Monday, December 30, 2013

A Rainy Day In Paris

Today was a slow and relaxing day.  It started raining about 2 pm and continued for several hours.  We did our grocery shopping and then walked over to the Seine River and caught the Batobus for a complete circle around the route.  It takes a little over an hour and a half to complete the route.  We go all the way to the Gare d'Austerlitz and then back along the right bank stopping at each of the eight stops along the way. 

By the time we'd reached the Eiffel Tower the rain had stopped and you have photos in the slideshow with and without rain drops.  Soon we were home for the evening.  We enjoyed fixing our dinner and reading our books this evening.  Hope you enjoy the little slideshow:  

Bois de Vincennes and Dinner With Jim

Yesterday was a long day, we awoke early...if you can call ten o'clock early...and it was a long day as we finally turned out the lights about one o'clock last night.  But a fun day!  As you can see by the dates I'm posting the day after for the most part.

It was Sunday morning and the streets below our windows were quiet as we enjoyed a late breakfast and our computers.  I'm having trouble putting my book down...I've several on my Tablet through the services of Kindle..."Paris...The Novel"  by Edward Rutherfurd is the one that I've been reading since before we left home.   The book covers the history of Paris from 1261 to 1940 in the form of a novel about inter-related families.   Assuming that the facts are correct and they seem to be; it is a fascinating history of the city we are enjoying.  I'm nearly three quarters finished and I find that I'm reading later and later each night.  Jim is enjoying a book that he brought from home; "A Paris Christmas...Immoveable Feast" by John Baxter.   This again is very appropriate for our month in Paris during the season. 

About one o'clock in the afternoon we dressed warmly and walked to our Metro Station.  There we renewed our Naviago Pass for another expires each Monday....and then caught the next train eastward to the Gare d'Austrilitz, then changed to another Metro for our short trip across the Seine River to the Bastille Station.  An item of interest in this station is a display of stone, according to the information provided, part of the real Bastille Prison that was destroyed after the Revolution.   There is even a line in the floor showing the continuing outline of the wall that is preserved and shown for all of us to appreciate.  If we'd left the station, in the street there is another outline of the actual walls of the prison that you can follow if you're brave enough to follow it out into the street as it crosses the broad Place de Bastille with all of it's traffic circling the large statue that dominates the center. 

From the Bastille we caught yet another Metro train.  Notice in the photos that we were now on a modern train with large windows and doors that all open automatically at each stop.  Although it's fun to stand at the door and flip the handle on the old versions at just the right time for them to open!
The conductor flips a release but it takes a real person to actually open these doors.

We continued our journey out to the edge of Paris and the Perpherique, that large freeway-like road that totally encloses the city of Paris.  We arrived at Porte Doree and walked over the Perpherique into the huge park known as "the lungs of Paris" or more formally as Paris - Bois de Vincennes.    We only touched the western part of the park today, but still walked about two miles around a long lake.  Along the way we saw children riding on ponies, rowboats stacked for the winter, a sign to beware of thin ice...not today as it's a beautiful day full of sunshine and brisk air.  There was mistletoe in the tree tops, swans on the lake, two islands in the center that had only one way in and we stayed on the outer edge as we enjoyed strolling with the Parisians on a Sunday afternoon.  Near the end of the lake we watched a young man with a miniture radio controlled speed boat entertain everyone with his high speeds that frightened the birds off the water but only caused the gracious swans to turn their heads with distain at the distraction of the people who were feeding them.

Headed back around the other side we encountered many sitting with their eyes closed, their faces absorbing the sunshine that they will miss in the coming winter months when there will be glace on the water and weather too forbidding to visit this glorious park.

To the east we watched an unusual structure.  It had to be man-made but when and for what?   We thought it would be a perfect venue for rock climbing adventurers.   As we neared the end of the park, we decided to follow the direction of the tall structure and signs indicated we were headed for the Zoologique.  After walking well over another half mile, past a very large glass domed  building that we determined was for plants, we found the entrance and the answers to our questions.  The "mountain" had been build in 1934 for a large herd of goats as part of the Zoo.  It is now closed for renovations and will reopen in 2014.  

Back to the Metro Station, we figured we walked at least three miles, across the Peripherique, and back into Paris.  We decided to leave the train at the d'Austerlitz Station  and walk to where we could catch the Batobus for a ride on the Seine River.  We were headed down the steps and when I reached the bottom...I'd been busy putting on my hat and gloves...I looked Jim!   I walked back up the stairs...still no Jim.   I got out my cell phone and called him; thank goodness we each have a phone for moments like this.  Turns out he was in front of me and had exited the station when he realized I was not with him.   So thankful at times like this that we had the good sense to get these little cell phones! 

Walked to the River and had to run the last half block to catch the boat that had pulled up.   Soon we were on a very crowded boat.  We were seated at the front and Jim asked the crew member if he knew about the small boy who'd stopped breathing on our boat two nights before.  Yes, he did.  He was the captain of that boat on that night.  He didn't really have any more information for us as apparently the family only spoke Spanish and the para-medics spoke French so he was busy translating between them until they took the boy off of the boat.  He didn't know what happened after that.

