Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Daily Doldrum

We've been back for over a week now so I am back in the old boring routine. I do feel like I have a better attitude after our nice relaxing break, but I still can't help but be mopey about being back to work. Things there are slightly tenuous. All I can say is that I am so sick of dealing with everyone else's problems. Tired of it.

The good news is, I have tickets to see two of my favorite bands this summer! Wolf Parade will be here in August, and although it's a general admission show we're going. I hate general admission, mostly because I hate people, and hate when people get pushy. I like having my seat so at least they stay out of my personal space. But, I love Wolf Parade, and the last GenAd show we saw with them was pretty great.

Next weekend we are driving to Toronto to see REM! Woohoo! It will be our third REM show, and this time we will be 10 rows back! I had a chance to by second row tickets, but wasn't sure how enjoyable it would be to sit that close. I mean, ya, being close is obviously awesome, but I don't want a sore neck. I want to enjoy myself. Hopefully I won't regret it, but I think it will be great either way. We will be so tired, though, since we will drive there on Saturday (6 hours), stay over at my uncle's, have the concert Sunday night, then drive straight home because we both have to work on Monday. Ugh. But I know it will be worth it, and this will be my birthday present :)

That's all the news here. So boring compared to Paris posts, right?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A few days late...

Sorry. I got sidetracked with all the relaxing and the vacationing. As promised, some photos from the Versailles palace:

A beautiful hall that is not open to the public, so we actually got a fabulous photo:

An interesting fashion choice:

(yes, those are open-toe, in case you were wondering).

There are gorgeous statues everywhere - just like at home!

The highlight of the day:

Some teenager dropped her cell phone, and SB was the only eagle-eyed observer who noticed. She was running around with a group of other teen girls, and SB chased after them to give it back. My hero.

The whole Palace was pretty amazing. I had been before, but didn't do the audio-guided tour, which was really interesting. I wonder if I can download a copy of that somewhere so I can figure out which photos are from which rooms?

The number of photos we have are completely overwhelming me at the moment. I am very glad I took the time at the end of most days to sit down and label them all, but sharing them is a bit slow. I have posted some on facebook but believe me, there are hundreds and hundreds more. Hundreds. I promise I will never make anyone sit and look at every single one.

I'm quite glad we took so many photos. We have tons that are viable framers, and, coincidentally, we have three giant walls in our main living area with no photos on them. The lady with the socks is a prime candidate for the head of the dining room.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Paris - Day ????? who cares anymore? it's PARIS!

Well, actually, this post is about Versailles, but whatever.

Dudes, if you have an abundance of airmiles, this is what I recomm
end doing:
a) plan a trip to Paris when flights are cheap

b) rent an apartment in the city that is reasonable and that has internet and a washer and dryer
c) go on your 10 year anniversary (*or any anniversary. Or your birthday. Or because you are hot.)
d) Use all the airmiles you have accumulated in the previous year to take a one-night's stay at a 5 star Westin hotel located 10 feet from the Queen's gate to the gardens at Versailles.
e) Pay a surcharge to upgrade your room and get breakfast and dinner included.

These, my friends, are the steps to eternal happiness and bliss. Or at least they are the steps to a very very fine evening.

We stayed at the Westin Trianon Palace and Spa. It was literally steps away from one of the gates leading to the garden (actually, our gate was closest to the Grand and Petit Trianons and Marie Antoinette’s “domaine” – for those of you who have seen the movie). This was our view of the palace gardens:

Those are sheep there. SHEEP!

I have rarely in my life had the opportunity to stay at a truly luxury hotel, but it is soooooo worth it. The people smile at you even when your hair looks like crap. They apologize for everything. They wipe your ass. No, they don’t do that, but I bet they would if you asked them to. And you wouldn't even have to ask in a nice way.

We arrived, dropped our bags, and then went off to explore the gardens, since they were announcing rain for the following day. We were enamored by the sheep on our walk to the Grand Trianon, probably because I am addicted to animals, and also because I love the scene in the movie when M-A is playing with her little daughter and the baby lamb. We didn’t see any lambs, but we saw this guy, who had a bad haircut:

The grounds are so beautiful, and so well maintained it is incredible. We ate lunch by the Grand Canal, which was fun except for these people:

who caused a raucous the whole way down the canal splashing and yelling.

After lunch we took our books to the other side of the canal, which was in the shade, and read/napped. We originally situated ourselves a bit closer to the palace than we were supposed to, and eventually the French RCMP came and shooed us away.

