28 May 2011

Not Paris, but still pretty good

In an effort to ward off jet-lag related lethargy this morning, I decided to get up off the comfy couch and walk on over to the brand new Fulton Farmer's Market. It's a gorgeous day out there, after all, so it seemed a shame to waste it, even if the French Open is on TV.

I am really glad I decided to head out. Some highlights of my walk (note: these photos were taken with my shiny new cell phone. It takes nicer photos than my first digital camera):
Fulton street
A lovely street on my walk. I LOVE all the trees.

Southwest High School
Southwest High School

Finally, I arrived at the market. It's small, and it's a bit too early for any good veggies or fruits, but there was still a pretty decent crowd:

Fulton Farmers Market

I picked up some potato/flax bread from Sun Street Breads and some sheep's milk Camembert. I plan to enjoy both of them as my lunch. :-)

It was only about a 15-20 minute walk over to the market, but I am SO glad I got out to enjoy the day. It was pleasantly warm-ish with some beautiful sunshine and blue skies. Clearly, I brought this weather back with me from Paris. On my way home, a stop by the lake seemed appropriate:

Lake Harriet
I still can't believe sometimes that this is so close to my apartment. Lake!

Finally, the caretaker of my building has been hard at work on the flower pots out front:

Flower pots
Aren't they lovely?

And now, some French Open on TV and a yummy lunch in a bit. So looking forward to two more days of weekend after this.

26 May 2011

Paris 2011: Adventures in Strasbourg

Let's see, where did we last leave off...?

Oh yes, that's right, a morning train to Strasbourg! We left the apartment on Tuesday morning around 9 for our 10 o'clock train (one of the many benefits of train transportation vs. air transportation) and made it with plenty of time. 2ish hours later, and we had arrived in Strasbourg, the capital of the Alsace region, as well as the seat of European government. Here in photos are some highlights of that first day:

Place Kleber
Place Kleber, one of many squares in town.

Cathedral Garden: Strasbourg
A small garden near the cathedral.

Canal 2: Strasbourg
One of the lovely canals found throughout Strasbourg.

We also took a tram and a regular old city bus to the town of Kehl in Germany. Andy needed to arrange train transportation for the next leg of his journey, and of course buy a bottle of his beloved Mezzo Mix soda.

I tried some. It's not so bad, actually.

We passed our afternoon on a lovely boat tour of the canals/tributaries of the River Ill that is itself an offshoot of the Rhin. After a dinner of extremely traditional German fare (think sauerkraut, lots of sauerkraut), we headed to the Academie de la Biere for some excellent beer. It was an excellent day.

Strasbourg, Day 2

We got off to an early start and began by climbing all of the steps (I lost count, sorry Mom) to the top of the Cathedral of Strasbourg:

Cathedral 1: Strasbourg
See that flat bit next to the spire? That's where the stairs end up. LOTS of stairs.

It was worth it though; check out the view:

Cathedral View 1: Strasbourg
Nice, right?

We also took an audio-guided walking tour of the old town and Petit France, visited the Musee Historique de Strasbourg and enjoyed some lovely Doner Kabob for lunch. Before our trains that afternoon, we ventured out to the edges of town, near the European government buildings. They have a lovely park out there, called the Orangerie:

Trellis: Orangerie in Strasbourg
It goes on like this for quite some time. There's even a small zoo.

All in all, I think we had a wonderful time in Strasbourg. It is a really beautiful city, and much less to take in than Paris. I highly recommend it. After the park, it was time to head back to Strasbourg Gare Centrale to catch our respective trains. I headed back to Paris for the long trip back to Minneapolis the next day, and Andy started his 2nd leg of the trip, 3 trains to Hamburg.

I had an amazing time in France as always, and I hope you enjoyed reading about it. More photos as always on my flickr page. As for me, I think I really need some sleep as it is approximately 3:00am Paris time as I type.

25 May 2011

Paris 2011: Return from Strasbourg

I just wanted to put a quick note up here to let my loyal readers know that I have arrived safely back in Paris from my lovely side-trip to Strasbourg. I do not have time for a full post since we have to get up super early tomorrow to start our trip home to Minneapolis (sniff!), but trust me when I say that Strasbourg is really lovely.

Photos and a full recap to come once I am back on American soil. Until then, a bientot!

23 May 2011

Paris 2011: Day 5

Any day that starts with this is going to be a good day:

Cafe au lait
A cafe au lait at the local brasserie.

From there, Andy wanted to experience the RER A line, since it is apparently the most traveled rapid transit line in the western world (or, outside Tokyo), so we walked over to Chatelet and hopped on. Our destination:

La Grande Arche, from below.
It really is a grand arch.

After that, Andy and I headed off to the Champs-Elysees while his mom went off for her second trip to the Louvre. We saw the usual Champs-Elysees sites, including another Arch for our trouble:

Arc de Triomphe
This one is actually an Arc, technically.

We meandered our way down, checking out the Peugeot store (NICE pepper mills, oh and I suppose they also make cars?), the menus at McDonald's and Quick, and the Virgin Megastore. It was a lovely walk on another perfect day in Paris. Next was lunch - we stopped at Monoprix for some cheese and various other yummy french foods (Rillette, anyone?) and lunched at the apartment and had a little mid-day sit-down. We thought perhaps we'd meet up with his mom again but no luck.

Our afternoon was spent in pursuit of a Metro themed t-shirt for Andy at Galeries Lafayette (no luck, boo!). En route, some more excellent Paris sites:

Opera House
L'Opera, the nice one.

The MadeleineThis is one of my favorite buildings in Paris. Not sure why.

