A Travellerspoint blog

Paris - Friday - Notre-Dame & Musee Rodin

rain 53 °F
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We walked out of the hotel this morning and it was raining. Took the Metro to the Notre-Dame Cathedral. In the square in front of the cathedral there was a Fete Du Pan which is an exhibition of bread and other Parisienne pastries, i.e. croissants, pan au chocolat. The bakers were instructing children on how to make the baguettes as well. The aroma was incredible in this big tent. And it was this aroma that led us to follow the baker who just took out a new batch of baguettes from the oven and was taking it to the booth across the way to be sold to the public. Needless to say we bought a shopping bag full of baguettes and pastries which fed us the rest of the day with plenty for tomorrow. Nothing can describe the taste of a freshly made warm baguette – so you’ll just have to come here yourself to try it. A definite highlight of the trip.

We then entered Notre-Dame Cathedral and noon mass was in session. Walking into such an historical and spiritual structure was so moving to say the very least. We hope you enjoy the photos we took.

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Then we took the Metro to the Musee Rodin and explored the gardens which included his famous sculptures of The Thinker, The Gates of Hell and the Burghers of Calais. The interior of the Musee was a late 18th century mansion that Rodin lived in for approximately the last 9 years of his life called the Hotel Biron. The sculptures included The Kiss, Le Sommeil, works of Camille Claudel (The Little Lady) who was his model and muse. The Van Gogh and Monet paintings were part of Rodin's personal collection, Krista was very disappointed that her favorite sculpture by Rodin “La Main de Dieu” – “The Hand of God” was not being shown. But we enjoyed his other works greatly. It’s amazing how emotion can be evoked through such a medium. Our pictures are for you to enjoy as we did.

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We then took some time out for shopping and headed back to the hotel.. It was still raining—c’est la vie. Boo-hoo tomorrow is our last day in Paris – we leave on the Chunnel train for London tomorrow evening.

Posted by kckc1580 11:38 Archived in France Comments (2)

Paris

C'est Ci Bon!!!

semi-overcast 48 °F
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Tues.- We left Brugge at 10 am and hopped on a 10:35 am train to Brussels where we switched trains to a high-speed train from Brussels to Paris arriving about 1:35 pm Paris time. After an interesting taxi ride, Krista was reminded how long it had been since she had spoken French. Our hotel is beautiful on the Champs-Elysees. Ila experienced her first Metro ride on our way to the Seine River Cruise which was great but rainy and cold as well. We got some pictures of our cruise and then hopped on a tour bus for night illuminations tour of the city which was beautiful. We hope you enjoy our pictures – excuse the raindrops.

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Wed – We actually slept in which felt wonderful. Our day started at the Musee D’Orsay (after our croissant and latte at Starbucks of course). It didn’t rain today which was a plus although it was still cold and partly cloudy. Ila was speechless (believe it or not) at the exhibitions of beautiful paintings and sculptures (Cezzane, Monet, Manet, Van Gogh, Renoir, Rodin, Degas, Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec) of the late 19th century and early 20th century. Highlights for Ila were the art nouveau furniture renderings featuring stained glass and mirrors. Krista was moved to tears by seeing the paintings that made an impression when she was here 13 years ago.

After many hours at the D’Orsay, we walked over the Seine River to the Louvre. There aren’t words to describe this enormous building of wonder called the Louvre. We only were able to see a severely minute part of this magnificent treasure. Our highlights here included Venus de Milo, Winged Victory, 19th Century French artists including Napolean’s commissioned artist David, De la Croix and Delaroche and last especially not least Mona Lisa herself (she smiled at us). After over 8 hours on our feet (10,000+ steps) we were so exhausted we could only order room service – but not to worry, the fries are to die for.

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Thurs – Our wake-up call at 7am started our full day. At 8:30 a private van picked us up at our hotel to take us to Giverny to see Monet’s Maison (home for all you Americans) and his most exquisite gardens. It is amazing how quickly you leave Paris and immediately you are in French country, how quaint and beautiful the villages are. Words and the pictures don’t do justice to the immaculate beauty of the gardens. You can see where Monet got his inspiration for his famous water lily paintings. Our pictures will do the rest of the descriptions.
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After Giverny, our guide took us to lunch in Fouges. The food was edible (don’t ask Krista about any of this food. You will get the same answer every time- except for the wine). From there, we drove through the beautiful countryside which was like a wonderland. We stepped out of our century into the past.

