The Old Dame

Notre Dame

Notre Dame

We decided we should have a religious day today so we headed up to Sacre Coeur in the morning. It is a church built on the highest point in Paris. I didn’t get there when I was there before so this was new for all of us. Sacre Coeur is not all that old….built in the late 1800’s and looks rather like a wedding cake, white with spires all over. The site used to hold druid ceremonies and when the Romans were there, held a temple to Mercury. Since it is on a hill, the Metro got us there most of the way but we still had to climb up the stairs to finish the job. Continue reading

Mona Lisa, Men Have Named You

DaVinci's Mona Lisa.

DaVinci’s Mona Lisa.

As we mentioned in yesterday’s installment, we had to change our plans when we found that the Louvre Musée was closed on Tuesday.  I guess the art curators guild were trying to get their golf league in ahead of the doctors and lawyers on Wednesday.  Who am I kidding – art curators don’t make enough salary to be able to afford golf!  So Wednesday morning when we awoke and returned to the living after a shower, we once again shot down one of the menagerie of patisseries in our residential neighborhood and collected the daily bread for our pack lunch and dinner that night (and the pastry for a sweet start at breakfast).

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I see France!

Arc de Triumph

Arc de Triumph

We enjoyed our accommodations so much in Normandy that, for our stay in gay Paris, we decided to stay in a gite again.   Not only was this cheaper, but we had more room and we would be able to see a small bit of Paris as the locals do.  Of course this would include a selection of authentic, local patisseries to shop at every day!

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It’s Good To Be the King

Versaille palace.

Versailles palace. Two for one special on children.

On Tuesday, the plan was to go to the Louvre (not the lieu – the Louvre – I go to the lieu all the time).  Having started our walk from the Louvre on the previous day, we noted how much less crowded the trains were on this day.  After arriving at the Louvre Metro stop, it was soon apparent why the crowds were so thin – it was closed!  So we decided to swap our Tuesday and Wednesday plans and headed to Versailles.  After consulting the Paris Metro map on the iPhone, we decided that we could make it to Versailles without too much trouble, so we headed back underground.

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New Year’s Eve

As mentioned, our old friend from Connecticut, Flavio, happened to be on his own European vacation with his partner Gisele, whom we had yet to meet.  We agreed to meet them at 6:00 PM in Leicester Square.  We had told them we would meet in the middle, but when we arrived that part square was barriered and off limits. After a few minutes of head scratching, Stephen took a walk around the square to see if they were waiting on us somewhere else in the square.  Wouldn’t ya know that Flavio and Gisele showed up on queue as Stephen was off wandering about.  Flavio had said he recognized Stephen and me standing there from a distance, but he was shocked to find it was Nathaniel standing next to me!

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Aye Eye

Eye over Parliament

A little rain did not keep us from enjoying the Eye. Here we are near the top.

Our last full day in London was New Year’s Eve.  Although the weather had been decent (not great), the morning greatest us with clouds, mist, and light rain.  Not ideal conditions for our trip around the London Eye ,which we had walked past every other day in much better conditions.  But we were gonna do it regardless!

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Tower of Power

White tower

The White Tower: THE Tower of London for centuries.

Our second day started at the Tower of London.  As mentioned in the last article, the days were relatively mild for December and the crowds showed it, especially here at the Tower. Continue reading

I see London

Big Ben

A double decker bus passes in front of Big Ben on Westminster Bridge.

Our trip to London began at the Derby rail station. Although London is a quite drivable distance (about 2½ hours), there is a congestion charge for bringing your car into the city, and I am sure the daily parking tab at the hotel wouldn’t be cheap, either. We are saving money by using mass transit. Plus, at 120 mph and just a few stops, the trip rolls by in an efficient 1 hour and 20 minutes. Speaking of train stops, one must be ready to board when it arrives – absolutely no lollygagging. People are exiting (with luggage), people are entering (with luggage), and if you don’t do your pirouettes properly, in less than two minutes you find half your clan waving good-bye to the other half. Luckily that didn’t happen to us, but we have heard of times when it has happened.

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British Museum

British Museum courtyard

The glass covered courtyard at the British Museum. It was covered circa 2000 for the millennium celebrations.

At intermission of the Lion King on the night before, we decided to visit the British Museum.  So, after another breakfast in the hotel room (you gotta save a few quid somehow) of convenience store pastry and cereal, we tubed it over to the British Museum.  There is so much history there, that we had to stop in the glass domed and marble tiled court yard to decide on which exhibits we should concentrate.  The British Museum makes an interesting waypoint on our old world adventure, for it contains most of the friezes, tiles, and statues that were missing from our Greco trip to the Parthenon in Athens – a chance for closure.  It also contains an extensive collection Egyptian artifacts – a enticing preview of our planned trip to Egypt.

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How about a nice football . . . game?

View at Old TraffordFirsts things first: it’s not that kind of football – it’s soccer.  Since before we arrived in the UK, Nathaniel has latched onto Manchester United as his football club.  To the uninitiated into the world of soccer outside of the USA, Manchester United are like the New York Yankees in baseball, or so Stephen says.  They are perennial favorites to win their league, have a huge budget for player salaries compared to other teams (and they spend it), and everyone either loves them or hates them. Continue reading

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