The city is full of French people and tourists who've come to enjoy the "Time Square" of Paris on New Years Eve:  Avenue des Champs Elysees.   At the next stop there were twice as many people standing in line as the boat could hold.  We decided to depart at the stop for the Louvre and walk home along the Quai to the Pont Beau Arts where we crossed the river to the left bank and were soon tucked into our little apartment.  It was five o'clock and time for a light supper and some time to read books for awhile.

At 7:15 pm we dressed warmly and headed out the door to our evening as "paying" guests of the American Expat Jim Haynes.  Every Sunday evening he holds open house for a group of people numbering from fifty to seventy-five or more in the summer when the party can flow into the patio from the small apartment/garret on the first floor.   It is a word of mouth gathering that has been going on for years.  He has written some books and has even had the New York Times write an article about his gatherings.  There is an internet site and you have to have a reservation to attend.  There is always a waiting list and the donation suggested is thirty euros per person.

Always a fun gathering full of unexpected surprises at times.  In 2012 we met five different people who we had a connection with with us in California.  Tonight it was cold and very crowded; there were sixty people per the host, Jim Haynes.    We met people from Illinois, Michigan, San Francisco, many from Canada, Berlin, Solovika, New York, Virginia, and various other parts of the world.  A real estate agent who works six months in Paris and six months in San Francisco each year and so many more.  I had Peter, from Canada now living in Berlin, on one side and Helen from Canada on the other side of me.  Peter was explaining that he was working as an Artist in Berlin and had a visa that allows him to receive commissions but not salary and Helen said she had a friend whose daughter was also in Berlin under similar conditions that played the accordian....Peter her name.....and there we had another unexpected connection!   Helen's son, Monty, who is living and studying in Paris (she is visiting him for the week) has gained employment by way of Craig's List:  he babysits for two French families to help him learn the language and teach the children English.   A fun evening with great food and always a fresh face as we moved about the room.  Soon it was time to return to the Metro and home.  We arrived about eleven o'clock, a good time for phone calls home on our International Skype service as it's the middle of the day in America. 

I hope you've enjoyed our journey for the day and also the slideshow: 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christmas Light: Montmartre and Grand Magasins

The day started late again; about three o'clock we dressed warmly and carried umbrellas as we walked the long block to our closest bus stop to catch #95.  We rode it across the Seine River, past the Louvre and on down the Avenue de l'Opera; passing the Opera we skirted past the west side of the grand magasins as we headed for Place de Clichy and finally crossed the bridge that runs over the Cimetiere Montmartre.   From that point on we were trying to remember where we should get off to walk up the back roads to Sacre Coeur.

Soon we were a stop away from the end of the route at Porte de Montmartre; we hopped off the bus and crossed the street to ride the bus back to the Cimetiere.  There we got off and walked a short distance along Rue Caulaincourt until we reached Rue Lepic and headed up the steep road to our destination for this afternoon.

Many stores already had their Christmas lights on as it was just about time for the sunset.   We stopped to admire the ancient windmill and views across Paris and soon we were at the more famous windmill that has been a restaurant for more than one hundred years.    You'll love the photo of the artist adding touches to his characterization of the cartoon caricature Popeye.   Soon we were at the top and into the area with restaurants and artists all angling for a euro by painting portraits.

From there we walked across the street to the very old and small church that has survived under the shadows of the famous and massive towers of Sacre Coeur know as Paroisse Saint-Pierre de Montmartre.  Founded on a Roman Temple around 400 AD.  Built to almost it's present size in 1093 and rebuilt in the 16th and 17th centuries.   Gothic style from the middle ages, it is rather plain but beautiful in its simplicity.   They had a very old and beautiful nativity scene.  It was 5:15 pm so we decided to return for the six oclock Mass.

We walked back outside and around the corner through the massive crowds to view Sacre Coeur from the outside.  The road to the Basilica was wall to wall Christmas booths as they had a market in full swing as we made our way over to the church.  A few photos and we stopped to enjoy the views over Paris once more before heading back to the restaurants.  We had half an hour before church and I needed a WC so we stopped in at the Au Clairon Des Chanseurs to enjoy a large glass of bordeaux wine as we enjoyed viewing  a large painting of Notre Dame from the left bank on the wall. 

Soon it was six o'clock and we walked the short distance back to Saint-Pierre for the Mass.  A beautiful Mass with lovely organ music, well attended but not crowded.  We'd planned to attend the 6:45 pm Mass at St. Suplice today but this was a nice change; our first time to attend Mass at this beautiful church.

After Mass we headed back towards the front of Sacre Coeur and the funicular; there were crowds waiting to go down so we elected to walk down the stairs with many other people.  At the bottom we snapped our last photo of Sacre Coeur and then continued to the Metro Station at Anvers.  Two changes and we were home in time to fix our dinner about eight o'clock.

