WELCOME TO MY TRAVEL BLOG

I have always enjoyed traveling, even if it meant sleeping in a tent when I was younger. I prefer hotels and cruise cabins now, but the motivation is the same...an adventure waiting to happen. Sometimes you will find me traveling with my husband and/or family. Sometimes I will travel alone, and sometimes I will travel with friends. I hope you find it entertaining to keep up to date with me as I explore the world around me. Warning...I like to take pictures of food so don't read if you're hungry. More adventures await...see ya soon...Amy.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Paris, France: Our Last Day

We slept a little later this morning because it was our last day and we have had some late evenings and early mornings. Staying at the apartment has been really nice because it has allowed us to wake up on our own schedule and eat what and when we want or for some, not to eat at all! There were several things we had not done yet and hoped to do today and we were successful. The most important thing was beautiful weather once again! The first thing we did was to go out to Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. Hallie had discovered this gem of a park on her last short visit to Paris and really wanted us to see it. It was beautiful and is now a new favorite place of Danny's. There is a gazebo located at the highest point of the park with a beautiful view over the city. There is also a manmade waterfall in the park which looks natural. It is a lovely surprise in the Park. After wandering in the park we took to the metro to the Arc du Triomphe. We had read that there might be an elevator there to take us up and to our surprise there was....but only for the moms. Danny and the girls had to climb the 280+ stairs to the top. Danny and planned to do it all along but the girls were quite surprised that they would be climbing as well. The views from the top were amazing and we took a lot of pictures. We had lunch nearby and then Danny left us so we could go back to Saint Germain and do some more shopping. We had fun wandering the street and popping back into a different H&M and a different Zara. We had supper at an Italian restaurant that we had visited a couple of nights ago that did not have room for us. The owner greeted us at the door and remembered Danny. He read the menu to us and we (not Danny) all looked at each other and wondered what we eat as most of it had goat cheese with it. We are not a fan of goat cheese but Danny was thrilled! The owner said he could make anything we wanted and he would make it without goat cheese. Caitlin ordered off the menu and got a veal ravioli in a butter and  sage sauce, Danny ordered the special off of the menu, I ordered another special which was pasta with asparagus in a lemon and butter sauce, everyone else got pasta or the ravioli with a meat sauce that he created just for them. It was a delicious meal and we will definitely go there again. This is our last day here in Paris as we will return home tomorrow. We spent the rest of the evening packing and looking at all of our pictures. We have a car picking us up tomorrow at 10 a.m. so we will not have an early morning tomorrow unless there is packing left to do. It has been such a wonderful trip!

Friday, June 15, 2018

Paris, France: Versailles

Today was another beautiful day! We awoke early to catch the RER train to Versailles. I had read that we needed to be there before it opened to get in line. We purchased tickets last night online and it wasn't until Danny had purchased them that he saw that they needed to be printed. We did not have a printer in our apartment so we decided to just wing it and hope we could get through with the receipt and the bar codes he had received when he purchased. We made our way by metro to the RER line. The RER train was a little too comfortable and we all fell asleep! I woke up when I heard some people talking about Versailles and realized we were stopped at the station! After I woke everyone up we quickly exited the train. Versailles is very close to the train station and we found our place in line. We were thankful we had arrived early as the line quickly formed into a long trailing line. We didn't have to wait long and we were thankful that they were able to scan each code and let us in! At Versailles you can pick up free tour recorders that play a description of what you are seeing when you press the appropriate number of what you are looking at. I thought this was a great idea and it was very helpful as we had no clue what we were looking at in the Palace. After touring our way through the palace we exited into the beautiful manicured gardens. Versailles is enormous and it would have taken most of a day to walk and see all of it. We decided to just visit the fountains that had a music or water show. We liked two out of three of what we saw. We also ate lunch in the gardens which was very convenient! After touring what we wanted to see of the gardens, we boarded a tram to take us out to the Petit Trianon. We didn't really have time to tour the Trianon as well. The Petit Trianon was really interesting to tour because there is a Hamlet there that was created under the instruction of Marie Antoinette. It was a little Austrian style mini home place designed as a retreat for the Queen and her children. There was a working dairy as well as many vegetable gardens. It was a stark contrast from the opulence of the Palace. After touring the Hamlet and then stepping inside of the Petit Trianon (her mini palace retreat), we boarded the tram back to the Palace. We were ready for a snack at this point and found a little ice cream shop in town before getting on the RER and going back to Paris. We had some time at home to relax and nap until dinner. Dinner was with our family Laurene, her husband Benjamin, their son Lucas and Laurene's mom, Cathy! Cathy came from Limoges just to see us. Laurene chose a restaurant local to them, and it was delicious! There were a lot of unfamiliar dishes on the menu and we weren't sure if we would like them, but everyone was happy with what they chose. The girls even tried Foie Gras! They could not convince their mother's to try it though. We enjoyed playing with Lucas, who we had not seen since he was a baby! It was such a great ending to a fun day!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Paris, France: Eiffel Tower and Impressionists

