Home Again…..

We had no delays in getting home although with a morning flight, we also didn’t winding up sleeping on the nine hour trip to Miami. We watched a lot of movies. “Mary Queen of Scots” is very well done if you haven’t seen it and “Bohemian Rhapsody” did bring back memories of those days. Even though  we haven’t yet signed up with Uber or Lyfte, a friend did recommend a young man who does a driving service. He was very polite, a nice car, reasonable rates and communicated well as we made our way through the process. And speaking of process; Hubby and I have Global Entry, but Sis doesn’t. MIA has installed a lot of kiosks for passport scanning as another expedited way of getting through Passport Control. It works well and there is no charge. There is also a Mobile App you can download for those who prefer that type of approach.

Sis is here until I/we take her to the airport mid-afternoon tomorrow so we will do a couple of local things we didn’t have a chance to do when she came in. As much as I’d like to run her down to Key Largo or Islamorada, doing so on any weekend, and especially Father’s Day weekend, is not happening. We had enough traffic in Paris. We might go to La Playa at Bayfront Park for lunch tomorrow – we haven’t been since it re-opened and it isn’t likely to be as crowded as all the “regular” places for Father’s Day.

Okay, I do still have things to catch up on and will parcel them out, knowing the upcoming week will be definitely super busy. This is one of those months when all three boards I sit on have their monthly meeting in the same week.


Paris Trip, Day 7……..

The weather report for this morning didn’t really match what we woke up to although I had already scratched the idea of going to Montmarte. As it turns out, taxis are more difficult to find than expected as they don’t have taxi stands at all the major attractions. Since Hubby and I usually take the Metro/RER (light internal rail), I simply never paid much attention to taxis. I was very concerned that we could get to Montmarte, but have difficulty in getting back and that is one place for sure access to the Metro is a long and mostly lengthy climb. (Not precisely uphill both ways, but not easy no matter which direction).

Anyway, since Sis is a great Monet lover, we went to L’Orangerie Museum in the Jardin de Tuilleries with the idea of strolling through the garden later. The Museum itself is small compared to others, yet it is impressive. The two rooms with the eight massive panels of Monet’s Water Lilies are indeed something to see. Done in the latter part of his life when he was struggling with eyesight, they “track” the hours from sunrise to sunset, not in any chronological sense, but in the play of light. Having now visited Giverny and seen the gardens and water lily pond in their natural light, it’s easy to see how he was inspired. How he managed the extraordinary blending of colors and form is another matter altogether. In fact, the pieces were not placed on public display until a few months after his death. He no doubt has been around in spirit as people have absorbed this very special work. Much of the rest of the museum houses an amazing collection from Jean Walter and Paul Guillaume, men who contributed immeasurably to the art world in the patronage of Picasso, Matisse, etc., In gifting 145 pieces to the museum, there are also a large number of Renoir and Cezanne, so it crosses the decades. A special exhibit on display was August Macke and Franz Marc, German artists who became friends and were part of the post-Impressionist, avante-garde group who brought us “contemporary” leading into “modern” art.

As we exited the museum, wandering in the garden didn’t seem to be a good idea and in managing to snag a taxi, we also experienced a traffic jam which of course is part of Paris life. Thus ends our museum trek for the trip.

Paris Trip, Day 6….

The weather did turn although the rain held off until we were inside Musee D’Orsay and broke a couple more times as we made it to lunch after and were unsuccessful in finding a cab until we took the RER to Les Invalides where we picked one up. But first, the museum. The Musee D’Orsay was built as an impressive train station for the 1900 World’s Fair. There was also a lovely hotel and incredibly ornate grand reception hall. It was ultimately turned into a museum in the late 1970s and is quite large. It is where the main Impressionist exhibit is up on the fifth floor. There are others on display also, but by the time you finish the fifth floor you generally need a break. Many other periods of arts are shown, lots of sculpture and periodic special exhibits. Sis took plenty of photos and of course it was special interest to see Monet paintings of Giverny since we were there yesterday. The Reniors are always a sight and Pissaro is featured among others. We did get a bit of a late start because Sis was extra tired from yesterday’s adventure and we decided not to roam in the rest of the museum.

