Category: Vacation


Tonight’s our last night in London. We’ll be climbing on board the wicked fast bullet train tomorrow morning after a day and a half in London. I didn’t really want to update yesterday because everything we saw wouldn’t let us take pictures and my iPhone was dead, so lockers were out of the question anyway.

We saw Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, the British Museum, and other things I’m sure I’m forgetting. A lot of the last 24 hours have blended together, and coupled with our tour bus ride around the entire city, I can’t remember what we saw and what we actually got out and explored. We did eat actual fish and chips in a real pub, which was an experience.

The pub setup was amazing. You sit where you can, and when you’re ready, go up to the bar with your table number and order. Maybe not every pub works like this, but the two we went to operated like this and I liked it a lot. No waiters trying to turn tables over, just sit and enjoy. I almost wonder if Americans could handle a setup like that.

Last thing, which I geeked out on, was the Doctor Who experience at the Olympia center in Kensington. Really cool, and I took a lot of pictures. It’s late though, and I know we aren’t doing much when we get back to Belgium except for a quick sightseeing spot and a visit to Delirium, one of Belgium’s main beer makers with over 2000 types.

It’s late. Bed time. G’night London!

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Day Four – The Second Is Better

Day four in Paris and I’m pooped. I haven’t slept well since we got here. Some might be jet lag still, but I just haven’t been comfortable on this pullout in the apartment. I woke up around 5am today, after going to bed at 11 or 12. I just can’t sleep.

Well, that and a bad zombie dream 🙂

Day four was pretty good. Just Versailles and The Musee D’Orsay, but we saw a lot and really took in a lot of the culture.

After getting off the RER, we tried looking for the palace. We rounded a corner and the first sarcastic words (as I took this picture) were, “Think this is it?”

Statue of Louis the Somenumber I believe. Right outside the palace. My sister posed in front of it for her boyfriend to take a picture of her, and she’s immortalized in about sixty other photos from random tourists.

The walk to the Palace. It is just mind-blowing to see the size and decoration on this building.

A close up of the exterior.

I didn’t take a ton of pictures inside, namely because I was juggling my iPhone, the audio tour device, and not getting pickpocketed. There were a ton of people crammed into these hallways, but we saw a lot of the palace. The big thing that amazed me was the opulence of the whole place. I couldn’t wrap my head around what these people, what this palace, looked like 300+ years ago when it was a functioning palace. It just amazes me to see that kind of wealth and beauty displayed, and to imagine what it must have been like to live surrounded by it 24/7. They had rooms dedicated to individual Greek and Roman gods that doubled in function, a hall of mirrors that was covered in shiny, and a breathtaking view out of every window. Some stuff seemed a little odd though, like discovering that the Dauphine gave birth three times with her bedchambers open for all to view, and the same went for the King’s dinner with his family, but overall I loved it.

The gardens behind the palace. This is the view you usually see when looking out at Versailles in pictures.

The back of the palace. Even the ass-end looks gorgeous!

A closer view of the ponds in the middle of the gardens. They are gigantic! Had to have been at least three football fields long.

After Versailles, we made our way back to the RER train to head to the Musee D’Orsay, but we did stop in a popular American food joint to see how the French do it. Can you guess where we went?

If you guessed McDonalds, you’d be right. It looked more like a trendy restaurant than the range from crypt to chateaux that you see in America. And all of them are that nice AND they serve the glorious, real sugar Coca-Cola in the fountain. I might try going off high fructose corn syrup when I get back, because food just rocks without it.

We had lunch not at McD’s, but at the restaurant up top at Musee D’Orsay. Like 99.9% of the food I’ve had here, it was delicious even if it seemed a bit questionable or different.

Now you may notice I have no pictures of the museum. Well, Orsay has a strict no-pictures policy and even though every museum, landmark, or church had a no photo sign, not one tourist followed that rule and no one enforced it. Well, Orsay was different. No one was taking pictures and I wasn’t about to be the first. There were a bunch of beautiful pictures, sculptures, and pieces of furniture masquerading as art, but the biggest takeaway from the museum was the design and soul of the building. Orsay was converted to an art museum out of an old train station, so the walls are decorated like a fancy, artsy station might be decorated. They’re patterned with intricate designs, the layout of the museum is unique because of the different routes to and from the trains…it just looked so much nicer than the Louvre.

That’s when I realized that yeah, the Louvre was nice. Notre Dame was beautiful, Versailles was wealthy, but everyone was there. So many people crammed into a small space because you HAVE to see these sights. My favorite places so far have been Sacre Coeur and Orsay, where there is a crowd, but not compared to these other places. They take a bit to get to, they have interesting and important reasons for why they’re famous, but they don’t have a Mona Lisa drawing the crowds. These places are worth 100% of their value, but they don’t feel as frequented as some of the other, bigger names in museums and churches. Hell, that little restaurant we went to yesterday, Le Chinon, you had to walk to find it and I still feel they had the best food I’ve eaten since we got here.

Go see the Mona Lisa, climb Notre Dame, wish you were a Dauphin 300 years ago, but don’t do those things at the expense of the smaller venues. You’ll be glad you went.

Off to London tomorrow!

End of day three, and I’m exhausted. Didn’t sleep well last night and we piled more walking on top of what we did yesterday. Saw a lot though. Sacre Couer, the Moulin Rouge (as well as the sex district of Paris), l’Arc de Triomphe, and the Louvre. Lots of beautiful sights, sounds, and immigrants trying to force me into buying their crap. Never had a stranger grab my hand and try to put a bracelet on it. If he had succeeded, I’d have owed him some Euros.

