Glad Midsommar

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This time of year, Midsummer, the longest day of the year, I always think of Sweden.  Today, June 19th, is the big Midsummer celebration in Sweden, and I have heard from friends and family in Sweden as they prepare for the festivities.  For me there is no better place to be, but Oregon is a close second in a pinch.  This year Midsummer and Father’s Day fell on the same weekend, so I had to come to Oregon.  Oregon has been having an unusually dry and warm Spring.

My mother's house with the hay ready for cutting

My mother’s house with the hay ready for cutting

June is the month for flowers here.  It isn’t April showers that bring May flowers here, May is still too cold.  Today on the Oregon coast, sunrise is 5:23 and sunset is 9:10 pm, nearly 16 hours of daylight.

nasturiums

nasturiums

pansies

fuschia

Even the frogs are pretty colors in the Spring

Even the frogs are pretty colors in the Spring

yellow rose

The hay, ready to cut, at sunset:

fields of grain

sunset hayfield

My mother planted Birch trees, another reminder of Sweden.  Their beautiful white bark and delicate green leaves make pretty bouquets at Midsummer.  When we were in Sweden, we stopped to pick 7 types of wild flowers, and of course sang Helan Går while sampling snaps to celebrate Midsummer.

http://www.swedishfood.com/songs

birch tree bark

Birch tree bark

Birch leaves

Birch leaves

Daisies in the field

Daisies in the field

Honeysuckle

Honeysuckle

Blondie

Blondie

Posted in Oregon | 2 Comments

Last Day In Paris

Images from Le Cimetière du Père-Lachaise

Chopin's tomb

Chopin’s tomb

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Jim Morrison's grave.

Jim Morrison’s grave.

A particularly moving tomb

A particularly moving tomb

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Among the many last resting place of famous artists, architects and political figures, we saw;  Oscar Wilde, Marcel Marceau, Edith Piaf, Sarah Bernhardt, Jim Morrison, Chopin, and the most recently added Bernard Verlhac dit Tignous, the Charlie Hebdo cartoonist murdered by Islamic radicals.

http://www.pere-lachaise.com/

 

THE TOWERS OF NOTRE-DAME

After waiting in line for 30 minutes and climbing hundreds of narrows stairs, you find yourself at the top of Notre-Dame, the symbol of medieval Paris, with a view well worth the effort.

The winding staircase to the top of the Towers of Notre-Dame

The winding staircase to the top of the Towers of Notre-Dame

 

The Chimera gallery gargoyles, designed by Viollet-le-duc in the 19th century.  This photo is of Stryga, Greek meaning "bird of the night", a nocturnal and evil spirit

The Chimera gallery figures, designed by Viollet-le-duc in the 19th century. This photo is of a Stryga, Greek meaning “bird of the night”, a nocturnal and evil spirit

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Taken from the south tower belfry.  I happened to be up in the towers between 1130 and 1230 and heard the full set of bells.  It was awesome

These gargoyles are on the south tower belfry. I happened to be up in the towers between 1130 and 1230 and heard the full set of bells. It was awesome

An angel in the south tower belfry

An angel in the south tower belfry

Chimera;  depiction of a monster or mythical being.  Not to be confused with gargoyles, which are protruding features designed to drain rainwater.

Chimera; depiction of a monster or mythical being. Not to be confused with gargoyles, which are protruding features designed to drain rainwater.

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Looking east over the roof of the nave, you see four groups of three apostles, alongside allegorical depictions of the evangelists, descending on all sides of the spire.

Looking east over the roof of the nave, you see four groups of three apostles, alongside allegorical depictions of the evangelists, descending on all sides of the spire.

The Flower Market

The Flower Market on the Il de Citi

The Flower Market on the Ile de la Cite

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A Farmers’ Market In Our Neighborhood

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Our last evening up on Montmartre was lovely, with sunshine and no wind.  What a difference that made, and the crowd was gathered for sunset.

Montmartre stairs looking up

Montmartre stairs looking up

Montmartre stairs, looking down, black and white

Montmartre stairs, looking down, black and white

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A large crowd had gathered close to sunset

A large crowd had gathered close to sunset

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Paris, Museum Pass Day 4

Due to the excesses of the night before, we didn’t get going until 11 am, so a last minute change of plans, shortened considerably.  We took the metro down to the Place de la Concorde with the intent to tour the Musee de l’Orangerie.  We got a bit sidetracked by our first encounter with Fashion Week Paris which is this week.  There were so many photographers with big cameras and big lenses, we decided to see what was up.  Turned out there was a show, Carven, and the invitees were passing through the crowd, and at least one model as well.  We surely didn’t recognize anyone, but other people did.

