Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Hard Act to Follow

How do I follow up a month of blogging from Paris? Now that I'm home, there's no excitement, no museums, no wonderful sights to share with you. It's back to reality once again.

Let me give you some closure, though, by telling you about our trip home, our last adventure.

We left the apartment at 8:00 on Sunday morning. We had a car hired to take us to the airport and we made the poor driver walk up those 107 steps twice to take down our suitcases. Oh, don't feel too sorry for him - he was young and healthy, and he complained plenty. I made sure to let him know that had I lugged my own suitcase up those stairs when we arrived.

We got to Charles de Gaulle airport with lots of time to spare before our flight and then... our plane was delayed for three hours! That meant we missed our connection in Toronto and had to wait in line for what seemed like forever to be booked on another flight. I was booked on the 6:15 pm flight, but Sandi wasn't scheduled to leave until 10:45 pm. Luckily, she was on stand-by for the same flight as me and was the very last person on. I didn't know this until we arrived in Edmonton and I spent the whole plane ride feeling guilty about my good fortune.

So, nearly 24 hours later, I arrived home. It was soooo good to see Mr. P and the Wild Things. The OnlyChild took off for Prince Edward Island two days before I got home; she comes back tomorrow.

In the past week (I can't believe I've been home for a week already), I've slept lots, taken AbbyDog for walks in the river valley, done the usual chores and - stupidly - decided to do some painting.

Remember this?

This is my sewing room - a tremendous mess by any standard. I decided to move everything out and put it in the spare room across the hall.

The spare bedroom was entirely filled with my crap. Who knew I had so much stuff crammed into that little tiny sewing room?

I planned to paint all the trim and then perhaps paint the walls a lovely buttery yellow.

I got the trim painted but then I ran out of both time and motivation to paint the walls, so they'll have to stay beige for now. I'm in the process of moving everything back in to the sewing room. The big stuff - furniture, books, etc. - is easy. It's all that little stuff that's killing me. Where do I put it?

If I ever get things straightened out, I'll have a Ta-Da post to show you my new, tidy sewing room.

But it will have to wait a bit... I go back to work tomorrow.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Au revoir, Paris!

Ceci est mon dernier annonce de Paris. Demain, nous allons prendre l'avion et rentrer au Canada. Il sera difficile de dire au revoir.

Today was a day of cleaning and making sure everything was in order at the apartment before we hand back over the keys and lock up for the last time. We swept and scrubbed and polished. The place looks better now than when we arrived.

But it was not all hard work on our last day. We treated ourselves this evening to dinner at Le Procope, one of the oldest cafés in Paris

and then to a cruise on the Seine.

It was still light out when we boarded the boat at 8:30, but by the time we left a half-hour later, it was night-time. As you know, my camera takes awful photos in the dark. The pictures of the Eiffel Tower were the only ones that turned out well, probably because of all the lights.

So... goodbye, Paris. Goodbye Seine. Goodbye, little apartment on rue Xavier Privas.

Je vais vous manquer, mais je vais revenir un jour.

Bonjour à domicile à Edmonton. J'ai hâte de vous voir demain.

Friday, August 20, 2010

One last...

Before we go, one last
  • ride on the Métro
  • browse in French shops
  • lunch in a Parisian café
  • visit to the Monoprix for groceries
  • crêpe (last night I finally had the Nutella and coconut)
  • purchase from Laduree
  • afternoon spent reading in a park along the Seine
  • stroll along the quai
  • dinner in our apartment (tomorrow we will eat out)
  • bottle of cheap (but tasty) wine
  • visit to Notre-Dame after dark
  • petit coppa of gelato (yeah, I know it's Italian and not French)

And one last visit to a church, although I did say we'd had enough of churches.

If you're a fan of The Da Vinci Code, you will recognize Saint-Sulpice, a beautiful church built during the reign of Louis XIV. You can read more about the church and its connections to Dan Brown's novel here.

Frescoes by Delacroix on the walls

and on the ceiling.

Beautiful detail.

A holy water receptacle made from a huge shell.

The "Rose Line".

The organ; I can't remember the significance of this in the story - something about a fight taking place in front of this. I did read the book, but have forgotten the details.

After our visit to Saint-Sulpice, we found more treasures in the city. The church was actually on Rue Bonaparte. How wonderful!

A random (and fun) sculpture along the street.

A beautiful shop selling matryoshka dolls. Very expensive. This display in the window has 70 pieces! Not for sale. There was another set with 30 pieces that cost 5000€.

A Scottish pub in the middle of Paris.

And, lastly, another reason to always look up!

Although I am quite eager to go home, after being away for nearly the whole summer, I really do love Paris.

Yes, despite all the annoying tourists, despite the noise every night all night in our neighbourhood, despite the surly service in most stores... Despite all that, this is a wonderful city - so beautiful, so cultured, with so much to do and see.

I'm sure I'll return. In fact, I am hoping to take my International Baccalaureate history students on a tour of France and England in the Spring of 2012. Will you come along with me on that trip?

Tomorrow is our real last day here, but it will be a day of cleaning the apartment and packing our suitcases (both of us are mostly finished that chore already). The apartment manager is coming to check us out and refund our damage deposit. We haven't caused any damage so we should get it all back.

We also have a "last hurrah" activity booked for the evening... I'll tell you all about it in my Last Post from Paris tomorrow night.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Where in the world...?

Can you guess where I've been for the past few days?

We flew into here:

Where we saw signs written in English and another, unfamiliar, language:

And there's a castle right in the middle of the city:

Have you guessed yet? Do you need more clues?

Well, there are lots of drinking establishments:

Could be anywhere, you say?

We were in Dublin, Ireland!

And while it may seem a bit indulgent to take a vacation from our vacation in Paris, it sure was nice to get away from all the people and the noise for a couple of days.

We saw so many neat things:

Sand sculptures with a Celtic theme at Dublin Castle.

And Churches. There are always lots of churches to see.

Christ Church

St. Audoen's Church (the oldest in Dublin, built between 1181 and 1212)

And St. Patrick's (of course)

We had wonderful fish and chips for dinner.

We went on a Ghost Bus Tour.

This fellow rode along with us

Our guide

Grave at St. Kevin's (formerly a graveyard, now a park)

Tombstones from unclaimed graves, which are now propping up the structure of the old church

We went to Trinity College (incorporated in 1592).

This is a statue of Edmund Burke
Other famous alumni include Jonathan Swift, Bram Stoker, Oscar Wilde, and Samuel Beckett

The Book of Kells, an illuminated book of the Gospels written in Latin, is housed at Trinity College

We did a lot of walking around town and there are a lot of statues of famous people (some more famous than others, apparently, since I was not familiar with many of them). Check out this very interesting story about Molly Malone, who is the subject of the statue in the photo below.

We also went to the Guinness Storehouse to see where world-famous Guinness is made.

Last night, we went out for dinner at the Arlington Hotel, where there was Irish music and dancing along with a three-course meal. The meal was excellent - so good, in fact, that I forgot to take photos before I tucked in.

These three played and sang Irish folk songs for an hour.

Then the Irish dancers came onstage.

It was a wonderful time! I'm trying to convince Mr. P to make the trip with me, maybe in a couple of years. I'd love to go to England (and see all my relatives) as well as Ireland and Scotland, since both of us have roots in the British Isles. I'll keep working on him.

We have only two more days left in Paris. Two days to clean up all the loose ends and do/see the things we haven't yet done/seen. Both Sandi and I are a little museum-ed out (no kidding), and we've seen enough churches to last a lifetime. But, we do have a couple of activities planned for Friday and Saturday, so stay tuned. I'll be back with a full report!