After our nap, etc, we went into town to buy the essentials: wine, iced tea. The end. Actually, we probably would have bought two bottles of wine but I forgot to bring my bag with our extra cash and we only had like 9 euro.

At the hotel, I took a big long bubble bath here with a glass of wine:

While SB took a nap in the Heavenly Bed:


I love the Heavenly Bed. I would love to marry the Heavenly Bed. If anyone would like to buy me a Heavenly Bed, please do so. It is so comfortable. The mattress is perfect. The linens are soft, and satiny. I did not want to leave that Heavenly Bed. Not even one bit. A photo:

I will see you again one day, HB. XOXO

End Sidenote.

After cleaning up and making out with the Heavenly Bed, we had dinner at the Veranda restaurant. It was fantastic, except for one thing. We had taken the “dinner included” package, and no one at the restaurant seemed to know what that entailed. It was annoying when we were ordering, annoying when we waited for the bill (drinks were not included and we had a bottle of wine), and annoying when we saw a small surcharge on our room charges the next day. But I was able to put all that aside (SB was too, but not before he detailed our issues to the front desk clerk, in actually a very nice way.) The food was friggin amazing. SB had: seared tuna with marinated leeks and onion, then a chicken cassoulet with green beans, onion and cabbage and finished with a cheese plate. I had: tomato chevre tarte with cucumber pesto with this mindblowing bottom crust of nuts and something else that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, but that was extremely pleasant, lamb neck (I know, I had a hard time with the “neck” part of that for some reason) with the BEST damned mashed potatoes ever and probably something else on the plate that I forget, then, THEN my friends, there was an apple crème brulee, which was not your regular little broiled crème in a pot. Non non. It was a little free-standing pillar, with a scoop of the most flavorful apple sorbet I have ever had. It may have been infused with some sort of crazy apple cocaine. And the whole thing was flanked by thinly sliced dried apple chips.

As if this dinner was not enough, SB had brought a bottle of champagne with him which we had up in the room to celebrate. Then I tucked into the Heavenly bed and had the best sleep ever! And by “ever” I mean “in my whole live”. And by “in my whole life” I am probably including the womb, because I tend to be a cool sleeper and I hear the womb is quite warm.

Tomorrow I will post about our visit to the Palace.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Paris Day 7

Another jam-packed day with tons of walking! My feet are killing me!

First, we headed over to the Eiffel tower to finally climb that sucker. I am terrified of heights, so this was not something I was really looking forward to, but SB was dead set on it so, chin up, away we went.

To get to the very top of the tower, you buy your tickets on the ground, take an elevator to the second floor, get out, wait in another line then take another elevator to the top.

We waited in line for our tickets for about 20 minutes, which I think is pretty reasonable. While in line, the signs said that access to the top was temporarily closed because it was full - we asked the lady at the info desk and she said it will usually stay closed for about half an hour to let it empty out a bit, then they will open back up, and you can buy the ticket to get to the top on the 2nd floor. Well, about two people ahead of us they opened it back up, so we were able to buy our tickets right away, then when we arrived on the 2nd floor there was no line for the 2nd elevator and we went right up without waiting. So good because I do NOT do well in lines!

SB right after they reopened access to the sommet:

At the top we hung out for a while taking in all the different views (SB at the railing, me a few steps back....). It was nice that we didn't go on the first day we arrived because we were able to pick out all the monuments we had already visited without looking on their little guide.

After the tower, we walked over to the Pont d'Alma, which is where Princess Diana died (the tunnel where the accident was is right under the pont).

Then onto the metro back to Montmartre where we had our requisite dinner at McDo - drink sizes are smaller, fries are just as great, burgers just as un-fresh as at home. Oh, and a very weird unisex bathroom.

Lastly, we took a walking tour with New Tours - they are a company that give free tours and you pay what you can. It was really great - the tour we took was specifically Montmartre, and our guide had a degree in Fine Arts specializing in art history so was very passionate about the subject matter. We saw the house where Van Gogh lived, two cafes where he hung out with other artists, and the building where cubism was born, where many artists shared studio space. It was pretty amazing!

On this tour we also saw Sacre Coeur up close, Le Moulin de les Galettes (which is the subject of a famous Renoir painting), and the cafe des Deux Moulins from the movie Amelie. I think we will go back to the cafe - they actually have a great Happy Hour special AND WiFi, so I'm all over that!!!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Paris Day 6

Wowie we did a lot today! Even though we got a late start because we slept in a bit and had a long brunch at the apartment, we still managed to jam a lot in in one day!