We enjoyed our evening and by nine o'clock we were back out the door without umbrellas....we'd hardly used them today and it was definitely dry now...and walked back to the stop for bus #95.  We had to wait half an hour as the buses are not as frequent after nine pm.  We stayed on the bus until just past the Opera House and got off at Blvd. Haussmann to take photos of the windows of the Grand Magasins:  Printemps and Galeries Lafayette.   I was wrong in that there were still many children viewing the windows even though it was after ten o'clock at night!   But, the crowds were thinner and Jim waited patiently for me at each of the many windows as I took multiple photos and a few videos of the animated ones.   He could keep track of me with my red hat, he said!  

We were there nearly an hour and then found the Metro Station.  One change and we were home just before midnight.  A long day filled with lots of twinkling lights....I hope you enjoy the slideshow and that Google+ continues to add twinkle and snow effects for you!   

Friday, December 27, 2013

Ice Skating at the Hotel de Ville

Today we expected rain all day so we'd planned to do some laundry.  Headed to the laundromat at 2 pm and by 4 pm we had all clean clothes, sheets and towels!   Plus we'd had a fun couple of hours meeting both French and Americans who helped us and some that we helped to understand the system for working the machines.  A beautifully equipped shop with everything in good working order.  The rain had only been now and then light sprinkles so far.

Back to the apartment to put away the laundry and then out the door to the Seine River for a cruise on the Batobus; our annual passes will expire soon.  We had to wait about half an hour for the next boat  but enjoyed the time on the Quai as we admired the stately building that we live behind.  Took a snapshot of the front along with the little passage that we can take as a shortcut.

We'd planned to ride the full circle and then get off the second time we passed Notre Dame.  But just before we arrived at Notre Dame there was a tragic event on our very crowded boat.   A small boy, probably about six years old and seated directly across from us, had a seizure of some kind and stopped breathing.   The mother was scream for help and the father was working with the child.  Help arrived and we followed instructions and moved to the rear of the boat to give them room to work with the child.  By the time we arrived at the Notre Dame stop, a trama team had arrived by boat and were assisting those qualified to help who happened to be on our boat.  Soon there were police in boats pulling along side our boat also.  We're not sure what happened or what the final outcome was but at the time the father carried the child off of the boat and up to the street for the ambulance, he was still very quietly lying in his fathers arms in a blanket someone had provided.  Makes one count their blessings.  Remember him in your prayers tonight. 

We decided to get off the boat on the right bank as it stopped very near Notre Dame and the Hotel de Ville.  I wanted to see if they have the traditional ice skating rink this year.  Sure enough...there it was along with some massive decorations.  People were standing in line to have an opportunity to skate on the large...but very wet due to the rink.  We enjoyed snapping some photos and then headed across the bridge to Notre Dame.

A short line to enter so we went inside where a Mass was in progress.  We did find the very modern nativity scene and also the more traditional one.   Lots of people so we didn't stay long.  We plan to attend Mass here in January after the tourist return home.

After snapping some photos of the Christmas tree in front of the church we walked across the bridge to the left bank and started back to our apartment.  It was after six o'clock by now and the rain was coming down more often and harder; but still we didn't always need the umbrellas.  We are about a fifteen minute the most....from Notre Dame.   Along the way Jim said that if Quai 21 was open early he'd like to stop there and have dinner.  Wow...our first meal in a restaurant on the trip.  Quai 21 was's a small restaurant just past St. Michel...and we stopped for a delicious dinner. 

We were home by 8 pm and have enjoyed a quiet evening as the rain continues to come down.  We have neighbors next door for the first time...the walls are thinner than we thought.  But the upstairs people seem to be quieter...I guess one gets accustomed to noises in apartments. 

Hope you enjoy the slide show:  

Thursday, December 26, 2013


 Ah Paris....a phrase that Jim came up with as we were talking about the difficult times when we start to get on each other's nerves as we were walking along the crowded and pushing streets of Paris heading to the large department stores to see their windows.   Ah...Paris....I repeated and we decided that it would be a good catch phrase to let each other know when it was time to step back! 

Our day started about noon after a late breakfast/lunch.  We seem to only eat two meals a day which works out nicely for our waistlines and the checkbook!   About one o'clock I walked two blocks to check out the closest laundromat; it's just before our closest grocery store but on the opposite side of the street so we hadn't noticed it but found it on the Internet.  On the way I stopped to take a photo of our pedestrian/bicycle street that we take to the church and our closest Metro Station; we see the bell tower of the church all the way there.  Then I snapped photos of many of the art galeries that are on our street and a final photo at our front door of the Institute of France that sits at the end of our street on the Seine River. 

At two o'clock we dressed warmly, the sun was shining brightly but it was still cold outside, and walked to the Metro Station.  One change and we were at the Place de la Concorde. 
From there we walked to the Madeline Church, stopping along the way to enter the Galerie Royal for store decorations and a view of the Maxims that is closed for renovations along with the Ritz Hotel.

