(Warning. This is a long post and for no one really but myself and maybe Mike. Proceed at the risk of boredom.)
Where do I begin?
Sunday night, May 4th as Kristin and I laid in bed, having just wrapped up our last full day in France, Laurie stood at the door of our room and asked, "What was your favorite thing?"
It was too hard to answer. I loved Notre Dame, the gardens, and Normandy. But I loved baguettes from the bakeries, laughing with Laurie and Kristin, the Eiffel Tower at night, our ineptness at the metro stations, and so on, and so on.
Paris is magical. Every single time I found myself walking the streets of Paris, I thought of the blessing and opportunity that was mine.
I love that Mike fully supported my adventure to travel. In fact, encouraged me when my decision-making abilities wavered. One of the days I woke up in Paris to the following text from Megan:
"I found this quote and thought of you...'We travel not to escape life, but so life doesn't escape us.'" I was touched that Megan sent it to me, and it told me that she supported my traveling rather than begrudging the fact I was gone. I hope to teach her (and all my children) by example to not let life escape them, whether it is by them traveling, or simply, living.
With all that said, I think I will let my photos tell my story, along with a few excerpts from my personal journey.
I am a sucker for beautiful gardens. I could have spent hours simply sitting and enjoying the surroundings, but there were so many things to do and see. Plus it was never really warm and balmy while we were there, at least enough to want to just "sit and enjoy." A future visit to Paris will definitely include some time in the gardens eating gelato from the street vendors, and sitting with Mike at my side.
(Louvre in the background. A museum filled with some of the greatest artwork in the world, but not my favorite place to visit. It didn't help that when we visited there we were going on 24+ hours with no sleep, and Laurie had just mentioned that the last time she visited, she and Steve (my father-in-law) had spent 8 hours there. EIGHT HOURS????? I tell you, that place is huge, with sprawling halls and galleries, but 8 hours? That's mental. I was mildly concerned she would expect us to spend that amount of time there too.)
We visited more art museums and galleries than I've ever been to in my life. I did actually thoroughly enjoy some of the art, but nowhere near appreciated it like Laurie and Kristin did. I found it laugh-out-loud funny when Yours Truly stood in line for the entrance to an art museum while Kristin and Laurie sat and enjoyed the view...
(Don't worry, I gave them permission to go sit while I stood in line. I don't have a bad back or bad feet, so I took one for the team. They did come and stand in line plenty of the time too.)
The Paris Opera House is where the story of The Phantom of the Opera is set. It is a beautiful building inside and out. Here we are on the balcony of the Opera House.
The Eiffel Tower is an amazing site to behold. Between the three of us, we got more photos of it than the population of a small country. It became a joke every time we spotted it from a different angle that we didn't have a photo of it from that angle. I LOVE that Laurie has seen it numerous times, yet still takes photos of it as if she's seeing it for the first. We loved going out to see it sparkle/twinkle at night, as it does for the first five minutes of every hour after dark. (I am sworn to secrecy about how the three of us looked the last night we walked to the end of the street to take our last night-time peek of it. It is our secret, and our secret only.)
One day we took a train out to Normandy, and had a fantastic tour of the Normandy Beaches. I wish I had taken a photo of our charming, well-informed tour guide; a nice Irishman from London. He was a former history teacher and had a fabulous combination of knowledge and passion about the events on those beaches on June 6, 1944 that made the tour interesting, informative and truly touching. It was a sobering place to visit and a reminder that the cost of freedom is never really free.
Although I didn't LOVE the art museums, I did enjoy them. I have always loved Monet prints and seeing so many of them was a definite highlight. On the last day, we visited the Rodin Museum, and... I LOVED it. I'm not sure if it was because by Sunday I had become more cultured from the 500 art museums of the previous days or if it was because it was a fairly small museum. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed the statues and seemed to appreciate them in a way I hadn't before. They evoked more emotion in me than previous ones, and I loved our time there. (I still can't bring myself to put a couple of the photos on here that I took of the statues. Because even though it is ART, as Mike says, "It's still the same subject matter....")
Regardless of naked statues or not, the gardens and the building were GORGEOUS.
(Wishing I had been more patient and waited for those ladies to move out of my shot.)
Loved our evening river ride along the River Seine. Beautiful evening!
You haven't seen stained glass until you've visited Sainte-Chapelle. The most expensive 20 minutes of our trip, but oh so worth it.
Aagh! I'm sure I'm missing something... There is so much to remember and record!
But this will have to suffice.
Taking away all the personal touches of the trip (tomorrow's blog post), my favorite things were in no order: Notre Dame, Normandy, the gardens, Rodin Museum and of course good ole Eiffel himself.
I Heart Paris.