Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Day One Vacation Time: Paris!

Well, here we are.

We woke up in the hotel and our long-time family friend Allan came to the hotel to help get us from the hotel to the Cathedral (read: to help haul our luggage up 67 steps!).

We started out the day walking to some of Allan's favorite haunts in Paris, not the least of which was lunch at this fabulous place in Saint Germain:

Here's Allan and Steve at lunch:

The amaryllis hanging out the back of Allan's head were not only real, but HUGE. The flowers we saw being offered for sale throughout Paris were not only beautiful but HUGE! Dahlias, Amaryllis -- beautiful! Lunch was equally beautiful as you can see from the following photos:

We walked around Saint Germain some more and admired the sites. LOTS of stores and people walking and shopping.

We found this plaque on the outside of one of the buildings -- I thought our children would get a kick out of it:

Allan also found a favorite macaroon store (LaDuree) to buy presents for his neighors:

We continued walking -- I was going to get ALL my steps in whether I wanted to or not! 

We saw lots of interesting things:

All around Paris they are setting up for an art festival. Around the smallish pool in the Jardin de Tuileries. They were putting up zodiac heads -- so just like in Seoul a few ago I had my picture taken with my Asian Zodiac symbol -- yes, I was born in the year of the Monkey.

And we found this and thought of our daughter Jardine --

Steve found a laundry mat -- and you know given his Laundry Love connection -- we had to take this photo:

We continued scouring the streets around St. Germain, and stopped near where we were going to catch up with a night tour that we had booked (a Seine cruise and a night Eiffel Tower tour). Steve got his wish and we sat outside to have a little bite to eat before we got on the boat (I had been craving French Onion Soup and the place we stopped at was reported to have a great one. Now, I will report honestly that I was the one that has NOT let Steve "live his dream" of sitting out and sipping coffee outside a bistro/coffee house/patissiere. Here's the problem: that is the smoking section, and apparently everyone (or the bulk of people we saw) smoke. Well, it was true out there a well. While we were away from the bulk of the smokers, even outside in the open air -- it travels! There it is. I thwarted his biggest desire for our time in Paris, but the truth be told he couldn't stand it either.  Here's the soup though and yes, it was delicious!

We met up with the person who sorted us into two groups for our tour, and waited to go to boat - our first part of the night tour. While we were waiting we were able to see the Eiffel Tower change colors and sparkle! it was beautiful to stand in that square and look at the Eiffel Tower.

I also couldn't help taking a selfie with the Eiffel Tower!

It was impossible to take pictures from the boat (the glass obscured the pictures) but the guide was great at describing what was what up and down the Seine -- many of the things we saw from the boat we saw and heard about from the previous tours we had, but it was great to be able to see it from this vantage point. 

People do live on houseboats on the river! Two months per year they need to move them, which they do. 

After we got off the boat we walked over to the Eiffel Tower -- we went through the express lane and up to the next level. We then took the elevator all the way to the top -- an exciting ride to be sure! Here is a picture from the top:

Although I'm not afraid of heights, I was ready to come down quickly!

We walked back to the Cathedral -- smiling all the way. What a great day!

Day Five Vacation: Montmartre one more time and long day of Walking again

We started out the day sleeping in -- yes! We had a lazy morning then headed off in the Metro to Montmartre. 

Steve and I decided it would be fun to eat at the place where Amelie worked in the film by the same name. It was!

Here are some pictures for those who are interested in Amelie --
Steve looks happy in the restaurant!

And of course there were scenes in the restroom -- so I had to check that out. In addition, in the restroom area there is an area dedicated to Amelie:

We kept on walking and went up the hill to Sacre Couer again. As with all churches, I stopped to say a prayer and light a candle. You can't take pictures in the church, but the view outside was beautiful!

What was funny was a group of young men were selling Eiffel Tower key chains. The tour guide the night we took the Eiffel Tower told us that the police keep trying to arrest them -- they sell the keychains 5 for 1 Euro whereas they go for 5 Euros each in stores. According to the guide, the police found where they were storing them once -- which was in a sewer -- thousands of them. This day there were young men selling them on the steps of Sacre Couer -- and all of a sudden they scattered -- two police officers on bicycles came around the corner and stopped at the top of the stairs, one running down after the sellers. When I looked down the stairs there were two more police officers at the bottom -- again one stayed on his bike and the other was with another seller. I guess that's team works.

We stopped for a coffee and a little nosh on our walk -- it was great to walk around the streets.

We walked some more -- not taking pictures, but enjoying each other and the walk.

That night we met Melinda and Pierre Whalon for dinner at a great restaurant -- La Fontaine de Mars.

Here we are -- two Bishops!

And after dinner selfie:

Sos not too many pictures today -- but I'm sure tomorrow's entry will have more -- a tour of Monet's Home and Gardens as well as the last place Vincent Van Gogh lived (and where Steve will see the room he had his photo taken with at the D'Orsay.

Day Four Vacation: Chartres!

We were looking forward to this trip to Chartres!

Unlike the other tours we had signed up for, although we were picked up and driven to Chartres in a small group, the tour guide was rather quiet. He was great about introducing us to the history of Chartres and to the windows in the building. He did, however, have a specific religious bend that I found rather perturbing. Yes, that's the nice way to put it.

Here are some of the pictures I took at Chartres:

The guide pointed out that this is one of the stopping points on the way to Santiago de Compestela -- hence this marking on the sidewalk in front of the church:

The windows were magnificent -- the guide walked us through the stories depicted in the windows.

And although it was covered this day, the labrynth was so impressive to see.

We visited a stained glass museum as well:

And here we have the former Bishop's house -- pretty fancy if you ask me -- and it was even bigger on the other side!

And of course the Bishop's garden -- check out the labrynth in it:

Nice view from the walkway by the Cathedral and the Bishop's home:

We also walked around the town  -- seeing one of the oldest buildings still in use:

Loved the little streets:

We got back and took a LONG walk -- it was not supposed to be as long as it was, but Steve got turned around. And turned around. And turned around.

We finally ended up eating dinner at Romano's -- which I understand is one of Bishop Whalon's favorite restaurants!

Even though our guide was't as good as he could have been personality or information wise, all in all it was a trip well worth taking and it was a great day!