(Warning: this post is the length of a short novel)
I like to think of myself as a traveler, not a tourist. When we travel to new places, we try to avoid the cliche tourist traps and get off the beaten path to discover the true culture and history of the places we visit. However, doing this in Europe is difficult. You cannot go to Europe and just NOT visit the Vatican, Colosseum, Versailles Palace, Eiffel Tower, etc. It's practically a crime to humanity! So when we traveled to Europe this spring, we did our best to be travelers and not tourists, while still visiting all of the infamous sites we couldn't pass up. It was hard. Especially considering I probably blended in with the herds of Asian bus tour groups with their expensive cameras, fanny packs, and 100 year-old grandmothers being strung along. While many of these Asians ignored or were ignorant to social norms (e.g. don't cut in front of hundreds of people in an hour long line), I clung to my 6' 3'' Caucasian husband and tried to appear as "non-touristy" as possible. I even spoke a little french here and there...although it was mainly to ask people if they spoke English.
Aside from that, in the two week time period we had, we figured we could comfortably visit three countries. This would give us enough time to enjoy many of the sites, while not being too rushed. We decided to visit Italy, Vatican City (surprisingly its own country), Spain, and France. It was an unforgettable experience and I already want to go back! We took hundreds of pictures...nearly a thousand to be exact. What can I say??? It's Europe...and I tend to get carried away.
(Rome, Florence, Siena, San Gimignano, Pisa)
Italy was just as you picture it in the movies. The City of Rome is massive, yet it somehow feels cozy. It's easy to just get lost walking through the cobblestone streets and looking at shops and bistros. Many people walk to and from their destinations, and those that don't, generally use the metro or smart cars. I've never seen so many tiny cars in my life.
When we first arrived in Rome, we checked into our first hotel called the Hotel Eden. It was so beautiful and antiquated. The entry way was all white marble and the fine furnishings and decor made me feel like I had stepped into a different time period.
After checking into our hotel, the first site we visited was the Spanish steps. The Spanish Steps are a 135-step stairway designed by Francesco de Sanctis and Alessandro Specchi.
|Above the Spanish Steps|
|Trinita dei Monti (church at the top of the Spanish Steps)|
|The Spanish Steps connect the Piazza di |
Spagna (at the bottom) to the Piazza
Trinita dei Monti (at the top) where there
is a church.
|Fontana della Barcaccia (known as the fountain of the |
ugly boat) at the bottom of the stairs in the Piazza di Spagna
After seeing the Spanish Steps, we stopped to see the Trevi Fountain. I was not expecting it to be so massive and breathtaking. When we arrived to see it, it was dark and the fountain and all the sculptures were lit up and glowing. It was absolutely gorgeous and definitely one of my favorite sites throughout the trip. Jacob and I even tossed coins into the fountain and made wishes.
|When we walked around the corner and saw the fountain,|
I was in total awe at its beauty. I'm so glad we got to see
it at night.
|Making a wish!|
We had our first Italian meal (pasta of course) and gelato that night. I kept telling Jacob how surprised I was at the simplicity of authentic Italian food. Whenever we ordered, we generally received plain artisan-style bread and homemade pasta with a small amount of sauce, and sometimes a little bit of meat. There were no side dishes or all you can eat salad and bread sticks (thanks a lot Olive Garden), and fruits and vegetables seemed nearly non-existent. When I did order zucchini in my pasta once, I only got a few tiny pieces. The pasta was amazing, but after several days of that kind of eating, we were both craving fruits and vegetables. And of course the wine flowed in Italy...just not to our table. I think we shocked a few locals and other tourists when they found out we didn't drink alcohol. Most would have an expression of pity on their faces and with their heavy Italian accents, say something to the effect of, "I'm sorry" or "that's too bad," like we were telling them our dog had just died. I suppose to not partake of wine in wine country is a sacrilege. Nevertheless, we offered friendly smiles, explained that we were fine without it, and continued to drink our 5 euro bottles of water we were forced to order at every meal. The one thing I didn't ever quite figure out in Italy. Although they boasted that their water was clean and drinkable at every public fountain around the city, they never allowed you to drink water from the tap when dining. Still a mystery. Anyways, aside from the dinner dining, I have to say that I absolutely fell in love with all the pastry and gelato shops around every corner. Sometimes, it was fun just to look through the windows and see all the beautiful cookies, pastries, and other desserts sitting in the window. Their pastries are a work of art.
|Our first Italian meal at a restaurant by the hotel|
|I ordered bucatini all'amatriciana. Yum!|
|Just one of many beautiful bakery and pastry shops in Italy.|
I was dying to try an amaretti cookie, cannoli, and biscotti.
