Sunday, July 29, 2007

More and More and More Photos

I'm in the process of adding more photos to some areas and adding more descriptive text from my photos and receipts. If you have already made it through the entire trip, you may want to take a quick stroll through one more time to find the updates.

I've had a fun time with the blog and the comments from family and friends. If you are interested in learning how to write a blog, just contact me and I'll walk you through the steps.

Good Neighbor Kelley returned from New York on Saturday. Being the good neighbor that she is, she called me right away to hear about Paris. I grabbed the bottle of fine French wine that was left over from Bastille day, and headed next door with my laptop and ALL of my photos. She opened some cheese and crackers and we popped the cork on the fine "vin rouge" (red wine.) Then I turned on the laptop and started the big review of the vacation.

We both discussed Paris and the wonderful time, but about photo 700 (yes, 700), I was slowly clicking from photo to photo, and looked over at Kelley. Her eyelids were nearly half shut and she was leaning on her hand to keep her head up.
"How many more?"
"Well, we are at 700 and there are about 1000. I guess that there is about 300 left."

Ohhhhh, we had to stop. She told me that I really needed to limit the number and pick the best photos to show. So, don't be worried if we have planned to look at my photos. The next show-and-tell will be nice and short. Beautiful, but I really can't show you ALL 1000 photos.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Home in Phoenix

I made it home. And my luggage made it home also! Everything is recharging, so I'll post photos later on Wednesday.

The house and plants all survived!

Cheers, London!

We had a good few days in London. I'll post photos when I finally return to Phoenix and charge my camera.

Kalen walked with me to the Victoria Station in London so that I could catch the Gatwick Express train. (Thanks so much!!!) It was difficult to say good-bye to him and I'll miss sharing with him and talking to him all the time.

The train ride was uneventful. Check-in at Gatwick went smooth. Of course, a few ladies complimented Vera Bradley and how pretty she was. So, I had to tell them the story about how she is also wild. We shared a few chuckles.

The flight was uneventful. I slept most of the way. We landed in Charlotte and had to claim our luggage and turn it back in for the trip to Phoenix. I was fairly nervous waiting at the claim watching all of the "other" luggage ride up the ramp. Finally, I spotted Vera!!! YEA!!! I had my luggage.

I'm in Charlotte now with a great internet connection at the airport. I have about a two hour layover and then I'm on another four or five hour flight. I checked in with my Mom so that she knows that I'm back in the US (what a good daughter.)

Monday, July 16, 2007

London - Kensington

Well rested, we rose at a decent time and had breakfast in the Windermere. A pot of tea, some toast, and eggs benedict started the morning off strong. I was very happy to have a new outfit and totally clean clothes. Ahhhh. And I had my own toiletries and large hairbrush so that I could blow dry the hair that had run wild for the previous week in Paris.

We walked around Kensington and South Kensington. Kalen toured Richmond University (where he attended classes). He lived a reasonable walking distance from the University in an apartment. The finger is pointing to the ground floor windows of the apartment building where he shared space with three other students. The Kensington area was nice and we walked past his local grocery store, pubs, and coffee shops. Kalen pointed out one of his favorite places to stop for a quick chocolate croissant and hot beverage in the morning before dashing off. I was amazed that it was a little French place! Montparnasse Cafe - Patisserie, Boulangerie Francais!!

We went to Leicester Square to have dinner and catch "Harry Potter" at the Oreon Theatre. What a beautiful place. They sell reserved seats too. Interesting. The theater is huge and the reserved seating arrangement removes the mad rush for the perfect seat. There are also pricing differences based upon where you sit. We chose seats in "the stalls", which is the section on the bottom in the front seat. We like to sit close for the full effect of the movie.

Seated two rows in front of us was the tour guide that Kalen, Ginan (my sister) and I had in January of 2006 at the Globe Theatre in London. I couldn't believe it and of course wanted to go to talk to him. Kalen kept me in proper restraint and agreed to take a photo. I recognized him because I took a photo of him during his talk at the tour. The photo on the right is the tour guide taken in January 2006. The one on the left is the photo from the theatre. What do you think?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Return to London/Luggage arrives!

Sunday: We traveled Eurostar from Paris to London today. When we checked into the Windermere near the Victoria Station, we learned that the traveling luggage, Vera Bradley, had been delivered last Thursday. She was on a seperate journey for a week. I had a TVA approved lock on the suitcase which can be opened if the luggage is pulled for inspection. It was pulled and inspected, then the lock relocked. Nothing much to find in there.

