Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Paris Jour 3

We were excited to start day 3 out at the Catacombs... I missed them when I went in 2005 and several people said they were a "don't miss" attraction.... Coleman was so excited for us to see all of the bones and skeletons too. However, we got there and the line was so long that the person working at the entrance said he didn't know if we'd get in before closing time (there's that darn closing time again!) and we decided that the world wouldn't end if we didn't see the Catacombs.

I'm still intrigued by the idea of so many bones underneath the city, spanning such a wide area, so the Catacombs are certainly on our list of things to do next time. We told the kids that we hoped to take them there in the next few years so Coleman will be thrilled to see it person rather than just through photos.

We took off walking and went to the Cemetery of Montparnasse. Their cemeteries are very full and have much more variety in headstones. We thought they looked really neat... on first glance one might think that they were all very old, but there were quite a few newer headstones interspersed with the really old ones.

Some were black, some were white, some had flowers of varying heights. Some were flat, some were tall, some housed family members all. (Please read in the style of Dr. Seuss, just because.)

I thought the one above was especially interesting.

Some of them even had ornate stained glass on them. The one on the right had three walls with stained glass windows, and the door had a cross carved into it so you could look in and see the stained glass.

It's kind of hard to see the detail (I'm sure Ryan got a better picture) but you get the idea.

Having gotten our fill of the cemetery, we set off to find a street that my dad lived on as a missionary many years ago... it wasn't too far away, and it was fun to walk through the area called Montparnasse.

He lived on the third floor above this boulangerie (bread shop) and patisserie (pastry shop) and he said that the smells were wonderful in the mornings. I can only imagine! I think I would have a hard time focusing on missionary work with heavenly scents wafting through the windows.

He lived in No. 126 which is humorous only because Ryan kept thinking it was some other random number and I had in my head that it was No. 24. We walked to where the street ended before figuring out that No. 24 did not exist and that we might need to look at the email my dad sent with the correct address. Thank goodness we brought it with us! It was pretty surreal to be in the same spot that my dad served as a missionary. I kept wondering what life would have been like for him during that time. His mission stories are legend (aren't they all?) and I know that in a large way his experience as a missionary helped me decide to serve a mission.

We couldn't possibly be there without going into the boulangerie. I had grand visions of telling the person working there that my dad had lived above the shop many years ago, but with my french as limited as it was, I didn't think I'd be able to get the message across. Since we were out of the touristy area of Paris, she didn't speak English either (or Spanish). She did understand when I asked if it was okay to take pictures of her cases filled with delights of all kinds.

I loved the way they presented all of these pastries, they are so beautiful.

Those are quiche pieces on the bottom... we took a Lorraine to go and a couple of other treats.

The worker and another customer laughed out loud when I finished up by saying, "Merci pour votre patience" I'm sure because I slaughtered the pronunciation and the numbers that I tried to say as I was ordering. Oh well... I had my baguette and my pastries, they had their money, and we were all happy.

We thought these Eiffel Tower cookies were a hoot, so we bought one and hopped on the Metro to go to our next destination. (They didn't taste as good as they looked, but I'd still buy the cookie cutter if I found it!)

Our next stop was the Musee Rodin, where we promptly found the courtyard outside and opened up our packaged goodies from the patisserie.

Ryan chose a caramel eclair that was filled with custard. It was delicisous--the glaze on top was more like caramelized sugar rather than actual caramel. I chose a raspberry tart, and it was divine too. We ate our quiche cold--Ryan wasn't a huge fan, but I thought it was wonderful.

The larger sculptures of Rodin were interspersed throughout the courtyard and garden area. Ryan's standing outside the "Gates of Hell" which could be a premise for all sorts of jokes... but I'll let you fill in the blanks.

This is "The Thinker" and I loved this view with the Eiffel Tower in the background.

Inside the museum they had some of Rodin's smaller sculptures. This is "The Kiss."

This one is called "The Secret" (I think). I liked Ryan's smile in this picture.

I loved this one... it's called the "Hand of God." We really enjoyed the Musee Rodin, he has some amazing sculptures.

Very close to the museum is "Invalides" which includes this dome church. We took a walk over there to check it out. I hadn't seen it the first time I went, so it was fun to discover something new. The dome church houses the remains of Napoleon and other notable people from French history (again, wishing I'd read up on history before I left).

The gold on top of the dome made this church different from the many others we had seen and makes it visible in the Paris skyline, particularly from places on high (the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the bell tower at Notre Dame).

On the grounds on the way in we grabbed a photo with this police officer--my sister Erin has a thing for police officers and men in uniform which was a funny thing about our trip in 2005, so we took this picture for her. I'm sure the guy thought we were nuts, but that's okay, the picture made Erin smile.

So we went into the tombeau de Napoleon.... and were amazed with all the marble it was decorated in. (I wonder if Napoleon laid out all the plans before he died? He didn't seem to be a man with humble taste, but rather had a thing for recognition of his wonderfulness... even though that's not a word.)

Napoleon's body is in this huge marble coffin in the middle of the church. How would it be to be so important?

The tomb is on the lower level, but you can see it all from the rotunda on the entry floor.

What tomb is complete without a statue with gold leafing?

Outside the building there was this funny sign... the lawn is prohibited...no walking on the grass!

