Thursday, August 20, 2015

Paris/Versailles - France: Palaces, Crêpes and Uh La La Shows

Truly, a fantastic city. We arrived to Paris and a friend of mine invited us to stay at his place, however he had an impromptu trip to Colombia, so we ended up having a complete condo for us!  It was very nice, even though we hoped to have had hung out with him more. His place was well located (by the Jardin du Luxembourg) and walking distance to many places!

Our first night we went to a crêperie. I loved it! The tradition is to have a glass of cider with your crêpe. They have all kinds of crêpes from veggies, to meats to sweet delicious ones like Nutella banana. Simply amazing! We went to quite a few :)

Of course, the next day we had purchased tickets to go up the "Tour Eiffel" (Eiffel Tower), once again you must reserve in advance as they are usually sold out (summer time). We paid double to be part a group (Fat Tire Tours) and we got to skip the line (2 hours approx) so completely worth €32 for both. 

Also, the tower lights up like a Christmas tree every night and there is a light show every hour on the hour. Here is how it looks!!

We enjoy walking as that's the best way to explore all the different areas, so we went through the Champs-Élysées without even looking for it just because it happens to be a big avenue that ends up  taking you to the the Arc du Triomphe.

We also walked another day to see Musée du Louvre, which is the most visited museum in the world!! 

Apparently around 9 million people visit the museum every year, of course because it the house of paintings like Da'Vinci's Mona Lisa.

It was interesting to see how people line up to see the Mona Lisa while in the same room as other amazing huge paintings that people pass inadvertently. Oh well, it was still pretty cool to see the real Mona Lisa with our own eyes. :)

Tons of things to see there, like Napoleon's apartments, some Greek sculptures dated from 160 B.C! .... Yes I know!!

Of course, after you walk through this complex building that used to be Napoleon's home before he decided to make it a museum to show the greatness of France and move to the Palace of Vesailles, you basically need to relax somewhere, so nothing better than a Jazz festival right in front of Le Louvre at the Tuileries Garden.

Another one we wouldn't miss is the 

Notre Dame Cathedral (completed in 1345). Another walking distance from our location, we happened to enter right before 6 PM mass and I'm so glad we did. It was great to see people from all over the world praying and some saying the same prayer but in different languages. 

We decided to visit the Château de Versailles (Palace of Versailles) which is only 30 min away from central Paris. Super easy to get to by local train. We decided to just enter to see the gardens and it was pretty magnificent as the gardens cover 800 hectares of land, with sculptures, lakes, and all kinds of sculpted pines. 

Locks of Love is a tradition in Paris. The tradition is to inscribe name or names of loved ones on the lock, lock it to a bridge and then throw the key into the Siene River. By throwing the key into the river, it represents everlasting love!! 

So we bought some locks for us and our families, locked them to the bridge and threw the keys into the river. One was for David's grandparents who always wanted to travel to Paris, but never got the chance. Feels amazing to do acts of kindness!!! 

And to finish our visit to this Uh La La city, we had to go to a cabaret show -Moulin Rouge type of thing. It was very entertaining as they also have acrobats plus dancers. (No pictures as they were not allowed, so you have to go to see it yourself) ;)

Friday, August 14, 2015

London - Bath and Stonehenge - United Kingdom

Our time in London was great. We got to stay at one of the most exclusive areas in London (Chelsea). There was literally a Ferrari, Lamborghini and few porches parked on our block. I guess people can buy really expensive houses and cars, but there is no room for garages!

Either way Chelsea is a great location to stay while in London if you are interested in walking to the main attractions the city has to offer.

On the other hand, the metro (underground) can get expensive depending on where you are going , you will pay £4.60 pounds for a single ride, so again, if you are staying for few days, it's worth to buy the "Oyster" card so the single ride ends up costing you £2.50 instead, however you will have to pay a one time deposit of £5 to get the card. Also, you can get to and from Heatrow Airport by the regular metro, which is nice.

Must things to do: 
Visit the Shakespeare Globe Theater. We went to see "Richard II",it was great! Everything is open aired and made of wood. Still standing and beautiful! It literally takes you back in time as you can experience how theater was back in the day. Completely worth the visit!

The theater is by the River Thames, so there are tons of restaurants and bars to go to either before or after the show.

Royal Day Out: We got to see the state rooms, the royal meows, the royal gardens and the queen's gallery at Buckingham Palace! Royalty at its best and very nice as you can imagine. Book your tickets in advance otherwise you will have to just look at the palace from the outside ;)

Try some royal pastries at the Royal garden, they are royalty expensive too.. 

Changing of the Guards: Madness!! Haha. It was so packed full of people that is was difficult to see much, but if you know where to look you can get some really cool views. It happens every other day at 11:30 directly in front of Buckingham Palace. Get there early to get a good spot and a selfie stick really comes in handy :)

These are the regular guards, they change shifts a little bit simpler ;)

Bath and Countryside: Wow! We took a tour to Bath which is a small town about 2.5 hours from London, where we could see a little bit of the countryside. 

There was a Roman bath that everyone seemed to want to visit, but thankfully our tour guide knew the tricks and informed us that you could also see the bath from the window of the restaurant next door, where we also tried the "miracle" water! Apparently, back in the day, people of the area used to believe that water could cure any disease, so people started drinking it and then of course selling it. 

Oh well, we tried it and it didn't cure anything that we can tell and at least it didn't make us sick either! :) 

Summary, cute small town on the way to Stonehenge.

then finally Stonehenge!! No words to explain, just these pictures...

This picture gives you and idea on how big each of these stones are!!

Another cool thing that was not on our list of things to actually visit was the House of Parliament. We found out that they actually let you in, so we got to learn a little bit of the legislative side of things of England. 

Westminster Hall is the oldest building on the Parliamentary estate. Under this 900 year old roof grew up all the big institutions of the British state

Also under this roof William "Braveheart" Wallace was sentenced to death. FREEDOM!!

Here are some other pics to share with views from the London Eye, typical picture with the telephone booth, and buses.

On the other hand my husband was also busy with his basketball stuff, so I got to learn even more about it as we met one of the coaches of a premier program in England, pretty nice.

Here is a funny picture, I told David that apparently he was not welcome in that town ;)