Gosh, this trip was the best.
Let me start off by saying 5 months is a heck of a long time and deployment is no joke. In fact, #Deploymentsucks. In that same breath, I truly feel Ben and I have made the most of this deployment. To be honest, I wouldn’t wish Ben home. It has been such a sweet season of both of us pursuing our own dreams and adventures all while knowing we are on each other’s team. I wouldn’t trade that for the world. With that being said, every day I miss him sorely in both the big things and small. His tangible absence is felt when I have to make road trips by myself or when I attempt to figure car issues. When I have to eat the same thing the whole week since he isn’t there to devour the leftovers and especially when our favorite songs come on. It was hard celebrating holidays from afar and settling for Facetime conversations where you only hear every other word and see frozen faces. I’ve just missed my person doing life alongside me (and not in different continents). Because of all that, this reunion was so, so sweet and my heart was incredibly happy.
I woke up bright and early in Paris and anxiously departed for the airport. The entire flight I was so excited and my stomach was doing flips. This only heightened while waiting at the baggage claim (of course they had to check my bag…) and I got a text from Ben that he was waiting for me right outside the gate. We proceeded to text in only all caps things like “WHERE IS MY BAG” and “I’M SO EXCITED” and “HURRY UP”. My carry-on suitcase finally popped up and I beelined it for the door. It’s possible I was in a steady sprint, it’s hard to say. I finally found him and full on ran into his arms with tears streaming down my face. The sweetest reunion. The countdown was finally over. Gosh, it felt so good to hug and kiss that husband of mine. I really can’t put into words just how wonderful it was.
After we hugged for a good long while we hit the road, making our first stop into Malaga for some lunch and a quick beach sighting.
I’m pretty sure my smile remained that big the entire weekend.
We filled the hour long car ride with the sounds of the radio station alternating in between Spanish and random American songs and conversation (that was not over email, text, or the phone but IN PERSON!)
We drove through the mountains to where we were staying for the weekend and man, I really hit this one out of the park in regards to lodging and location. Through my impeccable search tactics, I somehow stumbled upon the Lemon Tree Retreat and THIS PLACE IS A DREAM. From the moment we pulled up, we knew this was going to be good. The farmhouse style bed and breakfast is tucked away in the fields and mountains of Andalucia. In every direction, there is a stunning view and the buildings themselves are lovely with their white facades. I’m not sure any images or words can accurately depict just how perfect it all was.
We dropped our bags and quickly raced out back to the pool before getting ready for dinner. What. A. Guy. The sunsets here seem to be extra golden. Our sweet hosts prepared a three-course dinner almost completely made from their garden. It was to die for and such a sweet way to end our first night.
The next morning we were greeted with morning sun peeking through the window.
If there is one thing I love on holiday– it is a huge spread of fresh fruit, bread, and coffee for breakfast.
After breakfast, we hopped in the car with beach items in tow. After the most beautiful (and treacherous) drive to the coast, we arrived in Nerja and hit the beach for a picnic lunch. It was the perfect little beach for the afternoon.
We strolled through the bustling streets before heading back to our sweet little abode and obviously more pool time.
Ben had apparently had his eye on the flamingo float he spotted by the pool the day before. It was a roaring success.
After a few hours at the pool we freshened up and drove about 15 minutes to the next little town of white buildings tucked away in the mountains for dinner.
We lucked out and spotted a wedding finishing up with the getaway car ready ;)
That evening, we sipped on the best gin and tonics while laying on the pool chairs watching the stars. Something that was so simple, yet so needed.
On Sunday, Ben arranged for us to go to Granada to see the Alhambra. We aren’t usually one for “touristy” things, but oh my goodness this was beautiful. It is this massive palace with gardens in every direction. Should you find yourself in Granada, do yourself a favor and go!
I’m not kidding when I say the gardens went on for days. Every time you took a turn you were in a new perfectly manicured garden full of colorful flowers. I probably hit a new record for times I said, “this is so pretty.” Ben, these gardens make up for the fact that we ate Sunchips and peanuts for lunch ;) (it’s a long story…) He knows me so well to think to bring me to this magical place.
We were just so happy.
We ended our night in Granada with a few tapas before heading back home.
Monday morning we soaked up the last bit of sun in this dream land before drudgingly driving back towards the airport (which I’m learning is such a place of great joy and many tears). My flight wasn’t until the evening so relished every last minute together in Malaga. A little wandering was paired with gelato and all was well. The time finally came for Ben to drop me off at the airport. In my head I was thinking, “sure, I’ve got this…I won’t make a scene…I get to see him in a month…I’m fine”. But my tears had a mind of their own and I indeed created a scene at the Malaga airport. Goodbyes will never be easy with this one. But goodness I am so thankful for someone who makes them this hard. So grateful to know he’s always on my team no matter what countries we are in.
