Tuesday, May 22, 2012



We woke up to the alarm and got ready to go over to Chateau de Versailles. It was directly across the street from our hotel – which is why we picked it! We got there about 10 minutes before it opened which was perfect. We were third in line. We went through security and viewed this amazing house. It seriously – is amazing.

The Queen's bedroom.  Nobody can pass the gate unless you are royalty.
The King's bedroom.  Troy found it odd that his ceiling was plain.  Nothing else in this whole chateau was plain. 
In the 'backyard'.
Apparently Kings have so much money they just build huge houses – get sick of them – and then build more of them. Then they turn the old houses into museums. The art was amazing. Everything about it was amazing…the gardens…the art…the furniture…the architecture. We left Versailles and headed toward our hotel in Paris. We decided to stop at Roland Garros – the location of the French Open Tennis Tourney. We had just missed the English tour – but walked around a bit and bought a can of tennis balls. We have now been to half of the Grand Slam arenas – in less than a week.
We then made our way to our hotel. It wasn’t as difficult as we expected. We got here and I am IN LOVE! The lady that owns the place booked a photo shoot with me – and she’s a very gorgeous Korean woman. To get here, you walk through a courtyard, and then you remove your shoes. We headed up 3 flights of stairs into our own apartment. She had me at 'remove your shoes'''''. It was clean and modern. No ancient things – but comfortable. A little kitchenette – a small bathroom – small, but useable. Did I mention it’s clean? Oh – and we can make free calls to land lines in the US, free. WIFI, it’s all so great. I love this place.
We got settled, and headed out. We decided to walk toward Notre Dame. We were both starving. I had eaten a granola bar and a glass of apple juice that morning – and it was now 3 and it was time to eat. We kept walking by café’s – not sure what to get – or which one to choose – we finally found one. We sat down to eat and it was fabulous. We got a 3 course meal for 12euro’s each. I got yummy mozzarella and cheese salad, Troy got a potato salad , but it was served on lettuce, I got lasagna and Troy got penne with tomato sauce. We finished it off with a crepe. So yummy. We both cleaned our plates. So good.

We continued to walk toward Notre Dame. Holy cow. It’s amazing. Huge. Old. We were too late to take the last tour to the top – hopefully we will have time tomorrow to go, but we were able to walk in around the chapel. They were doing a mass at the time and it was very interesting watching that. Definitely not anything I understand. Kissing plates and bowing…hmmm… The building was really amazing. It took 200 years to build.
After that – we got on a hop on hop off tour bus. We rode it around and saw the main sites and decided to get off at the Eiffel tower. Wow. I never in a million years dreamed I would see it in real life. It is amazing. We walked around, and down near a place where people were taking photos. I offered to take someones’ photo, and after a minute – somebody would walk up and say, take mine – you’re doing it for everyone else. I took about 4 couples photos, and then told Troy – we better get away fast, before someone else asks us!
This is my favorite photo of the Tour Eiffel. 
That skyscraper underneath the Eiffel Tower every Parisan HATES.  They want it torn down.  They say the best view of Paris is from the top of that - because you can't see it.
We hopped back on the bus and got off at the Louvre. Wow. All these old palaces that get turned into museums! They say if you stopped and looked at every piece of art in the Louvre for 1 minute, it would take you 4 months to see everything. It was closing when we got there, but I really would like to go see the Mona Lisa.
We walked across the Seine on a footbride and the bridge was covered in locks. I googled it and found out they are locks of love. It was crazy, because some of them were inscribed – others marked with fingernail polish, or a sharpie, the names of 2 lovers. This is definitely the city of love. People are making out all over the place!
We came back to the hotel and checked a few things out online – then we decided to take an nighttime boat cruise on the Seine.
It got to be a little chilly – but it was fun. We both find it enjoyable to take a relaxing cruise and listen to history. On our way to the cruise – I told Troy that I didn’t know how unfit people could travel. I swear we walk at least 15 miles a day. Some of the time, carrying everything we brought with us on our backs. Just don’t know how other people manage it. I am so exhausted by the time I lay down at night. We got a crepe and hot chocolate after our boat ride – and made it back to our fabulous apartment. Photo shoot in the morning with another long day of sight seeing. We have reservations to go up to the top of the Eiffel tower tomorrow evening. We planned to be up there at sunset…we will see how things go…


