Friday, March 29, 2013

Final Day in Paris.

Well, hello there. It's been a while! But alas, the week is over and the long weekend is here. I, for one, am super excited. The week was good to me. I made it to the gym almost every day, I bought myself a pretty new dress for spring and I'm slowly checking items off my to-do list. 

This weekend we're going to hang out with friends, celebrate our three year wedding anniversary and I might even hide some chocolate around the house for TC. Fun, right?

But let's back track a bit. It's been a few weeks since we returned from our fabulous trip to Paris. It feels like yesterday that we were there. The streets and the architecture just aren't the same here in Canada.

And for that matter, neither is the shopping. On our final day in Paris, we spent our time shopping. Really, it's kind of a miracle that we made it through four days without shopping.

Gallery Lafayette is bar none the most amazing store in Paris. Just the ceiling alone is magnificent.

And the labels - oh, the labels! - Dior, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, the list goes on.

Of course, most of our wallets can't handle this type of luxury. But, browsing and window shopping was still pretty entertaining. A girl can dream, right?

  A three hundred dollar scarf? Sure, I'll take one in every color! Wrap them up for me, please.

Because it was vacation, we treated ourselves to refreshments over lunch, which has to be the most perfect way to end a morning of shopping.

And then we indulged even further at dinner. Warm goat cheese salads, escargot (for TC - not me!), steak, and wine all while sitting in an adorable little restaurant.

Perfection, I tell you.

I could live in Paris, I think. Typically, I don't consider myself a city person. However, in dream land, it would be fun to pick up beautiful flowers on the side of the street....

And then take them home to my cute flat that has this for a window.

Can't you just see yourself opening up that window, singing a song to yourself while watering your plants? The cool spring breeze would blow through the curtains and all would be right in the world.

Who wants to move across the pond with me? 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

She Might Be Possessed.

There's nothing better than a relaxing weekend is there?

I spent time getting caught up on the small things, TC took a quick trip to Maine yesterday, and we had a fabulous turkey feast tonight as an early Easter dinner. 

Before dinner we decided it had been too long since we had spent some time walking through the woods. Yesterday Maple found my stash of Easter candy and ate every last scrap of chocolate. The night before, Hobie dug through the trash and made a royal mess of thrown out wrappers, bags and everything else she could get her paws on.

Do you know how I can always tell which one of them is guilty?

Its the one who doesn't run and meet me at the door when I come home. Its the one who is sheepishly hiding in a corner of the house with guilt written all over their muzzle. Maple hides in the corner of the bedroom, Hobie hides in the laundry room.

Sometimes it is just one of them, like this weekend. Sometimes its both of them. But either way, its not hard to figure out the culprit.

Clearly they had some pent up energy, so off we went. 

I estimate that Maple covers roughly four times as much ground as we do. She sprints head like a wild maniac, then she comes racing back to check in with us, before taking off again to repeat the process. 

Snow flies everywhere, her ears flap in the breeze, she slides on ice and generally acts like a crazed animal who has never felt freedom in her entire existence.

Typically, Hobie hangs back with us and prefers a slower pace. But every now and then she gets a pep in her step and runs with the wild one. 

It lasts for about one minute before she's exhausted and back in line with us slow moving humans and panting like she's just run a marathon.

Meanwhile, the crazy canine just keeps frantically running laps like some untamed beast.

Look at that photo! How can my sweet dog look like such a psycho?

Anyone want a black dog? I'll FedEx her to you, free of charge.

Also, I know what you're thinking. Look at all that snow! It's the end of March. It's Spring, for heaven's sake! Yes, you are correct. Wanna know what's worse? It snowed again last night.

I don't really want to talk about it. Thankyouverymuch.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Paris on Thursdays.

The Louvre is spectacular. And gigantic.

Rumor has it that if you went to the Louvre every day, from open to close, and you spent one second in front of each piece of art it would take you over a year to see everything.

Some people spend several days of their time in Paris at the Louvre.

Us? We spent about four hours there.

We hit twelve of the top twenty pieces.

Including Mona Lisa.

I've never seen so many iPhones in one place.

But my favorite part was seeing the super talented artists who have been granted permission to paint replicas. Apparently, its quite the honor. 

Since we were in Paris TC suggested that I keep my eyes open for an early birthday present. I kind of huffed and puffed at first because I really love the idea of him conjuring up a birthday gift all by himself.

But then I saw this and knew I had to have it. Is it not the perfect early birthday present?!

As much as we tried to negotiate, the curator of the Louvre just wasn't willing to sell for a fair price.

So we left and headed to another Museum. L'Orangerie houses Monet's Water Lillies as well as Picasso's and Renoir's that I actually recognized. 

I kind of felt like I was in the Thomas Crown Affair.

