Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Paris: Day 2; Part 3

Are you starting to see how jam packed our Friday was! After Versailles and the Eiffel Tower we had some free time away from the tour/group. They dropped us off in the Place de la Concorde and we had about 3 hours to do what we wanted until we were to meet back up again for dinner.

We high tailed it to the closest Ladurée! In here I bought a chocolate éclair and some macaroons for myself, mom and mother-in-law (ridiculously overpriced but oh so good!). After our purchase we walked over to the Tuileries Garden and I ate my yummy éclair… OMG it was so good! As we sat we saw that Amorino had a food truck set up in the garden so we had some ice cream too. We walked down to the Louvre, took some pictures and then headed for the Arc de Triomphe via the Champs-Élysées.

It was about a 5K walk from the Louvre to the Arc de Triomphe. We took some pictures and of course our luck, the arc was being restored. After that we popped into a McDonalds to get some free WiFi and then met the group for our last dinner at Flora Danica.  

After dinner with the group we went headed to a boat to do a night cruise on the Seine so we could see the city lights come on as the sun set. I think this is a must do if you’re in Paris and we had a gorgeous sunset! I think it was about a two hour cruise and we finished just as the Eiffel Tower stopped sparkling (she sparkles ever hour on the hour until midnight).

{pictures from the cruise, beautiful pink and purple sunset}

{Arc de Triomphe, part of it was under restoration}
What are some of your favorite places to grab some sweet treats in Paris?

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Eiffel Tower

After our trip to Versailles we headed back to Paris to see the Eiffel Town. I know some people may think the tower is an eyesore or that its not such a big deal to see but I just loved it! I think its the thing that we took the most pictures of. Every time we had a view of it we took a picture! I just loved it! When you are there don't be surprised to see a lot of security with pretty intimidating looking weapons.

We went to the 2nd platform, which is the one in the middle and that amazing views of the Palais de Chaillot and on clear day, the Sacre-Coeur Basillica. 

{Palais de Chaillot}
We also saw the tower by night and it was even more beautiful all lit up!

{view from the water}

{view from the Palais de Chaillot}

Do you love the tower or do you think it's over rated?

Friday, April 25, 2014

Palace of Versailles

Our first full day in Paris was Friday, April 4th and we did so much that I am going to break it up into a few posts. First we started the day with a trip to the Palace of Versailles. I was really excited to see this beautiful palace, especially since I loved Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna.

Our guide started the day by taking us the gardens. But there was a few guys there that looked kind of official and our guide started speaking to them and after a few minutes we were let through but told that a movie was being filmed and cannot take pictures of the movie just the gardens. The film was using horses and we were asked to stay back until they had filmed the last scene. After that we were able to move around a little and take more pictures. We were all sort of standing there wondering if someone famous was there or if it was for a documentary for the History Channel or something. And then, there he was… 007 himself! Peirce Brosnan! Matt sort of just held his camera nonchalantly and was just taking pictures hoping we would get something…we did! And later we also saw William Hurt in our pictures!

After the movie production commotion we made our way into the palace. I’m just going to show you pictures and caption them for you.

{Hercules drawing-room}

{Mercury drawing-room/ "Bedchamber"}

{Hall of Mirrors}
{Queen's bedchamber}

{painting in the Queen's antechamber}

{painting Napoleon added in the Queen's Gaurdroom. Napoleon crowning his Queen}

Have you ever been to the Palace of Versailles? What was your favorite thing to see? 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Our First Night in Paris

This was the day that we had to make the long journey from Lucerne, Switzerland to Paris, France. It’s a pretty long drive! We arrived in Paris around 4ish and checked into our hotel in the La Defense area. We actually had a nice partial view of La Grande Arche de La Defense. After freshening up we were off to the famous Moulin Rouge; not gonna lie, I was pretty excited because I LOVE the movie and the soundtrack. Especially the soundtrack! We were there for dinner and the show which started at 7pm (but the show didn't start until 9pm). The food was okay but my biggest complaint was the way they had us packed in there like sardines! If one person needed to leave the table we all had to file out to let that person out… this was most likely because we were right up against the stage. The one time where panic set in was when they did their snakes in a pool number and one of the snakes got out! And was headed for Matt! Thankfully one of the stage hands pushed that 12ft boa constrictor back into the pool. 

The show was just okay, maybe a little better then something you would see in Las Vegas. But I did like some of the music, even though it was in French some of the songs were pretty catchy and were stuck in our heads for a few days :P The show finished at 11 and we were back at the hotel at midnight.

I would highly recommend doing this attraction with a group. With the group you’ll get a discount and you’ll most likely get better seating. I’m glad we did it with a group because I’m not sure we would have done it on our own with prices like 210€ per person.   

{yummy dessert}

{Matt resting his arm on the stage}
Check out our time in Amsterdam, Germany and Switzerland

Monday, April 21, 2014

Lucerne, Switzerland

We started our full day in Lucerne with a trip up Mount Pilatus. It took us about 35 minutes to take the ski lifts up the mountain. The elevation was 7,000 ft! We were so lucky to have a clear, sunny day and we had perfect views of Lucerne and the lake.

{view of the mountains}

{view of Lucerne}
After the trip up the mountain we had the rest of the day free. We took this time to walk the Nine Towers of Lucerne. The Nine Towers were originally built in 1386 as a defensive fortification for the new town of Lucerne and consist of a giant stone wall and nine lookout towers that are still completely intact. We started at the tower closest to the river, and when we visited the first two were under renovation so we weren't able to go in them or get any pictures. 