Headed west we were looking for the art galerie where Maeliss' cousin works; she and Jim had a wonderful conversation on the train home yesterday afternoon.   Not always an easy task as the streets often change names every few blocks but we managed and unfortunately it was closed.  But we enjoyed the challange.  Walking east we passed a new church for us called St. Augustin; very large and impressive on the outside we may return to see the inside on another day.  We passed the Parc du Louie XVI that has the mass graves from the Revolution.

The first store that we saw was Printemps, the windows were fantastic and we took time to go into the store for a quick stop for me and to enjoy the inside Christmas decorations.  Outside we waded through the crowds of shoppers and families with children who were using the special platforms built for them in front of many of the windows.

Soon we saw the Garnier Opera and behind it the Galeries main objective for the day!  I've opened my slideshow with my favorite photo of the huge tree that sits under the stained glass dome in the center of the main store.  The windows again were amazing.  I have to go back another day late at night when the children are in bed.  You can't get near them during the day!

But what a fun day as we climbed the escalators to the rooftop to see the views of Paris again.    Down again and off to the front of the Opera House before slowly walking south towards the Seine River and Place Vendome.  We were walking slowly because it was still not dark enough to really get the full effect of the Christmas Lights that illuminate the street from the Opera House to the Place Vendome and beyond.   We loved watching the policemen on their roller blade skates giving them the ability to quickly move from one area to another.  This area is known for very expensive stores! 

Soon it was dark enough for some good photos and then we walked all the way to Rue de Rivoli and then west to the Place de la Concorde.  There we got in line for a short wait to ride the huge Ferris Wheel next to the Obelisk with fabulous views of the blue white and red lights on the Avenue des Champs Elysees.  We also enjoyed the sparkling strobe lights at six o'clock on the Eiffel Tower while we waited in line for our ride. 

Back to the Metro and home by seven o'clock.  We enjoyed making our dinner at home this evening. We had lasagna, ham, cheese, bread with olive pesto, wine and dessert of creme brulee.  What more could you want...maybe those couple of pieces of chocolate we enjoyed with our second glass of wine after dinner. 

Hope you enjoy the slideshow:  

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Day Dinner in France

We were invited to attend a family Christmas dinner in a village about half an hour outside of Paris today.   Our friends, Nicolas and Maeliss and Maeliss' parents provided a truly unique experience for us by asking us to join their extended family for their Joyeux Noel celebration.

We walked to the Metro about 10:30 am in clear and dry weather.  Two hours later we were met at the station by car and transported to Maeliss' parents home; a beautiful home created from a very old barn over the past twenty years with much love and vision.  They'd just finished building a new home in the same village when they both fell in love with this property and the possibilities they could see in it's structure.  What a remarkable transformation we could see as we viewed the before and after photos later in the afternoon.

The children were fed early, and a beautiful white Golden Retriever wandered among us as we enjoyed the champagne and appetizers upstairs before going down into the family dining room for the main meal.  This was originally used to milk the cows and has walls that are nearly three feet thick; a cave shaped rounded ceiling stone room that is very reminiscent of the underground buildings in Paris.  The rings used to tethered the cows are still on the wall. 

Nearly two hours later we finished the cheese course with tangerines and a final toast with Champagne before heading upstairs with the children who'd finished their naps for opening the gifts that surrounded the Christmas Tree.   Many homemade gifts along with cookies, candies, jams and other yummy gifts.  We were unexpectedly included with gifts from several of the family members much to our surprise. 

Soon it was time to head for the train station.  We sat with cousins for the ride back into the city before we split and each went our own way when we reached the Metro Lines.  We arrived back in our apartment shortly before the rain started.  A good reason to enjoy the remainder of the evening at home.  Hope you enjoy the little slideshow: 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas Everyone

It's nearly time to turn out the lights.  We've had a quiet Christmas Eve Day here in Paris.  It's rained all day and we took advantage of the down time and read some books.  We did venture out in the afternoon for some grocery shopping as we figure they will be closed for the next two days.

About 6 pm we walked with umbrellas to our neighborhood church:  St. Germain des Pres; a five minute walk from the apartment.  The only seats left when we arrived were being saved for people; but we did manage to find two of the "kneeler" in the very back to sit on.  Better than standing!  It was a beautiful Mass but we could only listen as we could not see the Altar from where we were seated.

A slow walk home, finished making phone calls to all the children at home and now to bed....

Merry Christmas to all

PS:  Surprise call today from Citibank....someone cloned my credit card...oh well..always something.  Here's a little slideshow of the church...  

Monday, December 23, 2013

Our trip up the Eiffel Tower at night

The 22nd of December was a long and very special day that started early in the morning and ended just after midnight when we returned my for our 10:30 pn appointment to ride the elevator up to the second level of the Eiffel Tower,  It was raining off and on all day but we managed to walk nearly everywhere we wanted to go.