We had an early dinner at the restaurant in the hotel and then we are having an early night. Exhausted, we are going to rest and alarm or wake up call!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Au Revoir Paris

Sunday is the day that we say farewell to Paris and return to London. We are leaving about noon. I'm not real confident with the internet access at the hotel in London, but I'll try to post updates as we do things there.

Hmmm. It's 8AM on a Sunday morning, the morning following the late night Bastille Day parties in the neighborhood. It's very quiet outside as I look at the corner of rue Augereau and rue Saint Dominique. The area was normally awake and bustling by this time of the day during our entire stay, but a sleepiness seems to be on the entire area. A lone dog barks, maybe to wake the owner for a morning walk. I take out my Sony Cyber Shot for one last Parisian photo. This is the view from the room. There are no screens in the window, it's just covered with two doors with a lace curtain. A container is attached to the ironwork and holds green lacy plants. Ah, Paris.

We pack our bags and check out of the Hotel de Londres - Eiffel. Cedric gives us one last "Bon Voyage", with a warm hand shake and we are off on our "grande depart" from Paris. We turn right out of the hotel on rue Augereau and left on rue Saint Dominique for one last stop at our favorite Boulangerie to get our morning "pain au chocolate", our chocolate croissants. Armed with a full bag, we stroll Avenue de La Bourdonnais, cross Avenue Bosquet and enter the Ecole Militaire metro on Avenue de la Motte Picquet. It's early and there is not a lot of traffic on the Sunday morning after Bastille Day.

We make our way through a few metro stops and changes to arrive at Gare de Nord. Moving from the metro station to the train station, we have made it in plenty of time. We stop at a table in the train station to finish our "pain au chocolate" and have one last latte and hot chocolate in Paris. Finally, the time arrives to join the line to go through security and board the train. Passports in hand, we put our luggage through the scanner, get the passports stamped and move into another waiting lounge. Kalen spots an ice cream stand and we buy two cones. The departure doors are divided by the train car numbers, so we move to the section for Coach 3. A lot of people crowd in line, but Kalen advises that we hang back a little since we have reserved seats. Waiting until the crowd passes, we make our way across an elevated walkway and down to our landing. Bags securely placed in the rack above our seats, we settle in for a two and a half hour ride to London.

Bastille Day Preparation and Celebration

We took some time to prepare for the celebration and fireworks tonight. Jim and Janie Maxwell are in Paris and are going to meet us for the event. Kalen and I started by going to rue Cler to buy wine, cheese, and fruits. This is a great shopping street and although some of the shops were closed, we were able to buy enough for the four of us for an event meal.

I was drawn into an olive shop. The shop is at 44, rue de Cler. Azadeh was working in the shop and was very helpful and charming. (I have her email address if you are interesting in renting an apartment in Paris at some time.)

We met the Maxwells in between the planned Metro stop at Ecole Militaire and the next one. Ecole Militaire was closed for the evening. The rumor in the crowd was that you were not allowed to take class into the park. That meant that we had to get creative with the four bottles of wine that we had for dinner. It looked like the thing to do was to purchase large plastic containers of water or cheap soda and use them for the wine. The trash cans (and surrounding area) were piled with empty wine bottles. We decided to go back to the hotel to clean out the bottles of Limonade and fill them with wine. In the room, we started sampling the wine and it turned into an all out feast. Out came the cheese, bagettes, cherries, apricots and plums from the market. We finished the meal in the room, and left for the park.

I've never seen so many people since the time that I spent New Year's Eve in New York's Time Square. It was incredible. We found a nice place in a little side grassy area and sat and chatted. When the fireworks started around 10:30 PM, we jumped up to get a better view. Kalen led the way to the center grassy area for the perfect viewing. My camera did not take the best photos of the tower and the fireworks, but you can google to see what it looks like when you have a good camera and perfect shots. The music and the fireworks were timed and the show was awesome.

At the end, the crowd started moving in 20 directions. We decided to go back to our home street to see if anything was open. We went into Agnes's restaurant, next door to the hotel. We bought water, and a great bottle of wine. The waiter brought the bread. Then we tried to order salads for each of us, BUT Agnes would not stand for it. She came out of the kitchen and gave us a piece of her mind. So, we said that we didn't want food, and that we would finish the wine and move on. This is a picture of Kalen, Janie, and Jim in front of Agnes's restaurant.

Great day, great event, great company.

At the end are all of the extra photos from Rue Cler and the night with Jim and Janie to celebrate Bastille Day.  I am still living in the one set of clothes that I have with me.