A Travellerspoint blog

Day 9, Paris - The Low Point

Plans ruined, denied access, bad burgers...

I'm not sure about you, dear reader, but I find that every trip has a low point. Sometimes there is a horrible day in the midst of several wonderful ones. Our horrible day was the 9th day.

I was getting ready to leave for the day and Travis was checking our train tickets from Paris to Rome when he asked me what 09/06/2012 meant under the heading of "date". Now, we were supposed to catch our train on 28/05/2012. So, you can see our concern. These are train tickets that cost a pretty penny and a journey that is essential to our time table. We ultimately decided that the tickets would be an easy fix and we should proceed with the original plan of visiting Versailles that morning and take care of the train tickets on the trip back to Paris.

We took a standing-only train to Versailles.

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Can you spot the musicians that kept us entertained?

Once there, we walked passed the two thousand (or so) people waiting in line, confident of a quick entry due to our nifty Paris museum passes, only to be told that the passes were essentially worthless. No, we did not have to buy a ticket but we did have to wait. I really regret not getting a picture of the line but it snaked around the entire courtyard. It was immense and with our train ticket issue to deal with that afternoon we decided to skip the palace and enjoy the gardens.

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Fishies!

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We wandered off course and down a "hidden" path in the bushes where we found this little hideaway. It was locked and we were found out by a guide but it was a fun little exploration.

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Apollo's Grotto

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Outdoor Ballroom

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We took a long walk to visit the Queen's Hamlet, a medieval town built especially for Marie Antoinette and her love for romantics set in the period. Keep in mind that this was a fully functioning town with farm animals and servants dressed in period costume. And all I want is a bigger closet!

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So after leaving Versailles, we headed for the train ticket office where were informed that tickets for the next day (the train we intended to be on) were sold out. It was then when panic set in a bit. We went back to our hotel room and spent several hours searching for other options: planes, rental cars, and alternate train companies. We did ultimately go through a different train company but it would only take us to Milano. From there we decided to rent a car and drive the six hours south to Roma. More to come on that story.

So we'd had a bit of a disappointing day and it was our last evening in Paris. We decided we'd grab some grub and some wine and head back out to the Eiffel tower for a farewell feast. We wanted something more than cheese, fruit, and bread and came across a burger place and thought, "What the hell, could be fantastic". So, we got our burgers and our wine (lol), and headed to the park. Once there we discovered the burgers sucked and one of them actually had hot sauce?? on it. We also choked down some soggy half cooked fries.

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We went back to the room to lick our wounds.

Hoping for a smooth day of travel tomorrow with less surprises.

Travis and Lisa

Posted by TheMeekOnes 06:27 Archived in France Comments (1)

Day 8- Paris, The Museum Death March

d'Orsay, The Lourvre, The Arc de Triomphe, the Sacre Coeur, and a great dinner

It was the morning of the 8th day when the thing I had dreaded most of all was put into motion. We realized, while eating croissants and coffee in our little neighborhood park, that we only had 2 1/2 days left in Paris. Not the 3 1/2 that we had planned on. Dun Dun Dunnnn....

The Museum Death March begins...

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(Our Breakfast Park)

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Our first visit was d'Orsay. Unfortunately, there are no pictures allowed throughout the collection so I was only able to grab a few of the outside and the clocks. We walked this museum in about 3 1/2 hours. Decent time.

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The next stop was the real challenge. We managed to walk the entire Louvre in approximately 4 hours. We may not have not been able to appreciate all of the works but we walked down each and every hallway. They were ushering us out in the end. We also managed to spend about an hour walking through the Tuileries Gardens.

As before, we're sharing a few of our favorites and I hope you enjoy them as well.

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Notice anything odd?

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The Code of Hammurabi. Amazing.

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You know, the distance from the Louvre to the Arc de Triomphe looks like a short walk. In reality, it's isn't. We realized this as we were walking the distance along with a thousand other misguided tourists who had the same idea. Once there, Travis and I walked thirty stairs into the arc before I turned around and went back down. Travis made it to the top though and took some of these pictures.

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(Just about the time I turned back around)

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From there we went to the Sacre Coeur. We had meant to "luncheon" on the grass but the lack of shops on the way and the amount of people made the task daunting. Also, it was full of pushy souvenir peddlers. We did spend some time there though and caught the metro train back down.

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(As see from the Arc de Triomphe)

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You can see so much from this spot.

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We then took a late dinner at La Place, a cafe just up the street from our hotel. We started with crispy goat cheese with mint as an appetizer. For an entree, I had the roasted chicken with mushrooms and Travis had the Crustia with goat cheese. We do like our goat cheese. We ended the meal with a wonderful chocolate cake served with ice cream and honey. Absolutely delicious. Every single bite.

