15 July 2007

Paris in the summer

So Kelly and I made it to Paris the weekend of July 14. It was Bastille Day in Paris, and we were part of the celebration. Kelly and I stayed free of charge compliments of Marriott rewards. We left London right after work on Thursday night and arrived in Paris a short 2.5 hours later. That might have been the easiest trip we have made since our arrival in London. When we got into town we checked into the hotel and immediately went to dinner. We had a nice bottle of bordeaux and enjoyed the cool Parisian atmosphere. Shortly after we retired for the evening after walking around for a bit.

Kelly and I spent Friday sightseeing. One thing about sightseeing is that it is kind of hard to do when you don't have a clue where you are going. We ordered a travel book several weeks before the trip, and it didn't arrive till nearly August. So we decided to fly solo and see what happens. First mission of the day was to find an Aveda salon so that Kelly could get her hair products. Apparently hair products are a higher priority than other parts of Paris. Regardless, we tracked down a little place and took care of what we needed. After grabbing a sandwich in a little boulangerie, we were ready to walk most of Paris. We walked over to Notre Dame and toured the cathedral. We took in the beautiful rose-stained glass windows authentic to the cathedral and enjoyed the gardens in the rear.

After taking in the cathedral, we took a stroll down the Seine and enjoyed the warm weather, something that has been foreign to us in London this summer. After a bit of a stroll we took the subway to the Pere Lechaise Cemetary. While there we strolled through the beautiful grounds admiring several of the graves. We, of course, went to Jim Morrison's grave, but it wasn't as imagined since the bust was stolen several years ago. They have also made it so you can't really approach the grave anymore.

In addition to Morrison's grave we went and saw Oscar Wilde's grave for Kelly. I had recently finished The Picture of Dorian Gray, so I was pleased to see it, as well. It was quite an interesting grave as compared to the other, more traditional ones.

After the cemetery, Kelly and I went back to the hotel for a nap before heading to a boulangerie to get sandwiches for dinner. We took the sandwiches along with a bottle of wine to the Champs de Mars. The Champs de Mars is the large grounds at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. We decided it was much too crowded to attempt to go up to the top. Instead we made a picnic in the grass and had dinner and wine while the sun went down and the lights came up on the tower and around Paris. We were there for quite a while, and it was probably our favorite moment. After leaving the grounds we grabbed a cab and called it a night.

The next day was Bastille Day; the French Revolution. Kelly and I, of course, overslept and barely made the parade. It was really amazing as all of the military came marching through in full regalia. They were presenting most of their tanks and heavy artillery as well as several fly-overs from jets, tankers and fighters.

After the parade, we grabbed a quick bite to eat and took the Metropolitan train to the Bastille.

We figured they would be having festivities for the celebration but we were terribly disappointed for find nothing going on... and I mean nothing.

With our tails between our legs, we headed back up the center of Paris. We took the train all the way to the Arc de Triomphe.

We paid and took the tour to the top where we were able to see amazing views of Paris and the Champs-Elysees.

After climbing off the Arc, we strolled down the Champs-Elysees, but by that time we were so tired we could barely enjoy it. The crowds were overwhelming because of the holiday weekend, and all we wanted to do was go back to the hotel for a nap. After a few hours of sleep, Kelly and I enjoyed a great dinner. I'd tell you where but I'll have to ask Kelly to fill in the gap here.
After dinner we decided to go watch the fireworks over the Eiffel Tower. So I flagged down a cab and asked him to take us to the Eiffel Tower, and he said no and drove off. A second cab pulled up and she said she would try. I did not realize that was where everyone was going. She got us as far as she could before dropping us off. We backtracked a bit to a bridge over the Seine that leads to the Place de la Concorde and the Louvre. We sat on one of the pillars of the bridge and watched an amazing fireworks show over the Tower.

Afterward, we walked to the grounds of the Louvre. On the grounds of the Louvre was a carnival. They had a ferris wheel, fun house, swings, cotton candy, and other fun games. Kelly and I spent what money we had left having treats and enjoying the rides. It was really an enjoyable time as we were able to act like children again while in Paris.

The next morning we awoke and grabbed lunch to go eat on the grounds of the Louvre. Kelly and I were really tired by now and did not want to sightsee much more. We just hung around Paris until time for our train to take us home.

We were really glad to get home, and the dogs stayed with this wonderful family in Wimbledon, making it much easier to get them when we came back into town.

