2017 Atlanta 10 Miler Recap

Back in the spring of 2017, I signed up for my second consecutive Triple Peach Race Series in Atlanta. The Triple Peach consists of running, in the same calendar year, the AJC Peachtree Road Race (July 4), the PNC Atlanta 10 Miler (October 22) and the Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon (November 23). I will be running the Thanksgiving Half in a couple of weeks to complete the 3 races!

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Today’s blog is about my experience running the Atlanta 10 Miler on October 22. The race number pickup was down at Atlantic Station on Friday and Saturday. I decided to go on Friday right before lunchtime, when I figured the crowds would be pretty low.

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I grabbed my race number and runner’s shirt, talked to a few people and made my way back home. There wasn’t really any kind of expo, except for Big Peach Running Co., which had a small area for people to buy shoes, shorts, socks, gels, etc.

On Sunday morning, I made my way back down to Atlantic Station, which had plenty of parking, even though the race was sold out. Atlanta Track Club (who sponsors this race) advised runners to get there 75-90 minutes before the race start, so I aimed for 6am. I got down there with no issues and sat in the car for a while to stay warm. 

The weather was not especially cold, especially for late October in Atlanta. I ended up wearing a short-sleeve running shirt and decided against bringing a throwaway jacket as I waited in the corrals. One of the differences from last year was that the Triple Peach runners were not able to self-seed, so I ended up in Corral D. Fortunately, the corrals started every 3-4 minutes so I didn’t have to wait too long to get going.

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Now, since this race is literally in the middle of my Dopey Challenge training and quite hilly, I knew I wasn’t going to break any records. The goal was to have fun and finish injury free.

Once we got started, I found a nice groove and settled in for the 10 miles. The course this year ended up being a little different than last year, but still takes you through a lot of cool parts of Atlanta, including Atlantic Station, Peachtree Road and Piedmont Park.

One of the highlights of this race course is running the Cardiac Hill Challenge. Right around mile 2 of the race course, Mizuno sponsors a challenge to see who the King & Queen of Cardiac Hill are as well as the 100 fastest. The difference this year was instead of running up the Cardiac Hill, we actually went DOWN. The challenge clocks your time over the course of a mile as you run down Peachtree Road. I am always up for a good challenge, so I pushed myself through this mile and ended up with my fastest mile of the 10. Take that, Cardiac Hill!

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The course was definitely very hilly (it is Atlanta), but I actually felt very good about my overall pace. I think the weather and crowd support had a lot to do with it. Nothing like people cheering you on to help you push through 10 miles!

I crossed the finish line and grabbed my finisher medal, water, recovery jacket and snack box, before making my way back to the car. I ended up with a 9:35 overall pace, which for “taking it easy” was a solid pace/time.

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All in all, Atlanta Track Club did a great job putting on another wonderful race experience. I enjoyed this new course, crowd support and swag. I definitely plan on running this race again in the future and hope to get Rachel out there with me one year!

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10 Year Anniversary Trip Recap (Part Seven – Cruise Excursions Florence and Cannes)

As you may know, on August 24th, Rachel and I headed out for a 16 day trip to Europe to celebrate 10 years of marriage bliss. Today will be the sixth part of a series of blog posts highlighting this amazing trip. (Check out part onetwo, threefourfive and six here!) Without further ado…Part Seven – Cruise Excursions Florence and Cannes/Nice!

During our Disney Mediterranean Cruise (DMC),  the middle 4 days we were able to port and explore some amazing places. Today’s post covers the second half of the DMC Ports of Call/Excursions, which found us in Florence, Cannes and Nice!

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The third day off the boat found us 90 minutes from Florence. We ended up on a tour with roughly 30 or so people. The plan for the day was to take about a 3 hour walking tour of Florence before having about 4+ hours to walk around on our own before heading back to the ship. As we made our way over to Florence, the tour guide shared a little of the area we were driving through, which was mainly the Tuscany area and was quite beautiful.

Once we got to Florence, we began the 3 hour walking tour with our tour guide. She was very knowledgeable of the area and hit a lot of the high points, including the Piazza della Signoria, Church of Santa Croce, Uffizi Gallery and Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flower. And while we weren’t able to see the actual Statue of David, we were able to see the exact replica in the Piazza della Signoria. 

After the walking tour, Rachel and I grabbed some lunch (i.e., more pizza for Allen) and then explored a little more of the city on our own. Rachel was even able to pick up an Italian leather bag, which she was very happy about.

All in all, I enjoyed Florence very much. I wish we had had more time to see all that the city has to offer. Plus, I hear Florence at night is quite magical. This is a city I think we both would like to visit again in the future.

