Paris-Inspired Terrace

Is it just me, or are Wednesday afternoons kind of a drag around blog world? Do lots of bloggers give themselves Wednesday afternoons off? Hope this post can serve as a little pick-me-up.

So, in my dream world I have a two-story row house that faces a quaint street and has a balcony on the top level overlooking the street. Private parking space in back, please.

 

Perfectly calling to mind the ubiquitous smoking terraces outside French brasseries, two of these café chairs with this little side table would be the perfect place to have breakfast or watch the world go by. The chairs are $159 each, which is pretty steep but considering that they are commercial-grade chairs I’d expect them to de very durable and last a really long time. I’d master the perfect Cafe au Lait (Photo by Piefinger) and sip it while flipping through my new favorite picture book, Paris in Color.

There is something so Parisian about smoking and ash trays. However, if you don’t smoke (I don’t) you can still use this little catch-all for sunflower or pistachio shells as you snack outside on a lovely afternoon. If you don’t have a real small dog to sit at your feet (like many Parisians do), this bronze one looks ready to play. Complete the Street-side motif with this authentic vintage street sign.

There you have it! This seriously is my dream balcony. If anyone finds 2 café chairs cheaper than this one, please let me know! 

One question: Do you prefer me writing the items in paragraph form like I did here, or bullet form like I did yesterday

Eurotrip: Part 3 (Paris)

Days 5, 6, and 7: Paris

Early morning on day 5, the family packed up our stuff in Bruges, fit everything in the car, and we parted ways in Lille. We took the train from Lille instead of Bruges because it was way cheaper not to cross any country lines. My parents and sister headed off to England: since they had more time off, they spent a few days there before touring the Loire Valley and ending up in Paris. Due limits on how long we could be away from work, we abbreviated our trip and went straight to Paris.

This was my third visit to the City of Lights, and I was pleased to find myself playing the role of tour guide, and surprised at my own knowledge of how the city was laid out and how to navigate it. We only ran into a few roadbumps on this final leg of our trip, and by this point we were feeling somewhat tired but excited to see what Paris had to offer. Last time I was in Paris was in hot July of 2009 and it was much cooler this time. Jacket weather, but it was very nice. The cloudy skies did feel very Classic Paris.

The first thing we did after getting rid of our suitcase at the hotel was make a bee-line for the famous Marché aux Puces St-Ouen de Clignancourt. At first we were disappointed since all we saw were knockoff handbag and tchotchke dealers, but we pressed on and found the good stuff. Most of the good stuff, anyway. Since Monday was the last day of the market, some vendors had closed up shop so our choices were limited. What I really wanted was to score an unbelievable deal on a rug, but satisfied myself with a couple magazine ads from 1929 and 1933. I will share a photo of them in another post. I was in heaven just browsing, of course.

Doug had a few things that he insisted we see: the Champs-Elysées and the Arc De Triomphe. These were kind of strange requests to me since I thought the Eiffel Tower or Notre Dame would get top billing, but I was more than happy to oblige (yes, we saw the Tour, Notre Dame, and the Louvre exterior as well, of course). Then, I learned his big reason to visit the Arc: to practice a little long-exposure photography as you’ll see below. And it took no arm-twisting for us to sample some macarons at Ladurée… they were definitely delicate and indulgent, but I guess I will always prefer a brownie when given my choice of sweets.

Paris has a modern and almost funky side, though, which we were pleased to experience as we walked down Rue de Rivoli and saw the bustling shopping area and took a peek at the construction at Les Halles, which looks like it will be pretty cool once it’s finished–with an underground mall (if I’m not mistaken), an expanded park, and apartments, I think? Anyway, that will be interesting to check back in on next time we’re there (there WILL be a next time, mind you).

We wandered over to the Centre Georges Pompidou and admired it from the outside, but skipped going in. I really am a fan of museums, but have found them to be a big “time suck” if you really only have a few days visiting somewhere (I went into the museum in 2009). While I’m not head over heels for modern art, I find the exterior of the center very fascinating, and always have.

All of these things, mind you, were done and seen on our first day in town–finishing the day with the stunning Tour Eiffel at night. Originally the plan was to go up it, but one elevator was out of service and my knee had been acting up, so we admired from ground-level. Finally, we took the metro to our semi-shady part of town and got back to the hotel. We were so wiped out at the end of the evening it didn’t matter that our room was pretty small and the bed was like a rock. It was clean and secure, so we slept like babies.

The second day we spent familiarizing ourselves with the city in an interesting way–somewhat of a wild goose chase to find my friend who we were supposed to meet up with Tuesday morning. We’d spent the first half of the day attempting to track her down, then gave up and did a little more sightseeing, had a delicious lunch in Montmartre (revisiting a place I LOVED in 2009), and a bit of minor shopping. Finally, we took advantage of the free wi-fi (and bathrooms!) at McDo (McDonalds) and got into contact with my friend. Well, after all was said and done, we got together at 6:00 Tuesday night.