Photographers shooting the fashion show attendees

Photographers shooting the fashion show attendees

You could tell the attendees not only by the frenzy of the photographers, but they also carried invitations.

A fashion show attendee poses for the photographers

A fashion show attendee poses for the photographers

We watched for a bit and then turned our attention to the real stars of Paris, the collection of Monet’s giant water lily paintings.  Two large naturally lit rooms hold 8 giant paintings, seen the way Monet intended.  It was wonderful.

A postcard of one of Monet's giant water lily paintings

A postcard of one of Monet’s giant water lily paintings

Being in no big hurry, we strolled the length of Avenue des Champs-Elysees from Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe.  We did a bit of window shopping, but it was an expensive street.

The marker in the ground in the Place de la Concorde marking the spot where the guilotine stood

The bronze plaque in the ground in the Place de la Concorde marking the spot where the guillotine stood and where Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette plus more than 1000 others lost their heads.

Window shopping along CHamps-Elyssee

Window shopping along Champs-Elysees

Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe

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We made our way back to the apartment to rest, passing once again Sacre-Coeur looking more splendid with a blue sky as a backdrop.

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The plan was to head down to the Eiffel Tower at 6 pm and wait for the lights to come on, which is exactly what we did.

This statue, like the rest of us, seems to wait for the Eiffel Tower lights

This statue, like the rest of us, seems to wait for the Eiffel Tower lights

The only place we saw Je Suis Charlie was on a crepe stand at the base of the Eiffel Tower

The only place we saw Je Suis Charlie was on a crepe stand at the base of the Eiffel Tower

And finally at 7 pm we not disappointed and the sparkling lights put the "light" in City Of Lights

And finally at 7 pm we not disappointed and the sparkling lights put the “light” in City Of Lights

We had dinner at the Cafe Trocadero (a tasty fish soup and goat cheese something or other) and from there made our way via metro to the Arc de Triomphe to take the photos in the previous post.  It was our night photo excursion, and it was beautiful.  Our last use of the 4 day Museum Pass was getting to ride the lift up to the top of the Arc and not having to take the stairs.

 

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City of Lights, Paris By Night

Eiffel Tower at 7 pm with the sparkling lights

Eiffel Tower at 7 pm with the sparkling lights

They light up the tower with sparkling lights for 5 minutes each hour, at the top of the hour.  This photo was taken at 7 pm, the first lighting.

The Arc de Triomphe, taken from the middle of The Champs-Elysee

The Arc de Triomphe, taken from the middle of The Champs-Elysee

Taken from the top of the Arc de Triomphe

Taken from the top of the Arc de Triomphe

The full moon over The Champs-Elysees from on top the Arc de Triomphe

The full moon over The Champs-Elysees and the Eiffel Tower, taken from on top the Arc de Triomphe with my iPhone on panorama

The full moon over The Champs-Elysees

The full moon over The Champs-Elysees

Arc de Triompne

Arc de Triompne

 

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Paris, Museum Pass Day 3, aka Happy Birthday to Me

Eiffel Tower taken from near the Place de la Concorde

Eiffel Tower taken from near the Place de la Concorde

We started today with a tour of the Musee d’Orsay.  A fabulous museum with three floors of Art Nouveau objects d’art, furniture and design (an entire room) that I didn’t even know were there, and rooms of master piece paintings, it was a great way to spend a birthday.  The building was reopened as a museum 47 years after it had been closed as a train station and was almost demolished in the 1970s.  It has been put to a very good use.

Morning along the Seine

Morning along the Seine

Sculptures outside the Musee d'Orsay

Sculptures outside the Musee d’Orsay

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The Musee d’Orsay was among the few places that had the ‘no photo’ sign everywhere.  However, there was one spot in the museum that allowed photos to be taken, and I confirmed that before snapping these two photos, the second being my favorite shot of the day.

