Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Au Revior!

Alright one last post as I wait in line to check in at de Gaulle.

I had most of today since my flight's not until 7:45p so I took advantage of it to check out some of the major sites. I really had my heart set on Musée d'Orsay but this how the line looked:

Needless to say I thought I'd hang around with this group rather than wait around...

At the time I didn't know what was up with all the pomp and circumstance so I just kept on biking around. 

This is the famous lock bridge, Pont des Arts - where you and your partner attach a lock and throw away the key. But now the government is trying to end the practice since all the weight is comprising the structure. The policemen closed off access so the workers could start removing the locks. 

Also the Français didn't seem to take too kindly to this ad...

Next I made my way back to the Arc de Triomphe - there is something fascinating about it as such a symbol of the French nation, the highs and lows -- Napoleon built it to commemorate his victories, Nazi's marched underneath it, and Tour de France races around it. Today it looked very different then when I rode by yesterday, the circle surrounding it is usually a mass of 8 lanes or so of traffic but today it was empty and those fancy cavalry riders where just outside of it on the Champs-Élysées.
empty traffic circle surrounding the Arc de Triomphe
Turns out there was a state visit about to begin. After a couple minutes of waiting the French President, Francois Hollande arrived, followed shortly by the Spanish King Felipe IV.

Anyway --- a pretty neat way to end the trip.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Parsian irony

Some more exploring was in the cards yesterday. Just outside the core of Paris is a more modern area of the city called La Defense. Within Paris itself there are no skyscrapers (well there is one) so many are located in this area. Also here is a huge arch that contrasts nicely with the Arc de Triomphe. 
Huge Grande Arche in La Defense

On my way back to the city center I biked through a huge park. At some point I turned a corner and there were numerous ladies of night, all in various stages of undress - even though it was broad daylight at 4p in the afternoon right on the main road through the park. Then about 100 yards away was the most sedate, manicured gardens. In here a policeman blew his whistle at me and furiously told me no bike riding. Of course I thought 'do you have any idea what is going on just around the corner!'
No I didn't take pictures of the other activities in the park!

Gorgeous Parsian architecture pops up in the most unexpected places

Viva la France!

Final dinner with Lonnie and friend Sarah - escargot, roast duck, fois gras, and crime brûlée and a Emile Pernot digestif to end the meal in style.  

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Exploring Paris

The past day or two has been a nice relaxed blend of eating and touring. Yesterday Kev and I went to the Montmartre Museum which is near Lonnie's neighborhood - lots of paintings and history from the revolutionary and Moulin Rouge periods. 
The grounds of Montmartre Museum

And spent quality time shopping and checking out neighborhoods. 
Waiting patiently for a baguette
They actually taste as good as they look

Rented a bike and tooled around the city for a bit

At a Market, Lonnie and I got paella, some Lebanese food, and roast lamb. 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Good food, good friends, good sights!

Friends of Lonnie's told us going to an auction house would a neat experience,  so yesterday afternoon we thought we'd check it out. We walked in and felt a bit out of place - most people were dressed to nines but it was a unique experience. At one point we even saw a Renior sold for about 67k euros. There were many different rooms with assorted collectibles  up for auction, from period clothes to furniture to comic books.
Auction house action 

Earlier in the day, Kev and I walked around the neighborhood and checked out the local shops and purchased this nice spread for lunch. 

Later we met up with Lonnie and had drinks and dinner with some of his friends. 
Drinks and foie gras with one of Lonnie's fellow professors

Vietnamese dinner

This morning I got out a bit earlier, rented a bike and found a market to sample and did a bit of exploring. 
Teaching kids about cheese making at a market 

Came across this artist doing his craft 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Extra time in Paris

Got very lucky on my flight out to Paris... When I arrived at EWR, an earlier Paris flight was still at the gate and since I didn't check any baggage they let me on. Saved about four hours as I got to Lonnie's at 10a this morning instead of after 2p. Since Lonnie's working during the week, Kev and I went to a cafe and had a long walk along the Seine and took short boat tour. 

Kev on Patio @ Lonnie's flat

River boats along the Seine 

Later, after Lonnie's work we met up with his friends and had a great dinner in a local restaurant. His friends are friends with the chef and we were treated right. I had perfectly cooked fish with fennel and the wine was flowing. We chatted about the FIFA soccer scandal and I was curious whether Europeans thought the US was getting involved where it wasn't America's business, but they favored the recent actions as they believed the organization is hopelessly corrupt. 

Getting ready for a good meal!

Monday, August 4, 2014


Barcelona is probably the biggest city we have been in on our trip and it has been a blast. After being in smaller towns and villages for a couple weeks we've been enjoying the hustle and bustle of Barcelona. A day after we arrived Carole and Stu and Uncle Kenny came - it has been fun seeing them after being away for many months. We departed on Sunday on a Mediterranean cruise.

on our first day we went to
the beach right in the city

the inside of Gaudi's church
was breathtaking

Gaudi's church lit up
at night - it won't be complete
until 2026
taking a break!

on our anniversary Rhonda and I took a bike tour
ahh - the jamon is so good
happy 10 year anniversary!
Gaudi designed house
in Gaudi designed park
lovin' the puppet show!

late night at the magic fountain

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Taking It Easy in Seville

Seville's main thoroughfare
Kids love the
sightseeing bus
Besides it’s monumental cathedral and vibrant flamenco dancing, Seville is probably best known for its furnace like heat in July and August. Thus we knew we had to take it slow and not run around the city all day. One of the things I love to do in new cities is just walk around and get a feel for the energy and vitality of a place – but with the combination of the heat and two kids with boundless energy for everything EXCEPT walking around cities this was going to be difficult.
Columbus' tomb in
Seville's cathedral

Solution for Seville day #1 was to take a sightseeing bus. The kids loved it and we got a sense of the sights and layout of Seville.  Later on we meandered through Seville's gargantuan cathedral.
inside of Seville's cathedral
no better way to beat the 100 degree
heat than playing in the fountains

For Seville we booked an apartment via the Internet with not too much research just a couple weeks ago. We got fairly lucky as the apartment was located right on one of the main plazas of the city. The feel of the neighborhood is just like the East Village, so we felt right at home. The other similarity was the apartment's tiny size– probably about a third of the size of our former place on E 8th Street.

flamenco show

Royal gardens labyrinth
For Day #2 we strolled through the old Jewish Quarter which led to a lot of conversations about being Jewish and its history of persecution. Later in the evening we enjoyed a mesmerizing flamenco show.

On Day #3 we visited the old Spanish royal palace and gardens and then let the kids dictate the rest of the day. Rhonda and I took turns being with the kids and taking off for strolls around the city in the evening.
This ice cream was unanimously voted the best on
our European tour! So good we went back three
times in three days!