About two pm we walked to Notre Dame to see the large Christmas Tree out in front.  The scaffolding  that had stood in front of the church all year for the 850th celebration was gone and the area was wide open to everyone.  The lines were long to enter so we decided to wait until another tine,  Walk over to Shakespeare & Company to verify that they were having the Sunday Tea Party today that starts at 4 pm; then over to the I'lse St. Louis enjoying the Christmas trees on the bridge connecting the two islands in the Seine River.

Purchased some slippers for me and a hat for Jim  before returning to the left bank and our Tea Party at Shakespeare and Company,  We were early so found seats along the wall.  When the hostess Panmelys entered she immediately said that she remembered me from September and asked if I'd brought Mary's poem with me to read!  She looked at Jim and told him that she knew all about him.
Don't remember if I gave her a card with information on our blogspots.  Lots of fun for the next two hours.  The room was full and Jim read a Sonnet 156 of Will Skakespeare; a favorite of his since college days.  We had people from all over the world; mostly young but several oldsters also.

About 5:30 pm we left for home; the rain had stopped so we walked; it takes us about fifteen minutes; from the apartment to Notre Dame.  There we fixed a festive dinner and did some housekeeping chores before heading off to the Metro station about 8:30 pm.  We were prepared for rain but didn't have any until later in the evening.  We'd decided to ride all the way to the Trocadsero Station and enjoy the views of the Eiffel Tower before walking across the bridge for our scheduled elevator ride.

Sorry to say the Christmas Market that surround the whole area was already closed...Sunday night and rain!   After taking lots of photos we walked down to the bridge that crosses the Seine River.  There we took more photos and a man stopped and asked it he could take a joint photo of both of us.  French people are so nice!

Soon we were over at the entrance; no we could not go up any earlier, and it's lightly raining.  So we spent some time in the shop and soon it was time to get in line.  The rain had stopped and the wait was short so by 11 pm we were on the second level.  The views were crystal clear and no rain.  We decided not to go to the third level.  This was Jim's first trip up at night and he really enjoyed the evening.

Had to wait in line to get the elevator down and then the long walk to the Metro Station. was midnight by the time we arrived home.  Our five minute walk from the Metro Station was in dry weather.  Made a few phone calls, took showers and headed to bed before 1 am.

I woke during the night to an upset stomach and ended up spending the day in bed today.  Not sure why but maybe I just needed a day off.   Jim went out this afternoon and visited the neighborhood art galleries this afternoon.  It's now 9 pm and I'm feeling much better but staying with water and toast until tomorrow.   Some of you had noticed that some of my photos of lights are sparking and a few show snow falling.  Not sure why or how but I do love the special effects.

Also...if you've check on the website for you'll see me in two brief interviews about the Jours de Fete....   Hope you enjoy the slideshow below: 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas Lights around the Louvre Musee

Good morning world!  Its about 40 degrees outside, not yet light and about 8:20 am on December 22nd here in Paris.  We're expecting light rain today.  In another 40 minutes is will be December 22nd in California in the USA and I will officially be 75 years old!

My wish for my 75th year was to spend it living in Europe.  I didn't quite make that but I did manage to travel nearly six months of the year; so yes, I feel that I got my wish fulfilled in spades!

Yesterday began about 9 am when I awoke and wrote my blog about Friday.  I wake about two hours before Jim each day and have found that it's best to go to bed after downloading my photos and putting something on Facebook and then writing my blog the next morning.
  I'm wrapped in a warm and fuzzy black blanket that I found on the closet shelf; not a robe but works just as well while I wait for the heater to warm up our apartment.  As I promised yesterday, the first few photos of the slideshow are about our couch/bed; so easy to make each morning and evening.

It was nearly noon yesterday when Jim started his day; we had a very late breakfast that also was our lunch.  Then I walked to the Carrfour Grocery store just two long blocks away for things that we needed and a restocking of some of the food.  We've decided to really do this right and eat ninety percent of our meals here in the apartment.  We enjoy cooking together and it certainly is much cheaper than dining out in restaurants.

Jim was enjoying his day in the apartment when I returned so after putting things away I was off again; this time to the Metro Station on St. Germain .   I've located a diagonal street that takes me to the church of St. Germain Des Pres in less than five minutes and the Metro Station is just across the street.  From there I can connect to anywhere in the city.  We will also be able to catch the bus by walking only half a block to the Quai Voltaire; I just have to locate the bus stop and figure out what bus goes where.  Our Naviago Pass will work for either Metro or Bus and is only 18.90 euros a week.

Today I used a Metro ticket as our pass is not valid until Monday and went three stops to the Montparnasse stop to shop at the Galeries Lafayette; a smaller store but much closer than the one over behind the Opera House.  I had some Christmas shopping to do.  The stores were gaily decked out in Christmas decoration and I enjoyed taking photos as much as the shopping.  The streets were crowded with shoppers and the air had a festive ring to it!  The sun is not shining as much today but it is dry and overcast.