Inside the Musee d'Orsay looking the clock

Inside the Musee d’Orsay looking out the clock

Sacre Coure from inside the Musee d'Orsay

Sacre Coure from inside the Musee d’Orsay

Postcard of the Vue de l'allee centrale, Musee d'Orsay

Postcard of the Vue de l’allee centrale, Musee d’Orsay

Postcard of some of the chairs

Postcard of some of the chairs of the 1900

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A book I purchased at the museum

After about 2 1/2 hours in the Musee d’Orsay, we walked back along the Seine and towards the Place de la Concorde.

A pedestrian bridge that links the Musee d'Orsay to the Jardin des Tuileries.

A pedestrian bridge that links the Musee d’Orsay to the Jardin des Tuileries.

The bridge was covered with the ‘love locks’ so popular with tourists.  At least on this newer more modern bridge it seemed ok, but not on the historic bridges, where we also saw the locks and they are causing problems.  There was a man selling locks on the bridge, and they even engrave them.

Engraved locks on the bridge

Engraved locks on the bridge

In the Jardin des Tuileries.

In the Jardin des Tuileries.

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On our way back to the apartment to rest before going back out for the evening, we stopped at a magazine stand to buy a Charlie Hebdo.  The local French man seemed quite happy about my inquiries into Je Suis Charlie, but we haven’t seen much use of the phrase so far.  I was hoping to get a sticker or t-shirt or something, but there has been nothing to purchase.

The latest issue of Charlie Hebdo.

The latest issue of Charlie Hebdo.

a page inside the issue of Charlie Hebdo.  Drones partout justice nullepart;  using images of political and historical figures, such as the Catholic Church and al-quaida to illustrate the futility of making people behave

a page inside the issue of Charlie Hebdo. Drones partout justice nullepart; using images of political and historical figures, such as the Catholic Church and al-quaida to illustrate the futility of making people behave

Our lunch today in the apartment, tarts and bread and cheese from the local bakery

Our lunch today in the apartment, tarts, and bread and cheese from the local bakery, and wine

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Birthday pastries served as cake.

Birthday pastries

Birthday pastries

We rested the afternoon in preparation for our big night out, dinner reservations at Le Jules Verne restaurant.  We took a cab to Place du Trocadero for the best location for Eiffel Tower photos.  It was cold but it was a good spot for photos.

Me with the EIffel Tower from the Trocadero

Me with the EIffel Tower from the Trocadero

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Eiffel Tower 1

Le Jules Verne restaurant has a private lift, and a gorgeous view.

View from Le Jules Verne

View from Le Jules Verne

We enjoyed the 5 course dinner with the 5 wine pairings.

Started with champagne

Started with champagne

smoked salmon, gold caviar, mimosa garnish

smoked salmon, gold caviar, mimosa garnish

sauteed scallop, potatoes with Mont d'Or cheese, cooking jus

sauteed scallop, potatoes with Mont d’Or cheese, cooking jus

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Le Jules Verne

Le Jules Verne

Crispy 'Tower nut', chocolate from their Paris factory and praline

Crispy ‘Tower nut’, chocolate from their Paris factory and praline.  With two dessert wines;  2009 Sauternes Chateau Haut-Bergeron, and 15 ans Maury Hors d’age Domaine Pouderoux

 

 

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Chartres Cathedral, A Day Trip From Paris

Chartres Cathedral

Chartres Cathedral

It was an easy one hour train ride from the Montparnasse Train Station in Paris to Chartres and a nice change of pace to see the countryside after spending a few days in the city.  The 16 euro fare took us past cute French villages and through farm land.

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From the Chartre train station, it’s a short walk to the stunning cathedral that absolutely dominates the surrounding area.  It was a beautiful sight, and luckily we had sunny weather for our arrival.  The cathedral was built between 1194 and 1260, relatively quickly for a Gothic cathedral and the reason for its harmonious design.

The East Rose window

The West Rose window

We took our time walking the interior with an audio guide, and my sister’s running commentary bolstered by many years of art history helped my understanding of the stained glass windows.  There is nothing random about the stories the windows tell.

The South Rose Window

The North Rose Window, the center window on the bottom depicts Saint Anne holding the infant Mary

There are three rose windows, depicting different bible stories and times of Jesus’ life, and most of the stained glass is original.

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The ceiling over the choir

The famous "Blue Virgin" window on the right

The famous “Blue Virgin” window on the right

The "Blue Virgin" window from the 12th century.  The virgin is shown holding baby Jesus

The “Blue Virgin” window from the 12th century.

