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, May 29, 2010

Paris Day Seven

Oh, our last day in Paris. It used to seem so far away! Today we got up early and I decided to have us walk to Musee d'Orsay instead of ride the metro. When you walk, you can see the city. We walked along the Seine to a sleepy Paris. Paris does not seem to wake up until about 10 a.m. We arrived at Musee d'Orsay in time to stand in line for tickets, but not as long a line as it could have been had we been later. We had breakfast at the cafe inside and Debbie and Brittany said they had the most delicious fresh squeezed orange juice that they had ever had. Debbie said it was just like drinking an orange. Mom and I thought the Pain au chocolat (a croissant with two strips of chocolate inside) was the best we've had so far. I was very disappointed during this trip to the museum. The Impressionist wing is under renovation so all of the impressionist art has been moved all around and ALL photography was strictly prohibited. Monet's cathedrals were not there at all, Whistler's mother was out, and most of Degas's ballerina paintings were not there. In order to see the famous ballerina sculpture by Degas, we had to pay an additional 1.50 euro to enter the Crime and Punishment special exhibition. We still have no idea why it was in there and a lot of what we saw in there we wish we had not seen. Debbie went around a corner and saw an actual guillotine! We ended up touring the entire museum looking for all the impressionist art. My companions were not disappointed however and soaked up everything they were seeing. All of them now have a new appreciation for sculpture too. After leaving Musee d'Orsay, we walked on rue du bac and stopped at the ATM and a brasserie for lunch. Lunch was rather unremarkable but still good. We found a large grocery store on the way and found the grocery carts quite interesting. They looked like little laundry baskets with wheels and handles. Debbie took one for a spin just to try it out. We entered the Rue du Bac station and popped out at Concorde for a peek at the Obelisk of Luxor and the place where Louis the XVI, Marie Antoinette, and approximately 1700 other people were beheaded over a period of time. Brittany finds it interesting that there are no street lines and that cars just go everywhere. Debbie says it proves her point about the reason for the number of sirens she hears. Back down into the metro to go to Opera. We had seen a split view of the inside of Opera in miniature at the museum. We have seen a lot of beggars in the metro, but the most interesting is the note written above. We found it most interesting that it was written in English and not French or Bosnian. She must have found a lot of gullible americans at some point. When we exited the metro, there were some people handing out free samples of cookies and some giant gold shoes to mark the arrival of the film Sex and the City 2. Behind Opera is Galleries Lafayette, a department store where we spent a couple of hours wandering and purchasing perfume. There were tons of people, not only because it was a Saturday, but because tomorrow is Mother's Day here. We also climbed to the top floor terrace to look out on Paris. It was beautiful and we were so glad we found it. We left Galleries Lafayette and went to the Duroc station and Montparnasse Blvd. Straight down the blvd is the restaurant where I ate with Sara Beth and our girls last year in January. This time we took a picture to remember the name. Our meal was delicious, but we still agree that the meal earlier in the week with steak and secret sauce was the best we had. We have climbed many stairs today but still not as many as yesterday. Mom said she can't wait to get on the airplane and sit still for 10 hours. I think I have worn out my companions, but we have covered a lot of ground and they all agree that they wouldn't have wanted to miss a thing. Tomorrow morning we leave for home and I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we miss our families and are ready to see their smiling faces!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Paris Day Six