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As we entered the golden gates at Versailles, we were stunned by it’s grand enormity and immense opulence (and Krista thought the English were full of Pomp & Circumstance—Yeah RIGHT!!!). The lavish rooms seemed to go on forever and words are hard to describe it. After our tour of the palace, we headed out to the gardens(which at the time it was raining, but we had to see them anyway, so we braved it!!!) Music of the time of Louis XIV accompanied us as we walked through glorious gardens and viewed the magnificent fountains and sculptures. The gardens, like the palace itself, seemed to go and on, and at every corner, there seemed to be more…it was never ending! It truly expressed the splendor and luxury the occupants of this grand palace enjoyed. Hopefully the pictures can convey a little bit of what we saw.

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Tonight we had a great dinner at the café (even Krista ate hear meal!!) and we are looking forward to tomorrow to visit the Notre-Dame Cathedral and Musee Rodin and hopefully some other hot sposts if time permits (or our feet and backs give out first!)…Bon Soir!

P.S. From Krista:

Steve – I haven’t walked down the Champs-Elysees with my sign and flag yet, but tomorrow is another day…I'll keep you posted, however, you may not get your souvenir if I do :)

Dad- I tried your expression and all I got was “crickets”… c’est la vie!!!

Posted by kckc1580 14:03 Archived in France Comments (2)

Brugge Belgium - Monday 5/10

sunny 50 °F
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The day was a beautiful sunny (but very cool) day. Brugge is a simply amazing city with so much history starting as early as the 2nd century with the Vikings discovering the port inlets. The buildings, churches, homes and streets and plazas have been able to maintain the medieval influence of its beginnings . We only hope the pictures convey the beautiful sites we enjoyed throughout the day. We took a private 2-hour walking tour with a wonderful gentleman who is an 84-year-old native and who has been "married to the same woman for 61 years --imagine that!" as he would say. One highlight of that tour was visiting the Church of our Lady which houses Michaelangelo's rendition of Madonna and Child.

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And after the tour we went on a canal cruise to see the city from the water. As far as we're concerned, one MUST see Brugge and spend at least 3-4 days here to experience it properly.

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Dil -- this is definitely a place you and your wife would enjoy for a holiday away from the kids. We will send you our hotel information where we strongly suggest you stay.

Tomorrow morning -- on to Paris

Posted by kckc1580 12:42 Archived in Belgium Comments (4)

Friday - Sunday

London-Netherlands-Bruge

overcast 52 °F
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We apologize for our lack of posting lately…we’ve been quite busy and having a lot of fun!!! :) So here is a quick re-cap of the past few days:

Thursday (5/6 ) evening – We had a wonderful true English meal with Jeff’s friend, Dil. As you can see from the picture of the menu we posted on Friday…there are a few items that you wouldn’t find on the menu’s back home! Dil was a wonderful dinner companion and was able to explain a lot of the English culture to us …it was so great. Thank you again Gil for an absolute wonderful evening ! Oh yeah, on our way back before dinner that evening we were riding the central line tube (Underground/subway) back and saw that there was a a Newbury Park Underground Stop…it was fun seeing a familiar name to be sure! (Thanks Greg, we actually saw it before you commented about it…it was so funny to see it :) !)

Friday (5/7) - We were up at 4:30 am (a very happy hour for Krista to be up at…ok not really!!) and by 5:15 am we were all packed up and out the door. We took a taxi to San Pancras International Train Station. At 6:20 we hopped on the Chunnel train (Eurostar) and 15 min later we were on our way…it took about 45 to get to the boarder and to the English channel. It took about 20 min total under the channel and then we were in Calais, France and on our way to Brussels, Belgium (our final stop on the Eurostar train). London_--_Day_5_010.jpg

In Brussels, we changed trains and took a train up to Amsterdam, Netherlands. We got to Amsterdam around 1:00 in the afternoon…and so how the saying goes...what happens in Amsterdam...stays in Amsterdam. London_--_Day_5_029.jpgLondon_--_Day_5_030.jpg