Shortly after arriving in Rome, we left Italy and traveled nearby to the smallest country in the world, Vatican City. Vatican city is a sovereign city-state. It is approximately 110 acres in size and has about 800 residents. This makes it the smallest internationally recognized state in both size and population. The current Pope, Pope Benedict XVI, is both head of state and the government in Vatican City.
|Getting ready for our tour. It was so nice to have a headset |
and radio to hear the guide speak over the other crowds.
|Wooden model of Vatican City|
|Dome of St. Peter's Basilica|
|The small golden globe sitting atop St. Peter's dome is |
symbolic of the belief that when the world ends, The Vatican
will be the only place left standing.
|World within a world. If you spin it, one world rotates one way,|
while the other world rotates the opposite direction.
|There were so many statues and sculptures at the Vatican. |
We were told that if we were to stop and look at each
statue for 60 seconds, it would take 12 years to view
|Cannot image the time and work it took to tile this|
design by hand with such limited tools and equipment.
All the tiles are approximately 1/2 in x 1/2 in. Stunning.
In one of the halls hung giant hand-woven tapestries.
Each tapestry took approximately 9 years to make.
|Long hall with early paintings and maps of the world|
|The intricacy and complexity in every architectural detail|
was unbelievable. Much of the gold that is seen is also
|I never knew that the Colosseum consisted of three|
rings or layers that made up the surrounding structure.
Here you can see all three layers.
|Colosseum by night|
Jacob wanted to see the Colosseum at night. I, on the other hand,
didn't think it would be that different from seeing it during the day.
He was right though. It was cool to see it lit up at night.
The Roman Forum contains remnants and remains from the some of the oldest and most important buildings in ancient Rome. It has been called the most celebrated meeting place of the world and in all of history. Also known simply as the "Forum," it was a rectangular plaza surrounded by important buildings. It was considered the nucleus or center of Roman public life. It was here, that elections, processions, criminal trials, and other public meetings were held. It was also surrounded by senate and government offices, temples, statues, and memorials. Right across from it, is the Colosseum
After the death and deification of Emperor Antoninus's wife
Faustina, he dedicated this temple to her. And after his own
death and deification, Marcus Aureliuus had the temple
re-dedicated and renamed after both of them.
|Arch of Titus|
|We found a fun little restaurant with tables outside.|
All the tables were being occupied, so they set up another
table for us by the curb.
|The pasta was so good! I had zucchini carbonara.|
|Have to say....dessert was a bit odd. Tasted burnt and dry.|
|After we finished lunch and were headed|
towards finding the Pantheon, we saw this.
Still can't figure it out.
|Had to give them money!|
|Jacob looking up|
|The circle in the center of the marble floor is where most of|
the rain falls.
Other painters, composers, and architects are also buried here.
|Random, I know. But we found it easier to just eat at a |
Burger King late one night. All of the fast food restaurants
in Europe are super fancy with multiple levels, nice dining
furniture, and DIY ordering kiosks. We were impressed.
|In my opinion, possibly the world's longest escalator.|
You can't even see the bottom, because it goes on for so long.
I felt like we were going to burn up soon as we headed to
the earth's core.
After our adventures in Rome and Vatican city, it was time to say goodbye and head for Florence.