Aside from that though, a great day and awesome food!!

Our first stop, Sacre Couer. Located up on a huge hill, it is a bit of a hike to get there but totally worth it. It’s located on one of the highest points in Paris, and the view is spectacular.

That’s not a statue, that’s a performer! Two of them “guarding” the steps up to the church, making silly gestures and faces at passersby. When we were at Notre Dame, there was a guy performing there too. Had a fake dog nose on and started acting silly. Imitating passing people, having boyfriends step aside and he’d put his arm on the girlfriend, stopping cars and pulling them along with an invisible rope…Paris just has an awesome, laid back attitude.

If a street performer tried to play with a car driving along in America, he’d either get honked at or run over.

Inside Sacre Coeur. Honestly, I think it was more beautiful than Notre Dame. Much more colorful, just as cavernous. They discourage photos though, so I only snapped this one inside and called it quits there.

Le Chinon was recommended in our travel book (Rick Steve’s) and we all thought it was fantastic. Just a short walk from Coeur. If you’re over in that arrondissement, check it out!

My lunch: a croque-monsieur. Flat bread, covered in ham and cheese baked on top. A requirement to eat when you’re in France, along with crepes from a street vendor.

The Glass Pyramid outside the Louvre. Beautiful structure. Don’t ask if I found the Holy Grail though. They hide it VERY well 🙂

Lots of pictures from the Louvre. We didn’t see a ton, mostly highlights, but it was great to soak in the culture. The Mona Lisa was neat, but there had to have been at least fifty people crowding around it, so you can’t spend all day staring at it. Same went for the Venus de Milo. We also discussed why those exhibits were so popular and famous, when some other paintings/sculptures were either larger and/or more complex, yet no one cared.

For not being museum people though, we enjoyed ourselves.

Our last stop before crashing back here. I didn’t go up l’Arc, I was way too tired, but I liked seeing it. And the Champs-Elysse was really cool to walk down. Kinda like Michigan Avenue.

Another busy day, and tomorrow looks to be just as busy. Getting up EARLY for a trip down to Versailles tomorrow, but I’m excited. Touring both the palace and the gardens, with a final stop at the Musee d’Orsay. Then Wednesday, we’re off to London!

Au revoir!

Day two, despite a second posting with travel details :). We were mostly over at Notre Dame and saw a whole lot over there. Went all the way to the top too! That’s where the title of the post came from…it was a HUGE and painful walk up a narrow staircase. Regardless, it was gorgeous.

We’re also using L’Open Tour bus tours to get around today and tomorrow. We’re seeing a lot of sights, but not actually stopping in them. Still, pretty neat stuff.

Dinner in the Latin Quarter, had a delicious steak and French Onion soup. Also had my first crepes here! I might be hooked and need to get more…

Also, Nutella is the best invention ever. Just saying.

Last thing we did was go up the Eiffel Tower. The whole way up to the top! Gorgeous view of the entire city, country, and probably all of Europe :).

Enjoy some pictures!

A cool statue overlooking/guarding a bridge. I think it’s a Greek God, I just don’t know who.

Obelisk with the story of Ramses II in hieroglyphics. Strangely, I can’t remember what it was called.

Outside the biggest church I ever saw. Also the first church I’ve been in on a Sunday in awhile! 🙂

Up at the very top, a huge bell. Worth the extra searing leg pain to see it!

The view from up top!

The Crypt outside Notre Dame. Ruins of the past civilizations that lived there.

Inside the Church. You can’t even begin to understand just how huge and old it is, even standing inside it.

Outside, in the Latin Quarter after dinner.

The Church of Saint Chapelle. Gorgeous stained glass windows, each one depicting a different book of the Bible.

Mostly for my girlfriend, who loves making cakes. Saw this gorgeous little cake in a bakery near our apartment.

The Eiffel Tower, lit up at night.

The view from the top!!

So that was day two. When I figure out how this apartment’s weird Internet works, or I get to a better spot in London, I’ll have more updated. Same goes for the pictures. They aren’t the greatest, but when I have a computer in front of me, I plan on updating all of them with higher quality pics. For now though, enjoy!!

Day One – Jetlagged In Paris

**This is a second attempt at posting, as it didn’t apparently post yesterday**

We made it to Belgium and Paris just fine! It’s close to 5pm here, I have no idea what day it is anymore, and I saw the sun rise at 12:30 AM according to my biological clock.

So yeah, I’m not sure what’s going on. Here are some pictures I snapped!

Arriving at the Paris-Nord station from Belgium!

A really cool sculpture I noticed in the station on my way in.

Braving the Metro! We had such a simple route to take, but the main station we needed to get off at was closed for maintenance. Cue thirty minutes of zipping through lines 5, 6,8, and 14 before making it through.

Bedroom one in the apartment we are renting!


Bedroom two. There’s the den I’m sitting in now and all three rooms have a tremendous view. This next picture is from the street level, but we can see it just fine out the window.

That’s right.

The Eiffel Tower.

Right outside our window.

Spectacular. It’s weird to be so far out of my element, and yet it isn’t so foreign. Well…my rusty French may earn me some nasty glares…

Will update tomorrow, hopefully with new pics of sights seen. Keep an eye on this blog for updates!