Freckles in April: May 2013

Friday, May 31, 2013

Paris: Sunday

Warning: This is a LONG post. Apparently this was the day when I decided to take a million pictures and videos.

Yesterday I confessed to eating a burger in Paris. My confession today is probably even worse:

I had breakfast at a McDonald's in Paris.

To be fair, their display cases look like this:

Parisians have macarons in their McDonalds. We have the McRib.

On Sunday morning we woke up ready to tackle the Eiffel Tower and quickly discovered that the boulangerie on the corner by our hotel was closed on Sundays. We wandered the streets for a bit trying to find some breakfast but...nada. Until we saw the golden arches a block from our Metro stop.

My stomach was really starting to feel the effects of all the sugar and pastries at this point so it was actually kind of nice to find a non-sugar filled breakfast option (which is quite rare in Paris. They firmly believe that your day should begin with a pain au chocolat and a coffee). But I was still kind of ashamed.

We hopped on the Metro and popped out at the foot of the Eiffel Tower again. This time we joined the hordes waiting in line to ascend.

The line wasn't terrible. We waited for about an hour, I think.

Watching the elevator come down as we waited to board

Here it comes...

Giant elevator apparatus
We totally thought this was a real person at one point. Very relieved it was a dummy.
Cuddling with strangers

Here's a video of the ascent-

We took an elevator to the second level, where I took another video (and stupidly forgot to turn my phone. Sorry)-

The second level felt pretty high up there. Nikki was a little nervous but I was fine. And THEN we boarded the second elevator to go to the very tip top. Urgh. That is one freaky elevator ride. But the view from the top was amazing.

Sent this pic to Aaron and told him I found him a souvenir. Except it was 2,50 euro, which is like $3.50 and I just couldn't bring myself to pay that much. My cheapness prevails, even when it comes to Parisian condoms.

Click to enlarge
Then, we went back down. And because I was video happy this day, I have a clip. Which is, again, not turned the proper direction.

Back down to the second level. My legs firmed up again.

Click to enlarge

Back on terra firma, my mom wandered off to find a mailbox to send a post card to my uncle. My sister and I took more pictures.

Then we bought tickets for the BatoBus, which is a hop-on hop-off boat that takes you to different stops along the Seine. Due to crazy river flooding we couldn't get all the way to the Notre Dame stop but it got us most of the way there and we hoofed it ("limped it" would probably be more accurate) the rest of the way.

Gives you an idea of the flooding.

Notre Dame was amazing. As you might imagine. Our museum passes included a Notre Dame tour, so we waited in line for a while for that. Turns out it wasn't an inside tour of Notre Dame, just a pass to go up yet another awful staircase to the top levels. Which was still cool but we were really hoping for a guided tour of the inside. Oh well.

After ascending then descending the crazy Notre Dame staircase, we visited the Crypte Archeologique. My pictures are all kind of dark but it did my anthropology loving heart good. There are some cool ruins from the early city down there.

As we were leaving, the bells started playing. You guys. I HEARD THE BELLS OF NOTRE DAME. As you might imagine, there were some emotions. Here are a couple videos so you can also hear the bells of Notre Dame.

And THEN (I know, this was the longest day ever), we walked over to the Marais in search of Victor Hugo's house.

The Marais was ridiculously charming. As we walked across the bridge and into the district we could hear drums and see some people gathered up ahead.  Turns out, it was a parade of sorts. With drums. And dancing. And there were security people on roller blades. And it was ridiculously awesome.

We stopped at a chocolate shop where I fell in love with sesame seeds in chocolate.

It was a really nice afternoon. By all accounts, it was the first one Paris had seen all year. So when we hit Place des Vosges, it was PACKED.

I used my handy dandy Pocket Earth app to navigate us to Victor Hugo's abode. I think it's a museum but of course it was after 5pm so it was closed. At least we got to see it!

After dinner we made our way over to the Eiffel Tower again for the night time view. Totally worth braving the frosty temperatures and sore feet.

Apparently the Parisians hate the sparkling lights but the tourists sure love it! When they first went on at 10pm you could hear gasps from all around us.

The lights turn out for something like 5 minutes. The second they were over we dragged our frozen behinds to the Metro and collapsed into bed at the hotel.

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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Paris: Saturday

This is how our day began.

Woke up at 4. Bakery down the street doesn't open until 7:30.