Let’s be honest: our stay in Paris was mainly about the food. We had delicious crepes at the shop at the very bottom of Sacré-Coeur, boeuf bourginon at Le Poulbot in Montmartre, salmon salad at a restaurant near Musee D’Orsay, and even the cheap sandwiches we bought at a street vendor and ate on the banks of the Seine were just terrific. If I didn’t buy enough souvenirs, it is because I was too preoccupied thinking about my next delicious meal. We spent a ton on food but it was totally worth it. That’s my philosophy on travel, anyway.

The final day, we spent the whole morning at the Musée D’Orsay, which is my favorite Paris museum. Out of all the time periods of art, I prefer the impressionists and post-impressionists. I really could spend all day here. Instead, we broke for lunch and had our aforementioned sandwiches and crepes on the Seine. Being that it was our anniversary we took part in the tradition of locking a padlock on the bridge and throwing the key in the river.

You can catch part one here, and part two here. I still want to do an overall wrap up of the impressions of my trip, so if you have any questions, please feel free to ask!

Eurotrip: Part 1 (Reims, Trier and Dinant)

Days 1 and 2: Flying in, Reims, Trier, and Dinant

The past couple of weeks I’ve been on blog-silence due to vacation! What a wonderful reason not to post–as opposed to laziness or worse–writer’s block! I took a vacation with Doug, my sister, Stephanie, and my parents!

Usually I’m great at sleeping on the plane. In the past I’ve taken a hefty snooze, and woken up in time to put on makeup and look stunning (okay, that might be an overstatement) when I step off the flight. I don’t know why, but this time I was unable to sleep so I was a bit cranky the first day or two of the trip. Sorry, family! My parents rented a car and after we got 5 suitcases and 5 people (!) to fit in a car about the same size as our Pontiac Vibe we hit the open road and headed towards Trier, Germany by way of Reims, France.

Reims would be the perfect French city to move to, IMO. I was met with a good mix of old and modern, the buildings were slightly more colorful than those in Paris, and many people spoke English but not too many–I wouldn’t be tempted to use it as a crutch the way it’s so easy to do in Paris, where the locals like to condescendingly answer my questions (posed in French) with an English reply. The size of the city was less intimidating, too.

The gorgeous cathedral where French kings were crowned.

My family tried their best to look like tourists. ;)

After a quick meal we hopped back in the car and made it to Germany in no time. Well, it felt like no time to me–I snoozed in the back seat with Stephanie and Doug. I am such an indecisive person. At first I wanted to be a renter my whole life and have people repair home problems for me, then I wanted to have a huge house with a huge fantasy-land backyard, and now I want to like in a cute row house like this one we saw in Germany:

How can you blame me, right?

Well, turns out our hotel wasn’t in Trier, but across the river in Trier-Zewen which was much smaller and MUCH less English-speaking. Or French-speaking for that matter. Ordering dinner was an adventure. Three of us played it safe and ordered “chicken.” We were surprised with an intact deep-fried half-chicken. Yowza. Doug and Stephanie ordered schnitzel, which contrary to my Sound of Music loving mind was not a pastry, or to those who dine at Weinerschnitzel, was not a hotdog. It was a huge breaded pork chop topped with red bell peppers (in Doug’s case) and mushrooms (in Stephanie’s case). The schnitzel was better than the chicken, in my opinion, but I’m not a pork fan so I don’t know if I could have eaten it all.

Our room was small but comfortable.

Trier itself claims the title of the oldest city in Germany and was very nice. It boasted an impressive cathedral (complete with ringing church bells, like you’d see in a movie) in a very different style than the one we’d seen the previous day:

And had some cute mideval-style architecture. When we got there the town was just waking up–most stores weren’t open and it was very quiet and sleepy.

After a bit of exploring in the drizzle, it began to pour so we high-tailed it back to the car and headed for Belgium. Since our time in Trier had been cut short by the downpour, we took a meandering path off our planned route to explore some smaller towns nestled up in the mountains of southern Belgium. We happed upon Dinant–which was so picturesque, built on the two banks of a river. In the past, it had been home to a castle but the castle had been burned down hundreds of years ago.

The foundations of the castle had become a fortress, and we took a sky tram up to the fortress where we were met with a mediocre collection of cannons and war memorabilia. They did have a cool old plane though, and the view from the top was killer–made the whole excursion worth it:

After a brief lunch we piled back into the car to make it to Bruges by the evening.

My next Eurotrip post will cover Bruges and Brussels, and my third will cover Paris! I’d like to do an overall wrap up of my impressions after that, so if you have any questions please feel free to ask!