Posts Tagged ‘Thanksgiving’

Paris Continued

On Saturday morning we took our breakfast in front of the Eiffel Tower.  On our walk to the Tower, we stopped at another patisserie to grab a croissant and baguette.  Tearing off delicious pieces of the hard bread in front of the Eiffel Tower really made us feel like Parisians.  🙂

Breakfast by the Eiffel Tower

After breakfast we headed through the Eiffel Tower and uphill to Trocadéro for a spectacular long-distance view. The sun was just trying to break through the clouds, so Russ captured a pretty cool effect.

The Tower from Trocadero

The best part of this whole experience was that we were virtually alone while doing it!  The weather (it was c-c-c-cold!) and the time of year kept visitors away, so we walked near, under, and around the Eiffel Tower without bumping into a single body, and we were only slightly harassed by those guys peddling mini-Eiffel Towers.

Population Russ and Lauren + those 2 people

Our next goal was to see the Arc de Triomphe, a massive piece of memorial architecture that was commissioned by Napoleon after a victorious battle.  The arc sits in the middle of a ridiculous traffic circle (12 roads meet at this point!), and the ensuing mayhem of the circle is entertaining…and a little frightening.  I was glad we didn’t have to drive through it, as it appears that the merging traffic has the right away.  Therefore the traffic already in the circle must STOP to allow them in—crazy! While Russ mainly watched traffic, I made my way around and through the beautiful arc and gazed upon the fantastic murals carved into its sides (Lady Liberty especially caught my eye).

Arc de Triomphe

Looking Up Inside of the Arc

The Exterior

Arc de Triomphe

Traffic Mayhem

From the Arc de Triomphe, we made our way toward Champs-Elysées, Paris’s famous boulevard and shopping street. We enjoyed our stroll, some coffee and hot chocolate, and loved looking at all the little stands that were set up for a Christmas Market.

Looking up the street toward the Arc

Christmas Market Stalls

Our next stop: Sacré-Cœur.  The beautiful Sacré-Cœur, or Sacred Heart Church, sits on a hilltop overlooking Paris.  The church is beautiful, though only 100 years old,  and the spectacular view doesn’t hurt.  The outside of the church is home to many performers playing to the crowds.

Sacré-Cœur

The View

Our Favorite Perfomer--Soccer Trick Guy

 

Soccer Guy!

Paris!

The Church

The Church

Super tired feet need a rest, so we eventually settled down for some lunch and a little rest before heading out again into the city.  An hour was all we needed to feel refreshed and ready to go.  Plus, we were headed to a place about which I was really excited, The Pompidou Center for Modern Art.

The Pompidou Center

Pompidou Center Inside

The Pompidou Center holds lots of modern art (20th Century) that is way-out-there!  We got to see lots of pieces by Picasso, Matisse, Dalí, and more.  It was really exciting to be face to face with pieces that were so controversial (aka a naked woman holding a squawking chicken).  However, we have no pictures as they weren’t permitted! The featured exhibit was by a post-War artist named Arman.  Arman’s aesthetic was certainly destruction. Arman destroyed things by force and fire, “froze” them in resin, and labeled it art.  A piano smashed to pieces and glued to a board, biodegradable trash in a container, a box filled with gas masks; this is Arman.  And whether you agree that it is art or not, it is certainly intriguing.  Look him up; it’ll be worth your time.

I loved the Pompidou Center and all it had to offer including this incredible view:

The Sacré-Cœur from the Pompidou

 

View from the Escalators of the Pompidou

We finished our day with a late-night omelet and quiche at a brasserie around the corner from our hotel.  We love Paris and all the culture it brings.  We loved people watching, viewing art, munching on baguettes and sipping coffee, but…if I never have to ride on an over-crowded subway again, I’m totally okay with that. 🙂

Thanks, Paris.  We had an awesome time!

 

For more pictures of our adventures in Paris:

http://rlabarca.smugmug.com/Travel/Paris-Nov-2010

 

Oui Oui, Paris!

