Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Le Final Blog Post

Musee d'Orsay
As I sit curled up in my bed with a sinking spell courtesy of jet lag, it's crazy to think that just a week ago, I was chunneling my way through the English Channel heading to Paris for the first time ever. Though I'm not traveling anymore, the last few days of my trip were too amazing not to blog about. 

Friday, May 18
Yup, we ate the whole thing
On Friday, which I dubbed "Nude Friday," my family and I took a trip to the Musee d'Orsay. While the museum is smaller and less well known than the massive Louvre Museum, the Orsay houses art by some of the most famous painters: Monet, Toulouse-Lautrec, Degas, Van Gogh. It featured a great collection of Impressionist and Neo-Impressionist art, which is my favorite style. We viewed a Degas special exhibit that featured nude sketches he worked on early in his career (hence the name Nude Friday). The sketches were amazing, and it's incredible that Degas focused so much on the detail of the body early in his career to help him paint subjects later on, especially ballet dancers. The Orsay museum had to be my favorite of museum of the trip. The building itself, which is an old train station, was beautiful. And, the nicoise salad we had at the cafe and the chocolate eclair that changed my life helped make it a very enjoyable afternoon :)

Carly and I cruisin' down the Seine
After a nap at the hotel, my family headed out for our night excursion: a dinner boat cruise down the Seine and a show at the famous Lido Cabaret club. The dinner boat cruise was perfect, from the delicious french fare to the beautiful sites surrounding us on all sides. Carly and I also took full advantage of waving to people sitting along the banks of the river. When the cruise ended, we took a bus to the Lido cabaret club. The Lido is a famous, traditional Parisian club, similar to the Moulin Rouge. And yes, it also embraces the topless women trend (hence the continuation of Nude Friday into the night). The best part about the show, besides the free glass of champagne, was the stage. They had an ice rink, a full-size fountain, and various other crazy props that they utilized during the performance. While that may not be the main draw of most audience members to the Lido, Carly and I both applauded loudly for the set designers at the end of the production.

Saturday, May 19

Carly and I began the next day rising with the sun. Well, maybe not exactly but it felt like it at 7:30 a.m. We woke up early to walk over to the Eiffel Tower, where we planned to climb the stairs up the structure. When we arrived at the tower at 9:30 when it opened, we were greeted by a fabulously long line weaving its way under the structure. The line went quick, however, and we began our ascent up the 700 stairs to the second floor of the Eiffel Tower. It was amazing to watch the perspective of the city change as we rose up the stairs. By the time we reached the second floor, which only took about 20 minutes, we could see the whole organization of the city laid out beneath us. Sacre Coeur shined in the distance on its hill, and  the Seine weaved its way through the city below. Once on the second floor, we took a break before taking the elevator up to the very top. We purchased hot dogs in the cafeteria (yes, located in the Eiffel Tower!), that turned out to be the most delicious hot dogs ever! They were served in baguettes, so that was the obvious reason why. 

Once we took the elevator up to the top, the views became even more immaculate. Montmarte didn't even look like a hill anymore, since we were looking down upon it. The sprawling city was laid out before us. Most importantly, we proceeded to eat our hot dogs at the top of the Eiffel Tower. I'm happy to say I ate a hot dog at the top of the world. After taking in the view, we went back to the second floor and took another elevator back down to the bottom. Though tired and sore from all the stairs, Carly and I headed back to the hotel very glad that we woke up early to conquer Le Eiffel Tower.

The adventures of the final day in Paris didn't stop there. Our family hopped on a last minute excursion to Giverny, France. Giverny is a small town where Monet lived and painted. We were able to tour his studio and his garden. My favorite part of the day trip was seeing THE lily pad pond he painted so often. The flowers and pond looked just as he depicted them in his paintings. We learned that Monet orchestrated the layout of the pond much more than I imagined. He planned to have the Willow trees and the plants serving as vertical lines that were perpendicular to the lily pads. I just thought he stumbled upon a pond and painted it! It was great to get out of the city and see the French countryside as well. Our tour guide drove us down meandering roads that cut through beautiful cliffs. We even saw houses built right into the sides of the hills surrounding the area.

A quick nap on the ride back into Paris was just the energy boost Carly and I needed to continue our marathon final day in Paris. After our last family French dinner (I already miss the baguettes!), Carly and I headed over to the Louvre around 10 p.m. While the Louvre typically closes in the early afternoon, we were fortunate enough to be in the city during Night at the Museum. The Louvre was open on Saturday night from 6 p.m. to 12 a.m. FOR FREE! After a quick wait in line outside the beautiful palace that is the Louvre, Carly and I raced into the museum to find our girl, Mona Lisa. We nudged our way up to the front of the barrier surrounding the painting and stared at the mysterious image. It was impressive, yes, but I was more intrigued by other art in the museum. To me, gazing up at the statue "Winged Victory of Samothrace" might have been cooler. But, I'm happy to say that I saw Lisa, Mona in person. Going to the Louvre at night was one of the most amazing parts of the museum trek too.

We spent about an hour in the Louvre before heading out to the Louvre gardens to cap off the day and our trip in Paris. It was 11:30, and Carly and I wanted to wait until midnight to watch the light show on the Eiffel Tower. Every hour at night, the structure dazzles with lights. I didn't want to leave Paris without viewing it for myself. We played Monopoly Deal (Carly's newest favorite game) in the gardens to pass the time until midnight. Once the clock struck 12, the light show began. The tower was illuminated with twinkling bulbs, and it seemed like the structure could be seen from miles around. It glowed so brightly that I could imagine seeing it from Michigan. I know I can't, but it's nice to know that even though I'm not in Paris, every hour every night the tower is dazzling yet another crowd. Unfortunately, it doesn't photograph very well. But sometimes, the things that can't be captured via film are the best memories one can hold. I'll always remember how the tower shined my last night in Paris. After the light show, Carly and I left the Louvre gardens on a mad hunt for our final French crepe. An hour later, we walked back to our hotel through the dim streets of the city as we snacked on piping hot berry crepes — the perfect final taste of Paris.

One late night of packing, two long flights and a drive home from the airport later, I was back home in Michigan by Sunday night. My trip abroad was amazing, but I'm happy to be back home with my family and friends. It was so great the last week being able to share my adventures with my family, and I'm glad I can come home and continue sharing my stories. My journey was incredible, but what I enjoy the most is sharing my experience with others — telling my stories and allowing everyone to capture the experience as well. Hopefully, this blog allowed me to share my story with you, and let you experience my European journey :)

Au revoir,


On top of le world with Carly in Paris :)

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