You know it really is a small world....more on that in a bit. We left the hotel about 9:30 this morning to find the ATM and have breakfast before leaving for Montmartre. We stopped for pastries and hot chocolate at a local cafe on Ile de Cite and none of us were looking forward to the number of steps we knew we would climb today. Montmartre sits at the highest point of the city so there are a lot of steps to get out of the metro and then more to reach Sacre-Coeur, the white basilica that sits way up high overlooking the city. Upon arrival at Abbesses station, I led my group up the long winding stairs to the top only to find out that it wasn't the way out. To avoid more grimacing from my group, I showed them that there was an elevator and we rode down and then back up to the correct exit. Of course they wanted to know why I didn't show them the elevator BEFORE they climbed all of the stairs! Even though we follow the sign for "Sortie" (exit), it can still be confusing. To make it even better for them and keep them from killing me when they saw the many many stairs up to Sacre-Coeur, we rode the funiculaire up. It cost an extra metro ticket, but it was worth it. At the base of the stairs up to the church, Debbie and Brittany were entertained by a person who had painted himself completely white and was posing with a flower. If you dropped a coin in his cup, he would pose with you for a picture, or two, or three. He had a lot of funny faces! They thought it was a lot like New Orleans and used up all of their one cent and 5 cent coins to take a picture. Sacre-Coeur is not as beautiful inside as far as stained glass goes, but the architecture is unique and unlike the other cathedrals we have seen. It is still a beautiful church and when we arrived, many were taking communion. We listened as one of the nuns sang. It was beautiful to hear it echo off the stone walls. Sacre-Coeur is almost blinding white, especially in the morning when the sun is shining on it. And oh yes, we finally had a sunny day here in Paris. The building is built of a type of stone that turns whiter when it rains because it leaches limestone. Did I mention that it's been raining for two days so it seemed very very white to us? After leaving Sacre-Coeur we walked over to the Place de Tertre where the artists are set up with their art. We ate lunch at Chez Eugene which was very good. We ate Quiche Lorraine and French Onion Soup again. They taste different in different places. We sat next to Joe and Allyson Nixon from Lake Charles who are friends with George and Jane Fox's daughter Becky. Joe is Becky's son John's Godfather. I have no idea how we found that out but it was so funny we couldn't believe it! They couldn't believe they met someone from Lake Providence in Paris! My childhood friend Kate and her husband Tom from Austin arrived in Paris yesterday. We texted yesterday and found out we would all be in Montmartre at the same time. They found us, necks were hugged, and introductions made. Debbie and mom had not seen Kate for probably 18-20 years. Kate had never met Brittany and none of them had ever met Tom. Mom and Debbie both declared that Kate looked just the same. It's a really small world! We shopped for original art around the square going around and around several times until everyone found something that they wanted to go home with that fit within their budget. We even did a little bartering and it worked to our benefit. Having been here in the winter, I could see that prices were higher for the tourist season. While art shopping, a lady asked me if I thought she was getting a good price for the art piece she wanted to buy. I thought the price was good and when I asked where she was from, I found out that she and her daughter are friends with my Aunt Carolyn of Starkville, MS and play tennis with my cousin Stephanie in Greenville, MS. Did I mention it's a small world? We went back to the hotel after art shopping and dropped off our purchases. It was still early evening and my wonderful companions agreed to accompany me on a chocolate walk in the Saint Germain area. I had found it on the internet before we left and we were able to find every shop. We didn't buy something in every shop, but we did look and oooh and aaah. By the time we got to the last shop, it was closed but we were able to look inside. The last shop was the oldest chocolate shop in Paris founded in 1818. Mom was amazed that people (french people!) would actually stand in line outside of a shop to buy one of the beautiful desserts inside. Debbie has noted several times the number of sirens and ambulances we hear and see and said, "it's because of the way they drive here". This evening she was proved right. As we stepped onto the corner of Saint Germain, right in front of us, a taxi cab struck a motorcyclist. The motorcyclist flew off of his bike and hit a tree and his motorcycle went sliding down the road in front of the taxi as the taxi slammed on his brakes. The motorcyclist was able to stand up but sat back down quickly. Thankfully he was wearing a helmet. Within 2-3 minutes, police were on the scene. Mom's first instinct was to shove me and say, "Amy, you're a nurse!". My response was "I don't think I am licensed to practice in this country!". We watched as businessmen stepped from the cab, retrieving their briefcases and waiting to be questioned by police. It was very interesting to watch, but we really felt sorry for the guy with the motorcycle. By this time, we were starving and looking for a good meal. When we choose a place to eat now, we look for paper tablecloths. This is our indication that the prices are probably within our budget. Tonight we ate Pizza at a place on the corner of St. Jacques and Saint Germain near our hotel. It was similar to pizza in the U.S., but still different. The waiter was very friendly and blew us kisses and helped us a lot with the menu which was only in french. We liked him well enough to leave a tip. The tip is already included when you order in a restaurant, but only 5.5%. If you like your waiter, you can leave a little more. We enjoyed our meal and our neighbors who were from Norway but here on holiday for the French Open. They were fans of Roger Federer. Did I also mention that my sister has always been more outgoing than me and will strike up a conversation with anyone? Tomorrow is our last day in Paris. We have had a very fun and full trip. We still have one museum to see and a little shopping to do. We are hoping for another day of sunshine and then it can rain if it wants. Oh and the leaking in our bathroom has been fixed. The air conditioning had only been on for three weeks and apparently the compressor was freezing up and dripping our way. We are just thankful that we still have air conditioning!