The USA let me back in!

22 10 2006

Except they confiscated the tulip bulbs I was bringing back home to Mom from Holland. Apparently I should have gone the wooden-shoe souvenir route instead of bringing in some potentially fatally-diseased or plague-spreading flowers-to-be.

The worst part of traveling is the getting there and back… well, more so the getting back part, since the getting there is full of such anticipation and glee. The only anticipation I’m feeling at this moment is for tomorrow’s very full to-do list consisting of a long hot shower (with good water pressure and a real washcloth), clicking through the 368 photos that Jocelyn has already uploaded and catalogued, and watching the two taped episodes of Grey’s Anatomy. Wow, I’m tired just thinking about all the important things I have to do tomorrow!

Oh, what a fabulous trip! There are so many stories and memories to be shared, along with my ever-present stream-of-consciousness commentary of course. But all of that will have to wait. Because right now my mind is telling me that it’s approaching midnight, but my body says that it’s almost 9 a.m. and that I’ve been up and out all night long. Either way, my queen-size bed with down featherbed and down duvet is looking my-tee-fiiiiiine and ever so inviting.

Thanks and hugs to everyone who tuned in over the past few weeks. The Notebook is chock full of good anecdotes and craziness, so be on the lookout for the newest chapters in The Book – which needs a better title than “The Book” because my high school English teacher would be so disappointed to hear that title. Any ideas or suggestions?!





Paris to Portland

21 10 2006

I can’t much say that I’m looking forward to getting on the plane tomorrow. I’ve gotten very used to coming and going as I please, taking the Metro to wherever I’d like to go, and not having any responsibilities except for eating when I’m hungry, sleeping when I’m tired, and soaking up everything I can possibly do while I’m here.

At the same time I’m ecstatic about getting the photo CD from Jocelyn in the mail – hopefully it will be here by the end of the week. 370 photos of our fabulous times in Paris. I’m definitely planning to do a show-and-tell (oh who am I kidding, I plan to do MANY show-and-tell’s) very soon, with photos and stories and the treasures I picked up along the way.

The greatest treasure, though, is that I am absolutely, can’t-get-enough, head-over-heels in LOVE with traveling. Not that I didn’t know this already, but this just completely solidified my desire to go and see and do and experience everything and everywhere. Which again doesn’t make the looming prospects of returning to a mortgage and a job and a car payment very enticing…

So it’s back to work on Tuesday for me. Unless I get called off. I’m already on the list. I’m pretty sure that it’s going to be just-this-side-of-miserable getting back on Portland time.

Au revoir to my sweet Paris! And I will be seeing you all very soon! Je t’aime!

K at Eiffel





Back “home” in Paris

21 10 2006

It really does feel like returning “home” – I know my way around, I “understand” what people are saying… or at least that they’re saying something I don’t understand in French!… and I’m just comfortable and at ease with the city. How fantastic is that?!

Scott and I had a great time crusing the canals and streets of Amsterdam. I think that I may finally be clearing from my constant contact-high obtained by simply breathing the air of this free-city. An interesting culture… well, SEVERAL interesting cultures, that is… all cohabitating in this very compact little city.

Amsterdam

We figured out that you could start walking along a canal and follow it all the way around until it dumped you back on the same street you started from. Of course, that is if you don’t get distracted by any of the signs or cafes or “coffee”-shops or darling radiating canals and streets along the way. I don’t think we ever made it all the way around along one canal.

Amsterdam2

We stayed at the Amstel (as in the river, and yes, I’m assuming also like the beer) Botel. Not a typo. It’s a big boat, in a cruise-ship sort of genre, I suppose, except that there were less-than-few amenities and no swimming pool in sight.

Amstel Botel

It is floating in the canal just down from the train station, which makes it weird enough to try out, and close enough to keep us in line-of-sight of our means of departure. We had a canal-view, but we were on the first level, which means that we were at about eye-level with the canal and the pedestrian bridge blocked the skyline that would have been considered a view. But it was a place to sleep and to keep our luggage as we walked the city.

Our cultural day was Friday – made up of three very distinct outings…

1) The Heineken Experience (so freakin’ fun! – 10 euros gets you the tour, complete with 2 Disneyland-esque themed “rides”, our favorite being the Be The Bottle one!, 3 pints of Heineken along the way, and a super-sweet bottle opener masterfully encased in a replica of the new Heineken bottle – awesome)

Heineken

2) The Van Gogh Museum (not too shabby itself, although I got a little weak and cranky towards the end, signalling the time to find a cafe that’s fairly close or I will be going blind and not get my money’s worth at the museum)

3) the Anne Frank House, which Scott didn’t particularly want to see, but we couldn’t find a bar near enough for him to sit in and wait for me. Graciously (and because I AM the one with a paying job) I paid his way, and he did admit later that it was an interesting (if not chilling) exhibit and he was glad he did it. Except for 2 meals, we were walking from 10 a.m. until 10:30 p.m. How am I EVER going to feel right about driving my car 6 miles to work after this!? (one dark, rainy, overslept-and-running-late morning will cure me of that sentiment, I’m sure)

As I said, I’m back in Paris for the night. I have a single room at Hotel Montpensier, big enough to hold a skinny-twin bed, a teensy table and chair, and a sink and mirror on the other side of a strangely-oriented dividing wall. The toilet and shower are in separate rooms down the hall and around the corner. Actually, if I look out my window, directly across the three-stories-down courtyard, I can see the doorway to both rooms. A new and interesting departure from my hotel-staying experiences to-date.





Sorry for all the back-dating!

18 10 2006

I finally had time to sit and catch up on the mini-version of our stories. I tried to back-date them to the actual date of occurrence, but who knows if that worked or not. Either way, there are some new adventures to hear about!…

Jocelyn left this morning. Not fun. I’m just “being” in Paris today.

I leave for Amsterdam in the morning. Scott and I being so wonderfully in tune, haven’t actually spoken, but somehow both sent a message to our Dad that we were planning to meet at 4 p.m. in front of Amsterdam’s Central Train Station. Wow. My train arrives at 2, so I’m going to try to get checked into the hotel prior to meeting up with Scott. Mostly because I don’t want to sit there for 2 hours, and also that I don’t want to be lugging my suitcase around for 2 hours. Or at all, for that matter.

Paris has been tres magnifique! I will DEFINITELY be coming back.





So excited for the movie…

17 10 2006

We have a new all-consuming obsession with Marie Antoinette. And the movie opens this Friday, so we’ll be able to continue our love and adoration of her and her home at theatres across the nation.

Tourist Tip: Skip the Chateaux du Versailles altogether and go straight to Petit Trianon.

Le Petit Trianon

The lines and horrific displays of ridiculous behavior we experienced while standing on the eternal lines shrouded any hope of enjoyment at the Palace. Luckily, Marie Antoinette’s peaceful escape became our own haven of the day. We want to move in. Tomorrow. Her house was darling (and you could actually picture people living there – as opposed to the monstrosity of the Palace) and the grounds were lovely. Jocelyn and I were both enthralled with her music-room – this beautiful gazebo with floor-to-ceiling doors at every wall and a beautiful grotto-view from every vantage point. And I loved her theatre as well.

When our Versailles experience drew to a close, we found that all of the exits except one were barricaded. There were police in full riot gear (riot shields, stun-guns, and semi-automatic rifles included) lining the streets. Traffic was at a complete gridlocked standstill. People were milling around, not sure of what to do or where to go. Jocelyn and I (blissfully ignorant) headed straight for the Metro station and hoped that we wouldn’t be tasered or stun-gunned to the ground as we calmly distanced ourselves from the melee. Never did figure out just what was going on. Probably not on my need-to-know list anyway.





Joyeux Anniversaire!

16 10 2006

It’s Jocelyn’s 25th Birthday!

Unfortunately, the weather is the highlight of the day. Other than that, absolutely NOTHING goes right. Everything is closed – even the things that The Book say are supposed to be open. We take wrong turns. We take wrong trains. We just can’t seem to get the day started.

We make an early exit to Montmarte, which ends up being NOT bohemian, NOT artsy, NOT cute, NOT darling… Instead of the artists’ haven we’re anticipating, it’s full of tourist crap-shops and scuzzy people. It’s the first time since arriving in Paris that either one of us feels like we might be robbed at knife-point or worse. (we weren’t – don’t worry)

The one redeeming factor was la Basilique du Sacre Coeur. It’s phenomenal.

Basilique du Sacre Coeur 

And the clear blue skies made every photograph we took perfectly postcard worthy. It’s not an easy place to get to, however, set high (and I mean HIGH) atop a hill. We braved the climb to the Basilique. Then pushed on to the top of the dome. 620 steps in total. (not an exaggeration – we counted on the way down.)

Even the restaurant we wanted to go to for Jocelyn’s birthday dinner was closed – so we made the kitschy decision to do the most abominable thing we could think of to end our day… we went to dinner at Hard Rock Cafe: Paris. Not kidding. Photos (and t-shirts of course) to prove it. And they sang “Happy Birthday” in a way they only could at Hard Rock Cafe: Paris. That was my fault; my big mouth spouted off that it was her birthday. Oops.

Happy F-ing Birthday

Back to our favorite bridge (sans naked-below-the-waist-except-for-shoes man this time) for our 2nd and final attempt at seeing The Eiffel Tower Glitter Light Show. While we were waiting for it, Jocelyn decided that the only way I could make up for the embarrassment of Happy Birthday at Hard Rock Cafe: Paris would be to take off my pants and do a lap across the bridge. I did not feel the need to atone. Besides, it would just figure that the naked-below-the-waist-except-for-shoes man would get off scott-free, and I would be the one spending Jocelyn’s birthday night in some Parisian prison for indecent exposure.

Glittering Eiffel Tower

(p.s. we DID see the glitter light show!)

Then Jocelyn made me ride a carousel.  I detest carousels.

J on Carousel   Carousel   K on Carousel

But it was her birthday and it was the only thing that could make this day bearable. So I braved the circus-clown music and creepy painted horses (mine had pink hair!) and we laughed until we cried.





Cultural Day

15 10 2006

Musee d’Orsay ~ Have you ever seen that photo of the train that has crashed through a building and is nose-down into the street below? (well I have the post card now, so I can show you if you have no idea what I’m talking about) Anyway, that’s Musee d’Orsay. It used to be a train station (probably until the aforementioned train barrelled through the wall) and now is a spectacular museum.

Gallery at d’Orsay  Crowning Gloire

I don’t know much about art or sculpture, but I’m sure it was all wonderful and meaningful and important, etc. My favorite ones were La Gloire and La Femme et Boa Noir.

Musee Rodin ~ The gardens were the best part. El Penseur (The Thinker) and The Gates of Hell are my favorites.

 El Penseur      Gates of Hell

Jocelyn said I wasn’t allowed to go knock on the Gates of Hell because what if they opened for me?! For the rest of the day she is referred to as the Saviour of My Immortal Soul – SOMIS for short.

Eiffel Tower ~ As we’re standing in line for tickets, they closed the top level. We figured some stupid celebrity was there proposing to their latest romantic fling – a la TomKat a few months ago. Stupid TomKat.

J at Eiffel  K at Eiffel

Turns out the 2nd floor is PLENTY high enough for me. I tried to be brave, but those shaking, wobbling, tram-style lifts are NOT pleasant.

Eiffel Tower

We waited on a bridge for the Tower’s lights to turn on, in gleeful anticipation of the Light Show we’d heard so much about (mostly because The Russian’s daughter tells Carrie Bradshaw that it’s “it was tolerable before, but now it’s horrible, just horrible” upon Carrie’s arrival to Paris) Light show never happens, but another “show” most certainly does. Let’s just say it involves an older man, the removal of his shorts and his lovely stroll back and forth across the bridge with nothing but a very short t-shirt and his shoes on.

Later was The Worst Thing We Saw in Paris… (no, surprisingly, the naked-below-the-waist-except-for-shoes man didn’t top that list!) We’re in the Metro, coming home, and this tour group gets off the train across the tracks from us…

Le Tour du Yellow Hats

There are 26 of them (we know this because they did a head-count, out loud) all clad in highlighter, Tour-de-France-leader-jersey, LiveStrong yellow ball caps.