We woke up to sunny skies today and left our umbrellas at home. We went straight to Musee D’Orsay and there were NO lines. We were so thrilled. We went straight up to the 5th floor to take pictures in front of the giant clock before taking in the Impressionist art on the same floor. We specifically were looking for Degas ballerina art and sculptures. In years past the Impressionist and Post Impressionist art have been on the same floor. The post impressionist art has moved to a lower floor and that is where we found the Van Gogh art. We left the museum and planned to go to the Eiffel Tower but stopped for lunch first. We ate at Le Bosquet over near the Eiffel Tower and it was delicious. Their macaroni and cheese has quite a following and after eating it understand why. It is all cheesy and creamy!  After lunch we stopped for ice cream and that was when the zero percent chance of rain became 40% and we decided to go back to the apartment and wait out the rain showers. After a little rest time there, the skies dried up and we were able to go to Trocadéro for a splendid view of the Eiffel Tower. Lots of photos were taken before we left the area and began the trek down. It always surprises me how huge the Eiffel Tower is. We stopped along the way for a delicious crepe. There is construction going on around the Eiffel Tower so you cannot walk under it to get to the other side. This was really disappointing but we made the best of it. We walked all the way to the other end of Champs de Mars and went in search of our dinner restaurant. Before we found it, we stopped in to Rivoli Art Studio to see which artists were in and what they were working on. We were in for a treat because the artist we visited with on Maddie’s trip was still there and was in the building! He did a little drawing for Caitlin and the girls enjoyed visiting with him. We were getting hungry and we wanted to try a nice Italian place that was highly rated on Trip Advisor but we ended up needing a reservation as they were full. The next place we found was the same way but we got lucky on the third try. We did not get to eat Italian but I had the best hamburger I have eaten in a long time. After eating we jumped On the metro and made it out to Trocadéro just in time to see the Eiffel Tower twinkle. It twinkles at the top of the hour beginning at dusk every hour and the twinkling lasts for about 5 minutes. It’s one of my favorite things to see! Tomorrow is a trip out to the Palace of Versailles and I certainly hope that the Zero percent chance of rain is accurate. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Paris, France: Shopping And Family

