Hello friends, family, and all in between!!
I am bringing you my first update of 2010 and a long overdue account of Christmas in Paris!!
I'm sorry it's taken so long, but an update like this is rather daunting...
So, as most of you know, Robert came to visit me in Paris for his entire break! It was possibly the most perfect way I could think of spending my holiday. He arrived here on Dec 16 and left Jan 8. That's about 3 1/2 weeks of vacation in Paris!! Who doesn't want that?!! So, since we were given this great gift of time, we didn't have to rush to fit all the touristy things in. Instead we got to do them pretty much at our leisure (which is my new favorite way to do a vacation-- it was actually relaxing!)
Now a day by day account might be a bit much for his 23 day stay, but I thought I'd give you guys a bit of the highlights-
The morning of Robert's first full day here in Paris, we woke up and the world was absolutely BLANKETED in snow!!! Outside the window huge flakes were falling and everything was magically white.
I jumped up and down like a kid on Christmas morning. We bundled up in our winter finest and started the 10 minute walk to the Eiffel Tower from where we were staying. It was really a magical sight. It wasn't just a dusting of snow on the ground-everything was seriously covered!And it was really coming down! We played in the snow by the Eiffel Tower, having a snowball fight. It was really cool that Robert got to see a side of Paris that most people don't. My host family (and other french people that I've met) have told me that it is rare for it to snow so much that it sticks here. It happens maybe once a year, but while Robert was here it snowed 4 or 5 times! (crazy global warming!).
Robert's trip pretty much consisted of the normal tourist fare. We visited Notre Dame-- very pretty in the snow, but unfortunately due to weather, we couldn't climb up to the top, which is supposed to have great views. We went to the Galleries Lafayette for some Christmas cheer-- they have amazing lights, window displays, and decorations, including a HUGE christmas tree that reaches about 6 stories up to the ceiling. The light display was also one of the most spectacular things to see. One of the things that I loved about Paris during the
holidays is that they really know how to be festive! Everything is lights, and Christmas markets, and wreaths, and trees!! It was sad when the holidays were over and things were being taken down :(
In the snow, Robert also got to see the famous Montmartre and Sacre Coeur. It was incredible because it really isn't something that people get to see every day. The day we chose to go was one of the coldest days Robert was here, and the cold was intensified on top of the hill. Our toes were frozen by the end of the day... it was actually a bit miserable. Robert's camera stopped working for a while because it was literally TOO COLD. haha. It was beautiful to see all the Paris rooftops covered in snow down below us though, and it was worth braving the cold to see something spectacular.
Of course, a good way to stay out of the cold is to go to some of the wonderful museums here in Paris and so Robert and I made our way to both the Musée d'Orsay for some impressionist art and the Louvre for some old classics. It's great just to be able to spend all day in the Louvre because we had all day to spend! We also visited the Arc de Triomphe and we climbed all the way to the top! And by climbed, I mean climbed.
The view from the top is pretty amazing because you're right in the middle of the Étoile, with streets jutting out all around you, splitting your view into the geometrically beautiful "Star" (étoile means star in french) as you look out to the Champs Élysées.
Another one of our favorite excursions was the the Père Lachaise cemetery, which is the final resting place of many famous french. Not to mention just pretty in general. We went on a rather mild but rainy day, which were the perfect conditions in which to visit a cemetery. All of the tombs are beautiful. Some date back to the 1800s whereas others were still shiny and new. They had war memorials as well, including a row of memorials for the jewish families that died in the Holocaust.
Some of the most frequently visited graves are Molière, Oscar Wilde, and Jim Morrison. Oscar Wilde's tomb is covered with love notes and kisses, so I just had to join in ;) We had some fun, but it is still a cemetery, so mostly we just took in its beauty. Some of our other favorite excursions of the trip were to the Bois de Boulogne, a park near my host
family's house that is 2.5 times larger than Central Park! We had fun walking around one of its lakes, which was frozen solid! And taking pictures.
Versailles was also on our must-see list, so we made our way there on New Year's day. It was freezing and beautiful. The castle's interior is just as stunning as the exterior, so after our (Rick Steve's Guided) tour we enjoyed wandering around the gardens and headed over to Marie-Antoinette's Domain. It was quite a full day of walking and taking things in.
