Saturday, January 24, 2015

Paris, France {Part 2}

Day 11 - 09.14.13
Just as the day before, it was raining in Paris. We started with Musée d'Orsay, it's full of impressionism (Monet and Van Gogh). Being new to art in general, I'm not a big fan of modern art. David was in his element though. We left Orsay and crossed a bridge that is the second lock bridge, it seems the first may be full already. We walked through a garden that had a clear view of the Arc de Triomphe and started our way to it along the Champs-Elysées. Did a little bit of shopping. It took a second to figure out how to get to the Arc because you can't cross the extremely busy street. Instead, you have to go through the tunnel underneath. The parents stayed below because it was too tiring to climb up, but David and I took on the 274 steps to the top. There were more foggy views of Paris, but it was still so lovely, and a different view than Notre Dam. I loved all the streets coming away from the Arc, like a star. After a quick game of I Spy, we made our way down to the shivering grown ups.

Afterwards, we took a metro to explore Montmartre and stumbled upon a cute restaurant. I was able to practice a little bit of French and ordered as well as asked for the bill. It wasn't much, but I felt accomplished. When going to the Basilica of Sacré Croeur, we happened upon a service of some kind. It seemed like a graduation for monks. Of course we didn't understand anything, but it was still fascinating to watch. We ended the night with a chocolate shop, where we bought some macaroons. There was also a sculpture of the Notre Dame made entirely out of chocolate.

"Travel is about the gorgeous feeling of teetering in the unknown."
- unknown


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Paris, France {Part 1}

Day 10 - 9.13.13
We arrived the evening before via train from Brussels. Our host, Fredrick, greeted and showed us our adorable apartment (booked through airbnb). Dinner consisted of pesto pasta with bread & butter, salami, artichokes, and olives all purchased from the local grocery store, Monopix. Food is simpler in Europe, but seriously amazing. It's just on a whole other level that's hard to explain. After a good night's rest, we were prepared to start our Parisian adventure. 

It was a rainy day, but that didn't stop us. First on the list was to get a Paris museum pass, which covers pretty much everything, and is worth it because you skip the lines. You can buy one at any museum or tourist sight. We went to Sainte-Chapelle to get one and also to see the beautiful church. Sadly, a huge part was under construction, so you could only view one side. However, the detailed stained glass windows were incredible to see. The 1,113 scenes depicted in the 15 stained glass windows tell the story of mankind from Genesis through to Christ's resurrection. The Sainte-Chapelle was built between 1242 and 1248 to house the relics of the Passion of Christ. The most famous of these relics was the Crown of Thorns, acquired in 1239 for a sum that greatly exceeded the cost of building the Chapel itself. The relics that weren't destroyed during the Revolution are now kept in the treasury at Notre-Dame. While going through security, there were two young guys who loudly started serenading me in French. I had no idea what they were saying, so I just smiled, nodded, and walked away awkwardly. 

We then walked over to Notre-Dame de Paris, where we did a lot of waiting. Waiting to go inside, and then some more waiting to actually climb up to the towers. There was a service going on inside, but tourists were still allowed to walk around the sides and take photographs. I can imagine it's a bit awkward to those in attendance. After waiting about an hour, we began the 400 step climb (one way) up the towers. The views were magnificent. It was a foggy, misty Paris but nonetheless beautiful. We stayed up there a long time taking pictures and playing I-Spy. When I reached the bottom I was a bit dizzy (spiral staircase), and my legs were feeling shaky. I think we were all exhausted, but it was only noon, and we still had the Louvre to see. 

To find a lunch spot that was actually affordable, we did a lot of wandering away from the tourist stuff and happened upon this gem (pictured below). It was a bakery, but had baguette sandwiches that were delish. I however, filled up on two scrumptious coconut croissants. They were the best, and I still crave them today. 

 I promise we were having a good time, just exhausted is all (& no, we weren't posing).
But the day wasn't over! We spent the next 4-5 hours at the Louvre Museum. Oh goodness, was that crowded and overwhelming. It's impossible to go through everything, but of course we saw the most important paintings and sculptures like "Venus de Milo," and the "Mona Lisa." In regards to DaVinci's masterpiece, I have no idea why it's so famous. It's so over-rated. It was a tiny painting behind thick glass, surrounded by an enormous flood of people, and with guards around the walls standing next to "Beware, pick-pocketing" warning signs. The whole thing is a bit ridiculous in my opinion, but hey I can say I've seen it and cross it off the list. 

As we stumbled our way back to our apartment, I realized how much pain my feet were in. This being my first Europe trip, I really underestimated the appropriate footwear. I learned my lesson though - for next year that is.  

"Paris is always a good idea." 
- Audrey Hepburn