Once I knew that I was going to Europe for Samantha and Evert’s wedding, I decided I was going to make a 2 week trip out of it and arranged for a week in Paris (because of course I did.)

I’ve also had a crush on Iceland since BEFORE IT WAS COOL, OK? So when I booked my ticket and realized I was going to have 17 hours there, I was beside myself with excitement. By that, of course, I mean that there was enough jumping up and down going on that it was like there were two of me next to each other freaking out about it.

Amsterdam was so welcoming and comforting, smaller than I expected and so easy to get around in. I spent two days wandering it and then decided to give Utrecht a try. The train system in the Netherlands is so well organized, like most things the Dutch do, and put me there with little to no trouble. If you like Amsterdam but don’t love tourists, definitely give Utrecht a try! I had the best burger I’ve ever had when I wandered into Meneer Smakers and got to visit my friends from college, Jessica and Ewout, for dinner. So amazing to go to another country and get to sit in someone’s home and feel loved.

In Paris I stayed with my friends Liah and Karim and since Liah was 8 months pregnant, I spent most of my days wandering and just pretending I lived in the city. Liah’s Grandmother adopted me on a few days and showed me some of her favorite things in Paris while insisting that my French is much much better than it is.

My dear friend John happened to be there at the same time, so we visited the Louvre and the Caveau De La Huchettes (which I love even more after seeing La La Land last year). Last time I was in Paris was 5 days after the attacks, and the Eiffel Tower was lit with the colors of the French flag the entire time. This was beautiful and understandable, but I’m a sucker for sparkly lights, so John and I got a bottle of Champagne and a baguette and staked out for the light show. It happened 2 minutes before my countdown was expecting it and I screamed. There’s something so beautiful about moments of joy that surprise you, especially when you’re far from home.

On a whim, before I went, I searched Instagram for tattoo artists in Paris and found Gumo’s work. I fell in love with the way he tattoos cityscapes with a very Picasso-esque cubism. We emailed and he had an appointment open, so we booked it and I now have a perfect souvenir. Speaking of souvenirs, I’m not much for buying them, but my last day in Amsterdam before I flew back out, I found a necklace in a shop with a pendant made from volcanic black rock from Iceland. Nothing more perfect.

My 17 hours in Iceland, originally, were going to be me sleeping in the airport after arriving at 11pm and then trying to take a bus to Reykjavik and wander while dragging my suitcase around. People are incredible though, and my (now) friend Vince who follows me on Instagram reached out when he found out that I was going to be coming through. He and his friends picked me up from the airport, gave me a room to stay in, cooked me dinner, walked around Reykjavik with me the whole next day, laughed with me, and became sweet friends in those short hours. Then they made sure I got to the airport just in time to make it home.

I know that EVERYONE isn’t able to travel, but if you are at all able, save, scrimp, buy a ticket and go meet some beautiful people and see some beautiful things. Live off of baguettes and save a few euro for a glass of wine next to the Seine. You won’t regret it.

Here are some good songs to listen to.
Here are some good pictures to look at.

Savannah Lauren | Photography
Bold intimate photography that tells your story