Returned on the Metro using the same ticket as it's good for a limited time to allow you to transfer between lines.  Walked over to the church to check on the Mass times for tonight and enjoyed the Christmas Market set up all around the church.
The same little white wooden houses like we saw on the Champs Elysee yesterday.  The church is directly across the street from the three coffee shops made famous by Hemingway and his fellow writers in the early 1900's:  Les Deux Magots, Brasserie Lipp and Cafe de Flores.   My plan is to have coffee at each of these at least once in the next thirty days.

Soon I was back at the apartment and we fixed an early dinner about 5:30 pm.  By six o'clock we were out the door and off to see the lights and market around the church of Saint Germain des Pres before attending the seven o'clock Mass in the beautiful and very old church.  This church is one of the oldest buildings in the city of Paris.  Built in the first century it is full of history. 
They are in the process of building a fund to do badly needed extensive renovations in the next few years; but it is still a beautiful church inside and out and in our neighborhood.  Paris is full of Catholic Churches and we have so many choices but I think we'll probably attend this one most of the time.

Leaving church we headed back to the apartment for more layers of clothes before walking out to the river and across the bridge into the courtyard of the Louvre.  There we enjoyed the glass pyramid and took turns climbing up on a stone "stool" for photos touching the top of the pyramid; a foolish thing to do at our age as we could have easily fallen getting up and down but we managed to accomplish our goal without injury!

Walking through the archway under the building we were able to view the inside of the museum
through a large window and also enjoy a woman who was playing her violin to earn a few coins; soon we arrived on Rue de Rivoli for the lights on the Louvre Hotel and other buildings.  A short walk west brought us to the entrance to the Carrousel Mall; the underground shopping center that also leads you to an underground entrance to the Louvre.  There is where we found the halls and stores decorated for Christmas; and I love taking photos of the inverted pyramid when the room is empty at night.   

Back on the street we walked back through the passageway to the center courtyard and continued over to the empty area in front of the Arc du Triomphe Carrousel; built after the
Revolution when a section of the Louvre was destroyed and opened this area to the Tulleries Gardens.  There we took photos showing the direct line of the three Arc du Triomphe plus the obelisk on the Place De La Concorde.  And for the holidays, the huge Ferris Wheel that sits at the edge of the Tulleries in front of the obelisk.   Suddenly we saw the lights start to flash on the Eiffel Tower and realized that it was nine o'clock!  I took a video and later posted it on Facebook.  Hope you had a chance to see the magical flashing lights that happen every hour for five minutes.

Soon we were headed back to the left bank and a different way home; not as direct as we thought as the streets twist and turn so one is never quite sure where you are.
Finally we checked the map and saw that we were only one block from our street; but the good news is that we saw many more Christmas decorations on stores on our route home.

By ten we were inside and finally warm again; it's in the thirties at night and our thin California blood cools fast!  Enjoyed hot chocolate and candy for dessert while we watched the Museum show on television that has Jim chomping at the bit to find out how he can get this channel at home!  Before we knew it the clock had whizzed to nearly midnight before we were tucked into bed for the night.

Hope you enjoy the slideshow of Christmas decorations in this City of Lights!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Serindipity Day in Paris

The morning started early for me when the alarm went off at 8:45 am...they were delivering the cover for our duvet at 9 am!  Jim continued to sleep until 11 am while I sent out my first blog on the Internet.   Our apartment is very comfortable and the couch is very easy to make into a bed; one only pulls on a strap and out it comes without removing the cushions!  So, yes, we turn it back into a couch each morning.  I'll take a photo today and show you on the next blog.

After a late breakfast we ventured out into the streets; it was cold but the sun was shining brilliantly and it was a beautiful winter day in Paris. 
We walked along the Seine River, stopping to browse the market stalls that were open, all the way to the d'Orsay Museum.   During one photo stop a slightly built young girl stopped us to ask if a large gold ring she picked up off the ground was ours.  No...and as she continued to talk to us I finally accepted the ring??   Jim knew better.  Within a few seconds she turned and asked for money...ah ha...a gypsy!   I gave her back the ring and she continued to ask for money.  We walked away and I continued to take photos of the river; suddenly I turned and snapped a photo of her!  Oops...she didn't like that and started yelling at me to erase the photo.  I ignored her and we walked away; she followed us for blocks but we ignored her.  Enjoy her photo in the slideshow and beware of large gold rings!

Soon we were at the Batobus Stop where we approached the clerk in the booth.  We'd purchased season tickets last August knowing we'd be back in December.  They were half price then so for 30 euros we had a season pass good until December 31st.  The fare is 15 euros a day.  A good bargain except that I was unable to find where I had carefully stored mine along with my Metro Naviago Card while I went to Israel!  Jim had his cards and I found the receipt for the purchase that I brought with me.   At first the clerk looked at us like we were "crazy" but after very polite conversation he made some calls and sure enough; he reissued my card!  We have eleven days to ride the boat up and down the river.  

