Monday, October 18, 2010

Anniversary in Paris- Days 6, 7 and 8

We start off Friday by going to the Musee D' Orsay. It is an art museum that is in an old train station. We could not take pictures inside, but here is one of me in front of it.

Next we went to the Musee de l'Orangerie which boast two oval rooms, each with 4 walls covered in Monet's water lilies. They were so beautiful! I could have sat in there forever.

We then caught our bus out to Giverny that took us to the actual gardens of Monet. I am sure that they are pretty in the spring but they are still gorgeous in the fall.

Here is his house.

When we got back to the city that evening, we decided to take in another night at the Louvre. Our goal was to do the whole museum, which is humongous, in our trip, so we had a lot to see between this night and the next day.

This was the only time it rained while we were in Paris and it made all the lights reflect on the streets and seemed very romantic and had a certain movie glossiness to it.

The next day we had a lot to do before we had to leave for the airport at 5. First was to go to St. Chapelle, but before we got in, we had to wait in line for an hour to go in to the church. Then when we got in, it took about 5 minutes to take a few pictures. It was pretty but that hour line, really ridiculous.

Next was our last trip to the Louvre to finish it up. The first time we went during the day.

Lastly was Angelina. It is a tea-room/restaurant, and it was the only place that I really wanted to go eat all week and of course we left it to be the last thing we did. When we got there we were not sure we had enough time because there was line but we made it in and out in an hour (which is record time for Paris dining). I had their famous hot chocolate and their Mont Blanc (picture below). It was the best pastry ever!!

Then we went back and finished packing up our flat. Here is the picture of the inside and the one below that is the outside (we were on the 4th floor, which made those spiral stairs everyday fun).

We left our flat and there is a whole long story about how what should have taken us 40 minutes to get to the airport took us two hours because of the darn Metro strikes. We got to Amsterdam, and checked into our awesome hotel. The circle that you see on the bottom right corner is the shower and the glass doors close around that. Plus you can see the blue light above that. The toilet is the same way and the lights rotate colors. You can see the bed beyond that, and yes it was the whole width of the room.

Then we headed into downtown Amsterdam via train and walked around exploring from midnight to 2 AM. It was awesome, yet cold. We can not wait to go back there for a full vacation in the future.

The last picture of us from our trip, in front of the train station.

So that is our last two days of the trip and while sad that vacation is over, we are excited to be home and getting some rest. Now, we are looking forward to our two beach vacations next summer, where we get to relax.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Anniversary in Paris- Days 4 and 5

Well we are two tired Trusty's!! It has been an incredibly long two days for us. Lets start off with Wednesday. We decided to start using the 4 day Museum Pass that we had purchased since most of the museums seemed to be done with the strike. We started with the Catacombs (not on the pass but a definite must-do). I was super excited about this one but after starting off on the trek, I got a little scared. Not of all of the macabre, but of being underground in such a small space for so long. Here you can see how I was feeling as we started out.

This was the widest and most open part of the path. It was 1.47 miles worth of paths, 130 steps down and 83 up (these were tight spiral stairs and seriously hell).

Ben got scared (okay, not really).

A bunch of bones, and what looks like a sacrificial bowl.

Once we reentered the world of the living (not to mention fresh air and light), we headed a tad north to the Pantheon. Unlike the Roman Pantheon (which is one of my favorite buildings, despite not seeing it in person yet), this was more of a French Renaissance inspired version of the Pantheon. Still very pretty!

A short, crowded Metro ride later we were at the Rodin Museum. He was the sculptor who did "The Thinker". Here is a smaller version in the gift shop.....oh and a slightly smaller replica. The similarities are uncanny!

Across the street from this is the National Military Museum which contains the tomb of Napoleon.

Such a large sarcophagus for such a small man.

At this point we planned on taking the Metro to our next stop but started walking and kept going (we will get to our total mileage at the end of this day). We walked along the famed Champs-Elysees.

We ended at the Arc de Triomphe. Like the Eiffel Tower, it is huge and grand in person. So we finally get underneath it and are done taking pictures of the outside, and we see the door where you enter to go up and it is closed. There is a sign saying that it is closed due to the strike. We are little bummed but figure, we got to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower, which is higher, so this is no big deal.

We are getting ready to leave and all of a sudden the door opens and they tear the sign down. So we rush to the door, show them our passes and begin climbing the stairs. Remember the 83 spiral stairs at the catacombs we did this morning.........well this was 200!!!!!! It was worth it though because here is a great shot of Monmartre and Sacre Coeur (where we were the previous day).