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For our last day off the boat, we ended up in Cannes, France, where we ended up taking a private tour over to Nice for the morning. We decided to do a shorter tour for our last day so we could explore Cannes after the tour before calling it a little earlier after 4 busy days.

Our tour guide ended up being a wonderful gentleman by the name of Nicolas. Nicolas drove us over to Nice, which was only about 20 minutes away. Friends, Nice is one of the most beautiful beach towns I’ve ever seen. And because we had our own driver/tour guide, we were able to have a truly personal and wonderful experience exploring Nice. Honestly, I could have spent several more hours seeing everything the city had to offer.

Once we got back over to Cannes, we bid farewell to Nicolas before making our way to find some lunch. Once we grabbed a bite to eat, we walked around Cannes for a few hours, which itself is quite a beautiful beach city. The biggest thing we both noticed was how busy and crowded Cannes and even Nice were. These are definitely both tourist cities for sure!

FINAL THOUGHTS

As I arrive at the end of these blog posts about our anniversary trip, I want to thank you all for joining me in our 16 day journey around Europe. It was 100% the trip of a lifetime and one we will never forget! And honestly, it’s hard to believe it was over 2 months ago that we left Atlanta to embark on this adventure. Time really flies. Until next time…

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10 Year Anniversary Trip Recap (Part Six – Cruise Excursions Pompeii and Rome)

As you may know, on August 24th, Rachel and I headed out for a 16 day trip to Europe to celebrate 10 years of marriage bliss. Today will be the sixth part of a series of blog posts highlighting this amazing trip. (Check out part onetwo, threefour and five here!) Without further ado…Part Six – Cruise Excursions Pompeii and Rome!

During our Disney Mediterranean Cruise (DMC),  the middle 4 days we were able to port and explore some amazing places. Today’s post covers the first half of the DMC Ports of Call/Excursions, which found us in Pompeii, Naples and Rome!

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The first day off the boat we stopped in Naples, Italy for the day. We ended up booking a 1/2 day Adult Only excursion over to Pompeii, which was roughly a 20 minute bus ride away from the ship.

We ended up with a group of about 20-25 people along with our tour guide. Pompeii, while not the top of our list of things we saw on our trip, ended up being a cool place to visit. This ancient city is now just ruins, but it was really neat to learn more about the history of this area. Plus, seeing Mount Vesuvius in the background was definitely impressive.

We got some great pictures during our time in Pompeii and our tour guide was a really sweet older and very Italian gentleman. All in all, I think we were both glad we were able to see Pompeii.

After spending about 3-4 hours with our group, Rachel and I made our way over to Naples for about an hour or so to explore on our own. While Naples wasn’t necessary my favorite city, it was still cool to walk around for a little bit.

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ROME, ITALY
The next day off the boat took us to the most impressive part of our DMC week, Rome! We booked a full day Adult Only excursion and ended up with roughly 30 or so people in our group. We met up with one of our tour guides who gave us a little bit of commentary as we made the 90 minute journey to Rome. Once we got to the Rome area, we picked up our other tour guide, who ended up leading most of the actual tour while we explored the city.

Friends, I could spend a lot of time talking about our day in Rome. We ended up checking off about 4 major items from the bucket list just in Rome. But as to not spend forever on this post, I’ll hit the highlights…

  • The Colosseum Simply amazing! The Colosseum was as impressive in person as I dreamed it would be. We spent a few minutes exploring the outside, before making our way inside. Our tour guide spent some time giving us commentary and then allowed us a little time to explore on our own. So happy to be able to check this off the bucket list!
  • Pizza in Italy Rachel and I, of course, grabbed lunch at a Italian restaurant where I had easily the best pizza I’ve ever eaten in my life. It was absolutely perfect and why wouldn’t it be in Italy?! My only regret was not getting a picture of the pizza as by the time I thought about it, the pizza was already in my belly.
  • Vatican City Vatican City was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. While it was crazy crowded, it offered a tremendous amount of history and beautiful architecture.
  • Vatican Museums The downside to only having a day in Rome (and being in a larger tour group) was having to navigate the Vatican museums in a timely manner. There was just so much to see and between the other tour groups, in addition to our group, the amount of people was pretty crazy. Still, everything we were able to see was so amazing. Pictures really don’t do justice to the beauty of these museums and buildings.
  • Sistine Chapel Check another thing off the bucket list. While walking into the Sistine Chapel, the first thing that struck me was how historic this room really is. And while the amount of people crammed into a rather small room made it slightly claustrophobic, I couldn’t believe how unbelievable it really was. And while technically you aren’t allowed to take any pictures, I was able to sneak a couple of pictures of Michelangelo’s “Creation of Adam” painting which, of course, is famously on the ceiling.

