Monday, December 29, 2008

Spontaneity... "Oui, Oui"

Our 24 Hour Adventure to Paris, France

Jon and I were lying around Friday afternoon watching television and out of nowhere I spouted out, "Let's go to Paris tomorrow." Jon being the easy going husband that he is, said, "Heck ya let's do it." So we got on the internet, found a hotel right by the Louvre that was a great price, and booked it.

Jon's family on his mother's side is French. Actually Barrett is French as well, but his grandmother on his mom's side is from France and still speaks it fluently. Jon has been wanting to travel to France since we moved here, and I thought what's a better Christmas present for us both, than to be in Paris this time of year.

Bright and early Saturday morning we headed for the city of lights. After about a 5 hour drive and 5 toll booths/(40€) later we arrived in Paris at 2:00 p.m. We found our hotel, unloaded and skipped all the way to the Louvre. (Which was literally two blocks from our hotel!) I didn't realize the Louvre was as big as it was and just stared in awe at the enormity of it! I was taken aback by how beautiful it was. Of course I pulled out the trusty SLR and went to town.

After about ten minutes at the Louvre, Jon had to stop me, as I was getting a little out of control with the picture taking, and we made our trek to the Eiffel tower.

It was a long walk but was completely worth it when we arrived. I've seen the tower in movies and in pictures throughout all of these years, but to actually see it face to face was awesome. It's ginormous! Jon really wanted to take the stairs all of the way to the top but as we walked to the line, we realized it snaked through the entire undercarriage of the tower. We couldn't believe how many people were waiting in line to climb to the top. Me being a little nervous Nancy was actually questioning the stability of the tower with all of those thousands of people inside of it. I mean it was built in 1889! But I guess these type of structures were built to last.

The park was beautiful

We knew we'd be there for hours just waiting, so we continued on our way after taking about 73 pictures of just the Eiffel tower. I have this problem where I strive get the perfect picture and my poor husband just waits patiently, like a saint, while I try ever so hard to accomplish this task.

As the sun was going down, it made a beautiful sunset along the landscape! It was so wonderful to be there at that exact moment so we could see Paris in all of it's beauty. Not to mention it was very Romantic!

We walked by the river and enjoyed the sights as we made our way to the Notre Dame Cathedral. Crowds of people surrounded the cathedral, a Christmas tree still stood in front of the building and seeing the cathedral at night was, well....... there are no words.

After seeing the cathedral we walked through the area and found a French restaurant for dinner. At this point we were completely frozen from our 5 mile walk, so food and heat sounded miraculous! We ordered a bottle of Bordeaux and sipped while we waited for our food.

Jon and I absolutely love red wine. French, Italian, even German, but French wine is one of our most favorites. What a treat to be drinking French wine in France. Dinner was great. Jon had a steak with pepper sauce and I had a beef stew. Let's just say there was nothing left on our plates when we were done.

While we were exploring the area, we came across a piano bar which we couldn't pass up. We found a seat right next to the piano and ordered another glass of wine. The pianist was wonderful and the woman singing did a great job as well. They played several American songs. Some Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, etc. My love for blues stems from childhood so I was literally enjoying every minute. The pianist actually mimicked Louis Armstrong; it was uncanny.

As we walked back to the hotel, I caught a couple of pictures of the Louvre at night.

We couldn't have had a better evening. After the long day we had, Jon and I made our way back to the hotel around 11:00. I was out before I hit the pillow!


Sunday morning we staggered out of bed slowly; it must have been all of the wine. We ate a quick breakfast and made it to the Louvre by 9:00 a.m. when it opened. To our surprise there weren't many people and we didn't have to wait at all to buy a ticket. We knew there was no way we would make it through the entire Louvre in one day, so we got a map from the info booth and circled the most important pieces we wanted to see.

We saw the Medieval Louvre, 16th-19th c. Italian sculptures, Greek/Etruscan/Roman antiquities, French and Italian paintings, French sculptures, etc.

The Winged Victory of Samothrace

Veiled Woman

Psyche and Cupid

Ahprodite, Venus of Milo

Jon amazed by the paintings.

My first couple of attempts of this Mona Lisa came out like this. Capturing a good picture is next to impossible, mainly because of the crowd, feeling rushed to move out of the way for others, etc.

So I pulled out my big girl lens and took a close up.
Not the best picture but I was still happy to capture it.

Elisabeth Louise Vigee Le Brun

Leonardo Da Vinci, The Virgin of the Rocks

The Wedding Feast at Cana

The ceilings were gorgeous.