We went to the nearby café for a light lunch and it was very tight quarters. Fortunately, the place was only about two-thirds full. Sis had what was basically a chef’s salad and I had the vegetable soup as I had not done so yet. As we make our way through some of the French “musts”, she had tarte tartin for dessert and hot chocolate since the rain had also dropped the temperature. It had been a long time since she had hot chocolate made from scratch.

Even though it will be my third (her second) time to go to the Alsace restaurant close to here for dinner, the hotel had a fairly limited menu and we dined here last night. There is an Italian place where we had lunch the other day, but Sis isn’t enthused with that idea, so we’ll play tomorrow night by ear. It will be our final night for dinner and I may ask the hotel staff.



Paris Trip, Day 5…..

Okay, today’s excursion to Giverny was the one absolute no matter what else we did. This was also the only thing planned I have never done. Interestingly, the “day trip” is actually only 1.5 hours on-site and with the crowds. It isn’t really enough time to do the gardens and the house. However, Sis has a couple of books with all the rooms of the house and I didn’t really care so we were fine. The Monet Gardens are open April through I think it’s October which means the 600,000 annual visitors are crammed into the space of months. Everyone is “funneled”, although “tunneled” is a more accurate term as you go through a tunnel from the parking lot/public areas and emerge into the gardens. You walk along defined paths and split multiple ways, all of which ultimately lead you to the gift shop which was a studio. By the way, the prices are actually quite reasonable in the shop. No, I didn’t buy anything.

So, Giverny is 45 miles from Paris, just as you cross into Normandy. With traffic it’s 1.5-2 hours time. Our driver, a pleasant young man quite experienced in both maneuvering dicey Paris traffic and the area, explained there are numerous B&Bs in Giverny and if you want to truly enjoy it, he suggests you book well enough in advance to stay 1-2 nights there to share in the small village and get into the gardens before the throngs arrive. I can see this as a possibility, especially for a photographer who needs morning light and fewer than hundreds of people at a time.

Anyway, it was lovely, I will leave a good review with Trip Advisor and I did get some good photos I will later post. Sis loved it. We had planned to have dinner at the hotel and did so. Last night (or rather this morning) was a terrible bout of insomnia, so I am really dragging. More tomorrow.

Paris Trip, Day 4….

There are certain things I had told Sis we would do that sounded okay to her, but she didn’t understand exactly what they were and today was one of them. For those who already know the Galleries Lafayette, bear with me; for those who don’t, you can share the surprise. Opened in 1912, it has a magnificent domed structure with marvelous interiors of glass, beautiful décor and in adding modernizations, they have maintained their line-up of all the major names in shopping as well as added trendy new ones. You flip the pages of Vogue or any fashion magazine and in all likelihood, every ad you see will have a place in Galleries Lafayette. Since we are staying on Champs Elysees, we certainly have now had access to any of the high-end shopping we might wish to do. Not that we do that, but the opportunity is available between the two places. We did not do the gourmet store; that might have been too difficult to resist. Sis did find some mascara she’d been looking for and there was some indulgence in presents for grandchildren. It’s not as if I need anything for myself.

We had quite a late lunch at an Italian place close the hotel and we’ll go the Alsace restaurant tonight. I’ve held off so far on my steak au poivre and suspect it will be tomorrow. Yesterday was really hard on walking for Sis and today was much better. Tomorrow is the day trip to Giverny which will be a first for me as well. It’s a min-bus though rather than the big tour bus so I have hope of a manageable group instead of a big crowd. The weather has improved and we of course have high hopes for tomorrow. I haven’t looked at the forecast as I don’t want to possibly jinx things.

