Monday, June 25, 2007
Robert, David and Justin and I are getting packed to head downtown for some last minute eating and shopping. Since we didn't get home until 3 am..again, we are slow to start.
First things first...eat. We find a nice restaurant that has some authentic Icelandic cuisine. Salted Cod and Braised Lamb..mmmmmmm. Really yummy!
Since we are getting close to the time we need to get to the airport, there is only enough time to stop in tourist souvenir places for some gifts and then we are off for a really quick trip next to the tallest place in Iceland, the church.
BTW, contrary to popular belief, Iceland does have trees and is really green here. Of course the trees are all planted and the green is from the moss on the lava rocks, but it is really pretty and there is much to see and do.
They have summer houses outside of town when the weather is nice. Reminds me of Canada and pictures of Ireland.
So we pick up our things and head out in the car to the airport. No offense, but I am ready to be in a country that you can hail a cab instead of going to a taxi stand and where restaurants have to greet you right away and give you your food in a fast, normal cycle. Everything and everybody is relaxed here when is comes to service. I guess we have grown used to having everything at our fingertips and getting the things when we want them.
We are now at the airport and there are more and more people showing up. We should catch a few up on the hours lost along the seas and find ourselves in New York later on tonight but not late.
Justin would like to head to Les Halles for Dinner. Anthony Bordain's restaurant in the city. We are going to call Ness and Val when we land to see if they want to join us. I need to find out what their work schedules are like, I would love to see where they live. If..by chance..we are not able to do so (and you are reading this, Ness) we will make a special trip to NY just for you!
See you soon!!!
We find ourselves going on a long treck today in the rental car with David and Robert. We are heading out to see all the sights from Reykjavik to Vik. There are some waterfalls that we must find along with glaciers and a water gyser.
We stop to down a few more hot dogs and we are gone around noon.
More to come....
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Wow, did I mention before that there was going to be daylight the entire time??
It is around 10pm here and it looks around 4pm outside. This has been a crazy day. We slept just a few hours before heading to the Blue Lagoon for relaxation.
The Blue Lagoon is wonderful. The mud and the hot springs of this place are cool to look at. You should know that there is really clean mud that they give you to put on your body and face so that you don't have to use the mud in the pool.. the mud below the waters contains not only the nice mud but 1000s of people's DNA becuase of the hair located in the mud. It kinda grossed me out. Still a cool place to come to but pricey.
We are now headed to hear Robert's cousin's boyfriend sing at a local bar. Apparently we are socializing with the high society of the town.
The bar we went to has an older crowd than expected but we still hung around to hear him sing. Not bad, Baer was classically trained and is quite popular here but still has the cover band of the 50s sound. :/ Really weird.
After lounging for a while with some drinks, we decide to head back into the center of town to another bar. Not quite as action packed but still a lot of people are out. Funny the older people do not slow down here at all and there are tons out getting quite drunk.
Today we decided to spend touring the old cemetaries of Paris. We head out after a rain kept us in the hotel to picnic on bread and meats on out bed. Yes, we had a wonderful time eating lunch at the hotel and pretending that it was a beautiful day filled with wine and food. We laughed a ton and as soon as the sky was clear, we headed out to the cemetary.
Packed full of big old architecture crypts, we saw the tomb of Jim Morrison and many others that I will have to write about later.
For now we are getting a taxi to head in rush hour to the airport. We should arrive in Iceland around 2 am and drive the 45 minutes to Reykjavic and Robert's cousin's house. By the way, it will be daylight the entire time that we are there!!! How cool.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
So here I am...in bed...sleeping, taking meds, watching Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy (one of my favorite movies) and relaxing to try to escape the lower back pains.
Justin, David and Robert have done me the greatest of favors by going to multiple stores in the hopes to find meds that will eleviate some of the pain and to buy food to fill my tummy while they are at the Palace and Gardens in Versaille.
We keep in touch by texting messages and they shoot pictures via David's phone to show me how fabulous Versaille can be.
BTW: Paris' version of soap operas are just a cheesy as the U.S. and they have channels that are in Islamic, Japanese and other languages. The only english channel is really CNN here.
Dinner tonight was at Julien across town. The architecture was not a disappointment. We have tons of pictures here also. Robert and I started with French Onion soup that was far better than anything that I have ever had. The escargot that we shared and the pate that David and Justin had were great too.
We ddin't make reservations and there was no need since the restaurant was open well past 1 am serving food. Come here and you will be delighted in the atmosphere and the service. Ciao!
David and Robert should be arriving back to Paris today to start their vacation. We send a text message to meet at 2pm at the Louvre and venture inside its chambers.
