Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
First, we went to Pont du Hoc. Obviously, the full history of this place is pretty long… but the VERY condensed version is that the Germans had set up fortifications atop this cliff overlooking the sea. There were big machine guns and bunkers and such. Well, the American planes bombed the shnikey out of Pont du Hoc… and then a very brave group of American Rangers scaled the cliff and overtook the German soldiers who were still there. (As it turned out, the German guns had been moved a mile away. They were found later.) Anyway, the pictures of the “after” of this place are incredible – it looks like Swiss cheese. For whatever reason, the craters were never filled in, so it’s now just this huge Swiss-cheese-looking field atop a cliff.
Then we went to Omaha Beach itself. Honestly, I don’t even think I’d ever seen pictures of Omaha Beach other than during the D-Day invasions. During those days, it was foggy and rainy… and men were dying and guns were firing… and there was pain and fear and sadness and anger… and in my head, the entire day is gray. The men are gray, the ground is gray, the sky is gray. In real life, though, Omaha Beach is simply beautiful. The colors are so vivid that it looks like they were photoshopped… but they are really just that color. It is so sad to think of how many men gave their lives on that beach… and it seems almost impossible that that gray, gray day happened here.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
And - as an excuse/explanation for why it's taking me so long to finish posting about our trip - I got myself addicted to making a photo book on Shutterfly, so I've been spending all my spare time doing that. Well, that and a million other things.
Anyway, day FIVE coming soon. Hopefully I counted that one right...
Sunday, June 6, 2010
After that, we headed to the Musee d’Orsay for me to look at the Monet and Degas paintings I wanted to see… and then we boarded the train for Versailles from the d’Orsay station.
I guess I should pause here to say that we saw some of my favorite things on this day… but it was also the most dramatic day ev. So, first thing in the morning, I went to the ATM to get some cash (we only had 10 euros total between us)… and my card got rejected. I was in a total panic. We had no cash, and I had no idea what was wrong with my card. We went on to Notre Dame and that was so amazing that I kind of forgot about my cash woes for awhile. Then, at the d’Orsay, I asked if they had an ATM, but they didn’t. So, here it is lunchtime, and we can’t eat at the little shops because they don’t take cards… I was stressing. Ultimately, Lance convinced me we should just head on to Versailles (I had read that there was a McDonald’s across from the train station there, and we were pretty sure they’d take cards). I agreed, and we went ahead and bought our train tickets… and then mine didn’t work, I couldn’t get through the turnstile… and I may have cried. Anyway, we got on the train, made it to the Versailles train stop, and ate at the McDonald’s there without incident (all this time, Lance is trying to convince me that it must have been the ATM and not my card because my card had worked at the train station and at McDonald’s) and continued the search for an ATM since I wanted to go into the gardens, and that cost an additional 8 euros, and I didn’t know if they would accept cards. Lance saw a tourism office as we were walking to Versailles , and they pointed out an ATM just across the street, so we ended up with cash… and doing a-okay.
Okay, so back to Versailles.
Versailles was AMAZING. Oh my word. Everything about it was just incredible and immaculate and perfect. After doing a partial tour (from Rick Steves on my iPod), we went out to the gardens (now that we had cash to pay for the tickets!!!) to see the fountains. I’m so glad we did. That afternoon was one of my favorite parts of the trip. It was SO beautiful. We even had a crepe at a little café out in the gardens. It was pretty much perfection. It made me wish over and over that I were a princess. I kept telling Lance that I could just see ladies in their fancy gowns strolling through these gardens. Again, pictures cannot do it justice. In person, it's so beautiful that there that these giggles just kept welling up inside me.
When we got back to La Defense (one of the main train stations in Paris), we stopped into the Monop’ (basically a little mini grocery/convenience store) and picked up food for a picnic on Sunday since we were going on our D-Day Beaches tour, and then I had a croissant for dinner… and Lance had McDonald’s again. For shame, I know.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
The Rodin Museum was really neat overall. I got to see several sculptures I’d been looking forward to (Hand of God, the Kiss, Gates of Hell, etc.), and lots of the sculptures were outside, which was really neat. It was also a much smaller museum… so I think we spent about 30 minutes there… and that included a bathroom break! After that, we headed to the Louvre. Wow. What an impressive place the Louvre is.
And I had a list of masterpieces I wanted to see (the Mona Lisa, the Winged Victory, the Wedding Feast at Cana , the Venus di Milo, etc.), so we worked our way through that list…
And then we had a Starbs break… And then we headed back out to see the Egyptian artifacts that Lance wanted to see. By this time, it was getting close to 6:30 (or whatever time the Louvre closes), and I was trying desperately to get back to the gift shop before it closed. It seemed like every which way we turned, there was more Louvre! We made it to the gift shop and then decided to go into the Carrousel mall attached to the Louvre to eat dinner (and, of course, to take pics by the inverted pyramid). As it turns out, Mary Magdalene’s final resting place (ala Dan Brown’s DaVinci Code) is somewhere between the Virgin Music megastore and the Apple store…
Anyway, we ate dinner in the food court there (quiche and bread)… and then I read that the Louvre is open until 9:30 on Friday nights, so we ventured back in! We spent HOURS there... and still didn't see even half of what there is to see. Just amazing!