One of my favorite days that we spent was one of Robert's last here. We woke up early in the morning and headed to the Eiffel Tower. It was quite a grey day and we had to bundle up pretty intensely, but there were practically no lines to get tickets and really no crowd! Paris looks beautiful no matter what the weather is, and it was great for Robert to get to see, on one of his last days here, just how much he'd gotten to know the city. He could look out from the top of the Eiffel Tower and point out monuments just as well as I could! I was very proud. I made a little Parisian out of him! A cool thing happened while we were up there. We went inside on the 2nd floor to get hot chocolate from the little café, and when we looked back outside, it had started to snow!! So we sat inside, sipping our hot chocolate, and watched the snow accumulate on the balconies. And going outside we got to see all the rooftops of Paris being dusted white. It was truly incredible to watch happen before your eyes. Here's a little before and after picture we took of the Champ de Mars :
I know that this has been a kind of haphazard retelling, but really there's no good way to do it. We did too much! So to wrap up the tourist portion: we visited the Pantheon, the Champs Élysées and Sainte Chapelle as well. Ooh! And the little Statue of liberty! Bet you didn't know there was one of those in France!... I think that's about all the monuments we visited.
Now on to the holidays. You really don't have to read all this. I'm writing it all down so that I can have a nice memoire of it when I want to look back :)
One of the things that Robert and I loved to do in the apartment that we rented was COOK! It was so nice to have a kitchen! So we made things like balsamic vinegar chicken, orange marmalade beef, rosemary chicken and cream sauce, chicken with apples and a white wine cream sauce... just to name a few. It saved us a lot of money, not going out to eat all the time.
On Christmas eve we made a Christmas meal complete with stuffing and gravy and cranberry sauce! Stuffing and Cranberry sauce were bought from an American grocery store that I love called Thanksgiving. Things are sillily expensive, but it has things like Jellied Cranberry sauce!! Who doesn't love that?! And we spent the evening watching Christmas movies! (The Santa Clause=me and my brother's xmas eve tradition, had to keep tradition alive!) I was hoping for awhite Christmas morning, but alas, the snow went to TEXAS of all places?!?! On Christmas day we made Guacamole (it's red and green... sort of!), chocolate chip cookies, and latkes (I was craving them and didn't get to make any for Hanukkah)! We took a Christmas day walk to the Eiffel tower... Pretty much just because we could. :P
Our New Year's Eve meal was the rosemary garlic chicken and cream sauce. Mmmmm. Since I'd been warned by many a Parisian not to be in the metro
anywhere near midnight, Robert and I planned to take the 10 min walk from our apartment to the Eiffel Tower to enjoy the festivities. (It was a good thing too because my host family on their way to a NYE celebration got stuck in the metro and ended up ringing in the new year in a metro car!!-- the metro is free on new years and it just apparently gets craaazy!!) So Robert and I stood at the base of Trocadero (we found a really prime spot!) with about 1million other people and watched the midnight light show that the eiffel tower put on. There were also some fireworks going off, but they were mostly just from people in the crowd because fireworks are completely legal here!
Me at midnight!
The crowds were immense, but it was really amazing to see the sky just lit up! It looked like it was practically on fire as we were walking back home!
It was a beautiful way to spend New Year's Eve. Almost as epic as being at Time Square...but I don't think it was quite as rowdy.
Ummm. Okay. Well I think that's it!! This is the longest update ever, but I had a lot to write about!! Gotta keep you guys all filled-in! Thank you so much for all of your Christmas and New Year wishes. I miss everyone so much and think about you all the time! I'm glad that I can share my life with you this way! Thank god for the internet :)
As for now, I am finishing up finals and getting on with new classes for the semester. Hopefully I will have a (short) update on that soon!
Bisous et Bonne Année tout le monde! (Kisses and Happy New Year everyone!)
*All photos credit of Robert Garrett and his awesome skillz
More photos can be found in links on my facebook profile or on Robert's! There are a TON of photos, please go check them out!!