Thursday, June 30, 2016

European Vacation pt. 4 - Birthday Edition!

We're in PARIS!! We only had 2 full days in Paris and we definitely packed them full of sightseeing.

Did you miss Recap one, two and three? Click on the links to catch up.

Before we went to sleep I had to grab a picture of the view from our balcony. 

Like I mentioned, our first full day in Paris was my birthday! I wasn't (and still am not) terribly pleased with the number, but hey, might as well enjoy it.

We headed over to a cafe for a little French breakfast. I wish I could remember the name, it was pretty famous though. It was also the one place where we were frisked before entering.

You can frisk me all day long for that croissant.

I made Kev get up and out early because we had big plans for the day. First stop, the LOUVRE!

Yes, the first thing I wanted to do on my birthday was visit a museum.

I could have spent hours and hours in there. Kev was appreciative but after a few hours he was more than ready to go. Our experience at the Louvre was a little different than most. Not only was it November 26th and the off season, but tourism hadn't rebounded after the attacks, so the lines were considerably shorter. We didn't have to wait to see anything. There were a few tour groups there but nothing like what I imagine it must be like on a normal day.

So fricking excited.

I'm going to show a bunch of pictures from inside the Louvre. Some pieces I remember the names of, some I don't and the rest are just really cool architecture. 

This was in the section with Greek/Roman statues. The view when you entered the hall was spectacular. 

Love the vaults

Winged Victory of Samothrace - Goddess Nike

Even the ceilings were spectacular

Just me and Venus de Milo, no biggie.

There she is without me

This was in the hall of Greek statues and I thought it was pretty cool. I assumed it was Salome with the head of John the Baptist, because that's what most artistic depictions of  women holding severed heads are, but this one wasn't. I remember thinking, "Huh, not Salome, interesting." But who it actually is, I can't remember.

This is famous and in like every Art History book.

So is this one. 
There was a very passionate student talking about the meaning of this painting and what it represents. Youth and old age, the path of life represented in the garden pictured in the window. I had a flashback to me before I became all jaded and went into sales. Really though, art history is all sales. If you can convince someone that your interpretation of something is the best, you're awesome and successful.

I was most surprised by the sheer size of some of the pieces. When you study them, everything is the same size. It's crazy when you see they aren't.

I knew the Mona Lisa was super small, but I had no idea how small.

Crowd picture for scale.

Yea, this was all the people who were in front of us to get to the barrier. Usually it's packed and getting up front is impossible.

Not for us! Kev insisted that I not take a selfie with the Mona Lisa.

Mona and Kev.

The coronation of Napoleon. Again, super famous.

This chick on a bench (not its real name) by David. I swear I wrote a paper on him once.

Delacroix's "Liberty Leading the People". Super famous and what I always referred to as the Les Miserables painting. 

Do you hear the people sing, singing the songs of angry men. They are the voices of a people who will not be slaves again... Now it's in your head. You're welcome.

A French painter in the Louvre! It doesn't get more French than that.

We were under the glass pyramid and I was thinking about the DaVinci Code. Didn't Tom Hanks crash though this? (Yes, the book was way better)

Sometimes you have something important and artistic to say. Sometimes you just paint two topless chicks tweeking nipples.

Like I said, I could have spent all day in there but when you only have 2 days in Paris, you need to get in as much as you can! So we bid adieu to the Louvre and headed to the next stop.

The Eiffel Tower!
It's much bigger than I expected.

And there's a ball up inside there. It looked more celestial than like a globe. We never did figure out what it was. I even googled "what's the ball all up inside the Eiffel Tower" not surprisingly, it returned 0 results.

In all its glory,

Like the Louvre, the lines were CONSIDERABLY shorter than they would have been at any other time. I heard you can wait 2-3 hours to take the elevator to the top. It took me 30-40 min.

Kev sadly did not go to the top of the tower with me. He took one look at the exposed elevator and was, "nope".

I went up and even with my hatred of heights, it was fine. And SOOOOO worth the trip.


More Paris

The view was AMAZING
I did selfie myself at the top.

The view on the way down, which is why Kev said nope.

We were done at the tower and then it was time to walk back to the hotel and get ready for dinner. 

The Arc de Tromphe! and a sign for Ikea.

Dinner was at a place called Steaking , which is known for its amazing cuts of meat from all around the world.

Fun fact, it's not easy to get a Cosmo in Germany. You have beer, or schnapps. But in Paris, in Paris you get your Cosmo.

We decided to go all out and started with the foie gras. Yes, it's duck liver and we both agreed that it was FANTASTIC.

It would have to be a really good US restaurant for me to order this here.

Kev went with the Wagyu beef and some little potatoes.

If you know me or have read the blog before, what I ordered for my birthday meal won't be much of a surprise.
Steak tartate, frites and another Cosmo.

And a little champagne to end the meal.

I highly recommend Steaking, It was probably one of the top 5 best meals I've ever had. Not quite the best tartare, but really, really close. When you add everything else, top 5 meal.

