Posts Tagged With: Bread

Masada in the Morning

Jan 8 2009
The lights in the tent turned on and I heard movement. Wake up time. It was extremely early and still pitch black outside. I got dressed and ate some of the crackers they put out for us. We boarded the bus and waited. It turned out that Jordi was sick. We waited for her for a bit. Finally, we learned that we’ll have to leave her behind with Anna. Staci boards the bus and immediately gives us a lecture about staying hydrated. We each purchased a bottle of water from the bus driver.

We reach Masada National Park and Shabat and Staci rush us up the Roman Path. We can’t miss the sunrise! The Roman Path is the easier path, but a lot of us were having a hard time breathing. This was probably because it was steep, early in the morning, change in altitude, and we were rushing. Not to mention my 9/11 weird asthma thing didn’t help matters. Eventually we got to the top! All of us thought we missed the sunrise because the sky was light, but we were wrong. Shabat had us sit on the mountain and wait. We sat watching another mountain. Slowly, the sky went from red to yellow to orange. Then we slowly started to see the sun peek out from the mountain in front of us. We kept watching as it rose. It was magical!

Then Shabat made us sit in a circle and told us the story about Masada. All the Jews living on Masada killed themselves instead of letting the Romans take them. It was a very sad story and it impacted all of us. Next he took us over to the side of the mountain where we could hear an echo. We screamed a bunch of phrases and heard them come back to us.

We looked at some of the ruins including a synagogue and then we used the restroom. After that we started our long trek down the Snake Path. Where do I even begin with the Snake Path? It was super scary and super long! There were no handles most of the way, so if you slipped you could pretty much fall off the mountain. The walk down was narrow and took forever. Morgan slipped and hurt her ankle. When we got to the bottom I wanted to jump for joy!

We walked to an area with tables and we were given a boxed breakfast. I only ate the chocolate and the bread. I gave my food to whoever wanted it. Then we were given some time to shop in the gift shop. I bought a pair of earrings and some postcards. Then I spent a while debating about which expensive necklace to buy for my mom. I finally decided on a blue and white star. Alan bought a really cool shirt about climbing and conquering Masada.

While we were leaving Masada we found out that the northern part of Israel (where we were yesterday morning and the last time we had cellphone reception) had been hit with a missile. Pretty much none of us had spoken to our parents in 24 hrs and the last they knew we were in northern Israel. Needless to say a bunch of us called home.

We drove to the Ein Gedi Spa where we would spend some time by the Dead Sea. We each got a towel and we had to share lockers. I changed into my bathing suit. We had to wait and catch a shuttle to take us from the spa to the Dead Sea. This is because the Dead Sea has dried up and is no longer right next to the hotels and spas.

When we finally got to the Dead Sea, Lindsey, Jen, and I put our stuff on lounge chairs at the farthest end of the “beach” area. Then we all headed over to the mud pit. Everyone (but me) covered themselves in the mud. Ricky even swam in it. Since I didn’t go in the mud, I took all the pictures. I put a bit of mud on my screwed up thumb and that was it. A family even approached me to take pictures of them. Everyone’s pictures were hilarious.

Afterwards, we all went into the Dead Sea. I was a little scared since I hate water and swimming. It felt extremely strange to just lay back and float. The entire bottom of the sea was covered in hard sharp salt. I cut my toe open and the salt water burned so badly. After I got out of the water I felt nasty. The salt residue was gross. Before we went back to the hotel the girls took a group shot. Then we boarded the shuttle.

Back at the hotel some of the people went into the mineral pool, but I didn’t feel like smelling like sulfur. I already smelled like camel and salt. I went to the showers and rinsed the salt off. After that I walked around the shop for a bit. I got a couple of free samples for my mom.

When everyone was ready we headed to lunch. We each got a ticket that was good for certain items. We had to wait on a really long line for food. We were able to get a drink, desert, bread, and one item. I got baklava, a roll, and yummy french fries. The place was packed and it took us a while to find a table. Unfortunately, we were rushed through lunch because of our tight schedule.