{view from one of the towers}

{view of the city and lake from the towers}

{all nine towers and their locations}
After roaming around the towers and town taking pictures of the Chapel Bridge and Jesuitenkirche we were a bit tired so we made our way back to the hotel for a short rest and then we were back out again for some dinner, ice cream and an evening walk around the lake. Matt said he enjoyed Mount Pilatus the most on this trip...but he is an outdoorsy person. 

{Chapel Bridge}

{Chapel Bridge and Jesuitenkirche}

Friday, April 18, 2014

Day 3: Through the Black Forest

The day started like any other day, I got up and started doing my hair... but this time my hair straightener wasn't working. (Keep in mind that this straightener has been with my for all my travels to Europe.) Well I guess it wasn't feeling it and it surged and burned the back section of my hair!!! I was freaking out to say the least! SO, no pictures of me on this day since I looked like a HOT MESS!

After that horrible mishap we left Mannheim and headed through the Black Forest and stopped at Hofgut Sternen. This little "village" consists of a cuckoo clock maker (since cuckoo clocks originate in the area), a glass blowing shop and a super cute Best Western that apparently was fit for the future Queen of France! The one and only Marie Antoinette.

{Best Western at Hofgut Sterned}
{Largest cuckoo clock ever at Hofgut Sterned}

{Hofgut Sterned}
After that we were on our way to the Germany/Switzerland border where we had to stop for a border check. We stopped in Schaffhausen to see Rhine Falls, the largest waterfall in Europe (no offence Europe but Hawaii's are better :P). You can see the personal post card I sent of the falls here and send your own personal card here.

{Rhine Falls}
Once we were in Lucerne we viewed the Dying Lion Memorial which commemorates the Swiss Guards that were lost in 1792 during the French Revolution. After that we were suppose to go on a lake cruise but I had to find a mall so I could get something to fix my hair and a new straightener! Once we found that and fixed what I could we walked around to a few shops before they closed at 6pm and then met up with our group for dinner.

{Lion memorial of Lucerne}

Have you ever had any electrical mishaps while traveling?

Check out our time in Amsterdam and Germany.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Off to Germany We Go!

We left Amsterdam early and ended up in Boppard, Germany. We got a small tour of Boppard and had some lunch before boarding the boat for a Rhine River cruise. The boat ride was wonderful and a good time to relax. There were so many castles; including Liebenstein, Rhinefels and Katz. And then, at the end of our cruise we saw the Lorelei statue. The statue is a bronze statue about 16 feet in height. The statue is just north of the Lorelei Rock, the narrowest section of the Rhine River and has a cliff face almost 400 feet high. 

{Liebenstein Castle}

{Katz Castle}

{Rheinfels Castle}
Lorelei (aka Loreley) is a legendary German mermaid, who was created by Clemens Brentano in 1801. The legend goes something like this: A beautiful maiden named Lorelei waited for her lover on a rock at the narrowest and shallowest point of the Rhine River. He never returned, so she jumped off the rock to her death. The legend is that her spirit remains at the rock, seeking revenge against her unfaithful lover. She sits on the rock, now named for her, combing her long blonde hair and singing softly. Sailors are so enchanted by her beauty that they crash their ships into the rock or run aground in the shallow water. 

{You can see how big the statue is compared to the people walking below her}
After the cruise we were on our way to Heidelberg. We didn't go up to the castle but it was a sight to see! We had some free time to roam around and we came across these cookie balls (later I found out they are called schneeballen) and they are delicious and someone in the US should start making them! 

{Heidelberg Castle}

{Cookie Balls! Schneeballen}
From Heidelberg we went to our hotel in Mannheim. After eating dinner all the shops were closed and it was dark :( so we just walked around the Rosengarten and then headed in for the night. 

{Rosengarten Mannheim}
Check out Day 1 of our trip here and our flight across the pond here

Monday, April 14, 2014

Less than 24 hours in Amsterdam

For those that are new to the blog or missed a post, we took a Trafalgar tour for this trip.

We arrived at our hotel around 2 and decided to wash off all the travel and freshen up before we headed out for our tour of Amsterdam and canal dinner cruise. Once we all boarded the bus we headed out to the city center. BUT! Turns out there was some road closures so our tour was cut a bit short (after arriving home I found out that Euro Vision or something like that was there the same time we were). We were dropped off near the train station and walked to Dam Square. After that the tour director took some of the group to the red light district for the “hidden treasure” we opted not to check it out and just sort of walked around. There was a TON of people around and it just wasn't fun with all the crowds.

{Dam Square}

{Amsterdam Centraal Railway Station}

{The Dancing Ladies, famous for how much each one is leaning}
We went on our canal cruise which served us authentic Dutch food…for a second I thought I was going to have to find a burger but it ended up being good. On The cruise we saw a part of the red light district, the Weeping Tower, and the skinny bridge. Along with other popular bridges. And the cruise brought us right back to the hotel!

We were staying at the Mercure Hotel Amsterdam City; it was located further away from the center but still on the water. We really liked the hotel and it was the only one we had that had a king sized bed! 

We did notice how much they loved French fries with mayonnaise…. Gross!  Get some ketchup!

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