We staggered out of there and headed back to our hotel, which was on the Champs Elyees. Well, we might have missed the Christmas Market in Munich, but the Paris was up and running!

I learned that the giant Ferris wheel only goes up at Christmas time. We didn't ride it since Kev doesn't do rides, but it certainly was pretty.

The Government building was lit with the colors of the French flag.

The Christmas Market was to DIE for! So many little shops full of Christmas things, food and treats. OMG, the food and treats. It went on for blocks and blocks, on both sides of the road. It's more than worth it to visit Paris at Christmas, for nothing else but the market.

Crepes and hot chocolate!

Smoked fish on an open fire!

Christmas themed animatronic Michael Jackson.

Me, Santa and my new hat.

I was less than thrilled to turn another decade older, but it was a pretty epic day. Paris, the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Christmas Market and Kev and I got to experience it together? It was hella amazing.
Wednesday, June 29, 2016

European Vacation pt. 3

On to the next recap! Here we are, in Germany and we knew we wanted to take a day trip to Salzburg Austria! It's a relatively short train ride, 2-ish hours and how can we not visit Austria when you have a chance? Check out recaps 1 and 2 if you haven't yet!

We had breakfast at the hotel then we walked over to the train station.

We picked up this bit of perfection.

Soon we were pulling into Salzburg! As with everywhere we'd visited, the architecture was beautiful.

I couldn't get a good picture of the paintings on the side of the building, but, it was beautiful.

So pretty.

One of the big stops we wanted to make was Mozart's birthplace, which is also a museum. Kev being a musician, this was a big deal for him, just like me visiting the Louvre (next post!)

You weren't "supposed" to take pictures in the museum, but no one was watching most of the time. 

I loved this picture of all the Mozarts. Mostly because it included a picture of the 1984 movie Amadeus (Tom Hulce)

After spending quite a bit of time in the museum, we grabbed something to eat and looked in the shops and bought some souvenirs. 

Salzburg has a TON of Mozart themed things and Mozart chocolate. OMG. The Mozart chocolate balls are one of my favorite candies. It's chocolate and marzipan and so good. Lindt sells them in the states but they aren't nearly as good as the ones from Austria. 

I didn't know that they also made a chocolate liquor. Kev bought a bottle and he's still sad that we didn't come back with more. 

He didn't even share with me. Then again, chocolate liquor isn't my thing.

Soon it was time to head back to the train and get back to Munich. The city was beautiful at night. I wish I'd gotten more pictures.

The Christmas markets weren't set up in Germany quite yet but the decorations were up in Salzburg! There were plenty of little market stands full of adorable trinkets and food and pretty much everything.

Even Santa likes a nice pretzel.

Before I continue, I need to take a minute to talk about the Haribo overseas. Yes, you can get Haribo in the US. Gummy Bears, peach rings, you can get them all here, but you know what? They SUCK. The Haribo in Scotland was AMAZING and the Haribo in Germany was even better. I don't know what kind of glorious sugar crack they put in there, but sweet heaven it's good.

I enjoyed some peach gummies on the trip back from Austria.

We got back to the hotel and were a little hungry. I don't have a picture of it but we got gyro on a pita from a street vendor and OMG was it good. There's something about street meat in other countries, that's just amazing. One of the best meals I had in Scotland was kebab on a pita. (the Scots aren't known for their culinary delights)

We slept in, had breakfast at the hotel then we had some time to kill before catching the train to Paris. Yep, we were taking a high sped train from Germany to Paris, 6ish hours. So we spent the morning looking in some of the markets and we also were looking for a birthday present for me, since my birthday was the next day. :)

We stopped at a cafe and got a little something. This cake was amazing.

The day we were leaving they were starting to set up the Christmas market. :(

In case you were wondering, this was my b-day present. It was a special b-day since I turned another decade older. 

I don't have any pictures from the train, because we were on a train for 6 hours... But I did take this blurry picture of what might be the most German thing ever.

A pretzel and a tiny pretzel shaped sausage.

Before we knew it, we were in Paris! 

The tragedy in Paris occurred not even 2 weeks before we were supposed to arrive. We spent a lot of time debating if we should even go on the trip. France was, for all intents and purposes, closed for a good week after wards. We even looked at going to Germany then Prague, or spending the entire trip in Germany. We'd actually paid for Paris hotel in advance and we called to ask about the cancellation policy. They told us that we could come now, come in a year or lose our money. We weren't big fans of losing out money, and we'd already postponed the trip from April to November. Much to the dismay of our parents, we headed to Paris.

I have to say, there wasn't a time when we felt unsafe in Paris. There were plenty of police and military every where. The city was still reeling from the attacks but working on getting back to normal. I'm so glad we decided to go.

We stayed at the Champs Elysees Plaza Hotel and it was spectacular.

Even the box is so French.

Macarons! (so good)

Love the fur blanket

Heated towel bars

And the most amazing tub.

It was spectacular. We got in kinda late and after unpacking and getting settled. It was time for bed. The next day was my Birthday and we had BIG sightseeing plans!

The Wednesday Showcase