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  • St. Peters Basilica St. Peters Basilica is known as the most renowned work of Renaissance architecture and the largest church in the world. It was breathtakingly beautiful. Rachel and I felt very fortunate to see 3 absolutely stunning churches during our trip, from La Sagrada Familia and Notre Dame to St. Peters Basilica.
  • St. Peters Square And finally, we made our way outside of St. Peters Basilica to St. Peters Square. This was a great end to our day in Rome, where we were able to take in the true beauty of Vatican City and all of the gorgeous architecture it has to offer.

Stay tuned for the final blog post of this amazing 16 day journey, which covers the final 2 Ports of Call, Florence and Nice!

 

 

 

10 Year Anniversary Trip Recap (Part Five – Disney Mediterranean Cruise)

As you may know, on August 24th, Rachel and I headed out for a 16 day trip to Europe to celebrate 10 years of marriage bliss. Today will be the fifth part of a series of blog posts highlighting this amazing trip. (Check out part onetwo, three and four here!) Without further ado…Part Five – Disney Mediterranean Cruise!

As we finished up in Paris and Barcelona, we got to the final week of our trip, the Disney Mediterranean Cruise, with stops in Naples, Rome, Florence and Cannes. In order to do true justice to this final week, today’s post will cover the Disney Cruise as a whole, before using the last few blog posts to break down the 4 Ports of Call and the excursions at each of these places.

To start with the Disney Cruise, it’s important to mention that Rachel and I have only been on one other cruise (and it was not Disney). So to say we were completely spoiled and blown away by the Disney Cruise would be taking it lightly. As you can imagine, Disney absolutely does everything first class/top notch. We had an amazing experience for the 7 days and nights while sailing the Mediterranean Sea.

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The overall agenda for our Disney Cruise week…

Day One: Sail away from Barcelona
Day Two: Day at Sea
Day Three: Naples/Pompeii, Italy
Day Four: Rome, Italy
Day Five: Florence, Italy
Day Six: Cannes/Nice, France
Day Seven: Day at Sea
Day Eight: Arrive back in Barcelona

Instead of spending time talking through every day we were on the boat, here are the highlights. (It’s my hope to have Rachel do a blog post or two on our trip soon and I’m guessing she will hit on the cruise as well.)

Disney Cruise Highlights:

  • Our Travel Agent (and friend) Linda had a bottle of sparkling cider and chocolates waiting for us when we got to our stateroom for the first time. It was a super nice surprise.

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  • The Disney Cruise Staff helped us celebrate our 10 Year Anniversary with little extra surprises, including a special dessert at dinner on the first night.

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  • The evening shows each night were absolutely amazing. We especially enjoyed the Tangled Musical, Welcome Show and Farewell Show!

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  • Food, food and more food. One of the cool things about Disney Cruises is you end up switching to a different dining room each night (there are 3 different dining rooms). And your wait staff comes over with you for each evening. So we were able to experience the different dining rooms and eat a ton of wonderful food. Plus the food on the decks (including unlimited ice cream) made for a lot of eating!
  • Our table mates at dinner each night were 2 absolutely wonderful couples, both from the Southern States! It was like Disney put us together on purpose. We loved getting to know them and hearing about their families. We have even become social media friends so we can continue these new friendships!

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  • Disney magic everywhere. If you are like us, then having Disney basically everywhere is a good thing. From having opportunities to meet characters to Disney movies/music in the rooms, we felt completely immersed in all things Disney.
  • Hanging out, especially the 2 days at sea, by the pool and in the room. After being on the go for first week, it was nice to have a day or two just to hang out and rest.

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  • Finally…the Ports of Call/Excursions were places we have always dreamed about visiting. More details coming up over the last 2 blog posts in this series!

All in all, the cruise was a wonderful time. Easily, the highlight of the trip for me. Honestly, after doing a Disney Cruise, I’m not sure if we would ever go on another cruise line. Of course, as huge Disney people, I feel like this is isn’t much of a surprise to anyone…

Stay tuned for the final 2 blog posts on the 4 different Ports of Call/excursions, including Pompeii, Rome, Florence and Nice!

10 Year Anniversary Trip Recap (Part Four – Barcelona)

As you may know, on August 24th, Rachel and I headed out for a 16 day trip to Europe to celebrate 10 years of marriage bliss. Today will be the fourth part of a series of blog posts highlighting this amazing trip. (Check out part one, two and three here!) Without further ado…Part Four – Barcelona!