Although I loved Rome, I was looking forward to the open, countryside feel of Italy. Although the city of Florence itself contains over 370,000 people, the surrounding areas, showcase Italian countrysides, farmland, and vineyards.
|My first train ride ever, heading from Rome to Florence|
|Our Hotel in Florence was beautiful|
|Green marble bathroom|
|Other side of the lounge area|
I loved the decor and ambiance of this hotel.
|Hotel entry way|
|Streets of Florence|
|Not sure what this signified, but there was|
money attached all over this wall.
|Florence Cathedral of Florence Duomo|
The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore is the
main church in Florence. It is one of Italy's
largest churches and the brick dome is the
largest dome ever constructed.
|The church's facade is 19th century Gothic and is made up of |
panels of green, white, and pink marble.
|We loved seeing all the unique doors when|
we walked through the streets and alley's
of Florence. This one matched Jacob's shirt,
which is why I probably insisted I take a
picture of him by it.
|We ordered lasagna and ravioli|
|Arno River in Florence|
After exploring a little bit of Florence, we took a day bus tour of the countryside and neighboring cities. We became such good friends with Diane and Linda (friends from the Colosseum) that we told them to sign up for our day tour group in Florence, seeing that they were headed to Florence anyways.We were able to meet up with them and join their group. We had such a fun day
exploring Siena, San Gimigano, and Pisa.
|Our bus ride|
|First stop: Siena|
|Loved the clothes-line with laundry|
|Many of the wealthy people in Siena, intentionally choose to |
have small living quarter and make the outside of their homes
unattractive, to avoid being robbed or broken into.
|The cathedral has the shape of a cross with a bell tower |
|View of the facade from the side|
Amazingly ornate and intricate
|Interior of the Siena Cathedral|
I loved the black and white stripes everywhere. It was
very different from the design of many of the older
buildings and cathedrals we had seen.
|I found this picture online revealing what the |
floors look like when uncovered. Gorgeous.
|Room inside the cathedral|
|Just in front of the Cathedral|
|One of many gelato shops in Italy|
|Fun food shop with cookies, pasta, oils, etc.|
|I loved seeing the countryside and vineyards. The views |
|2nd stop: San Gimignano|
After seeing Siena, we stopped at an organic farm and winery to tour and eat lunch. I'm not exactly sure which town it was in, but we could see the city of San Gimignano in the distance from where we ate, therefore we may very well have been on the outskirts of the city. The farm had acres of breathtaking vineyards and farmland. In addition to making wine, they also produce their own cheese and olive oil. Three staples in Italian cuisine.
|Vineyard at the farm|
|Cow that had just given birth|
|Her newborn calf|
|View from lunch|
|Excited to eat!|
|Our lunch was very simple. It consisted of artisan bread,|
lettuce and olive oil, meat, cheese, and pasta. It
was a neat experience.
|More views from lunch|
|Happy grazing cattle|
I've been growing a dwarf lemon tree for almost 3 years now,
and it's nowhere near producing fruit. This little tree gave me
hope that my lemon tree could become a smaller version of
|We stopped at a Gelato shop in San Gimignano that is |
considered by many to have the best gelato in Italy.
Lastly, we took a ride to Pisa to go see the leaning tower. The tower is simply the bell tower of the Cathedral of Pisa. Its lean is unintentional. When it first underwent construction, the foundation below it on one side was too soft and the tower began to lean. It continued leaning and tilting for the decades the cathedral was being built and was finally stabilized and partially corrected in the late 20th/early 21st centuries.
|Third stop: Pisa|
We got to hop onto a fun little train to make our way to Pisa.
|View during our train ride|
|Wall outside the Cathedral of Pisa|
|Cathedral of Pisa|
|Bell tower looking up|
|I knew the tower would be leaning, but when|
I actually saw it in person, I was surprised
at how tilted it really was!
|Inside the cathedral|
|Jacob couldn't resist the cliche pose that one |
has to do when visiting the tower.