We then drove to the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve. I immediately spotted a press a penny machine and got a penny. Yeah! So did Alan. We walked through the reserve and there were so many animals. They got so close to us, which was freaky at times. Shabat had us sit down and talked to us about some of the animals. He had Noah taste poop. He also had Ricky, Zac, and Roi act out a mating ritual for us. It was hilarious.


We stopped at some waterfalls and some of the group went swimming. I spoke to Dror for a bit about his upcoming trip to the USA. The reserve was absolutely beautiful and very calming!
We drove to Jerusalem and dropped Guy off. Then we went back to the Shalom Jerusalem Hotel with its horrible elevators. Rachel, Sarah, and I got a room in the middle of the hallway. We were directly across from Lindsey, Jen, and Jordi’s room. Sarah took the cot. Our shower didn’t flood this time, which made us all happy. However, our toilet wasn’t acting right. We all put our clothes on the shower rod to dry and went down to leave for dinner.

We drove to Ben Yehuda St. for shopping and food. I walked in and out of shops with Jen and Lior. It was a little unsettling to see signs thanking the brave tourists for shopping. Someone, maybe Lior, told me that the street had been attacked before. I ate a bagel for dinner. I found a Sephardic bakery and loaded up on goodies. The bakery was on a small side street so I was so glad I found it. I bought a shirt, some postcards, and an evil eye bracelet. I didn’t want to buy too much because everything was a bit over priced. Josh got a shofar and kept blowing it. Ali and I went to McDonald’s to use the restroom before we boarded the bus again.

I went back to the hotel and immediately took a nice long hot shower. Bye bye camel salt sand smell. After I showered I hung out with a bunch of people in Lindsey, Jen, and Jordi’s room.

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Categories: Asia, Food, History, Israel, Travel, Trip with a Tour Group | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Shalom Jerusalem

Jan 2 2009
Our landing was pretty rough and security took forever. Josh got my bag for me and Collin put it on the bus. We met our guard/medic (Leo/Lior), our tour guide (Shabat), and our bus driver (Moishe). We drove to Jerusalem. We were in a rush because of Shabbat.

The scenery we passed looked like Greece. There were signs welcoming us, which was very cool. We saw the new bridge and a lot of Hebrew graffiti.

We got to our hotel, Shalom Jerusalem, and I found out my roommates were Rachel and Sarah from Lehigh. Jordi was with Lindsey and Jen. Our room is 1624. The elevator took forever! We changed and went to shabbat dinner. I sat with all the Lehigh kids plus Noah, Ben, Travis, and Daryl. The wine was awful. I ate rice, potatoes, and carrots. The bread was stale. The pumpkin pie was way too spicy and the chocolate mousse was awful. However, the vanilla cake was great.

We then had a meeting about the size of Israel, our schedule, the rules, etc. Then we played a name game where we went around in a circle saying our name, an adjective that starts with the letter of our name, and an action. We had to remember everyone’s. I picked Jolly Jackie.

Then Shabat gave us a book, schedule, emergency card, and a scarf. I really liked the scarf. I picked black with blue lettering.

The room is ehh. It’s a fair size with a nice view. The bathroom is a nice size. However, the hair dryer barely works and the shower floods. Also, the toilet takes forever to fill. The sheets are very dirty. O well.

Sarah and I took the beds and Rachel took the cot. We went to bed at midnight.

Categories: Asia, Food, Israel, Travel, Trip with a Tour Group | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Breads Bakery

Since I love to travel I make a to do list of all the places I want to see and eat in the world. Slowly my surely I am checking them off one country at a time. I also have a to do list for my own city, NYC. The funny thing is I rarely work on accomplishing that list. I feel like the places won’t go anywhere so I can always come back to them at another time. However, that’s not true. The economy has forced a lot of places to close so by the time I go to do them I can’t. My friends and I wanted to go to lunch during our break. I decided I should cross a place off of my list. So I decided we should go to Breads Bakery on east 16th.

