Thursday, March 31, 2011

Le Carrousel

While researching for the trip, I read that there was a mall underneath the Louvre. WHAT?  How could I have missed this.  So we decided to check it out.
There is an entrance on either side of the Arc.

Restaurants, cafes, shops...and an quick and easy entrance to the Louvre.
Avoid the lines on the surface!!

As we rounded the corner, we were shocked and
delighted to see the inverted pyramid.

There were a lot of both high end and fun shops. 
Apple had a HUGE store.

This is a pay-to-potty.  1 euro. What an
adventure. They sold designer toilet paper,
fancy bathroom stuff, and a 100% guaranteed
sterile toilette. 

Here is the list of stores.  I had always wondered
where people shopped for regular mall stuff.
here is one of the underground malls.


We started the day on time and reached the Louvre at 9:05, right after they opened. NO LINE!!  It was awesome. We walked right in, right up to the ticket windows.  I had intended to spend about 2 hours but we got into what we were doing and we stayed about 5 hours.  And loved it all.  I've been there when it was crowded and the light crowds made this day incredibly easy.
Our first view of the pyramid.

Tina was speechless from the time that she walked in to
\the first courtyard.

I am always grateful to be able to see Mona Lisa again.

My fave painting.

The ebb and flow of the crowd allowed for a moment
to capture Venus without a crowd gathered.

We went into the restaurant. I thought we were going to
have a "snack", but then discovered that it was 1PM
and time for lunch.  Tina ordered Quiche Lorraine and salad.

I ordered a smoked salmon salad with avacado. It was very good.

Our fancy water carafe. I'm under strict orders from my
son to make sure and drink a lot of water.  Here is proof!

To my surprise, I discovered that the restaurant was "Angelina's"

Of course, we had to order that wonderful thick hot chocolate.

We finished this Louvre tour by walking through
the Napolean Apartments.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Galerie Layfayette and Au Pied de Couchon

We stopped in to see "Paris Story" at a little movie house. This presented the history of Paris and was a good introduction.  The presentation is in French, but each seat has a head set and you select your language of choice. One quick stop at Galerie Layfayettes (incredible inside) and went to the roof top to look over Paris. This is free and I recommend taking the time to do this.  Our dinner was light and at Au Pied do Cochon.  We were so exhausted by this time that we were nearly falling asleep at the table. We ate our dinner and went to the apartment, asleep soon after stepping foot inside the door.

View of the Eiffel Tower and Paris from Galerie Lafayette rooftop.

French Onion Soup.  This is so filling that it is a meal itself.

We were fortunate to have a window view and could watch as the world walked by.

This is a cheese board with a fruit mix and salad.

Smoked salmon, bread, salad.

Paris - Opera Garnier

We walked to the Paris Opera, which is amazing from the moment that you see it. We were able to take a tour for 9Euro.  It was not crowded so we could move easily and take photos.

Click here for wikipedia description of Opera Garnier

This is the opera house that served as inspiration for the "Phantom of The Opera" setting.  Some interesting notes from the wikipedia page are listed below.  Remember the scenes in Phantom with the falling of the chandelier and the underground lake?

SetbacksThe construction of the opera house was plagued by numerous setbacks. One major problem which postponed the laying of the concrete foundation was the swampy ground under which flowed a subterranean lake, requiring the water to be removed by eight months of continual pumping.

Leroux's The Phantom of the OperaDuring 1896, the falling of one of the counterweights for the grand chandelier resulted in the death of one person. This incident, as well as the underground lake, cellars, along with the other elements of the Opera House even the building itself were the inspirations of Gaston Leroux for his classic 1910 Gothic novelThe Phantom of the Opera

The front of the Opera. Beautiful lamppost.

New Spring purses.  Very colorful.

Large bags in white and yellow.

This is inside the Opera.  This room is all gold.  We couldn't
go in. It looked like they were tearing down or setting up for
an event.

The main lobby.  Marble muted shade
(not gold)

Inside the auditorium.

The floor was beautiful throughout the building.

This is an air grate on the floor. I liked the design.

Royal Palais Garden

I wanted to explore the garden at the Royal Palace. I had walked past this building before, with no clue of the gardens in the entrance.  There are also covered galeries around the outside of the garden with some really nice shops.

This is the entrance on the North side of the complex.

It quickly opens to a huge garden.  It's spring!
See the pink trees?

There are a lot of places to sit in the center and under
the tree.

Daffodils and other flowers around the edgeway.

Nice fountain in the center of the garden.

After we left, we walked past a wonderful chocolate shop.

Yummy light and dark chocolates.

Flat free form peices and pieces. Check out the prices!

The round billboards on the Avenue de l'Opera.
The opera is in the background.

Fashion statement for the spring season.

Galerie Vivienne

We arrived in Paris at about 9:30 am, took the train to Chatelet-Les Halles station and walked to the apartment.  Knowing that we had to get in sync with the new time zone, we took off on a walk to see the neighborhood.
Place des Victoires

Place des Victoires

Galerie Vivienne entrance w ith the cafe to the left.

Inside Galerie Vivienne. Beautiful cafes and shops.

We sat outside and had a light lunch.  Ravioli with cheese and spinach.

Four cheese ravioli.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

iPhone, Kindle and Travel Books

The rule for this trip is to only have carry-on.  I'll have a wheeled bag and a backpack.  This isn't easy for a five week trip, although it is fortunate that the climate won't have great variations.  Every ounce and inch counts as I move from place to place.  I've done a lot of study on the major cities, marked maps (in the iPhone) so that it will be easy to get from one place to another walking, by bus, or by subway.  I have several tools in my iPhone that I am testing and will be able to report as to what worked best, what had limitations.

Travel tools that I have with me on the iPhone:
RATP Lite (Paris Metro system)
Rick Steves' Audio Europe 2011 (pick and choose your walking tours and podcasts...nicely organized and easy to use)

If you can suggest additional iPhone apps that work well with travel, please list them in the comments section.

I have also decided to use the iPhone Kindle tool for the tour books.  I wanted an up to date version of the tour books with me, but again I'm challenged with available space and extra weight. I had contimplated ripping out the pages for the specific city...and while that was still an option I decided to try Amazon's Kindle books for iPhone.  The Kindle books were half of the listed book price, so I saved some money with the electronic copy.  I bought one first, and looked at the quality and readability on the iPhone. Very nicely done, easy to read, and I was able to put a bookmark on the pages that had particular interest. 

Example of Rick Steves book on the iPhone Kindle
Map and photo are easy to see. 

Another example. This one shows a map
and the text that descripes the drawing.
This is the list of the books that I purchased.  (Amazon affiliate link). 

Rick Steves' Paris 2011

Rick Steves' Germany 2011

Rick Steves' Vienna, Salzburg & Tirol

Rick Steves' London 2011

Rick Steves' Prague & The Czech Republic