Month: October 2008

A Paris: Deuxieme Jour

We started at the military school. The military school ironically has a peace monument across the street, as well as the iconic Eiffel Tower. By the time we reached the tower, all the tours and tourists were already arriving. We took the stairs up to the second level and fought our way through the thickening throng of tourists to catch some sites from up high.

I wanted to make it to Notre Dame for noon mass, so we struggled with the metro to get there in time. We caught the end of the mass, which was performed by two priests, then waited in line for the towers tour. After a half an hour, we decided we wanted food instead and headed towards the Opera house. Nearby is the Hard Rock Cafe, which we have visited several locations now. Unfortunately the food wasn’t very good, but the service was awesome.

We tried to look around in the Opera house (famous for the Phantom of the Opera), but it was too late for tours. Since it was so close to departure, we wandered the area around the Opera, also known for its shopping. Au Printemps isn’t far away, but we stuck to window shopping and ended up getting a few shirts. Shopping in Paris is awesome! 😀

Despite the difficulties figuring out the metro and general business, we both really enjoyed Paris. It does smell bad and has a wide range of people, but overall it isn’t bad to visit. I want to go back to shop some more. 😛

More photos are available but need to be sorted and captioned still…

A Paris: Premiere Jour

Thursday Herr brought Tommy and Ruby to a kennel for our time away until Monday, when we can pick them up. Once he got back from work in Frankfurt, we hurriedly prepared for our departure on the night train. We had a private room that could have held three if necessary, but fortunate for us, it was just the two of us. We both woke up feeling rested, despite only four hours of “sleep”, and found ourselves in Paris!

It was nearly 7 a.m. when we started wandering unable to find our hotel. Instead, we walked down to the Louvre and decided to see some of it. We did not see the Mona Lisa (we weren’t interested in fighting crowds), but the Louvre is broken into separate areas stemming from the pyramid in the courtyard area. We saw French sculpture and Napoleon’s apartments, which was just enough to appreciate our experience at the Louvre. 😉

We followed the Champs-Elysees from the Louvre west to L’Arc de Triomphe. On our way we stopped at Fouquets for lunch in the shopping area of la rue, across the street from Louis Vuitton. Fouquets was a wonderful choice for lunch, and well priced (dinner, however, is expensive from what we could see). We decided not to go up the Arch and headed to the southern side of Paris to enjoy some macabre… in the catacombs

Lots of skeletons in the catacombs, but it wasn’t very scary. I didn’t touch any of them (although I bumped into one or two, eep!), but Herr touched a skull. Creepy! After coming back to the surface, we made our way back to Montparnasse cemetery for a bit above ground macabre. The cemetery was full of dead people houses; it could have been a normal residential area if the houses weren’t so small. Herr felt we had enough of the macabre, so we went back to northern Paris to find our hotel.

Once we did find our hotel (after some harrowing adventures in la metro, grrrrrr), we couldn’t get up again. It was an early night after a lot of sightseeing for us!

We had seen some pretty interesting things though from prostitutes, gypsies, con artists (avoid the girls with gold rings), homeless people, and the scarves. Most Parisians were very nice to us though; I imagine my two years of French back in middle- and high-school helped (I was able to ask and understand more than I thought I could). In fact, we were treated very well!

4 in 1

A month ago we went to the Moselle valley area that could aptly be called the “valley of the castles”. According to our booklet, there are 18 castles including intact castles and ruins between the cities of Koblenz and Trier. As the photos reveal, the weather was drizzly and foggy, but it was still a great trip.

Our first stop was the Cochem Imperial Castle in Cochem. It sat above the town so the walk was difficult (especially in heels). We took a tour of this castle, and I would have to say is one of my favorites. It even has a haunting of a previous lady brutally murdered. Creepy!

Cochem Castle
Schloss from city street below.

View from Cochem Castle
View from Cochem schloss.

Our next stop was Pyrmont Castle. This was self-guided, and there was a wedding taking place while were looked around. It was comfy and smaller, nestled farther away from civilization. We walked up to the top of the tower for a great view of the foggy hillsides.

Pyrmont Castle
Pyrmont entrance.

Pyrmont Castle
Pyrmont kitchens.

Pyrmont Castle
View from Pyrmont terrace.

Eltz Castle was next. Eltz is unique in that it sits at the bottom of a valley and is still owned by the original family. The castle is formed of three different houses and is truly a must see castle. No indoor pictures allowed though. After the tour we checked out the treasury (it was okay, but the Residenz Palace in Munich was better).

Eltz Castle
Eltz Castle.

Eltz Castle
Eltz Castle.

We made one last stop at Thurant Castle on our way back. Thurant was half in ruins and consisted of two separate towers that merged. The view from this castle was the best; by that time of day the fog had lifted and the sun shone on the valley and river.

Thurant Castle
Thurant Castle.

Thurant Castle ruins
Thurant Castle ruins.

Thurant Castle view
Thurant Castle view.