Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Day Six - Forced Change of Plans

If Aaron and I thought our first day in France was kind of crappy, it doesn't even hold a candle to today. Of course, if my wallet hadn't been stolen, then we wouldn't have been in the mess we were in today. We went to Budget today to pick up our rental car so that we could head up to Normandy and then later to the Loire Valley. But since we had to cancel our credit cards, we couldn't take a car because they wouldn't accept a debit card. Needless to say the employess at Budget here in France weren't very nice or helpful. We tried calling the bank to see if they could authorize this one transaction, but they said they couldn't do that. We called other car rental agencies, but were told the same thing. We went back to our apartment rental to try and get internet access to figure out our next move, but we get there and of course the internet is no longer working. The cleaning lady was there and was trying to help us, and even offered to have us stay at her house. She was giving us all the help which she could, and I have to say she was one of the bright spots in our day. She was so nice and helpful and let us stay in the apartment while she was trying to clean it. She was from Kenya and it was really hard to understand her, but Aaron seemed to have an easier time talking with her than I did. Unfortunately, but this time, hours had passed and the next renters were coming in less than an hour and we had no way to get on the internet to find a place to stay. We ended up getting a very expensive hotel room just a few doors down. All in all, it was a very discouraging day. By the time we got checked into our hotel, I was starving and in desperate need of food. By this time, I was disguisted by everything in France, and was wanting to embrace my American roots. Yes, we went to McDonald's, sad I know, but I have to say I have never enjoyed a Big Mac and Fries more than I did today. I'm not sure if it was the hunger, the stress relief that came from eating, or what, but it was very good. After this, Aaron and I went to the Musee D'Orsay. We had an enjoyable time there. I quite liked the art in this museum, and more of it made sense to me. After our trip to the museum, both Aaron and I were so exhausted that we decided to come back and spend as much time in our expensive hotel as is possible. Might as well enjoy it since it is costing so much huh?

The interesting thing about Musee D'Orsay was that it used to be a train station. It has a very open and airy atmosphere.

This was my favorite painting inside the museum. It is a picture of Peter and John on their way to see the resurrected Christ. You can't tell from the picture here, but I thought that the painter did a very good job catching the human emotions of hope, disbelief, awe, excitement and reverence in their faces. In my opinion, it was a moving painting, and was probably the first piece of art that has touched me that I have seen here in France.

Day Five - Chateau de Chantilly and the Ballet

Monday Aaron and I took the train to Chantilly to go and see this Chateau that I have been dying to see since I last saw it nearly ten years ago, only that time I didn't get to go inside because I was cheering in the New Years Eve parade there in Chantilly. It is a very beautiful Chateau and I really love it. However, I think the outside of the Chateau is more impressive than the inside. Plus it really kind of stunk in this Chateau. It had a lot more wood inside of it, and it also had a lot of dead animals in there hanging up on the walls, so between all of the really old wood and dead animals it had a special kind of fragrance that I was not very fond of. It was really fun going back and remembering how we ended our parade there in the courtyard of this chateau.

Chantilly is also well known for its horse races and they have this really large super nice building that in itself looks like another Chateau, but is really just a very large, exquisite stable for horses. It was kind of a bummer, but they open this up and have all sorts of things going on starting April 4, so we missed a lot of excitement that goes on here. On the bonus side, one thing that I really loved about our trip to Chantilly was the escape from the crowds and noise (and cigarette smell) of Paris. It really was a nice break from the craziness of Paris.

The horse stables

Aaron surprised me with tickets to the ballet. Aaron took me to the Nutcracker for our anniversary back in December, and unfortunately made me a fan of the ballet. We went to a ballet last night after we got back in from Chantilly. The first dance was well, it really wasn't very good at all, it was a bunch of men doing something, I really wouldn't call it dancing, I am not sure at all what to call what they were doing. However, after that it was good and I really enjoyed this once in lifetime experience. Don't I just have the best husband ever? I think so.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Day Four - Churches

I think the title Churches pretty much sums up what Aaron and I did today. We first went to Notre Dame. While we were there, they were holding mass, and so Aaron and I saw part of mass. Notre Dame in my opinion, is one of the more impressive buildings I have seen in Paris. It is incredibly large, but also has so much detail. It was built in the 12th century, and is so beautifully preserved. It was truly magnificent to see.
After our visit to Notre Dame we went to our own church and attended sacrament meeting. After this we decided to go to the Conciergerie. This is where they held all of the prisoners awaiting their upcoming appointments with the guillotine. I have to say this was not my favorite place, and I was kind of glad to leave. It was pretty depressing.