Climbed on the next boat and rode it to the end before it turns around just before the Pont d'Austerlitz.   There we departed and walked over to the Gare de Lyon and purchased a new Naviago card for me and then added time to both my new one and Jim's old one.  The cards are good for Monday to Monday so we also purchased some Metro tickets to use until Monday.   Several of the Christmas photos are of trees and decorations in the train station.
Everywhere we look there are festive decorations in this City of Light! 

With our housekeeping chores done we walked back to the Batobus stop and climbed aboard the next bus for the return trip to our apartment.  This time we passed the Isle de la Cite on the right side with stops at several of the more popular stops.  Soon we were back at the Eiffel Tower and turned around to repeat the route.  It was already sunset and the sky was full of "trails" from several jets that were putting on a show in the sky over the Eiffel Tower; there are several of the many photos that I took here in the slideshow.

We were soon at the stop for St. Germain and we hopped off; we are less than one block from the river at this point.  As I mentioned before; rue de Seine is wall to wall Artist Shops or as Jim museums.   A very narrow street that after about six blocks crosses the busy street of St. Germain that is full of wonderful and expensive stores. 

By this time it was dark and we hurried into our apartment and fixed an early dinner; made telephone
calls and then put on more layers of clothes before heading back out into the night.  In the winter the Batobus starts its last run from the Eiffel Tower at 7 pm; we caught this run as it came back to our stop.  We enjoyed the lights at night as we passed Notre Dame and on to the turn around point again before heading west on the river.  Our plan was to depart the boat at the stop for Plac de la Concorde.  But we were busy taking photos and missed that stop and got off at the next one that takes you to the Champ Elysee.   We were at the Grand Palais and it was full of red lights.

Suddenly we realized that something was in the grand exhibit hall under the huge glass dome; in twenty one years of coming to Paris we've never seen anything in this part of the Grand Palais!
  We discovered that it was open and for only 15 euros each we entered the building!   Wow!  A carnival inside including a giant Ferris wheel!   All the rides were included in the entry fee!   We first rode the Ferris wheel round and round with fabulous views from the top.   Then over to the tiny roller coaster than Jim agreed to ride with me; he was a bit sorry when we was little but mighty!   Then to the swings that eventually are straight out from the center but a gentle ride.  Then over to the loop de loop....I did this one by myself!   Over and over we went with two young French girls!  It was a fabulous ride and when we departed we were interviewed.  Apparently this will be featured on their website in a few days.  Not sure what they will use as I was so excited about the ride and really didn't realize what I was doing until they asked me to sign a release document so they can use the interview on their website!  Crazy old American woman!   Oh well...we'll see what they show.  You can probably see it also by checking out the website:

And the night was still young as we finished looking at everything and then walked out into the brisk night air and headed towards the Champs Elysee.  There we marveled at the decor and realized that the "Tours de Fetes" continued along the boulevard from the Arc de Troimphe to the large Ferris Wheel right next to the obelisk at the plac de Concorde.  We walked the length of it past all the little wooden buildings that were full of things to eat and/or purchase; everything you could think of was being sold here.  At the Ferris Wheel we decided to call it a night and walked over to the left side of the Seine River and then home past the d'Orsay Museum to our apartment.  It was nearly 11 pm by the time we arrived home. 

Hot chocolate with some dessert while we checked the Internet and made a few phone calls home before showers and to bed after a very serendipity day.   It's now about 10 am and Jim is still soundly asleep.   Our neighbor upstairs arrived home about 4 am; the floors are thin but they were in bed soon after they arrived home.   Soon we will begin another day full of unplanned adventures!

Hope you enjoy the slideshow...

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christmas in Paris 2013

Yes, we're off on another adventure:  A month in Paris that will include both of our birthdays, Christmas and New Years Eve.  Plus another couple of weeks to just enjoy our favorite city!

Plans were made six months ago and we're finally here.  We left on Tuesday afternoon from LAX.  
The journey began with a short trip from 4:15 pm to Phoenix on one of those "puddle jumpers" as we like to call them.  The overhead baggage storage was so small, none of our carryon bags would fit so we had to stuff them under the seat in front of us and hid one under my legs; actually, Jim's backpack did fit and we put our heavy coats up there also.  This Christmas tree was at LAX with a train circling on the overhead rails.

The flight from Phoenix was delayed for nearly an hour but they made that time up on the way to London.  Jim and I both took sleeping pills and slept six hours during the flight.  But there was another plane at the docking port and we waited on the tarmac for nearly an hour.  By the time we arrived inside the terminal we'd missed our connection for our flight to Paris.  British Air did a good job of getting us on another flight at 8 pm.  They also called Paris for us so that we could talk to the apartment management company to rearrange our checkin for the apartment.

We used the twenty pound vouchers from BA for some food and settled in for the four hour wait for our flight.   Not sure why but I'd packed an English adapter plug in my carryon luggage; I must have had a premonition that I would spend some hours in England.  These two trees are from Heathrow.

