Friday, July 30, 2010

This is every language we've used on our trip...French, German, Dutch and English.

It's been a busy couple days for us.

We took a detour and went to a little town called de Haan in Belgium. It was a perfect little beach town that we enjoyed immensely!

Last night we arrived in Amsterdam and today we are spending the day walking the city.

We leave tomorrow and head back to the States. I'll try to post more tonight!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Our last day in Paris was filled with a trip to the Eiffel Tower and climbing the Arc de Triomphe.

We had to do the touristy thing and take stupid pictures but we were laughing and ready to move on.

The top of the Arc de Triomphe had a fabulous view of the city. Sandy said she was done walking a bagillion steps so she stayed below and waved from afar!
We ate lunch on the most touristy street in Paris and watched all the tourists go by and decided that french women can be summed up in a few simple sentences...
-very natural looking, no highlights, very little makeup and simple haircuts
-sensible and good looking shoes, not necessarily expensive but comfortable and pretty
-dressed simply and always with a jacket of some sort to finish the outfit
-very little jewelry
-leather, well worn handbags, again, not necessarily expensive but good looking

We decided we all want to look french! Oh yes....THEY ALSO SMELL SO GOOD! Really! It was the first thing we noticed in Paris. You walk by a french women and she smells so good - very floral but sophisticated. We were determined to find that french fragrance and we did. On our fourth day, I walked into Sephora and said 'do you speak english', 'We want to smell like french women, please point us in the direction of the french scent'. They did and we all smell uber fabulous now!
We then ventured to the flea markets! WooHoo! It was awesome and I'll have to do a full blog on this when I get home.

I ended up buying these postcards to frame.
If only there was a way to get this home!We enjoyed crepes on the way home and finished our day with a party on the rooftop terrace!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Our Day Trip Out of Paris

On Sunday, we took a day trip out of Paris. We had actually planned to visit the Eiffel Tower and do some shopping but plans changed quickly. We got up late due to our late night out at the nightclub and as we were getting ready for our day we started to wonder if maybe we should check on times that the Chateau Versailles was open for our Monday trip. Low and behold it was closed on Monday. We quickly dressed, gulped our coffee, put on our sneakers and headed to the Metro for the 30 minute Metro ride.
Our 30 minute ride turned into a 90 minute ride because we took the train going the wrong way so not only were we started late but we were REALLY late because of the train ride. It was crazy and irritating but we arrived in Versailles and took a taxi to the Chateau and planned our strategy to see as much as possible while we could.

I have to say that we have been very lucky on numerous occassions throughout our trip. This day was another example of that luck. Of course, we were all a little irritated with ourselves that we were getting a late start and more irritated that we get in the enormous gates of the Chateau to see a line of hundreds of people waiting to buy tickets. We got in line prepared to wait at least an hour. After about 15 minutes, this lady from the Chateau walks up and asks if we would be interested in a private tour that would be leaving very soon. We say OF COURSE and off we went. IT WAS THE BEST THING EVER!Our tour guide, pictured here, was so knowledgable about the monarchy and the Chateau that it made our trip so much more enjoyable. We felt like we were in grade school with a strict teacher for the first 10 minutes but soon realized he had so much to say and share that we listened intently and nodded every time he said 'do you understand what I said'.
Did you know if was customary for aristocrats to create their own working farms on their palace grounds? Marie Antoinette had her own special Hamlet built with buildings that looked more like a medevial barbie doll village than a real working place but they had real people working there so they could experience life outside of their world. It was so interesting....and pretty!
The Palace is so extravagant that I can't even begin to think you would see the beauty in my photos. I'll include a few but you'll just have to look it up online yourself.

This sun dial clock was built for Louis the XIV and was created to tell date, month and year until 9999. It worked every day until two days before we arrived. The clock man was on vacation and they were anxious for him to return. Can you imagine when they made that clock and hand wrote the year 2010 on the dial? I wonder what they were thinking things would be like?

The gardens were UBER BEAUTIFUL! We spent most of our time in the gardens. We figured we walked at least 8 miles. Crazy beautiful!

My last thought as we left Versailles was how in the world did people walk on those cobblestone driveways and walkways in the shoes they had then and not break their ankles. They were so uneven and uncomfortable.

We also left Versailles thoroughly pleased that we had such a great experience and that we had gotten on the correct train to ge us home quickly! We planned out our last day in Paris and headed to bed with tired feet, full tummies and laughter.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Monday, July 26, 2010

It's our last night in Paris and what did we do? We bought wine, beer and cheese and sat on the rooftop terrace and enjoyed the evening while we recalled the horror of being pick pocketed on the Paris Metro. I'll tell you what! Those people are good!!! I had a sloughy bag that I think is hard to zip open and closed and they had it zipped open, hand in for my money purse and zipped up and I never knew it. It happened to my sister, too. But all is well. New cards arrive in Brussels tomorrow and the rest of our posse has money to share. Now I feel like a real Parisian!
These were some 100 bicyclists from Demark who traveled to Paris by bike for the Tour de France.

