Friday, December 31, 2010

Last Days

Today is our last day in Paris and we're not doing anything special. We're hunkering down, actually, because tomorrow's travel could possibly do us in otherwise. We have a 7:25 a.m. flight to Berlin with a layover and then a flight to NYC that gets in at 3 p.m.... and it's supposed to snow in Berlin, which could complicate matters... We're more than a little nervous about getting where we need to go. Can you blame us?

Yesterday started slowly, too. We did some shopping for a couple more souvenirs, which was definitely satisfactory... and then came back to the apartment to nap a little... and then Noah cooked dinner! We had tortellinis and salad and baguette toasted with cheese on it... yum!!! After that we got ourselves together and went out back to Montmartre to our favorite crepe place in honor of Lori's birthday... crepes and tea stuffed in next to dinner and then we were ready to meet Rita and her boyfriend down by the Moulin Rouge.

I know Rita from Davis, CA, so it was fun being able to connect with her here, too. We walked back up the hill to the Cafe de les 2 Moulins and had champagne and chatted until after midnight, when we decided maybe we'd better hit the metro and head back home.

So it's noon here now, and I'm thinking it's time for croissants and espresso. I'll see if I can persuade Noah out of bed!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Shopping, eating and a travel sloth

Today was a day of wandering about Paris aimlessly... well, not entirely aimlessly. After sleeping the morning away, we made our way to Chez Omar for lunch... a late lunch... the most amazing couscous EVER, actually. We sat in that restaurant and ate our couscous with stewed carrots, turnips, zuchinni, and garbanzo beans, and drank our wine... and it was good.

After that we wandered aimlessly about Paris. See?
Cool art on a wall in the Jewish district.

Marc and Sherris :)
We bought some tasty foods at Le Bon Marche... yum, some souvenirs and some things to eat now. We've been snacking since we got back to the apartment, even though we'll be going to dinner in 45 minutes.

Also, Noah has acquired a travel sloth. Apparently Marc has three and didn't know that Noah likes sloths... so now this cute little guy will travel around with us!
Travel Sloth!
I think tomorrow will be another day of shopping with more eating in, since we are in an apartment, and since Marc and Sherris are abandoning us for the coast. We'll spend our last 2 days in Paris here at the apartment pretending that we are actual Parisians... who don't speak good French... and are vegetarians... I said pretend, didn't I???

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Our day with Marc and Sherris

So tomorrow looks like it will prove to be more exciting, but it was so nice to get out of hotel living and into an apartment! Marc and Sherris (Noah's dad and stepmom) called last night to tell us they had arrived in Paris. They (and now we) are staying at the apartment of a friend while here. We woke this morning and after wrestling with the hotel checkout and taxi calling process, brought croissant and pain au chocolat as a thanks offering to the apartment on Boulevard Montparnasse.

The hotel employees were nonplussed as to our request for a taxi. Montparnasse is 3 Metro stops from the hotel we were staying at... and they wanted to know why we didn't just take the Metro. I stared at them, and then at our two huge suitcases and our carry-on items... and we put our foot down. I'm sure I wouldn't have minded taking the metro if someone from the hotel wanted to come with to carry all this stuff for me!

When we got to the apartment, we followed all the intricate directions Marc left us for getting into the building, including putting only one person and piece of luggage at a time in the VERY tiny elevator... and we rang the doorbell....... nothing... so we knocked.... nothing... doorbell? After a minute, we pulled out the cellphone and called the apartment number. We could hear ringing inside... good sign, right place... but no one answered. Just as I was pulling out the computer to connect to wifi and find another number to call, my cell rang, and Marc's voice could be heard on the other line. They were still asleep! But good to know we weren't stuck in that hallway for the rest of the day!

After breakfasting (it was 11:30 by breakfast time)... Noah, Marc and I ran a couple errands to the Monoprix and to Air France to try getting a refund for our cancelled flight to Venice (no luck yet). Then we came back to the apartment to pick up Sherris and have lunch (it was 2:30 by this time) at La Coupole. Lunch lasted until after 5 p.m. and it was DELICIOUS. I had salmon... so good...

So after "lunch"... we went to look at another apartment Marc and Sherris may stay at on Il-de-la-Cite. Here's what Notre Dame looked like this evening.
The apartment we looked at was beautiful... very chi-chi. I like where we are staying because it has a homey feel to it...

I'll post more photos tomorrow, when I have more... and also because my editing site is having a problem this evening. Time for an evening snack and then bed.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Eiffel Tower

Today we did a LOT of walking. We first got up and went to find breakfast.

We stopped by a park and took pictures of this statue...

on our way to this great furniture store... it's called Maisons du Monde and it really is awesome. We had heard about it because we were in a shop the other day and Noah was admiring the funky multicolored chandeliers. The nice sales lady said she would sell us anything in the store except those chandeliers... but she gave us the name of the store where they came from. She bought them a few years ago, so we were sure we wouldn't ACTUALLY find the chandeliers... but we went to the store anyhow. It was quite fun! I brought home a catalog and I'm sure I'll shop from there if I can convince them to ship to me in the U.S.