The place is a bit pricey, but then again it is NYC. I arrived an hour early (long story). I wanted to buy everything. I had just gone to the bank and my new twenty was itching to be spent. I wound up ordering 3 potato burekas (it’s a Sephardic savory pastry), 2 feta burekas, and 3 spinach burekas. I also ordered 4 chocolate rugelach. The guy teased with me that I was ordering for a party. It came out to $15. I got back to my table and 2 rugelach were missing. I went back to the counter and apologized. They gave me one for free. While I waited for my friends the place got packed. People were buying and eating the most delicious breads and pastries. They were also giving out samples. I decided to eat my potato burekas and I was in heaven. Yummmmmmmmm. I knew I needed to buy more.

My friends came and we chatted for a while. Flora ordered a tuna sandwich, hot chocolate, and two rugelach. The rugelach wound up being too sweet for her. They are made Israeli style so lots of chocolate and some honey. Passcell ordered an espresso looking drink and burekas. I ordered 3 more potato and 2 poppy seed rolls (they looked amazing). The rolls were so soft and yummy. I enjoyed the rugelach they transported me back to my breakfasts in Israel. The feta burekas were beyond delicious and I regret not buying more. The spinach were great as well.

I’m so glad I got to cross this place off my list. Time to cross another one off soon. I can’t wait to come back and buy more burekas from here.

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Categories: Food, NYC, To Do List, Travel, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Reading Terminal Market

I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love this place. This is food heaven!

I first saw Reading Terminal on Food Network. Bobby Flay was having a throwdown with Delilah. It was a mac n cheese throwdown and it took place at her stand in the market. I have had her mac n cheese and I can see why Bobby won. It’s just ok. It’s expensive for very little. Oprah says it’s the best mac, but I’ve had better. I found it a bit dry and it wasn’t hot enough for my taste. If it wasn’t so expensive I would get it once in a blue moon just to satisfy the urge.

There are several other places in the market that have mac n cheese. The Rib Stand sells a version that is coated in a nutmeg like substance that’s pretty good. Tootsie’s in the back has some in their buffet. The mac is also just ok. It tastes more like Kraft Mac.

I love the Amish bakery (Beiler’s Bakery) that’s along the far left wall when you enter. They have cakes, whoopie pies, cookies, breads, buns, etc. Everything is good and they often discount right before they close. Saturdays after 4pm everything is on sale. They also have a little candy store (Sweet as Fudge Candy Shoppe) where you can buy fudge. The fudge isn’t cheap, but it is good. It is worth getting if you can only go once. They also have a pretzel stand (Miller’s Twist) where you can see them make the pretzels. I have had several pretzels and they are all good. There are other pretzel places in the market that are also very good. Just make sure you don’t get a well done one/burnt one.

As for chocolates. When you first walk in and head to the far right there is a row of a chocolate and Italian pastry cases. The chocolate cases belong to Chocolate By Mueller and the pastry cases belong to Termini Brothers Bakery. Sometimes you can even see them dip the chocolates. They often have free samples and that’s what I usually go there for. I can’t afford the chocolates and pastries, but from the samples they are good.

The Greek place (Olympia Gyro) in the market is quite good. We’ve brought back spinach pie several times to my Greek grandparents. Again it is expensive, but try to have them pick out the biggest piece.

There is a New Orleans style place in the market (Beck’s Cajun Cafe). I got a king cake roll from them and it was fantastic. The roll was like $1.50. It was my first king cake so I don’t have a lot to compare it to, but my mom and both enjoyed. I’ve been wanting another since my last visit.

There is a bread stand (Market Bakery) that has bagels, rolls, baguettes, etc. The breads are great. I haven’t had a bad one yet. They sell out of the good stuff early in the day.

Many people buy their cookies from The Famous 4th Street Cookie Company. However, I find them absolutely awful. They are expensive, often burnt, and are just not worth it. Their location at the front of the market brings them a lot of business. My favorite cookie place is actually at the back of the market. It is the Pennsylvania General Store. The cookies are out of this world!!!!!!!!! My mouth is watering just thinking about them. There are about a dozen varieties. The cookies are filled with m & m’s, butterscotch chips, nuts, Reese’s pieces, chocolate chips, cinnamon, etc. Some are even dipped in chocolate! They are pricey, but they are worth every single penny!