So hungryyyy.

The bakery finally opened and....

Worth the wait.

So much happier.

We hopped on the Metro then transferred to the train toward Versailles. Which was a little more complicated than it sounded and included me trying to beg a couple Euros off Parisian commuters who then clutched their purses tightly and walked more quickly toward the turnstiles. Thanks for that, you go on ahead and enjoy the rest of the tourist dollars we poured into your city.

We finally got on the train though.

Nikki: "You don't look very happy to be on the train, Kayla."

Me: "Better?" Nikki: "........"

After a short train ride, during which we listened, and gave money to, to an itinerant accordionist (that dude knows how to pick a captive audience and get money out of them) we arrived at the Versailles station.

The town of Versailles was absolutely darling.

Worth a visit even if you don't do the palace.

But you really should do the palace. Because, sweet mercy.

I wish pictures could do justice to the scale. The palace is massive. And shiny!

Click to enlarge a bit

We took abooout a million pictures at Versailles. I'll spare you the full battery, but here's a sampling-

Me and Louis. We're tight.

Just us and a million of our closest tourist friends.

I tried really hard to find the fireplace from Doctor Who luck. Close enough, right?

After touring the palace we headed out to the gardens. However, due to some confusion on our part, we skipped the gardens entirely and took the train down to the park (we kicked ourselves a bit over this. We really wanted to ride bikes around the gardens!).

At this point we were just happy to sit down though.

Grand Canal

Drive by gardens pic

Can't remember what this was called. I think it's Marie Antoinette's quarters?

Sheep! So wonderfully pastoral.
We dinked around the gardens for a bit. Ate some potatoes from a vendor. Took the train back up to the palace and then walked back out into the town. We found a chocolaterie and stopped in (of course) and had a couple yummy little morsels before stumbling upon some kind of street market.

I picked up a couple little wooden toys for my boys. Nikki got a scarf and we both got a skirt. AND we got the best crepes we had during our whole trip. We were quite happy with our street market experience.

Train back to Paris. We hopped out and BAM. Eiffel Tower!

Here's a very short video of the scenery-

We took a little walk down by the river. You know. The Seine.

We had to touch it.

I was torn between the knowledge that it's super nasty and it's THE SEINE. I dipped a finger in.

We walked over to the Musee D'Orsay. Sadly, we didn't realize that it closes at 5 (PARIS. WHY DO YOU DO THIS TO US.) and we didn't have very long. We bee-lined for the impressionists where, when confronted with a Degas ballerina piece, I cried.

I made a friend.

We actually went back and forth through the impressionist hall a few times due to some confusion about where we were supposed to exit. We saw Whistler's Mother. More Monet. Manet. Renoir. Degas. It felt Reverence in the face of something much bigger than I am. Probably my biggest regret of the trip is that we didn't have more time at the Musee D'Orsay.

We decided the Tuileries and Angelina's would be next so we crossed one of the lock bridges. Turns out there are a few.

Lovers put a lock on the bridge with their names on it then throw the key into the Seine. It's all very romantic except for the part where there are so many locks that the city of Paris periodically just cuts them all off so people can start over. Also, can you imagine the pile of keys at the bottom of the Seine?

We gave our feet a quick rest in the Tuileries garden. It was quite lovely.

The day had been slowly warming but it abruptly turned cold again. Perfect time to hit up Angelina's for some of their fabled chocolat chaud.

It was so yummy! Crazy rich though. We did not each need our own cup. One or two for the three of us would have sufficed!

Right around the corner from Angelina's is Jean Paul Hevin, which was recommended by David Lebovitz. So, of course, we got some chocolate.

I picked up a bunch of chocolate here to squeeze into my bag home to share with friends who helped watch my boys while we were gone. I also got some caramels, which were super good.

And a few more random pictures taken at some point on Saturday-

Paris is just so PRETTY.

We had hamburgers for dinner. I KNOW. Americans go to Paris and eat American food? But it was close to our hotel, not a million dollars, and open. You'd be surprised at how difficult it was to find those three things combined.

In a full restaurant we were some of the very few people eating. And we didn't use our forks and knives to eat our burgers and fries, so we may as well have tattooed AMERICAN on our foreheads and hid under our table with shame.

It was a really good burger though. And I will never eat my fries with a fork and knife. It just looks silly.

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