I Louvre Paris
I Louvre Paris
As my last full day in Europe, we spent the entire day in Paris. Our Tour de Paris started at the Arc de Triomphe which is gigantic and very very different from the Arc in Barcelona. Surprisingly, it is surrounded by a traffic circle and you can only get out to it by paying 9€ to use the tunnel out to it and then climbing the stairs to the top. However, by not purchasing this access, we were still able to walk around the traffic circle and get plenty of pictures of it. I even watched a proposal pan out and took pictures for the guy which I later emailed to the couple. They were so adorable and it made me warm and fuzzy for the rest of the day!
Anyway, from the Arc we headed to see the Opera House of Paris. It was breathtaking because if all the ornate details and marble. Plus it’s still fully functional. From the Opera we headed toward Notre Dame and stopped to eat in the area. After lunch we walked to Notre Dame and were able to enter the cathedral for free. There was even a mass going on while we were in it! Once we had covered the cathedral, we headed down river to the Louvre to spend the remainder of our afternoon there. We were able to see Mona Lisa as well as many different paintings, Egyptian pieces, and even ceramics from Iznik (I did my project for art with a focus on these pieces).
Once all was said and done we headed back to our neighborhood to eat dinner at a cafe down the street where the waiters were more than hilarious and we enjoyed our last evening in Paris over good food and dessert. Once dinner was over it was time to face a sad reality and pack up for leaving Europe early the next morning. After we were mostly done packing, we took a break and gathered in the apartment living room to watch a sideshow of a small portion of the pictures my brother has taken over the past week.
The Light Show last night.
We woke up this morning with a mission of going up in the Eiffel Tower, but the line was much too long. Instead we went to see Napoleon’s tomb in a large church/ the military museum. From there we took the train to Giverny to see Monet’s home. Monet’s gardens were amazing, there were flowers upon flowers that were all beautiful and colorful. In the lily pond there were even frogs and a ton of tadpoles. We took the last train back to Paris and headed toward our neighborhood. It seemed as if happy hour was going on (around 9pm) so we went up to our apartment to have cheese & crackers before walking to a nearby pizza restaurant for dinner. After we got all full, we walked to the Eiffel Tower to see the light show which happens on the hour every hour after dark. We made it in time for the 11pm show and it was breathtaking, the lights make the Tower sparkle! Next we went and bought tickets to go up to the second floor (just barely missed the tickets to the top). We went up to the second floor and enjoyed the views for about an hour just enough time to watch the midnight light show from the second floor. Once all that was said and done we retired back to our apartment for the night.
Sleeping in felt oh so good this morning. Once we finally woke up, we ate breakfast, did a little laundry at a laundromat and headed to the train station for what would be a rainy, cloudy day in Versailles. Unfortunately May 1st is French Labor Day, so the palaces were closed for touring, but the gardens and many of the restaurants were still open. We walked around the grounds, saw both Louis XIV’s palace as well as Marie-Antoinette’s two hideouts. Once we got ready to leave the gardens, it began raining heavily so we headed to eat lunch and then went to see the Cathedral of Saint Louis and get back on the train. From Versailles we headed back to Paris to see the Sacred Heart Church and then the historic red light district as well as Moulin Rouge. Around 12:30am we finally called it a night and returned to our apartment.
Bonjour Eiffel Tower.
Waking up in Madrid we had breakfast at our hostal and quickly ran out to get last minute souvenirs. Then we had last minute packing to do and finally took a shuttle to the Madrid Airport. Checking our luggage was a bit of a struggle because RyanAir’s weight limit is smaller, but we did some rearranging to save over 200€ in overweight fees.
We flew to Paris, took a bus to the city, took the metro to get the keys to our apartment we are renting and finally took the metro to the apartment. Once we arrived we got a little settled in and checked out our views (one of which is the Eiffel Tower). Since we were all starving we went and got dinner nearby and ended up walking to see the Eiffel Tower. It was so amazing all lit up at night and once again makes the trip feel unreal. From there we finally called it a night and walked back to our apartment.
Madrid Cathedral and Royal Palace
Walking, walking, and more walking would summarize our day. We set out in the morning to see the royal palace on the West side of the city. Once we had walked all the way along the palace’s façade we stopped in the Cathedral and toured the museum as well as seeing the altar. It was amazing because it was so unlike any other cathedral I have seen. It had rightly painted, very detailed ceilings as well as crazy stained glass windows. Inside I felt very happy just from all the colors and patterns.
Once we were finished looking around, we walked down Calle Mayor and went to hunt down some pizza place that is supposedly the number one restaurant in Madrid according to TripAdvisor. We stopped in and shared slices because it had clearly been a busy day for them. In need of more food we walked back toward our hostal and got tapas to share between all of us. Satisfied we walked toward La Reina Sofia (a modern and contemporary art museum).
Before we entered the museum during free time, my mom, brother, and I walked to Parque del Retiro to see the Palacio de Velazquez as well as the Palacio de Cristal. We quickly walked back and stood in line for the museum which had an exhibit on Salvador Dalí. Forced to speed visit the museum we walked quickly through Dalí and headed to see Pablo Picasso’s “Guernica”. Once that was said and done we took the metro to the northern side of the city and got drinks/tapas at El Tigre. Not feeling well and having pain in our feet my mom and I called it a night after the tapas, but my aunts and brother went out in search of some real food.
Madrid, Day 1
We took a beautiful train through the Spanish countryside up through the mountains and a snowstorm (this is no joke). We saw lots of vineyards as well as the Freixenet factory (they produce cava which is the equal of champagne). After about three hours, we arrived in Madrid and took taxis to our hostal. From there we set out to see Museo del Prado which was so overwhelmingly large I had to pick out which artists I wanted to see and map a route through the rooms. We took a break to eat a delicious lunch in the museum’s restaurant (I finally tried gazpacho) and then set off on my mapped out tour. Once that was over we walked around the exterior of the museum and then my mom and I headed back for a siesta. Once the rest of our family woke us up, we enjoyed another delicious meal at a restaurant attached to our hostal. Satisfied, we walked around and saw Plaza del Sol after dinner and then stopped on our way back for the night for my mom and aunts to enjoy some wine at the Museo del Vino (it was really just a cute restaurant).
Day 2 in Barcelona!