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(Started eating before I remembered to take a picture. Long day, ya know)

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To be honest, it was an amazing long day. Not near as torturous as I expected. Maybe it was the company...

Bonsoir!

Travis and Lisa

Posted by TheMeekOnes 08:02 Archived in France Comments (1)

Day 7 - Paris

Well, not really Paris but Chartres

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Our first entire day spent in France was a success. We caught a train from Montparnasse to Chartres Cathedral, about an hour from Paris. Although I keep telling Travis the towers need to be fixed he assures me the asymmetrical architecture is what makes it "special".

Also, there is a labyrinth in the center of the cathedral made of different color stone. People come from all around just to walk the path in prayer. Travis and I both did it, without shoes. It was a moving experience and very worth the dirty socks.

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All jokes aside, it really is a beautiful cathedral and we had a great day exploring it.

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(Gotcha your crop circle, B.R.)

Oh, and see the top left bell tower? Yeah, we totally climbed that. All 300 stairs. I cowered in the corner while Travis took these pictures but I was totally up there.

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Before grabbing the next train back to Paris, we spent a bit more time enjoying the cathedral over a glass of wine and congac.

Gorgeous day with great company!

Travis and Lisa

p.s. I still stay they should make the bell towers match. Just my opinion ;)

Posted by TheMeekOnes 14:31 Archived in France Comments (2)

Days 5 & 6 Amsterdam and Paris

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Sorry to our friends and family for the delay in our post. It has been a hectic few days. To keep you up to speed, I'm combining two days into one post. I hope it is not too long and that you still enjoy.

We set out from V's by taxi on 24-5. After a 45 minute flight from Luton airport, we found ourselves in Amsterdam and surrounded by a foriegn language. Never fear though, this heroic duo made it on the the train, then on the tram, then on foot directly to our hotel. Well...kind of. To be perfectly honest, once off the tram we walked back and forth for over an hour trying to find our hotel. Please keep in mind that we had dressed for cool weather only to be met with a humid 80 degrees.

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We did finally make it to our Hotel, which was very small but comfortable despite the lack of air conditioning. No sooner did we set down our luggage than we were back out to explore the city.

Our first stop: The VanGogh Museum! There are no pictures allowed of the collection, so please enjoy the few I took before I was yelled at in Dutch.

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By the time we left it was too late to visit another museum so we took it upon ourselves to venture out on a walking tour of the city. Yes, we did make it through the red light district but they frowned upon picture taking, even when I explained it was for my blog.

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(Dutch Pigeons)

Afterward we made it to the only Dutch restaraunt in Rembrandt Square and had Sausage with endive potatoes, which according to our server is a very authentic dutch dish. No matter its origins, it was delicious!

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The next morning we made our way to the Rijks Museum.

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After the museum, we made our way to Amsterdam Airport Train Station. This is where, as they say, the plot thickens. We got to the airport and had taken in a very nice lunch consisting of a club sandwhich, asparagus soup, and choclate toast (Alas, no pictures). I began working on the blog when we decided to triple check our tickets. It was then that we noticed our departure time was 11:00am. We noticed this around 13:10. We had confused our arrival time of 14:23 with out departure time. To make the story brief, we made it on the 13:35 train for a price, of course. While waiting in line to put our tickets in order we were searched by drug dogs. No worries, we were clean. ;)

The conductors on our Paris train were really wonderful and had quite the sense of humor. Until they were sure there were open seats we had a whole bunker (luggage compartment) to ourselves.

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At one point, Travis snuck off at a stop to smoke and I snapped this picture imagining the caption, "And this is where I lost Travis in Brussels". As funny as it would have been, he made it back on and eventually we were given seats and I managed to finish my last post. I must have had some psychic vibe because I got up and purchased a bottle of wine, I'm assuming when we crossed the Paris line.

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All and all, with the difficulties and adventures we made it to Paris.

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Very shortly after this picture was taken, we were approached by a French youth who was oh so eager to help us understand and pay for our Metro pass. After hearing his explanation and witnessing his 'associates' following us around we, with difficulty, broke free. We're not sure of the full scam, but there was one in progress and I am glad we avoided becoming victim to it. Looking back, I shoulda asked the dude for a picture.

By the time we made it to the hotel, we only had time to walk to the Eiffel Tower. A nice perk of our off-brand hotel was that it was only a 10 minute walk to the Eiffel. We grabbed some bread, cheese, and wine and had a blast.