Marie Antoinette's cell where she was held for two months before she was finally executed.
One non-depressing thing about the Conciergerie, was it has the oldest existing hall in Europe. (Which by the way was totally ruined by the modern displays throughout the hall.)
Our next stop was Saint Chapelle. This church's second level, had stained glass windows all around which told the story of the bible, starting with Genesis and finishing with Revelation, it also included some books of the Apocrypha. It was really hard to see all the detail in the windows, as everything was really small and there was so much to see. I did find one thing in the windows which I recognized, which was the story of David and Goliath.

After our stop at Saint Chapelle, we went to the Crypte Archeologique. These were the remains of the ancient Paris dating at the earliest 100-200 AD.
Next on our itinerary for today was Angelina's, which is famous for its hot chocolate. This is no ordinary hot chocolate. If you had any cravings for chocolate, this would be sure to please and to satisfy. This hot chocolate poured like syrup and was so thick and so rich.
After our sugar high that Angelina's gave us we were ready for a couple more stops. We tried to go the the Eiffel Tower for the second time, but again the line was so ridiculously long that we again vetoed that.
Last stop: Sacre Coure. This is one of the places that I didn't make it to on my first trip to Paris.
We had a very busy and fun day. We made it to four churches, famous Angelina's, and the Eifell tower for the second time. Maybe the third time will be the charm...... The one thing that amazed me today in attending all of these churches was how loud some people were. Especially in Notre Dame, while they were holding mass, there were tourists (sadly, mostly American teenage girls) that seemed to be totally oblivious that for one, these are places of worship for many people, and second, they were actually worshipping while we were there. I was really annoyed at the lack of respect that many people showed while they were visiting. All in all, it was a very good albeit exhausting day. Stay tuned for more of our adventures in France.

Day Three - Versailles

Saturday took us to Versailles. We were going to go Monday, but fortunately Aaron looked up and found that it was closed on Mondays, so we changed our plans a little bit and headed up to Versailles. I don't really know what to say about Versailles, other than it was Versailles. It was large and extravagent. We have a Paris museum pass, which saved our butts yesterday, otherwise we probably would have stood in line to get in for over an hour, possibly two by the looks of the line. If I would have had to do that, I probably would have been totally disguisted by the place. I'm not a huge fan of waiting in lines. But luckily we didn't have to do this, and we enjoyed our time there.
The Queen's room, which happens to be where 19 of the royal children were born. Also to the left of the bed, there is a door where Marie Antoinette escaped through on October 6 (don't remember the year) when the peasants stormed Versailles.
The next is the famous hall of mirrors where many balls and important events took place. Also,the Treaty of Paris was signed in this room.

The gardens of Versailles
After Versailles we took the train back to Paris and then rested for a bit, and then went back to the Arc De Triomphe, and this time made it to the top. My legs burned a lot more this time up than they did last time. Hmmm.....out of shape maybe? Although I have to say I still did better than some people my age that we saw go up. It did make me feel a little bit better.

So I know I could probably post a better picture from the Arc, however, the most amusing thing from the top, was watching the drivers go around. There were no lanes, and as far as the rules went, I don't think they had any rules, everyone looked like they just did whatever they wanted to do, and horns were constantly blaring.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Day Two

Well let's just say today went a lot smoother than day one. First thing we did was get a pain au chocolate (croissant baked with chocolate in the middle). After this, we went to the catacombs that lie underneath the city.
Aaron at the entrance which read "Halt, for this is the empire of death."

Me and thousands of bones.....

Our next stop was the Eiffel Tower, which had a line like you would not believe so we did not go up, but will try again another time.

After our short trip to the Eiffel Tower, we went to Hotel Des Invalides. This where Napolean is entombed. It is a very impressive building with a beautiful dome.
Napolean's tomb.
After visiting Napolean's tomb, we went to Musee de l'Armee, a war museum, which is dedicated, literally, to all of man's destruction of man. Interesting.... Anyways, we stayed mostly in the armor section of the museum. The pictures of the following armor, is of the armor for the royalty in the 15th century. You probably can't tell from the pictures, but the armour was very intricate.
After this we took a break and went back and had a nap, and then it was off to the Louvre.

My two favorite things in the Louvre tonight: Aaron and the statue The Winged Victory.