Other places that are popular in the market are: DiNic’s (Home of the Travel Channel’s pick for Adam Richman’s best sandwich in America!) and Dutch Eating Place (for their pancakes).

Delilah’s Mac n Cheese

Tootsie’s Mac n Cheese

Delilah’s

The famous Reading Terminal pig

Pennsylvania General Store Butterscotch Cookie

Pennsylvania General Store M&M Cookie

King Cake

 

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Categories: Family Vacation, Food, Philadelphia, Travel, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Reliving JFK’s Assassination

June 17 2012

We went across the street from Union Station and had breakfast at Cindi’s. I had read so much about this place. I was so excited to go here. It seemed like it was going to be a copy of a great NYC diner. It wound up being far from it. It looked like a run down bagel joint. My mom and I each got a bagel. I had mine toasted with butter and my mom had hers toasted with jelly. They burnt her bagel even though she told them not to. They couldn’t even give her another of the same bagel flavor because they didn’t have any left. I got another bagel to go.

We then went to the Old Red Museum. If you go before 12pm on Sundays tickets are cheaper. I honestly didn’t know what to expect with this museum and really only bought tickets to see the inside of an interesting building. It turned out to be a great museum! It covers an entire floor and a piece of the 1st floor. It is broken down by time period and there is just so much to see. Each room has a video and there is even a room for children to engage in the exhibits. There are artifacts from JFK’s assassination, from the time of slavery, the time of segregation, from Dallas the TV show, and so much more. I loved looking at everything and took a ton of pictures. Definitely worth the visit!

After the Old Red Museum we visited the Grassy Knoll. My mom and I both had chills. How many times had we watched JFK get shot and Jackie climb on the back of that car. I had recently spent a two whole class periods with my students on this so the images were very vivid. It was unsettling to be there and to see the x’s on the ground that marked the shots. There were a lot of tourists taking pictures, the most I had seen since we arrived.

Next we moved inside to the Sixth Floor Museum. We paid the admission fee and picked up our audio tour which is included in the price. The museum consists of a lot of photos and signs. There are also a handful of videos. No pictures were allowed on the 6th floor. There really wasn’t a lot of artifacts to look at so I spent time reading signs. They have the corner where the shots were taken covered in plexi glass. The museum was packed, which I wasn’t too happy about. I felt like people were on me the whole time. You have the opportunity to go to the 7th floor, but no one really did. You have access to the windows right above the ones Oswald used. So you can have his view. Very freaky. You are allowed to take pictures on the 7th floor so I took pictures of his view. After that, we went to the gift shop in the museum which was very expensive. I just bought postcards and used their press a penny machines. We used the bathroom facilities and crossed the street to the 2nd 6th floor museum gift shop. We bought a cookie at the gift shop and ate it there. The gift shop had pretty much the same stuff as the other one at the same prices. Why have two?

It started to rain. We found a wild west store called the Wild Wild West Store. I bought a t-shirt for Paris and some more postcards. They had a lot of souvenirs, but they were all really expensive. So far everything in Dallas was expensive and I couldn’t figure out why. We then crossed the street and went to the JFK Memorial. We took some pictures and left. Since there is nowhere to eat by our hotel we went back to Hoffbrau’s. I ordered mashed potatoes and bread. I wasn’t too hungry. My mom and I were sad to leave Hoffbrau’s. The staff thought it was funny how addicted we were.

We went back to Wild Bill’s Western and used our 2nd Dallas belt buckle coupon and we got my dad a shirt. We found a cookie place called Tiff’s and picked up some cookies to take back to the hotel. We were bored and didn’t feel like going back to the hotel yet so we decided to walk to Pioneer Plaza. The walk was a bit scary since it was desolate, but we managed. There was another family at the plaza and we all took pictures with the cattle.

