Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Together in Barcelona

This photo was taken way after my day began. Started at 5 in Paris. 5:15 caught the metro, ran to the bus station, caught a bus to the airport which was an hour outside of town (blasted budget airlines!), then the airplane, then another bus since the stupid budget airline was an hour and a half outside Barcelona. Then I walked about a mile with all my junk to another bus to the airport and then I had to take the airport shuttle to the hotel. Yikes!!! I did manage to get this awesome balloon clown for dad's birthday. Happy 54th! So nice to be in a nice hotel with the fam for a few days.
By the time the whole crew got together it was about 9pm so we just headed downstairs and had a great birthday dinner for dad. It was so nice to be with the family. I am for sure missing Jason and Justin. I have such a supportive family!! They have been following me all over the world all year long. I mean I am sure they are not suffering.... but they are very willing to put their lives on hold to back my play.
He particularly loved the clown! Haha!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Last day in Paris

Charlotte left me early this morning....sad to see her and her french go... it was a little tough today. And I just missed her of course.
This is the view out the window of the place we are staying. "Newest" church in town....about 200 years old, hasn't even made it on the maps yet. So stunning.
This is Nate, the guy from Boston we met last night at the restaurant. He was touring around by himself today so we decided to travel alone together. Much better. Our first stop of the day was the Musee de Orsay. Many Parisians told us it was much better than the Louvre.

This was this huge ornate room, which of course looks not nearly as spectacular as it does here. It reminded me of something you would see in pride and prejudice with girls in poofy dresses swirling around. So pretty.

Another Monet - I really loved this one because it reminded me of Santa Barbara

Henri Matisse... just to name a few. We also saw lots of Picssaro and Cezanne.

The museum is built in an old train station. This is a view of the atrium. From the museum we walked a ton to see the catacombes of Paris. When they were building the metro system they had to move tons of bodies from where they had been buried so they put all 6 million of these bodies in the catacombes under the city. We walked for 45 minutes or so to get there only to find they were closed for the next month due to some vandalism....blasted vandals. So we headed back to Notre Dame....
We climbed the 400 steps to the bell towers to see these beauties. Yikes!
We named this one Sprinkles.... hehe
It was really cool to see the city from above. It is huge!!! We have only been to one tiny piece of it. You could look in all directions and not see the end of it.

It was really nice to enjoy the view and also walk a bit in Quasimoto's shoes...

Nate and I split ways at this point. I rented a bike to ride home and then realized that I wanted to see the Arc de Trimph, so I rode bikes up the street where all the most expensive shops are to the Arc de Triumph....another monument to a successful battle by Napoleon. I have LOVED riding bikes around this town, probably one of my favorite things I have done here.
As I rode home I rode through this outdoor exhibit of all the vintage Vogue magazine covers. Pretty fun to see.
I finished off my ride watching the sun set over Paris. How dreamy! It has been an incredible trip. I am amazed at the beauty of this city. I'm off to Barcelona in the morning!

Monday, September 28, 2009

A truly Parisian Day

I just want you to know that I ordered this croissant all by myself in French... Charlotte fed me the lines and I did it all alone! Excellent croissant as well.
First item for today was to see Napoleon Bonepart's Tomb. This is the dome above it. There are 13 kilos of gold up there...

This is the tomb of one of his generals. The audio tour we got told us that this is the dying general in the arms of Immortality who is holding a crown of laurels which is a symbol of victory and on either side he is mourned by wisdom and viture. How poetic...
These great giants are outside the entrance to his tomb.

And there it looks rather modern. I didn't realize he was such a contemporary person. He died in the early 1800's. His remains are in there in a tin box inside of an ebony box inside of two led boxes inside of some other boxes and finally this marble one....woah man!

On the wall surrounding the tomb there are all these carvings of Napoleon depicted in the traditional dress of a Roman god. This guy really did think a lot of himself.
I thought these were really beautiful. These are all angels that guard his resting place.

