Monday, August 29, 2011

Day 4!

Our last full day in Paris we decided to fit into our already cramped schedule absolutely everything we could possibly squeeze. We started out with a journey to the Pantheon located in the Latin Quarter of France. We made our way by the metro, of course, and for the first time, got completely lost. We wandered around until a kind gentleman pointed us in the right direction. As a side not, all of the Parisians we came across were soooo incredibly kind! Some of the nicest people we met on the whole trip! Completed in 1789, this secular temple is the resting place of various influential French scientists and scholars including, my personal favorite, Victor Hugo (les Miserable & Hunchback of Notre Dame), Alexander Dumas (Count of Monte Cristo), along with Descartes and even Voltaire.

My planking attempt in the Pantheon! Too bad Logan is the worst photographer EVER and didn't get what I was planking in front of; this giant fresco, to be specific!
I definitely got a few looks!

We stopped at this McDonald's after leaving the Pantheon and even ordered some food on this special maching. After waiting almost 20 minutes, and getting extremely grumpy because of our hunger, they finally told us that if you actually pay at the machine, it cancels your order. Who'd a thunk that paying for something meant you DON'T get your items!
P.S. McDonalds in Europe are totally gourmet and so fancy! They also are pretty much the only businesses that have public bathrooms, and free ones at that, so if you gotta go, stop there, but be prepared to wait in line for a LONG time!

After we visited the Pantheon, we made our way over to the Musee de l' Armee (military museum) which hosts artifacts dating back to medieval times and before. It also is the home of the Tomb of Napoleon.
Can you name which Greek God is pictured in this photo, top right? I'll give you a hint...check out his hat!
This was also my attempt to plank inside the canon! It was much harder than it looks!

So Logan and I had a planking pact. When one of us named a place, the other had to plank it, no questions asked. This was by far was the most daring. We were inside the musem in a long narrow corridor. There were guards on both ends of the hall with a camera. The second both security officers stopped looking, I stood in the way of the camera, kind of, and Logan jumped on this canon. Who knows how old it was? It was terrifying but definitely worth the experience!

The streets through Monte Marte were so narrow but so beautiful. I wanted to lay on the cobblestone and I don't know what! It was just so pretty! From my understanding, Monte Marte is one of the oldest parts of Paris. It was also built on a hill, which served as a huge quarry at one time and almost collapsed. Anyway, the point about the was incredibly steep and gave us quite a workout, but once you got to the top, the view was breathtaking!

Ah, the Sacre Couer located on top of the tallest hill in Paris, and also in the midst of the most beautiful and historical neighborhoods in the city. We actually went inside the basilica but pictures were prohibited. Honestly, it was so ridiculously crowded that taking a photo would have been worthless. All you would see are random tourists' heads!

Paris is known for its amazing pastries. Not only are they super tasty, but incredibly beautiful. These specific desserts were located in a small shop in Monte Marte. No surprise they were beautiful; everything there was!

Probably one of the most disappointing things in all of Europe was the Moulin Rouge. It was really hard to believe this dumpy little place surrounded by other dumpy little buildings is so famous!

After the Moulin Rouge, we headed back to the hotel (I think) and packed up our stuff so we could head out the next day! Next stop The Netherlands to the city of Amsterdam!

Friday, August 19, 2011

In Memory!

I'm still in denial that my sweet mother-in-law Deborah is gone. I honestly feel like any second someone is going to call and tell me they made a mistake and that Deborah is actually just at home. Life is never that simple though. Deborah loved her grandkids sooooo much! I know all grandmothers do, but she did especially!

Her grandkids were absolutely everything to her and it completely breaks my heart that my boys will grow up never knowing their grandmother.

I wish I was super creative and could make some beautiful blogpost chronicling her life, but I'm not, so this will have to do. I think Deborah would be okay with that. She was always so simple. She didn't need big elaborate expensive things to make her happy. That was something I always admired and envied about her.

We miss you so much already, Deborah! I'm so sorry! That's all I know what to say! I'm just sorry! Until we meet again! Love you forever!


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Day 3: Versailles & Eiffel Tower

Day 3:
It's crazy how fast I have already forgotten everything about our trip! Day 3 was quite the day! We woke up early, but apparently not early enough, because by the time we got down for breakfast our tour driver was waiting for us. We asked if he minded if we ate on the bus and of course he said, "yes," he did mind! So, Logan and I snuck some yummy sandwiches (for breakfast, I know!) into his backpack and hopped onto our tour bus! After driving around Paris and squeezing through impossibly small streets, we picked up a few other passengers and headed out to Versailles!
The trip there was very exciting. Our tour guide was extremely knowledgable and had information not only on Versailles but what seemed like every rock that we drove past!

Just one little fleck of this could pay for my kids' college education!

If you can name the god in the statue (picture above), you win a prize! Not really, but why not take the challenge!

The middle picture is of Logan and I shaking hands in the Hall of Mirrors, completing the Treaty of Versailles 2011!

