Thursday, March 19, 2015

Paris - Old and New

Hi guys! Are you excited that grandma is there?! I hope your blue and gold banquet went well, Logan. I can't wait to hear all about it.

Today we spent some time shopping in Paris. We went to a flea market where people were selling really old things, kind of like a garage sale but with antiques. We saw lots of cool old toys, sewing machines, paintings, dishes and furniture. One person was even selling tons of beads! [There were so many incredible things that I wanted to take home, but my suitcase and wallet limited my expenditures. Even though everything was second hand, the prices were pretty still pretty high. Instead, I took lots of pictures and made them my souvenirs.]

As we left the flea market, we saw someone that looked just like Santa Claus! He was wearing shorts and sandals, even though it was freezing. Maybe Santa doesn't think it's very cold because here compared to the North Pole. :) Do you think it was really him?

We explored a lot today and found some fun shops and lots of yummy food. Remember how Tiana makes beignets in princess and the frog? We've been eating lots and they are SO delicious. [I really wanted to find a glass covered passageway that Paris is known for. I looked one up, found the approximate location, and then led a group of us to that spot. This was our last afternoon in Paris and I was desperate to find this last spot on my bucket list. It had been raining off and on, and the others were tired, but I was determined. We got to the place on my map, but couldn't find it. We walked down the street and turned to the right. Someone pointed up and I saw a broken, dirty glass roof above the street. Really? THAT was it? We walked down the short, deserted alleyway, then decided to find a place to eat nearby. After lunch, our group split and headed different directions, but Jeff (being the super supportive husband of his crazy travel wife) and I decided to go look one more time. We came back to the first street and looked down it again. Just a few feet beyond where we had stopped and on the opposite side of the street as the abandoned alley was the Passage du Grand Cerf. THIS was what I had been looking for! We missed it by a few feet and turning our heads the wrong direction! I absolutely loved this street. The glass ceiling sheltered us from the rain and created the most beautiful light. Each of the stores in the passage were unique and had an artisan feel. I could have spent all day window shopping there.]

[At the other end of the Passage du Grand Cerf was a charming street full of flowers, bakeries, delis and people. The rain let up and we took our time wandering, stopping to grab a big bag of beignets to take with us when we left the next morning. This was easily my favorite day in Paris.]

Tomorrow we go to Italy. Hopefully it's a little warmer there. I love you and miss you!

Mom and Dad

Paris - Cathedrals and Crossbones

We went to Notre Dame this morning to see the beautiful cathedral where the hunchback lived (not in real life, but in the story). It had beautiful stained glass on the inside. 

We also went to a huge shopping mall (Galeries Lafayette) with a big glass roof and lots of cute things. It was too expensive to buy anything [we're talking $800 for a little girl's dress], but here are some of the clothes we saw that made me think of you. 

We then went underground to a place where they had buried tons and TONS of bones! It was crazy to see so many bones all stacked up. 

And lastly, we went to the biggest art museum in the world, the Louvre. We got to see lots of amazing art, including the Mona Lisa. 

[The Louvre felt like a museum version of Ikea. It wound you through lots of rooms and hallways until you were hopelessly lost and couldn't get out. Your best bet was to keep moving in the same direction until you found an exit, and try to absorb the priceless art collection surrounding you as you went. It was impossible to see everything, but we hit up most of the highlights. My favorite was the gigantic Coronation of Napoleon (33 ft x 22 ft). It's original hanging place was at Versailles (which we visited yesterday). The painting has references to Notre Dame and to St. Peter's Basilica. This one painting seemed to connect all points of our European adventure.] 

It rained a lot today and was super cold, so we're hoping tomorrow is warmer! I wish I could hug and kiss you right now! Be good for Aunt Paige, especially because she isn't feeling well. Have a fun Saturday tomorrow!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Paris - Hills, Palaces, and Hamlets

Hi kids! We had a great day today! We walked a ton (over 30,000 steps) and saw lots of neat things. We started off the day by going to Sacre Cour, a beautiful cathedral on top of a hill. We could see the whole city from the top of the hill!

[There were also some possessed looking carousel horses at the bottom of the hill. Very colorful, possessed horses. I lagged behind to take pictures of the horses, and by the time I caught up to the rest of the group, they had (literally) been roped into a bracelet scam! Each one of them had been taken aside by a street vendor who was furiously making a bracelet right on them. I remembered this scheme from my previous trip to Europe, and quickly walked past them all, telling Jeff as I walked by to get away because they'd ask for money. He quickly slipped out of his knot, but several of the others came away several Euros shorter a few minutes later. Ha! This is the stuff memories are made of.]

[After touring Sacre Cour, we decided to try and find Moulin Rouge since we weren't that far. The guidebook warned us we would have to go through a racy part of town to get there, but as we started walking down the street we couldn't help but giggle. There were no less than 20 sex shops within a single block-- and I do not exaggerate! They were all lined up one after another. The other funny thing about them is the store signs were all in English. Perhaps they cater to tourists? 

At the end of the block we found the Moulin Rouge. It was kind of a disappointment. It was small and crammed between other store fronts. The windmill was kind of run down looking and the whole place looked cheap and cheesy. Not at all like the movie made it seem.]

We ate a delicious crepe lunch, then rode the train to Versailles.

Do you remember when we read about Versailles? It's the big palace that the French king (Louis XIV) built. It was HUGE! It was fun to see all the rooms and the beds where the queen and king slept. 

[Decorating styles have changed some in the last few hundred years. Apparently, in pre-French revolution days, it was popular to find a fabric and incorporate as MUCH of it as possible into a single room. Now I understand why rooms were named by color.]

There was also a big garden behind the palace and some little houses that looked like they belonged in a fairy tale. [These were commissioned by Marie Antoinette, who found peasant life appealing and would dress up as a milkmaid and come "play" here with her friends. I can't say I totally blame her. It was my kind of playground! On the other hand, I can't blame the revolutionaries who beheaded her. These palaces were absolutely opulent. I can only imagine how furious a starving peasant would feel watching their king spend the majority of their country's income on his extravagant palace.]

On our way home we saw the Eiffel Tower all lit up for the night. It was so beautiful! You guys would love it.

It's very cold here, just like at home, but there's no snow on the ground. Is it still snowy there? We miss you all and love you!


Mom and Dad