Justin and I catch up to the Egyptian and Greek sculptures today, including taking in the statue of Venus de Milo (aka: Aphrodite). I read a funny thing on the wall though. It stated that they were unsure that this was indeed the sculpture depicting the actual Venus because it was missing its arms. Although one of the most well-known statues of the world, it was still only just a shot in the dark to be the image of the Greek goddess.
Winding around the pottery and tools used by those long ago and the multiple paintings, sculptures and frescos it was finally time to go to Cafe Marly in the Richeleau wing of the Louvre to meet the boys. A few snacks and cocktails later we decide to view the paintings of Monet that were specifically painted for the city of Paris and are now housed in the L'Orangerie.
This was a really special place. You think that they would be just a couple of paintings but indeed are paintings (long and tall), one on each of the oval walls that wrap around the entire room. Up close you can view the indistiguishable painting strokes of the artist but from across the room the entire water lily painting scene. Quite breathtaking!
After this, we walk across along the Seine and the bridges to view La Petit and Grande Palaises (? spelling) and the area where Pricess Diana died in the tunnels. Around the corner we catch the RER train and set out for the Jardin du Luxembourg (Gardens of Luxembourg) and the Museum that is showing René Lalique jewelry. While David tours the jewelry; Justin, Robert and I rest in the outside Cafe and enjoy some beverages.
If you get a chance to view the Gardens, please take my recommendation and walk all the way around this beautiful place. There are many things going on here. Displays of outside sculptures (quirky and cool), old men playing chess, kids in a play area that are messy with sand and water, perfectly aligned trees wrapped in burlap (these happen to be new plantings), kids on pony rides and different grassy areas where tons of people are sitting and just enjoying each other.
I think this is one of my favorite parks so far.
After dwelling around the area, we head up the gardens and discover someone shooting what looks like a commercial or part of a movie. Of course we stop. We always stop. We also tried to get in the movie but were asked to step back. :P
Keep going and we see a wonderful fountain and sit and rest for a while again. By now I am getting tired and my back is starting to hurt. Don't you just hate it when you body gives out?!
We are now full circle in the city and are going to eat an early dinner so that we can go on our outing to Versaille to tour the Castle and grounds on the outskirts of Paris.
Dinner was at La Petite Prince. Let me say this about the place: The owner and young waiter where darlings and very accomodating to our foolish French. Even though David and Robert were getting really good at speaking French, we got the older waiter that was not so accomodating and made us feel like stupid Americans for the first time. He was obviously in a mood and "acted" like he didn't know English. I wanted to order an appetizer first and then have him come back to get my meal, but he made me order right away asking if I knew (in French, of course) that there was a pre-set menu costs and an app and dinner entree were together. No worries, a glass of wine and we ignored his silliness and just kept talking in English and ignoring his rudeness. The food was good but not quite as good as some of the other places that we have eaten.
After we finish, we decide that dessert and coffee are a must somewhere else. Funny thing is, most places won't take you if you are not eating dinner first. Arg! We head to a more populated area for crepes and coffee. After this, we say our good-byes till the morning. Good thing...my back is killing me by now and all I want to do is lie down.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Ok, so this is a pricey place but not over the top. Housed in the train station at Gare de Lyon, this restaurant has a fabulous interior dated to the 1900s. It was like eating practically in a museum.
The wine was 72 Euros. It was a chilled Merlot with a nice woodsy flavor. A good choice in my opinion.
We started with Shrimp as an appetizer ordered for 2 people. There were 3 tempura shrimp served with a pineapple confit and sauce (I couldn't get a taste for exact ingredients but it was awesome)! Price..29 Euros
Then Justin ordered the Beef Filet with Bernaise Sauce. It came with roasted potatoes and vrey thin green beans. He really liked this dish, especially the sauce. Price..30 Euros.
I had the best dish. It was called Piglet something or other. It was pork rolled in a fatty layer served with mashed potatoes and topped with a brown sauce. I am describing this horribly but you will just have to trust me that this was the best dish ever. Price..28 Euro
Afterwards we had profiteroles. Ice cream in between puff pastry served table side where they pour the chocolate sauce over the top. Justin also had Cognac. Price..13 and 14 Euros.
So for the greatest dinner..romantic, fun and remarkable served by the most accomodating waiter on earth (he was a delight) our price was only 186 Euros. This is cheaper than some places that you will go in the U.S. and much nicer. Also, the price included the TVA tax, small surcharge for the waiter (we tipped another 20 Euro).