We walked back to the hotel and decided to use the free internet in the lobby. My mom left me to ask one of the ladies in the hotel how to connect to the internet when two guys started to harass me. I was alone with a lot of bags and it was clear they wanted to steal one. I freaked out and yelled for help. Eventually people came and helped me and threw the guys out of the hotel. The security in this hotel sucks. The neighborhood is bad, the tunnel is super creepy, and they allow strangers to bother guests. So never coming back here!

After that ordeal we went back to the room to pack.

Categories: Dallas, Family Vacation, Food, History, Travel, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gun Fight Ahead

July 16 2012

My mom brought up some breakfast which I ate quickly while getting dressed. Our first stop was going to be the Dallas Heritage Village. We would need to take a bus there and then walk. However, the neighborhood looked deserted on Google maps. The hotel was nice enough to offer to drive us to the village. On our drive we passed Pioneer Plaza, which consisted of statues of a cattle drive. We also passed the Dallas Farmer’s Market. We made note of its location so we could go back.

When we arrived we purchased tickets in the gift shop and then I picked up a postcard. The lady gave us a map and informed us that shortly there would a gun show with the actors. We took our seats for the show and were thoroughly entertained. We went into each house and shop. It was like going back in time. I was pleased that my mom was enjoying herself as well. The village is a great historical spot for people of all ages. A lot of people brought their kids and they were having a good time. Nothing was repetitive. In most of the houses we just roamed around since there wasn’t an official tour. However, a docent in one of our final houses (the Sullivan House) closed the house to the public (temporarily) and gave us a private tour. My favorite house was the Blum House. I also enjoyed seeing the Doctor’s office despite the fact all the instruments were scary looking. Thank goodness for modern medicine. We stayed to see the second gun show and surprisingly it was different than the first. I purposely had us go on a Saturday because I had read about these shows and the fact they docents in some of the houses. Additionally, there were animals and the blacksmith was in his shop working. We used the restrooms and walked a couple blocks to the Farmer’s Market.

We saw the Farmer’s Market on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and thought we would check it out. We went the outdoor portion first where there were tons of vendors selling fruits and vegetables. Many of the vendors were giving out free samples. I didn’t have any, but my mom tried a few. She seemed to enjoy them. Next we went inside and saw the long line for the Pecan Lodge (where Guy visited). We walked around for a bit and bought some sweets. We sat and watched everyone stuffing their faces with BBQ. Everything looked and smelled amazing. We used the restroom and went outside to wait for the bus. We waited for 15 minutes and no bus. It was hot and there wasn’t a place to sit by the bus stop so we decided to walk.

I had read about a mall so my mom and I were going to head there. I figured it is nice and cool after a couple hours out in the sun. I also figured we would eat dinner in the mall. The “mall” was called Plaza of the Americas and it was anything but a mall. It was the bottom levels of a hotel. There was  an ice skating rink. There was a very very small food court that was closed but looked gross anyways. There were probably less than 10 stores and they were all closed. Not one of them looked good. So we decided to leave and see the Holocaust Museum. We boarded a train and realized we were the only suckers who bought tickets. Everyone just got on. The people at the stop we got out at looked kind of scary. I guess we weren’t in the best neighborhood. The museum wasn’t very obvious (bad signage), but we eventually found it.

The admission was pretty steep considering the museum consisted of only 3 rooms (I didn’t know that at the time). There was a holocaust survivor there to talk about the book he wrote and to sign it. We walked around and saw that most of the items in the museum were actually donated by him. There was a recreation of one of the cattle cars that took the Jews to the camps. There was a very moving video at the end that had very informative signs.

We were very hungry at this point and decided to get dinner. We walked to TGI Friday’s and read the menu, but nothing appealed to us. We went into a candy store that was super expensive and left. Back to Hoffbrau’s. This time my mom ordered a bacon grilled chicken honey mustard sandwich with chips. I ordered mac n cheese and mashed potatoes with gravy again. They served us the best hot fresh bread ever! It was just so darn good!!! My mom’s sandwich looked and smelled incredible. She loved it and said it was one of the best things she ever ate. I ate her bread which tasted like honey mustard and the grill (but in a good way). We took the chips back to the room and munched on them later. What a great dinner!

