Tuesday, September 29, 2009


I'm not sure why, but shortly into our trip to London and Paris I found myself taking pictures of signs that I found interesting, funny, or confusing. I'm not sure exactly why, but I have quite a few of them now, here they are:
Jetty would not like this place.

No yield, just GIVE WAY.

At least I was warned, too often my priorities are changed without my knowledge.

The poor kids.

I have no words for this one.

Again, Jetty would not enjoy.

This "Urinal" was just plain crazy, basically just a wall you peed on.

They were pushing those unsafe condoms!

Fire Appliance, give one as a wedding gift!

This dog was just too cute to pass up.

No bathing or swimming. Or fishing or dogs. They have it all covered.

This one was my favorite. Scooter Man! I saw it in many a bathroom in London.

They should have called in a stick figure specialist.

Seen on our climb of the Eiffel Tower stairs. I still have no idea why.

Also from the Eiffel Tower, just follow Gus!

Trip Recap - Day 8 Paris

Day 8, our last full day in Paris, our last full day officially on vacation. We were very sad that it was coming to an end, yet at the same time we were missing our pets and excited to head home and see them.

Before we left we had a few more sights to see!

We started the morning with pastries and coffee yet again (we were not very adventurous!) and hoped on the metro towards The Avenue des Champs-Élysées and the Arc de Triomphe. We crossed under the crazy round about and used our Museum Passes yet again to begin the climb to the top. Little did we know that you just climbed around and around and around with other tourists hot on your heals until you reached the main information/gift shop area, and this statue!

After 7 straight days of walking/sightseeing, I was impressed that our bodies carried us up. The view was worth it though.

We were enjoying ourselves, walking about and pointing out sights that we could see (look kids, Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Louvre!).

We also spent a good 15 minutes just watching the traffic try and navigate the Place Charles de Gaulle. Talk about insanity, 12 streets meet with no traffic signals or lane lines and everyone just tries to find their way all willy nilly.

After a while we tired of the view and descended back to the ground where Chris talked me into taking his picture in front of the battle scenes.

Chris stopped at the bottom to watch the crazy traffic yet again. INSANITY I tell you.

Finally we headed down The Avenue des Champs-Élysées which we were told was filled with wonderful shopping and eats (right up my alley). We shopped (Chris purchased himself a Swatch!) and we ate (we enjoyed a wonderful lunch at George V) and eventually we found ourselves at the other end of The Avenue des Champs-Élysées and the Luxor Obelisk.

Finally we found ourselves at the Musee d'Orsay where we spent the rest of the afternoon gazing upon works by Monet, Rodin, Van Gogh, Degas, Seurat, Whistler, Gauguin, etc. Simply incredible. I wish that we had done the Orsay earlier in our visit to Paris and that I hadn't been so tired when we toured.

Finally we took the metro back towards our hotel and found a small cafe for a nice quiet dinner of steak frites and wine. Paris was wonderful but we were ready to go home.

The next morning we woke, at a buffet breakfast at our hotel, packed up, and found our way to the airport where we caught a flight back to London and from there on to Seattle.

A wonderful, awesome, fabulous trip.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Trip Recap - Day 7 Paris

Day 7 of our trip could be summed up like this - Walking, walking and more walking.

We started the morning with coffee (straight espresso) and pastries (pain au chocolat) at a patisserie near our hotel once again. We're not really into branching out!

After breakfast we took off towards the Champ de Mars station and caught a train to Versailles and the Palace of the Sun King - Louis XIV.

We used our museum passes to get in and decided to splurge and purchase the audio tour. I can even go through an audio tour faster than Chris can. I think he listens to it twice!

The palace was amazing. Talk about flaunting your wealth and status, he had that down! Still the history lesson was fantastic. Chris made me take his picture in the Hall of Mirrors where they signed the Treaty of Versailles. This is perfect tourist photo!

After the tour of the Palace we decided to explore the gardens. Wow, oh wow.

Chris liked making fun of their sculptured shrubberies.

We stopped in for lunch at one of the many cafes that dotted the gardens and enjoyed feeding the cats that kept visiting our table. We also chatted it up with some other Americans we bonded with because they were carrying the Rick Steves book! They were quite friendly and of course Loved Seattle!

After lunch we walked and walked some more through the gardens and wound our way over to the Queen's Hamlet.

