The Main Attraction

April 25th, 2019

We got a glimpse of it yesterday but today was the day we got to go up to the second level.  Not the top but the second level has a great view of Paris and was high enough.  The Eiffel Tower was built for the Worlds Fair in 1889 by Gustave Eiffel and was not suppose to be permanent.  Our guide told us on the boat tour that we would not recognize Paris without it and that is part of how it got to stay.  Makes sense, its a long story of how it became and why it is still here.  It took just over 2 years to build and erect.  It was built piece by piece off site and assembled where it stands today.  Pretty amazing engineering without computers.  Its beautiful and paying for the tour definitely beat standing in line for hours just to get to the elevator line and then standing more.  This is off season and the signs said it would be about a 4 hour wait.  If you choose to buy the unguided tour it costs only 18e.  We paid $54 each.  That gave us the skip the line and a nice guide from Scotland that knew a lot of the history we would have had to read on Wikipedia.

Favorite shot of the day

 

Our guide, Jade took our photo in the spot she takes all her customers photo.  Its a pretty good location.

The iron work almost looks like lace

 

 

I don’t think the view would have been any better had we ridden the elevator to the top, besides it costs more and your only choice was to buy a ticket to the top and wait inline.  Paul would not have gone under any circumstances and I think enjoying the view longer from here was perfect.

Sacre Coure Basilica

That is the church that sits on the hill above our apartment.  It didn’t seem that far away but from up here it does.  The city of Paris  41 square miles with a population of 2, 140,526.  It is very concentrated with residents.

 

 

 

 

 

Walked 7 miles and 16 flights of stairs – Part 2

April 25th, 2019

Back on land we walked into the Lourve which was built as a fortress built in 1190!  Thats old and the architecture is amazing.  The museum is closed today so tourist are not as plentiful and you can only enjoy the outside which I did.

From here we walked through the Tuileries Gardens,  a little early but they had a few beds of beautiful flowers.  The fountains were very nice although one just sent a stream of water straight up?  It was a slightly cloudy day but warm so we enjoyed the walk.

                                     Tuileries Garden

We continued toward the Arc de Triomphe beyond the Chanps-Elysees.  Lots of people watching but not what I was originally thinking.  I thought this boulevard was like Rodeo Drive with lots of fashion, not at all.  Chain stores and fast food joints, although we saw our first Mc Donalds with fine patio seating!  Many of the cafe’s had patio seating with the seats stadium style for maximum people watching.  There were lots of people, mostly tourists and not many extraordinary enough for me to say this was a good people watching spot.   There wasn’t any high fashion or fancy clothed people or cars.  We did enjoy the walk.  And the Arc de Triomphe is something you could sit and watch for a very long time

 

Laduree Paris Royale Macaroons must be the best because we waited in line and paid 17 e for 6 cookies in 6 different flavors including rose, lavender and Marie Antonette.  Tastee, yes. Worth it?  probably not!  But I have a cute box that I can remember today with instead of another trinket.  Who knows maybe when I get home I’ll learn to make macaroons and I’ll wrap them just like this and give to a special friend.

Paul found this fountain very interesting.  Definitely different and the tubes light up at night.  He wants to build one – we will see how far that goes!  And then finally, after all the news at home about the yellow vests and all the warnings we finally saw a small grouping!   The look harmless but we saw lots of broken windows along the Champs- Elysees.

And finally to the Arc de Triomphe

The Arc de Triomphe is located on the right bank of the Seine with  twelve radiating avenues. It was commissioned in 1806 after the victory at Austerlitz by Emperor Napoleon at the peak of his fortunes. Laying the foundations alone took two years and, in 1810, when Napoleon entered Paris from the west with his bride Archduchess Marie-Louise of Austria, he had a wooden mock-up of the completed arch constructed. The architect, Jean Chalgrin, died in 1811 and the work was taken over by Jean-Nicolas Huyot.

The Arc is beautiful but the traffic was much more entertaining. The craziest, no horns blaring, no crashes, all speeds, and some vehicles actually stop in the middle waiting for an opportunity to turn off, and hardly any slamming brakes.   Buses, cars, motorcycles, bicycles, delivery trucks and entering and exiting at the same time from every angle and we were not even there during a busy time.  Facinating and scary at the same time.  I couldn’t believe a bicyclist was in the circle.

We found the tunnel to get to the middle and the line to go up in the Arc although we opted to not wait and do that because it couldn’t get much better than being right on the level of all this action.

                                     Why?

Thats our question but if you look on wikipedia it does explain why a warrior going into battle is completely nude!   And then it was time to find a train and get back to our cozy apartment.

