Snow days…

Guten Tag!


The last few weeks here in the Land of Fairy Tales have been so cold… Winter seemed to have an unbreakable grip on the land…  Only a week ago I looked out my window to see the first REAL snow of the winter… On March 21st… the first day of spring.


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 It was a soft powdery snow… quite lovely…


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… and it made a picture postcard perfect night.


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 The boys and I tucked in tight for the night and spent a cozy evening watching TV and missing daddy…


And woke up to this!


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 As much as I long for warm weather and spring I have to admit that my heart just soared at the sight.


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 The sky was so blue and clear and the blanket of white covered a barely hidden blanket of green!


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My little German cottage all covered in snow.


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 I took the boys outside for a romp in the snow… Yoda loves snow!  He was just too cute…


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 The promise of spring… 



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 Enchanting… 



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 Even in the snow there is promise…


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Gandalf just ran around and ate the snow!  See the smudge of white on the tip of his nose?


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 He is a beautiful dog if I do say so myself!


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 After a few hours of frolicking in the snow we all came inside to warm up and rest…


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 It was a lovely and rather lazy afternoon!


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 That evening when I went outside I saw this little promise that the warm days of spring were not too far distant.


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 I’ll stop here for the day! 


Auf Wiedersehen!


Courtney

Spring?

I think…


I hope….


Oh please OH please OH PLEASE!!!


That spring has arrived softly and quietly here in The Land of Fairy Tales…  I’ll have some pictures tomorrow (when do I not have pictures?)


I also posted something that’s been on my heart lately over on my TTC blog for those of you that follow.. 


www.xanga.com/RememberMeLord


Have a lovely day!


Courtney

Lynne’s Last Day

Guten Tag!


On our last day of exploring this Land of Fairy Tales we visited Vianden Castle.


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 It’s located in the norther portion of Luxembourg.


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 As Lynne says, “Can you imagine what that key must look like?”


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We walked around the outside of the castle and bought our tickets… 


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Inside we walked through the Arms Hall.


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 Which houses a selection of body armors, halberds and pikes.


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 This armor was bought at the castle of Schuttburg.


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 This is a double-barrelled flintlock pistol housed in the knights study.


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 This is the hallway of Yolanda’s Tower, who’s life inspired Luxembourg’s first literary work.


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 The upper chapel.


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 The Byzantine Gallery…


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 … and it’s famous trefoiled windows.


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 The banqueting hall. 


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 The festivity hall, now known as the ‘Vic. Abens’ hall.


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 One of the Flamish Tapestries that adorn the walls of the Festivity Hall.


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 The stained glass window in the knights hall.


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 This inlaid wooden plaque showing the castles of the region is currently in the Knights hall.


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 The knights hall.


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 After we had finished walking through the castle we went back out into the courtyards.


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 The view of the town was amazing…


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 We ducked into the cellar of the castle while we were in the courtyard.


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 It was such a neat trip to Vianden.


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 We drove a little distance to get a full view of the castle…


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 And get a few pictures!  How awesome is this!?


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 After we explored the caste we realized that because it was Sunday nothing was open… so we headed back home.  On the way we decided we were hungry so we stopped at McDonald’s for some lunch!  Lynne wanted to show you the menu for a German McDonald’s and there in the center is what we ordered.  The McFresh.  Basically a burger with cucumbers… which is common here in Europe.


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 We took our lunch home to eat and spent a few minutes playing with the dogs… 


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 They were so happy to get some attention! 


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 We hadn’t been around all that much and it was good to spend a little time with them.


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 We decided that since this was Lynne’s last day we would take the customary walk through my village and explore a little. 


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 It was a pretty day for the walk though cold.


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 We found the town cemetery and walked through it. 


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 I have never seen a more beautifully tended cemetery.


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 Almost ever grave had fresh flowers or it had flowers planted on it.


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 It was a beautiful place…


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 … so quiet and hushed. 


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 And there we found evidence that spring is creeping quietly into this place… the first hyacinths and pussy willows.


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 The next day I drove Lynne to the airport bright and early.


So with that I bid you Auf Wiedersehen for the day!


Courtney


 

Lynne’s Trip to Manderscheid

Guten Tag!


We arrived home from Paris after midnight and fell straight into bed… we were so tired!


The next morning we got a bit of a slow start but when we got moving we headed out for a day of exploring!


