Friday, April 24, 2009

Paris Jour 1

I had grand visions of blogging about our trip to Paris while we were there, so you could all experience it right along with me... but then I realized that there may be crazy blog-stalkers who could break into our house while we were gone, so I decided to save the photos and commentary until I got home. There are SO many pictures, most of which you don't need or want to see, but I'm posting a bunch anyway. I'm going to do it by day so that it's just a long post, not a ridiculously long post. You may disagree and say that it is pretty ridiculous, but feel free to skim or skip as you wish!

I don't claim to be an artistic photographer in any way... I'm more of a tourist-I-was-here photographer. For beautiful and lovely artistic photos, visit Ryan's photo blog over the next little while... time is short and his photos are many, but he got some beautiful ones!

Ready for a great journey? If you've been to Paris, you can remember the magic of the city. If you haven't, you must put it on your list of things to do before you die. It is an amazing city--full of history and beauty and splendor and romance. I went in 2005 with my dad, his partner, and my sisters, and that was a wonderful trip of a lifetime--but it was great to be there with Ry and share it together to celebrate our 10th anniversary coming up in August.

After we landed we stood in line to buy Metro passes and made our way to the train station. I loved the sign that said "All Trains are Going to Paris." For some reason it made me feel all emotional that I got to be there and get on one of those trains that was going to a city that is so amazing!
Our hotel was in an area a few blocks away from a Metro stop and in a good neighborhood with a cool street market every day. It wasn't luxurious or large, but it was a great value for the money we paid and it was clean (except for a few stray stains on the carpet). When we first thought about going on this trip I told Ryan I didn't care where we stayed, even if there were cockroaches they'd be french cockroaches, so it wouldn't matter. When it came down to it, I was glad we went with a better hotel and that we didn't have any room companions :). Our breakfast was included each morning, so we ate as much as we possibly could and then snacked on pastries and other delightful treats throughout the day.

The room wasn't huge, but it wasn't as small as I was preparing myself for either...

A couple of funny things about the bathroom... there was only a half-glass-door, so showering resulted in water all over the floor. When we first arrived there were two hand-towels in the bathroom and we envisioned a week of drip-drying and sloshing through water. Luckily they brought us a stack of good-sized clean towels each afternoon!

I loved the hair dryer with the vacuum like hose! It got SO hot when I used it though that I had to dry my hair in stages (must be time for a hair cut) so I wouldn't burn my hands.
Our first stop after getting situated in the hotel was Notre Dame. I am always amazed at how large it is and how many intricate details are carved into such an old building (construction began in 1163 AD). We went inside and that is amazing too... but my pictures were all so dark that I'm not going to post any. Ryan tried to use his tripod to get some great shots, but he was told to put it away (in no uncertain terms) because it was a security risk. What the ...?

Ryan's pose of choice during the week was with his camera up to his face, framing the perfect shot.

Here's the touristy "I was here!" photo.

It's beautiful from the back side too... and they had a neat garden/park area that had beautiful flowers and blossoming trees. I wish I could capture the smell there, it was incredible!

Not a bad shot for my little point-n-shoot camera, eh?

While Ryan waited in line to go up to the bell-tower, I took a quick walk to Ile de St. Louis, where they are known for their ice cream. There was a good sized line at this little spot, so I figured it must be yummy. We were not disappointed!

I got cherry sorbe for Ryan and chocolat-noir for me. Wow, was it rich!

We climbed up a long spiral staircase to get a top-side view of the city. The gargoyles are each different, and I loved this one with his head in his hands, gazing out over the city.

Our first view of the Eiffel Tower... breathtaking!

Some more cool gargoyles, thought to ward off evil spirits. Maybe we should install some on the outside of our house, just in case.

Here I am in front of the bell at the top. I always think of the Disney version of the Hunchback of Notre Dame, but one day I'm going to have to read the real thing by Victor Hugo.

Next we were off to Sainte Chapelle, an old, beautiful chapel built to house relics from Christ (the crown of thorns and other things) by Louis IX.
Many replicas of this chapel were built in different parts of France. The stained glass was just amazing and impossible to capture with a camera (although I'm sure Ryan got better pictures than I did, even though his tripod was again a security risk).

I loved the posts with gold-plated decor.

The rose window was incredible. All of the stained glass told several stories from the Bible. They had big cards explaining which window told which Biblical story, but I think I needed more help to interpret the stories in the glass.