 

The "Blue Virgin" original glass

The “Blue Virgin” original glass

The virgin shown holding the baby Jesus is the oldest stained glass at Chartre.  This depiction of Mary dates from the previous church on the site that burned in 1194.  The four panels were incorporated into the windows of the 13th century church.

Piscese in the window next to the "Blue Virgin"

Pisces in the window next to the “Blue Virgin”

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The holy relic - the Sancta Camisia - is reputed to have been the robe Mary wore when she gave birth to Jesus.

The holy relic – the Sancta Camisia – is reputed to have been the robe Mary wore when she gave birth to Jesus.

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As we exited the cathedral we were hit with a cold rain driven by strong winds.  Retreating to a cafe we enjoyed a local lunch, and then headed back to Paris.  On the train northbound we saw the facade of The Chateau de Versailles off to the west.

Galeries Lafayette

Galeries Lafayette

Back in Paris by 3 pm, we hopped the metro to Galeries Lafayette, one of the city’s biggest department stores.   The building was beautiful with an Art Nouveau stained-glass dome, but the prices were so high we walked and looked, but didn’t buy.

Beautiful interior to Galeries Lafayette

Beautiful interior to Galeries Lafayette

A pretty dress displayed

A pretty dress displayed

 

http://www.cathedrale-chartres.org/en/,143.html

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Paris, Museum Pass Day 1

Cathedrale de Notre-Dame on the Ile de la Cite

Cathedrale de Notre-Dame on the Ile de la Cite.  This photo is a bit deceptive.  The sun was out but it was anything but warm.  The high today was 46 F and the wind never ceased.

Yesterday we bought the four day museum pass for 56 euros, a very good bargain if you plan to hit even a few museums.  We had planned to do just two today, but as the weather rapidly changed from sunny to at times heavy rain showers, and the relentless wind tore at my pitifully inadequate outer gear (unprepared Floridian tourist – I should have known better),  we ducked into a few extra spots to escape the cold.

From a packed morning rush hour metro we gratefully entered the nearly empty Notre-Dame Cathedral at 7:45 am.  A mass started at 8 am as we slowly made our way around the interior, to the sound of the Priest saying the mass in French and some occasional chants.

Notre-Dame interior

Notre-Dame interior

Notre-Dame interior

Notre-Dame interior

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Kilometre Zero, the point from which all main-road distances in France are calculated, located on the western side of Notre-Dame

Kilometre Zero, the point from which all main-road distances in France are calculated, located on the western side of Notre-Dame

From Notre-Dame we quickly made our way to Sainte-Chapelle, also on the Ile de la Cite and just a few blocks away.  Unfortunately, we ended up standing in line, in the wind.  We thought it opened at 9 am, but it was 9:40 by the time they opened the door.  After passing through a metal detector we entered the upper chapel, built by Louis IX from 1242-1248.  1113 glass panels tell the entire Bible story.

Ingterior of the upper chapel Sainte-Chapelle

Interior of the upper chapel Sainte-Chapelle

A detail from one window

A detail from one window

The floor of the upper chapel, almost a beautiful as the windows

The floor of the upper chapel, almost a beautiful as the windows

Sainte-Chapelle was truly beautiful, windows and floor, but it was also frigid.  I just couldn’t linger in the cold, so we headed back over to Notre-Dame with the intent of climbing the tower for the classic gargoyles over Paris photo op. The line for the tower was not only long, but directly in the wind and neither of us had the tolerance for it.  So we left the area and headed towards the Musee National du Moyen Age in the Quartier Latin.

Exterior of Musee National du Moyen Age, or The National Museum of the MIddle Ages

Exterior of Musee National du Moyen Age, or The National Museum of the Middle Ages

The museum was wonderfully warm, not crowded and a very good size.  It turned out to be my favorite visit of the day.  The museum houses the best-preserved Roman remains in Paris and the famous tapestry series La Dame a la licorne (“The Lady and the Unicorn.”)

architectural details

architectural details

A Mon Sevl Desir, my only desire

A Mon Sevl Desir, my only desire

From the handbook I purchased at the museum:

The Lady and the Unicorn is a famous series of six tapestries rediscovered in the 19th century and exhibited at the Cluny Museum…The tapestries are generally thought to have been produced some time in the last two decades of the 15th century…the weaving to have been carried out by one of the workshops of Northern France, Brabant, Flanders or the Netherlands…Since the twenties, historians have recognised an allegory of the five senses in the first five tapestries:  Sight; Hearing; Smell; Taste; and Touch.  However, the sixth tapestry known as “A Mon Sevl Desir” after the inscription embroidered in gold on a blue pavilion in front of which stand the lady and her maidservant, is not as easily deciphered.