We took a long drive through the forest and got a few pictures! 


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Here’s Lynne soaking it all in…


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Can you just hear it? 


“If I were King of the Forest, Not queen, not duke, not prince.
My regal robes of the forest, would be satin, not cotton, not chintz.
I’d command each thing, be it fish or fowl.
With a woof and a woof and a royal growl – woof.
As I’d click my heel, all the trees would kneel.
And the mountains bow and the bulls kowtow.
And the sparrow would take wing – If I – If I – were King!
Each rabbit would show respect to me. The chipmunks genuflect to me.
Though my tail would lash, I would show compash
For every underling!
If I – If I – were King!
Just King!
Monarch of all I survey — Mo–na-a-a–a-arch Of all I survey!”


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One of the things I love about The Land of Fairy Tales is that there is always an unmarked road or trail… begging you to find out where it goes!


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Lynne says this picture is here giving thanks that she’s not at work… and that it’s too cold for this tee pee to be full of spiders like it is in the summer!


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Well hello!


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Wether you are a trained photographer or an amateur enthusiast… sometimes a long arm is all the equipment you need!


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This picture has a story…  We were driving through some scary switchback roads when we came upon a little bridge… Lynne begged me to pull over on the shoulder so she could get a picture… Doesn’t sound scary right?  Well in Germany there really aren’t shoulders… this picture was taken at a dead run so we didn’t get knocked off the road!  Pretty though huh?


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At the end of our journey we found ourselves at the castle.


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Lynne had to have a picture of this… a lonely light pole in the middle of the field…  She’s right, it does remind one of the lamppost in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.


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“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”


Except… this is Manderscheid and I didn’t dream about it…


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Lynne on the bridge to the jousting fields.


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 The upper castle of Mandershceid.


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 Me on the bridge…


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Lynne in front of the Manderscheid castles…


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 Aren’t bridges wonderful things?



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Lynne using her telephoto lens to see every detail of the castles! 


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 And get a few amazing pictures of them…


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 Another great “professional” shot!


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 We took about 15 pictures before we got this one… Do you know how hard it is to get two people AND two castles in a picture from the end of your arm?


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On the way home from the castle we passed through some pretty country and saw some cute little villages…


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After going home and warming up a bit we decided to head to Dirk and Nichole’s for dinner.  We arrived about 45 minutes before they opened so that we could hike around the area and I could show Lynne some of the places I haunted when we first moved here to Germany.


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 At one point in our walk we crossed a bridge that went over the train tracks…


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…and we had the great luck of being there when a train passed under us!


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This is the gate to an old house tucked back in the hills… There is quite a bit of superstition from the villagers about this place…  They say it is haunted!


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After we had finished our walk it was on to The Landhaus Biehl and dinner!


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 When you order dinner here the meal begins with a bowl of soup… A broth made from wild game that is heaven!!! 


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The soup is followed by a lovely salad of fresh greens and a homemade dressing that is to die for… we of course ate it before remembering we were taking pictures…


 And of course you must have something to drink!


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 After you finish your soup and salad out comes your main course!  Lynne got Puntenschnitzel Formosa, it’s a steak of turkey breast schnitzeled, topped with white asparagus and smothered in hollandaise sauce.  It is then broiled over to brown the sauce.  This is one of my favorite dishes!!!


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 And of course every meal comes with some kind of potato dish… these are Nichole’s famous home fries!


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It was a wonderful dinner to finish out a day of fun!



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 Auf Wiedersehen!


Courtney


 

Lynne’s Trip to Paris, Part III

Bonjour!


After Lynne and I had explored the Louvre courtyard we popped back onto the Metro and went to the Ile de la Citi.


As we came out of the Metro station we saw the back of the Sainte Chapell.  It was built by Louis IX in 1245 and was built to be the reliquary of the crown of thorns.


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It sits right next to the Palais de Justice which is said to house a piece of the true cross.


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We walked around the square and then found a sidewalk vendor and got some lunch!   


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This lovely looking food is a Parisian variation of the Donner Kebap!


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I must say we enjoyed it immensely and should I return to Paris, I’ll be sure to visit this place again!


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The table we sat at with our lunch was apparently for sit in patrons so we took ourselves off and found a nice little wall down by the River Seine to enjoy our food and the hum of the city.


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Such a beautiful view!