On Thursday morning, we took a short regional flight out of Paris over to Barcelona for the next stop on our trip. Now Barcelona wasn’t really on our list of things when we were originally planning our trip. It just so happened to be the port where we would take our Mediterranean cruise. However, as we started to put all of the pieces together for our trip, I was really excited to see Barcelona. In fact, I probably had more people tell me about how much they love Barcelona versus any other city we would be visiting. So I was super excited to see what the buzz was all about.

Once we arrived in Barcelona and checked into our hotel (which was literally right by the Mediterranean Sea), we headed over to our excursion for the day. Our Travel Agent (and friend) Linda highly recommended an Electric Bike Tour that she and her husband did when they were in Barcelona. It took you around a good portion of the city and included a short boat ride and ride on a cable car up to the top of a mountain overlooking the city (Montjuïc).

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Instead of going into too much detail, I’ll just say the bike tour excursion wasn’t our favorite part of the trip. It ended up being us, the tour guide and a group of 10 people from Germany. The Germans were super nice and we ended up connecting with a young couple from the group. However, trying to navigate the city on electric bikes proved to be quite tricky, especially for Rachel. There were several times I thought she might just call it. I was super proud of her as she pushed through all the way to the end.

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I will say, we ended up getting a great tour of the city and got some awesome views of the city.  It just wasn’t the best 4 hours of our trip.

After we finished the tour, it was already dinnertime, so we grabbed some food and walked down the La Rambla towards our hotel, taking in the city.

The next day, I got up a little earlier to get in a quick run. The weather was absolutely gorgeous and brought about some amazing scenery as I got in a few miles.

After getting ready, the biggest thing on our agenda was visiting La Sagrada Familia, which is a beautiful Roman Catholic Church that has been under construction for over 100 years. Antoni Gaudí was the chief architect, and friends, it is absolutely unlike anything I’ve ever seen. They are projecting the church will be completed by the year 2026, but you can already visit this extraordinary masterpiece.

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We ended up in a group with a wonderful tour guide who showed us all of the unique parts of this church. Honestly, you could spend hours looking at all of the details and aspects, from the inside to the outside of La Sagrada Familia, and still feel like you haven’t seen everything. All I can say is it’s 100% worth the trip to Barcelona just to visit this amazing church. 

After our tour, we made our way back down to our hotel, continuing to just take in the city and stopping in a few places along the way.

Once we got back to our hotel later that afternoon, we actually threw some of our dirty clothes in a smaller suitcase and found a laundromat to wash a load. After finishing the laundry, we grabbed dinner and headed back to our hotel to get all of our stuff ready for the next morning, where we would be embarking on our 7-day Disney Mediterranean Cruise!

All in all, we enjoyed our short 2 days in Barcelona and would absolutely love to get back over there one day to see more of this beautiful city. Next stop on our anniversary trip recap…Disney Mediterranean Cruise!

10 Year Anniversary Trip Recap (Part Three – Paris Days Two and Three)

As you may know, on August 24th, Rachel and I headed out for a 16 day trip to Europe to celebrate 10 years of marriage bliss. Today will be the third part of a series of blog posts highlighting this amazing trip. (Check out part one and two here!) Without further ado…Part Three – Paris Days Two and Three!
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The next morning, we started out the day by making our way over to the Notre Dame Cathedral, where once again I was checking off a huge bucket list item. And friends, it was absolutely amazing.

We were able to spend some time inside walking around this beautiful and historic cathedral. Honestly, the pictures we took don’t do it justice.

After spending some time at Notre Dame, we made our way over to the Musee d’Orsay for our 1pm private tour, but not before stopping by Sainte-Chapelle to grab a few pictures.

When we were talking to people before our trip, the number one museum that anyone who had visited Paris mentioned was the Musee d’Orsay (MO). The MO used to be an old railroad station that was converted to a museum in 1986. It holds the largest collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist paintings in the world, including works from Monet, Renoir and Van Gogh.

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We were very fortunate to have a private tour with a wonderful guide, who showed us around for several hours hitting a lot of the high points of the museum. We had a wonderful time exploring the MO and in some ways preferred it to the Louvre (which we visited the following day.)

After visiting the MO, we walked around more of Paris, stopping by Angelina’s (Thanks Stephanie for the suggestion!) for pastries and the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had!

We also made stops at the Palais Garnier (Opera House) and the Galeries Lafayette, which is a large department store that has one of the most remarkable domed ceilings I’ve ever seen.

