Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Hey, I'm back. (let's pretend you noticed I was gone)I've been putting this post off for a while, because I've been busy-ish and also because, you know, it's a big subject to cover.
In a nutshell, my parents and brother came here to visit us and together we went to Paris, Rome, and London.This was a pretty huge undertaking. 5 adults, one toddler, and an infant for one week of constant travel with minimal luggage, a LOT to see and not much time to see it. There was a lot of walking involved as well as a lot of public transportation. Subways aren't really family affairs, if you know what I mean. I feel like it was a pretty grand accomplishment. There were definitely some challenges but I wouldn't have done this trip any differently (except I wish my other siblings and their families could have come)
Looking very much like tourists

I was going to blog all three in one post, but nobody in their right mind would ever read that much rambling. So I'll ramble in three parts.
Paris:Oh, Paris. I randomly decided some time ago that Hollywood, or whoever, had sort of ruined Paris. I thought that surely I had been so over exposed to all things Parisian, that I would be utterly bored by that dang tower. I also just expected it to be kind of..dirty. A friend semi-confirmed my suspicions when she reported that while Paris was great, it was pretty "urban and gritty."Well, I did indeed find Paris kind of...gross. It was dirty, customer service was awful (but in general, Parisians were very kind) and there were pick pockets everywhere. Everywhere. And they were quite literally aggressive. All that skewed my Paris experience a little, on top of getting to spend very little time in the Louvre, but I'll tell you what I did love about Paris, particularly what exceeded expectations. 
The Montmartre District: This is one of the very Paris-y parts of Paris. Montmartre "Mount of the Martyr" is basically a big hill crowned at the top by the gorgeous Sacré-Cœur Basilica, with winding cobble stone streets leading you past a million little shops. If you've seen any movie filmed in Paris, you've seen the streets of the Montmartre District, and probably that adorable carousel right before you reach the Basilica.  It's very touristy and crowded, and it is a dang long walk up a heck of a lot of stairs to reach the church, but once you reach the top, the view of the whole city of Paris is worth every step. The Basilica might just be the prettiest church I've ever seen.
Paris from halfway up the hill
The Basilica from halfway

That cute carousel from Amelie ;)

Notre Dame: After Sacré-Cœur, we headed to Notre Dame. It was everything you'd think it should be, with the beautiful art and impressive architecture. It was overwhelming in a good way. It was pretty dark inside and I don't think the pics are really blog-worthy, and photos couldn't do it justice anyway. We sat outside for a while listening to the bells and watching elderly people feed pigeons that sat atop their heads and shoulders in the shade of a huge statue of Charlemagne. Daniel loved that statue.
The family. You can sort of see Notre Dame in the background

Notre Dame
Side view of Notre Dame

The statue of Charlemagne that Daniel went nuts over

The River Seine: We walked along the river for a long time on our way to the Eiffel Tower and it basically offered a constant perfect view with its statues and stone bridges . This is another site you've definitely seen if you've ever looked at anything that had anything to do with Paris.
The River

The Eiffel Tower. Did I say I was bored with the Eiffel Tower? Oh. Well, I was wrong. I'm not sure why I thought it wasn't that big, or impressive, and it's "not that old" and so it's basically a glorified radio tower, right? Gosh. I ate my words in the lawn of the Eiffel Tower.The area around the tower is so beautiful with the rose bushes and the perfect lawn full of people being super happy, lounging, napping, sipping champagne, chasing their children. We got there right before sunset and laid in the grass for nearly two hours, just soaking in the atmosphere and eating Cheez Its (classy, no?) The tower is beautiful, in case you ever doubted. I told Daniel before we went on this trip that if he really loved me, he would kiss me in front of the Eiffel Tower, even though he is not big on PDA. He does love me, by the way :) 
The kids are disgusted.
Chilling in the lawn of the tower. 
The Louvre: The Louvre was super cool. I could not believe how massive it is. We were only there for a couple of hours and were pretty rushed, so needless to say we saw just a tiny fraction of it. That was sort of disappointing. The girls fell asleep before we got to the Mona Lisa.  I tried to wake them up, but they were out. So someday if anyone should ask "have you ever seen the Mona Lisa?" They'll just have to say "no, I haven't, but she has seen me."

Bell being cute at the Louvre
Mona Lisa

Hey, it is World Breastfeeding Week.

Food: French breakfast was nothing special, and I had some mediocre sandwiches at touristy cafes, too. It was near 9pm as we were leaving the Eiffel Tower looking for a place to eat and we found that everything in Paris closes at 9ish (including the bus back to our hotel, but that's a different story) so we were forced out of the main tourist area and found a cute little restaurant that was still open. Most of us had the steak tartare which thoroughly disgusted my mom. It was good. It was chilled, which makes sense but still surprised me a little. It was also sweet, because of sweet pickles or something diced up in it. I think I prefer my steak warm and savory but it was still good,especially with the house wine we had. Near the Louvre we went to a cafe for coffee and crepes. I skipped the crepes and had creme brulee instead. I ate the whole thing all by myself and it was delicious.  
Steak Tartare
Creme Brulee

So that's it for Paris! I'll try to finish my post on London tomorrow :)