So overall, don't miss out on coming to this place if you visit Paris. It is really easy to get to and well worth it. You can make reservations but we didn't and they accomodated us right away, no waiting. YUM!!!!!! is all I can say.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
We catch the Metro and go straight to the Arc de Triomphe, as promised. Go straight through with the Museum pass and you will walk the spiral staircase, all 284 stairs, to the top and into the first room which is the museum section explaining what the Louvre is about. Grab a brochure and read up while you are on the top, when you get to the bottom the statues on the building and the building itself will make much more sense. It is overwhelming to climb the last staircase to the top of this! You see down all avenues which make up the downtown Paris area. It is like a central hub that outreaches all of the areas. We did take a ton of pics here! It was a perfect day!
Afterwards, we go back to the Tullerie Gardens down the Champs Elysees to sit in the shade and take them in before going over the Musee D'Orsay again. The Louvre is closed today (Tuesday). No worries!
It was a good thing that we headed back to the D'Orsay, we missed the whole impressionist era. I am so glad to have seen now, with my own eyes, Whistler's Mother, works by Cezanne, Renoir, Monet, Manet and others. Degas' ballerina was wonderful and probably my favorite!! We saw so many impressionist painting than usual too considering that there was a special gallery set up to view many many more that wouldn't be here normally. I almost cried! Ok, I did a little!
We ventured through St. Michel's streets just to view the very touristy shops and restaurants. This looks like it could be a trap so we just go to look, nothing else. A quick ice cream and cocktail later, we head back to the hotel for a nap and then we will go to dinner.
Don't be fooled by this short post, this took all day! We left at 8:30am and didn't get back to the hotel until 7pm. It is now 8:30 pm and we are up and getting ready to find a fabulous dinner spot!
Talk to you soon!!!
Things you should know about this place...Paris, France:
Yes, there are cobblestones in the tourist areas but not really on the walks in between the areas because of lots of paths and roads. It will slightly rain here..annoying rain (not hard just light but sometimes often). If you look like an American, the gypsys will pick you out and "try" to scam you. More on this in just a bit! To get to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, catacombes, top of the Notre Dame, around the Louvre and about the town in and out of Metro stations...there are stairs! The people are nice if you are nice to them. They are sometimes short with you if you don't know what you want so step back and decide first then you can engage. Learn a "little" French before you come here. Just the basics like how to get to the Toilettes and how to ask for tap water. Then you will really like this place!!
As we head out of the hotel, we grab a pastry and a soda and down them before heading to the Metro. Did I mention that we are right near a Metro station and it has been a lovely thing!?
First thing first, we get off the Metro and walk to the Place de la Concorde. This was the place where the housed a guillotine and beheaded Marie Antionette and Louis XVI among others. Now there are two fountains and an obelisk of Luxor (sister to the obelisk behind the one at the Met in NY). This obelisk honors the Louis XVI by his brother. This site is a major intersection for traffic, one way looks towards the Arc de Triomphe and the other towards the Tullerie Gardens and the Louvre. ONWARD, we cross the major street towards the Tulleries.
On our way to this site, by the way, we were stopped by a small innocent looking girl that looked like she just picked up a gold ring on the street. Looking lucky, she asked if she had just found this ring and if it could be real. Not knowing anything, we actually took a look a the ring and told her it looked to be authentic so she indeed was lucky. She then said that it was too big for her so that we should just take it. We took it (yes, we did :P) and started to walk away and then she try to stop us and ask for a little money since we were lucky. Hmmmmmmmm!@ We just gave the ring back and walked away! BEWARE!!! THis will happen many times and so you should grow a skin and just ignore them. Damn Gypsys!!!! Arg!
On to the Tulleries:
Vast open space with lots of gravel (packed, kind of like packed crushed granite), some statues and a few grassy areas surrounded by squared off trees. This is a really long area that leads you to the Louvre. Well worth the walk! It is filled with a couple of fountains and a couple of places to lunch. If you come here, pack a picnic.
After the Toullerie Gardens, we head up to the Louvre. Here Robert says goodbye but we will see him soon enough in the next few days. Justin and I go through a checkpoint in a side door of the Louvre (highly recommend buying a Museum Pass before you come and a Metro Pass..the Museum Pass gets you ahead of the large lines). We are in awe of the glass pyramid and the very large Museum that they call the Louvre. Again, pictures do no justice.