Taste,  The right hand of the lady takes a piece of confectionery from a dish offered to her by the maidservant

Taste, The right hand of the lady takes a piece of confectionery from a dish offered to her by the maidservant

The tapestries all hang together in one dimly lit room (to preserve the colors).  It seems that here, as in all the monuments and museums we have visited, the authorities have given up any hope of stopping cell phone picture taking, and everyone was doing it.  So the above photo is my own iPhone photo of the 6th tapestry.  The most control they have now is to ask that photos be taken without the flash.

Vierge Allaitant L'enfant.  I was fascinated by this sculpture showing the madonna suckling the baby Jesus, one I don't remember seeing before

Vierge Allaitant L’enfant. I was fascinated by this sculpture showing the Madonna suckling the baby Jesus, one I don’t remember seeing before

The Cluny also exhibits carved choir stalls, altarpieces, stained glass and other tapestries.  It was a good size, not too small and not too big and a pleasure to tour.

A tapestry showing wine making

A tapestry showing wine making

Tapestries also depicted jousts and people on horseback

Tapestries also depicted jousts and people on horseback

Making our way back to the north side of the river after The Cluny, we made a brief stop at the famous book store Shakespeare and Company.  I purchased Colette’s Cheri, (in English) an appropriate choice for Paris and stamped with the “Shakespeare And Company Kilometer Zero Paris” logo.

Rain showers outside Shakespeare and Company bookstore, Paris

Rain showers outside Shakespeare and Company bookstore, Paris

After a lunch break back on the north side of the river, we had enough time to make a brief stop at The Louvre.  We hadn’t planned to visit it today, but with the unpredictable weather and a museum pass, it ended up on our itinerary.

The dark and rainy sky as we entered The Louvre

The dark and rainy sky as we entered The Louvre

Even though our feet were aching at this point, we made our way through more than 5,000 years of art history.  My all time favorite piece of artwork in any museum is The Winged Victory of Samothrace.  That was our first stop.  Again, photos were allowed, but the Chinese tourists who posed in front of the piece and touched it were quickly reprimanded by the attentive museum representative.  It was crowded and there was even an artist sketching the masterpiece.

My all time favorite, The Winged Victory of Samothrace

My all time favorite, The Winged Victory of Samothrace

The crowd and the artist around Victory

The crowd and the artist around Victory

Fading fast, we opted to skip the Mona Lisa (yes, that’s right) and made our way through Louis XIV – Louis XVI and to the exit.  I finally got my fill of Louis chairs, but it took The Louvre to do it.

Marie Antoinette's furniture

Marie Antoinette’s furniture

Louis chair

Louis chair

Favorite chair, Fauteuils en cabriolet, 1750

Favorite chair, Fauteuils en cabriolet, 1750

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The last of our energy was spent getting to the metro and back up to the apartment.  It was heaven to have our own place to come home to.

The sunny weather that greeted us as we exited The Louvre

The sunny weather that greeted us as we exited The Louvre

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Paris, St-Ouen Market

A vender at Les Puces de St-Ouen

A shop at Les Puces de St-Ouen

One word describes the St-Ouen market:  wow!  This famous flea market on the northern edge of the 18th arrondissement has anything you might be looking for and more.  It would have been easy to fill a shipping container with all the pieces I found that I loved, but it would have completely drained all bank accounts.  Block after block of shops held anything you could possibly dream of.  My dear friends Teresa and Joanie would be lost for days in this shopper’s paradise.

Murano glass chandeliers in the flea market, reasonably priced around 350 euros

Murano glass chandeliers in the flea market, reasonably priced around 350 euros

A chair I liked, also 350 euros

A chair I liked, also 350 euros, so reasonable I actually inquired about shipping to the US

I did find the one perfect piece on my must have list, a Schneider art nouveau desk lamp.  I had two goals for my stay in Paris;  one awesome photograph, and an art nouveau desk lamp.  One down and one to go.