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After a refreshing hour of eating and drinking in the view we walked on to the Notre Dame!


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This is another sight that will never get old for me.


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 The sheer size of this cathedral is staggering…


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206 feet from the base to the top of the bell towers.


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 And the details that cover this monument make it fascinating.


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I do not believe that either of us could get our fill of looking…


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 There are over 5,000 Gargoyles on the Notre Dame cathedral.


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This is the outside of one of the windows… it holds a statue of the Virgin Mary holding the Baby Jesus and flanked by two angels.


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 The three portals on the front of the building are from right to left;


The Portal of the Virgin, the Portal of the Last Judgement, and the Portal of Saint Anne.  This last portal holds some of The Notre Dame’s finest and oldest (12th century) statuary.


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A close up of some of the gargoyles…


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Above those three portals you see the Gallery of Kings which has 28 statues of the kings of Israel.


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 This is the Grande Gallery and is the last level of the building before the bell towers.


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Here I am, standing in the Notre Dame plaza which was designed by Haussmann in the 19th century, and holds France’s “Point Zero” which is a bronze star which is said to be the center of the city.


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It is said that a tourist that stands upon “Point Zero” will one day return to Paris.


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 Here is a close up of part of the Gallery of Kings.


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In the early 19th century the cathedral was in a state of disrepair.  The city planners began talks to tear it down. 


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Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame was written to draw attention to the Cathedral and raise awareness of the issues.  Funds were collected and repairs commenced in 1845.  Can you imagine all of this being gone?


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After we had ‘drunk our fill’ of the sights, as it were… we went inside the cathedral.


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The main hall is flanked by pillars and small chapels.


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The roof is a staggering 155 feet and is supported by flying buttresses.


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All throughout the cathedral are stations where you can purchase candles to light in prayer.


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 The hall is adorned by dozens of stained glass windows.


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Each chapel is filled with statuary and artifacts.


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The cathedral can hold up to 9,000 worshippers at any given time.


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The stained glass dates from the conception of the cathedral to as late as 1965.


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The atmosphere of this place is supposed to instill in the visitor the gothic perception of our earthly limitations compared to the limitlessness of the divine. 


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I must admit that I do feel a certain kind of smallness when I stand here…


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Here I stand in the reflected light of what mans’ hands can accomplish…


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With full knowledge that these creations do not even begin to touch the majesty of our creator.


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That these creations, so far beyond anything I could even come close too are the frustrated attempts of man to show their awe of our creator.


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Whatever else Notre Dame is… it is a humbling experience.  


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One I am privileged to have seen…


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and felt… 


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To think that there was a time when this testimony to human creativity was to be demolished.


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That all of this beauty and history would have been lost for ourselves and for the generations to come…



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And in this modern age where speed and cost drive so many things it would have been a shame to lose this work of art, this building from a long gone age when it was not uncommon to spend hundreds of years working on something, compared to the few short months acceptable in our day and age.


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Though this was my third visit to Notre Dame it was the first time I sat down in a pew for 20 minutes and just soaked in the atmosphere.  I would be lying if I said that I did not come away affected.


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After our long visit inside the cathedral we left and explored the park and the back of the building.


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 Close up the 700 years that this building has graced the earth show in the blackened stone…


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The gothic spire and flying buttresses.



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 And I’m spent.


I must break here to tell you that I am quite out of things to say….


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After three trips to Paris I have exhausted my knowledge of these place, I have exhausted every guide book and website I can get my hands on…


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And find that there is nothing else I can say without repeating myself! 


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So I will end with this…


Though this was my third trip to Paris and though I have no details left to share I will be quite happy to be speechless!  Paris and it’s wonders will always hold a place in my heart.


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After a long day of walking we headed back down into the metro and caught the train back to our hotel to collect our bags.


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Once we had collected our bags we found that we had a few hours left before our train back to Germany left.  So we went to the little restaurant that Ryan and I had found last time we were in Paris and had some dinner and relaxed.  One of the men that worked there was kind enough to take our picture!


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Once we had finished our dinner and wasted all the time we could we headed to the main train station and prepared to catch our I.C.E. train back to Germany.


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In a strange turn of events we ended up in a first class car!  This would have been incredibly exciting if it didn’t mean we were closed into a small space with three Parisians who wanted to do nothing but loudly eat bread humus and stinky cheeses for the whole ride!  What a smell!!!   Doesn’t Lynne look thrilled?


