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When I started my retirement travels - the first of which was my solo overseas trip to Italy in 2009 - I wanted a way to share it with family and friends as it happened. Hence, "My Travel Journal". However I realized I wouldn't always be on a trip and wondered what to do with the blog in between times. My daughter pointed out, wisely, that travels can also include trips to the kitchen to try a new recipe, trips to visit family, trips to my neighborhood Starbucks, or a fun day trip with a friend. You're welcome to join me on any of these journeys!

P.S. I've set up separate pages for each of my major trips (see tabs above).

I recently added an "Italian Word a Day" thingie which shows up at the bottom of every page. You see the word and can click to hear it pronounced. I've been enjoying it and I think my accent is improving as time goes by.

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May 21, 2012

Writing on Monday about last Friday

Heather is winging her way to Maryland as I write - she left around 7:34 a.m.  It was very, very chilly when I walked out with her to get a cab, and a little while later, I looked out the hotel window and it was pouring, pouring, POURING!!!  And has been pretty much ever since - sometimes more, sometimes a little less, but always enough for umbrellas.  And I have to say that once again, the weather has gone my way.  I'm not moping or anything now that Heather has left, but I knew that I wouldn't be filled with "get out and go" gumption today and now I don't have to feel like I'm wasting a "tourist" day.  I ran around the corner to a Monoprix store (which seem to be everywhere) and bought two little pastries to bring back for breakfast with a nice cup of tea, then took some time to actually look at some guidebook type stuff, pinpoint exactly where my apartment is and look up some distances from the apartment to places to visit, then edited my photos for 5/18 and now here I am finally getting around to a post.  So it's been a very pleasant day actually and by the time the weather changes and I get back out again to explore, I won't be as likely to miss having company.

And because I am so far behind, and because we didn't do real "touristy" things Friday, there won't be a whole lot to tell you except how wonderful it is being here and especially with one of my children!  Before I forget though,  I had my first-ever paella for lunch on Friday. We saw this tiny little place with people sitting in the windows eating paella and it looked delicious. I mentioned to Heather that I had always wanted to try it so in we went.  The menu was in French (or maybe Spanish? - can't remember) and there were four different paellas, each one going up in price.  The paellas we had seen in the window were maybe pizza pan size and we assumed that the different kinds listed would all be like that only maybe the more expensive ones had crabmeat or lobster or something.  So, finally here it came with the man bringing it laughing at (or with) us, on a platter that was just shy of being as wide as our table!  And strangely enough there was no rice which in a way was a bit of a disappointment but, of course, there was a basket of the wonderful bread you get everywhere, so we managed to survive.

Now, on to mostly pictures.  And just a note about their quality - to me, on my monitor, a lot of them looked quite dark so I lightened them somewhat.  If they appear too light on your monitor and the screen is moveable, you might try tilting it back or forward to get a darker picture.  That's part of my problem when I edit them, because before I do anything to them, I can make them lighter or darker just by adjusting the screen on my netbook so I never know for sure how they'll appear to other viewers.

First stop at Heather's insistence was to a perfume store right next door to the hotel.  They make all their own perfumes and when you decide what one you want, they siphon it out of the beautiful urns you see in the pictures, you buy a beautiful container for it, and that's about it.  The shop is gorgeous and the smell is heavenly.  I didn't buy any but enjoyed the experience.

A lot of picture-taking as we made our way towards the Seine River for our first view (well, I saw it in the taxi from the train station, but...)  Our final destination was Notre Dame.  In this one, I liked the kind of ratty old building smack up against the very white newer building.
Took this picture right as we were crossing the road to the Seine.  The square building with all it "tubs" marching across the top was delightful, I thought. 

A close-up of the whatever you want to call them  that sure doesn't give a real good idea of how ornamental they were.

And, finally, the Seine...
And after a short way along the Seine, here was the dome on its building which I managed to figure out is the Institute of Paris although I have no idea what that means. :)

 I took this picture because that domed type edifice in the background is glass and I wanted the picture to remind me to find out what it is.  Turns out it is the Grand Palais and was built for the world exposition in 1900 or the early 1900's.  From what I read this morning, I got the impression that the building itself is the sight to see, not necessarily anything in the building.  But I will probably try and make my way to it at some point and check it out.  It must be mammoth!
 Numerous houseboats aong the river - with flowers, grills, bicycles, etc., on them.
The bridge behind these boats that we're walking toward is the Pont Neuf bridge which means "new bridge"  but it is now the oldest of the many bridges, being built by Henry IV around 1600.  And speaking of Henry, here he is below.  I don't know that I ever knew there were King Henrys in France - always associate them with England, but my guidebook says this King Henry helped make Paris the elegant city it is today,  Also says he was a notorious ladies man. :)
These faces - I imagine there's a proper word for them - are on each side of the bridge and as far as Heather and I could see, no two are alike.

And we arrive at Notre Dame as does apparently everyone else in Paris!!  Unbelievable crowds, a bread festival (whatever that means) going on in the big white tent right in front of the cathedral, and when we got up close enough to get some pictures, we discovered that the line to get in was so long that we couldn't find an end to it.  So, if I see the inside of Notre Dame, it will probably have to be with a reservation because then you can avoid the line.