 

Walked 7 miles and 16 flights of stairs – Part 1

April 24th, 2019

Up early and out to see more Paris.  We took the Metro the Seine River to take a morning tour just to get a taste of the City.  Found the cruise pier and then we had time so we found breakfast!  Yesterday our croissant and coffees were 7 e, today we got table service, real cups and 4 croissants for a mere 25 e!  Thats what you get for just sitting down and ordering.  Oh well

 

 

Paul did think the cup with two handles was fun!

The Seine runs right thru the middle of Paris with many attractions on both sides.  The boats above were a few of the many parked along the banks.  We only saw a couple tour boats while we were out.  We passed the Lourve, many bridges

This is the Orsay Museum which was built as a train station that was built for the Worlds fair in 1900.  Today it houses many works by the Impressionist.

And  then our first site of the Eiffel Tower.  It didn’t seem that big or tall although it is definitely taller than anything else around the city.

Eiffel Tower

Just past the tower our boat turned around and headed past the starting point.  Our guide spoke in French and then in English with the same voice, sometimes it was hard to understand her but she made sure we knew we did.  We saw lots more bridges, Paris has 37 bridges in all and Paul thought we must have seen all 37!  Some were old, some brand new and some with lots of carvings from the period they were built.  And then we came to the main reason I wanted to take the cruise.  Notre Dame de Paris

It doesn’t look anything like it did a week ago but it is still very beautiful and someday it will be back among the major attractions in Paris.

                                                                                  In this photo you can see the round medallion in the point has been burned out.

This is the view showing the side where most of the damage is and the melted scaffolding is.  The guide did not talk at all about the fire and no one asked,  It was oddly silent.  Paul and I thought we might go there and tour what you can of the grounds but after seeing this we decided we did not want to go.  Next trip!!!

Paris Day 1

April 23rd, 2019

We made it!  The flight was perfect although long.  The upgraded cabin and seats definitely helped.  Arrived to our cozy studio in MontMartre and Jeff met us to show us about and how to get in.  There are 3 doors before you enter the 100 sq feet of home with 4 locks!  We immediately went downstairs to the bakery and got a fresh croissant, quiche and coffee.  Very good.  Then it was upstairs and to bed.

Tinier than the Van!

 

We set the alarm so we wouldn’t sleep too long as it was only 4 in the afternoon.  Woke up, took a nice hot shower and off to explore.  To our surprise our home is right at the base of Sacra Coure   after  climbing more than 270 steps to the base!

The climb once you make the 270 steps!

Paris from the front of the Sacra Coure

Then we wandered the busy streets of MontMartre after 9 pm.  There were even more people than at Twilight.  We found a cute little cafe just beyond the church and had an evening snack of French Onion Soup and cheese with a glass of Champagne.  My bucket list is getting lots of checks so far!

Its crowded here and pretty littered but the people are very friendly and helpful so far!  They seem very merry.

 

Key West

February 1st, 2019

 

 

Love Love Love!    It’s beautiful and very alive.  We stayed at Boyd’s RV on Stone Key which is just over a tiny bridge from Key West and had a tiny spot with a sliver of a view to the bay.  The park was beautiful and had an amazing gift shop.  We hit all the tourist spots and some hidden gems off the beaten path in a rented golf cart.

Chickens rule the islands except at The Hemingway House

It says to preserve the furniture keep off! Cats don’t listen

There were 3 on the bed!

So many cats, many with 6 toes on their paws.  They had a special housing area just for the cats

Cat Condos

Hemmingway was a very interesting man.  He was a great aurthor but not so good at marriage.  He had 4.

The landscape is beautiful here and Sunsets are perfect.  So many spots to get an amazing view of the sunset

Southern most point in the US

There was a line a block long to get a photo!  We did a drive by, the people in the photo will never know they are in my blog!

Great food, excellent Bloody Marys

We opted for a spot that wasn’t famous for lunch on Duval Street and it may have been our best meal on the island!  And they had a Bloody Mary bar where you could custom build yours however you like as long as your CC balance was in good shape.  I just had the bartender build mine a little spicy and it was perfect.

The gulf from somewhere near the southern point

The fort

The wall of the fort

Paul went into the fort to see the canons, Duke and I walked the perimeter.

Around town, Cupid’s hanging on the porch

 

Interesting trees

Loved this Lighthouse right in town

The local cemetery had lots of Roberts!  Maybe Paul’s family is from Cuba and not Ireland😊

Fresh made ice cream from cream only. They used dry ice to freeze it and when it got too hard they used a torch to warm the side of the bowl. The creamiest I’ve ever had.

 

Had to go!

And finally! Great margaritas and ok food. Looked like all the others but I prefer the one in Capitola on the beach.  I just think a Margarita with a sunset over the ocean is just about perfection.