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We changed trains in Stuttgart and then again in Trier where we caught our last train home to Philipsheim.


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It was a trip of a lifetime for Lynne (stolen camera and all) and I left another piece of my heart in Paris…


Au Revoir for today!


Courtney

Lynne’s Trip to Paris Part II

Bonjour!


Our second day in Paris dawned still grey but dry…  So we headed off to the bus station and caught a bus to the Champs Elysees!


On our stroll we saw;


…the Thai Embassy…


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…The Alsace Cafe…


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…and the Louis Vuitton store.


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We finally came within view of the Arc de Triomphe.


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I honestly don’t think I could see this sight too many times.  I think I’ll always be amazed.


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And I do believe that Lynne agrees with me! 


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I stood there like this for a few minutes while Lynne adjusted her camera.  See those guys in that van just over my right shoulder?  By the time the picture was taken they were pulling up on my left…  Talk about cat calls… Apparently construction workers are the same in any country and in any language.


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After we took the pictures from across the street we took the subterranean passageway and came up under the Arc de Triomphe.


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The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier interred here in 1920.  It has the first eternal flame lit in western Europe since the Vestal Virgins’ fire was extinguished in the year 391.  It is lit in memory of the unknown dead from both World Wars. 


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The sword carried by the Republic in the Marseillaise (bellow) broke off on the day the Battle of Verdun began in 1916.  It was immediately covered up with tarpaulins to conceal the accident and avoid any ominous interpretations by the people.


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Lynne and I had a discussion while we were exploring…  Can you imagine anyone building anything with this kind of detail in our modern times?  It would cost too much, take too long, and be impractical…  The past should be appreciated.


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Once we were done looking around the monument we climbed the stairs into the museum.


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Cast of the head of a figure from François Rude’s sculpture “La Marseillaise”


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The museum has been renovated in the last few months for the first time since the 1930’s and it was an awesome sight!


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Once we finished with the museum we went out onto the observation deck to look out over the the Place de l’Etoile or Star Square.   


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12 streets radiate out from the Arc de Triomphe creating a large star.


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The Eiffel Tower of course!


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One of the city blocks that rests between two of the twelve streets of the circle.


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A city view.


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At one point I turned around from the view and saw this!  I thought to myself, “What an awesome shot for a photographer to have of herself!” 


So she got one…


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And so did I!


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After we had frozen all of our fingers and toes off at the top of the Arc de Triomphe we caught a Metro and headed for the Louvre.


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We didn’t have time to go in but in the tunnel leading to the courtyard we got a view of one of the statue rooms.


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As we turned to walk into the courtyard we saw this and Lynne couldn’t resist having a picture of it.


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The sheer size of this building is impressive!


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Especially when you consider that the museum covers almost the whole thing… four stories worth!


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It’s amazing!


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Ah the joys of going to Paris with someone with great equipment!  This is what a telephoto lens is for! 


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The old and the new… together… 


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Me with the pyramid…


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and Lynne…


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This is a statue of Louis the 14th.


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After our exploration of The Louvre we got back on the Metro and headed for the Île de la Cité, and the Notre Dame. 


But I’ll save that story and those pictures for another day.


Au Revoir,


Courtney


 

Lynne’s Trip to Paris. Part I

Bonjour!


On Thursday morning Lynne and I woke up extremely early and caught the train out of Philipsheim at 05:03am.  This began our four hours of train travel to Paris!


Yep that’s right I’ve been to Paris… AGAIN!


We arrived at about 10am and walked to our hotel… the La Vielle France. 


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We arrived and checked into our room.  It was small but clean and comfortable.  However you have to see this bathroom!  Never in my life!


To give you a bit of perspective that shower floor?  It was about the size of a large kitchen sink!  Everything is this bathroom was so small and so close together! 


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One of the best things about this hotel has to be the elevator.  Yep, that’s the whole thing!  Still not getting just how small that is?  Well do you see that suitcase in the foreground?  That’s my carry on bag… it’s smaller than the carry on size for the airlines…  The elevator is SMALL!


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 Still not convinced?  Well here is a close up of that sign on the back wall.


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After poking around our unremarkable and small room we unpacked and then poked our head out onto the balcony!  What a surprise we had!  Look at this view!