First, we did a load of laundry. Sounds uneventful, however SB threw all the laundry in together and in there was a navy shirt from Banana Republic that I had never washed before. Now, usually when I buy stuff from there it is pre-washed and colorfast, so even if it had been me throwing in the laundry, the same thing would have probably happened. All of my white socks and undies are now a lovely teal-blue, and three of SB's plaid shirts are now navy, grey and teal when once they were navy grey and white. Oh well, I guess it could have been worse. It could have been a red shirt.

After that we went to the Pere Lachaise Cemetary. We wanted to see Jim Morrison's grave, but also had heard that the cemetary was quite beautiful. And while it was gorgeous, it was also very hot, and I was also severely creeped out by being in a cemetary.
For the record, I don't ever want to be buried in a cemetary. The whole thing totally creeps me out. I felt really uncomfortable there, even though it was so lovely and a lot of the monuments were really spectacular.
After the cemetary we went over to "Les Iles" - these are the two small islands on the Seine between the two banks of the city. Ile de la Cite has the Notre Dame Cathedral on it, and Ile St. Louis is where a lot of old mansions are located.

First we walked around the west end of Ile de la Cite, where Sainte Chapelle is, the Palais de Justice/Conciergerie and the bird/flower market. We were hoping to buy some seeds to bring home and plant, but since it was Sunday a lot of the flower vendors weren't open and the only seeds we could find were brands we can buy at home.

Next, we took a gander inside the cathedral, which is amazing,
On our way to Ile St. Louis, I tried on a beret, but

It was a really tight fit on my big giant cranium.

On Ile St. Louis we stopped for Berthillon ice cream, which is famous, then walked back along the water and saw where Heloise and Abelard lived.

We had dinner on Ile de la Cite (really great steak frite!), then went to the Eiffel Tower to watch it light up.
I am making a funny face because SB wanted to get the tower looming above us, and I hate when he takes pics of my double chin. So I was exaggerating sticking my chin out.

There were so many people in front of the tower! Everyone had brought picnics and the lawns in from of the Peace monument were packed. As the sun was setting the vendors who sell the mini Eiffel towers started passing with bottles of wine and champagne, but we had brought our own beer. There had also been some kind of incident at the peace monument and one of the giant panes of glass was shattered. We have a client who does mosaics so we picked up a few pieces for her. No one who was there knew what had happened, but I hope they can fix it!

Once we were installed in a nice spot, we waited for the lights. They keep some spotlights on all night so the tower is visible but every hour on the hour for 10 minutes they turn on these sparkly lights that are really beautiful.

Then back home, sleepy and with very very sore feet. Tomorrow we may actually climb the Tower finally.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Paris Day 5

No photos today - we only took a few and I am too tired to upload them.

We took the day to visit the St. Ouen flea market which is at the very north of the city. It didn't take that long to get there, but once we did it felt like we were miles away from our little Parisian heaven. It felt more like we were in Havana than in France. Buildings were gross and dirty, people were dirty and smelly(er) and so so rude. I've never been so nervous travelling. The market itself was kinda interesting - mostly upscale antiques, some refurbished, some not, all overpriced, and you really shouldn't buy anything unless you know what you're looking for and can really judge if it's worth the price. I saw some awesome antique typewriters and cameras, but $$$$. Eric kept getting distracted by big giant paintings and huge clunky pieces of furniture and I had to keep reminding him that there was no way we could get that home on the plane. We also met a few little dogs that were owned by the shopkeepers - they were all very cute and sweet. (sidenote - dogs here are so well behaved. It's doggie heaven!)

We had lunch at a place called Chez Louisette, which all the guidebooks recommend. They have live singers who trade off sets, but we sat very near them and it became a little bit too much because it was so loud. The food was okay, but pretty pricy for what you got, and they were out of half of the menu. I guess they can get away with it because the place is so popular.

After that we made our way back to the metro so we could get back into the city. On the way to the metro I got spit on, I'm pretty sure. Either that or something dripped on my head, but it felt like it came from the side where a bunch of hooligans were gathered. I think it was the only time in my life when I was content with ignoring them and getting the hell out of there, whereas normally I would shoot my mouth off. I also didn't tell SB until we were safely seated in the Metro because I know he would have freaked at them.