Around 12:00 p.m. the museum was PACKED! There were so many people it was a bit overwhelming and it seemed to lose it's appeal. The crowds of people and the tours going on, made it difficult to view most of the art. People bumped into us and jammed their way through just so they could get pictures. At that point Jon and I thought, for our own sanity we would leave, but plan to go back to the Louvre very soon. There is still so much to see, I don't think we even made it through half of the museum.

We walked through the Tuileries Garden, sat by the fountain soaking up the sun, and watched passersby. About 2:00p.m. we walked back to our hotel and said goodbye to Paris!

We bought a Garmin when we moved to Germany, and it is by far the best way to travel. Our first couple of trips Jon and I just printed out directions from Google Maps. They are great directions, but the Garmin can locate gas stations and if you get lost helps you find your way back.

We didn't want to pay the 40€ in tolls on the way back so we found another route that took us through the country side of France! Awesome sights and beautiful landscape, but it took us over 7 hours to return home.

While we were driving through Luxemborg, we noticed it was about time to get gas. We arrived at one of the first gas stations the Garmin found for us. It was a credit card only electronic gas station. For some reason it wouldn't take our card, as we were on E, we attempted to find the next gas station the Garmin suggested. Again, the electronic gas pump would not take our cc. and the next and so on and so on...... About four gas stations later, the Garmin came across a Shell gas station! Well surely they would take our card, I mean there are Shells all over the US. We followed the directions only to find that it was no longer a Shell, it was a card dealership! THANKS GARMIN!!!! The only choice we had was to find the next gas station on the Garmin and hope the sweet Lord would help us! And sure enough he did! Thank you Lord! Jon and I prayed all the way to that gas station and the Lord answered! This gas station was actually open, we bought gas and used our cc inside and it worked perfectly fine? Who knows what the deal is with those electronic pumps, but they don't work very well.

We finally made it back on the road and made it home safely at 9:30 p.m.
What an adventure for sure!!! I am so glad we were able to take this mini trip! It was the best time, even though it was such a short trip, we had a blast.
I hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend!

I took almost 400 pictures and really wanted to post them all but I figured this post is already lengthy enough! I usually upload all of my pictures onto flickr, but now it says I have gone above my "free amount" and wants me to pay for my account???? Is there any other website I can load my pictures onto so others can view them. I would love the feedback! Thanks


Allison said...

Isn't it fun to be able to go to Paris "for the day"? We did that when we first got here, too :) Next time you go, you should take the train...there is a high speed that goes from Kaiserslautern to Paris in 2.5 hours - TOTALLY worth it.

About the gas stations...yeah, SO annoying. I think there is some kind of trick to using the cc machines, but we have never been able to get them to work. And of course finding one that is open on a Sunday is difficult too. We've said the same "gasoline prayer" before :)

Photo website - did you try Kodakgallery? I like their site a lot. We pay for and I really like it. It's like $30 a year and to me it is totally worth it :) Great photos, by the way :)

The Dutchess of Kickball said...

It must be so amazing to be able to pick up and travel like that. Who gets the opportunity to just go to Paris the next day?

JennyLee said...

Ok, I am so jealous!!!

valerie said...

Oh my gosh!!!!! How wonderful!
and to be able to just suggest...."Let's go to Paris today!" I'm so bad with geography...I had no idea Paris was that close.
The pictures are amazing! I love the sunset picture. There's something about sunsets!

I have seen on other blogs where they have slide shows with pics on there....and one time :) I did it myself. I think it's called
I LOVE seeing the pictures and hearing all about your travels. I feel like I'm right there. The museum was awesome. I'm glad y'all got there early to avoid a little bit of the crowd and capture some great pics.

I may just have to make plans to come visit you and Jon myself!!! :)

valerie said...

I'm so serious about making the trip there. How fun would that be?!! Of course, I'd have to save my money for a long time and since I have a trip to Chicago planned in the spring and one to Calif. in the summer...hummmmm

Maybe Brian and I could travel to see y'all.
I'll keep thinking, planning and dreaming about it.

If I just wanted to check on flights and prices ;) what airport would I arrive at? Sometimes I just like to check on Expedia or other travel sites just for fun. It would take me a good year to save up, but...hey, it's fun for me to plan and dream.

Have a good week!

P.S. How funny...the word verification is "amenn" the word "amen" means "so be it!"
Is that confirmation or what?!!! :)

Our World said...

Hey sweetie,
Love the pictures and stories. I am so happy that you two get to see one of the best parts of the world. It is so amazing the stories and memories you have given us. I am ready to come back and have you guys be the tour guides again. Love, Mom

Abbie said...

I stumbled across your blog and absolutely LOVED your pictures of the sculptures and paintings inside the Louvre! I minored in Art History and can't even imagine what it must be like seeing so many famous works of art! Thanks for sharing your pictures!