Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Louvre and Arc de Triomphe

Dear Grace,
A day we will never forget with you is the day we spent our time exploring the Louvre, Jardin des Tuileries, and the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. It was a beautiful sunny day- not that a day in Paris wouldn't be beautiful. If there was ever a chance of you remembering any of our travels, this day will not be one of them. Some people say they can spend days at the Louvre and other say to quickly find the Mona Lisa and call it a day. As you can tell by the pictures, you were done immediately after posing in front of the famous piece of artwork. Your Father and I are somewhere between the two types of visitors. Enjoy! 
Love, Mummy
Andy and I were the only ones in our group who would take a picture with our friend, who we purchased two water color paintings from. When I asked if they were prints he proved on multiple copies they weren't by licking his finger and smudging a corner of the painting. I told him he didn't have to do that, but then again, it helped influence our decision to make a purchase.   
Grace, your parents think they are so funny at times.
Our interpretations of the Mona Lisa. Grace, you definitely won this contest. 
This was the room directly behind the Mona Lisa. We were more impressed with the room than the famous painting. Maybe we just don't understand and appreciate art sometimes...
There is a good chance that an Asian tour group took more pictures of you sleeping in your baby carrier than the actual sculpture of the Venus de Milo we were standing near.  I'm still not sure how I feel about that...haha
Your Daddy and I were very excited to walk down the Champs-Élysées and explore our surroundings along the way. The Vetors took a ride in one of the cool rickshaws. Maybe when you're older and we don't have your pram, we can take you in one. 
Fountain from Devil Wears Prada- you can't tell, but I'm trying to be creative by copying the scene where she throws her cell phone in the fountain. 
We ended up seeing a long line in front of the picture on the left and thought to ourselves....who lives here?  Silly Americans, it's an Abercrombie & Fitch.  That was SOOOO high school!  Apparently Louis Vuitton in Paris isn't as big of a deal.  The lines were incredibly shorter.....probably due to the prices!
I thought Louis Vuitton had a creative window display. Hot air balloons with a little Louis as the basket.  Don't get any ideas, Grace.  You can have one when you can afford one....still love you.
We finally made it to the Arc de Triomphe. "The building of the Arc de Triomphe began in 1806, on the orders of Napoleon I in honor of the Grand Army, and was completed under Louis-Phillipe. From its terrace, 50 meters above ground, you can enjoy one of the finest views in Paris. The arches whole decorative style is entirely of the tradition of the sculpture from the first half of the nineteenth century. The arch is in honor of those who fought for France, especially those who fought in the Napoleonic Wars. The generals' names and the wars they fought are engraved at the top of the arch. There are inscriptions in the ground underneath the vault of the arch which include the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from WWI where the Memorial Flame burns." While we were there, we saw the end of some kind of honorary ceremony.  

Since 1975 the last stage of the Tour De France has finished on the Champs-Élysées, with the riders making 6-8 laps back and forth on the Avenue. The subsequent award ceremony also takes place there.   Cycling is a common interest that we both share and would have loved to see the end of the three week tour, but it finished one week prior.  For those concerned with our parenting skills due to the pictures, she is not sitting in the middle of the street.  We have her on a blanket sitting on the sidewalk.

We decided to try a local restaurant within walking distance of the Arc and came across a nice place a block off the Champs-Élysées.  We wanted to try an purely French cuisine instead of the Italian dishes we had recently.

The Franklin Roosevelt Hotel is supposedly is a VERY NICE hotel, which was right across the street.  That explains the price we paid for dinner, but it was well worth it.

Stay tuned as we'll be posting more pictures from Paris including the Eiffel Tower.  Cheers!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Paris Cathedrals

Dear Grace,
We took our first vacation outside of England to Paris, France. Mr. and Mrs. Vetor joined this momentous first experience with you. Hopefully, they will tell you all about it when you're older. One of your Father and my favorite past times when we travel, is to check out different churches. I thought it was only appropriate to start our Paris entries with the gorgeous cathedrals.  Enjoy!
Love, Mummy 

If we had to choose, we honestly don't know which cathedral we think is the more beautiful. 
Notre Dame or San Chapelle 
You decide for yourself...
Option #1: Notre Dame
Option #2: San Chapelle 
When you walk into the entrance this is what you see...
When you walk upstairs this is what you find...
Daddy and I have a special place in our hearts for San Chapelle because of your Great-Grandma Jo. She has traveled around the world taking art classes....studying and appreciating architecture and art museums along the way. While she's into her 80s, her love for art is still so strong she continues to teach college level courses at a school in Arizona. The following is a perfectly worded description of San Chapelle from Grandma Jo. She sent this email right before we left for Paris. 

Hi Mike and Katie,
I understand you will be going to Paris this coming week with friends.
About 3 or 4 blocks from Notre Dame is the Chapel of Sainte-Chappel.
This was built by one of the early King Louis of France.  At the time
it was attached to the palace which is now the police station of Paris.
It was built to hold the relics which he had purchased from Turkey,
which were the Crown of Thorns, part of the Cross and other items.  These were
all moved to Notre Dame during the Revolutions.  The lower chapel was
for the servants, the upper chapel was for the royal family.  It is like
stepping into a jewel box.  As far as I am concerned, it rates up there
with Notre Dame, Chartres, Cologne, St. Paul's and others.  It is small,
50 ft x 100 ft. Please go and enjoy.
Grandma Jo

Now you decide. I'd love to hear your opinion. Have you seen either of these churches? Do you prefer one over the other? If you had the option to go back and visit one or check out only one of them for your first time...which would you choose? 

Vetors Part 2

Dear Grace,

You and I showed the Vetors part of Kensington Gardens and mainly the palace. A really neat exhibit, The Sunken Garden Secrets, is currently displayed around our favorite area of the grounds. People wrote down their secrets, which were then placed inside what looks like a clear red christmas ball ornament. They were strung along the ivy archway organized into different genres. Love Secrets. Secret Regrets. Secret Dreams. Trade Secrets. Secret Places. Secret to Happiness. I could have spent hours reading every single one, which is why we have gone back a couple times to this garden recently. I have posted some of my favorites. Enjoy!

Love, Mummy 
"Go where your heart takes you."
"I wish I were less fearless. Maybe this is the year to change."
"I wish everyone in the world could be nice."
"For my prince charming to love me the way I am."
"The secret to anything is to share everything with my darling. She's so special. <3 Mum"
The following day we went to the Tower of London. Ms. Amber and the Blossom boys joined. Don't you and Leo make the cutest couple strapped in your prams? Randomly, we ran into Mrs. Jones (formerly Miss Holly Grunewald) and her husband, Zack. Holly was a very good friend of mine growing up and Zack was a really good friend of your Uncle Matthew. Holly and I were reunited at Protsman Elementary School while I was student teaching and Miss Grunewald was in her first year. I owe Miss Grunewald for the endless resources and emotional support she provided me during that time. 
St. Paul's Cathedral
Where's Waldo? I mean where's Andy and Amanda?
"I think I'll go for a walk outside now..."
They just need the dance moves.

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