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On the way back to the hotel, we grabbed a nightcap from a local cafe. I couldn't resist ordering the "Florida"

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Did I mention that the sun dosen't set until 10:30 here?

Formagio!

Travis and Lisa

Posted by TheMeekOnes 05:40 Archived in Netherlands Comments (2)

London - Fourth and Last Day

Getting the last bits

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We've awakened to our last day in London. A sad day. I am not sure why but I've felt a real connection with the city. The densely populated living quarters, the assortment of nationalities, the variety of take away spots. While you can find many of these things in New York city, London possesses a certain charm that I miss in our own Big Apple.

So appropriately, our last day had a very British feel...

Bright eyed and bushy tailed, we made our way via bus and tube to Buckingham Palace for the changing of the guard. While this activity is a must see to anyone visiting the city, I don't think it is something you have to do twice. It could be that even though we arrived early to the Palace, the crowd surrounding the gate was four/five people deep and I was not able to witness most of the changing. I believe Travis enjoyed the experience more and was nice enough to take video and pictures for me. So, for your next trip and mine, arrive early!

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Our time in London could not have been better planned. The Queen's Diamond Jubilee is only a little over a week away and the Olympics are not trailing far behind. There was a great deal of country pride in the air. We were told that the streets were a little cleaner and the people a little nicer.

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Last but definitely not least on our site seeing tour.

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You didn't think I'd miss this...

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We were fortunate enough to come across this little gem while leaving The Ministry of Magic, I mean...Parliment.

The day and trip were appropriately finished up with V in her backyard garden. A little music, hamburgers, prawns, salad picked from her own veggie patch and corn on the cob. She also treated us to a traditional English summer drink, Pimms. Very refreshing and very well deserved.

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Next up - 24 hours spent in Amsterdam!

God Save the Queen,

Travis and Lisa

Posted by TheMeekOnes 13:12 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (3)

London - Day 3

Mummies and Armor and Romans! Oh My!

We got off to a late start on our third day. I think the constant go-go-go finally caught up to us. Our main focus was the British Museum and although we spent five and half hours touring the place we didn't make a dent in the collection.

We wanted to share some of our favorites with you. Hope you enjoy!

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The North American Garden Exhibit - Looked somewhat familiar

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Its me with my boy, Bacchus.

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Mummified Kitty Cats

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Is it a weapon or is it Art?

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You have to. You have to.

Afterward we took a walk down to St. Paul's Cathedral. What an amazing building.

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After a trip over Millenium Bridge and a walk by The Globe (of which I have no pictures), we ended our evening with V at the local (Pub). Travis had the much anticipated Bangers and Mash. I, however, had a more traditional meal of herbed chicken with mash. Both were pretty amazing.

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Another wonderful day spent.

Only one more day in London. What rubbish!

Travis and Lisa

Posted by TheMeekOnes 06:04 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (2)

London - Day 2

A day spent in the English Countryside

We've left the city! On Sunday, 19-5-2012 we set out in a "hired" car to explore the country with V. The day began as somewhat of a fiasco, as most vacations should be, but ended as a day well spent and absolutely irreplaceable.

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First Stop: Stonehenge. It was exactly as it should be and yet nothing like what we expected. What a humbling experience.

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Second Stop: Salisbury. This was a pleasent detour. The church here is quite old. One of the oldest in England, holding a wealth of history and beauty. It is also home to the remaining portion of the Magna Carta. Unfortunately no pictures allowed!

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After a walk of the church, we stopped in the neighboring village for afternoon tea and scones. Clotted cream and jam, thank you! Oh, and this is where Travis was asked if he was Chuck Norris...again.

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Avesbury is another stone circle in England. This ancient site was established over 3,000 years before stonehenge and a village has slowly built itself within it.

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On our way to Avesbury we saw a few fun suprises. Both completely on accident.

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Gypsies

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We also ran across a game of Cricket. Still have no clue of the rules but it looks fun.

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After a two hour trek back to London, we stopped by The Spainards Inn. This has been an Inn/Tavern for over 600 years and has great character. It also has great food! Fish and Chips and a Ham Chop.

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A great way to end a great day!

Cheers!

Travis and Lisa

Posted by TheMeekOnes 11:47 Comments (4)

London - Day 1

This post was delayed due to technical difficulties and a lack of internet connection

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Our 1st day in the United Kingdom ended on 19-5-2012 at 22:38.

We left Tampa around 5:15, bound for an Atlanta layover. Around 8:15pm we were seated with our trays up and seats in the up-right position, headed to Heathrow. Although intially troubled by the infant in the seats in in front of us, it was a smooth and quiet flight.

