Category Archives: Travel

Paris Part Deux

Continued from Part Une

Ugh! Can you possibly handle MORE Paris?

Well, it’s cold and I haven’t left my house since we returned except to restock the fridge. So, unless you want more posts about shopping at Waitrose, it’s all I got. (Deal)

Voilà, mes amies! More Paris, it is, but just the highlights. I promise.

Eiffel Tower.

I should have known that going to the top of the Eiffel Tower was a baaaad idea when the top of it was eclipsed by fog.

It was indeed very, very cold…

Notre Dame.

I thought I was SO clever to suggest that Avery and I feed the birds outside of Notre Dame, so Mike could climb to the top of the bell tower unhindered…

That is until the birds attacked! Ewwww!

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Mike never made it to the top of the bell tower, but we did manage to attend Mass in the cathedral that night… once we escaped the birds, of course.

Stained glass, incense, chanting,  and organ music in a huge Gothic church… GORGEOUS!

Don’t worry. I lit a candle for all of you sinners out there…hee-hee!

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The Louve.

Totally missed it.

Why?

Because apparently two (supposedly) well educated, high functioning  adults in possession of… not one, but TWO different guidebooks… couldn’t  figure out that it’s CLOSED on Tuesdays.

(Sigh!) C’est la vie… we still got to enjoy the exterior.

Just standing in the courtyards and gardens, it’s difficult to comprehend that the Louve was once someone’s HOUSE.

Well, actually several royal and imperial someones’ house, but still… it’s no wonder the peasants revolted.

Musee d’Orsay.

Well, isn’t it fortuitous that just across the Seine from the Louve is the d’Orsay, which was open for business that day…

I love the d’Orsay so much so that I’ve gone every single time I’ve been in Paris, but this time I loved it even more for giving me a discount for (barely) being under 30!!!

Mike cried ageism, but I assured him it was because he was CLEARLY more cultured and sophisticated, and therefore would get those two Euros more out of the experience.

And then he goes and does something like this…

Swine!

(Okay, so that last photo was staged, but only because camera phone pics are super cheesy.)

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Filed under Marriage, Sightseeing, Travel

Paris In Photos – Part Une

This is our second day home from Paris and piles of laundry are being ignored because I am STILL going through all of our photos from our trip…

… all ONE THOUSAND of them. Literally.

Thank goodness for digital. I’ve deleted most of the duplicate/blurry/”someone walked right in front of us” shots, but there’s still way too much for just four days.

In any case, here are the highlights of our trip:

Versailles…

Technically outside of Paris, but I was absolutely insistent that Mike see why j’adore Sofia Copella’s Marie Anoinette (even though most people I know did not). It was filmed on location in Versailles you know… and to see it in person is just breathtaking.

The first time I went to Paris (and Versailles) I was 15 years old and on a trip with my high school French class. Why that was a good idea, I will never understand.

My friends and I were completely obnoxious and our antics included (but were not limited to) “storming” the steps of Versailles while singing “Do You Hear The People Sing” from Les Miserables.

Can you say… Theater. Geeks.

See how dignified and reserved I was upon my return….

So perhaps winter was not the best time to tour the gardens…

…especially with the statues covered up… mostly.

It was impressive, none the less.

Yet, of all of the brilliant sights of Versailles, Avery was most taken with the garbage trucks and puddles.

The entire time he kept saying, “Look, garbage truck! Garbage truck! Mommy! Mommy! Garbage truck!”

I had to remind him, “This is France, mon petit cou, you mean gar-bahj…”

To be continuted…

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Filed under Family, Sightseeing, Travel

La Vie en Rose

Loosely translated: “having a rosy outlook on life”… or so my two years of college French taught me.

My French professor believed that anyone could learn a language. It was just a matter of throwing yourself into it with wild abandon and allowing the little “drawers of your mind to open up”.

(Why do profs always say things like that?)

I made A’s all four semesters, but those drawers remained shut as we made our way through Paris this past weekend. I guess I’ve lost the wild abandon of my college days… Trust me. It’s okay.

So anyway… Yes, we spent a long weekend in Paris.

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Just for the heck of it? Not quite. We decided to combine the obnoxious task of re-establishing our tourist visas with a romantic getaway in the world’s most romantic city with my romantic husband… and our toddler.

They said we had to leave the country and come back through immigration. No one specified where and for how long. What better way to stick it to the English than to break croissant with their historic arch-rivals, the French!* (Just KIDDING!)

I think that’s making the best of a bad situation, don’t you?

In other news, Mike accepted a job in Northern California. It’s still overseas and not London and not quite home, but we are so grateful nonetheless.

In spite of moving again, we are certainly excited about the next chapter in our crazy life.

La Vie en Rose!

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* Okay, so I used to think that the English “animosity” towards the French was just an ridiculous stereotype. Then, one night I caught a short blurb about the French economy on the evening news.

Apparently, France hasn’t been as badly hit (relative the the UK, of course) by the credit crunch because of the way their banking is set up. The French government maintains different measures to keep its citizens from buying stuff they can’t really afford.

