Sunday, May 24, 2015

europe trip 2014, day 11.

The Marais: 1
The Krauses: 1

We are back to conquer the Marais! This is our last full day and we wanted to get as much done before our departure. First, we went to the Carnavalet Museum, and it was just amazing. This museum was free, there were no lines to fight, the collection was entertaining, and the museum itself was beautiful. For those not wanting to spend a day or two at the Louvre just trying to stick your head through the crowd to get a peek at a painting, check this one out.

“Behind this somewhat mysterious name is hidden one of the capital’s most genuinely Parisian museums. The oldest of the municipal museums tells the story of Paris from a bygone era (a prehistoric dugout canoe dating from 4600 BC) to the present day, in all its immense variety. Although it is essentially a history museum, the musée Carnavalet is nevertheless an art gallery exhibiting mostly original works in keeping with the spirit of the genius of Paris.”

We also lucked out and caught the Paris Freed, Paris Photographed, Paris Exhibited” exhibition, which documented the Paris resistance and liberation by the French armored division and Allies.  It might sound odd, but it is actually an exhibit celebrating an exhibit that was commissioned just a couple of months after the liberation of Paris. The goal was to assemble as much information as possible regarding the liberation, and the emotions surrounding the event. There were pictures and videos that ripped our hearts out, but also showed us the spirit of the Parisians through an extremely difficult time.   Mere hung in there like a champ, and even enjoyed the temporary exhibit. 

Notre-Dame de Paris Model

If I ever have to get a wheelchair...this is it.

After such an emotional couple of hours, it was time for Les Café des Chats. How could your spirits not be lifted with baguettes, cheese, and furballs? While a café with a bunch of cats hanging out might freak some people out, cat lovers think it is awesome. The staff was friendly, the cats were cute, and we even had one beggar watch us eat our meal…just like our cats would do. 

Our lunch surveyor

Next, we hiked it from the Marais all the way to the Musee d’Orsay. By the time we got there, it was already started to get close to closing time, so we had to make it quick. We saw the Monets, the Van Goghs, the Renoirs, and some really cool Art Nouveau furniture. It was worth the visit, but I wish we had more time to take it all in. 

More Invader sightings

The real Notre-Dame on our walk to Musee d"Orsay
We left the museum as it was closing and headed back towards Saint Germain to find a drink (of few) before dinner. While doing some people watching at a sidewalk bar, we decided our dinner plans. Being our last night in Paris, we picked up some sandwiches at Cosi and walked to the Eiffel. Eating dinner on the lawn was perfect. It doesn't get more romantic being there at night with the tower lit up, and the sparkling each hour. 

Shout out to my brother in law, Hank!

Views from our dinner spot.

Friday, May 8, 2015

europe trip 2014, day 10.

The Marais: 1
The Krauses: 0

Enter the Marais Death March

This is the story of our lost day in Paris. We took it slow this morning, partly because I was pretty beat from all the travel, but probably more due to our stubbornness about walking everywhere so far in Paris. Meredith went off and had her Carrie Bradshaw moment on the Champs-Elysees, while I was doing some research on our plan for the day. Being a Monday, I figured everything would be open. That turned out to be a silly mistake. We finally took a subway to the Marais. As we rose from the dark depths onto the sunny street, I was turned around. First, I head us in the wrong direction (which never happens no matter what Mere says). We get back on track, but I got my museums mixed up and took us to the one I didn't want to see. That one is on me. Then, I decided to take her by Pretty Box, which is a cool store I thought she would love. It was cool for sure, but small and over priced for our taste. Next, I head us to the Carnavalet museum. This was my crown jewel. It's free, and it promised many paintings and antiques that sparked my interest. We arrive at the destination, me beaming, and Mere not looking forward to being in another museum. Bad news, it's closed on Monday. Son of a Marais! Aha, the day is not all lost. There is the cat cafe just down the block. How could we sweat a waste of 4 hours while hanging out with cats and drinking coffee? Not this couple. Somehow, I managed to probably triple the distance of our walk. I am blaming this on the Bermuda Triangle that is the Marais....definitely not my fault. We arrive, ready to pet as many cats as they will let us. Bad news strikes us down, and we basically cry in the streets. In a scheme with the museum, they are also closed on Mondays. At this point, I park Meredith at a cafe to take a break from my failures, and I check out the Centre George Pompidou. I dared not to go in for fear that I would get stuck (or lost) and leave Meredith much longer than anticipated. I took a bunch of pictures, and hung out for a bit by the Fountaine Stravinsky checking out the street art. Not appreciated by all, I still think the Pompidou is a fascinating building.

