Back to Reality

After our wonderful meal at Montmartre, we had to pack up and leave our wonderful little apartment. It was located on Rue de Trois Freres right across from the little grocery shop featured in Amelie:

IMG_2923The location was perfect as we were just a minute from the metro station and right down the hill from Sacré-Cœur. We loved it.

We booked it through vrbo.com and at only 89 euros a night, it was a great deal considering what we paid for one night in a sketchy hotel room so far away from everything. The apartment featured one bedroom:

IMG_3221And a living room without a pull out bed where Doug could sleep in privacy away from us crazies:

IMG_3223 And there were fans!!! There was also a small kitchen, washing machine and dryer, and a bathroom with a shower big enough to actually shave your legs in. The bathroom door also wasn’t clear! Wins all around.

Our flight was at 11 am, so we left the apartment before seven since we don’t have a strong history with not screwing up on the metro.

IMG_3228
My sister is so much better at packing than I am. I had to drag big Sheila (my massive 50-pound silver suitcase) all over the damn place. I will never learn. Ever. Luckily, we only had one small problem as the stations for a train we took were under construction and it didn’t make a stop we needed. Thankfully, we made it to the airport in plenty of time to enjoy our last breakfast pastries.

IMG_3231Goodbye, pain au chocolat every morning, I will never forget you (say it in the Fabrizio waving off the side of Titanic voice).

Then we boarded the plane much to our great disappointment and sadness.

IMG_3235 And took off the in the rain because of course.

IMG_3237I watched several movies on the flight (I LOVED EDGE OF TOMORROW and hated the rest) and took a 30 minute nap. We spent a few hours in the Toronto airport where we all had our first Tim Horton’s experience:

IMG_3242[1]

Birthday cake donut holes are where it’s at. We were quite delighted. After carbing up, we got in another plane and headed to Houston.

IMG_3259[1]So delirious and cracked out on sugar.

 

IMG_3260[1]We arrived around 8 pm on Saturday night, then drove a couple of hours to College Station to drop off Doug before heading two more hours west to Austin. I showered then slept for a solidly glorious ten hours. It was fabulous. I spent Sunday unpacking and doing laundry before my parents drove down to return little grandma to me.

IMG_3281[1]She was really excited to see me. I woke up early Monday morning around two and couldn’t go back to sleep. On the bright side, it was really easy to go for a run when my alarm went off at 4:30. So, I’m just trying to cope with being back to work and a normal life that doesn’t include endless french fries and castles.

0Ch1N36.jpgI’m hungry.

Last Night in Paris

After the Eiffel tower, we took another train over to the Musée de l’Orangerie by the Louvre. It was a scenic walk.

DSC_0148

One of the things Sari and I were hell bent to see were the Monet panels in the Museum. So, we happily lined up to get in.

DSC_0153

This little guy was there with his family and I wanted to pick him up like a little Hershey’s Kiss by the tag on top of his little gnome hood.

DSC_0156

After about 30 minutes, we were just three people away from entry when alarms started going off. People streamed out of the museum and they locked the doors and evacuated. As the alarms went off, the elderly man behind me kept saying that it was probably “the Italians.” I don’t know what the Italians did to them, but it must have been bad. We heard rumors of smoke, a person smoking, and a “pistola.” We never found out what happened, but they said the museum would be closed for a while. So, we headed back across the gardens to get some macarons.

My friend’s husband is French, and he recommended Pierre Herme over Laduree. It worked out well because that store was located just a few blocks away.

DSC_0167

I bought six and we walked over to the Jardin des Tuilleries to enjoy them. I wanted to buy 40, but at two euros each, six was already more than I should have purchased.

IMG_3177

IMG_3172We split each of them between the three of us so we could all try them and they were incredible. I have had a few different maracons from various patisseries (because I can’t say no to a cookie!) and they were all delicious, but these were exquisite. My favorite was flavored with rose. Even though Sari and Doug thought it tasted like they were chewing on flowers, I loved it. I also enjoyed this chocolate one that was dusted with shimmery pink because PRETTY.

IMG_3188

So pretty. So poorly focused.

After our snack, we walked toward the Louvre.

DSC_0158 DSC_0160  DSC_0164

DSC_0165  That caused great confusion for my poor eyes. DSC_0169   DSC_0172 DSC_0185DSC_0183   DSC_0190     DSC_0201 DSC_0204   DSC_0220 DSC_0222  DSC_0229

We went back to the Musée de l’Orangerie and it was open again, so we finally got to go inside and see those Monet panels. Pictures weren’t allowed, but they were stunning. Two large oval-shaped rooms of them:

orangerie-nympheas2.michelurtadoIt was so serene and peaceful in there. I don’t know how he painted so many large panels like that. It was really incredible. I wish I could have spent a few hours in there, but as it always seems to happen, they were closing soon. I’m just grateful we got to see them. From there, we headed back home to Montmartre in the rain.

