Saturday, October 15, 2011

"There I was... There. I. Was..."

Stretch likes to tell the girls ridiculous, fantastical stories that have come to be known in our home as "There I Was" stories because that's how they all start:  "There I was.  There I was.  There.  I.  Was..."   Last summer, for some unknown reason, many of the stories featured go-go boots and a long white silk scarf.  As a result, Devil Pup has been asking for go-go boots since last summer.  (Yes.  I blame her father.)

Recently, Devil Pup acquired a pair of red, low-calf zippered patent leather boots.  She has worn them almost non-stop since getting them.

The girls are also encouraged to tell their own "There I Was" stories.  Today, Stretch asked Devil Pup to tell one.  It was quite short and a bit lacking in plot.  But we thought it was hysterical.  It went something like this:

There I was.  
I was wearing red go-go boots.  
And I was looking sassy.  
The end.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Our last full day in Paris...

The next morning found us at the same bakery as the previous morning getting breakfast to go before making our way to Invalides and the Musee d’Armee.  Stretch was made very happy between the military history and the HUGE amount of artillery on display!  We were awed by the intricate armor and weaponry.  The attention to detail was incredible.

After getting our fill of military history, we made our way to the opposite end of the complex of Invalides to the Eglise du Dome, where Napolean’s tomb is located.  Big Sis wondered why such a small statured person had such a large tomb.

Across the street, we found Musee Rodin where the girls posed with The Thinker and we wandered the gardens enjoying more of the scupture’s works.  I had intended for us to follow this with Musee du Moyen Age so we could see the tombstone of Nicholas Flamel and the 6 Lady and Unicorn tapestries.  However, the general consensus was that we should move on to the river cruise with Bateaux Parisiens, an hour-long boat tour that began at the foot of the Eiffel Tower , passed under a number of bridges including Pont Alexandre III and Pont Neuf, floating past the Ile de Cite before returning.

It had been a rainy, gloomy day until that point, so after disembarking from the boat, we thought we’d check the line at Tour Eiffel since we were so close.  Once there, Stretch, Big Sis and Devil Pup decided to take the stairs up the Tower.  I decided to stay behind and people watch.  They ended up climbing all the way to the 2nd stage!  Clearly, they all enjoyed it as they returned to the ground happy and excited.

By then, we were all getting hungry and decided to try to find a family friendly chain restaurant just off the Avenue du Champs Elysees called hippopotamus.  The first location was no longer there but we accidentally found another location.  It was wonderful!  And the kids’ meals came with enormous ice cream desserts.

After dinner, we strolled up the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe.  After taking note of the arches, plaques on the ground and the eternal flame at the grave of the unknown soldier (from the First World War), we climbed circular stairs to enjoy the view from the terrace on top.  The lights of the streets radiating from the Arc de Triomphe were pretty but the piece de resistance had to be the Tour Eiffel lit up at night.  Just when we thought we were enjoying a spectacular view, the Tower’s lighting changed and it began to sparkle!

 What a perfect last night in the City of Light!

The Louvre, Notre Dame, Musee D'Orsay, and Musee Grevin ... Oh, my!

The next day, we wanted to get to the Louvre just before opening.  We didn't quite make it, but were still early enough that the crowd in front of the Mona Lisa wasn't too bad.  Our strategy for this stop was to hit the highlights.  After all, there is just no way to see all of it in one day, especially with kids in tow.  Big Sis was able to see her Greek Antiquities and Devil Pup saw her Egyptian Antiquities, or at least some of them. 

After an hour or so, the girls were done with the museum.  It was time for a snack and our next stop.  We caught the Cars Rouge (a double decker hop-on, hop-off bus tour that is included in the Paris Pass) and went to the Cathedrale du Notre Dame on Ile de Cite.  The line to get into the cathedral was ridiculous.  And the main reason we were there was to go up the towers so we got in line for Tours du Notre Dame.  It was a long line.  And it was cold.  We ate lunch in that line.  Stretch found a vendor across the street and brought us hot dogs in baguettes with cheese. 
Eventually, we made it inside and started climbing the first tower.  Gargoyles and chimera on a gray day – perfect!  We also found ourselves inside the wooden bell tower after passing through a small door that the girls said looked like a Hobbit door.

Then it was back on the Cars Rouge to make our way to Musee d’Orsay.  Although renovations were underway and areas were closed, we were still able to see a number of works including those of  Paul Gauguin and Vincent Van Gogh, a favorite of Devil Pup’s. 
After that we reboarded the Cars Rouge.  We passed La Place du Concorde and the Egyptian Obelisk.  Then we passed the Opera and disembarked to make our way to Musee Grevin, a wax museum.  The girls had a great time posing with wax figures such as Jackie Chan, Naomi Campbell, Elvis Presley, Spiderman and Frankenstein’s Monster.

After dinner at an Irish pub nearby, it was back to our hotel.  We all slept well that night!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Bonjour, Paris!

For this trip, I purchased BahnCards when I bought our train tickets.  They paid for themselves in the first trip!  It was less expensive to buy the cards and get the 25% discount on the tickets than to simply buy the tickets without the discount.  I wish I'd known to do this for our earlier Berlin trip!

After a 4-hour ride on the TGV, we arrived at Paris' Gare L'Est in the early afternoon.  We bought day passes for the Metro and made our way to our hotel, Hotel Residence Foch.  After dropping our bags in our room, we set out to find lunch and the Hard Rock Cafe to pick up our 2-day Paris Passes.  Lunch was bought at a street-side stand on the Avenue la Grande Armee which was lined on one side with white tents occupied by antique and art vendors.  We ate while walking toward the Arc de Triomphe.

After taking a few pictures, we descended into the Metro and made our way to the Hard Rock (Metro line 9, exit at Grands Boulevards).  The hardest part of picking up the passes was getting thru the crowd of tourists in the store.  Nearby were covered alleys with interesting little shops.  One had a pink beret that had Devil Pup written all over it.  Since she'd been asking for one, she got the first souvenir of the trip.

After a bit of wandering in a drizzle, we wandered and saw the Eiffel Tower, L'Ecole Militaire and went back toward the hotel, looking for a place to eat dinner.  We ended up in a brasserie where we enjoyed our first dinner in the City of Lights.  When our meals arrived, Devil Pup, exclaimed, "Bon Appetit!"  After finishing hers, Devil Pup leaned back in her chair, rubbed her tummy and announced, "That was quite a meal...  A good meal, I tell you."  She'd had a hamburger (no bun) and rice.

Berlin After Action: Exploring Part 2