I don't think the guy behind him could
After Pisa, we headed back to Florence to see a few more sites before heading to Spain.
|It had prosciutto, cheese, olive tapenade, and arugula among|
other things. So good.
|Jacob ordered his own sandwich (needed more meat) and |
we sat on the curb to eat them. It was a fun lunch.
|After eating, we headed up to one of the |
highest points in Florence to see a few
more sites and get a glimpse of Florence
from up above.
|When we got to the top, we could see the Florence Cathedral|
|Arno River and city of Florence|
|Replica of the David statue|
|Jacob looking down at Florence|
|Inside the basilica of San Miniato al Monte|
|Tombs and graves of the deceased|
|One of many mausoleums|
After leaving Italy, we flew to Barcelona. Now, technically speaking, Barcelona is the capital of the autonomous community of Catalonia, which is an officially recognized nationality. For the sake of this blog however, let's just say we were in Spain. When we arrived, the first thing I noticed was how new everything looked. It was interesting going from such old cities and hotels to newer ones. The hotel in Barcelona was completely unlike the hotels in Rome and Florence. It was very contemporary and chic. I loved the design of the lounge and bar area!
|Obsessed with toiletries. Not sure why, considering I |
usually use my own anyways.
|Hotel computer area|
Our first major stop in Barcelona was at the Sagrada Familia. I was so excited to see this! I remember learning about the architect Antoni Gaudi, when I was an interior design major, and I developed a love for his designs early on. Needless to say, it ended up being one of my favorite sites that we visited. The Sagrada Familia is a Roman Catholic church designed by the Gaudi who was "...one of the outstanding figures of Catalan culture and international architecture. He was born in Baix Camp, but it was in Barcelona that he studied, worked and lived with his family. It is also in the city that we find most of his work. He was first and foremost an architect, but he also designed furniture and objects and worked in town planning and landscaping, amongst other disciplines. In all those fields he developed a highly expressive language of his own and created a body of work that speaks directly to the senses." -www.sagradafamilia.cat
The Sagrada Famlia is still under construction. Although it was commissioned in late 1883 and occupied Gaudi's entire professional life, he knew that it wouldn't be complete in his lifetime. "...so he organised it and the construction so that it could be carried out following his ideas. He programmed the construction, not building all the walls to the same level at the same time but in complete parts(façades, naves of the interior and towers), so that each generation would be the protagonist of one part. He defined the project as a whole on ground plans, sections and elevations and specified important parts in scale plaster models that defined the project in detail and had to serve as models for other parts; for example, the 1:10 scale model of the main nave was used for its construction, but also for the definitive project of the vaults of the crossing and of the apse, defined generally in the sections. Moreover, he explained the project to his associates and various young architects. To help with the interpretation and the construction, on the project he only used geometrical forms and established all the laws of the relation between them. Geometry has made it possible to discover the original project and orient the process of the rest of it and of the construction."
|Gaudi drew architectural inspiration from nature:|
trees, fruit, plants, seashells, etc. and his designs
were very organic and natural
|When the Sagrada Familia is complete, it will have 18 towers:|
12 dedicated to the apostles, 4 dedicated to the evangalists,
one dedicated to Jesus, and one dedicated to Mary.
The Sagrada Familia has four facades: the nativity facade, passion facade, glory facade, and apse facade. Each facade symbolizes Catholic beliefs. The nativity facade is symbolic of the birth and life of Christ. The passion facade depicts the crucifixion and death of Christ. The glory facade symbolizes the creation and order of man, and the apse facade is consecrated in devotion to Mary.
|Part of the passion facade. It was intentionally|
designed to lack the intricacy and beauty found
in other facades such as the nativity facade
|When you walk inside of the Sagrada Familia, you're in awe|
over its beauty and uniqueness. You will never see
anything quite like it. It is breathtaking.
Resembles a seashell or mollusk
|You can clearly see how Gaudi's inspiration from nature|
is apparent in his designs. The columns look like trees
that branch upward toward the ceiling.