These few days with Ben were exactly what we needed. We were craving stillness, rest, and sweet, intentional time together and that is just what we got. Ben and I have traveled a good bit, but this is the first time that I truly felt we escaped reality. We were in our own little world in those Andalucia hills. There were no stresses of my never ending to do list, no emails to answer, no agenda to the day. Our only job was to simply be and enjoy the simplest of things. I will forever hold this reunion so dear to my heart.
Ben, I’ll meet you just about anywhere on this Earth, but goodness I am excited for you to be home. It’s a joy to be on this adventure with you.
When we found out Ben was deploying to Spain I told him I was determined to see him, to which he replied, “Care, I’m deploying, you can’t do that.” To this, I replied, “Who do you think I am?” Thus began my adventure of how to a) get to Europe and b) see Ben.
I’ve recently become
intrigued obsessed with the whole concept of cheap flights. So, I got on a mailing list for Scott’s Cheap Flights (which is the real hero of this whole adventure, do yourself a favor and sign up) and stumbled upon a flight to Paris that I simply could not pass up. My thought process was that France was close enough to Spain and I would iron out all the other details at a later date. I was confident; Ben was still skeptical. He has since learned to trust me when it comes to planning adventures. All this to say, we worked it all out and this trip was a dream come true. I was reunited with my two loves– Ben (most importantly) and Europe.
On to my Paris trip! Well first I got to spend the weekend with Liz and Ashton in Atlanta and that always makes for a grand time. Such a treat to stay at their new house and get to spend so many days together! On Tuesday, I made my way to the airport and started on my journey. Sadly, the weekend before I left I started feeling sick. Naturally, I practically bought the entire shelf at Walgreens and did everything in my power to not get sick. I failed. On my second flight over the pond, the pressure in my head from my ears got so intense I began to frantically look around, tears streaming down my face, to see if anyone appeared to be a doctor. I was convinced that my head was literally going to blow up and medical assistance was necessary. Sounds dramatic now, but man was it terrible. The last two hours of that flight and the entirety of the next one was honestly miserable. No inflight entertainment could cure me. I landed in Paris, with the ability to hear in only one of my ears, and made my way into the city and directly to my bed in the Airbnb. Bummed that I wasn’t making the most of my first day in Paris, I still only longed to sleep off whatever was going on in my head. Several hours later, I woke up feeling less miserable and noticed a text from Christy that they were heading to a few flower markets to gather flowers for the bouquet. I was in!
So, let me explain. Back in Nashville, once I figured out I was going to be in Paris for a few days, I wanted to set up a shoot with a couple in Paris because, well, why not! Social media did a really cool thing and connected me with Christy and Elizabeth, a photographer and stylist, who were also going to be in Paris while I was! Plot twist: they asked me if I would be willing to wear a dress in front of the Eiffel Tower for a sunrise shoot. LIKE WHAT LITTLE GIRL HAS NOT DREAMED OF THIS HER WHOLE LIFE?!?! So, fast forward to the morning before the shoot and we meandered through the streets to put together the perfect Parisian bouquet of flowers. After foraging, we enjoyed dinner at a cafe and rested up before our early morning. I took the scenic route home to where I was staying and it did not disappoint.
My alarm went off at 5:30 and I was giddy with excitement! I put a few curls in my hair before meeting them at their place and ubering to the Eiffel Tower. All week it was calling for rain, but the sky decided to gift us with these beautiful pink clouds and blue skies instead.
Christy and Elizabeth worked their magic on the bouquet and it ended up being more beautiful than we could have imagined! It was a quiet morning with just me, my bare feet, and the Eiffel Tower. I mean, COME ON! Christy shot the shoot on film and I am just so excited to see her work! Here are just a few I had her snap on my camera for me! Architecture usually doesn’t produce the water works for me, but man the Eiffel Tower always makes me shed a tear or two.
After our shoot, we popped into a bakery (as one does) for a croissant and cafe au lait and walked towards Notre Dame and the Luxembourg Gardens. Last time I was in Paris was for my birthday a few years ago and it was such a treat to go back to these spots in the warmer weather with fresh blooms.
I spent the afternoon bopping in and out of shops and grabbing myself some more bread to consume.
A little corner of my cozy Airbnb.
It was that afternoon that Katherine and I realized that we had somehow miscalculated and we were both in Paris at the same time! Honestly, what are the odds?! So it was settled– a picnic at the Eiffel Tower was in order. Kat and JD were so, so kind to let me join in on this romantic occasion.
I am obsessed with them and will happily third wheel any day. (But actually, next time I would like if Ben attended)
I adore you, sweet Kat.
We waited out the rain and were very much rewarded. Last time I was in Paris I didn’t get to see the full twinkle effect of the tower. This time, I was determined not to miss it and it did not disappoint. At 9 o’clock it lit up and my heart was so incredibly happy. It is truly a sight to see.
What was meant to be a quick stop before making my way to Spain ended up being better than I could dream or imagine. I fulfilled every little girl’s dream at sunrise, made a few new friends, and spent time with one of my favorite duos.
Paris is truly one of the most beautiful, romantic cities and never disappoints.