We woke up this morning and got ready for the photo shoot I had scheduled. It went really well. We did it at a gorgeous bridge in downtown Paris. It ended up that we traded the photo shoot for the hotel room – and she paid me a bit more. That is awesome! It was such a great place too!
After that was finished, we headed to Champs Elysees and Arc de Triomph.
Both of which are really cool to see, and say we've been there, but the Champs Elysees is just a big outdoor mall - and everything is much more expensive than at home. Just couldn't justify making a purchase. We then decided to go to Trocadero to a street fair. It was crazy. Probably ½ mile of stores. And – they weren’t just fruit. Whole butcher shops were set up! We bought a tiny container of raspberries and 6 oranges…cost: 13.50 euros. HOLY CRAP! It wasn’t remotely cheap!
We ate a baguette and some of our fruit on a bench on the side of the street and then headed to the Louvre.
You can see how small the Mona Lisa is from this photo.  I'm guessing about a 16x20. 
It is so enormous and all I really cared to see was the Mona Lisa. We made our way to see that – which was an experience in itself. There were signs everywhere that said to watch for pick pockets. Everyone is so busy looking up – they don’t pay attention to people bumping into them – cause the room that holds the Mona Lisa is wall to wall people. I wasn’t too worried. We had planned ahead and made sure we were not a target to pick pockets – there was nothing for them to take – unless the pried my 50 lb backpack from my back. After the Louvre, we went to Notre Dame to climb to the top. It was so awesome! The view was amazing! It was an overcast day – and chilly in Paris. It took 200 years to build. Insane!
We had some time before our reservation at the Eiffel Tower, and we wanted to go to Montmarte – where the movie, Midnight in Paris, takes place. Well, we got off the train – and we both felt unsafe. It was crazy there. There were some guys trying to tie bracelets onto us, and we wanted no part in that. We walked down the street – turned around – and got back on the metro. We decided to eat at a street vendor for dinner – sandwiches – and then got a crepe for the Eiffel Tower Line. When we got there – we realized that the police had shut the Eiffel tower down! There were over 50 strikers that had chained themselves to the top. So – we didn’t get to go up the tower. Totally bummed. At this point – it was 7:30 at night and we were cold and decided to ride the bus to get souvenirs for the kids, and head home to call them.
I truly loved being in Paris. I didn't enjoy all the smoking that went on - but I LOVED walking around. Listening to the street music, seeing people sitting in the outside cafe's, and just feeling like I had gone back 50 years. Here are my favorite photos of Paris.
I am imagining the music now...it's so great - and everything you expect it to be - but once you're there, it's just incredible!
This is my FAVORITE photo.  Why?  I don't know...it just HOLLERS...you're in Paris to me.  The waiter...the outdoor cafe...the building...I will be printing this big.
This is the Bastille.  I think this monument was built on the place where all the be-headings took place.
Sigh...blue door...windows...LOVE LOVE LOVE!
Luckily for me, on our way home, we passed a Patisserie. This HAS to be my favorite thing ever. So many goodies in one spot. I chose 2 - one for when we got home and one for breakfast. So yummy.
We were both exhausted! We talked to the kids on the phone – and then stuck in our awesome ear plugs and face masks – and were off to sleep! I am SO GLAD I have had those ear plugs! They are these blue putty looking balls. You seal off your ear – works great. Tomorrow we are off to Le Mont Saint Michel!