We also went to a store that ONLY sells mustard. Oh France, so silly. We did not buy any mustard, but quite a lot of the quirky flavors were very tempting. Now we are at home, chilling out and watching the French Open a bit (the TV graphics and silly TV personalities are unchanged), waiting for dinner time. I think a brasserie may be calling our name.

Tomorrow: a morning train to Strasbourg. Yay!

22 May 2011

Paris 2011: Day 4

I did not take a lot of photos today, dear readers, so apologies in advance for the lack of photographs. My first task this morning was saying farewell to the rest of my traveling companions. Andy and his mom were headed in the direction of the Chateau de Versailles, and Brad had to head to the airport to meet/pick up his girlfriend. Since I was up, I decided to once again walk over to the Marche Bastille. Raspberries, radishes, and asparagii were acquired.

My next item of the day: Meeting my good friend Katherine at the Hotel de Ville. She lives in Bordeaux and took the train up for the day specifically to hang out with me! We wandered over to Notre Dame, then explored the Marais district where our apartment is and had a lovely lunch, enjoyed the sunshine, and generally caught up and had a great time. It's really too bad we live so far from each other - it would be really nice to see her more than once every year or two. Ah, well.

After dropping Katherine at her Metro, I headed back to the apartment and met up with the Versailles-going contingent. I think a good time was had by all. Andy and I went back out for some exploring and dinner a bit later and enjoyed a thoroughly french bistro kind of meal. I had the moules mariniere (mussels cooked in white wine) and he had a croque falstaff (grilled ham/cheese/tomato sandwich with 2 fried eggs on top). In keeping with that, I present to you my only photo of the day:

How many French items can you identify in this photo?

Ok, off to bed for me. Tomorrow we will be tackling the Champs-Elysees. Sing it with me... "Aux Champs-Elysees...."

21 May 2011

Paris 2011: Day 3

I am happy to say that we all slept much, much better last night and are feeling much less jet-lagged today. After waking up around 7:30 or so, I ran a quick errand to the nearest bakery for some croissants, a pain au chocolat, and a chausson des pommes. Oh, and a baguette. All for less than the 6 euro that Andy had given me. Score! I took them back to the apartment and they were all still warm for our breakfast. Yum!

After the delicious start to the day, we started a trip down to the vicinity of Montparnasse to see the Catacombs. We had a brief stop near Chatelet-Les Halles for a lovely cafe creme, facing the Fountain of the Innocents.From there, a straight shot on the RER to the Catacombs, where we had to wait in a not insignificant line to get in. But once in... wow. I had already been once but I forgot how creepy and impressive it is. And a nice walk, although it was a bit damp down there.

From the catacombs, we wandered down the Grande Boulevarde to the Jardin de Luxembourg:

Fountain at Luxembourg

Jardin de Luxembourg: Trees

Fountain des Medicis

More photos, as always, on my Flickr page. From there, to the Latin Quarter we went to have lunch at my Dad's favorite Greek place. So, so yummy, and they have apparently opened another outpost just down the block.

We then split up as Andy and I wanted to go to the Musee d'Orsay. I always enjoy the sculptures in the courtyard:

Statues: Musee d'Orsay

As you can see, another beautiful day in Paris. The Musee d'Orsay was PACKED, particularly due to the ongoing renovations. And, my polar bear was not there! I was so disappointed! But the rest of the art is still amazing, so there's that. And I think Andy really enjoyed it. Now we're at home, having met back up with Andy's mom and brother after their adventures on the Champs Elysees. We'll be leaving shortly for dinner at Chez Omar, another one of my favorites. Tomorrow: Katherine is coming up from Bordeaux and everyone else is headed out to Versailles. Yay!

20 May 2011

Paris 2011: Day 2

We had grand plans to get up early this morning and attack the day with a trip the Eiffel Tower, to hopefully avoid any crazy long lines. Sadly, our bodies all decided that catching up on sleep after our long trip was a much higher priority. Instead, we woke up at 8:30 and had a much more leisurely breakfast. We did, however, eventually make it to the tower:

It's been a long time since I went all the way up the tower. I forgot how cool it is up there.  But wow, are there some serious lines. First you wait to buy your ticket (UGH!), then wait to get into the elevator. After checking out the 2ieme etage, there is another line for the elevators to the very top. And then a line to get back down. You see what I mean? So aside from the time we spent waiting (and waiting) in line, it was an excellent experience.

From there, we took the short-ish walk over to the Hotel des Invalides to check out Napolean's tomb:

He was not kidding around, apparently. Seems like an awfully big box for such a short human being, but then again I also didn't crown myself emperor. We then headed over to Montmarte and had lunch at this delicious place: Le Relais Gascon. We all had one of the Salades Geantes and they are AMAZING! I think I'll have to go back there every time I go to Paris. Yum! Then, of course, we had to check out Sacre Coeur:

The hill was fun to climb but we were all pretty much done after that. We had enough energy and time for the Dali Museum, but now we're back home, enjoying some cheese, bread, and a little sit down. It's excellent, and it's also another beautiful day in Paris.

19 May 2011

Paris 2011: Day 1

As reported elsewhere, I boarded Delta Flight 220 yesterday afternoon, destined for the City of Lights. And voila, here I am about 14 hours later. After an uneventful flight and RER ride into Paris, one of Glen's assistants met us at our lovely apartment in the Marais. Determined not to immediately go to sleep, we went out for an adventure at the Marche Bastille. Many people say it is one of the best farmer's markets in Paris.

Here is the obelisk in Place de la Bastille, where the infamous prison used to stand:

And here's a lovely scene from the market:

We got all sorts of fresh fruits and vegetables. More strawberries (delicious ones) than we could ever eat for about 2 euro. It's seriously good stuff. And as you can see, it's a beautiful day in Paris. We're having a brief sitdown at the apartment and then it's off to enjoy more of the day.