Instead of staying in Heidenheim on the last Thursday of November, we headed to Paris to celebrate American Thanksgiving in a new way.  The City of Light welcomed us with a sparkling Eiffel Tower, and despite the cold and rain during the first evening, we trekked out to enjoy the view while enjoying crêpes.

The Eiffel Tower in the Rain

Happy to be in Paris!

That evening we headed to a nice French restaurant where we indulged in good French wine (when in France?),  salads with fried goat cheese, beef sirloin, and dessert.  We ordered iced nougat and chocolate mousse and were surprised to be presented with something different!  The waiter thought Lauren said “du jour,” so we ended up indulging in apple pie on Thanksgiving in Paris.  We thought it was perfect. 🙂

Turns out that November is a great time to visit Paris; tourists really stay away so life is more “local” than usual.  We were also able to get a hotel room with an Eiffel Tower view, so we enjoyed lying in bed and watching the tower sparkle.

The View of the Sparkling Tower from our Hotel Room

On Friday morning we grabbed some ham and cheese baguettes from a patisserie (yum!) and headed out to our first stop of the day, Notre Dame.

Notre Dame Cathedral

We’ve seen a lot of cathedrals so far in our time in Germany, but it was clear that this one was special, and not just because of its touristy reputation.  We enjoyed the paintings of biblical stories, the buttresses, and the strange presence of the statues of apostles climbing up the spire (who are apparently blessing the city of Paris).

Notre Dame

Notre Dame-Note the Green Apostles

Notre Dame--Buttresses

Notre Dame from the back

From Notre Dame, we visited the Deportation Memorial, a memorial in remembrance of the 200,000 French victims of the Holocaust.  No pictures, as they weren’t permitted, but imagine descending into a lit dungeon.  Inside the dungeon a barred window looks out to the sea, but you must bend to see out of the window.  One room held a long hallway lined with 200,000 lights, one for each of the victims, and an eternal flame of hope burning at the end.  The experience is, like many Holocaust memorials, disconcerting and moving at the same time.  After taking it all in, I felt grateful that I could climb the stairs out of the chamber.

Next we headed to the island of Ile St. Louis for a nice walk and look around.

Taking a Long Look at the Cathedral

and Russ!

We browsed some great boutiques and shops and enjoyed looking in windows like this one.

Yum!

We had some lunch and then headed to our main event of the day: Musée du Louvre, Europe’s biggest and oldest museum.

The Louvre

Lauren in front of the famous pyramid

Looking up from inside

The Louvre was OVERWHELMING!  There is so much to see, and serious art fans could spend days there.  We ended up spending a lot of time in the Italian and French collections and then the Greek and Roman works, making sure to see the most famous “Mona Lisa” and “Venus de Milo.”

Inside the Louvre

What I enjoyed most was recognizing pieces of art and the artists, which didn’t happen all that often.  I was wishing that I had paid a bit more attention to the art history aspect of European History in high school. 😉  For me, the best aspect of the Louvre was the overwhelming architecture of the rooms and halls.  Like the picture above, the arches and marble were stunning, and sometimes I caught myself absorbed in the architecture of the building much more so than the art on the wall in front of me. I also loved to see so many school groups in the Louvre (call it the teacher in me).  In one group, kids around 10-12 were giving reports on a painting they had studied.  How cool is it to study a painting and then to go to the Louvre to give your report in front of it??!!?

Sculpture Hall

Napoleon

Mona Lisa--behind layers and layers of protection

Lauren in the Louvre

Artists lined up to sketch the statues

Venus de Milo aka Aphrodite

Love the Architecture!!

Russ in the Louvre

Good Night, Louvre

We LOVED getting to see so much of the Louvre.  It was truly a wonderful cultural experience.  However, after walking all morning and 6 hours in the Louvre, it was time to find some dinner and SIT!  We ended up eating a little Italian place near our hotel where we had some great wine and pizza (piled with fresh eggplant and veggies!).  And as typical for us, no matter where we go, we were given a free shot at the end of the meal.  We retired for the night and watched a glowing Eiffel Tower from the hotel. A great day in Paris and a wonderful Thanksgiving!

 

Coming soon…Day 3 in Paris!