Anyhow... next on the list was the oldest flea market in Paris... all the way on the North side of Paris. So we hopped the metro and took a ride up to look at antiques. We had far more fun at the flea market from yesterday... it was more photogenic and ... funkier... but it was still interesting to go through and look at all the eccentric stuff that Parisians buy and sell.

After THAT we decided to head to the Eiffel Tower. We contemplated standing in line in the freezing cold to ride up to the 2nd level (the top was closed)... but opted to leave with just a few pictures from the ground instead.


We saw this awesome old hand crank carousel...

And also this strange bird that looks like a pigeon only it's 3 times as large... someone please identify!

After that we were freezing cold and decided to hit the Paris Aquarium to warm up and see the fishes. It was pretty cool... not as nice as the Georgia Aquarium, for sure, but it made a good place to get the feeling back in our fingers and toes before the journey back to the hotel.

Tomorrow we're meeting Marc and Sherris and that marks the beginning of the end for our stay here in Paris. I mean... it'll be GREAT to see them :) and we're looking forward to spending some time together, but it does mean that our trip is coming to a close.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Marche aux Puces

Well, Versailles didn't happen today. When I brought up the website to get directions (i.e. which train to take) a hitherto unseen pop-up appeared letting us know that the Versailles grounds would be closed today due to snow... and that the castle would be closed TOMORROW due to Christmas... sigh... we'll try later this week, although I'm starting to feel that time is running out on our trip to Paris.

No matter. We're taking things as they come anyhow, so we walked over to our little breakfast place (his cook was out for the day so instead of crepes he had tartaine et croissant to offer... we weren't complaining)... had our cafe au lait and then walked down to the local marche aux puces (flea market). Here are a few pictures of the bizarreness we encountered there.

There were quite a few people out perusing the merchandise at the market stands and we enjoyed walking through and looking at all the weird things we would buy if we lived in Paris... too many of them were too large to fit in our suitcases... and quite a few merchants expected too high a price for their wares... so we didn't buy anything there.

After spending most of the morning browsing the puces, we moved on to the Latin quarter. It's right up next to the Seine, with lovely views of the river and Notre Dame... we spent the rest of the day wandering around there, stopping into shops, eating crepes, and taking photos. All in all a lovely day.

Noah showed me this store... it's amazing. Sarah M, you HAVE to visit when you come to Paris... and Lori, wish you were there with us! You'd have loved it.

This photo is obscure, but it's of the Sorbonne for Sarah M and Lori :)

I'll leave you with a couple photos of Noah and me on the metro... and the promise to have a good time no matter where we end up over the next few days... hopefully one of those days will have Versailles in it, though!

My new hat!

Noah's new hat!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

L'Arc de Triomphe

Today is Christmas, so much of Paris is quiet and still. And freezing! Today has been the coldest day yet, not lending itself to being outside for long, especially when trying to get over a cold.

We made a couple of stops, first one to Le Passage du Grand Cerf... which would have been a nice shopping street to walk down, but it was closed... and I got a tour down the seediest street I'VE ever been down in Paris... we made our way out of there pretty quick.

Next, we trotted over to L'Arc de Triomphe.

And then we took a walk down the Champs Elysees. It was crowded and more touristy than any place we have been yet. We decided to beat the freezing cold by going to the movies (thanks for the idea Lori) and saw "The Tourist" which was bittersweet... because we should have been in Venice right now and that's where the movie is set... sigh... but it was a nice theater and Johnny Depp is a dream boat... so overall it was a good idea. :)

Tomorrow we're going to try to go to Versailles. And in 2 days, Marc and Sherris will be here! Merry Christmas to everyone at home.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas in Paris... edited*

It's still snowing here in Paris. From the reports we've seen about CDG, I'm beginning to worry that we're going to have a harrowing adventure trying to get home. We're hoping for the best... the return trip is still a week away.

This morning we woke and visited the Rouge Pomme, where we had petit dejeuner for the second day in a row... cafe creme, crepe du beurre et sucre, tartaine du beurre, jus d'orange... perfect... and cheaper than the hotel breakfast which we can never quite seem to wake in time for. (Hey, we're on vacation here... sleeping late is definitely on the menu).

After that we had to make provisions for ourselves since most restaurants will be closed tomorrow for Christmas. So we made a stop by the local boulangerie.
Yeah, the line was out the door! Everyone was picking up their holiday bread and cake.
So we got our two baguettes finally... and some juice, cheese, carrots and apples at the grocery... and a bottle of champagne... because... it's Christmas! We took our provisions back to the hotel and prepared for our next adventure of the day... the Pompidou.

The Pompidou is ... wow, you can't say anything about it without understating it, really. It's a completely different kind of art museum from the Louvre... and one that should be on more people's lists of places to visit in Paris. This was Noah's pick, as he had been here the last time he was in Paris, and I'm glad he showed it to me. (*Noah did not come here last time...)


This was actually a video of a woman playing a cello duet with her own echo... I thought of my friend Maggie and smiled.
After our trip to Pompidou, we gorged on carbs, spaghetti with butter, pomme frites... crepes... and then took a walk around the nearby shopping area.

I thought these two old ladies were adorable :)
We'll be missing our friends and extended family the next couple of days. I hope that everyone has a fun and safe holiday.