The outer hall of the palace! Statues lined the entire length.

We finally made it inside the palace of Louis the XVI, self-proclaimed lover of art and culture! The home of this French monarch was so massive it was hard to believe that 18th century humans could construct it out of their primitive (compared to what we have now) instruments and tools.

Bed Chambers of (left) Louis XVI and (right) Marie Antoinette.

The tour lasted roughly an hour and a half. We made our way outside to the gardens, which needs an entire day to tour alone! To me, this lavish garden epitomized the colonial era monarchs in Europe. I could just image Marie Antoinette in her lavish gown, strolling through the gardens, an orchestra in the background, her court following close behind fanning their delicate faces with paper fans.

We did not get much time in the gardens, which was unfortunate, and soon after we headed back to Paris. On our way, our guide gave us a little "bonus" by explaining some of the monuments we drove by. The Luxor Obelisk, for example!

The Eiffel Tower! I literally have dreamed of seeing this massive metal masterpiece my entire life! For as long as I can remember, just the thought of the Eiffel Tower sent butterflies into my stomach! Now that it's over, it feels like it was just another dream!

After arriving at our hotel from a long day at Versailles, Logan and I once again fell asleep! Waking up way later than our plans allowed for, we decided that we would only have time to see one thing and what better to see than the Eiffel Tower at night time.

We headed over on our favorite method of transportation, the metro, and gapped in awe at the very symbol that has come to define Paris, even France. After taking several pictures from the ground and navigating our way to the ticket booth, we loaded an elevator which dropped us off near, but not all the way, top of the tower. Unfortunately, the upper tower closed early so we missed our chance.

After staying on the tower for a while, and seeing a lovely display of affection (a man proposed to his girlfriend a top the tower) we headed back down! We then made our way over to a small booth infront of the tower and I, not Logan, invested in a crepe (with ice cream, chocolate, banana, and the works)! It was amazing!

Finally, on our way back to the hotel and making a deal with the mafia (this crazy hustler selling Eiffel Tower souvenirs) we realized the metro station was closed for the night! We found a taxi instead and made our way back to the hotel where we stayed up late because our jet lag was still having the best of us!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Day 2

Day 2 started out bright and early as we made our way first to Notre Dame! This was probably one of the most, if not THE MOST, exciting moment of our trip. I have dreamt of seeing the Notre Dame Catherdral for years and years! We rode the metro over to the 14th century Catholic church where we were able to walk right in!

The amazing view from when you first ascend from the underground railway.

The Catacombs

This line was drawn onto the roof of the quarries to help show workers the way out!
The Catacombs have been turned into a sanctuary and, therefore, monuments and dedications are spaced throughout to honor the dead.

Following our self-guided tour of Notre Dame, we headed back to the Metro station to meet my good friend Lindsey, her mom, and her sister at the Catacombs. We arrived about 45 minutes before opening, and thank goodness we did, because right away the line began to grow. By the time the doors opened, the queue wrapped around the block. Once inside the ticket office, you descend a ridiculous number of stairs to get to the quarries in which the bones are laid to rest. The old stone spiral stair case was narrow and went down down down until finally we reached the entrace into the Catacombs.

After the Catacombs, we made our, by metro of course, over to the Louvre! It kind of surprised me when I saw it because it almost popped out of nowhere, which I don't know how that is even possible because it was soooooooooooo big! Before going in, we decided to go eat at a little cafe across the street from the massive museum. There, as you can see in the pictures, Lindsey decided to try escargo! She tried to get the rest of us to taste but with no success. After lunch, we headed to the Louvre where we parted ways Lindsey and her fam, and Logan and I headed to through the entrance.
Once again, the size of this museum is almost unfathomable. We were there for two plus hours walking full speed ahead and didn't even see 1/16 of the place. We did get to see the really famous art though, like the Mona Lisa!

Saint Chapelle
After the Louvre, we headed back towards Notre Dame because we wanted to climb the tower, which was closed the first time we went that morning. First we stopped by Saint Chapelle and made a quick trip through this amazing building!
When we arrived at Notre Dame, the line to enter the towers was ridiculous, but Logan and I decided to wait it out anway. About two hours later, we ascended the never ending spiral staircase to the very top of the cathedral. It was amazing!!!

Our last stop of the day was at Champs Elysees and then to the top of the Arc d' Triomph, where we climbed about a millio more stairs! Logan and I calculated that we climbed and descended well over 2000 stairs that day! In fact, when I woke up the next morning, I could definitely feel the burn in my legs!
View from the top!
Getting back to the hotel, I don't know if I have ever felt so exhausted in my entire life! We walked all over Paris and saw most of the main tourist attractions, climbs thousands of stairs, and just went a little crazy! Of course that night, the jet lag set in once again and at about 1 am, I turned over to see Logan wide awake playing on his phone also! After a few hours, we were able to fall back to sleep and get nice and rested up to start our next day of adventure!