Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Good Enough For Locals

After our walk, we went to this lovely little restaurant back off of the main street for dinner.  Taylor went with some friends when he visited Paris the first time back in September, and thought it was good enough to return.  Boy, was he right!

The inside was cozy and authentic.  The sign said it was a "Grandfather to Grandson" restaurant, open since 1919.

We each ordered the fixed meal, which includes three plates and a drink that you pick from a list of three or four items in each course.  We both ordered a tomato salad for the starter.  As we all know, I am definitely not (strong emphasis on not) a tomato fan, but of the options listed, this was the least offensive.  I ate most of it too.

For the main meal we both ordered boeuf bourguignon, which was divine.  It came with carrots and mashed potatoes, which were both delightful with a piece of the boeuf and smothered in sauce.

For dessert, Taylor ordered the cheese plate and I was considering vanilla ice cream when the waitress talked me into a crème caramel dish.  It was kindof fluffy and odd, with a similar consistency to flan.

By this time we had finished our wine (as it was both of our drink selections they brought over a bottle for the table!), so we decided to get an end of meal coffee, like true Parisians.  It's not really coffee though, just a couple shots of espresso in a mini cup.  They came with sugar packets and little biscuit cookies, which tasted like ginger snaps.

All in all, the meal was fantastic.  We asked if they would be open after Christmas, so that we could come back one more time while in town, but sadly, they were closing for a week the following day.  Good thing we came that night!

(photos by e.hunt, and t.hunt)

Underwater Where Thoughts Can Breathe Easily

We continued on into La Musée De L'Orangerie.  Located on the edge of the Tuileries, it was originally built to shelter the orange trees, and now holds an impressive Impressionist collection, including eight of Monet's waterlilies along with pieces by Cézanne, Matisse, and Renoir, among others.

The waterlilies were superb, as expected.  The one in the middle picture was my favorite, with the vertical electric blue lines throughout it.  Absolutely fascinating.

There were also a few really nice Renoir still life's.  I'm not always a fan of Renoir's works, and really, the full paintings of these two close ups aren't that amazing, but the details are great.  The motion of the peaches and the light reflecting off of the glass vase is absolutely beautiful.

Here is one of Gaugin's landscapes.  Again, the motion of the paint strokes draw you in, encouraging you to look at each section of the painting.  

And of course, my favorite Cézanne of all time, Boat and Bathers.  The rectangular shape is so relaxing and peaceful, with the strong curve of the boat mast splitting the painting into two.  Trees and bathers and water and sky, with a strong horizon line finishing the cross in the middle.  The lovely blending within the impressionist lines and colors that represent light is really brought to the forefront here.

Sadly, we did not get to see the entire collection.  As we were there on a weeknight, the museum was closing early.  Not to worry though, there was plenty else to do in the area.  We walked along the Tuileries on the Rue de Rivoli, a street that has all the fanciest hotels and shops, up to the Louvre to see the pyramid and palace at night.  And on the way back, we got to see La Tour Eiffel sparkle!

(photos by e.hunt)

Bienvenue à Paris

The next morning we were on our way to Paris!  Through the Chunnel!  We sprang for the middle class seats; a table in front of us, a nice big window, and lots of leg room.  The seats on the other side of the table remained empty the whole way so we had the whole little booth to ourselves.  The meal came early on in the ride, and it was quite delicious.

We arrived at the apartment around seven thirty, were given a quick tour by the owner, and then we walked down to the supermarché to pick up a few things like wine, bananas, and the makings for sandwiches.  We were both pretty exhausted so after ham, brie, and dijon mustard sandwiches, we did a little planning of the next couple of days and went to bed.

The next morning Taylor wasn't feeling so great so while he was sleeping a few extra hours, I went to do a little shopping on one of my old favorite streets, Boulevard Saint-Germain.  It eventually runs into Notre Dame, so I got the first view of that as well!

After a quick snack back at the apartment, Taylor and I left for Place de la Concorde.  We got there right as the sun was setting, making for some beautiful shots.

The big ferris wheel and  pyramid thing were temporary holiday additions.  We feel like they kind of take away from everything else, but it was still beautiful.  I was also overjoyed to see some of my favorite lampposts again!

Ahh, I love this part of town.  Old and bustling, and everywhere you look is something cool and exciting.  The Tuileries Gardens, the Louvre, the Seine, the bridges, Champs Elysées, old buildings and hotels, and you can even see La Tour Eiffel in the distance.

(photos by e.hunt)

Sunday, December 27, 2015

It Is the Courage to Continue That Counts

To end the day we went to Churchill's War Rooms.  The collection of rooms sprawls out underneath a building, and is where Winston Churchill and a dedicated team ran the British end of WWII.

The museum was impressively done, with rooms set up exactly as they were during the war, and a room of little artifacts displayed and written about.  For example, they kept a supply of gas masks for everyone in the bunker because they were deathly afraid of being covertly discovered and poisoned by gas.  The third picture is a daily ledger, highlighting the actions of all the departments; military, air, and naval.

And then we made our way to the map rooms.  The maps covered entire walls, and most had a detailed track of some military movement pinned on.

There were other little details too: like the wall of keys for every room in the facility, a stairway that was filled in with concrete during the war for extra protection, then drilled out later on for the museum, and Churchill's bedroom.  He only slept down there three times during the war, but it was there if he needed to.  It was a fascinating thing to see and walk through.

(photos by e.hunt)

Just a Spot, Thank You

After the Tate Britain we circled around to Parliament and Big Ben.  The rainy overcast sky made for the quintessential London backdrop.  The building itself had quite a lot of detail, and was much larger than I was expecting.

And Big Ben just kind of peaks up on the end.  We were back in the area later that night so we got to see it then too!

And Westminster Abbey was right next door!  We didn't go inside but the flying buttresses and front facade were quite beautiful to look at.  

Next on the list was Buckingham Palace.  We walked up and for some reason I had a completely different image of what it looked like in my mind.  It was quite interesting to see though.  We went on a non-changing of the guard day, but we did get to see two guards out front walking to the door and back to their post several times.  Getting their steps in for the day.

As we couldn't get closer than the gate, we spent a good amount of time looking at just that, the gate. It had a lot of neat detail.

And since we were in the area, we walked over to Hyde Park, passing this great arch on the way.  We were pressed for time so the Hyde Park visit was a quick in and out before hopping on the tube over to the Churchill War Rooms.

(photos by e.hunt)