We were excited to see sunny skies this morning! Today was a shopping day in Saint Germain de Près. This is my favorite area of Paris. Perhaps it is because it is an old part of Paris or perhaps it is because all of my favorite chocolate and macaron shops can be found there! I left the apartment early to make a trip to City Pharma, the discount Pharmacy where I purchase my lotions and potions. Everyone else met me in the neighborhood after I was done. They had hoped to have a crepe while they waited but couldn’t find a crepe stand open. We spent the morning traipsing all over in search of mine and Danny’s favorite chocolates, cookies and caramels. We stopped for a quick look in Saint Sulpice cathedral and then on to Bon Marche department store to see the beautiful escalator and make a bathroom stop. Danny left us to take our purchases back to the apartment and to pick up his phone, which he had left behind. We met up again for lunch and then went on to find the St Michel fountain. We also located the narrowest street in Paris. We wandered over the Seine to tour Notre Dame and then walked on Ile Cite to get some Bertillion ice cream for some of us and also crepes at a nearby crêperie for those that still wanted one. It was all so delicious! There was a colorful little street, Rue Cremieux, a short distance away that the girls really wanted to see. Apparently it is a frequently instagrammed street of little colorful home-fronts. We took some time taking pictures there and I noticed there were several people walking through and also taking pictures on this little hidden street. We were quite tired at this point and had very sore feet so we went back to the apartment to rest before dinner. We went to dinner at Vincent and Sophie’s and were so excited that ALL of the children were there including Axelle! Preparing a meal at their home is truly a family affair. Vincent made amazing stuffed mushrooms, Sophie and Augustin prepared our meal of Magret de Canard (Duck breast), a roasted vegetable medley of Eggplant, Zuchinni, and tomatoes and also scalloped potatoes. Oh it was so yummy!! Sophie and Albane prepared our dessert of apricot tart and chocolate mousse. No one left the table hungry tonight. We had such fun conversation. The highlight of the evening was the news that Augustin (with tutoring from Axelle) had passed his exams and also a mini concert from Albane on the piano and the guitar. We did not arrive home until very very late but everyone agreed that tonight’s meal with family was a highlight of the trip! 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Paris, France: Rainy Day and Shopping

Today we woke up to rain and decided it was a good idea to visit a museum. Apparently everyone in Paris decided to do the same thing. After standing in a very long line for what we thought was the line for tickets and entry (with our umbrellas), we discovered that we were only in the line for entry. Danny went to stand in the line for tickets and the line was so long and we were just standing in the rain so we decided to bail on that plan and go to Galleries Lafayette. We enjoyed visiting and shopping on the different floors. Danny visited a couple of cafes within the store while we were shopping. He said he had some delicious hot chocolate! We left Galleries Lafayette for lunch at a pizza/Italian spot nearby that was delicious! After lunch, Danny picked up some things from the grocery store and ran a couple of errands before returning to the apartment. The ladies spent the rest of the afternoon shopping at Zara, H&M, and Forever 21. We have a favorite restaurant in Paris, Les Relais del Entrecôte and that was what was on the menu tonight! We hopped on a metro and met Danny at the metro stop near the restaurant. Dinner was delicious!!! We were glad we made the call to abandon the museum and just go shopping. We stayed dry and had a lot of fun! Until tomorrow...