For more pictures of Day 1 & 2:

http://rlabarca.smugmug.com/Travel/Paris-Nov-2010

 

So Very Thankful

2010 has been a pretty eventful year for us to say the least.  There, of course, were downs, but this year there were a particular number of highs.  We have A LOT to be thankful for, but we’ve managed to narrow it down to our 2010 Thanksgiving Top Ten.

10. We must start with the amazing opportunity we were given to come and live in Germany.  When we first heard about the offer, Lauren responded with “No way!” After much deliberation and discussion, we decided it was just an opportunity that we couldn’t pass up.  Now we are thankful to call Heidenheim our home.

Showing Off Heidenheim by Castle View

9. One of the toughest decisions we faced in coming to Heidenheim was what to do with our 2 mangy mutts.  While we originally planned to bring them with us, the situation became infeasible.  Luckily we had two dog lovers ready to take them in for a year–and they even put a fence in the yard just for the dogs!  We are so thankful for Mom and Dad Wible for taking such good care of our pups while we’re away.

Maggie with Major in the Background

Major

8. One of the more frivolous things on our list is our favorite restaurant,Stattgarten. We love having a “go to” place to take visitors and to meet with friends.  In the summer it’s great to sit outside, and in the winter the restaurant is cozy and warm.  We won’t kid ourselves, though.  We’re also really grateful for their one of a kind Fries, Käsespätzle, and Kurbiscremesuppe (Pumpkin Soup!).

Pumpkin Soup!

Kate samples the delicious Stattgarten Käsespätzle

7. In August we had two very special visitors: Will and Pam (Lauren’s parents).  It was so great to be able to show them around Heidenheim and show off with our little knowledge of German.  We even got to explore Berlin with them before we parted ways and they headed to Switzerland.  We’re so thankful that Pam and Will got to come see Heidenheim and experience European living with us.

Pam and Will in Heidenheim

6. We are so thankful for Skype!! Via Skype we have been able to keep in close contact with everyone from home despite the 6 hour time difference.  It’s been an amazing resource that really helps cut homesickness especially because we get to see all the faces we miss.  Here’s a little conglomeration of some of the images we’ve captured via Skype.

Skype Images

5. In the end of September we welcomed Russ’s parents, Joe and Kate, by meeting them in Cologne, Germany.  We got to bring Kate back to Heidenheim with us for awhile while Joe was attending a conference.  Then we all flew to Barcelona, Spain to spend some wonderful time together.  We finished our visit back here in Heidenheim.  We feel so lucky that our parents were able to come visit, and we’ll be happy to receive them again come spring!

Kate and Joe in Heidenheim

4. One of the things that we are most thankful for this year is the birth of our first nephew.  We were greatly anticipating his birth, and thanks to Skype and a patient Mother, we are able to see him almost weekly.  Thanks to his parents for keeping us connected so we feel like we’re “there” while our nephew grows and changes.

3. In November we were lucky enough to travel to the Czech Republic with our famous wedding speaker, Uncle Daryl.  Seriously, people ask about him all the time because he was so witty and entertaining. 🙂  We had such an amazing time visiting with him and exploring Prague.  Thanks, Uncle Daryl, for making time in your busy schedule to come visit us!

Uncle Daryl, Lauren, and Russ in Prague

2. We reached a pretty huge milestone this year–our 1st year wedding anniversary!  Who would have thought that when we said, “I do,” part of it meant, “I do agree to move to Germany with you!”  In our first year of marriage we’ve learned to listen to each other when making big decisions and lean on each other when times are tough.  This year, we are thankful for each other.

Spending our 1st year anniversary at romantic Castle Neuschwanstein

Wedding Day

1. Last but not least, we are incredibly thankful that we get to come home for Christmas! We’re so looking forward to seeing our family and spending one of the best times of the year back in the US.  Unfortunately, we won’t be able to make it home for Thanksgiving.  Don’t cry for us, though.  We’ll be spending our Thanksgiving in Paris! 🙂

 

Paris, here we come!

A Happy Happy Thanksgiving to all of our friends and family back in the US!  Eat lots, spend time with your family, and most of all, be thankful!