Monday, December 15, 2014

The Louvre/Our Last Day in France

Monday August 26th

Even though I didn't want it to, our last day in France had crept up on us. While I was tired and ready to see Garrett and our two cat sons, I was not at all ready to go back home. I swear I would live in Europe if it were feasible.

I'm getting to where I am having a hard time remembering exactly what we did, and since I didn't write in my journal everyday like I promised myself I would, I kind of have to wing it. 

Mom and I slept in that morning and then met the girls at the mall. This mall was HUGE, like 7 stories, and was home to some of the most expensive things. We left with a couple of souvenirs, but none of the Charlotte Olympia or Alice & Olivia things I wanted but couldn't afford.

Later, we all went to the Louvre. At this point I was about museum'ed out. We had been to so many! But, nonetheless, it is the Louvre and it's not everyday you get to go there. We had a tour guide and we only saw the "big" things. This was by far the most awesome and encompassing museum I have ever visited. You could spend all day there, hell all month, and still not see everything. My favorite thing about this museum was that it wasn't all paintings. There were paintings of course, but also sculptures and ruins. Unfortunately, it was insanely crowded. 

I don't have a ton of pictures because I actually didn't even bring my camera this day. Just my trusty iPhone! One thing I learned from this trip: carrying around a big camera gets old!

One of my very favorite things I have ever seen to this day is this Sphinx. The Great Sphinx of Tanis. For some reason this half lion, half King really mesmerized me and still does to this day. It also creeps me out and gives me the willies a little bit.

It weighs 24 tons and is made from granite. It is huge and definitely awe inspiring. The creepy part? It is so old. It's the oldest thing I have ever seen. It was inscribed with Pharaoh's names that date back to 1929 BC. BEFORE CHRIST! Archaeologists think that it actually dates back to an even older period- 2600 BC. Just think about that for a second. It's mind-blowing that something that ancient Egyptian Pharaohs created is still around today. Ahhhhhh! My mind is blown. 

Side story: One night Garrett and I were laying in bed talking about this Sphinx and how creepy it would be if you woke up one night and it was just there, in your room. I mean, it's got to be haunted. See? I told you it was creepy. 

One of the next things we saw that I got excited about was Venus de Milo.

I am definitely no art connoisseur, but as soon as I saw this I recognized it. This sculpture is believed to be of Aphrodite and was found in Greece in 1820. The sculptor is unknown and she is dated back to about 120 BC. When in the presence of things that are so incredibly old, I always think about the things they would have seen if they had eyes. It's incredible all of the things, people, and era's that have come and gone while this statue remains. 

Last, but not least, the Mona Lisa was also something that I was really excited about seeing. 

That painting had more security than Taylor Swift. It was encased, you couldn't get all the way up to it, and there were guards there. Also, it was fight to the death to be able to get as close as I did. That room was crowded and people were pushing each other to get up to it. You bet your ass I pushed my way to the very front. 

The painting in the center of this picture is the Mona Lisa, that is how many people were crowded around her.

Everyone had warned me that I would be disappointed in the Mona Lisa because it is so small, so I wasn't surprised by the size at all. The fact that that is the real thing is what is so spectacular, not the size. It is worth it to get past the crowd just to say you have seen it.

That night we went to bed fairly early after getting all of our belongings packed up and ready to go. The next morning we were shuttled to the airport and flown home. That was it. The trip I had anticipated for so long was over. And it had been amazing. Something I will never forget!

After a long flight, a several hour lay over in Dallas, a short flight to Denver, and 306839 tissues (I had a wicked cold), I was home with my little family. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Vincent & a Sparkly Eiffel Tower

Yes, I realize it has been almost 3 months since my France trip (don't remind me) and that I am still blogging about it. When I first started this recap I had no idea how long it would take, especially when I only blog every week and a half! So, to those of you who are still reading anything I post, THANK YOU and I swear it's almost done! 

Sunday, August 24th

One of the optional excursions on our cruise was a visit to Auvers-sur-oise (don't ask me how to pronounce it) where Vincent Van Gogh spent the last days of his life. As you may remember, I am a little intrigued by Van Gogh, so of course we chose to do this excursion. (Thanks mom!)

One of the first things we saw was this gothic style church that he had painted in 1890. Right next to it was a copy of his painting. It was really awesome to be able to look at the same church Van Gogh had looked at to paint, and then to compare it to his painting.

After looking around in the town, we took a walk to the cemetery. Van Gogh, and his brother Theo, are both buried here. It was crazy to see Van Gogh's grave! It was in a normal cemetery, nothing special, with no guard or anything. For some reason that surprised me.

I had always heard and read that Van Gogh had shot himself, but during this tour we learned another theory. I won't go into detail, but basically it just goes that he was shot by someone bullying him and died from that. That would be crazy, and story changing, if it were true. 

After the cemetery we went back to the town and saw the tiny room Van Gogh rented and where he passed away after his gun shot. Of course we weren't allowed to take pictures, but there really wasn't much to it. It was a tiny room with nothing but a small window and chair in it. Kind of sad.

Little Van Gogh.

Another building he painted with his painting near it.

That night we headed back into Paris for our last night of vacation. While I was so excited to see Paris again, I wasn't ready for it to be over! Our captain said he was going to show us a special "treat" on the way back, and we stopped in front of this miniature Lady Liberty. America gifted her to France after they gave us the original.

After dinner mom and I went up to the top deck and saw the Eiffel Tower. At night, every hour on the hour, the Eiffel tower sparkles! It looks so pretty!

We decided to leave the ship and walk closer to the Eiffel Tower before the next hour struck so that we could see it sparkle a little closer. Next time I am in Paris (yes there will be a next time) I'd like to be right up to it when it lights up. It's so pretty!

One more short post and then my France recap is over! Looking back through these posts and pictures makes me miss it so much. Why does travel have to be SO expensive? I am ready to go back ASAP. If I could spend my entire life traveling I swear I would.

Byyyyee. ; )

Thursday, October 16, 2014

France Day 7: Les Andelys

Saturday, August 23rd

Today was a day full of cruising and a short stop in Les Andelys.

After docking, we had the option of roaming around the small town on our own, or doing a guided tour up to the castle. Mom chose to go and see the castle, I chose to venture around the town on my own. I mean, the castle was a major uphill walk and I wasn't in the mood to get sweaty. Plus, like I said before, roaming around a town in France by yourself is pretty cool.

Like every other town we visited, Les Andelys was breathtakingly gorgeous.

Chateau Gaillard, the castle mom hiked to. This was King Richard the Lionheart's castle. He feared an attack from the king of France, so he built this in 1196 for protection.

Les Andelys Church

While waiting on mom to return from her tour, I decided I might as well stop at the local bakery. Nothing like eating an eclair while staring out onto the Seine.

Look how cute these tiny, fuzzy, French baby birds are!

Our boat!

View from the castle of our boat and Les Andelys. #nofilter

On our way to Conflans!
There were so many swans in the river.

Going through a lock. If you are like I was and have no idea what a lock is, it's basically just a way to raise/lower boats to match the differing heights of the river at certain points. We went through several of these.

On board drink and dessert. : )

Tomorrow is Van Gogh's town!