From Napoleon's tomb we did something very! We are not really high fashion like the french (well our cash wouldn't allow us to) but we did hit up some awesome bargain shops. After walking around for about 4 hours we really needed a break. So we plopped down at this little corner cafe. We learned a valuable lesson there. Don't just assume that prices are reasonable. We got the bill for 13 euros for 2 sodas. So that is essentially a 26 dollar drink we are having there. Oh....that hurt!

On many of the streets in Paris they have bike hire stations. You just pay for a bike in a little kiosk and you can take a bike and return it to any of the other stations in town. Lots of locals use them, so we hired ourselves a few bikes and rode around which was really fun and a nice change since our feet were hurting so badly.
Once again this is a poor representation, but at the end of the sunset the sky was literally hot pink! Don't think I have ever seen a sky quite that color.

To finish off the perfect Parisian day we went to a little cafe and had a three course meal. I am eating minced pork pate. It was REALLY good. I had to keep focused on that and not on the fact that I was eating raw pig parts. Yikes. Like I said...really good. While we were there an american guy at the table next to us came over and asked us if we knew of any good restaurants of anything in the are. He thought we might be students there or something. We invited him to join us for dinner once we saw he was by himself. He is from Boston, there at the end of a business trip. He will be touring around tomorrow by himself so we are going to tour around together since Charlotte is leaving early in the morning. Should be good. Oh yeah, our goal was to have a true Parisian meal and take a long time. We stayed three hours! They don't bring you your check here unless you ask for it. Very relaxing.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sunday in Paris

We started out the day by going to church. Turned out to be a very multicultural experience. They have sunday school in chinese, english and french and then come together for a sacrament meeting all in French, they do english and chinese translation. So incredible to see the gift of tounges in action. There were tons of missionaries in this ward. One of them was some guy from utah translating french into chinese!!! That is only possible through divine intervention! Singing in French was quite a challenge as well. I am so glad the Holy Ghost speaks the language of the heart. So we had brought all our things to church with us. Charlotte was sure we could find someone to put us up for the night so we didn't have to go back to our shady hostel. I felt pretty wierd about this but she really wanted to. So after church she starts talking to someone aobut this and everyone says that we needed to talk to Brother Shirtliff. So Charlotte catches him and he says that his wife is traveling in California but we are welcome to stay if that's ok with us. Considering what we came from that is great. So as we walk home I asked him if he is from California since his wife is visiting there. He told us that he grew up there in Santa Barbara. ha! He is a little older but went to hight school and young mens and all with all the Mann's and knew Grandpa and Grandma really well. What an incredibly small world! So we are now staying in a really great part of town. Brother Shirtliff is heading to Poland in the morning so we will have the place to ourselves!!! What a blessing!

This is the elevator in the complex. Just barely enough room for two bodies. So cool.

His house is right next to the Rodin museum, so we headed there first. This is his famous "Thinker".

I couldn't really understand what he was so deep in thought about....haha

This is his depiction of the gates of hell. Any time any french person tries to put you down your trum card can be..."well, the gates of hell are in Paris"...

Again another beautiful park looking back on the museum, lots of french people sitting around chatting. We decided to follow their lead and took a fantastic nap in the sun.

From there we walked over to the Hotel de Invalides. This is the church on the grounds. It was built by another one of the Henry's as a kind of hostel to all the men who were disabled in the various wars they were in.

The grounds were covered in flowers. This is one of my favorites.

Again. I don't know what this is. There are just too many amazing things in this city for the tour books to cover them all. I am sure these gold statues represent something, but I just thought they were really stunning.

This statues is at the bottom of one of those huge columns. Besides Jesus, I think this lady should be the example for young women. Strength and beauty!

From there we walked along the banks of the seine and came across this really cool outdoor exhibit of different photographers. This was one of my favorite photographs.

I also really liked this one, I can see Daren doing this. Hey should get the parks and rec people to do something like this in downtown Visalia. I am sure there are tons of local artists that would love to have their work on display. It was so nice to just stroll and enjoy all the photographs.

