Sunday, April 28, 2013

Weekend Update

Candy, Alison and I catching up over coffee.
Busy weekend. Laundry, cleaning house, grocery shopping, errands. But not too busy for naps or to catch up with old friends. I saw an old friend I haven't seen in several years over coffee today and had lunch with Alison.

Tomorrow is orientation for my new job. Same place but new, permanent position. New adventures are on the horizon.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Paris: Day 5

After four days of sightseeing, our last full day in Paris was a lot less structured and relaxing. It was also one of our favorite days.

First we visited Sainte Chapelle. This little chapel from the 1200s was one of the most magnificent places I've ever visited.

When I first walked up the stairs and into the chapel, the many stained glass windows took my breath away.

Joe called it a little jewel box. I think he was correct.

Saint Michel Fountain.

We had a leisurely 2+ hour lunch outside at Les Deux Magots. Also frequented by Hemingway, Picasso and Julia Child.

Some shopping and browsing in the Latin Quarter.

Finally back to the Eiffel Tower for dinner at Le Jules Verne. One of my favorite parts was the private elevator ride up to the restaurant. Much less scary than our first elevator ride to the top.

My Brittany lobster.
Joe and I at dinner - ready to eat souffles!

After dinner we stuck around to see the light show at the Eiffel Tower. Every evening, past dark, on the hour the Tower lights twinkle for a few minutes. It was a beautiful sight to see.

Paris: Day 4

One of the things on my "must-do in my lifetime list" has always been to go to Paris and visit the Louvre. Today was the day I finally got to mark it off my list.

After a very pleasant walk through Tuileries Garden we made our way to the Louvre.

On the escalator entering the Louvre!

Joe at the Louvre with Winged Victory behind him.

The Venus de Milo.

A very tender moment we encountered at the Louvre.

Part of the Napoleon apartments at the Louvre. Suprisingly, one of our favorite parts of our museum visit. The opulence reminded us very much of our visit to Versailles.

The Mona Lisa! This was the only piece of artwork I noticed behind glass in the museum.

After walking and walking and walking at the museum, we grabbed a quick bite from a street vendor and jumped on the hop on hop off bus. We needed a break! This also happened to be a very sunny and beautiful day and I am still paying for my sunburn. You'd think I would learn by now but when I looked at the weather report I didn't think I would have a problem during our visit.

We then made it to the Arc de Triomphe. We did a lot of walking and stairs at the Louvre. By the time we made it here and had to climb 284 stairs to the top of the Arc de Triomphe I wanted to die. Joe even took pictures of me resting to prove it! I will not post them here but let's just say that stair climb could be heart attack-inducing.

Good thing the view was worth all those stairs.

Our final stop of the day was to Boucherie Rouliere for dinner. It came as a recommendation from Terrie and Kirk and was a great meal.

Paris: Day 3

Our first stop of Day 3 was to the Pont de L'Archeveche bridge near Notre Dame.

Both sides of the bridge are covered in padlocks. After locking their love with a padlock, couples then throw their key into the Seine.

We added our own love padlock to the bridge.

And then threw away the key.

Next we stopped at Shakespeare and Company bookstore, a favorite of expats. It was a favorite hangout for Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald and even Julia Child.

Then on to Notre Dame.  

One of the beautiful stained glass windows inside the church.

Then on to Luxembourg Gardens. A lot of the flowers had not yet been planted so it was more bare than I had hoped but still a great stop.

Lunch with a window seat at the Armani Cafe. It may be a chain but we had really great food and service here. In fact, we had Italian food a few times in France and it was exceptionally good.

Later we stopped at a little cafe for chocolat au lait. Yum!

Then on to the Musee de l'Orangerie to see eight Monet Water Lilies and lots of other great art. Afterwards we went back to the hotel before going out for pizza later in the evening. Yes, even in Paris my husband had to have pizza. Great thing it was a local spot and very good so I forgave him.