All in all, it was a wonderful trip, but it was really hot in Paris and we (I) was not dressed properly and therefore were a bit uncomfortable a lot of the weekend. Kelly, of course, was sunburned and forced to wear light sweaters for most of the weekend. I love Paris. It is one of my favorite places in Europe so far, but without the tour guide I'm not sure Kelly would rank it as high. The great thing about Paris is that it is really close and really easy to get to, so we will go back again soon. This time we will be armed with our trusty tour guide, which has never let us down, and we will tour the Louvre and go to the top of the Eiffel Tower. I believe we need a full day in the Louvre, and we just didn't want to spend that kind of time there on this trip. Sorry there are not pictures on this page, yet, as I have the camera but do not have the cord to upload them, and I don't know how to anyway. Maybe I can talk Kelly into doing it, as she's the only one that knows how anyway. She'll be coming behind me to edit my post anyway for grammar and spelling. Sorry for the long post. I'm trying to get everyone caught up, and I don't have a lot to do out here on the road. However, that story is for another time. We miss everyone back home, and we love you all.

04 July 2007

Rain, rain, go away…

...Come again some other day! Apparently, 2007 saw the wettest June that ever cursed the City of London, and July is already chalking up the rainy days, as well. It has been absolutely miserable! It feels like it just never stops! So what do you do in London when it rains? You get up and go, just like any other day! You have no choice, and sitting inside listening to the rain gets really old after a couple of weeks.

This weekend it rained every day, so Friday night Andrew and I went to the movies for the first time here in London. We have a cinema in the Fulham Broadway tube station, so it was close by and easy. We saw Ocean’s Thirteen, which was really good.

On Saturday, after a very frustrating lunch, we spent the afternoon at the Natural History Museum. We’ve been trying to save the museums and sightseeing for when all of you come to visit, so that we won’t have to see everything several times, but the rain finally got the best of our plans.

We needed something to do! So we saw the giant robotic tyrannosaurus rex, along with all the rest of the dinosaurs except, strangely, the pterodactyl.

Andrew and I noticed that there were no pterodactyls in the exhibit at all, nor were there any explanations as to why. I’ve just looked up the reason. According to Wikipedia, “Pterosaurs, often called pterodactyls, are sometimes referred to in the popular media as dinosaurs, but this is incorrect. The term ‘dinosaur’ is properly restricted to a certain group of terrestrial reptiles with a unique upright stance (superorder Dinosauria), and therefore excludes the pterosaurs, as well as the various groups of extinct aquatic reptiles, such as ichthyosaurs (giant marine reptiles that resembled fish and dolphins), plesiosaurs (carnivorous aquatic, mostly marine, reptiles), and mosasaurs (serpentine marine reptiles).” Interesting!

Later that night we had dinner in a pub called the Chelsea Ram, which is not too far from our flat. Granted it was pouring down rain while we walked there, and despite the fact that we were both wearing raincoats and each had our own umbrella (called a brelly here), the rain still soaked us by the time we arrived at the restaurant. Our tour book, Access London, describes the Ram as “a great London institution [...that...] is hugely popular with Chelsea locals and other who travel from all over London for the friendly ambience, the great selection of wines, beers, and the rest, and the terrific food. You can just hang out and enjoy a pint of something warm and quintessentially English.” The food and atmosphere were great, and I’m sure that we’ll go back.

So on Sunday, Andrew and I went with Nigel to our long-awaited first cricket match! We had been really looking forward to it for months. Of course, when we woke up on Sunday, it was raining! We met Nigel at the Paddington station at ten that morning, and walked to Lords stadium. Our seats were in the back row of the lower deck, so we were sheltered from the rain, but being at the top of the lower deck with the upper deck above us and no back wall made our seats right in a wind tunnel. We were freezing all day long! On the plus side, the game was really interesting, and Andrew and I learned a lot about cricket, a very confusing game. Nigel explained the rules to us as the game was going on, as well as the history of the stadium, the area, and his experiences growing up attending cricket matches with his father. He is really such an interesting man and is just full of facts! Andrew and I really enjoy hanging out with him and hope to attend another match soon, when the weather is better. We both agreed that the match would have been a great Sunday activity on a warm, sunny Saturday.

So Andrew left for Dubai again on Monday morning, and I’m all alone here again! For those of you who don’t know, he’s been placed on a project with General Motors in Dubai and will be gone for two weeks at a time. He’ll be spending time in South Africa and Egypt, as well, while he’s on this project. He's going to make a special post on Dubai, though, later. Here are some photos of his first trip to Dubai…