We finished off the night with the Eiffle tower. Really spectacular at night. About every hour they make a bunch of little white lights flash. It looks like there are picture flashes going off all over it. It's really quite stunning. We went and sat on the grass and had dinner (a baguette with ham and the most amazing garlic cheese I have ever had...yummy!) and watched the show.

This is a video of Charlotte and I infront of the eiffle tower while it is flashing.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Walking Tour of Paris

We started off at Notre Dame. Daren, Justin and I had been here before, but it was closed. This time we got to go in and it was pretty fantastic.
The shear mass of it was spectacular. Construction was started in the 1600's!! We just don't build buildings to last like we used to I guess. It was also really fun to come here after having read the Hunchback of Notre Dame. The tour guide told us that this book really saved Notre Dame. Victor Hugo wrote about the church at a time when it had been abandoned and was falling into decay. The city was considering leveling it, but after he wrote his book and it became world famous people began visiting it. So they decided to repair it. Thanks Victor!

We walked along the river Seine. I have noticed something very healthy about the French. They relax! All along the river and the parks and everywhere we went there were people just sitting and talking or relaxing or whatever. I think we could take a good lesson from that. From what I gather they are not a slothful people, they just know the importance of doing nothing some times.

Alond one of the bridges over the Seine you can see all these sort of horrible faces. The guide told us that one of the King Henry's....can't remember which had a huge party one night where he and all his friends got drunk. Toward the end of the night he had a sketch artist come and draw all of his friends and comissioned someone to carve them all into this bridge. Not sure if I would want to be immortalized in that state...
One little intersting fact about this building. In one of the Bourne movies Jason Bourne is running between some tall white lettering....well that's it there.

We walked over the oldest foot bridge in the city. Which is aparently the most romantic bridge in Paris. Couples have started engraving padlocks with their initials and locking them to the bridge and throwing the keys into the Seine. We did see some of those and they were alsoo having a unique art display along the bridge. All artistically designed refrigerators....que romantico.... haha.

Then we wandered through the Louvre. The tour guide told us that there are 35.000 pieces of art in this building and that if you were to stop at each piece of art for only 30 seconds it would take several months to see it all. Yikes! Daren....remember how you got kicked out for taking a picture of the Mona Lisa? Well I guess other people had made attempts at damaging her, including one English woman throwing a tea cup (how rude!) and so now she is behind bulletproof glass.

This little beauty is on one of the arched entryways. The tour guide told us that each cheribum representes earth, wind, water and fire. But most people just call it the barfing babies!

Next we walked through this big park. I really wish I could remember the name, but French is a little tough for me to remember. Around this huge pond are all these fantastic marble statues. Mom....what do you think are the chances of us getting something like this in Visalia???

We walked down a long grassy, tree lined lane to the other end of the park. Again you see more Parisians sitting around just taking in the day. No wonder they sit around! They have such fantastic places to do so. I can really see how you could get lost in this city and just sit around and philosophize in your journal and drink tea all day.
Then we came to this beautiful sight. The Eiffle tower. In my opinion eye sore by day but beauty by night. These fountains here are really beautiful as well. I think they may have been the ones featured in "Sabrina". What do you think mom?

This ancient obelisk stands in the middle of the square. At one point during the Napoleon dynasty he took over Egypt. He said it was a gift from the Egyptians but they are pretty sure he just stole it. They are still trying to get it back.
And the Arch de Triumph....another monument to the successful battles of Napoleon Bonepart. This guy was a trip! I am going to try and go to see his grave. He is aparently interred there in seven boxes to make him look bigger. He was only 5'6" and he looks like kind of a weenie.

After a big day here we are on the metro. I love the metro!! It is set up the same as the one in Washington DC. Great memories. The only thing annoying about this ride is that it was taking us back to our hostel....just a few blocks from the Moulin Rouge...sketchy! We pretty much had to run from the train stop to the hostle door while tons of loitering guys from middle eastern countries yelled stuff that thankfully I didn't understand. The hostel was fine, but getting there was a little unnerving. We are going to try and figure out something else for tomorrow night.

This video is of a chellist outside the Lovre. So magical!