IMG_3190Paris: City of Light and All the Stairs.

Before dinner, we did some Beauty and the Beast “Bonjour! Good Day! How is your family!” singing to the peasants outside our apartment window.  DSC_0242Because that’s what French people do. They sing at each other. It’s true, I promise. When we visited Sacré-Cœur, Sari spotted a restaurant that she wanted to try up on the hill, so we headed up there for our last dinner in Paris.

IMG_3195 IMG_3196

We shared some more escargot because dear God they’re great here. Sari tried one, but felt sad because she really likes snails. Thankfully, I don’t share that problem because I ate most of them and they were perfect.

IMG_3198 For dinner Sari ordered the bœuf bourguignon and it was completely amazing.

IMG_3203Doug ordered duck and I ordered the honey-crusted pork with gratin potatoes. We shared our dishes between the three of us so everyone could enjoy some of each fabulous item.

IMG_3202It was one of my favorite meals. I have never had duck as wonderful as it is in Europe. They know what they are doing. I never even liked duck until now. How do I live without succulent duck in my life!!!!!!

I also got a French “white” beer after dinner and it was pretty good. Belgian beer has ruined me. Woe is me and my first-world problems.

IMG_3211 DSC_0232On our way home, we stopped for gelato because when in anyplace, get ice cream. I got the Nutella flavor because I’m nothing if not consistent. It was heavenly.

IMG_3212

Zee Eiffel Tower

After Le Jardin des Plantes, we hopped the train over to check out the Eiffel Tower. Sari really wanted to go to the top, so I tried to get us tickets back in June. Unfortunately, the only ones I could find were at three different times. So, if you want to go, get your tickets as soon as you can because those things sell out. Also, the line to get in without reserved tickets was hideously long.

DSC_0050

The first ticket was at 10:30, so I went up first. I stopped at the second level to get a few pictures before spending 30 minutes waiting in line to take the elevator to the summit. I can totally see our apartment.DSC_0018 DSC_0022

I enjoyed going to the top because it never fails to amaze me how incredibly large and complex this city is.

DSC_0032

DSC_0039 DSC_0041 DSC_0042

Little nugget Arc de Triomphe:DSC_0034

It took me an hour total and I think it was worth the time, but I would not have waited in that long ass non-ticket holder line for it. You can get a great view from the Arc de Triomphe without the crazy wait even though it’s not as tall.

The Eiffel Tower always floods me with nostalgia from middle school and high school when I was obsessed with all things French. Nutella and Orangina were the essence of sophistication in my life. My walls were covered in pictures of the Eiffel Tower and old French movie posters. I even had an Eiffel Tower lamp and I took that thing to college with me. No shame. I love lamp.DSC_0049

Once I got down, I found Sari and Doug and we walked a few blocks away for lunch. Trees!

DSC_0051 DSC_0052Sari enjoyed her 45th cup of hot chocolate

IMG_3155

Doug and I shared a plate of escargot (the pesto they were cooked in was incredible) and I had the best lunch special ever: salad, a glass of wine, and a selection of cheeses.

IMG_3162

It was perfect. From there we shivered back to the Eiffel Tower. I don’t know why, but 50 degrees in Paris feels like 30 in Texas. We were quite cold and the wind was going hard. Also, 0% chance of rain in Paris pretty much means 100% chance it will happen at some point that day. Tricky tricky.

IMG_3166Anyway, Sari’s and Doug’s tickets were only 30 minutes apart, so they got to go to the top together. I spent that time wandering around alone. I’ve had a great time with them, but it was nice to be alone for a little bit.

DSC_0066

This statue is called “Bitch I might.” That might be the sassiest pose I’ve ever seen.

DSC_0070 DSC_0077

DSC_0080

DSC_0081

This piece really resonated with me as I too like to play the violin without my pants on. Pants are the worst. DSC_0094 DSC_0095 DSC_0098 DSC_0102 DSC_0104 Such trees.

When they came down, we did some artistic modeling in front of the tower.

DSC_0115 We had some trouble agreeing on a second pose.DSC_0119  DSC_0121 DSC_0124  Thankfully, Doug was more compliant.

DSC_0142  Part three tomorrow morning.

Jardin des Plantes

After reading “All the Light We Cannot See,” I was determined to get to Le Jardin des Plantes and the Natural History Museum to see the places that played such a significant role in the story. The only time we could go was around 8 am, so the museum wasn’t open, but the gardens were just lovely.

