Wednesday, September 22, 2010

We'll always have Paris...

I have never actually seen Casablanca, but whenever I think of Paris, I think of that line from that movie...

In case you missed my blog about this trip- James planned it as a surprise for us to celebrate our one year anniversary! I LOVE HIM! I really could just say "Paris, was amazing, you have to see it..." and stop at that- but where's the fun in that?

We arrived in Paris at around 10am and were on our way to figure out the metro system and head to our hotel! Figuring out the metro system wasn't hard (and the ticket machines had English options). So, we were on our way- ready to buy a "carnet" (set of 10) of metro tickets at a time, which we read is the way to go, rather than one at a time (the cost is 12 Euro VS 1.70 Euro per ticket, saving us .50 per ticket). The machine wouldn't take our card or bills so we had to get out of line and hunt down some change! Mind you, we had been in line for like 20 mins before realizing we couldn't pay, sighhh! So we went around the corner and found a pastry shop and got our first French pastries! We got two bread stick things, one with chocolate chips all over it and one with fruity chunks- both were incredible, and this got us more excited for our next 4 days in Paris! When we paid we asked that cashier for our change in coins and we headed back to the line at the ticket machine. We found that the lines aren't always that long but I guess we weren't the only ones who just got in from the airport at that time... oh and did I mention we had enough Euro change to buy two full price tickets but were so set on buying the carnet that we got out of line without thinking about it, only to wait another 20 mins in line for the same machine... well, yeah, that's what happened... it was early ok ;-)
After finally purchasing our Carnet we made it to the metro stop close to our hotel, only to then realize we left the hotel address at home- and in Paris, all the streets and buildings look the same! After about 15 mins of walking in circles we found our cute hotel Ares!

We got settled in then went out for some food at a little cafe we found while in search of our hotel. While there, we learned that entree is actually the word for appetizers not the main course like we use it back home, and bottled waters can cost 7 Euro!!! (Note to future Paris travelers, you can drink the tap water in Paris... and for free!). Here we had our first French Creme Brulee!

After our long and delicious meal (meals in Europe are quite the process!), we walked by the Eiffel tower (just because)and then went to Notre Dame. We were hooked. That place is ridiculously awesome! Lots of detail and history in that place! By the time we got there the bell towers were closed so we just walked around the inside. Mass was going on at the time which was cool but awkward- oh well, I'm sure they're used to it!

We ended the day at Musee d'Orsay. Tons of famous (and not so famous) paintings, which we really didn't know much about. It was enjoyable but we're not quite in to art (especially nude art), so the only reason I would go back is for another chance to take in the ball room! We weren't allowed to take pictures or I'd have taken far too many! It's like a palace's version of the Sistine chapel- on steroids. A must see... again!

First things first- food. We found a pastry shop around the corner, got some breakfast pastries and were on our way to a full day of Paris tourism!

We heard about bus #69 (one of their public transportation buses), which goes by lots of the popular sights so we rode that bus to the end just to get a little drive by of some of what Paris has to offer. While on our way back we found a Harley Davidson store so we stopped in to get James dad some Paris H.D. memorabilia! Such thoughtful kids we are! Then we hopped back on and back off close to the Lourve.
As we were walking, we decided we should probably eat before going to this huge museum. We passed a department store on our walk and I had noticed that whenever they talk about shopping they say "department store" and never mall, so we went to check it out. come to find out, their department stores are kind of like malls. In this one in particular (I forget the name), there were 7 stories and each one was something different. The bottom was like Home Depot, the next floor was clothing and accessories, one was electronics, one was a book and gifts type store, one had home goods, etc, very neat! We decided to eat in the cafe on the 7th floor with a cute little view over part of the city.
Finally off to the Louvre! It was yet another work of amazing French architecture. We admired the outside and as we worked our way to the entrance we decided to have some fun with the pyramid (entrance).

It's quite possible we spent more time on the outside of the Louvre than the inside...

