Pascal Lachenaud, AFP/Getty Images
September 14, 2013
Highlights: "For me, the biggest thing was seeing all the castles. That's just not something we have here. Here in America, the buildings are all a few hundred years old, and over there, we're talking thousands of years old. It seems impossible that those buildings are still standing; they're just so beautifully constructed. To think that they did that all by hand - manual labor. [Also] I was very happy we saw the Eiffel Tower. I know it's a big tourist spot, but hitting up some of those big icons was really important."
Travel tips? "Wherever you go, it's important to learn just a few phrases by heart, like 'Do you speak English' and the common phrases of being polite, 'Hello,' 'goodbye' and 'thank you.' Those go a long way. As long as people can tell that you are making an effort, they will have a lot more respect for you and will be more helpful. I think that's the whole point of going to another country - being put in situations to remind you that you are no longer in the U.S. ...We brought a camera but chose not to take too many pictures because I really wanted to make certain I was living in the moment, not just sitting behind my camera lens. Sometimes you have to remember just to see it with your own eyes."
If you go: United and Air France fly nonstop from Dulles to Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris. If you choose, like Ava Marie, to drive around Europe, go to autoeurope.com/go/driving-information for country-by-country regulations and suggestions for trustworthy car rental agencies.
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