We then walked down the 200 stairs and back to the opposite end of the avenue to the Louvre. We stopped for some dinner and then went into the Louvre to poke around for an hour. It is only open two nights a week and it was so cool. It felt like being at a sleepover with a bunch of strangers.

Not sure if anyone has ever heard of this little known artist Leonardo Da Vinci, but this is some chick he painted named Lisa.

And the "Venus De Milo".

So after all of the walking, we can accurately account for 6 miles that we walked, not including all of the stairs and other times where we retraced our steps and walking through the Metro stations.

So starting off Thursday, we were already pretty exhausted and sore. We got up and hunted down a patisserie to find some stuff to bring back with us and breakfast. Then we headed out to the suburbs to look at this adorable little hunting lodge known as Versailles.

The Hall of Mirrors.....well and us.

Isn't is cute!?!? Please, this place was obnoxious, ostentatious, gaudy but so awesome.

This was the little hamlet that Marie Antoinette built because she wanted the experience of the simpler country lifestyle within the confines of her palace. It actually was cute.

Looking back towards the house from the gardens.

So between the day o'stairs the day before and walking all over of this small country of an estate, I have two toes that are about to fall off. While we are sad to have to start winding our trip down, we are looking forward to resting when we get home.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Anniversary in Paris- Days 1, 2, and 3

So we made it through Amsterdam and to Paris with no problems. We checked into our flat at 2, got settled and took a nap. Around 6 we woke up, and went out to see the area around us. We are just a block away from the Tuileries Gardens so we took a stroll through there, over the Seine and back to the Louvre. This all took a couple of hours and by this time we were too tired to sit in a restaurant for supper so we settled on a street vendor and got 3 different kinds of crepes. Here is our little dinner back at our flat.

We started out our first full day, and our actualy anniversary at a cemetery. Yes, that is morbid but it was actually kind of cool. It is the Pere Lachaise Cemetery and it is practically a small city. There are so many people and families buried here and in an array of tombs. This also includes some famous people including, Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, and Chopin. This picture shows how they are just stacked on top of one another.

Next was a trip to Notre Dame. It is just a grand and beautiful as imagined.

Gorgeous stained glass.

We walked up north to see the Pompidou Museum (it is an architecture thing). We did not get to go inside but might try to later in the week.

We finished off the day with the Eiffel Tower. Ben wants it to be noted that this picture is not photoshopped.

Here is the view on the river from the 2nd floor.

Looking up from the 2nd floor.

This is us from the top, unfortunately you can not see the city behind us.

This is at night at the top of the hour, when it "sparkles" for 5 minutes. We were up at the top when it did it at 8, and we made it down to the bottom just in time to see it at 9 (yes it took us an hour to get down). I have to admit that the Eiffel Tower is so much bigger and more impressive in person than I ever imagined and we both loved going up to the top (despite the freezing temperatures, massive crowds and hurricane like winds).

Today began a city wide strike so a lot of the museums were closed and the Metro system was packed (had a major claustrophobia moment this day), so we did a self guided walking tour of Montmarte, major area for artists. Here is one the the famous Guimard's Art Nouveau signs.

We trudged up hills and alleys no wider than the two of us (yet cars managed to maneuver it just fine). We arrived at Sacre Couer, the Byzantine Basilica at the top of the hill, with majestic views of the entire city.

This is also the area where the Moulin Rouge is located. This is kind of a seedy part of town but one we can now say we have been too (and will probably never go to again).

We went to Les Deux Moulins, which is the restaurant featured in the movie Amelie. Here I had a hot chocolate and Ben had a super dark cafe which he loved.

We took 2 cramped Metro trains down to the Latin Quarter, which is where the university is located. Here is St. Severin's. It is basically a smaller, not as touristy or taken care of Notre Dame, but still nice.

Here is a fantastic view of Notre Dame from across the Seine in a park.

The Palais Du Luxembourg and gardens is basically a gigantic park, but where it differs from our parks in the US is that there are some benches but most people are sitting in chairs that are scattered around. Some people are by themselves and others in large groups.

See the chairs and the people just hanging out, despite the chilly temperature.

Finally we went to dinner at a cafe. We had wine, cheeses and beef bourguignon, just as we should in France.

Now we lay in bed exhausted after a day of walking at least 6 miles (and no clue how many miles the first few days). We are praying that this strike is over and we can visit some museums and not sit on overly packed subway cars.