|When you look up, you feel as though you're under a forest|
|The Ascension of Christ|
|Another view of the ceiling|
|The organ in the Sagrada Familia has 26 stops and 1492 pipes|
|The nativity facade celebrating the birth and life of Christ|
|Inside we were able to learn a little about how nature|
influenced Gaudi's designs
|Listening to tour info on his headphones|
|Hanging model of the Sagrada familia|
|Larger model of how the completed model will look|
After visiting the Sagrada Familia, we visited another famous building designed by Antoni Gaudi called the Caso Batllo (pronounced: cah-so bye-yo). The Caso Batllo was a house built by Gaudi between 1904-1906 commissioned by Josep Batllo, hence the name Batllo's house. The Caso Batllo is in the heart of Barcelona and is an iconic landmark. Although it was once a house, it is now a museum open to visitors and travelers. Josep Batllo married miss Amalia Godó Belaunzarán. Amalia came from an esteemed family, and Josep was a well-known textile industrialist and prominent business man in Barcelona. Once they married, Josep and Amalia wanted an innovative and unique house unlike any of the other Batllo clan. Therefore they hired the designer of Park Guell (and the Sagrada Familia) Antoni Guaid. They did not limit Gaudi's artisitic creativity in any way and wanted him to come up with a daring plan. -www.casabatllo.es
|Facade of Caso Batllo from the street|
|Both the interior and exterior showcase Gaudi's signature|
design and inspiration he drew from nature. The staircase
railing resembles the vertebrae of a spine.
|There were no square walls or windows. Everything|
had an organic shape.
|Stove or fireplace|
|Loved all the bright colors|
|Jacob listening to the tour headset as we|
went from room to room
|And you thought changing your ceiling light was hazardous.|
Try changing this one without getting impaled.
|After going up a level or two you can come out on a landing|
or patio and look up at the back side of the Caso Batllo
|Tiled landing or patio|
|Gaudi fence, not a penitentiary|
|Once inside, you can also view parts of the outside of the house |
on your way up or down the staircase. It looks like we're outside
looking up, but we were on the staircase heading to the next floor.
|Naturally, most people have sculptures like this on their roof|
|Needed a picture inside this doughnut hole thing|
|Eaves dropping on the neighbors|
|Small sculptural building and room on the roof|
|Back in the main house there was this cool room that |
reminded me of walking through a rib cage
|Loved the metallic scale-like wall|
After we toured the Caso Batllo, we went to a restaurant for our first real Spanish meal. Tapas!
|In the metro station, I saw this gigantic beverage vending |
machine that I just had to take a picture of.
|You can't travel to Spain and not have chocolate|
of some sort. It's practically the birthplace of chocolate.
It was cold and rainy the first day or two we were
there, so I ordered some hot chocolate.
|Walking the streets of Barcelona|
|Another tapas restaurant|
|Typical women's dish...|
|....and a typical man's. |
Unfortunately, Jacob feel slightly ill after this meal.
I think it may have ruined tapas for him forever.
|Short ride to the base of the hill|
|Our hike up the hill|
|The grounds were so green and beautiful|
|The Montjuic castle is a military fortress that was built around |
1640. It was used in 1641 when Barcelona challenged Spain
in the Catalan revolt. Although Spain crushed the revolt,
the Catalans rebels won the Battle of Montjuic.
|I thought it was neat how this metal cross,|
when reflected in the mirror, appears as
the Star of David.
|It was so rainy and windy at the top of the castle that Jacob |
and I went from corner to corner seeking refuge in the small
|View of the harbor from atop the hill|
|We could even see the enormous cruise ships at port.|
|There's something about military fortresses, lookout towers, |
and cannons, that makes you want to play Battleship.
|Yachts at port|
|Zoomed in view of the Sagrada Familia from the Castle|
|My poor Hilton Hotel umbrella took a beating from the wind.|
It actually bent, broke, and did the Mary Poppins thing
where it flipped inside out and tried to carry me away.
|Cable car ride down|
|Walking around, trying to find the club|
|The club was called Tarantos and it had a live band|
to accompany the flamenco dancers.
|The flamenco performance consisted of only|
one male and one female dancer. I was
expecting a large group of them, but was not
disappointed. Their dancing and footwork
were amazing! I couldn't believe it.
|Watch I bought at a mall in Barcelona. We also went to|
Iron Man 3 at a movie theater there. The movie was in
English with Spanish subtitles.