Paris Trip, Day 3……

Okay, had a bit of a disappointing start today although it worked out. I was not paying close enough attention to the Metro station and got us on the wrong line initially. We got turned around in the correct direction and the museum we plan to visit is closed for the next three years. We do have the lovely view of the Eiffel Tower from Trocadero and there is always something going on down there. Except, as we make the long trek with more wind blowing than is good for Sis, we discover a sad, but logical change. There are now glass (bullet proof I assume) barriers all around the Tower. You have to get into an appropriate line depending on what you want to do in order to pass through security. Since there was not a line for “just wander around and look”, we made the other very long trek from the tower to the Ecole Militaire Metro with the nice café next to it. The grassy fields leading to the tower east and west are also blocked off although the wide paths on either side are open. We had another leisurely lunch then made our way to the Rodin Museum.

It was a bit more crowded since it was a Sunday, but not too bad. Sis was extra pleased with the amazing rose garden on the grounds. I thought I had “forgotten” the roses which seemed odd considering how many and how beautiful they are. When I talked to Hubby a while ago he reminded me we usually go in the winter and the roses aren’t in bloom. Oh yeah, right.

There were a lot of steps involved today and it’s kind of worn Sis out. (Back issues with steps and Metro stations here are not geared well for elevators/escalators.) We’re planning to stay at the hotel for dinner tonight. Most museums are closed on Monday so it’s off to the original Galleries Lafayette tomorrow.

Paris Trip, Day 2…..

I know, where are the photos? I am inept at getting photos from my phone to the blog and thus that will continue to be a lapse for the foreseeable future. For all the months of planning and weeks of prep for this trip, there are certain things one cannot control. The downturn in weather (which seems to be shifting back) has been manageable, although did cut yesterday’s wandering short and we barely avoided a problem today. Being very well organized and getting our Metro passes ahead of time for today through Thursday did not of course take into account the nearby Metro station (and who knows how many others) would be closed today due to the on-going “Yellow Vest” protests. Sigh! I finally decided to treat it as an unexpected “tour” since we did have to go by a number of notable landmarks in the taxi. There was also the interaction with the cab drivers as they muttered at closed streets, re-routing and impatient drivers who were equally frustrated. So, yes, I tipped a bit more than I ordinarily would.

Anyway, I did not tell my sister about the feature exhibit at the Middle Ages Museum because I wanted it to be a complete surprise. As we ascended to the top floor and entered the specially lit room with the five very large Lady and the Unicorn Tapestries, she was in fact delighted. The proverbial “icing on the cake” is they still allow photographs without flash. They are as lovely as ever. The other displays are enjoyable and the ruins of the building that date to Roman times are well showcased.

We stopped for a coffee and Coke Light for sis, and then strolled to the Luxemburg Gardens. They are in fact more park than garden with lots of trees and wide paths for waling and the perimeter with joggers. The wind was still up although that was nice for the miniature sailboats in the fountain/pond. Lunch was a lovely, lengthy event with a table by the window at a nearby café. A proper croque monsieur, frites and green salad. The weather shifted again and with the Metro still closed, we managed to grab a taxi with only a little rain hitting the umbrella I had brought. We wandered a bit when we returned to the hotel and discovered a couple of cool things. That included a pause for ice cream and sorbet. We popped into a bistro to make dinner reservations, then back to the hotel for a bit. Sis didn’t want a full meal so had onion soup, some of my salad and she saved room for a chocolate crepe. My beef with mustard was underdone despite a discussion with the waiter which is not unusual as their definition of “medium” is subject to interpretation. I managed most of it though. Back to the hotel and more adventures lined up for today.

Paris Trip, Day 1…….