All in all, I don't recommend making the trip. Unless you are looking for some kind of specific antique. Or foreign biological matter.

We then returned to the apartment for a break - SB wanted a nap, and we had several options in mind for the evening. He ended up sleeping for like three hours (which I shouldn't have let him do, but I knew he'd be super grumpy when I woke him), then by the time we ate and got ready it was about 10:30. We took the opportunity to take a walk up to Moulin Rouge then walked up and down Clichy checking out all the little pubs and bars, and some of the signs in the sex shops. They're really funny because they are either owned by foreigners who can't translate or they try to dumb down the french so tourists will be able to get the gist of what they are offering. We were back home by midnight, and tomorrow is Pere Lachaise Cemetary, and maybe some ice cream by Notre Dame.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Paris Day 4

Also known as the day my shoes did me wrong. More on that later.

We started the day off late. Again. SB uses his Blackberry alarm, and he is in charge. Allegedly it went off at 7:30, and then he reset it for 8:30, and then it went off again and he nudged me (I have no record of said nudge), but turned the alarm off rather than press snooze. So we woke up and it was 10:15. We were originally going to go up the Eiffel Tower this morning, but scrapped that for now. To make up for it, SB made eggs. They were so good that I forgave him very quickly.

We mosied on over to the Arc de Triomphe after finding our friendly neighborhood Starbucks. As a side note, the coffee here is super good, but even when you ask for an espresso allongee, it is still teeny tiny compared to the caffeine I need.

So, the Arc de Triomphe. So beautiful. Probably my favorite landmark in Paris.
We did a fun thing where SB stayed at the top of the Arch and I ran down on the Champs Elysees because I had had enough of the heights up there. Here I am:
This is when I began sensing a little discomfort in my foot. Some rubbing/blistering that my Merrell cute shoes were causing, which they had never caused before even though I had worn them many many times. Once SB finally walked down the 600 million stairs to the top (am I the only person who thinks 9 euro per person to go up to the top and you have to take the fucking stairs is just a little fucking over the top? The whole Louvre is only like 9 euro everyday.) we went to the pharmacy and I fixed some bandaids up with the hopes that all was not lost.

Then we moseyed on down the Champs Elysees, which was okay but kinda boring. We also went down de la Montaigne, where a lot of the designer shops are. I would never go inside, because a) I would hate to waste the time of the lovely salespeople since there is no way in hell I would be buying anything and b) I don't need my nose rubbed in what I can't have. But I thought it would be fun to window shop. Their windows were SUCKY. So boring. Harry Winston didn't even put any items in their windows, just pictures that looked like they cut them out of magazines. I was so disappointed.

We had dinner on Champs Elysees, then headed on over to the Louvre, where SB met his new girlfriend:
That's okay, though, because earlier, at the Arc de Triomphe, I met my new boyfriend:
My feet were done for after the Louvre. I didn't even have the wherewithal (sp?) to get to see Venus de Milo. I am hoping beyond hopes that if I slap on some bandaids tomorrow and some socks and a different pair of shoes that it will all be okay.

Oh, and also, for Jenn - need some action and the pharmacy is closed? No worries -You should get this going in NB, sex health lady.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Paris Day 3

Today was very long - we started at 8am and tried to do some laundry and get the heck out of here.... Little did we know european washers are slow as ass. We were out of here by like 9:30, cranky and coffee starved.

We joined back up with our Hop on Tour bus, featured here:We took a little tour around St. Germain de Pres, which was gorgeous. We took a chance to hop off to get a breakfast about an hour after the appropriate time, which means poor SB had to deal with hungry me. We also visited Fnac, which is an electronics store because we accidentally fried our battery charger for the Canon. This wouldn't normally be an emergency, but to be efficient, we decided not to bring the smaller lens for our Nikon. And although the 55-200 lens has changed my life, it doesn't do self-portraits at arm's length. It just doesn't.

After that, we took our bus the rest of the round, then went to Musee D'Orsay where we saw this:

And also this:

After Orsay, we were exhausted, but continued walking along the Seine to find the Shakespeare and Co bookstore, which was highly disappointing. I was expecting an awesome second-hand bookstore, but all the books seemed new. And overpriced. Blah.

We then took a little break in a park next door.

After our break, we hopped back on the bus to the Champs Elysees, to pick up some supplies. Read: bubble bath, wine and sausage. Get your mind out of the gutter.