On her way back to the hotel (through the scary tunnel) we had a crazy lady follow us in. She was cursing at us and threatening us. We walked fast and tried not to pay attention to her. My mom had the plastic knife from the restaurant in her hand just in case. There are no cameras in the tunnel so it is so dangerous. We reported the incident to the hotel. We went back to our room and called it a night.

Categories: Dallas, Family Vacation, History, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Au Revoir Paris

July 30 2012

So sad that today is our last day in Paris. I really could have used another day or two.

We had breakfast in the hotel. I realized that I was seriously going to miss waking up and having a buffet of bread, cheese, and sweets. I took some bread for the plane. We checked out and began our search for the bus to the airport. We didn’t know if it was going to pick us up exactly where we were dropped off. We would up walking in a circle around the opera house. I saw the bus at the stop and picked up my suitcase and ran like the wind. With one bus an hour I was not missing it. My mom followed me and thankfully we wound up catching the bus. It was extremely crowded and somewhat stuffy. We both felt car sick.

We arrived at CDG and spent the next hour or so going through security. When I was at this airport the previous year they broke my suitcase and I had a 5 hour layover that turned into 7. I was in a part of the airport that was like a mall. There were probably 20 or more stores. That was not the case this time. There were only 2 stores and they were horrible. There were a couple of “cafes.” I spent some of the change I had and bought some macaroons and cookies for my students. My mom did the same (minus the student part). We were bored! We tried to get ourselves upgraded and the people working in the airport didn’t speak enough English to help us. O well. I used the restroom before we got on the plane and apparently my door didn’t lock correctly because a women walked in on me. Hopefully, I’ll never see her again.

We boarded our plane and the seat next to my mom was empty. We were praying it would stay that way. No such luck. A young girl (around my age) took the seat. The lunch/dinner was awful and I tried to entertain myself with movies. The pre-landing snack was actually pretty good for my mother, but not for me. Stupid nasty vegetarian meal. My mom basically had a grilled cheese sandwich. One thing that cracked me up on the plane was the kid diagonal from us stuffed their baby doll in a weird position into the seat pocket (see the picture below). Back to NYC and back to work 😦

Categories: Europe, Family Vacation, Food, France, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Raunchy and Sacred in Paris

July 29 2012

My mom and I are very strange, we don’t always like the ritzy neighborhoods. We are often attracted to some strange and sometimes dangerous neighborhoods. This was the case for Montmartre. We had heard horrible things about it. We were told not to visit at night or when it is dark out. That there is nothing but sex shops and pick pocketers. We got off the train prepared for the worse and wound up having a great time despite the fact we visited at night and while it was very dark (due to the rain).

We got out of the metro and immediately saw the Moulin Rouge. I was so excited! I posed for a picture in the rain. It was so colorful in neighborhood without much color. My mom and I then debated about getting back on the metro to go back to the hotel. However, I really wanted to see Sacre Coeur. We stopped outside if a sex shop that had an awning and covered ourselves up from the rain. We made sure all our belongings were hard to get to and then started our walk to Sacre Coeur. We quickly realized that the neighborhood was fine. It was like most of NYC just with more sex shops.

As we walked we found a lot of great souvenir stores. They were so cheap and had so much variety. We purchased a lot if items and browsed. We passed a lot of yummy looking bakeries and finally stopped at one (see below). Everything looked incredible. There were all different kinds of breads and desserts. I wanted everything. There was a lot of Sephardic pastries as well. We settled on chocolate and caramel beignets. I also got a chocolate cheese croissant. My 3 favorite things: chocolate, cheese, and bread. The prices were very reasonable for Paris. We finally found Sacre Coeur. There was a street of restaurants and shops leading up to it. We did more souvenir shopping, purchased a bag of cookies from the same company my mom bought from two days ago, and just browsed. Sacre Coeur is breathtaking. I loved seeing it from a distance over the last couple of days, but up close was something else. I used the restroom in a fried chicken place. I had to pay 1E but it was the cleanest restroom. We hopped on the metro and headed back to our hotel. Sadly, we were leaving for NYC the next morning.