Monday, June 11, 2018

London, United Kingdom: a Taste of London

I am naming today “a taste of London” because we barely brushed the surface of everything there is to see in London. We arrived very early (6:30 or so) at the train station to check in for the Eurostar. Unlike taking the train around France and arriving 15 min before your train departs, we needed to arrive 1 hr before the Eurostar departed. Once we arrived we could see why! The line to check in was very very long! We first needed to scan our ticket (once the line finally arrived at the kiosk) and then we went through security to leave Paris and then security to enter the U.K.  All of this took about 40 minutes so we were glad we heeded the instructions to arrive early. Our train ride took around 2 hrs to go to London and we all took a little cat nap. Once we arrived in London we went straight to Westminster Abbey. We had hoped to tour ourselves inside, but the line to go through security and enter was soooooo unbelievably long! We knew we had a lot to see and only a limited amount of time so we opted to just take a few pictures and move on. Big Ben and part of Parliament are completely shrouded in scaffolding as they do restoration work to the structures. We took the Tube (subway) over to St James Park, near Buckingham Palace. We walked alongside the park and were surprised to see the Palace guards, horses and band preparing for something. We didn’t realize it was for the changing of the guard! The changing of the guard happens at 11 am and we were able to find a spot along a rail to watch the pomp and circumstance happen.  Unfortunately for Caitlin she didn’t feel well and I left with Laurie to find a bathroom. Thankfully there was one in the park! We were dismayed to see that it cost 20 pence (which we did not have) but we explained to the attendant that Caitlin wasn’t well and she let her go in for free. We were so grateful. With Caitlin feeling better, we met up with everyone else and went walking to find our next destination, Harrods. Danny was navigating and accidentally navigated us to the bus station instead of the train station but then successfully brought us to Harrods. We walked into Harrods on the ground floor and wandered through the many food halls ooing and ahhing. We didn’t stay long or check out the other floors because we were getting pretty hungry. Around the corner from Harrods is Tattersalls Tavern. We think they have good Fish and Chips and everyone ordered it and ate their fill. Laurie said she has enjoyed all the food thus far but this may have been her favorite. The food is served with “plain peas” or “mushy peas”. We all chose plain but Danny and Laurie were the only ones who ate them. After lunch we went in search of Tower Bridge. I explained to everyone that this is not THE London Bridge although this is THE bridge associated with London. It is iconic. We took pictures in front of the bridge while Danny took a seat in the shade and watched us. He has figured out that pictures of everyone take awhile and he is so patient to wait. After looking at Tower Bridge and talking about the Tower of London and it’s history and importance, we went looking for a snack at Covent Garden. It was here that we found gelato and sorbet from Venchi and cookies from Ben’s cookies. We took the time to eat our snack and went in search of a Starbucks for a free bathroom, stopping along the way to shop for some souvenirs. After our bathroom stop we searched for a nice photo spot to take pictures of the London Eye. We found that on the  Waterloo Bridge and I reminded Debbie that we had stood on that bridge with meme and Brittany several years ago to take pictures. We did not have time to ride the London Eye so we had to be content to just look. Our time was quickly shortening before we had to return to the train station so we did not have time to go inside of Westminster Abbey. We decided to go back to the train station a few minutes early so we could find a sandwich to take on the train. With our meal in tow we boarded the train and reflected on our lightening fast tour of London giving everyone just a taste of what London has to see. There is so much more and maybe one day they will return to spend more time there. We were blessed with beautiful weather today in London and hopefully tomorrow we can tolerate the rain that we are expecting in Paris. Until tomorrow...

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Paris, France: A day in Montmartre

Our first full day in Paris was predicted to be a very rainy day but overnight the forecast changed to a lot less rain and we decided to spend the day exploring Montmartre. Montmartre is the home of the highest point in the city, Sacre Coeur, as well as local artists and lots of graffiti. The streets are very steep and winding. We rode the metro up to Anvers station. I prefer Anvers to Abessess because Abessess has tons of stairs just to get out of the metro. With Anvers we walk up one street to the base of Sacre Coeur. Another advantage of the Anvers stop is the crepe store that’s at the end where Danny likes to stop every time and get a crepe. I love the carousel located at the end of the street as well. We began our climb up the many many stairs to beautiful Sacre Coeur, the Roman Catholic Church at the top of the hill. As  we climbed we stopped to take in the view  as well as listen to a beautiful harpist.  The girls also took pictures with a mime. I need to check old pictures and see if Brittany and Maddie also took pictures with the same Mime. We had to go through security and show inside our bags before entering the church. I have never had to do that before. There is also a sign saying “no photos” but there were so many people taking pictures inside that we just joined in. No one was asking people to stop? There was a service starting when we left and we were able to hear the beautiful organ playing. After leaving the church we shopped at a couple of places on our way to Place de Tertre where the artists ring the square. We walked all the way around until we found an artist whose artwork we Individually liked. We made a few purchases and then walked to Koff for lunch. It was good! The girls and Laurie ate quesadillas, I had a grilled chicken sandwich, debbie ate a hamburger and Danny ate what he thought was a traditional goat cheese on toast sandwich. He was super surprised to see iceberg lettuce for his salad! We all agreed it was a good lunch and gave us a moment to rest our feet! After lunch we continued to hunt for street art and walked uphill to La Maison Rose, the “pink house” so frequently visited by tourists for photographs.  We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around Montmartre for street art, eating gelato at Amarino and popping into a couple of stores. We arrived back to the apartment around 5 for a little rest. We ate supper at Bistro Victoires which we all agreed was delicious and the prices couldn’t be beat! Our jet lag is improving and I believe we are all ready to tackle a day trip to London tomorrow. Until tomorrow!!!