Posted by Julie at Jul 3, 2013 6:00 am
So, I just got home from a two-week trip to Europe. I’ve been very quiet about it up until now because I don’t like announcing to the universe that I am half a world away from home. But the house-sitter did great and we’re all home, laundry is nearly done and the jet-lag, which was worst on Tuesday, seems to be lightening up!
We (my daughter and I) had an amazing time…it was the trip of a lifetime. We did four days in Paris, three days in London and a full week in a small burg called Nuneaton, where my daughter did a week at a video game company (work study) and I spent it at the kitchen table of my good friend, Kathy Garbera, with whom we stayed.
I have fodder for many blogs, so I’m going to start with Paris.
I cannot tell you how happy I am that we did! I loved Paris so much…I would go back in a heartbeat if someone bought me a first class ticket! (We did NOT fly first class, hence the need…)
It was amazing. We stayed in a very small hotel directly beside the University of Paris at La Sorbonne in the Latin Quarter. What a perfect location! It was just close enough to the touristy things for walking (Notre Dame was about five blocks away…Musee de Orsay about 20 blocks, give or take) but it was really a university area with cafes and shops that catered to that crowd, not tourists. Loved it so much! We walked everywhere we could, but catching a cab was super easy and we even took the underground once to get to Montmartre, the area where we searched in earnest for the best macaron and found them at Hugo and Victor, a fabulous chocolatier.
Our first day, we took a bus tour. Very fun, but also gave us a view of places we wanted to see, but didn’t necessarily want to take the time/effort to visit. Like the Eiffel Tower and the Arc d’Triumph. I wanted to see them, but I didn’t want to walk around. I’m seriously afraid of heights and my daughter HATES elevators, so I knew they’d be a waste on us. But she got some glorious shots!
These were all taken with her phone!
Beyond the macarons, my favorite thing was the Louvre. It really was the reason we went and I have to confess, at first, I hated it. It was SO crowded with people who could have cared less about what they were seeing…but once we got away from the wing that had the Mona Lisa (meh, if you’ve seen a picture of it, you’ve seen it) and the Venus, it was so much better. There was a sculpture garden with the most amazing marble nudes and we got to see the Code of Hammurabi, which was simply awe-inspiring for its age alone. Also, there were many pieces I hadn’t known were in the Louvre, so it was a great surprise to see them.
My next favorite was the Musee d’Orsay, which houses one of the most impressive collections of Impressionistic art that I’ve seen. Manet, Monet, Degas, Cassatt…they were all there. My daughter is not a huge fan of this movement, but it’s my favorite and I dragged her through the whole collection. And the building that houses the museum is quite impressive, too.
We went to Notre Dame, but missed the Rodin museum, which I would have loved to see as it houses one of my favorite sculptures, The Kiss. Someday, we WILL go back!
The funniest part of the trip was that it was VERY hot in Paris…hotter than anyone there expected. Now, we’re used to hot because we’re Floridians, but the thing about Floridians is that we know how to deal with hot…and one way is with ICE. Lots and lots of ice, in our drinks, all day long. Floridians invented freezing your water bottle before you go to the theme park so that by the time you get there, it’s melted enough to drink, but still has a big hunk of ice inside that can last a good portion of the day.
In Paris…in fact, in all of Europe, ice seems to be a foreign material. We asked for tap water, with ice, and we’d get two small cubes…if we were lucky. As I was mostly drinking wine while in France (duh) I didn’t realize that if you ordered a cocktail like a mojito, you’d get more ice than the North Pole. Otherwise, forget it. The hotels do not have ice buckets or ice machines and the hotel staff got a huge kick out of us needing large glasses of just ice when we got back from walking around.
What do Europeans have against ice?
Anyway, Paris was magnifique! I probably know five phrases in French and I have so much fun saying them! By the way, I think it is worth mentioning that the rumors of Parisians being rude to Americans is quite untrue…except for an unfortunate run-in with a smarmy “gypsy” cab driver in the first ten minutes of our arrival, everyone in Paris was the height of polite and helpful. The waiters, especially, even though I have to say that the European idea of “good service” in restaurants is WAY different from my idea. Paris, however, it wasn’t so bad…long waits for the check were somewhat ordinary, but it wasn’t that bad. Not so in London…more on that next week!
So…have you been to Paris? What did you think? Would you like to go? Have you ever thought you didn’t want to go there and once you did, you loved it?
Au revoir for now, mon ami!