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Let Them Eat Cake and Walk 4 Miles

July 29 2012

We had breakfast at the hotel again. It was so delicious. I had my fill of croissants, mini baguettes, brioche, sugar rolls, and cheese. I asked them for ice this morning because I was getting sick of room temperature water. What a difference! Paris needs to learn about air conditioning and ice.

We took the metro to the Invalides stop where we purchased tickets for a train to Versailles. We didn’t have to wait long before the train arrived. The train wound up being packed! Unfortunately we chose seats that were facing the wrong direction. So we rode backwards. The train was stuffy and riding backwards was making me sick. We passed Paris’ copy/version of the Statue of Liberty. I took a really bad picture of it because I wasn’t expecting to see it. The train ride to Versailles was about an hour long.

My mom and I crossed the street and she stopped at a Starbucks to use the ladies room. Then we walked about four blocks to the chateau. I knew it was huge but a new word needs to be invented for how big Versailles really is. It was an incredible sight to see. We passed a guy dressed as King Tut which was super random and funny. We saw two enormous lines. I knew one was for ticket holders and one was for people with tickets. I got on line and sent my mom to make sure we got on the right line. We had. I had purchased an all access pass online for a lot of money (either 25E or 50E a piece-I think). The line moved very slowly. I was glad we already had tickets or we would have had to wait on two lines. About an hour later we were in. At that point I needed to use the ladies room. Time to wait on another line. There was no paper in the bathroom and I only knew this because I overheard the ladies speaking in Spanish ahead of me. However, they had their own. When they were done and told me to go in next. In Spanish I turned to them and said but isn’t there no paper. Then they bust out laughing. I waited for a stall with paper. While I waited I watched several women walk into a mirror at the bottom of the stairs.

I met up with my mom who was not happy that an art exhibit was being displayed in some of the rooms in Versailles. The art was loud and ostentatious and took away from the beauty of Versailles. We waited for our headsets that were included in the price. The headset was like a walkie talkie and I didn’t like holding it up to my ear so I took out my headphones and plugged them in. They were worked beautifully. Versailles was packed, but the beauty and architecture of the place was incredible. The audio was very informative. I just couldn’t believe that I was walking around in Versailles. I had seen these rooms in movies, documentaries, and in books. I could feel the history around me. I easily could have closed my eyes and pictured King Louis XVI and his contemporaries around me. The Hall of Mirrors was exquisite. There was a random pair of giant high heels in the room. Another room contained a pink helicopter. It seriously was a strange art exhibit.

We saw a sign for Angelina. We have been trying to get to the one on Rue di Rivoli but kept missing it because they close early. So I was like lets do this! We don’t normally eat at places that are part of historical sites because of the cost, but you only live once. There was a short line. You had to tell them whether you wanted to go to the restaurant portion or the quick take out area. We chose the take out bakery area. My mom grabbed a table and I waited on the line for food. About 15 minutes later I emerged with a water bottle, their famous Mont Blanc, and a chocolate macalon (which is basically a long chocolate macaroon). Our deserts were delicious! Now we could say we ate at Versailles. The bathroom had the cutest sign (see the picture below). There was no toilet paper again.

Next we finished up the top level and went downstairs to the children’s bedrooms. Then we did the gift shop. I got postcards and a book. We returned our headsets and went out to the entrance of the gardens. We showed our tickets to prove that we had paid the gardens entrance fee. We went on a day where the fountains were on and music was playing. I wanted to take a hop on hop off tram to see all the sites, but my mom felt 10E a person was too much (even though I was going to pay for it). Hours later my feet would regret listening to her. THE GARDENS ARE MASSIVE! They are also beautiful. You are definitely transported to another time. We posed for pictures with the fountains and statues. Then we started our long walk to the Grand Trianon. About 30 minutes later we still weren’t there so we sat on the side of the road and ate some food from breakfast. We kept going and finally saw it.