As we were leaving l'Orangerie, TC and I decided to have a little fun with the Eiffel Tower. He tried with all his might to tip it over, but the damn thing just wouldn't budge.

While we were doing this, a con artist came up to TC and asked if he had dropped a gold ring. The con is that you say that it isn't yours and then the con artist asks if you want to buy it. We actually saw a young couple fall for it and hand over money to the same person that had hit up TC just minutes before. He was so excited to have outwit one of the most traditional scams. 

He's a smart one, that TC.

After the scam excitement, our tour of the museums was officially over. We headed across town to Pere Lachaise Cemetery. Completely the opposite of every cemetery I've ever been to, it was like stepping back in time. 

Several famous people are buried there but it was almost to closing time so we only made it to Jim Morrison's grave. The Doors were blaring from an iPod speaker while several people stood around passing a bottle of whiskey. They'd take a sip and then toss a splash to Jim. Around and around they went while paying their respects.

Our final stop of the day was Montmarte, which is a part of town that overlooks downtown Paris.

Today it is filled with artists and their easels, as well as funky shops and vintage stores. Its said that it used to be the hangout for artists such as Monet, Picasso, van Gogh and Dali. It's also the setting of Moulin Rouge, if you're interested in that kind of thing. 

Just above the outlook is yet another gorgeous church. Sacred Heart is easily seen from the top of the Eiffel Tower and other places around town. Tons and tons of people were gathered on the steps sipping drinks, eating sandwiches and taking in the view. It seemed a little odd to choose the steps of a church to have happy hour, but nonetheless, the place was packed.

As usual, we finished the day by heading back to our neighborhood in search of dinner. Mouffetard had so many quaint restaurants that we had no problem finding a new gem every night. 

Only one more day in Paris left now. You're almost done!

Oh, what do you think of the new header at the top? I love it so much. Many thanks to Lauren of Lolo Made. She was kind, speedy and so easy to work with.

Have a wonderful, fun filled Friday!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Typical Wednesday Confessions.

It's Wednesday night. That means that tonight was 'Why Not Wednesday', which is a weekly meeting of my girl friends. We meet at a small hole-in-the-wall just a few block away from my house. We always have two rounds of drinks along side animated conversations. Except tonight, everyone had three rounds.

not from tonight....
I had two and a half. It couldn't be helped. At the end of the second round we were in the middle of heated discussion about taxes and the IRS, which is no fun for an American to talk about but it's even less fun for an American-living-in-Canada to talk about.

So, a third round was necessary.

We dabbled in the conversation of health care too. Also, not fun for Canadians and Americans to talk about.

Cultures and politics aside, it turns out that the four of us all have aching and problematic bodies that need medical care.

I swear, if you had been there you would have assumed we were a bunch of geriatrics, not a crew of late twenties / early thirties (ahem!) healthy and active people.

So now that we've covered the discussion that required a third round of drinks, let's talk about the first round.

First, we had a snow storm today. And technically, it's the first day of spring. Seriously? Welcome to Canada.

I loved having a day off of work, so I'll take it. I'm no longer in the business of complaining about winter since I know that spring is just around the corner.

Also, in reference to the previously mentioned ailments, I had my very first massage therapy appointment this afternoon. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but what I got did not meet my expectations. There was nothing spa-like or relaxing about it. It was all business, which was apparently what I needed. My therapist was absolutely amazing and I can already feel my hips, wrists and shoulder blades starting to become normal again. What a painful, yet fabulous, experience. I can't wait for next week when I go back for more.

Even more exciting? I booked a trip to Atlanta today! Come May 13 I'm headed to my homeland. I can already hear my parent's kitchen table calling my name. Kate! Come drink coffee and talk about nothing for hours on end with your mother! 

I can't wait.

The other thing that I mentioned to my girls tonight is that I'm in the process of making a few subtle changes to this blog. I know my blogging has been quite lackluster lately, but I just can't keep my eyes open late at night anymore. On the up side, I finally figured out how to make a navigation bar at the top. If you look there is an About tab now. It's empty because that writing an About page is hard. If anyone wants to do this for me than I'll gladly accept your help. You just have to promise that you'll make me sound way more awesome than I really am. There is also a brand new header (banner) that is in the works. Hopefully, it will be ready in the next few days.

That is it, my friends. Nothing special to report.

I have more Parisian adventures to share with you but we'll save that for another night.

I hope you're having a fabulous week!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Wednesday at Versailles.

Just a short train ride outside of Paris, sits the town of Versailles, home to Louis XIV's summer palace.

You know how when you go to Disney World and you're blown away by the detail and the opulence of it all?

That's essentially how I felt walking around Versailles. It was so extreme. So over the top. It was so unbelievable to think that real live, actual people lived like that.