Did I tell you that the Tour de France ended here in Paris Saturday? While we were walking Champs de Lyeese we could see them setting up for some big event but had no idea until Sunday that it was the end of the Tour de France. We stayed far away from that area on Sunday and chose to do Versailles instead...but more on that tomorrow.

Saturday we started our day at the Catacombs. We wanted to go on Friday afternoon but when we got there and saw the line that went around the corner and down the street we decided to be the first to be in line on Saturday and we were! After a long wait...we got there an hour early because we still hadn't completely figured out the Metro yet...we went down under the streets and sewer systems of Paris to one of the most intriquing things I've ever witnessed. Long story short...when the cemeteries of Paris flooded hundreds of years ago, priests carried the bones of the buried to rest in the underground quarries of Paris. They prayed as the transported the bones and laid the bones to rest in patterns. There are plaques and altars along the route.
Do you remember the items that I showed on the blog yesterday that we took with us everywhere? One of those items was a flashlight that Kristi brought just for the Catacombs. It came in handy the first night in Paris when we were trying to find our flat and it was perfect for the underground walkways. Janet, we thought of you the entire time!

It feels so eery while you're walking through these damp, dark walkways knowing that you're going to see bones but you don't fully grasped it until you actually get there and understand how many people have their final resting place there. It was interesting but also sad that people actually try to steal the remains. We seriously had our bags searched when we left!Isn't that view gorgeous!

We then went to the Montmaure district of Paris which is where Sacre Cour, meaning Sacred Heart Cathedral, is located. Everyone said this was the best place in Paris and it definitely lived up to all the hype. Stunning views of the city and quaint streets. The Cathedral is a brilliant white and there are priests who pray here 24-7 to the Blessed Sacrament since the 1700's.

We mistakenly took the metro that had us walk up the back side of the hill but it worked out perfectly! Not only did we get to see a less touristy part of that area, but we found a junk pile...yes...I know...quit laughing. I did a 3 second scan and quickly snatched up an old book that was left for the trash man. As we walked away I opened it only to see that the name of the book was Prince de Crime! Seriously! It was another funny moment of our trip!

We did some shopping and walked the swanky Rivoli area. We didn't even realize we were walking by the President of France's House until the France version of the CIA were all over the place blocking the streets and crosswalks.

When we watched the guards changing places ...and we consulted our handy dandy Paris map...we realized where we were.
At this point, we were all exhausted and headed home for a short nap. Tine, the young one of the group...we figured out that our average age is 37 because she's with us!...was ready for a young night out in Paris.
Our short nap ended up being a loooonnng nap which is Parisesqe anyway. Nobody eats dinner here until 10pm. We went for a late dinner and the Brasserie owner told us that the club down the street was superb.
We were trying to take pictures secretly so no one knew we were tourists. After 2 mojitos...they ALL knew we were tourists!
He was right! The Baroque was perfect! I think we were the only tourists there because we seemed to be the one's on display. We danced and had the best mojitos ever! They even played disco!!! WOOHOO! to bed on my last night in Paris. More tomorrow from Brussels!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Another Lovely Day in France

Sorry it's been a few days since I posted last. We have been so busy with everything in Paris that by the time we get back to the apartment we are pretty much exhausted and taking turns using our computer. I'll try to get you as updated as I can.

I'll go back to Friday. That was our crazy tourist day! We had been on the open bus the day before and so we knew where we wanted to go and what we wanted to do right away. We first figured out the Metro. It's just like the books takes about two days to understand all the lines and then it was a piece of cake.

Here are the most important things that we take everywhere...the MOST important...the GermX! ...and the map!

We first went to Notre Dam...beautiful! The rose windows are the most beautiful things you'll ever see.

We explored the Hotel de Invalides which is the home for the tens of thousands of soldiers that King Louis IV had built for the injured soldiers returning from war. Now it's the resting place of Napolean.
Then we traveled to the Louvre. We didn't enter but enjoyed the Toulleries and the fountains. If we have time today, we are going back.

Along the way, we saw french men...
...and french women. Honestly...we had so much fun people watching! Obviously the french enjoy people watching also because every brasserie is set so everyone faces the street.

We ended our busy day with a trip to Angelina's for the best hot chocolate ever! We ordered big and had no idea how rich it would be.Today we are off to the Eiffel Tower, climbing the Arc de Trompe and the flea markets!

Monday, July 26, 2010