Paris: Day 2

Day two in Paris took us on a tour to the Normandy region of France to visit Giverny, best known for the home and garden of Claude Monet. We then went to Versailles before arriving back in Paris.

The name of the street we visited in Giverny, Claude Monet Road.

A view of Claude Monet's Garden. It was exactly as I had pictured. It is more picturesque in May-July so not everything was in bloom yet but still beautiful and well worth seeing. Monet is one of my very favorite artists so this really excited me. (My other favorite artists are Van Gogh and Seurat - perfect for a trip to France!)

Monet's house which we also toured.

Joe and I in the gardens. One of my favorite trip photos.

After touring the home and gardens, and a trip to the Museum of Impressionism, we walked to a nearby church to see where Monet was buried.

An upclose view of the grave marker.

Lunch was at a quaint little water mill restaurant in the countryside. Probably my least favorite meal in France though because I do not love (or like) salmon pate.

Next was Versailles. Here I am at the gate to the Palace.

Here's a view inside the gates. At one time there were 3,000 servants working here. This place was so crazy, over the top.

Joe in the Hall of Mirrors.

Marie Antoinette slept here.
A small view of the gardens. It actually started pouring and hailing while we were inside the Palace so when it finally stopped and we went outside, our time was very limited to see the Gardens. The photos I did take don't do it justice - vast and beautiful.
When we returned to Paris we made a stop at this wonderful patissier across from our hotel. I should have taken a photo of the wonderful things we bought but I'm afraid we ate them too quickly.

Finally our wonderful dinner. Most restaurants in Paris don't even open until 7:30 pm so it was common for us to go back to the hotel, take a brief nap and then go to a late dinner.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Paris: Day 1

We just returned from Paris and I had many friends comment that they didn't even know we were going. Well we booked and planned our trip in just six short weeks! Yes, we are sometimes adventurous.

I got by on the trip with a few necessary phrases: bonjour, bonsoir, merci (beaucoup), au revoir, etc. My husband, on the other hand, taught himself several things that were quite useful to us. He could count to ten (far more necessary than you'd think), ask for a table for two at a restaurant, ask someone if they could speak English, ask for flat water (or sparkling), etc. He was fabulous at learning some key phrases in a very short amount of time and really great at understanding people, too.

Our first day in Paris went something like this...

We dropped our luggage off at our cute boutique hotel. It was built in late 1700s! And the only elevator was a tiny cage elevator from the 1920s that we barely managed to squeeze into.

We then had lunch - our first real French meal -  at the cafe next door to our hotel.

Imagine my surprise when an article on the internet pointed out Julia Child's apartment the same structure as our hotel, just on the other side of our lunch spot. I loved knowing that I was in her old stomping grounds.

Then we took off walking to one of the most well known landmark's in the world - the Eiffel Tower.

I really couldn't believe how big it was once we were close to it.

I'll admit it, going to the top was THE scariest thing I have ever done. I think it was because you could see out the window throughout the entire elevator ride...and the structure was built in 1889...and it is over 1,000 feet tall! (After reaching the top level, my better half may or may not have walked the stairs with me to the very, very top.)

Joe and I taking our own photo at the top (almost the tip top). Still wearing clothes from the plane ride over. We kept hearing announements that "Pickpockets are active in the Tower." Pickpockets were common at many tourist spots in Paris so we were very vigilant. Also most pictures we took were either self shots or just one of us taking a photo of the other - no handing our camera over to just anyone for a shot of us.

View of the city from the top of the Tower.

After officially checking into our room, and finally changing our clothes, we went to the Musee Rodin (Rodin Museum). It started to rain so we didn't linger in the garden too long but we did get to see The Thinker.

Our last museum stop of the day was the Musee D'Orsay for lots and lots of art. (No photos allowed inside.)

After a very long day, and a big time change, we decided to stop at the bar across from our hotel for something quick and easy. It was here, believe it or not, that I had one of my favorite meals in Paris. My croque monsieur was so good! I am still thinking about this sandwich.

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