(Maybe a little socialism isn’t such a bad idea…)

When the cameras returned to the British news anchors in London, their only commentary on the story was, “Well, aren’t they smug?”

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Filed under Misconceptions and Mishaps, Packing Up and Moving, Sightseeing, Travel, Undiplomatic Behavior

You’re Mysterious and Old, But I’m Strangely Drawn to You.

This coming Thursday is our wedding anniversary, which I wanted to celebrate with a weekend trip some place stunning, romantic, and fabulous…

Paris? Roma? Milano? Brugge? Any of these would do!

Where did Mike want to go?

Stonehenge.

An hour and a half journey out of London with a toddler in tow to see a pile of rocks in the middle of nowhere… Yeah.

I relented at first, but because Mike is a hundred and thirty-one flavors of wonderful about everything I want to do and hardly ever asked for anything, we went to Stonehenge…

… but with one compromise. It can’t be our only destination for the day.

Frankly, I just didn’t think Stonehenge would be very amusing for Avery, and as anyone with kids knows, that’s a huge factor in any sort of trip planning. (Obviously, I would have preferred to some place else, too…)

As it happens we stopped at TWO other places- Windsor Castle and Bath- courtesy of the bus tour I booked at the very last possible minute.

Normally, I find tours and group travel of any sort far too tedious restrictive. (This is why I have absolutely no desire to “cruise”.) I prefer the freedom to linger longer at the interesting places and ditch the audio tour if it sucks…

However, not having to wait on a chilly platform for the next train to arrive is rather nice too….

(For those of you who DO like tours and/or are planning a trip to England, I highly recommend the company we used and am happy to pass along their name. They were very accommodating and kid-friendly, especially with always having our stroller unfolded and ready to go at each stop and dropping us off closer to home at the end of the day.)

Here’s the breakdown of our trip:

First stop, Windsor Castle.

We were herded off the bus, through the town of Windsor, which looked all too charming and wonderful, and straight into the castle

Once through the castle walls, we were hurried up the hill, “reminded” to keep up with the group (umm, do YOU want to try to push this stroller?), handed an audio guide, and given an HOUR to soak in 900 years of history, grab lunch, use the potty, and get back on the bus…

Kind of stressful.

We were rushing through everything when Avery had a meltdown in the middle of St. George’s Hall. (Not my photo.)

He was on the floor, rolling around, crying, screaming, waking up the Queen…

I was about to do the same. Instead, I picked him up and carried him outside. As I stepped onto the footpath, I was curtailed by marching redcoats…

We walked out just in time to witness the changing of the guard, which cheered Avery up immensely. The drums, the marching, the fuzzy hats… He was SO excited!

Unfortunately, we couldn’t take any tacky touristy photos with the palace guards once they were through changing, as we were about to miss our bus.

(And, I really wanted one of those photos, too… Grrr)

Next stop, Bath.

Bath is another breath-taking destination well worth a three-day weekend…at least. We got to stay for a bit over an hour and a half.

Our guide insisted on giving us a walking tour since it was his hometown. He pointed out famous homes, landmarks, and its history as we walked along the busy streets.

Too bad we couldn’t hear a single word he said over the crowds and the bustle and the… ummm

… diverse street performers. (I’m not sure how to feel about this.)

We spent most of our time in Bath touring the ruins of the ancient Roman Baths, hence the name of the city. It was interesting to see, but we weren’t allowed to touch any of the “healing  waters”.

The water was, ironically, contaminated and untreated… Nice, huh?

By the way, do you know how FUN it is to take a curious two-year-old to a place with open water right at his level and tell him he can’t touch it?

Not very, but he handled himself rather well.

It wasn’t until we were on the bus heading to our next stop that we saw to most gorgeous views Bath has to offer. I wanted to get off the bus and ditch the tour right then and there!

We definitely have to go there again.

Last stop, Stonehenge.

As it turns out, Avery LOVED Stonehenge and would have GLADLY spent an entire day there. He ran around in the open fields, screamed at the top of his lungs, and “baa”-ed at the sheep grazing nearby.

Even as I put him down for his nap this afternoon, he was still clutching the leaflet given to us at the site and saying, “Sto’heg, Mommy! Sto’heg! Sto’heg!”

What the heck was I thinking?

OF COURSE, our son would love the huge pile of rocks in the middle of no where. He’s a BOY and, more important, just like his Dad…

…and I love them both so very much!!!

So there, you have it. Our “romantic” anniversary get-away. I told you my life isn’t at all glamorous, but at least it’s fun!

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For all you geeks… er, gamers out there, you’ll appreciate this. You’ll never guess what we found at Stonehenge.

That’s right. 20-sided dice. Do you think the aliens left it?

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Filed under Art & Architecture, Marriage, Sightseeing, Travel

A (proper) Greeting from London

Hello There!

No, I didn’t head to London and fall off the edge of the Earth. It only feels as if I have…

Sorry to have left you hanging, but we’ve been living without a working phone line or BROADBAND (!!) for the past week and half.