The art nouveau lamp that first caught my eye, unfortunately it was 2,000 euros

The art nouveau lamp that first caught my eye, unfortunately it was 2,000 euros

The Schneider lamp I purchased

The Schneider lamp I purchased for considerably less than 2000 euros in the Marche Serpette, Aisle 4, Stall 10

Lamp being disassembled for packing

Lamp being disassembled for packing

more shops

more shops

We saw many dogs accompanied by their people, like this wheaton scottie

We saw many dogs accompanied by their people, like this wheaten Scottie

More beautiful chairs, these were 1800 euros for two

More beautiful chairs, these were 1800 euros for two

And more beautiful chairs

And more beautiful chairs, a recent obsession of mine

You could easily spend days going through all the shops, but after finding my treasure we headed towards the metro station at a leisurely pace.  Paranoid I would break the irreplaceable Schneider art glass, we made our way directly back to the apartment.

After safely depositing the desk lamp in the apartment, we ventured back out with a Rick Steves restaurant recommendation as our destination.  It was in the Montmartre area, but away from the hustle and bustle of tourist traffic.  This one turned out to be a good recommendation so Rick earns some points.

L'ete en Pente Douce

L’ete en Pente Douce

Our lunch spot

Our lunch spot

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Looking down from the Montmartre hillside

Looking down from the Montmartre hillside

We spent the rest of the afternoon walking around and looking into shops.  Montmartre seems to be the windy spot of Paris, so I didn’t last too long without ducking into a shop to avoid the wind.  The sun did shine now and then, but temperatures were still cool.

Macaroons in the window at Christophe Roussel Patissier Chocolatier

Macaroons in the window at Christophe Roussel Patissier Chocolatier

 

Nikon color outline feature

Nikon color outline feature

Posted in France | 2 Comments

Amsterdam to Paris

The train station in Amsterdam

The train station in Amsterdam

I liked Amsterdam.  It is clean and organized, from the ticket lines at the museums to the signage at the train station.  It’s easy to get around and everyone speaks English.  As our Heineken cruise guide said “There’s more to Amsterdam than prostitutes and coffee shops.”

It was an easy walk from our B&B to the train station, where we boarded the Thalys high speed train to Pairs.  The ride was smooth, comfortable and fast, reaching a maximum speed of 300 km/hr, or 186 mph.  It felt like we were rolling right along as the countryside sped by.

From the Gare du Nord train station in Paris it was a short 10 minute walk to the apartment at 74 rue Dunkerque.  We rented the apartment through VRBO.com, and it was perfect; two bedrooms and roomy.  We have found that apartment rentals beat hotels every time, and if you split the cost, it is more economical too.

The apartment we rented on VRBO.com.

The apartment we rented on VRBO.com.

my room

A market is one block away, and a pastry shop is in the same block.  We are also one block from the Anvers metro station stop.

Apartment builiding on Dunkerque

Apartment building on Dunkerque

Pastries in the shop on our block

Pastries in the shop on our block

After unpacking and grocery shopping (food in the market was reasonably priced, a bottle of wine around 5 euros), we took a walk up to Sacre-Coeur to get our bearings.  It had clouded over and there was a cold wind, still, the streets were full.  There is no end to the tacky souvenir shops and even in February there were many tourists.  We made an initial reconnaissance of the area for future lunch spots and found a money changing shop.  All essential.

The carousel at the foot of Sacre-Coeur

The carousel at the foot of Sacre-Coeur

Place de Tertre in Montmartre

Place de Tertre in Montmartre

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Nikon color sketch feature on a pastry shop window in Montmartre

Nikon color sketch feature on a pastry shop window in Montmartre

Back at the apartment it was heaven to relax in a toasty warm roomy place of our own with a kitchen.

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There are endless tacky souvenir shops lining the streets to Sacre-Coeur

There are endless tacky souvenir shops lining the streets to Sacre-Coeur

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Le Chat Noir, an iconic poster art image from the Montmartre cabaret established in 1881.  The artist was Steinlen.  This is image is EVERYWHERE and on everything imagineable here in the Montemartre area of Paris

Le Chat Noir, an iconic poster art image from the Montmartre cabaret established in 1881. The artist was Steinlen. This is image is EVERYWHERE and on everything imagineable here in the Montemartre area of Paris

Posted in Amsterdam, France | 4 Comments

Another Day in Amsterdam

The only flower market stall with fresh flowers in the month of February

The only flower market stall with fresh flowers in the month of February

With the departure of the “cold, bleak, biting weather” (thanks Charles), we headed out into sunny skies and crisp temperatures.  What a difference no rain and wind make, and how nice to have a little sunshine.  We walked all day and checked off most of what we had on our ‘to do’ list.