 

 

Tampa

January 24th, 2019

picked up Paul’s sisters from their cruise ship and spotted this little piece of art.  It was in a small park near the railways and the ports.

 

From there we we found a little park and had lunch before dropping Nancy for her flight.  Cindy has a later flight so we checked out downtown St. Petersburg.  Lots of galleries and expensive yauhts.

A cool old hotel right near the harbor.

St. Pete’s Beach

January 22nd, 2019

Our first Air B&B so that I can get out of the Minivan!  It’s not fancy and at first look it felt a bit creepy but it is a block from the beach and walking distance to Waffle House so it will work for this week while Paul works and Duke and I enjoy the sunshine and some space.

Fun in the sun

A little different than the west coast

The shells are abundant! How do you pick just 1

More feet, loving the sand and surf

Dining out is not usually our first choice but when they offer spectacular 360 views, and you can see forever from your seat how can you resist?

Spinners, dining in the round

First we had a cocktail on the beach after a beautiful 1 mile walk along the shore.  Ok, not Paul’s favorite thing but he is really trying to keep me happy in the Minivan so I get time in the sand.  Then we went upstairs to a fantastic view and then a beautiful dinner.  Yes the cost was our weekly food budget but we can eat peanut butter for a few days!

The view from Spinners

the sunset as not the best because the sky was so clear with not a cloud anywhere!  But just wIt a day and here you go!

Tuesday evening after another perfect day at the beach

so far Florida has delivered a pretty good visit!  The weather has been great and Paul is getting to do so work so everyone is happy.  

Sunshine, Sand and Waves, Perfection

January 18th, 2019

New Smyrna Beach is your typical east coast beach;  people sunbathing, splashing in the Atlantic Ocean and CARS!    There are people sunbathing and playing frisbee while cars pass right by.  Very interesting.

When it looks like a catch everyone stops

Taking a walk along the beach I found the most interesting jellyfish.

 

Cindy and I played a round of golf at Hidden Lakes Golf Course near New Smyrna Beach.  And I got my first Birdie!  Yeah me

Par 4, 265 yds! BIRDIE!

And now we are off to the Gulf Coast,  and more beach time

 

We made it

January 17th, 2019

3000 miles in 5 days!  We wont be repeating that again.  The weather is still a bit chilly but I’m wearing capris and a tee shirt so it’s looking up.  We arrived in New Smyrna Beach just in time for dinner with Paul’s sister Cindy.  I’m going to spend a couple days at her time share and Paul is off to work.  We will meet up Saturday in Tampa where Cindy and another of Paul’s sisters, Nancy will be sailing on a Carnival cruisefor 5 days.  Paul and I will be chillin on the beach in St. Petersburg where I have booked us a cottage for the week!  It’s a good time to ditch the van for a few days and spread out.

Today Cindy and I visited the cute little town of DeLand.   A very friendly town with many unique shops.  We found a brewery and sat a bit, enjoying some craft beers

Persimmon Hollow Craft Brewery

Drink Sensibly, But Get Weird  

That was their label,  it was fun to sip some local beers while chatting g with some locals and wAt hi g the crafter working with the hops.

Local artist painted these wings in an alley way. Everyone loved them and started taking photos and now the artist has 5 sets around Florida and has all kinds of merchandise to go along. I’m glad they still let us take photos without paying.

After a nice lunch in a local diner we headed to the Blue Springs Stars Park where we watched the Manatees enjoying the warm waters of the spring.

 

 

 

They are beautiful to watch and the water is so clear.  There was all kinds of other fish to and watching the interactions was amazing.

Tomorrow is the beach and golf!

 

 

I’ll say it again…. El Paso to Houston takes a REALLY long time!

January 15th, 2019

You can’t do it in one day,  and there isn’t much to see.  Sunday was a very long day;  we started near Buckeye Arizona at 7:45 am and finally stopped somewhere in west Texas about 11:30 pm.  The good news is we lost an hour entering central time so we were only in our seats about 14 hours.  We never even left the van through New Mexico.  I did manage a few photos.

And we get 5 cents per gallon discount with our Flying Jay card, plus our cc gives us money back

Welcome to Texas! I missed the others.

 

Walmart, Fort Stockton, Texas

Now that’s an RV.  A fire truck with an 18 wheeler cab with a car and towing a 25 ft trailer.  I guess you use what you have.

 

Buc ees has so many billboards and all are creative

We always stop into Buc ee’s when in Texas-  you can get gas, buy mom a gift and have lunch in under an hour !

We made it to my sister Karol home east of Houston in time for a wonderful dinner and some catching up.  Tuesday we are driving again.  We will be in New Smyrna Beach Wednesday for some well earned beach time as well as some golf !  I’m hoping I get to put the shorts and sandals on!