DAY 10
We woke up and got ready and headed to the airport to pick up our rental car. We are headed to the countryside of France and plan a stop in Normandy on our way to Le Mont Saint Michel. Our rental car is awful. It smells like cigarette smoke so bad – I drove with the windows down and the heater on for the first hour. The country was beautiful. Driving is so much better here than it was in England. We splurged for a GPS – and my life was fabulous. No navigating for me. From Paris to Normandy – or Omaha Beach – it took about 4 ½ hours. It was worth it. We went into a Museum and watched a video on what happened on DDay. Afterwards we walked down to the beach. I was surprised at how emotional it made me. I am so grateful those young boys were brave enough to get off the boats and try to make it past the beach while being shot at and seeing their friends die around them!
The Wings of Hope:  so that the spirit which carried these men on June 6, 1944 continues to inspire us, reminding us that together it is always possible to change the future.  Rise, Freedom!:  So that the example of those who rose against barbarity, helps us remain standing strong against all forms of inhumanity.  The Wings of Fraternity:  So that this surge of brotherhood always reminds us of our responsibility towards others as well as ourselves.  On June 6, 1944 these men were more than soldiers, they were our brothers. 
We headed to the American Cemetery. It was amazing. It was such a large property – and I thought it was beautiful and fabulous. I'm so glad the US spent money to make it a beautiful place!
We had 1 ½ hours to go to Le Mont Saint Michel. Mont Saint Michel is what Disney based the Tangled castle after. At high tide - it's completely surrounded by water except for a roadway. Troy’s back was hurting from driving all day – and hauling our heavy packs around. We hadn’t eaten all day either. I ate a few granola bars – but other than that – not much. We got to the island and checked in to our room. We headed to the local village to eat dinner. Nothing exciting – just expensive. At dinner – we had both decided we were ready to come home. We miss the kids. Troy doesn’t enjoy traveling internationally. I was really worried about not speaking French – it was okay while we were in Paris – but being in the country – hardly anyone speaks English. It was hard. At the restaurant tonight – they had to go find a menu in English for us. I want to just enjoy being here. I know I will never come again. I think this castle is amazing. Seeing the photos does not do it justice.
We are going to bed tonight so we can wake up early to make it to the top to see the Abbey.

  DAY 11
We slept well last night. It was more sleep then we have gotten in awhile – and I was wide awake at about 6. Even though we didn’t have to be awake until 9 this morning. We stayed in bed – trying to go back to sleep. Our rental car stunk so bad – I didn’t want to shower – I didn’t even want to waste the very few clean clothes we had at this point just because our car was an ashtray. I know, it should be opposite, but I knew we would spend the whole day in the car on the way back to the airport – about 6 hours. So – we woke up, got our clothes from yesterday on – and headed up the hike to the abbey. (I know, it sounds gross – I choose to think of it as ‘going french’.) The abbey was amazing. There were some major steps on the way up – but I didn’t think it was that bad. There were definitely people struggling up the stairs. Makes me very grateful for my active lifestyle. Being out of shape is an awful feeling. The abbey was amazing. It’s so old! It’s thought to date back to 708! We were the first ones there, and it was so wonderful. We walked around almost completely by ourselves. Nobody was in our pictures – it was so great! (I highly recommend getting to places as early as possible).
As we were leaving, tons of tour buses, school groups, and people were flooding up. I was so happy we stayed directly on the island that night! There were 2 things I wanted a photo of as we drove away...the island...and these crazy trees. I call them Dr. Seuss trees - but they were all over the countryside.
On our way back to Paris, we wanted to stop in a little town of Chartres. We were told there were lots of toll roads in France. We had paid extra for a gps and we bypassed all the toll roads. It took us about 45 minutes longer – but so worth it. I’m sure we saved a ton of $$. Our gps told us that it would take about 5:42 hours to get from Mont St Michel to Paris by way of Chartres. We drove again through the gorgeous countryside of France. It was so interesting how there were little towns – all with a church in the middle – and then surrounded by green fields. It was such an interesting thing. A reminder of what is important. What should be your ‘center’. Chartres was a quaint little town. We weren’t there long. Only long enough to go in the abbey and take some photos – and it was a well needed leg stretch for us. I wanted to get my last crepe of the trip – but the creperie was closed.
We got back in the car and made it back to the airport. We are now sitting in the airport waiting for our flight to London. We have had an amazing trip. We are happy to go home – but are grateful for our trip. We couldn’t decide what our favorite part was! We have seen and done so many things! I will always remember this trip…so very worth it!


Trisha said...

Looks absolutely amazing. What a fun trip!

troy said...

A couple more years and we can do another European vacation. Italy? Austria?