At this point in the story I'll skip over the part where we got lost and wandered and wandered around Versailles. Eventually we found our way back to the main gates and were just about ready to fall over from exhaustion.

By the time we got back to Paris we were just about asleep on our feet so we stopped in at a mini mart, purchased two beers and a bag of chips, and retired for the night.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Trip Recap - Day 6 Paris (Our 3rd Anniversary)

The sixth day of our trip was another BUSY BUSY one filled with lots of old stuff and walking (do you see a trend here?). We started out the morning with coffee (straight espresso) and pastries (pain au chocolat) at a patisserie near our hotel that I forgot to make note of the name of. We then hoped on the Metro to the Musee' du Louvre.

We took Rick Steves' advice and got in line at the Tabac stand under the Louvre to buy our tickets. While Chris stood in the long long line I explored the shopping and found a Swatch shop! I picked myself up an only available in Paris Swatch that I'm totally in love with!

When I returned to Chris I found him up at the counter so I waited outside. Soon he came out to inform me that they only took CASH (please take note Rick Steves). I ran to the ATM while he got back in line.

Finally, after what seemed like hours but was probably only 30 minutes we were the proud owners of the 4 day museum pass for Paris and we took of towards the entrance.

We saw some pretty amazing things at the Louvre. We gazed upon Winged Victory of Samothrace, Venus de Milo, and of course the Mona Lisa.

I could have spent our entire trip to Paris exploring the Louvre, but since we only had a few days and so much to see we followed the Rick Steves tour of the Louvre. Again, thanks Rick!

After leaving the Louvre we went to Notre Dame to begin Rick Steves' Historic Paris Walk. Notre Dame was beyond amazing. However, what really struck us both as odd were all of the glitzy blinking machines throughout the building where you could have your coin smushed into a collectible coin. Seemed a bit cheap to us. Oh, and then there were the tourist. Not the loud American tourists you hear about, but the loud tourists from everywhere else. There were signs everywhere, in every language, asking you to be quiet and respectful...oh and not take flash photos. So what did we see and here. Yep......ugh.

We then went to the other end of the park in front of Notre Dame and entered the Notre Dame Crypt Archaeologique. About all I can say about it is that it smelled like a kitty litter box.

Next on Rick's walk was the Memorial de la Deportation, a memorial to the French victims of the Nazi concentration camps. No camera's were allowed and for once everyone seemed to take note of that. A very moving memorial and a must visit if you're in Paris.

By this time we were into the 2nd part of Rick's walk and found ourselves at the Left Bank Booksellers. Sadly, by the time we got there they were all packing up. Oh, and there were a bunch of cops taping off an area on the river wall that was covered with what looked like dead chickens. We never found out what that was.

We wandered around for a while in the Latin Quarter and stopped in at one cafe for a happy hour beer. We thought about continuing on Rick's walk but by that point we were starving, tired and a bit snappy with each other so we decided to find a place for dinner. After reading about 30 menu boards claiming the best Prix Frie menus in the area we decided on Bistro 30' (at least that is what I wrote down as the name of the place, but Google has never heard of it). We had a wonderful meal and two pichet's of tasty wine. Happy Anniversary to us!

After dinner we stopped in at a wine shop and picked up a bottle of wine to take back to the room with us where we finished the night sipping wine and watching the France vs. Serbia football match, in French, in FRANCE! Fun times.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Trip Recap - Day 5 London to Paris

Day 5 was a travel day. Since we'd be sleeping in so late we had asked for a wake up call. Getting up at 8am proved to be difficult but we managed. We ate breakfast in our hotel and then packed up and headed out. We managed to find our way to the St. Pancras (which I kept wanting to call Pancreas) station, and I managed to keep my luggage with me this time!

The EuroRail ride was uneventful. I kept thinking we'd notice going under the English Channel. Yet, at one point I said to Chris "When are we going to go through the English Channel" and he said "I think we just did!". Sure enough, at that point we looked outside and the signs were now in French! The train took us to Gard du Nord station in Paris which was a zoo! We had some minor issues figuring out how to get tickets for the Metro but eventually we procured the necessary tickets and hopped on the Metro to La Motte - Piquet - Grenelle. We walked in circles for a bit but eventually found our way to the Hotel Ares Eiffel, our home for the next few days. We checked in and dropped our bags in the lovely, but extremely small, room and took off to find the Eiffel Tower!

