) because it looked the best to us.

We signed up, created a profile, got some people close to us to fill out character references, and began searching for assignments. It’s fairly competitive, and assignments get filled the day they are posted for the most part. There are about 10-15 new assignments a day, and over 6,000 housesitters available (not all active), soooo you have to be on top of your game to snag a good one. Most of the listings are in the U.K. and Australia, with some in other European countries and America sprinkled in. We got lucky and have already had one assignment, and have three more coming up, in Geneva, Switzerland; Azille, France; and Paris. I was able to get these because I was the first person to contact them, otherwise you have 30+ other people emailing them too, and your message gets lost with the others.

Our first housesitting assignment started a week after we arrived in London, in a town called Chiddingstone Causeway in Kent, 35 miles southeast of London. We took care of three dogs, four cats, five chickens, two ducks, and two fish. It was a doozy.

Jeremy and a sampling of the animals we looked after.

Jeremy and a sampling of the animals we looked after.

We arrived at the train station in Sevenoaks (after a confusing train journey that was supposed to take 45 minutes and ended up taking two hours, thanks to rail maintenance, a common occurrence on Sundays we discovered) and our host picked us up. She was so sweet even though she had been waiting over an hour for us. I don’t have an international plan on my phone, so I couldn’t contact her to tell her we were running very late. At one of the train stations we had to transfer at, I found some wifi on my phone that I could pay for, so after a few tries of purchasing an hour of internet, as the train was pulling up, I finally got it to work and I typed an email as quickly as my sausage fingers would allow, and pressed ‘send’ as I was jumping on the train. I didn’t know at the time if it had even gone through, and I kind of figured I had just spent six pounds on nothing. It turns out it did go through, but it also caused American Express to cut off my card because it looked fishy, and now I still can’t use it.

ANYway, after a scary drive to the house (it was our first time being in a car driven on the left side of the road, and on top of that people were driving insanely, more on that later), we arrived and met our host’s husband, two children, and their menagerie of animals. Everyone was so sweet to us, and we ate Domino’s pizza (with hot dogs on it for the little boy) and watched The Inbetweeners with the husband until it was time for bed. The family left the next morning, and Jeremy and I were alone with a house full of pets. It turns out that the dogs (one of which was a puppy) and one of the cats, a Siamese kitten, were so incredibly sweet and wanted to cuddle anytime you were around them. I honestly miss them now.


What a face.


Dolly, the hyper but sweet Boston Terrier puppy.


Molly, the affectionate Siamese kitten.


Dolly and Doris cuddling on the couch.

We spent most of our days taking the dogs on walks, which was an experience unlike any other. The area was so beautiful, but we were not expecting the extreme speed at which people would be driving. There was a stretch of road that had no sidewalk, and people were driving upwards of 80 mph, even though we were on small country roads. There were countless blind turns, and people would barely move over when they passed us. We had to jump in the mud or bushes several times to avoid getting hit. This was seriously the most scared either of us had ever been while walking, and we just couldn’t believe it. Luckily after we got past the sidewalk-less stretch, there were some really nice pedestrian paths to the small town, and through beautiful fields. I couldn’t get enough of the yellow rapeseed fields, and took lots of pictures. I also loved the baby sheep and alpacas who were our neighbors.







Monika came to visit from London!


One of the many delicious breakfasts Jeremy has made.









On one of the days during the week, we decided to take a journey to Royal Tunbridge Wells, which we had heard good things about. We also wanted to send some clothes back to the U.S. to lighten our load, so we brought two big bags full of stuff with us. It took two trains to get there, but it was a fairly quick journey. Tunbridge Wells was really pretty, and had some nice pedestrian-only shopping areas. We also found a beautiful park to eat our picnic, jacket potatoes and prawn crackers from the local grocery store. It took us asking four people where the post office was, but we finally found it. We have been having some trouble with our credit cards since we don’t have the chip and PIN cards Europeans have, and have caused countless amounts of ordeals because of it. It happened again at the post office (the machine wouldn’t take our swipe cards), and it took over an hour for the whole situation to get resolved, and we also had a very disgruntled man behind us basically yell at us because we were taking too long and his parking meter was going to expire. It costed a lot to send a box home, but it was worth it to not have to lug it around with us.


The park we had a picnic in.


Two of my favorite things.



Pretty Royal Tunbridge Wells.

On our way back, we had about 30 minutes between trains in Tonbridge (a different town with a slightly different spelling…confusing), and walked around and stumbled across a beautiful castle.



Tonbridge Castle.



After the week was over, we had been dreading the walk we’d have to make with our luggage on the scariest road in the world. We booked it as fast as possible, and luckily made it to the train station alive. We hopped on a couple trains, the Tube, another train, and a plane, and then were in Zurich.

This is what our life looks like now.

This is what our life looks like now.