The flight went as well as a nine hour flight can. We arrived on time and there was a longer delay at Passport Control than I’ve ever experienced. For some reason, there were only two agent open. Then there was the usual traffic congestion and although we did have a view of the Arc de Triomphe as we came up to the hotel, Sis was looking for the usual style of Marriott. This one has a “small exterior” footprint although it is quite lovely of course. With a full hotel, the room wasn’t ready early as we had hoped, so we sat in the lobby and had lunch even though it wasn’t all that special. (I know that sounds odd, but it can happen). Having not slept much on the plane, we did shower and take a nap for a bit. Sis needed to rest a while longer and I had not opened the drapes. So, the earlier rain had returned and while there was a gap when I stepped out with no umbrella, my exploration was pretty quick. I did learn the Metro station is two blocks away and there is a Five Guys down a bit and across the street. Who would have thought? Not about fast food because McDonalds has been here for decades. I didn’t realize Five Guys had expanded beyond the USA. Even though I will probably be dining alone tonight and I do enjoy them, they are not part of my plan.

I’ll check the gardens schedule for tomorrow and see how close  Metro station is to Museum of Modern Age. We usually stay close to Place St Michele and just walk to there so I’ve never noticed the other stops. It’s one of the less well know museums and so might not be at crowded on a Saturday.

The Paris Trip….

It has been five years since we were in Paris. Last year, my sister was talking about taking a trip and wanted me to give her some advice. Somehow in the discussions, I misunderstood and thought she meant she and my brother-in-law were going. I thought that was odd because even though they are still traveling, I was under the impression he could no longer make the transoceanic trips. As it turned out, I was correct. My sister was planning for the two of us to go. Ah, okay. While I would not in general leave Hubby out of a trip to Paris, this will be a special event. The one time Sis was there was a brief visit and there were a number of things she didn’t do and she really wants to go to Giverny. I actually haven’t been there so that part will be new for me as well.

Hubby and I always go in the winter, too, close to Valentine’s Day, so it has been years since I’ve seen the parks in bloom and they are lovely with all the beautiful flowers. I have warned her Paris is not a carb friendly city, although green salad and omelette is a common lunch. Neither of us do oysters which lets out that option. We can both do a lot of “crudities” – the nice selection of raw vegetables as a first course I suppose. I’ve also recommended us taking breakfast bars because all standard French breakfasts involve pastries. Okay, I will indulge in one. I’ve received our Paris Passes which gives us access to many of the museums, the Metro, the light rail and discounts on some other things. I haven’t gone through the guide at length and I’m sure there have been changes over the past five years. Seeing Notre Dame will of course be sad and I’ll try not to tear up. I don’t know how close they will allow tourists. I will do a blog post each day and perhaps some Facebook.

Babyboomers and Our Music…..

I suppose every generation continues to love the music they grew up with and cherished “in their prime”. I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before in a post, but one of the ways you can tell you’re officially “older” is when you hear a current top hit and don’t have a clue as to what the title or artist/group is. The other giveaway is the phrase, “I don’t know what kids hear in that music”. I have posted before about watching three generations of fans at Jimmy Buffet concerts and I do still appreciate Sinatra, etc.,

Last night we were at the Seminole Theatre for the Martin Barre Celebrates 50 Years of Jethro Tull. Barre was the lead guitarist for Jethro Tulle from 1969 until the band stopped touring in 2013. Ian Anderson who founded the band in 1968 went his own way and Barre decided to establish his own band. Even though it was not a move he chose, it did allow him to create independent music and CDs; something he hadn’t been able to do before. The tour he’s on doesn’t include very many stops in Florida, but since we are in a direct line to Key West, the Seminole was contacted about doing a Wednesday concert. If the show wasn’t a sell-out, it was very close. To say it was loud and energetic is an understatement. For this tour, Barre has his regular band and brought back Clive Bunker the drummer and Dee Palmer, keyboardist from the Jethro Tull years. Having two drummers on stage does provide an interesting mix. The visuals on the screen took the band through the decades and images from the 60s and 70s brought back a lot of memories. It was indeed classic rock and roll – you know – the kind that caused our parents to say, “I don’t understand what kids like about that noise”.