Kate Moss sighting

We decided to go back to Saint Germain, the savior of our day. We found a nice little side walk cafe and had a few drinks to drown our sorrows. I even let Mere purchase some cigarettes so that we could fight fire with fire coming from the surrounding tables. Neither of us are smokers, but when in Paris! That might be a true saying. We probably spent a few hours at that table, just people watching and talking about our trip. It ended up turning into a fun night, and that was much needed. We vowed to scrap our next day plans and battle the Marais again. We will win next time.  At least we were rewarded with this view on our walk back to the hotel.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

europe trip 2014, day 8 and 9.

While we wanted more time to stay and explore in Montreux, how could we not be excited about heading to Paris?! Again, we woke up early to make our train to Geneva. Once in Geneva, we then boarded a TGV to Paris. There was only a small hiccup when I couldn’t find the car numbers and sat us in the wrong car. Other than that, the ride on the TGV was awesome, smooth, and had great service. I think Meredith slept most of the way, but my eyes were glued to the green country side and my excitement only grew once the view turned into dense cityscape.

Paris Gare de Lyon

This pic is blurry and Mere hates it, but I love it :)

First thing is first, there is a little beer joint that we hit right out of the station to toast our arrival. Express de Lyon is a pretty typical looking beer joint, but their fair prices and awesome beer selection was a hit. After that, we hopped on a bus to take us to the 8th Arrondissement. That went easier than expected, but I did get off one stop early….so we had a bit of a walk. Again, thank heavens we had just our carryon luggage. We checked in to Hotel Le A, and cooled off for a bit. The hotel was just perfect for us. Cool style, nice bar, a great breakfast set up, and a friendly staff.

Our room number

Breakfast area



I bet you can guess what we did first. We probably aren’t the first, but we wanted to see the Eifel Tower. On the way there, we were a little distracted by the Champs-Elysees. Our stops included my Mom’s favorite, Laduree for macarons, then Sephora for Mere.  We finally made our way down Avenue George V to see the Flamme de la Liberte, which also gave us our first view of the tower. It’s such a cool feeling to see it in person for the first time. We have learned about it, see it in movies, famous pictures, and then it is right there in front of you. It’s just iconic.

Sephora, Champs-Elysee

How could we not get any?!

I spy.

Flamme de la Liberte

After hanging out for a bit, we decided to head back towards the hotel and find something to eat. We took it a bit slow up Avenue Montaigne, so Mere could take in the Hotel Plaza Athenee. She was a big Sex and the City fan, so obviously the hotel was cool for her to see. I was starting to get hangry, and for some reason we unfortunately hit a strange hour for dining in Paris. A bunch of the restaurants were not open yet, so we just picked a random sidewalk café nearby. We enjoyed a charcuterie board and a cheese plate, but I honestly couldn't tell you the name of the place.

the Hangry dinner

The next morning we got up and had breakfast at the hotel. My Mom set us up with a driving tour, which gave us a cool quick way to see a bunch of Paris and get a feel for the layout. I would highly suggest something like this, as it can give you an idea on which areas might be for you. If I sat here and talked about each place we saw, you would shoot me, so here is a quick list.

L’Arc de Triomphe, Grand Palais, Place de la Concorde, Place Vendome, Palais Royal, Palais Garnier, Musee de Louvre, Ponte des Arts, Notre-Dame, and even up to Sacre-Coeur to see the full view of Paris.

Phew. It was a bit overwhelming, and we feel as if we forgot half of what we saw, but it was still so worth it. Kind of a funny story, but our driver took us through an area of Montmartre where cars are not allowed on Saturdays. We actually got stopped by the cops, but he played dumb and they let us continue. When we finally got through the crowds at Sacre-Coeur, the car stalled. Half of the crowd was not too pleased with us driving through the closed area, but a group pushed the car until our driver could get it started. Disaster averted.

During the drive, we really liked the Saint Germain area and planned on going there for the rest of the day. Being big football fans, we also wanted to try and see a little bit of opening weekend (I am a bit embarrassed that we were worried about watching football while being in Paris, but so be it). Mere and I were actually up against each other in fantasy football too, which made it a bit more important. We came across one bar that had two games on, and had a beer there, but kept on searching for one with the Houston Texans. Not far down the row, we found a bar that had the Texans vs. Redskins game, but it was so packed we could hardly move. On to the next spot, we found a British pub (The Frog and Princess) which at least had the Redzone channel, and more importantly, ample seating. This is where we spent the majority of the night. It was trivia night, which we played and lost a close game to some cheaters using their cellphones. Not bitter. It ended up being a very fun evening, even if it was watching some football. 

Spotted some famous Parisian graffiti

Name that street artist! 

Pont des Arts

Gotta check the fantasy football score


 Eifel on the walk back to the hotel