We headed back to the train stations at around 4:00 pm for our train back down to Rotterdam where Bernie Tobin was picking us up and we would stay with him and his family for the weekend! It was a funny scene (at least looking back on it…not so funny at the moment it was happening) Our train was leaving at 4:25 to be precise and by the time we had out tickets in hand we had approx. 15 min to get to the train platform (hauling our luggage with us), and of course the platform was on the complete other side of the station. We booked it and ran up a ton of stairs (remember we had luggage in hand) and then couldn’t find the train…we turned around and found the train and realized there was an escalator up to the platform (bummer!) we hopped on the train and sat down (completely sweating and catching our breath) and at 4:15 we pulled out of the train station…which was cause to alarm…because the train was supposed to leave at 4:25…not 4:15. We then were worried we were on the wrong train…which we very well may have been. So the whole time to Rotterdam (approx 45 min) we were worried we weren’t on the right train and that we would be kicked off! Luckily we only had 1 stop between Amsterdam and Rotterdam…and we made it to Rotterdam without our tickets being checked! Few…we made it!!!
Bernie was a sight for sore eyes! It was so incredible great to see him. He drove us back to his beautiful house and we just
hung out with him, his son Drew and daughter Kelly. London_--_Day_5_031.jpgLondon_--_Day_5_032.jpg Lisa (his wife) and their other two daughters, Anna and Emma, were in another country (Luxemburg) at a soccer tournament…really how cool is that…going to a different country for a soccer tournament!!!

We got a great night’s sleep and were up early the next day to head out to see the tulips at the Keukenhof gardens. I don’t think we were expecting the absolute beauty that we were about to experience. The pictures really don’t do them justice…you really have to experience it in person and smell the luxurious aromas that accompany the beauty! Rotterdam_013.jpgRotterdam_015.jpgRotterdam_017.jpgRotterdam_028.jpgRotterdam_039.jpgRotterdam_041.jpgRotterdam_044.jpgRotterdam_046.jpgRotterdam_053.jpgRotterdam_054.jpgRotterdam_057.jpgRotterdam_066.jpg

After that we were off to see the windmills at Kinderdijk. It was amazing to see how the people actually lived in those things! Another beautiful sight to see and experience. Rotterdam_068.jpgRotterdam_069.jpgRotterdam_071.jpg

Next, we were off the Delft. Delft is a very quaint village and you felt like you were going back in time. This is were they make the famous blue and while pottery (delftware). In delft there are 2 churches right next to each other…the old church which was built in the 1100’s and the new church built in the late 1300’s…many of the Netherland’s monarchs are buried there. We explored the town and the antique and Farmer’s market that were happening at the time. Bernie picked up some white asparagus which is a commodity that the Netherland’s are known for. The Dutch people all speak English…as well if not better than us! It was funny because they would start talking Dutch to you and when you gave them that “deer in the headlights” look…they would immediately switch to English with such ease that you would have thought it was their first language! We filled up on freshly made (and still warm) Stroopwafels which are 2 flat thin waffles with a layer of caramel in between….YUMMY!!! 
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We came back to Bernie’s place and Lisa and the girls were just coming home from there tournament. They did great and won two games!!! Bernie and Lisa took us to an amazing Turkish restaurant that evening…a great meal to be sure!

Sunday, we left Bernie’s place around 9:00 am and he and Lisa drove us down to Brugge, Belgium. Brugge (or in English Bruges) is often called the “Venice of the North” it is amazing place. You fee like you just stepped out of a storybook. The chocolate is to die for…There isn’t anything to compare that is for sure! Godiva has nothing on the chocolate that we tasted (and bought)!!! Bernie and Lisa had lunch us and walked around, bought some chocolate and then they needed to head back home to celebrate Mother’s Day with their family. There truly aren’t words to express our complete gratitude and appreciation to them. It was an absolute highlight to see them!
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Our hotel here in Brugge is fantastic! It’s a cute little boutique hotel that has a mini spa that you reserve for just yourself (so you are totally private) with a sauna, steam room, tanning bed (thought that was different!) and since it’s a part of the included amenities, we took full advantage of it last night and relaxed before heading off to bed. Today, we are off now to take a tour of the canals nd a walking tour of the city. We will post more later this evening when we get back.
Hope you all are well!!! We are having a blast and can’t believe it’s ½ way over…
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Posted by kckc1580 03:09 Archived in Belgium Comments (3)

Thursday Pictures from London

Here are the pictures we promised of our last day in London

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Posted by ilajoy 13:16 Archived in England Comments (6)

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