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 No not my huge head!  This!!!  Can you say wow?


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 After we got all settled in we left the hotel and caught the metro up to the Boulevard De Rochechouart.  There we did a little shopping and then set out to climb the Butte Montmartre and to see the Basilique du Sacre Coure.


 Here is where we received a huge shock!  I have told you that Lynne is a photographer?  Well, she had two cameras with her, one small point and shoot and one large expensive camera.  We stopped at the bottom of the hill to take a few pictures and when she opened her bag it was to find that someone had stolen the small point and shoot camera!  Her bag was closed on both sides and in front with clips and was the kind you wear across your body and that rests on the front of your hip.  She never opened it and had a hand over the bag the whole time!  I guess the beware of pickpocket signs all over Paris are no joke!  Thank goodness they didn’t get the big camera.


We retraced our steps and even went back to the hotel in the vain hope that we might have left it there… but no luck.  So with heavy hearts and much more suspicious minds we resumed our tourist activities.


We finally stood on the peak of the Butte Montmartre to drink in the view of Paris… 


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And, as always, the Basilique itself was stunning…


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 We walked around the top of the Butte and explored.  At last we stood at the top of the famous stairs, ready to head down back into the streets of Paris.


See that camera bag?  How does someone get into that when she carried it that way the whole time!?


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After exploring this part of the city we headed back to our hotel, got some dinner, picked up some of Lynne’s equipment and set back out for the Tour Eiffel!


No matter how many times I’ve seen it, that first look still takes my breath away!


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I think the photographer in Lynne was thrilled!


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We posed in front of the tower and played with our cameras for a while to pass the time…


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We wanted to wait until dark to mount the tower!


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I finally got Lynne to pose!


 


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Finally we got in line for the climb to the top…



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And waited for an hour and a half!!! 


While we waited we saw a few interesting things… This is about 40 Gendarmes who pulled up beside the tower, got into a formation, and then took off!


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A few moments later this horse drawn carriage pulled up to offer tours of the Eiffel park.




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 To think that this tower was only built as a temporary thing for the International Exhibition of Paris. 


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 The whole of the Tour Eiffel is patrolled by armed military members…


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 At last it began to get dark and the tower lights came on!  Do you know that it has over 2.5 million rivets in it and over 15,000 OTHER iron pieces?


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 As we reached the top of the steps and got ready to purchase our tickets we looked back over the sea of people waiting to climb the tower!  We were so glad that we got in line when we did!


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 As we waited in line in a huge crowd of people, everyone was looking up at the tower bright against the darkening sky… and the strobe lights came on for the first time.  The whole crowd ooed and ahhhed…


There is something compelling about being part of a crowd… like seeing a good movie for the first time in a theater… sometimes the strangers that are sharing the moment with you make the experience!  This was one of those moments!


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 The tower is so tall and boasts of 1652 steps to the top.  Thank goodness for that elevator!


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When we finally reached the top and walked out onto the observation deck it became clear that we had picked the perfect night to see Paris in the dark!


And the pictures that resulted of our visit made it clear that hauling Lynne’s equipment up to the top of the Eiffel Tower was worth it!


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 The Arc de Triomphe!  I think this is one of my favorite pictures from the whole trip!


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 The streets of Paris and the Hotel des Invalides.


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Did you know that the dome was redecorated in 1989 with 26.5 pounds of gold?


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Notre Dame, which is a good distance away from the Tour Eiffel on the Ile de la citi.


 


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 Lynne and I wanted a good picture of us at the top of the tower and so we traded favors with an Australian couple!  We got a picture of them and then they took one of us.  While Lynne was setting up he posed to make sure we had the right lighting!  It’s fun to meet people from all over the world!


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 And of course the resulting picture!


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The Seine river and the bridges of Paris.


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 After freezing at the top of the tower we went back down and decided to cross the River Seine and get a few good pictures from the far bank.


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How fun is this?


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The beautiful Eiffel Tower.


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We finally got back to our hotel at about 10pm exhausted and ready for sleep!  But not before we went back out onto the balcony to see our view at night!


Just look at the tower all lit up!


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 It really was an awesome view…


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 And with a little patience the perfect shot was born!  Somehow the small bathroom just didn’t matter anymore…


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 After a long day of walking we slept soundly… not even feeling the hard little beds! 


Au Revoir for today!


Courtney