Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Bastille Day Fail

When planning our trip to Europe, Kelli and I knew one thing with absolute certainty. We wanted to be in Paris on Bastille Day.

July 14, 1789 was the day that French citizens rose up against the monarchy by storming the Bastille prison with all of its 7 inmates and launching the French Revolution.

It's basically France's Independence Day.

And we wanted to be in Paris to celebrate.

Mostly because they shoot fireworks off the top of the Eiffel Tower, and how freaking cool is that?

I got a brilliant idea and suggested we go up to Montmartre and watch the fireworks from Sacré Coeur, the beautiful basilica that overlooks all of Paris from high upon a hill.

So we waited until a little bit later in the evening and made our way to Montmartre for dinner, a short visit to the basilica and then fireworks.

Much to Joe's chagrin, Kelli and I basically insisted on pizza for dinner. He reluctantly obliged and we found a little pizza restaurant off the main drag. It wasn't anything to get excited about. Certainly wouldn't have received an A grade here in these United States, but the pizza was good and the cola was cold and that was really all I cared about.

And then we went up the very steep hill, taking the tram for as much of the way as we could.

Notre Dame is pretty. Sainte Chappelle is something you shouldn't miss.

But I love the simple beauty of Sacré Coeur.


Yeah. That's how the French do "simple."


After we checked out the inside, we went and staked out some seats on the marble steps out front. Do you know what sitting on marble steps does to your butt after a while? Makes it fall asleep. That is a weird sensation.

Joe went online to see what time this fireworks show would be starting. Because we were farther up north than I'm used to, it stayed light much later. Fireworks were set to start at 11. Late, but we had an early train the next day and I fully intended on sleeping the whole way to London.

Anyway, we waited and waited for the fireworks. After all, they promised an amazing show.

Mostly because it was the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I. Can you believe that?

Well, the appointed time came and we could see exactly nothing.

There are trees in the way, blocking the view.


So we got up and moved.


And that wasn't any better.

Finally we gave up and started to leave when we started to catch glimmers of light.

The fireworks were definitely going off. In fact, from our vantage point, we could see four or five different shows going across the region, but all of them were too far away to truly enjoy.

We ended up leaving and heading back to the hotel a little earlier than we expected to. I felt completely responsible for ruining Bastille Day. Kelli insisted that she still had fun, but I don't think she can even deny being at least a little bit disappointed.

On the way back to the metro, we stopped into a little ice cream place. I'm pretty sure we ate ice cream every single day of the trip.

Anyway, this place looked so delicious, but ended up being completely ridiculous. All three of us ordered the same thing. A double scoop in a cup. Different kinds of ice cream, but basically the same thing. We each ended up with something completely different. Joe got his served in a cone. Kelli got a double scoop in a cup, but it was much smaller than the cup that mine came in.

It was completely random.

I will never forget my first Bastille Day.
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Monday, July 28, 2014

Dinner at 58 Tour Eiffel

When Joe found out Kelli and I really wanted to go to dinner at the Eiffel Tower, he freaked out a little tiny bit. Because expensive.

Seriously expensive.

But it was something Kelli and I both really really really really really really wanted to do and so, by golly, we were doing it.

So I booked it.

And Kelli arrived in Paris just in time to make our reservation for our Friday night dinner.

We arrived in Trocadero Square a bit early, thinking we'd go to the top of the Eiffel Tower before dinner. There were many, MANY photos taken. These are some of my favorites:

We got in line to go to the top, but the line was long and Kelli and Joe are both a little bit afraid of heights. When I realized we didn't have time before our reservation and suggested we go try to check in a little early, neither of them put up much of a fight.

Besides, our dinner got us to the first level, which is already pretty high up. And we got some fun views of Paris from way up there.

And I was brave enough to stand on the glass platform and look down below...

After enjoying the views, we went over to the restaurant and were seated almost immediately.

The waiter approached our table with the bottle of champagne that was included in our meal and was confused when I explained that we don't drink alcohol. I'm pretty sure he wanted to say, "After all, Miss, this is FRANCE!" But he brought us some amazing juice instead.

And we took in our surroundings.

 Then we perused the menu and made our selections.

Dinner was even more amazing than I'd hoped.

I was a little bit nervous because I'd read some less-than-stellar Yelp reviews, but this was totally a bucket list thing and I was determined to have a good time no matter what.

And now I need to go and post my own Yelp review because all those other people couldn't have been more wrong. Everything was incredible. The food, the views, the service. Everything. I loved every minute and would absolutely do it again.

After dinner, we meandered back to the metro, pausing to enjoy the beauty that is the Eiffel Tower at night. Oh, and I gave her a little good night kiss, too.

Okay, not quite.

If you're fortunate to go to Paris and you have the extra funds, I'd HIGHLY recommend doing this one night. It's absolutely worth it and it's a great way to enjoy the view of the City of Lights.

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Friday, July 25, 2014

I'm not going to my 20th reunion and I am perfectly okay with that. Also, how has it already been 20 years since high school?

My 20th high school reunion is tomorrow night.

Which is impossible, because 1994 was only 10 years ago.

But, they tell me the reunion is this weekend and I really battled within myself over whether or not I would attend.

I didn't have a bad high school experience. I don't look back on those four years and shudder. And I haven't really had to work through my high school years with my therapist.

But I didn't have an awesome experience either.

For me, high school was just four compulsory years of endurance. I had great teachers and awful ones. I had friends. I went to the pep rallies and sometimes to the football and basketball games.

When I attended the 10 year reunion in 2004, I spent it much the way I spent high school. Sitting in the corner with some people I kind of knew and watching everyone else have fun. It wasn't a miserable night. It wasn't even a bad night. It just wasn't anything I particularly enjoyed.

