Friday, October 22, 2010
London and Paris, Monday, September 13, 2010
The building is the Natural History Museum. The thing that is so amazing about it is the only thing this building has ever been is a museum. AND the construction to build it started in 1873! Incredible.
Kevin and I really enjoy museums. Especially Kevin. This one was fun for me too.
The layouts and the collections were all very well done and very interesting. The two that stick out most in my mind are the ant exhibit with live, leaf cutter ants that had to traverse a stick, over water, to get to an island for their leaves and then bring them back over the stick to their nest. It was fascinating. The second was the whale exhibit.
They reconstructed a blue whale to true-to-life scale above it hung and actually whale skeleton. It's shocking to be called to remember that such huge creatures still exist today.
We didn't have much time in London on this day because in the late afternoon we were to catch a plane to PARIS!!!
After the Natural History Museum we had just enough time to pop over to the Science Museum just around the corner. We were still on the hunt for something for Beckham for his birthday. We only made it as far as the gift shop where we got sucked in to all the cool gadgets and toys spending our last few free minutes in London playing like children. We loved it.
It was time to go. We picked up our stuff from the hotel, tried to capture as much as we could mentally of London, and went to the airport.
Normally, I wouldn't make an account of our flight between the two countries. It's only and hour and then some long flight, but we happened to have a bit of divine intervention occur and I think we'd both like to remember it.
As it was, the flight was delayed for some reason. We seriously spent more time in the airplane on the ground than it took for us to fly to Paris. Consequently, there was time to talk. Which meant Kevin became acquainted with the man sitting next to him, Eluir. Eluir happened to be a Parisian flying home. He was just about a decade older than us and already semi-retired from his, apparently, lucrative Realtor job which require him to fly all over the world. He doesn't normally flight coach, "But the flight is so short anyone can handle anything for an hour" he explained.
Now this may not seem important or note worthy to you, but it was very much an answer to a prayer for us. Kevin was very nervous about Paris, for a few reasons. One, neither of us spoke the language well enough for his satisfaction and Two, Parisians are often stereotyped as being unfriendly....specifically toward Americans. He worried that our language barrier and the supposed predisposition of the French would seriously hamper our good time.
Eluir put all those fears to rest. He was SO friendly. He answered all of our touristy what-the-best-way-to-do-this questions as well as offered many tips and tricks that we would not have other wise known. He told us what to avoid because we did look so much like Americans (he said that couldn't be helped. It was the way we dressed) and he didn't want us to be taken advantage of. To top it all off, because the plane was so delayed it caused him to miss whatever he'd been hoping to get to that night. All of the sudden he was very relaxed and not in any hurry.
The closer we got to Paris the more Kevin and Him became friends. Eluir, then offered to take us to our hotel in a cab so we wouldn't have to take the train in.
We said, "Great! We would love to share a cab with you and split the costs"
He wouldn't hear of it.
He told us he'd be getting a cab anyway and he lived just around the corner from our hotel so we might as well fill the empty space in the cab because it would just go to waste.
He explained all the buildings as we drove by, talked Parisian politics with Kevin and left us with his phone number should we need anything or if we wanted to get together for drinks later.
I wish we would have gotten his last name. I'd really like to send him a card.
All of the sudden there we were.
I'd waited and dreamed SO long for this moment and I was more than ready for the magic to begin.
That first night in Paris was wonderful. Our hotel was very close to the Seine, the river flowing through the middle of Paris, and to Notre Dame. We walked to the banks of the Seine, over the bridge and around Notre Dame. It was truly incredible to get me first good look at this historic building at night. With all the lights. It was breath taking.
Notre Dame is on the little island, Ile De La Cite. Eluir told us the best ice cream anywhere was on the next island over, Ile St-Louis. After we walked to the center of Paris, which is in the courtyard of Notre Dame, we walked across another bridge to get to this amazing ice cream.
The next time I go back to Paris, I'd like to spend a little more time on Ile St-Louis. The streets are narrow, the buildings are old and charming and house shops in the ground floors. We did find some note worthy ice cream and devoured it as we made our way back to the hotel.
Paris at night is very magical. Everything twinkles and everything is alive. There is always something or someone to catch your eye.
The hotel we stayed at was in the middle of the Latin quarter. We decided to explore a bit and I am so glad we did. Discovering Paris for the first time at night was amazing. The Latin quarter has so much going on. Good food, some shopping, and some more good food.
This is when we stumbled up "our place". A cute little cafe that you could order crepes from and watch them being made as you stood on the street. Oh. My. Goodness. Best food ever! We got crepes with sticks of baking chocolate melted in between the folded layers. It was like eating an upscale version of the best chocolate chip cookie you can imagine.
We had a crepe from "our place" every night. I think we are both still going through with drawls.
Our hotel was charming. To get to our room we had to walk through the lobby out into a courtyard. The entrance to our room was right there on the patio.
This is what we would see every morning we opened our door.
What's not to love?
Perfect for a second honeymoon.