On the last day of our visit to Barcelona, we went to the beach. It was fun to walk around and see the restaurants, stores, and boats lining the harbor. Fortunately, the weather that day was sunny and beautiful.
|Beautiful sandy beach|
|We had to at least dip our feet in the water.|
It was cold! I don't think there were many
swimmers that day. There were some surfers,
but they were wearing full wetsuits.
|Before we left I just had to try some gazpacho. I had had|
it before in the states, but wanted to try it here, since it
originated in Spain. It was very refreshing.
Our last stop was in France. I have wanted to travel to France since I was a little girl. If you ask my parents, they'll tell you that from the time I was a young I wanted to be a frenchie. I took classical ballet lessons from a french teacher for many years. My parents also bought me berets, french cassette tapes, french movies, and I even took french classes in high school and college. So, when I finally got the chance to travel here, it was a dream come true!
|Our hotel was the Renaissance Vendome Hotel in Paris. The inside is beautiful, and is designed so well that it inspires you to want to re-design and decorate your own home. It's modern but warm.|
|Another view of the hotel lobby|
|The hotel is a Marriott hotel, so as usual, there were Books of Mormon in the nightstands. |
I have this exact copy in french at home.
|The first night we stayed, there were people partying outside our room and at a pub across the street. It was so loud, that we hardly slept. We requested to move rooms, and were moved to a room with an outdoor patio.|
|We, of course, never had time to use it, but it was nice to look at!|
|Only in France will you find Bvlgari toiletries. I looked these up online and regular size Bvlgari shower gel is $42.00 and the body lotion is $50.00. Definitely took these with me.|
|Outside of the hotel|
After quickly dropping our luggage off at the hotel, we hurried to Eiffel tower to meet our bike night tour group. Come rain or shine, the Flat Tire bike tour groups run. Luckily, we had ponchos.
|No idea who Dan and Lisa are,...but may their love live on!|
|The Pont des Arts is linked to the Institut de France or the French Academic Association and the central square of the Palais du Louvre or Louvre Palace|
|Next, we stopped to see the outside of the Palais du Louvre and the glass pyramid during our bike tour|
|Another view of the Palais du Louvre|
|From the boat, we could also see the Notre Dame de Paris|
|Picture from www.eiffel-tower.com|
|One of my favorite pictures from the trip|
|This is a super blurry picture, but I wanted to add it because we met this amazing girl on our tour who was traveling alone.|
The next day we walked across the street from our hotel to the see the Tuileries Garden. Afterward, we walked down the Avenue des Champs-Elysees and visited the Arc de Triomphe, Luxembourg Gardens, and the Notre Dame Cathedral.
|Since tulips are my favorite flower, it's no wonder I love the French so much!|
|Jardin des Tuileries grounds|
|I thought these flower boxes were so quaint|
|Place de la Concorde in Paris|
|In the city square people could pay to drive some very expensive cars for a few minutes. If Jacob and I hadn't already driven a Ferrari at a friends house a while back, we may have considered it. Jacob loves fast cars!|
We walked down the Champs-Elysees, one of the most famous and most expensive real estate streets in the world. Aside from the Arc de Triomphe and Place de la Concorde that are on the Avenue des Champs-Elysees, there are also specialty shops and stores.
|The Champs-Elysees is beautiful in the Spring. |
There are flowers and fountains along the street
before you reach the busier strip of stores and shops.
I loved looking at all the gorgeous cakes in the window
After walking down the Avenue des Champs-Elysees we ate lunch at a French cafeteria-style restaurant. They had a huge assortment of salads, breads, meats, pasta, and desserts. The food was good, but my dessert was the best!
|This little treasure was the best dessert I ate in Europe, believe |
it or not. It was a strawberry tart with pastry cream and fresh
glazed strawberries. When it took a bite of it, I almost died
and went to heaven.
After we finished lunch and I got over the how good my strawberry tart was, we walked over to the Arc de Triomphe.
|The Arc is modeled after the Arch of Titus in Rome and stands in honor of those that died in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars.|
|The names of French generals and French victories are inscribed on the surfaces of the Arc.|
|Doesn't this boutique window display epitomize what you think |
of as French? I think so. It's so lovely and dainty.
