Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sister Holiday [Part 4: More of PARIS!]

Back to important business: the discussion of Paris. 
In Paris, Hilary and I enjoyed a leisurely morning at Musee d'Orsay. A big fan of Van Gogh, Hil was practically undone seeing his self-portrait in person. Pretty spectacular!

The background in the above picture features the famous train stationed turned art museum. 

One huge change I noticed the moment we stepped into the d'Orsay is that you're  no longer allowed to take pictures inside the museum. It changed the entire experience! No longer can people go painting to painting snapping pictures. The change is most welcomed!

We then headed to the Louvre:

Jardin des Tuileries and the Louvre

The Triumphal Arch

The Pyramid!

Hilary in Jardin des Tuileries --- you can even see Place de la Concorde and the Arch de Triomphe back there!

So relaxing!

On Rue de Rivoli

And a view from the islands!

J'adore this area of Paris!

 So beautiful!

Aaaaahhhh. The bank of the Seine.

The backside of Notre Dame

"If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast." - Ernest Hemingway

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Sister Holiday [Part 3: PARIS!]

Who wants to see pictures of Paris???

I do hope all hands are up!!! Because Paris is FABULOUS!
Hilary and I trained to Paris from London. The Eurostar was great --- just 20 minutes under the English Channel, and you're in France. The villages dotting the north of France were charming and mysterious. I loved seeing the fog lift from the ancient, little towns in the early morning. 
Arriving at Gare du Nord and getting to where we needed to go was a bit of a pain. The ATM's at the station were all broken. The machines to purchase metro tickets wouldn't take cards. The taxi queue was looooooong. And all I had was dollars, sterling pounds, and credit cards. I did learn the following: if you go straight out the front of the station and across the street, you will find BNP Paribas ATMs on the left. Heaven sent! However, I wouldn't spend much more time on the streets in that area of town.

Once we checked into the hotel, we hit the ground running. First up: paninis and tuna nicoise at a small cafe on Rue de Beaubourg. Then we went exploring!
Check out the detail at Hotel de Ville. Offices relating to the municipality of Paris have been at this site since 1357.

We also visited Notre Dame.

Then we took a coffee break --- best idea ever! Sometimes it's worth the four euros to sit instead of stand with an espresso for one euro.

Vendors along the Seine

Dining on Crepes

So delish!

Isn't it so beautiful?

 When we were perusing the shops at Champs-Elysees, we stopped for macaroons at Lauduree. Yum!

 Hil and I could barely scrape the surface of this lunch in Montmatre. I think our dad would have loved helping us!


If you're ever in Montmatre and want to visit the Sacra-Couer then walk down to the Moulin Rouge, let me make a recommendation: don't take the main streets. (A poor choice I made last year!) Take the back streets along Rue Veron and stop by some cute boutiques like Sofkipeut Atelier. We couldn't get enough of their hand crafted purses, jewelry, and other accessories. This is precisely the kind of stop one can make with a sister and not their husband. However, I would feel much more comfortable taking my husband along Rue Veron instead of Boulevard de Clichy. Now that's one tip to write down and keep in your back pockets my friend!

We had a blast and are already talking about the next time we go to Paris. It's just one of those places you can keep returning to and experience something new each time. It's seriously magical.

Timber Framing

Here's an interesting, short clip on timber framing homes in the US:

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Made in Dagenham is an interesting film inspired by the true story of English women striking against Ford in 1968 in order to have equal pay. They were the first women that went on strike against Ford Motor Company. Their union hardly supported them --- yet they were the impetus to the Equal Pay Act of 1970 in Great Britain. Fascinating stuff! Plus the hairstyles, clothing, and accents will make you smile. It's definitely worth a watch!

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Sister Holiday [Part 2]

Let's get this Sister Holiday report on the road! About time - eh? 

Did you know that the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace is a big deal? Like -- a really big deal? One tip: don't show up on time if you want to really see it. Show up early, and be ready for the crowds!

Since it is one of the things to do in 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, I guess I should've known!

This was our first view of the changing of the guards -- not stellar:
Too many heads?

And with a little trimming I bring you: 
Still not a fabulous view; we wanted to get closer!

Thus, we finagled our way onto the other side of the roundabout. Then we had this view:
Getting closer!

Then this view:
And this was taken with the camera held high over my head --- but we were getting closer.

Then the heavens opened. Magic fairy dust started flying all around, and we got this view:
Wow! Once in a lifetime!

And brief! We had to keep moving, but it was amazing to be that close and get that view. 

Then we were off to a lovely and very fancy lunch at Patterson's Restaurant.

After a delicious lunch of monkfish seated by a real Lady (that's a capital 'L'), we were off to Shakespeare's Globe Theater and the Tate Modern.

We were loving this! History, literature, the Thames, art ..... it was -- as the Brits say -- brilliant!

We then crossed the Thames on this famous little bridge:
And off to St. Pauls we went!

Did you know that St. Paul's was badly damaged during World War II? About 10 days ago marked the 70th anniversary of the start of the blitzkrieg of Great Britain. Just this past week, St. Paul's hosted memorial services to honor those who died in World War II.

We then hopped back on the underground and headed north to Hampstead.
Hilary's favorite poet is John Keats, and to his house we went!
Look how happy she is!  Keats house remains exactly the same as it was when he was living. Isn't it charming? And check out his old neighborhood:


 And of my fav historical sign we saw in London:

 The White Rabbit. Love it.

I'll be back soon with more, more, more of this super fun holiday --- because we chocked it full, and there's still lots to share!
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