DSC_0943

Doug and Sari were slightly less excited than I was. In fact someone might have said, “We woke up early for flowers and trees?” HELL YES WE DID. The dahlias were absolutely gorgeous. Totally worth it.DSC_0949

DSC_0951

DSC_0952 DSC_0956

And other lovely flowers whose names are a mystery to me.

DSC_0959 DSC_0961 DSC_0962 DSC_0963

Then we did some mid-morning Beyonce jumping.  IMG_3127

First try. We’ve been training our whole lives for that moment.

We cruised around the museum and creeped on things through the windows.

DSC_0010

DSC_0995DSC_0011 DSC_0968  DSC_0977 DSC_0987 DSC_0992

Tywin Lannister is that you?

DSC_0999 Then we we walked through the part of the garden I was most excited about – the promenade of trees. My excitement level for symmetrical lines of trees is on par with realizing I still have a Reese’s left when I thought the bag was empty. I LOVE THEM. Oak Alley is still my favorite, but these were pretty gorgeous.

I tried some fancy model poses, but Sari wasn’t into it.

DSC_0003  DSC_0005  DSC_0007 DSC_0012

I wish I could have gone running through here. We just woke up too early every day and I was nervous about navigating there in the dark alone without a working phone. One day I will do it. We didn’t get to go to the zoo either, but I’m just glad we had a couple of hours there. It was a very lovely place. To spend an afternoon reading there would be a dream.

Disneyland Paris

A few days into our trip, Sari and Doug realized that Disneyland is located just outside of Paris and they decided we were going to go. I was not excited. I thought going to Disney was a stupid waste of time because there is one in Florida and why the hell would we not be spending that day in the Louvre or some other fabulous Parisian historic spot. Then, I realized it’s there vacation too and I was being a jerk, so we went. And we had a blast.

We started the day at 6 and stopped by the boulangerie for breakfast to eat on the train to the park. I got a whole bag of beignets and I loved every bite.

IMG_2933

No, I’ve never had the famous ones in New Orleans, so I cannot compare. I thought these were just fabulous though.

After riding the correct trains for once, we made it to Disney just as it opened. My excitement level shot through to roof once I saw that castle.

IMG_1919IMG_2954

Since Halloween is approaching the park was decorated to match.It was adorable.

IMG_2944

IMG_2945

IMG_2946IMG_3006 I thought it would be a lot more European in design, but it was almost exactly like Disneyworld in Florida. Even the the main street had the same stores. The only significant differences were that the castle was pink and the instructions were in French first. Otherwise, creepily similar.

IMG_2942I don’t know this person, but I waited several minutes for her fashion show to conclude, and when it didn’t, I just gave her bitchface and took my picture.

Maleficent thorns!IMG_3013

Our first ride was the haunted mansion which is my favorite. It was just as kitschy and silly as always.

IMG_3039

And Indiana Jones (which had no trace of Indiana Jones in it)

IMG_1923

To Doug’s extreme annoyance, we insisted on riding It’s a Small World. The sang it in French it was as adorable as you could imagine.

IMG_1927 IMG_3003

And the teacups.

IMG_3038

Doug is a foot taller than me and he really loved cramming his legs in that tiny thing.

We rode almost everything on that part of the park before lunch, crammed some horrifyingly expensive fish and chips in our mouths, and headed over to the studio park. Our first stop was the Tower of Terror or the Hollywood Tower Hotel as they call it.

IMG_3018

The weather was pretty chilly, but we didn’t want to schlep around big jackets all day so Sari was freezing.

IMG_3016

Earlier that day she had eaten the last piece of her beloved German gum, Berry Party. She had a rough day.

IMG_2941  Anyway, we went to ride the Aerosmith rollercoaster, but just before we started making loops they stopped us. We sat there for a while while the French people assured us that everything was fine and it would all be okay. Sure…

IMG_1930 IMG_1933

Eventually we were safely removed by some handsome French firemen, so I’ll call that experience worth it.

Then we rode the Tower of Terror about five more times because the lines died significantly around dinner. One thing that kind of sucked was that all the food places closed for several hours in the afternoon. I understand that that is the culture, but there was nowhere else to get food and it was snack time. I was concerned that these people live in a world without snacks when I noticed they all had backpacks stuffed with fruit, cheeses, and breads. Well played.

Our final ride of the day was the brand new Ratatouille ride.

IMG_3025

IMG_3028You got in a piece of cheese with five other people and gracefully glided through multiple rooms as if you were a mouse. There were giant 3-D screens and the kitchens even smelled like cooking bread. It was so good.

IMG_3032

We were down under this giant screen like we were under a stove.

We finally reached exhaustion around 8 and started our long trek home. It was a long, but fun day.

IMG_3034

Please excuse typos as I wrote this while very tired and was too lazy to proofread.