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(My black backpack weighed in at 20 lbs, Travis' green backpack weighed in at 40lbs)

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(Shout out to Aunt Peggy. We've kept them around for 2 years in anticipation)

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Landing in Heathrow, we found ourselves navigating not only a foriegn airport, but a new and foreign tunnel system as well. No worries, we've travelled before which means we are very experienced in asking directions.

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After an exciting tram and train ride we found ourselves in Peddington Station meeting Tavis' old collge chum, V. She has been living in London for six years and has been nice enough to take us into her wonderful London flat. It really is just the perfect place. A ten minute walk from the Bus stop and a few extra minutes to the tube. I have transportaion envy! Absolutely Amazing!

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After dropping off our backpacks at the flat, we're off! Vicki takes us to the National Gallery. Along the way, we were led down to t tottenham court road. Side Note: this is the street that Harry, Hermione, and Ron disapparated to in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows after Bill and Flur's wedding was crashed by the pesky death eaters. We also walked through Lester's Square and numerous other landmarks that either I did not know exisited or have forgotten as they were so numerous.

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(Mom, we went there the very first thing on the very first day)

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Travis was able to see several masterworks that he teaches in class. After around 3 1/2 hours in the National Gallery, we were back on the move.

More of a walking tour in the city, we visited Parliment, #10 Downing Street, where the Prime Minister is supposed to live. Fun fact, PM Cameron lives in #11,as it is bigger and is more equiped to accomodate his family. We then made a pass by Parliment, which includes Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. We walked by the WWI war rooms, and the offices of defense. This was my government portion of the trip.

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We then walked down to the river and saw the eye. We may be getting into one of those little death balls before we leave. It is something I would probably regret missing.

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Our day ended at V's favorite Indian place down the corner. Before you snear at Indian cuisine, I want to share that not only was it by my request it is also the most popular "Take-Away" food in London. The meal that I sought after was Chicken Vindaloo. You would have to see the British television show, Red Dwarf to understand my want for the dish. I was warned by V and a co-worker that Chicken Vindaloo is ridiculously spicy and the menue only reinforced this advice by giving the dish three chili peppers, the hottest item offered.

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I did it though, I ate four pieces! A feat I am certainly happy with and proud of. It was that spicy.

We then dragged ourselved home (a whole 1/2 block away) and collapsed for the evening. However, as I write this the English countryside and its stone circles are beckoning.

We hope to have these pictures loaded up soon!

Kisses and Kippers,

Travis and Lisa

Posted by TheMeekOnes 02:04 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (5)

The Game Plan

Six Days and Counting...


View Europe on TheMeekOnes's travel map.

For the first time in either of our lives, Travis and I will be leaving the continent of North America. We will be heading off into that distant sunset to witness what is left of the ancient world.

[Que Indiana Jones Theme Song]

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(It's not archeology but he is a professor)

In reality, we will spend two weeks traveling to several cities in four different European countries. On 18-5-2012 (yup, I’m starting) we will board a London bound plane from TIA. On the morning of 19-5, we will land in Heathrow and begin our adventure. Probably doggedly. After a few days spent visiting friends and prehistoric stone circles, we’re off to the Netherlands. Alas, no Chunnel on this trip. We will be flying over the English Channel and landing in Amsterdam. After a day spent visiting Van Gogh and a day spent in a village near Deventer visiting friends, we’re again on the move. This time, taking the Train to Paris, France. Some enjoyable days are to be spent here drinking wine (by me), exploring the prominent museums (by Travis), and a good time should be had by all.

After a seventeen hour train ride from Paris, we’ll arrive in Italy, the final country on our agenda. Then it is a train ride to Pompei and a few days spent in the Eternal City before my journey comes to a close. I will leave from Rome and fly back to Florida on June 2nd. Travis, however, will be spending another three weeks in the country studying Etruscan Culture through a rigorous grant program he was awarded. While home base will be the city of Orvieto, his studies will take him to several towns and historical sites across the county.

While this overview is by no means exhaustive, I hope that we’ll be able to fill you in along the way. Pictures, complaints, discoveries and whatever else we can think of. And in return, we’re hoping for tips. If you know of a place we cannot pass by, let us know and we’ll try to make the trek.

I should also mention that this blog is the result of B. R.'s encouragement. I know he is desperate to know of our whereabouts during our two week absence from trivia. B., no matter the sadness you may experience in seeing our two vacant seats, you must go on heckling Greg and creating your masterpieces. We will return. Until then, follow our blog.

Hugs and Euros,

Travis and Lisa

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Posted by TheMeekOnes 10:53 Comments (4)

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