The building has a pink hue to it. We showed our all inclusive ticket again. The interior looks a lot like the interior of the chateau, but with a little less gold. They had a lot of portraits out for us to see. It was commissioned by King Louis XIV and was residence to mistresses and many of the royal maidens. Next we walked to the restrooms which weren’t the best but they got the job done. There were bees so I was seriously freaked out. We walked further down the road and saw a sign for another Angelina. That sign made us completely miss the sign for the entrance to the Petit Trianon. So we never went in there, which meant I missed seeing the theater Marie had built. We kept walking to the Hamlet (about 3.5 miles from the beginning). We were beyond exhausted at this point. I felt I could collapse right there and then. We showed our tickets again and spent about 5 minutes walking around. It felt like a zoo and we were too tired to pay attention at this point. We walked back to the area outside of the Petit Trianon (again not realizing it). We waited for the tram and paid 5E to get back to the entrance of the gardens. As we started to drive away it started to rain. We walked back to the train in the pouring rain. We decided to stop at the McDonald’s to get out of the rain and to use the restroom. This was not your average McDonald’s. It was clean and modern looking. They also had a bakery. We bought a box of reasonably priced macaroons.

We boarded the train back into Paris and it was packed. My mom and I took a seat on the floor. We didn’t want to stand for an hour. We got off at Gare d’Austerlitz. Then we took two trains to get to the Moulin Rouge.

Categories: Europe, Family Vacation, Food, France, History, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Strolling down the Champs-Élysées

July 28 2012

We started walking down Rue di Ravoli. Everyone told us this was the street with great food and shops. Originally we had planned on taking this block all the way back to our hotel. However, that would have been an hour walk. We were tired and still had a lot to see. So we decided to take it until we got super tired.

We passed a lot of bakeries and picked up some water and sweets at Paul. Everything looked so good! I just wish things were cheaper. We went into some clothing stores and eventually decided it was time to take the metro. We hopped on the metro at Saint Paul and got out at the Arc de Triomphe. We took some pictures and observed the crazy traffic circle it was on. I knew from reading posts online that you can’t cross the traffic circle and instead you need to use the underground tunnel. Once inside the tunnel there was a long line. I was so glad we didn’t have to wait on it because we had the museum pass. The tunnel was hot and smelled. Once out of the tunnel we were rushed into the staircase to climb to the top.

There were several levels within the Arc. They contained a gift shop and a bathroom. We visited both. The bathroom was very small. The stairs weren’t as bad as Notre Dame. We got to the top and were greeted with the wonderful view. There were a lot of people so you had to be patient for a perfect picture. It had a great view of the Eiffel Tower.

We climbed back down and took some pictures at the base of the Arc. Then we intended to take the Ave des Champs-Élysées all the way back to the neighborhood of our hotel. We window shopped until we got to Swarovski. My mom had me take pictures of her on the very cool crystal stairs. We people watched and I was starting to get really hungry. We passed some teen clothing store that had two hunky guys outside to draw the girls in. There was a big group of girls standing outside flirting with them. We stopped to see the Grand Palais and Petit Palais, which we were supposed to see after Les Invalides, but were too tired to. At this point my feet were killing me so we decided to hop on the metro and take it to where we were going to eat dinner.

I read about a place called Pastapapa. It sounded and looked delicious plus it was reasonably priced. There was a deal for a drink, pasta, and dessert. I ordered a big bottle of water and got penne alfredo. The penne alfredo was huge!!!!!!!! My mom helped me out with it and we still had some leftovers. It was the best pasta I have ever had! My mom agreed. There was a couple next to us eating penne with salmon which looked incredible. They ordered a chocolate caramel ice cream cake. It looked good so we ordered it as well. It was so yummy! GREAT DINNER! We went back to the hotel and soaked our feet. Then went straight to bed.

Categories: Europe, Family Vacation, Food, France, History, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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