The much, much overrated Mona Lisa.
Me and my second favorite statue. Probably the only one who wasn't naked. Plus, it is of a woman hunter and her stag. Cool.

Well that's all for today. Stay tuned for our upcoming posts regarding our vacation. Love you all.

P.S. I love being on vacation, but I am learning so much about all I love about the very basics that make America great:
1)Bathroom Stalls
2)My bed
3) Showers in America (Although we have a very nice one for Europe)
4)Cold drinks
6)American grocery stores

Bonjour de Paris!

Bonjour!!! We have made it to Paris. We have been here now for two days. Lets just say our first day was not the best day. We landed about 6:30 am Paris time, and at this point we were exhausted and ready for bed. Well, the Parisians decided to go on stike that day, however, it ended up not being too bad, it was just very slow going through customs. We had thought that the metro would be shut down, but it ended up not being shut down. Well, we decided to take the metro to our little vacation rental. So we hauled our luggage, up and down and all around the metro. Well with all of that business I had my wallet stolen. Stupid!!!!! Well luckily we noticed it was gone not too long after it happened, so we hurried and called the bank and cancelled my debit and credit cards. The best part is, they were probably looking for some fast cash, but haha on them, I think I had a grand total of two cents in my wallet. Hopefully, this is the worst that will come out of the situation. Well so we went to our apartment and took a nap. By this time we had been up for more than 24 hours and were exhausted. After our nap, we went to the Arc De Triomphe, which happens to be right outside our little apartment rental. It was closed due to the strike, so we weren't able to go up, but we still were able to go under it and look around. After our little visit to the Arc De Triomphe we walked down Champs Elysees. After our nice little stroll we tried to go to Musee D'Orsay, but it was closed as well. Well crap! Our first day was really kind of dissapointing. Well it just keeps getting better. On our stroll back to our apartment down the Champs Elysees, I have to go to the bathroom. So we stop at a little eating joint on the way. Well then of course, something that would probably never happen to anyone else, of course happens to me. I get locked in the bathroom stall. And unlike wonderful American doors that have a space between the floor and the door there is in France, no space in which to crawl under. And the door of course can't be cheap like our bathroom stalls in America, no it has to be nice heavy wood. Well, so the lock gets broken and this is why I can't get out. So I shake and shake and try and get out, all the while there are several people in and out of the bathroom. I call out for help several times, and finally someone comes to help me only they didn't speak English and I don't speak French, but she grabbed someone to come and break the lock to get me out. I was so humiliated and was tearing up a little because I was so humiliated and so exhausted. After that I told Aaron I wanted to eat and go to bed, so that is what we did.

Arc De Triomphe
Tomb of the unknown soldier underneath the Arc.
Aaron, the river Seine and view of the Louvre.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Remy the terminally ill bunny and daylight savings

Okay, desperate blogging times come for desperate blogs. That is what today's post will be. I guess I'm resorting to being that crazy rabbit lady.... So our cute little lop rabbit Remy has serious problems. After Christmas vacation I had Remy on my lap and noticed some white spots/swirls in his eye. I gave it a couple of weeks and then called the vet to see if it was something I needed to come in for. The vet said I needed to bring him in for this, and she looked at him and then told me she had to look something up and she'd be right back. Half an hour later she came back with Remy's diagnosis. Eceneculi? Apparently it is a parasite that Remy has. So they put him on a round of medication as well as eye drops. Well six weeks later, the parasite is still here, and so our vet called an exotic pets specialist up in Portland, (which she called without asking us first, and which we were billed for. Yes that made me mad. ) only to find that this parasite will probably never go away. What does this mean for poor Remy and his sad owners? Medication, off and on for the rest of his life and close monitoring of him and his eye condition. I guess this will eventually cause seizures, convulsions, tremors, comas and death, or on a positive note, just losing an eye. So that was our happy news. However, Remy took the news rather well and seems his usual self.

Now let me switch gears and tell all of you how much I love, love daylight savings time! I have been so excited to leave work at the end of the day and still have it be light outside! It is so great, and also a lot less scary for me when I leave work since there are a lot of crazies that hang around where I work. So one day last week while we had beautiful weather I took advantage of both the nice weather and the long day and took Remy out on his leash after work and let him run around the yard. He was so excited to run, explore, dig and do his crazy hops, and I was so happy that the weather was nice enough that I could go outside for a little while.