Saturday, August 31, 2013

Paris, Day 4 Part 2

When I tell people that we did this, they respond with WOW! What a great idea! How did you hear about it??? I'm so quick to tell them it was my wonderful sister that had the idea and made all of the arrangements.

The company is Localers. It is basically a photography tour of Paris. Our guide, Bruno, spoke English of course, and he took us on a 3 hour tour of the Paris sights that he must love. He told us that he is an architectural photographer, so I could see that he had an appreciation for space and buildings.

We took a lot of pictures by couple, and a few pictures all together. I'm only posting the pictures of Jim and myself, but for my favorite group picture with Ana and Rich too.

It was a little awkward (for me) to know that Bruno was constantly following us with a camera. He would take random shots, like a paparazzi! It was SO VERY HOT and I couldn't decide if I should look at the camera, take off my sunglasses or leave them on, smile or just act natural. I am NOT a good subject, as I found out when we looked through the 500+ photos. I do not have a good smile in most of the pictures. I'm sorry to my travel partners in crime for ruining any shots!

I did find 30+ pictures that I really liked.

We strolled through the Palais Royal gardens, hand in hand.



The palace was beautiful.


We moved on to the Louvre and its pyramid. Jim did the classic "I'm touching the pyramid" pose.


My favorite group shot. Too bad we couldn't ask all the people to get out of the way! Ha!


Ignore my dusty shoes. I wish I had noticed that from the walk through the gardens..




This is from my own camera. There's Bruno on the bottom left. And a lovely palace in the background.


I'm so glad Bruno took us to the Pont des Arts. Both couples came prepared with padlocks. Yay!

You can see that both sides of the bridge are lined with padlocks. Couples come and declare their commitment to love, and then throw the keys to their padlocks into the Seine. So the commitment is supposed to be forever.. but Bruno answered our question honestly about the padlocks. We could see that the bridge was darn near full. He said that when a section becomes too heavy and full, the city comes and snips away that part of the chain fence. No one knows what is done with the locks. Well, the keys are still in the Seine. That part is forever, no?



Here's our lock. I couldn't find a plain old padlock. Maybe this can be an Ace ad in the future?




Throwing the key into the river.





The Notre Dame in the background.


We sat by the river briefly for pictures.


I love the buildings in the background.


This mural near the Pomidou Centre was interesting. I couldn't stop laughing.


and my last favorite is this fountain. I didn't know this fountain at all until I just looked it up. It is the Fontaine des Innocents. Who knew it was from the 1500's?! If Bruno mentioned that, I didn't hear it.


I don't have any photographic proof of the rest of our night, so I don't remember what we did for dinner or for the rest of the day. BUT I do know that we were exhausted and HOT after the three hours of pictures and walking. It was very worth it when looking at the pictures. We look happy (and not sweaty, thankfully!) and beautiful. I am so grateful for these pictures and memories!

Thank you, Ana for the arrangements and just the general "you know your stuff"!

PLEASE do not copy or use these images. These are our special memories. If you really, really want a print of a photo, please let me know.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Paris, Day 4 Part 1

There were so many pictures from this day that I'm going to split this blog posting into two parts.

On this morning we (Jim and myself) made our way to the Eiffel Tower for our scheduled tour and rise to the summit. So exciting!

This is the middle part of the ET, showing the ongoing construction.


We found our tour guide very easily. The company is well organized and our guide was super funny and friendly. At the bottom of the ET, in the shade, she gave us the history of the Eiffel Tower.


Our tour group got to skip the line (phew! that thing stretches for "miles"!) and we headed up in the elevator to the second level.

They sure did crowd us in that elevator!



The ride up felt pretty rickety but I'm sure it was perfectly safe.


We saw the people walking up and down the 704 stairs to the 2nd level.


At the second level this was the view looking up to the summit. Whoa.



The views were beautiful. It was a hot, clear day so we could see for miles.




People are even starting to put padlocks on structures other than the bridges...


Our tour guide was nice enough to take this picture for us.


She gave us 20 minutes to enjoy the views and then we were called back to listen to more of the history of the Paris sights. We made our way around the deck and she told interesting stories about just about everything we could see.

And did you know that they are currently voting on which color to paint the Eiffel Tower next? And do you know that HOT PINK is in the lead?! I'm so glad we saw the ET at its current brown/gray!


We were given tickets to go up to the summit, on our own. We found the LONG line for the elevator and went up some more.


Everything became much smaller down below! It was a little terrifying to think of how high we were! (81 floors!)


I promise you that I did NOT write on the Eiffel Tower. Maybe another Lisa and Jim were in love, at the same exact spot?!