Our initial plan was to spend the first half of our Wednesday at Versailles. After all, part of it's magic is the gardens, which were clearly not blooming in early March. We didn't plan to spend much more than an hour in the main palace and then we assumed it would be a quick walk through Marie Antoinette's smaller palace on the grounds.

We. were. wrong.

Even without spending hours wandering through the Alice in Wonderland type gardens, there was a whole day's worth of royal magic to see. 

Stretching down from the main palace is the Grand Canal, which is open to the public as a park. Runners were our for a jog and crew teams were practicing right along side the tourists in rented row boats. 

We followed the path and stopped along the way for lunch in at a cute wooden cottage.

Then we finally came to the Grand Trianon, which is part of Marie Antoinette's weekend palace.

Oh, what I wouldn't give to have a weekend retreat like this...

It was done in a beautiful pink marble and the interior rooms were enough to take your breath away.

Before coming to France, Marie Antoinette was raised in Austria. Pulling from this she created what is called the Queen's Hamlet and is reminiscent of her homeland. It is basically the backyard of the secondary palace.

Again, I felt like I was walking through a Disney set, not a real place.

Can't you just imagine the seven dwarfs walking out that door?

It was like walking into a foreign land hundreds of years ago.

Down to the farm animals, it is kept up to perfection. 

This was also the place where I developed an obsession with door knob photography. 

They were also so unique and detailed! I took dozens of door knob photos and have since printed them and bought frames. Now I just need to find the perfect wall for display.

By the time we had finished walking every inch of the grounds our feet were toast. It was evening by then and we were ready to head back to the city and sit down for a glass of red wine. To speed up the process we hopped on a super-sized golf cart train to go back to the main palace. 

One more train ride and a few subway stops later, we were back in our Paris neighborhood and our Wednesday was complete.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Tuesday at the Eiffel Tower.

Really, is there a better way to start a day than with an amazing French version of Starbucks coupled with a freshly baked chocolate croissant that you picked up from the bakery?

The answer is no. There is not a better a way.

Cafe au lait in hand, we set off in search of Paris' most famous landmark. Not all that difficult to spot from various points in the city, but it did take a bit of planning as far as subway routes were concerned.

The line was slightly longer than we anticipated, like an hour longer. I suppose that is what you get for taking your time in the morning and sleeping in a bit. But that's what you get when you've enjoyed an extra glass of wine at dinner the night before. 

But this is vacation. And that's how vacations are supposed to be.

My verdict? Totally worth the wait.

Finally making it to the giant elevator, we began to slowly rise and I noticed my MIL's hand grasped firmly on my FIL's arm while her eyes were tightly shut. Turns out that she is not crazy about heights. Read: terrified. I had no idea. But, never one to miss out on a fabulous experience, she wasn't going to miss this adventure over some silly little fear, so she persevered. 

At the top, she did make it all the way around the perimeter of the deck, although she never let go of the wall.

Her son, on the other hand, has clearly not inherited her fear of heights. I, however, developed a slight fear of my husband's head becoming stuck in the fence at the top of a very high tower and needing to call in the paramedics with a can of butter to release him. 

Luckily, my fears were not realized and his head popped right back out.

I also had a small, miniature panic attack as he hung my favorite camera over the edge to catch a shot of the view looking down. 

But again, totally worth it.

The views, and I'm sure my MIL will agree, were completely worth the wall-gripping experience.

I'd also like to point out that a Tuesday at the Eiffel Tower is the perfect day to wear a purple hat bought specifically for Paris. It made me feel just a little bit fabulous.

If I had a bucket list for my life, I would be crossing this perfect adventure off it right now.

And I'll also be framing and hanging this photo :)

We spent the rest of our afternoon tripping around the Pont Neuf area right along the Seine River.

While we were down there we scouted out yet another way to see my beloved Eiffel Tower - a river cruise! Can you see the boat sitting just under the bridge? That is where we were going to spend our evening.

The Seine is home to many, many boats. As we discovered on our cruise, there are several floating restaurants, dinner theaters, a dance studio and lots of homes. How would you like to live on a house boat right in the middle of Paris?  

There are also several cruise companies. Cruises run all day, but an evening cruise offers a whole new perspective of the city lit up at night. We chose Bateaux les Vedettes and had a wonderful ride in their glass topped boat.

We cruised up and then down the Seine for an hour and coasted right next to the Eiffel Tower. It's lit up all night and glows with a lovely orange-ish hue. But every hour, on the hour, it's white lights twinkle! If you look closely in the above photo of the whole city, you can just barely see where the lights are twinkling on it. After I saw that, my trip to Paris was complete.

Our Tuesday adventure was the absolute epitome of what a trip to Paris should be.

Is it too soon to start planning the next trip?