I thought this was a neat view of the French flag. We walked some more and hopped on the Metro to find Poilane bakery that my friend Rebecca said she wished she had been able to go to. They are well known for their delicious bread.

I knew I liked this patisserie even before we went... I had checked out their website and drooled over their crusty bread.

The window displays had all sorts of things made out of baked bread and you could special order loaves with messages baked into them. We got some bread to eat later that night and it was just the right amount of crusty and chewy to be perfect (Ryan wasn't as impressed, but I loved it). I thought it was interesting that they sold their sliced bread by the kilo instead of by the loaf. That made it interesting to try to order the amount that I wanted (again, not in a real touristy part of town, so communication was limited). Thanks for the good recommendation Rebecca!

We continued on our way in search of the Statue of Liberty (a smaller replica of the one in New York) on the Ile de Grenelle. This was the only part of town where we saw graffiti (aside from the Metro tunnels)... and we caught one girl in the act. She didn't seem to care at all that it was broad daylight and that there were lots of other people around.

We found it! It's quite a bit smaller than the one in the US, but it was fun to see. It is pretty far off the beaten path, so we didn't see it last time I was in Paris. It IS within walking distance of the Eiffel Tower, so we took off walking again...

I loved this view of the Tower with the boats and the river.

There was a long walkway over the river that we were on going towards the Eiffel Tower. It was lined with trees and had benches along the way. It was so romantic!

Another great view of the Tower.

We stopped at our favorite creperie and got this--a crepe with Nutella and bananas. It was so messy but SO yummy. I'm happy to report that Costco sells Nutella. It was one of the first things I bought when we got back, although I haven't yet opened it.

We spent the evening taking photos of the Eiffel Tower. There were guys all over selling Eiffel Tower key rings and trying to get men to buy red roses for their wives/girlfriends/etc. by obnoxiously sticking the roses in the women's faces. They obviously didn't have permits to be selling because they would take off running whenever a police officer came around. It was a fun place to people watch while Ryan set up his camera gear and took (endless) photos.

A lot of the churches didn't allow tripods (they said it was a security risk?) but he was free to use it here and got some great photos of the Tower at night.

We had someone take this picture of us... but dangit, we moved too soon, so it's a little blurry. Oh well... it shows that we were actually there, in front of the Eiffel Tower, in Paris, together.

I don't know about you, but I'm in the mood for some crusty bread or a crepe smothered in Nutella. I might just need to open that bottle...

Stay tuned for Jour 4!

Monday, April 27, 2009

MoTab Memories

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming (the rest of Paris is coming!) to honor my mom who just retired from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They have a policy of retiring choir members after 20 years of service or after their 60th birthday, which ever comes first. On Sunday, April 26th my mom's service in the Choir ended and we got to share her special day.

Olivia wrote this sweet note to my mom, unprompted and unaided. She is so thoughtful and expressive.

The flowers at Temple Square were in full bloom and beautiful!

Grandpa Mike is an usher on Temple Square. He always says he is the Choir's biggest fan... and he was blessed to have a church assignment that let him be there each Sunday!

Kids have to be eight to stay in the Tabernacle, so Ryan sat with Coleman in the observation room. Aren't they handsome?

Our family took up almost a whole row... here are Steph, Liv, Katty, and David.

Lindsey, me, and Olivia... we had to wait quite a while for things to get started.

The Choir sounded beautiful for their 4,152nd historical broadcast. It's amazing that they have been around for so long.

After the broadcast President Monson came out and talked to the Choir members. He decided he wanted to play the organ and gave us all a nice little show!

Mack Wilberg (Choir Director) went through each retiring member (23 in all that day!) and recognized their family and friends and then read a "eulogy" written by the Choir member where they got to express their thoughts and feelings. Some were humorous and all were filled with humility and gratitude for the opportunity they'd had to sing with the Choir. The picture above shows my mom standing up during her turn and Mack said this about her, "Madeline, we thank you for your pleasant and genuine service these several years. You have done it with great sincerity and served in just the greatest way. We express our appreciation to you, our love, and we're going to miss you."

They each got a really neat engraved plaque and a photo op with Mack Wilberg, President Monson, Mac Christensen, and Lloyd Newell.

Then President Monson spoke...

...and finally they sang "God Be With You Til We Meet Again." I'm sure they were all in tears (I know I was!).

My mom told Olivia that as she was up there singing she thought that maybe some day Olivia could be in the Choir. Olivia said she had the very same feeling!

We never get to see their flowing angel dresses up close, so it was a real treat :). It was not lost on Olivia that her dress was the same color as Grandma's.

I'm so happy my mom has had the Choir in her life. For so many years she put everyone else's needs and wants before her own. It was wonderful when she was finally at a point in her life that she could live out one of her dreams. It required a lot of work and study and preparation, but she did it! My mom listed her two great accomplishments as her family (blending two families together) and being in the Choir. I know it was a great blessing for her to sing with the Choir and we were all blessed too (with all the Choir CDs for the last five years).

We ended the morning at Temple Square with a quick walk to see the Christus in the North Visitor's Center. After Sacrament Meeting in my mom's ward we had a fun family dinner. My sister Heather came from San Diego to be here (yay for Heather!) and we had a great time visiting with everyone.

I'm so proud of my mom and I know that great things lie ahead for her, because she's just that kind of person.