By the time we boarded...another "puddle jumper" it was raining pretty good.  Managed to get both roller bags in the overhead but still had backpacks under our feet because there was not a seat to spare and the bins were full.  We were second from the back and did not enjoy the rock and roll take off and then landing in stormy weather; but happy to arrive in Paris at 10:30 pm. 
Skies were clear but very windy in Paris and cold.  We'd arranged a driver  because of the late arrival...5:30 pm...but he was still there waiting for us when we arrived.  Best money I've ever spent.  Can't imagine getting on the metro at 11 pm with luggage.

He gave us a wonderful tour of the highlights of the Christmas lights as we traveled into and across Paris to our apartment in the sixth arrondissement.   He'd also called the lady who was meeting us from the management company and she was at the apartment and would wait for us.  The French are wonderful people.  We'd been told that 11 pm was the absolute latest you could check in.  It was nearly 1 am by the time we finished everything and she was out the door!  By this time it had started to rain.  We unpacked and tucked into bed by 2 am.  Took sleeping pills and woke at noon on Thursday.

About 2 pm we headed out the door for the telephone shop to add time to our French cell phones and then to the Carefour Grocery Store to stock our kitchen. 
We ate a late lunch after returning and then about six pm we headed out for a walk.  We are about a block from the Seine River on the left bank.   We continued walking for about six blocks to the d'Orsey Museum before turning around and returning to the apartment.  It was dry but cold outside.

Jim fixed a wonderful pasta dinner in our kitchen, I did the clean-up and then we've just been relaxing and enjoying the evening.  The Internet wifi is excellent and Jim has got more channels than ever before in hotels and/or apartments.  And, our street is full of art galleries!   It's going to be a lovely time in Paris.

No slideshow tonight, just a few photos in the story for you.  I may not post every day but will probably post several times a week at least.   I hope you enjoy our final trip for 2013.

Changed my mind, is a slide show:


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Stations of the Cross in Old Jerusalem Day 11: November 13, 2013

Our day began very early; 5:15 am on the bus for a short drive to the old city where we walked through the Gate of Herrod.   As we rode in the bus we listened to Steve read the Passion for Palm Sunday.   Entering the city we walked uphill for most of the way on stone streets with dark corners using our flashlight.
We prayerfully followed the Via Dolorosa, the Stations of the Cross, through the old city to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher which houses the tomb of our Lord.  We stopped at each Station to pray the prayers and ask for God’s mercy as we recalled his painful journey to Golgotha. 
There we went up a series of steep marble steps to the upper floor where we were able to spend a moment at the Altar over the spot on the hill known as Golgotha, the place of the skull, where Christ was crucified on the cross.  Kneeling down we reached down about a foot through a small hole in the floor until we touched the rock. 
Then we proceed to a chapel beside the Altar where we celebrated Mass with Father Paw and all three deacons.  It was an extremely emotional experience for all of us; hardly a dry eye in the room. 
From there we walked back down the stairs to pray at the slab of marble where Jesus’ body was prepared for burial after he was taken down from the cross.  We saw a portion of the pillar where Jesus was tied and whipped that has been moved inside this church to preserve it.   We also saw through a window the lower portion of the hill of Golgotha showing the crack that split the hill at the time he died and allowed him to reach down into the earth and pull up the skull of Adam who was buried here. 
But the main visit was in the tomb of Jesus.  We stood in a long line for over half an hour to enter this sacred space.   We first entered the entrance cave that has the last remaining piece of the rock that was rolled in front of the cave and then removed by the angels. 
In the second portion of the cave we were able to touch the slab that held the body of Jesus Christ from Friday sundown until Easter Sunday when he was resurrected.  It’s hard to envision the emotions that flowed though each of us during this nearly four hour journey along the agony of our Lord Jesus Christ. 
It was 9 am by the time we walked through Jaffa Gate to our waiting bus.  Our legs ached from standing, climbing and walking on the marble streets of Old Jerusalem.  There were no places to rest and most of the time we were walking slightly uphill; in the dark at the beginning.   
Back to the hotel for a late breakfast and then time to rest and pack our bags.  At noon we all convened in the lobby where we split into two groups; one stayed at the hotel for rest, computer and/or card games. 
The other group went back to the Old City; some walked part of the wall and then shopped.  Another group walked back to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and spent three hours there exploring the rest of the church.  Many Christian sects have chapels in this mammoth church that was built by the Crusaders so many years ago.
By four o’clock we were all together again on the bus and off to the Ambassador Hotel for another four hours during which we will have our farewell dinner.  Our luggage is already on the bus for our forty-five minute drive to the International airport in Tel Aviv.  Our flight leaves from there tonight; or should I say early morning as its 1:10 am when we expect to depart.
A sixteen hour flight will take us to LAX in California; arriving about 6:40 am.  Then a bus ride to home; hopefully well rested after a good night’s sleep on the airplane.  I hope that you’ve enjoyed sharing our pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  It was an unexpected growth experience for me and I think many of the others also.  I have a desire to learn more about the Bible after this trip.
I hope you enjoy the slideshow: