Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Monday, November 07, 2016

France&Fez, Day 16: Home again, home again, jiggity jig!

On Tuesday, Oct. 11, we rose around 4:30 AM Paris time (9:30 PM on Monday night, NM time), and hoofed the 3/4 of a mile to the Luxembourg RER station through a dark and sleeping Paris.  We were on the RER by 6 AM.

In the airport, we treated ourselves to some final pain au chocolat before boarding our plane, and then waiting for an hour while they changed some sort of breaker.  But finally, it was up, up and away from France.

When we were finally descending towards Newark, NJ, many hours later, the plane mysteriously rose again, and gave us a lovely view of New York harbor, the Manhattan skyline, and the Statue of Liberty.  The captain informed us that they had gotten a warning light about a flap, and were circling as they completed some safety checks, and then we would land.  We made a huge circle, and did, indeed, land the second time around. We did notice, however, that there were many emergency vehicles lining our runway!  

After we disembarked, we went through customs for the last time, rechecked our bags, found our gate, and walked right on to our plane to Denver. In Denver, we found a restaurant to get some dinner, and then headed to ABQ.  My sweet parents picked us up at the airport at 8:30 PM NM time.  Our day had already been about 23 hours awake and standing.  Longest day ever!

The following day we drove back to LA, and started acclimating to our own time zone and altitude.  It was a glorious and enjoyable adventure, and I am very grateful for all of it.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

France&Fez Day 15: Paris Pt 3

Our last full day in Paris, we headed straight to the Louvre (after a brief stop at the RER train station at Luxembourg Gardens to make sure of our connections for our way to the airport the next day.)  The palace is huge and beautiful, the building itself still containing amazing architectural features, decorated ceilings, and huge spaces.  It became readily apparent that we could easily spend years exploring this amazing place!

The Louvre also had LOTS of people, though I am sure this was not a particularly crowded day.  This was really my first annoying experience with phenomenon of the selfie.  It is now not enough to take pictures of the Mona Lisa.  Everyone must take a picture of THEMSELVES with the Mona Lisa.  There is a whole different blog meditation needed on that one... Suffice it to say, the practice is extremely irritating in a  crowd!

But what amazing art and history!  In addition to the Louvre's perhaps most famous inhabitants (Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, and the Nike of Samothrace) we saw Botticelli frescoes, and more famous paintings than I can name, more of Egypt than I am likely to see again, and many cool and beautiful artifacts, like Persian walls.

After a full morning of wandering and only seeing a small portion of this amazing museum, we crossed the courtyard to the Tuileries Gardens, where we had a delightful picnic and stroll.  

From the main path in the Tuileries, you can look down to the place de la Concord with its Obelisk, and beyond down the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe.  (The white tents on Place de la Concorde were for a running event taking place the day before.)  But before we headed onto the Place de Concorde, we turned aside to the Orangerie, the lovely post-impressionistic museum. It was originally built to shelter orange trees, but Monet redesigned two of the rooms to make oval galleries for his eight huge "nympheades" or "water lily" paintings.

The other Cezannes and Van Goghs were lovely.  But the water lilies were sublime.

Then we crossed the Place de la Concorde, where Madame Guillotine did her most famous work during the Revolution, and caught a bus up the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe.

The traffic circle around the Arc is the largest in the world.  And a tunnel leads under it to the Arc.  Then, up almost 400 spiral stairs, and you reach the viewing area up on top.  The clouds that were gathering and darkening as we rode towards the Arc decided to begin drizzling while we climbed the stairs, and we came out on a gray and wet Paris-- apparently a very typical view!  It was a lovely way to end our Paris visit!

We caught the bus back to apartment, and stopped at the frozen food store for shepherd's pie for dinner.  France has "frozen food stores", where everything that can possibly be frozen can be found!  Lots of high quality foods, like entrees and appetizers, and fresh frozen herbs and spices, can be found there along with the frozen fruits and veggies one would expect.  We spent the evening repacking, and got to bed early since our trip home was going to start early the next morning, and would be a very long day.

Friday, November 04, 2016

France&Fez Day 14, Paris Part 2

We were up and out early on a Sunday morning as we started our third week in France.  The streets were quiet in this late-night city!  We wandered through the Latin Quarter on our way towards the Musee de Cluny.

The Cluny is a marvelous museum of medieval art.  In addition to being housed in a beautiful medieval chateau, it is renowned for two things in particular: stained glass and tapestries. The Cluny has the remaining original stained glass from the gothic St. Chapelle (it was all broken out during the French revolution at eh end of the 18th century, and what could be saved now lives here.)  And since this was to be our stained glass day, this was the perfect place to begin.  It also has the finest collection of medieval tapestries anywhere-- particularly the famous "Lady and the Unicorn" weavings.

It was a short walk down the Boulevard St. Michel to get to the Seine, and cross over to the Isle de la Cite and the Palais du Justice.  In its courtyard, since it is also a former chateau, sits the marvelous St. Chapelle.  We headed in that direction to see how the 19th C. replacement glass looked there.

St. Chapelle was a private chapel for King Louis the 9th, completed in 1248.  Its gothic structure was built to house the relic of Christ's crown of thornes.  It is basically floor-to-window stained glass.  My pictures cannot do the light and color justice.  It was a glorious place to sit and reflect on a glorious God on a Sunday morning!

From there we headed east on the isle to Notre Dame Cathedral.  And she did not disappoint!  We walked all around her outside first, then entered as a high mass was underway, enabling us to hear the organ and a lovely choir.  And let me tell you, they know how to use incense at Notre Dame!  It was a dream come true to visit this lovely space. And I even found the statue of Joan of Arc, and early heroine of mine!

We walked along the river towards our favorite Pont Neuf bridge to catch our bus to our next destination, the Musee D'Orsay, only to find our bus did not run on Sundays.  So we walked until I was too tired to keep walking, then found a lovely cafe near St. Germain des prez, and enjoyed lunch and rest before going on to the museum.

The D'Orsay was originally a lovel Victorian railway station.  Now it houses amazing sculpture and the finest imrpessionist and post-impressionist collection to be found anywhere.  Our cups were filled with Monets and Van Goghs, and we feasted on beautiful views of the city as well.

From there, we were successful in taking a bus home.  Where ever our bus landed us, we lookedfor this fountain and this Starbucks, and knew were on the right track, with Rue Mouffetard just to the left of Starbucks.  We picked up dinner at a creperie on the way home, and rested up for our final day in Paris.