Along the way we stopped in at Le Bosquet, another Rick Steve's recommendation, and enjoyed a pitcher of Rose' and a Croque Monsieur. The group at the table next to us also had their Rick Steve's book out, they were from San Francisco. I hope he gets a commission for that!

Soon we were back walking and found our way to the Trocadero and enjoyed the amazing views of the Eiffel Tower.

We then decided that we still had time to go up in the Eiffel Tower before they closed it for the night and we stood in like for about an hour just to get tickets! I decided that the 2nd floor was high enough, and I'm glad we didn't try to go to the top. Once you got to the 2nd floor you had to wait in another line for 30 minutes just to get the next elevator. So instead we explored the 2nd floor, enjoyed the amazing views, and then walked down the stairs back to the ground. I think my favorite part was walking through the stairwell. At every floor there were these great signs about the tower.

And everytime the elevator went by we'd catch a glimpse of the guy driving it.

The views from the ground were also pretty amazing.

We opted to stop in for a pint before turning in for the night and found ourselves at a cafe near our hotel. We grabbed a great spot on the street and ordered 2 beers. When the bill came we realized that we'd just paid about $35 for 2 beers.

Lesson learned again.

Trip Recap - Day 4 London

Day 4 was our last full day in London and we tried to make the most of it. We planned to get up early, but as was the case most of our trip we ended up sleeping in until around 10am. Once we were finally ready we grabbed coffee and a pastry (do you see a trend here?) at Paul and hopped on the tube to Westminster. Once topside we joined the crowds of people to tour Westminster Abbey. We opted for the audio tour (per Rick Steve's recommendations, thanks again Rick!) and wandered through the abbey past tombs and the coronation chair and wow, just so much cool stuff. I am not usually a huge fan of old stuff, churches, etc. but Westminster Abbey was incredible. I could go back there again.

What really irked me in Westminster Abbey was the tourists. There were signs everywhere asking that you not take pictures and that you talk quietly in respect, but there were huge groups of people snapping photos and talking like they were at a baseball game. Disappointing.

After leaving the abbey we took the tube from Westminster to the Baker Street stop and found our way to 221b Baker Street, home of Sherlock Holmes.

We payed our 6 pounds each (!!!) and took a tour of the Sherlock Holmes museum. It was cute, but really, 6 pounds ?!? Chris really enjoyed it though, so mission accomplished.

Once he was done exploring the museum we hopped back on the tube at Baker Street to the High Street Kensington stop and walked over to Hyde Park. The gardens around Kensington Palace were impressive.

We stopped in for high tea at The Orangery. High tea itself was quite enjoyable although our service left much to be desired. I suppose I'd be a bit sullen too if I had to serve the tourists with their Rick Steve's books day in and day out, but hello, you're in customer service. Get over yourself.

After leaving the Orangery we explored Hyde Park for a while and walked, and walked, and walked some more. After what seemed like hours of walking we found ourselves at the Diana, Princess of Whales, Memorial Fountain. I know there is much controversy around this fountain but I found it fitting and a very nice tribute.

After exiting Hyde Park we found ourselves right in front of Harrods so of course we had to go in. It was crazy insane in there, to say the least, but wow, I could shop there more often. Chris kept saying to me "I bet you wish your mom was here with you" and he was right, I really did. Next time!

By this point we were beyond exhausted and decided it was time for a pint. We stopped in at a pub called the Duke of Argyll and soon realized that we were right on the edge of London's Red Light district. The people watching was pretty entertaining! We finished off our pints and walked through SOHO over to Picadilly Circus where we again found ourselves unable to decide on dinner. After a couple of false attempts we finally found ourselves at All Bar One and had a delicious meal. I'm pretty sure that is the only lunch/dinner meal we had in london that wasn't in a pub.

Since it was our last night in London we decided to explore a bit more before heading back and we found our way over to the Tom Cribb.

The patrons of the Tom Cribb we quite entertaining. There was the drunk guy at the counter that kept trying to pay for his beer (even though he'd already paid). And then, there was a group of people that appeared to work together (speculation) and seemed to be really tying one on for a Monday night. At one point a lady in their group was doing a funny dance and declaring "I'm Dildo JO JO Baggins of the Shire" over and over again. What a hoot! Chris enjoyed a Bishop's Finger and then it was back to the hotel!
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