Something about having to run an entirely new phone line since the one already installed in our house is only for BT service and we needed one for Virgin Mobile…

“Arrrg! Whatever! JUST GIVE ME THE INTERNET!”, I kept yelling at them over my crappy cell phone reception… er, I mean MO-bile.

We’ve also been living without a TV, radio, or CD player, so there’s been little more than the IKEA catalog to keep us entertained in the wee, small hours of the morning when Avery thinks it’s time to be awake…

Our trip here was rather uneventful. Considering it was his first plane ride ever, Avery did AWESOME on both flights and the layover. Well, except that he (and therefore I) only slept for about about an hour and forty-five minutes… total. He resisted my every attempt to get him to nap only to doze off just as the plane was about to land. Of course.

When we arrived at London Heathrow, the poor little guy was just spent. By the time, we made it to the baggage claim, he was completely hysterical- crying, kicking, screaming, the whole show. At that point of our journey, I was ready to do the same, but believe it or not being completely overwhelmed with a tantruming toddler in tow does have its privileges…

Even though the line for immigration was about a hundred or so deep, a new line was opened just for us and all because I was pushing a stroller. I walked right up to the officer and proudly presented our official UK documentation.

When asked how long my son and I have been living in London, I said, “about half an hour…give or take”

Avery calmed down the minute we saw Mike waiting for us with open arms and lots of kisses. Come to think of it, I did too. We grabbed a taxi and headed home, where Avery finally got some much needed sleep.

Since then, Avery and I have recovered from our jet lag and we’re ready to resume our adventures as a family. Together again!

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Filed under Family, Packing Up and Moving, Travel

Wow! I’ve always wanted a Big Brother…

Have you heard the exciting news about the U.S. terrorist watch list? Apparently, it’s surpassed the 1 million mark

…and do you know who cannot get OFF that stupid list?

Umm… Only my husband, my father-in-law, and my son.

Now, tell me. Do these look like the faces of international terrorists?

They may not be perfect, but I can assure you, even if they were to combine their forces, these are definately NOT threats to our national security.

Nevertheless, we still can’t do e-check in and are usually subjected to some sort of search at every other airport. It’s a hassle, but we’ve just come to expect the occasional delays. In fact, it hasn’t even been that bad recently, but I still would not wish this upon anyone else…

And yet I gave my son the exact same name. Oops.

I knew all this before naming him after his father and grandfather. I blame “pregnancy brain” for my obvious lapse in judgment.

Of course, our son goes by his middle name, but it doesn’t matter. The name on his passport is the name on the watch list…

I’ll let you know if anyone attempts to interrogate my two-year-old on our way to London. I’m sure it will be a really effective move in making the world feel safe and cozy… HA!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Filed under Family, Life In The States, Travel, Undiplomatic Behavior

An Unlikely Tourist

When I returned from London, I was eager to post the photos of my trip for you, only to realize I really didn’t have any to show.

I mean I have this one of Big Ben and the London Eye, but not much else…

Pathetic, I know.

It’s just with everything that we’ve have to do to move to London, this trip felt more like a reconnaissance mission, rather than an actual vacation.

First of all, Mike had to work the entire time I was there, so I was on my own most of the time. Not that that was a problem, as I had PLENTY to do…

My number one priority was to FIND US A HOME, which is exactly what I did a mere twelve hours upon arriving in the country… but then there was everything that has to go in it.

Fortunately, the house is coming furnished (just a tiny detail I negotiated with our management company, thankyouverymuch…), but I had no idea where to go for sheets and towels and toilet paper…

Well, of course, you can go anywhere for that. It’s not like we’re moving to Zimbabwe. I mean it is LONDON, after all, but I what I wanted to know what where I should go to get all that stuff.

I spent a great deal of time popping in and out of different stores comparing thread count, quality, and, most important of all… PRICE.

I also tried to familiarize myself with things like which company is a bank and which is a betting office. You know, the important stuff…

My time in London wasn’t all work. I did manage to see plenty of sights while I was there. Of course, it’s hard not to when it’s right there as you emerge from the Underground.

Walking down a street was like… “building, building, chicken restaurant, BUCKINGHAM PALACE!”

I mostly tried to see place and things that I wouldn’t necessarily be able to once I had Avery with me. For instance, I would tour a castle in depth, but skipped running around the gardens since that’s something we could do together as a family.

I went to the Tate Modern and Harrod’s, but left quickly as I didn’t really belong in either of those places. I opted instead to go antiquing in Notting Hill. I found such awesome stuff, but even that got old since A) we can’t move onto our new place for another month and B) we have no money (see A)…

After wandering around on my own for a few days and already having accomplished what I set out to do, I really started to miss Mike, and especially miss Avery. I started getting sad because I had no idea when Avery and I would be able to come over and I’d be leaving Mike at the end of the week.

Experiencing a great place like London just isn’t nearly as fun without someone else to share it with…

I’m excited that when I come back it’ll be to experience it all over again… together.

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Filed under Packing Up and Moving, Travel