Thursday, April 29, 2010

Paris Passions

Well, we FINALLY made it to Paris. It was our fourth attempt but gosh was it worth it.

What's funny is that I had no expectations, in fact, if anything I didn't expect to like Paris. I'd heard all about how rude the French could be and how Parisians hate American's. I figured the Eiffel Tower would look just like the mini key chains you see and I've never had French cuisine that I enjoyed.

As usual, starting with low expectations sets you up to be impressed. I had plenty of chances to use the French that I'd practiced and most of the people were nice and helpful. Everything was bigger than I was prepared for. And I even found food that I actually enjoyed. True creme brulee is truly amazing.

We caught the very beginnings of Spring time in Paris. As we
wandered we saw bits of green buds on trees and occasional flowers. When we finally stopped at Notre Dame we got our first real dose of Spring in Paris. There were Cherry Blossoms in full bloom, I spent time watching French children playing in a sandbox under a canopy of blossoms, their cheeks a supernat
ural rosy pink.

The Eiffel Tower wasn't at all what I expected. The base was far larger and the tower much taller than I imagined. I also expected it to be black or green and was surprised to see rusty orange patches. We
approached the tower through the Parc du Champs de Mars and then walked South East, as we left we passed through some gardens that aren't on the map but
which were in bloom and beautiful.

We met our friends, Fabio and Adrian for this trip so I had to be considerate of the boy attention span when it came to our museum trips. My new sis-in-law made us this great little packet tour that
took us through the museum to the highlights and included reasons why the pieces are so critical. I could have spent hours in the Louvre, I mean, the building itself was amazing and it was just so freaky huge! I have to admit, I got goosebumps when we stumbled upon the glass pyramid. Pics of the art we saw together as well as some of my favorites are up on my Flickr here.

I'm such a sucker for a gorgeous cathedral, you'll have to go to our Travel Blog to read about my impressions of Notre Dame.

The Icelandic Volcano put a bit of a twist on our trip. We were supposed to take a cheap(ish) flight on RyanAir and go back to Rome with the boys for a few days, but with all flights grounded we had be flexible. The boys had to get back for a business deal so they were
a tad more stressed than we were. In the end Adrian's brother, Marcello, drove the 15 hours up from Rome to get us and then we all five piled into one car and went South, through the French Alps, stopped for dinner and then straight through Italy and "home" to Rome. The camera battery died before the road trip so there aren't a ton of pics; it was a fast drive but very cool. While it wasn't our preferred method of travel it was one of those memory making twists for sure.

Can I just say that I LOVE Rome. It just feels so...comfortable and
comforting to me. I'm sure it has to do with all of the great memories I have of the city but every time I go back it hits me again. I just really love the city. This visit was shorter than the last, but the least "tourist" by far. We basically hung out with the boys, went to the dealership with them, ran errands, went grocery shopping, ate Adrian's amazing cooking and just relaxed in their condo. Oh, and I finally got to see the Spanish Steps with the Spring Festival flowers out.

It was a great trip. I'm already itching to get back to Paris on my own, to have more of an opportunity to linger at certain spots and more freedom to focus on the people and culture. I think I'm also now interested in exploring other regions of France - and the wine! I know I only tapped into the tip of French wine.

As always, the whole scoop is on our Travel Blog and our pictures from the trip are up on Flickr.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Creepy Clouds

> Got up early to take Chris to the airport. Felt/heard what seemed
> like an earthquake. Weird.

Then saw thus really odd cloud formation on the drive in. The clouds
were whiter and brighter than the dawn sky with a glow. Notice the tail.

We were imaging alien take over or an early coming of 2012. Very
freaky and creepy.