And you can skip this paragraph if you want - but I feel compelled to copy it out of my guidebook because like the book "Brunelleschi's Dome" that I read before going to Florence, this one paragraph gave such a vivid sense of what it took to create this now world-revered structure:

"Imagine the faith of the people who built this cathedral.  They broke ground in 1163 with the hope that someday their great-great-great-great-great-great grandchildren might attend the dedication Mass, which finally took place two centuries later, in 1345.  Look up the 200-foot-tall bell towers and imagine a tiny medieval community mustering the money and energy for construction.  Master masons supervised, but the people did much of the grunt work themselves for free--hauling the huge stones from distant quarries, digging a 30-foot deep trench to lay the foundation, and treading like rats on a wheel designed to lift the stones up, one by one.  This kind of backbreaking, arduous manual labor created the real hunchbacks of Notre Dame." (from Rick Steve's "Pocket Paris")  The cathedral in Florence wasn't started until 1296 and work on the dome didn't start until 1420.  Notre Dame is certainly a much plainer church than later cathedrals because it is so much older.  They became more ornate as the years passed.  But the amount of carving on Notre Dame leaves an incredible impact - statues and ornamentation everywhere.  And how it must have amazed "tourists" of the 14 century!

So, in spite of the crowds, some more pictures. :)

 The main portal, with the center panel over the doors depicting the Last Judgment.
 And above the center portal and below the rose window (with the statue of Mary and babe) are 25 of the 28 Kings of Judah.  My book says that during the French revolution, the "common folk" thought these represented kings of France and decided to chop all their heads off.  Apparently, a schoolteacher of the time collected them and buried them in his yard for safekeeping.  It wasn't til 1977 that they were found and are now on display (so the book says) in the Cluny Museum, also in Paris.  These gentleman all have heads, so at some point someone must have made new ones for anyone missing theirs.

And I looked specifically for this headless man who is headless only in the sense that it's not resting on his neck.  This is Saint Denis and apparently as the Christian church began to grow, the bishop of Paris, Denis, was beheaded by the Romans.  But, he didn't just lay there.  He got up, picked up his head, walked off preaching a sermon til he met his Maker.

And, lastly, Notre Dame -Oour Lady.

On our way back, took some more pictures but didn't linger too long anywhere because we needed to get back to the hotel, clean up a bit, and then go to our cooking class which I had booked before the trip.

 Hard at work on strawberry custard cream tarts.
 Not too appetizing in the picture but quite tasty.  Ratatouille and lamb chops with a mustard and rosemary topping that also included shallots and a couple of other ingredients.  The class was fun but I have to say it didn't quite measure up to my cooking adventures in Italy.  Probably because in Italy, the wine flowed more abundantly!
This building goes on forever, is huge, and has I don't know how many statues in niches on the three sides that we saw.  We tried and tried to figure out what it could be and when I got home I managed to find it on line and it's what we would call the City Hall in America!!  It's called the Hotel de Ville but never was a hotel.  Was built at the city hall.  The statues are all famous French folk.

Perfect for a last photo, I think...and it was certainly a pretty near-perfect day.

And now it's 4:15 p.m. Monday, I think Heather is probably about two hours from home, it's still raining some (see picture below) but not the bouncing-off-the-pavement downpour that it's been for a good part of the day.  Am eager to see what tomorrow brings and have truly enjoyed my very quiet day today.

Au revoir!


January said...

What an excellent Friday! I haven't read through your older posts yet, but it's easy to see in the picture of you and Heather that you were a pretty happy mama to have some company! I'm so glad your trip is a good one, and that the bread seems to be living up to what we hear about it :)

Christopher said...

What an ornate, historic city! So beautiful... on my must-see list for sure. Can't wait to see more from your days ahead!
Glad to hear you had such a perfect time tooling around with Heather... the parfumerie (?) looks so beautiful and elegant.
And poor St. Denis gives a great obscure word to work into conversation---his headless depiction makes him a cephalophore. There's a word you don't hear every day (unless, of course, you listen to They Might Be Giants, who of course, wrote a song featuring that word!!)
The food you prepped sure does look tasty...!
Have fun! Glad you had beautiful weather while Heather was there---perhaps the rain will get out of Paris' system today (Monday) and you'll have more nice days ahead!

Mary Lynne said...

Hi to my two other kiddies :)

January - sounds like you're still pretty busy at work - wish that would slow down for you some. If you get a minute sometime send me a little e-mail letting me know how things are going with you. And the bread totally lives up to its reputation. :)

And, Chris - I looked up Denis on Wikipedia and they did point out that according to the facts as presented, he would indeed be a cephalophore. I didn't look the word up but figured that was what it must mean. Strange to have a name for such a thing.

The weather here is interesting and if I ever run out of things to run on about, I'll run on about that. I'm liking it but it is fairly mercurial - beautiful sunshine one minute, menacing clouds the next, drizzle every now and then (except today!)

I am now going in search of a light evening repast (lots of rich eating the last few days) and a little glass of wine which I will try and nurse long enough to feel like a Parisian.

xo to both

Christopher said...

... it apparently comes from the Greek, for "head-carrier"...
Bon soir!

Jamie said...

What fun! Love the perfume shop and can just see you guys snIffing the exquisite bottles. Hope heathers cold allowed her to smell. All the talk about bread has made me hungry! Love the pics of the bridge. Drink a glass of wine and prop your feet up for a bit. How is the apartment? Take pics of it, too. Be safe and have fun.

Lisa in WV said...

Mary Lynne, you can be so happy with so many situations - even pouring rain works out for you. Looks like more rain on Tuesday - good day for the Musee d'Orsay. I've heard many like it more than the Louvre.

Mary Lynne said...

Hi Lisa! Funny you should say that...tomorrow morning I'm going to buy two advance tickets - one to D'Orsay and the other to a museum called L'Orangerie which I think is fairly small and pretty much all about Monet. And I have four days to use the tickets so if it rains tomorrow, fine - I'll use at least one. And if it's nice I can opt for something more outside-ish (the Eiffel Tower, maybe?) Also, with the advance tickets you avoid the long lines (and I mean they're LONG!!!)

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