Once finally inside we decided to rent the audio-guide to walk us through the "masterpieces" at the museum. We saw many incredible works of art including the Venus de Milo and Mona Lisa. So cool. That place is huge, we probably only covered .05 of it that day. Oh and there is a Starbucks under the museum which I am proud to say I did not indulge in!
After the Lourve we tried to stop by the Rodin Museum (Rodin is the guy who made "the thinker") but it had already closed for the day. At that point we were ready to head back to the hotel for a break... but not before another snack of course. We stopped at a stand for some hotdogs and crepes! Their hotdogs were pretty cool. They used baguettes, poked a hole down the center, dropped some mustard inside, dipped the hotdog in ketchup then put the hotdog inside and viola! So not messy. So smart. And then we finished off our snacking with a strawberry jam and Nutella filled crepe! Magnific!
We got back to the hotel, rested up (I slept for about 20 mins), then headed out for more exploration. We tracked down Lady Liberty,

admired the Arc De Triompe and her wonderful views, and of course, marveled at the Eiffel Tower- who sparkled for us :-)
This would be me realizing there would be no turning back on our climb up the Arc...

Then we were super American and grabbed some McDonald's to go, grubbed it down and passed out :-)

Pastries for breakfast! Then we hopped on the metro, changed to the R.E.R. (their train system) then we arrived at Versailles!!!

Gorgeous and huge! Everything was matching on the inside -bed spread, walls, furiture...
(I want the queen's room!)

...and intricately kept on the outside.

The yard was miles long and all beautiful. I wish I could live there! It's like a community but it's just one palace!

There are also mini get-a-way palaces and little gardens within the yard- all so beautiful!
After Versailles we went back to the room to freshen up (and nap again... hi...) then headed out to see what was going on at the Eiffel tower, before going up!
How romantic! ;-)

There was a lot going on under the tower. Lots of people selling odds and ends- I got suckered into buying five Eiffel Tower key chains for 1 Euro. I am using one- now what to do with the other four? There was also this no-name American wrapper with a huge crowd around her, and some soccer guys showing off their skills. Around 7:15 we got in line (James pre-bought tickets online for us, which was way smart if I do say so myself) we made it to the top around 7:45pm and didn't come down until about 9pm. We decided to walk down the last two "sommets" to get a different, and more inside view of the structure. It was a lot to take in. It was breathtaking, romantic and really quite an amazing piece of work. After that we walked around and took pics, grabbed some food (I had my first truly French French Onion Soup- delicious!), then we crashed for the night...

Day four already? Oh well... HAPPY ANNIVERSARY! Yay! One year of marriage, can't believe we're already here! To start the day we, of course, visited our daily breakfast pastry shop and got some more goodies and headed out to squeeze in some last minute stuff. First we headed to Notre Dame to go up the Bell tower.

Which took forever

but was well worth it!

Especially because I had a new found obsession with gargoyles

Next we stopped for lunch where I had French Onion Soup again
(this one was even better than the first! I melted in bliss...)

followed by boeuf bourguignon and a cappuccino! The perfect last day lunch!
Then as we walked along, we found the cutest book store!!!

The books were in English, they had cute seating (couches, day bed style seating, etc- too cute), a little typewriter room- I really can't describe it and do it justice, but we spent about an hour in there- Loved it!
Next we hit up Sainte Chapelle. It was built to hold the crown of thorns... yes, THE crown of thorns, and it's basically just an old style French chapel with ridiculous amounts of stain glass windows which pretty much sum up the Bible- Genesis to Revelation... AWEsome! (a sneak peak of the front half...)

After that we went home to get all pretty-ed up for our Anniversary dinner cruise on the Seine River. While getting ready I accidentally knocked James' ring in the toilet... whoops!

But we got it out safe and sound... and by we, I mean James. What a sweetie! There was a live band which sang fun songs- oldies AND goodies! The cruise was about two hours, our "entrees" weren't that great but the meal and sides more than made up for it! Mmmm!

After the cruise we took one last walk to say "au revoir" to the lovely sparkling Eiffel Tower before heading back to the hotel.

From Paris With Love...