We headed on over to a little patch of grass by the Eiffel Tower where there were very few people, a couple of ants, and a whole bottle of wine to be had.

As a side note, dudes, if you like wine you have to come here! At Monoprix (officially Eric's least favorite place on Earth - think walmart crowded, but Uniprix-sized aisles. Ugh) they have wine ranging from like 20 euro a bottle right on down to 1.40 euro. For a bottle. A full sized bottle. With a cork. We've been sticking to 2.50-4 euro, but it's all been really good, and I'm really tempted to just get the 1 euro stuff and be wasted all day.

We saw the Eiffel tower at sunset,

had a crepe au chocolat,

and dragged our asses home to climb the 111-113 steps to our apartment (SB and I have both counted, but came up with different numbers). I tried to take that bath I had been planning, but the tiny tub was not cooperative. Then I waited like two hours for them to play my new favorite song, American Boy (artist is Estelle with guest Kanye West - so good!) - now they are finally playing it, so time for me to get to bed!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Paris Day 2

Let me just start by saying that we suck at discipline.

We went to bed very late last night, and resolved that we would get up at 9ish and get the go going.

Apparently the alarm went off as planned, but SB just ignored it. And I didn't hear it at all. So, we slept until noon. Oops. I guess our bodies needed it, but still...

Once we finally got going, we hopped on to the hop-on/hop-off bus tour to get an overview of the city. We saw:

around our part of town, Montmartre:

Notre Dame:
and lots of other stuff like the Eiffel Tower, l'Arc de Triomphe, etc. It was a quick and dirty tour that basically was to give us bit of a bearing on where everything is. We had a panini on the Seine for lunch, which made SB very happy:
We haven't finalized plans for tomorrow yet, but they were supposed to include the Musee D'Orsay and the Eiffel tower. After today's little sleep in, we have some schedule adjusting to do, but hey, we're on vacation, so who cares, right?

Also, we have lots of pics of the both of us on our other camera, but we promptly fried the battery charger so we can't get the pictures out. We will work on fixing that tomorrow...

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Paris Day 1

So, we're pretty tired, but we are here and safe and sound.

After about 7.37 minutes of sleep on the plane, we were both pretty cranky and testy on the flight. The most super fun moments of the flight:

a) some super grumpy guy who I noticed coming out of the Air France lounge before the flight grabbing his crotch started yelling at the flight attendents before we even taxied. He had put his carry-on and a random plastic bag with a hat in it in the overhead, and the flight attendent totally squashed it. SB said he saw her trying to cram some other bag up there and crunch. Then he cranked and grumbled and generally got on our nerves about other random things all night long.

b) The lady in front of us had some kind of "medical emergency" in the middle of the night (coincidentally, right after they served our meal and it was time to get some sleep) - she was sitting in the middle of three seats. Her husband sat to her left and some stranger to her right. She had some kind of leg paralysis or something that made her need a wheelchair, so when she had her "emergency" everyone rushed to help her, then they booted out the guy sitting to her right (assface probably got a free upgrade) and then she laid down. I'm thinking of practicing my acting so I will be ready to pull this one on our trip back.

c) SB almost lost his glasses. He had hung them on the pouch in the seat in front of him to try and sleep, and I guess when he crossed his legs they went flying. After like 7 minutes of panic and serious snippyness between us he found them in the aisle. Luckily they were not crushed.

We arrived at our apartment around 3 this afternoon, so after zero sleepytime on the plane, we were exhausted and took a nap, then took a quick trip out for groceries and made dinner in. Tomorrow we have more touristy plans, but we hadn't put much in the schedule today just in case we were feeling like ass. Which we were. But it's still way better than being at work feeling like ass. Hell, I'll be on vacation and feeling like ass in Paris 6 days a week for the rest of my life!

Friday, May 02, 2008

Think Oceans Eleven, not ER

Let me preface this by saying that I have never been a huge George Clooney lover. I recognize that he is gorgeous, aging very well, and pleasantly sarcastic and witty. But he's not one of those actors that I drool over. He has never been on my list of movie/TV boyfriends.

That being said, two nights ago I had a really great dream in which I hooked up with Mr. Clooney after we met at some kind of birthday party or wedding or something. Did not re-dream this last night, regrettably, but it was really hot, and now I've got Clooney on the brain.

I'm not rushing out to watch Leatherheads or anything, but I'm just saying...