And so, when the information began flowing about plans for our 20th reunion, I hemmed and hawed over what to do. It would be nice to see people. A lot more change happens in twenty years than in ten. It could be a lot of fun.

The deadline for buying tickets was fast approaching and I still hadn't made a decision.

And then the photos started showing up all over the Facebook page. Nostalgic photos from the time our cross country team won the CIF championship and some club or another's big activities, and just random pictures people had from lazy lunch periods in the sunny quad.


I'm not in a single photo.

Not because people disliked me.

But because I really wasn't involved.

My life revolved around church and Job's Daughters. My life wasn't at school. My friends attended other schools. I saw them on weekends. I saw them EVERY weekend.

And so when I realized that a) I wasn't in anyone else's photos and b) I didn't have any of my own to share, I made the decision that skipping the reunion was the right choice for me.

Because it COULD be fun.

But it might not be.

And I don't particularly care.

Perhaps I will in another ten years.

If reunions are still a thing.
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Thursday, July 24, 2014

London, I love you.

The first five days of my trip were spent in Paris. Then it was on to Jolly Ole England!

We were in London for three days, followed by three days a few hours north in Sheffield, where we still managed to see some really great things.

Here are ten of my favorite pictures from my six days in England.

One: Buckingham Palace.


Two: A castle in York.


Three: Chatsworth House.

This is the house they used for Pemberley in the Keira Knightley version of Pride and Prejudice. Totally looks like Pemberley, doesn't it?


Four: Yorkminster.

You aren't allowed to take photos inside Westminster Abbey or St. Paul's Cathedral in London, but Yorkminster was just fine with it. Look at how grand it is!


Five: NOT the TARDIS.

I tried to find it. But the doctor must be on some glorious adventure in another place or time right now.


Six: Obligatory Phone Booth Photo.

Because you just have to.


Seven: Platform 9 3/4.

Oh yes I did. I had to wait in line like half an hour for this picture, but it was totally worth it.


Eight: Standing on the Prime Meridian.

This was such a long day, but visiting the Royal Observatory and getting a photo at 0 degrees longitude was pretty awesome.


Nine: The Tower of London.

This is one of my favorite pictures from the entire trip. The weather cooperated, the angle is great. Also? The Tower of London was one of my favorite things about the entire visit to England. SO MUCH HISTORY. Major nerdgasm.


Ten: Westminster Abbey.

They don't let you take pictures inside the Abbey, but I managed to get this shot just outside the exit and it, miraculously, didn't have a bunch of people in it.


I've got some stories coming up next week, so I hope you're ready for more pictures and more details about this epic adventure. Because it really was made of awesome.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Paris, je t'aime

I took 733 pictures on my trip to Europe.

Only about 600 more than the last time I went, when I had a camera that had FILM in it and had to use my rolls of film wisely and without the benefit of a delete button.

And, of course, when I was snapping away and thinking about how exciting it was going to be to share my adventures with all of you upon my return, I never paid any attention to the fact that I was going to have to SORT through 733 photos to find ones worthy of sharing.

I have no idea how I'm going to tell you about my trip AND share pictures AND make it consistently interesting.

Because I have about 7 or 8 posts rattling around in my head right now. And who really wants to read 7 or 8 posts about someone else's vacation?


So there are probably a few stories I won't get around to telling you, and I'm sure you'll be just fine if I don't.

But for today, I decided to put together my Ten Favorite Pictures from Paris.

These aren't necessarily my favorite places/events/stories/activities. But just pictures that I really love and that, I think, give a nice snapshot of what we saw and did in the City of Lights.

(And yes, I know I should have watermarked them, but I didn't because laziness. People are going to steal them if they're going to steal them and it sucks, but that's just the way it goes.)

Oh, and these are not in order of preference or anything. Just in the order they came up when I uploaded them.

First: The Lips at Centre Pompidou.

I don't know what these fountains are actually called because, again, laziness. I could find out with a quick Google search, but I don't feel like it. Anyway, I just love the way the colors turned out in this photo, and the fountains are just something so fun to behold.


Second: The Eiffel Tower

What's not to love about this picture, amiright?


Third: This is from our dinner at the Eiffel Tower restaurant, 58. 

The first course? Lobster Bisque. Hells yeah.


Fourth: The Catacombes.

The only place I didn't get to see on my first visit to Paris that I was sorely disappointed about missing. Super creepy and amazing.


Fifth: La Jaconde, as she's known in French.

I fought hard for this photo. She's not easy to approach.


Sixth: Notre Dame de Paris.

The only picture I got of Notre Dame that doesn't have 7000 people in it.


Seventh: The view of Paris from Père LaChaise Cemetery.

There's just something I love about the contrast in this picture. I could try to come up with something profound about the dead watching over the living or something, but I'm sick and not brilliant today.

Eight: Sacré Coeur at dusk.

This is from our failed attempt to watch the fireworks off the Eiffel Tower from up at Sacré Coeur. It didn't work out so well and I'll probably tell you about that particular adventure, but it was a fun night and I love seeing all the people in this photo because it reminds me I'm not the only idiot who thought that would be a good idea.


Ninth: The Stained Glass at Sainte Chapelle.

The pictures don't even do justice to this 800 year old chapel and its incredible stained glass depiction of the Bible. But looking at this photo reminds me of what it felt like to stand in that space and take it all in. Breathtaking.


Tenth: Sleeping Beauty's Castle at Disneyland Paris.

Yes. I know. It made my list. But look at this picture. Doesn't it just look like a painting??


So what do you think? How am I doing so far on this whole recap dealio? Are you bored yet?

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