Sunday, July 29, 2012

I love Paris in the Summer

So much has happened since I last blogged! Let me play catch up; first, with Paris.

Our week away from the Netherlands began with Paris. Everywhere I turned my jaw dropped. I thought I'd make a quick list of things I saw and learned while roaming the streets of Paris. 

1. Paris is home to some of the most (quite literally) awesome sights in the world. Here are a few that took my breath away . . . 

The Eiffel Tower:

We went to the tippy top - scary, but beautiful!

Back on solid ground.

Chad and the tower at night.

The Louvre-the building itself is stunning, even without art it is a sight to see:

Miss Mona herself


It seemed like the thing to do.

Notre Dame:

The Last Five Kilometers of the Tour de France:


Palace of Luxembourg gardens:

Look at the sailboats in the pond behind me. The children laughed so sweetly as they played with their "ships".

Isn't this grand?  


Yes, we ate macaroons in the park. :)

2. I do not like French food, except for: coffee (cafe au lait), croissants, beignets, crepes, fries (Belgium actually owns the rights to those yummies), baguettes, macaroons and... I think that's it. Breakfast and lunch is great. Dinners, on the other hand, not so great. Following a series of dry, poor tasting evening meals, we caved and ate Italian; something I vowed to wait to do until in Italy, but desperate times call for desperate measures. :) 

3. The cigarette industry will never die as long as the French still live.

4. French women are beautiful. On the same street in the same moment you will see a woman who looks as if she's just stepped off a runway; tall, slender, sleek hair, elegant heels, long legs, and a great dress, and also one who looks as though she just rolled out of bed, threw on a dress, tied her hair up, and splattered some lipstick on. They are both gorgeous. 

5. I would not survive in Paris on my current salary. Everything is just too tempting to buy, and, for the most part, comparatively too expensive. 

6. Paris has a way of romancing her visitors. I want to come back and fall in love with Paris again.

More on Rome and Venice to come.

K + C

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Old Country

Before Chad and I left Charlotte, my father, amongst many well wishes, jokingly remarked, "Say hello to the old country for me." So, to the old country we went. My father and his two sisters grew up in the small mussel fishing village of Bruinisse on the southern island of Zeeland. I've been here several times as a child and teenager, but on this visit I think I was better able to understand a bit of what my father's life might have been like. 

The mussel harbor which coincidentally hosted a mussel fest that same afternoon.

Zeeuwse Mussel pride

A bakery owned by my the father and brother of my father's childhood best friend. 

This is baker Daan (who gave us free treats!)

Sprucing up my grandmother's grave

That's a bit better. On her headstone reads (in Dutch) "My grace is sufficient for you". The same phrase-in English of course-is transcribed in my brother's headstone as well.

(foreground) my great-grandfather (back) my grandfather

The home on the right was my father's

Zierikzee, another town on Zeeland where my father went to secondary school.

Tante Tineke resting while we enjoy a cup of coffee at (formerly) Koss and Toss; a common hangout spot of my aunt and father.

Chadwick :)

Belgian Frites-which are always served with mayonnaise. Now, I am not a mayonnaise fan, but this mayonnaise tastes completely different-and better-than ours. Where can I get some?!

The oldest building in Zierikzee dating back to the 14th century.

The North Sea

The Kik family provided us with some mussels 

And here was our dinner-fresh from the sea.

Chad enjoying a classic Bruinisse meal. (I ate a sandwich.)

K + C

Thursday, July 19, 2012

London Town, Day 2 & 3

And here are the snapshots from day 2 and the morning of day 3 before we caught our flight back to Gouda. (There is so much I want to share I am finding it hard to choose between all of the photos!)

The Tower of London

Henry VIII's armor

The White Tower

Do you think this hat will catch on in Charlotte?

The Tower

We embraced our inner tourist spirits and boarded "the eye".

Here we are!

Westminster Abbey, perhaps my most celebrated moment in London. Not only is it aesthetically stunning, but we made the acquaintance of a Westminster Abbey staff member who walked me through the details of the royal wedding. We also saw the burial sites of literary giants such as Geoffrey Chaucer, Lord Tennyson, Robert Browning and also Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin. 

Chad waiting on lunch (free from the cold and rain) at the Dickens Inn next to St. Katherine's Docks. Fun Fact: Dickens Inn was built by Charles Dickens' great grandson.

That was one giant (yummy) latte to warm me up.

Chad beside Tower Bridge in Olympic dress

The Natural History Museum was just a two minute walk from our hotel (and free!).

That was one large dinosaur!

The museum featured an Animal Inside Out exhibit, similar to Bodies. This here was camel.

And strange armored ... thing.

Bought some goodies from this small shop.

Chicken Tikka Masala for dinner.

A day's worth of site-seeing makes a girl hungry.

Another favorite spot: Millennium Bridge. Here, looking south at Tate Modern

Looking north here at St. Paul's 

A closer view-we climbed to the top of that dome.

I had to walk up the stairs quite quickly to keep up with the senior citizens in front of me! 

Stay tuned for more.