The floating flower market was pretty much a bust in this pre-growing season month.  The flower stalls had many bulbs for sale, but not the endless buckets of fresh flowers I was hoping for.

The Katten Kabinet

The Katten Kabinet

We visited the cat art museum called Katten Kabinet, and had the sweetest, most talkative little docent of any museum I’ve toured.  Her name was Shirley and she had a hair trigger purr.  She guided us through the rooms of cat art in a converted canal home;  two museums in one really, as we were able to see what one of the old houses looked like on the inside.

Shirley the kitten guided us through the Katten Kabinet

Shirley the kitten guided us through the Katten Kabinet

A corner in the cat art museum

A corner in the cat art museum

Theophile-Alexandre Steinlen.  Compagnie Francaise des Chocolates et des Thes.  1895

Theophile-Alexandre Steinlen. Compagnie Francaise des Chocolates et des Thes. 1895

Steinlen, A la Bodiniere.  1894

From the cat museum we walked along Vijaelgracht, then followed alongside Singelgracht until we reached the Rijksmuseum, newly renovated and quite popular.  However, I can usually only take one large museum per day, and my priority was the Van Gogh Museum, so on we walked, passing an ice skating rink, and then into line for the Van Gogh Museum.  The Van Gogh Museum was truly fabulous, and with as many people as we saw in the exhibit in this off season, it must be shoulder to shoulder in the tourist season.

Amsterdams Rijksmuseum

Amsterdams Rijksmuseum

The Van Gogh Museum is four floors of the world’s largest collection of his works, including 200 paintings.  You work your way chronologically through his life, starting on the ground floor.  It was quite informative, and we learned many details, including that without his brother’s wife, the world may never have known his art.  His nephew, Vincent Willem van Gogh inherited the art collection and carried on the legacy by creating the Vincent van Gogh Foundation.

I bought some postcards of a few of my favorites, and the museum masterpiece book.  Here are copies of the postcards, as best as I can post them without a scanner.

The Bedroom, Arles, October 1888

The Bedroom, Arles, October 1888

Wheatfield with a reaper, Saint-Remy, September 1889, the view from his room at the asylum

Wheatfield with a reaper, Saint-Remy, September 1889, the view from his room at the asylum

Van Gogh Almond blossom

Van Gogh’s Almond Blossom. Saint-Remy, February 1890. Painted as a gift for his newly born nephew

 

Irises, Saint-Remy, May 1890.  According to van Gogh the canvas needed a month to dry on account of its impasto (thickly applied paint).

Irises, Saint-Remy, May 1890. According to van Gogh the canvas needed a month to dry on account of its impasto (thickly applied paint).

Me in a pub next door to the Heineken Experience

Me in a pub next door to the Heineken Experience

A pub lunch, of course, followed the museum, and then to the Heineken Experience.  I’m not a beer drinker myself, but I did want to see the stables where the Shire horses that pull the beer wagon are housed.  Unfortunately, the stables were closed for repair.

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The Heineken Experience was interesting, included two free beers (admission was 18 euros), and seemed geared towards a younger audience.  I really did try the beer, taking a “manly swallow” and not a sip as advised, but I still have to count myself a non-beer drinker.

Inside the Heineken Experience

Inside the Heineken Experience

My sister sampling the "extra cold" Heineken

My sister sampling the “extra cold” Heineken

We boarded the complimentary Heineken boat and saved ourselves some walking, as it dropped us near the Opera House on the Amstel River, the only natural waterway in Amsterdam.  We still had quite a few blocks to walk back to our B&B, and as the sun started to lower in the west, the temperature started to drop under the clear sky.

Heineken boat

Heineken boat

We walked along the river as the sun faded and light turned magical.

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A Van Gogh inspired caked in a bakery window

A Van Gogh inspired caked in a bakery window

Using the Nikon color sketch feature on one of the canal photos

Using the Nikon color sketch feature on one of the canal photos

After a very brief rest at the B&B, we headed out for dinner in our neighborhood, the Jordaan.  We know this is the off season, but for all our lunches and dinners, the restaurants have been packed and we can’t imagine what it would be like in the busy tourist season.

A canal just after sunset

A canal just after sunset

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