Latest Entries »

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!

Advertisements

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!

Black v. White

Civil rights discussion?  No.

Pokemon discussion?  Heck yes.

Pokemon has always held a soft spot in my heart.  Since I was in sixth grade, I have tried to play at least one game from every generation of Pokemon releases.  My copy of Pokemon White arrived today, and I’ve already put about two hours into it.  I find it insanely fun, even though it is almost identical to the past iterations of the franchise.

OK, I'm not like this......just yet.

Pokemon has always been an interesting game to play.  The idea of collecting my team and building an unstoppable forcehowever I wanted to was always appealing.  The really nice thing about White and Black is that both games manage to make the experience feel new.  You won’t encounter ANY old Pokemon until your first time through the elite trainers, which helps the new Pokemon feel interesting and fresh.

The green one knows he's better than all of you.

Some of the designs are a little silly.  I just caught a psycic pig thing that’s shaped like a kidney, but so far they’re pretty neat.  We’ll see how the rest of the game shakes out, but I would suggest that even if you haven’t played a Pokemon game in awhile, Black and White would be worth checking out.

Across The Pond

So, I’m really stinking excited for Friday afternoon.

I’ll get to climb into a big metal tube hurtling at hundreds of miles an hour, only to wind up in a completely foreign land.  Our spring break is next week, and my sister is currently studying in Belgium.  My parents, terrified that they’ll never leave the country ever, decided to set up a trip to Europe that coincides with my school’s spring break.  I’ve never really left the country before, and I had to get the passport and all that fun stuff.  We fly into Belgium, jump in a train almost immediately to Paris, and spend 3-4 days in France.  Afterwards, we’re going to London for another 3-4 days before dropping me back off in Belgium to fly back to America (damn kids can’t teach themselves…yet…).  My parents are going to stick around for another week and go to Amsterdam and Germany.

"Honey, we're not normal people. We're the Griswolds."

This is our first itinerary vacation though.  Most vacations tend to involve sitting on the beach and reading a metric ton of books, so the fact that my parents have every single day planned out is exciting and terrifying at the same time.  They’re all fired up to the nth degree, with new suitcases and TONS of new gear and guidebooks.  Hell, I even ended up with new lounge/deck shoes because apparently the silly Europeans don’t wear tennis shoes, and tennis shoes are a sure sign of American tourists.  We can’t possibly be seen as tourists (even if our giant France map gives us away)…

Like I said though, I’m excited to leave the country.  I’ve only left once, and that was to go to an all-inclusive resort in Mexico…and my family being as adventurous as we are, we never really left the resort.

And the one time we did, my mom really messed up her leg climbing onto a horse (don’t ask me how it happened).

Part of my interest in firing this blog back up is to try and chronicle the trip next week, assuming I have some kind of Internet connection.  Worst comes to worst, a bazillion updates the following Saturday :).  I want to take a ton of pictures and post them here as a reminder of what the trip was like every day.  We’ll see how this works out, but I’m hopeful.  Two days in a row of updates, so so far, so good!

Mostly A Test

Just trying out the WordPress app on my iPhone to see what it can do with regards to posting and publishing.

Also, picture of my cat to try out the media upload. Enjoy!

About two years ago, I heard about the new show coming from the same guys who made The Office, which was (and still is) one of my favorite shows on TV right now.  It was called Parks and Recreation and it sounded promising.  If it could keep the same mockumentary charm that The Office was able to produce every week, I was ready to tune in every week.

And in the beginning, I did.  I kept up with it for the first four episodes of the first season, out of a total of six.  And I just didn’t like it.  Leslie Knope’s character struck me as just trying too much to be like Michael Scott.  The rest of the cast was pretty bland.  The only character worth watching on that whole show was Ron Swanson, the head of the Parks Department.  A no-nonsense libertarian trying to take down the ‘system’ of wasteful spending from the inside.  Every scene he was in, I thought it was a blast.  His no-bullshit attitude with deadpan delivery made the character for me.  Everyone else…not nearly as likeable.  As much as I liked Ron, I stopped paying attention to the show.

"I am submitting this menu from a Pawnee institution, J.J.'s Diner. Home of the world's best breakfast dish: The Four Horsemeals of the Eggporkalypse."

Jump ahead to last Thursday.  The only reason I decided to fire up P&R on the Netflix Instant Queue was mostly for background noise.  I like finding random TV shows and using them as sound while I work on other things (or, more likely, continue my work in Minecraft).  I picked the show because it was recently added as a possible show to watch, and I figured it would do the job while I waited for something else, that I was really interested in to show up on the Instant Queue.  Season 1 was rough to go through, but I made it.  It still had a lot of the, “Oh jeez.  Really?  This is funny?” kind of moments I remembered from a few years ago.  Season 2, however, took Season 1 out behind the barn and shot it dead.  I can’t quite explain what made the second season so appealing, but I was cracking up.  I think they were able to pull the show away from being just “The Office but with parks” and Parks and Recreation finally found their own two legs to stand on.  They still keep some of the same cues, but it manages to be different and hilarious.  The Office had a similar transition, where Season 1 wasn’t that great, but Season 2 managed to step it up.

"Guys love it when you can show them you're better than they are at something they love."

Since starting this trip back through the show, I’m caught up and ready for the new episode on the 17th.  I go through TV shows on Netflix rather fast, but when I can watch an entire show’s run (or up through their most recent episode) in a weekend and change, that’s a show worth recommending.  I can’t stress how much fun Parks and Recreation is and I urge everyone to check it out if at all possible.  I may do similar write-ups for other shows I discover on Netflix, but here’s a nice short list of TV shows I’ve burned through and loved every moment of…

~Better Off Ted

~Sanctuary

~Undercover Boss

~30 Rock

~The IT Crowd

~Doctor Who

~Eureka

~Pushing Daisies

~Fullmetal Alchemist

~Man vs. Food


Take a chance on your Netflix queue, even if you’re not 100% sure.  You never know what amazing show you might discover.

Rebirth

So…I cleared out all the old posts in favor of setting this thing up from scratch.  Over two years, no updates, and dashed dreams listed?  No thank you!

I plan on using this space a lot more for thoughts, rants, chronicles, and reviews.  With any luck, I’ll make good on this promise.