There are four sections to the Louvre and there is no way in hell that you will be able to finish this place. Pick your favorites and head directly to them. You will wonder off at times, some rooms you can't take pictures in and they police these very well and fuss at you if you try (hehe, so I tried) but get back on track. We discovered that the Monna Lisa is packed full of people looking at her but she is still worth it! We still managed to see Napoleon's apartment (very opulent), French scupltures, the medieval Louvre (the original part of the Castle that is left before the Louvre was built on top), Winged Victory of Samothrace, Raft of Medusa, and some Crowned Jewels. Much more things were covered but you will have to see the pictures and do some research because there was soooooo much here! Unfortunately, Aphrodite or otherwise known as Venus de Milo was being moved but we are probably going back just to see her.
After getting tired, which you will do, we head to the Cafe on the 1st Level (really the 2nd) to grab some lunch on the veranda looking over the courtyard. We had to wait a bit but the views were the best to relax at. This cafe is located in the Richelieu wing of the Louvre.
We walked around a bit more and decided to go back up to the Champs Elysees, right past where we started at the obelisk. It starts with a little park and then connects to part of the avenue filled with shops much like New York but with larger sidewalks. The major difference was that they put car shops here! Yes, Mercedes and Peugot were selling their cars in what looked like a major mall. Really cool! You should know that all of the shops that are in the states are here also, just that your money doesn't go as far so you can wait to buy many things. DON'T miss out on the food, atmosphere, drinks or attractions. Use your money wisely and you will have much more fun! We are spending a ton but not really!
Ok, so we finally reach the Arc de Triomphe, whew!
Deciding to go into it after this really long walk, we head towards the underground passage way that leads you under the traffic only to be stopped by Police. Not what you think though. They just finished elections here and they were honoring their veterans today. We were told that we would have to wait until the commencement was over. Ug!
Not giving up, we go to the nearest Cafe and grab food and drinks to listen to the band and watch a little of the parade. This was neat but I didn't get a chance to take much pictures here.
Ok, so we ended up giving up and headed back to the hotel. We decided that we should get to the Arc first thing in the morning. For now we will take a quick nap after the exhausting walking that we have done.
---We woke only to walk around in our neighborhood, grab some quick snacks and go back to the hotel to sleep. By now it is already 3am and we probably should go to sleep.
Monday, June 18, 2007
I will have to post pictures when I have more time, I promise.
We arrive into the Iceland airport, after a drastic 6 hour time change from NY...7 from Texas, at 6:30am. Justin and I tried to catch up on sleep but we stilll didn't get any until the sun was coming up over the wing of the airplane. This part was surreal since we new that we would be all mixed up with no sleep. I honestly don't know how the flight attendants do this daily.
We got up later that morning after some really quick rest to go eat breakfast with David in the City. We did some shopping in Soho and headed back to get ready for our flight to Paris via Iceland. The flight was at 8:35pm so we would have to leave around 4 to take in account of the traffic that we would encounter. (OK, so the traffic was worse then we thought! It took an hour and a half just to taxi our way to JFK...arg!) Here's the funny part, since we were stuck in traffic, our taxi driver decided to take a detour to try to get us there quicker. He turned down the avenue that Vanessa and Justin S. live on. After a call to our cousin, she informed us that she was just leaving work and that we might be passing her. The taxi driver was so cool that we had a few moments to see Ness and Justin along with one of their friends from work. YEAH!! Quick hugs and dinner plans when we get back...yeppers.
Ok, so we reach JFK and David walks us to our gate. Luckily his sign in for his Paris trip was around our departure time so he got to go with us. THANK YOU...David and Rob give us a huge suprise by packing a boatload of snacks, redbull and water along with books and maps as a gift to us. There were things like a book of the Little Prince and really nice headphones, crossword puzzles and all sorts of goodies. J and I were both suprised, this was such a nice gesture!!
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
1.) American Airlines
a. Leave: June 14th 5:25 PM from AUS (with a connecting through DFW)
b. Arrive: June 15th 12:10 AM to EWR
2.) Iceland Air
a. Leave: June 15th 8:25 PM from JFK to KEF, Flight #FI614
b. Leave: June 16th 7:40 AM from KEF to CDG, Flight #FI542
c. Arrive: June 16th 12:05 PM in CDG
1.) Iceland Air
a. Leave: June 22nd 10:35 PM from CDG to KEF, Flight #FI547
b. Arrive: June 23rd 12:10 AM in KEF
c. Leave: June 25th 5:00 PM from KEF to JFK, Flight #FI615
d. I think we arrive at 8:25PM on June 25th into JFK
2.) American Airlines
a. Leave: June 26th 4:25 PM from LGA to AUS through RDU
b. Arrive: June 26th 8:50 PM to AUS
20 hrs in NYC
6.25 Days in CDG
2.75 Days in KEF
24 hrs in NYC