The lines were pretty long to go down. We stopped for a quick bathroom break and I tried to mentally prepare myself for the long, long walk down the stairs. I kept telling myself that it would be way easier than going UP the stairs... Luckily, we found an elevator with NO wait and made our way down quite easily.


This is one of the pillars at the bottom of the Tower.


One more last look up close...


We hurried back to our hotel to prepare for our next part of the day. We found a little stand that sold these delicious baguette sandwiches. OMG. So good!


Part 2 coming up!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Paris, Day 3

I'm a breakfast person. I knew that I would need a good breakfast each morning (with some kind of protein) to make it through our fun-filled days. Jim found a little bakery, or pâtisserie, and they had these lovely quiches and pain au chocolat (chocolate croissants)! Thank you, Jimmy! He is always taking care of me :)

Paris Le Marais was near our hotel area. It is well known art gallery and GLBT community. I loved seeing all of the rainbow decals in store/restaurant windows showing they are supportive.

After my hearty and delicious breakfast we were ready to meet Ana and Rich for the day's festivities. We traveled by Metro to the Montmarte district in the 18th arrondissement. The main attraction, the Sacré-Cœur Basilica, sits on top of a giant hill. We were lucky to have Ana, who knew that our metro passes would also work for the trolley car taking you up the stairs. Those stairs looked very steep and intimidating! (They're not all pictured below.)

The Basilica was beautiful to see but because it sits at the highest point of the city, it was also beautiful to look down for the view. The Eiffel Tower was too far away and too far to the side to point out, but the rest of the city seemed to be spread before us.

Pictures weren't allowed in the basilica, but I did take a few without realizing that at first, and then I took two secret ones. Shhh! I didn't use flash (which is the standard no-no, so I didn't see the harm)...

This is a little side chapel.

Golden Jesus.

I love gargoyles!

The day was incredibly hot. Sticky, sweaty uncomfortable hot. I say that without complaining, even now. I wouldn't trade the experience for anything!

So because we hadn't had any coffee yet (the pâtisserie didn't offer any) we chose to have a cáfe glacé, a sweet frothy iced coffee, instead of the usual beer or glass of rosé to cool off. It was such a treat to sit and enjoy this area before we explored some more.

We walked a little ways before we saw this cute little train that offered tours of the Montmartre area. We hopped on board and enjoyed the breeze when we could catch it and enjoyed the sights.

We passed the Red Light district of sex shops. Oooh la la.

And we saw the Moulin Rouge! I'm sure they offer can-can shows but we didn't even think of stopping. I think it would be interesting to read up on that period of time!

Another selfie. I'm glad I don't look as hot and sweaty as I surely was...

After the train tour we did explore the top of the hill, and its artist community.

The area is well known for its portrait artists and painters.

We did walk away with one art purchase, an ink drawing of the Eiffel Tower of course (:
We walked down the stairs to leave the area and I found these graffiti works of art to be interesting.
Gnome bomb!

Yoda and his bride.


Back on the Metro.

I'm pretty sure we headed back to our hotel to wash up and rest for the rest of the day/night. I think Jim and I were feeling brave and decided to head out on our own for dinner, with a nighttime river cruise lined up for later with Ana and Rich. The metro wasn't hard to navigate and so we made our way to the general direction of the cruise company and found some grub.

Jim became very intrigued with a local drink. We kept seeing these red colored beverages at several other places, so he tried to figure out what it was that others were ordering. He didn't get it right here but he does love his Campari!

We stumbled across this Flame of Liberty, which has become a sort of memorial for Princess Diana.

We stopped to pose with the Eiffel Tower in the background.

The river cruise was with a boat company called Bateaux Mouche. This metallic dinosaur skeleton was near the boat company and I thought it was an interesting shot.

The river boat easily seats several hundred people.  We chose to sit on the outside top of the boat.

So many spectacular bridges!

It was quite common to see many people sitting by the river and enjoying a picnic, or bottles of wine!

The Notre Dame from the River.

A little further away and with the sunset behind...  So lovely!

This is the outside of the Musee D'Orsay, my most favorite museum.  It used to be a rail station.

You just don't get tired of this view.

 After the river cruise we all parted ways.  Ana and Rich needed to eat, and Jim and I decided to walk towards the Eiffel Tower for a nighttime view.  We were walking when suddenly it lit up!

 It twinkles like this for five minutes on the hour, starting at 10pm.  We only caught it once.

After the twinkling it glows prettily.

And then turned into a beautiful rainbow!

Jim and I walked around a bit but were curious to explore the area surrounding the ET.  There were vendors and tents along the street and river.  We found a champagne tent and sat by the river/bridge to enjoy the Eiffel Tower with champagne in hand.  

Thank you Jimmy for making this night special :)