I am still amazed by the detail in the stained glass. It was incredible!

Next we tried to go to the Conciergerie (a prison where Marie-Antoinette and others were held before they were executed), but we got there 1/2 hour before closing time and they didn't let us in (the French are very serious about their closing times!).

So, we took off walking. This is Pont Neuf (famous from "The Bourne Identity") and although it's name means new bridge, it's actually one of the oldest bridges in Paris. Last time I was there it was being restored and all covered in scaffolding, so it was fun to see it uncovered.

We hopped on the Metro and headed over to the Eiffel Tower. Our friend Rebecca recommended this creperie across from the Eiffel Tower (we hope we got the right one... but if not it doesn't really matter, because the crepes were SO good!).

We had to try some Frites (french fries) even though they probably didn't originate in France. In Ryan's other hand is a tasty crepe with jambon et fromage (ham and cheese).

Here's one of my better photos (it's not blurry or cut off anywhere!). We stood in line and rode up to the second level on an elevator, then got on another lift and rode to the top. It was freezing cold and windy and rainy, but otherwise magical and romantic.

Olivia told us we had to kiss on top of the Eiffel Tower, so this picture's for her... can you tell I was laughing?

Here we are at the top of the Eiffel Tower... notice my hair blowing all over the place? The wind was crazy! We decided to call it a night and got back on the Metro (we got our money's worth for sure on the Visite Pass).

Just before getting back to our hotel we stopped at the Monoprix (a grocery store chain--they also have a store that is kind of like Target) to pick up some snacks. We laughed at the posted closing hour... 21h50... so they close each day at 9:50 pm... not 9:30, not 10:00, but 9:50. As I mentioned before with La Conciergerie, they are very serious about their closing time... we arrived at 9:45 and they almost didn't let us in. They kept yelling "2 seconds!" which made us chuckle. I have to say though, it's hard to shop under such pressure.

Overall, it was a great first day in a magical place! We loved using the Metro to get all over town, and we did a whole lot of walking. We were grateful for good shoes!

Our hotel had wi-fi so we called the kids every day using Skype and sent them pictures of the fun things we were doing. They were having a great time with their grandma and grandpa, which made us happy (although we still missed them a lot!).

Stay tuned for Day 2....


Rockelle said...

lovely...lucky you...beautiful pictures!

KM said...

Oh! I'm so glad you got to experience it! Paris is just wonderful, hands down. I've been 'craving' Paris for some months now, just htinking about it and wanting to be there. Please post more pics so I can live it vicariously through you! Fun fun pics. And no, it wasn't a long post at all! More more!

Welcome back to the US, ps.


Linn said...

Oh I LOVED this post! Loved the pictures and the jealous! I'm off to visit Ryan's photography site now.

Yoga Girl said...

THANK YOU! I love it! Keep it coming :)

emilyw said...

Oooo! I am SO excited to read more! I've never been there but now I will have a personal tour from you!!!

Julie Pia said...

I can't wait to see more. What an amazing trip? I'm soooooo jealous!

Kristy said...

OOOO La La! I love Europe. Spencer and I went there on our honeymoon. I treasure the memories and think our next trip without kids will be to go back! I can't wait to hear more.Glad you returned home safe and sound.

Sara White said...

I think the tourist "I was here" pictures are the best. They are the ones that I most enjoy looking at. I am so glad that you had a good time. I am looking forward to reading more.

Janene said...

OF COURSE you have to kiss on the Eiffel Tower! :o)

Glad you're home safe ... and after skimming the other posts ... I love all of Olivia's poses for the camera!

Sally said...

The gargoyles are my favorite. What interesting things to sculpt. They made me think of Ghostbusters. I think a series of those, framed in your house would be awesome. Troy's mission president's wife made a point of taking pictures of cool doors while they were in Vienna, and when she got home she made a huge display of the Doors Of Europe or something similar. But gargoyles totally trump doors!
I also think we will have crepes for dinner tonight.
When you have more energy and time, post more! I love it!

lArZ said...

oh my gosh, gorgeous!! All of it! wow. great shot of the pink blossom tree, that is my most fav tree!

Allyson said...

How fun! I'm anxious to see the rest of your pictures! I hope I make it to paris one day! I'll make sure and check with you for tips :)