Later that evening (after grabbing dinner), we made our way back over to the hotel and called it a night. The next day (our last full day in Paris), the weather finally gave us some cooler temps after several straight very warm days. In fact, I actually got up a little bit early and got in a decent run. It was nice to get in a few miles while on vacation.

So for our last full day in Paris, the biggest thing on our list was the Louvre Museum (LM). We knew the LM was the world’s largest art museum and that there was no way we would be able to see everything; however, our hope was to at least make a small dent.

The first thing we both noticed was just how absolutely beautiful the outside of the LM was. And, of course, the famous glass pyramid in the middle of everything outside is so iconic. I think we could have spent hours just admiring everything outside.

Once we got into the LM, I was determined to make a beeline for the Mona Lisa. I knew the painting was quite small and that whole area would be crazy crowded, but still it’s the Mona Lisa. You have to see it!

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Once we crossed that off our list, we grabbed a quick lunch in the cafe and made our way through this massive, but super impressive, museum. We ended up spending a good 4-5 hours enjoying the LM.

After we finished exploring the LM, we made our way over to the Place de la Concorde and then up the Champs-Élysées for a little shopping.

We even made a stop at Laduree (thanks to Naama for the suggestion!) for some macaroons and pastries, because when in Paris, you eat a lot of pastries and desserts!

We eventually ended up back at the Arch de Triumph for a few more pictures.

After exploring a little more, we grabbed some dinner before calling it an early night. Our wakeup call to the airport and Barcelona the next day was bright and early.

All in all, we had a great 3 days in Paris. I think we both agree that we could have easily spent another week in Paris. There was just so much to see and do, but I do feel we knocked out several “must sees” while visiting this wonderful city!

Next stop on our anniversary trip recap…Barcelona!

10 Year Anniversary Trip Recap (Part Two – Paris Day One)

As you may know, on August 24th, Rachel and I headed out for a 16 day trip to Europe to celebrate 10 years of marriage bliss. Today will be the second part of a series of blog posts highlighting this amazing trip. (Check out part one here!) Without further ado…Part Two – Paris Day One!

After spending 2.5 days at Disneyland Paris, we were ready to head into the city on Monday morning. We ended up taking the train into Paris, as it didn’t look to be too terribly long and was quite a bit cheaper than taking a cab.

Once we got over to our hotel, we checked our bags (since our room wasn’t quite ready yet) and grabbed lunch at a nearby café (which was delicious!).

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Luckily, after lunch our room was ready so we were able to go ahead and get settled into our room before heading out for the rest of the afternoon and evening. 

Our time in Paris is best broken down into the 3 main days we were there. So…I’m starting with Mondayafternoon/evening. We headed over to the Arc de Triomphe (AdT) first, which is at the western end of the Champs-Élysées (probably the most famous avenue/road in Paris for shopping).

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The AdT is absolutely amazing. We both were so blown away at the size and beauty of this monument. We ended up buying tickets and making our way up to the top to take in the city. And, of course, the first thing I noticed as soon as we got to the top was the Eiffel Tower! After spending some time taking pictures and videos, we made our way back down (it was all stairs, the entire way…).

We spent a little time making our way down the Champs-Élysées just taking in the city (including finding some of the best ice cream I’ve ever had) before heading down towards the Eiffel Tower and our scheduled 5pm tour. 

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Now for me personally, there were several bucket list items I knew I wanted to check off my list during this trip. At the very top was the Eiffel Tower. And friends, as we finally came upon it, I was absolutely blown away. It was without a doubt even more impressive in person.

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Our tour guide ended up taking our group up to the second floor (about halfway up) and gave us a great explanation/tour of the city. We had the option to go up to the top, but for multiple reasons, including the fact that it was a good 30-45 minute wait, we decided to pass on going all the way up. Once the tour part was over, we stayed on the second floor for a bit before heading back down and grabbing some more pictures/videos. 

After spending quite some time at the Eiffel Tower, we headed over to the Seine River for our evening river cruise. We ended up getting on the 8pm cruise (which lasts roughly an hour), which takes you around the river and so many amazing parts of Paris. 

As we got towards the end of the cruise, night began to fall on us, which allowed us to experience this beautiful city in a different light. Right at 9pm as we were about to dock, the boat stopped right in front of the Eiffel Tower and the tower began to sparkles as it does for 5 minutes at the top of every hour in the evening. It was breathtaking!

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After getting off the cruise, we grabbed a few more pictures before making the walk back over to our hotel. All in all, we had a wonderful first day in Paris!

Stay tuned for Part Three – Days Two and Three in Paris!