Next, we headed towards the Luxembourg Gardens to stroll through the grounds and enjoy the beautiful landscaping.
|In 1611, another of the Medicis family members (Marie) purchased what was once the Hotel du Luxembourg and began construction on a palace. Today, the Luxembourg Palace now houses the French Senate.|
|The garden or park is the 2nd largest in Paris.|
|Children also push model sailboats around in the fountain|
|Boy running to his boat|
|In front of the Luxembourg Palace|
|Little food stand in the park where we purchased a crepe|
Lastly, we visited the Notre Dame Cathedral, where they were celebrating their 850th anniversary.
|Man feeding pigeons|
|It was really good! Although you can't really go wrong with|
bread, ham, bechamel, and lots of cheese!
|Inside the cathedral|
|Beautiful stained glass windows|
The 8 departments include: Egyptian antiquities, Near Easter antiquities, Greek/Etruscan/Roman antiquities, Islamic art, Sculptures, Decorative Arts, Paintings, and Prints and Drawings. We spent a lot of our time in the Egyptian rooms (there are 20 of them). The ancient artifacts and archaeological pieces were so fascinating. We had already seen so many European paintings and sculptures, that it was nice to have a change. The Egyptian collection is made up over 50,000 pieces, some of which date back to 4,000 BC!
This sphinx that guards the entrance dates back to 2000 BC.
|Ancient papyrus writings|
|Ancient pottery and dishes|
|I think these are utensils. I love how the handles are carved into birds.|
|Family of sphinxes|
|Can't even imagine how heavy these are|
|I Love that the Egyptians loved cats. I think Jacob may be part|
Egyptian at heart. He's even suggested having our cat Bella
stuffed by a taxidermist after she dies.
|Venus de Milo|
Sculpted around 100 BC by the Greeks, it is believed to depict Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty.
Her arms the original plinth (base of the statue) were lost after it was discovered in 1820 buried in the ancient ruins in Milos.
|I thought it was interesting that the museum ceilings and walls were so adorned |
and lavish until I remembered that the museum was formerly a royal palace.
|Not sure what this one is called, but it looks like my |
laundry room when I let it pile up too much
|The Raft of Medusa painting|
|The Coronation of Napoleon|
This is a famous painting depicting the Consecration of Emperor Napoleon and coronation of Empress Josephine in the Notre-Dame Cathedral. It is supposedly the 2nd largest painting in the Louvre.
|Glass panes in the pyramid|
|Outside the Louvre|
After going to the Louvre we traveled by train to our last stop, the Versailles Palace and gardens.
|Not sure what this building was, but I thought it was cool. |
It looks large, but compared to the Versailles Palace down
the street, it could be guest house.
|Before our tour we found a sandwich place to eat lunch at|
|Since Louis XIV was considered the "Sun King," it's only natural that his|
palace would be referred to as "Le Palais du Soleil" or "The Palace of the Sun."
|Model of the grounds and gardens|
|The French believed that man must have control of nature.|
Hence the perfectly manicured and shaped shrubs, bushes,
trees, and flower beds
|After seeing The Vatican and palaces, |
I find it funny that nowadays, it's hard to even find a
house with simple crown molding.
|King Louis' Bedroom|
One of many
|Hall of Mirrors|
|Looking out the window at the park|
|The gardens at Versailles were the most beautiful that I've seen.|
|Head statue of Marie Antoinette|
|After touring the palace, we went outside the walk through |
the garden and park
|Enjoying one last sit|
We had our favorite meal of the entire trip in Paris at a restaurant recommended by our hotel concierge. Jacob and I still talk about the dishes we ordered. It wasn't the fanciest restaurant we've ever been to, but the food was outstanding. We learned that the executive chef had worked in a Michelin star restaurant before coming to work there. It was no wonder the food was amazing!
|Crab croquettes with an avocado puree|
|Jacob ordered a pan seared chicken and roasted new potatoes|
in a cream sauce. He still jokes about how he wanted to lick the plate.
|I ordered hake fish with ratatouille. Being a lover of vegetables|
this dish was right up my alley.
We then headed back to the U.S.
It was sad to leave but good to be home again.
Until our next visit, ciao, adeu, and au revoir Europe!