Friday, June 29, 2012

A few words from my travel buddy

Since the day after my arrival in The Netherlands, I've been dealing with an injured knee and after two weeks of walking eight hours a day and tackling all the stairs (no such thing as ADA compliant in Europe), I decided to take today off and give my knee a much needed break.  For those of you that know me well, know this was a really tough thing for me to do as I can't imagine sitting in a hotel room when there is so much to explore but I really want to be able to enjoy the day in Normandy at Omaha Beach tomorrow.

So Julie headed out to visit a few museums and other sites on her "must see" list.  So, without further ado, here's what Julie's take on Paris...

It is important to find good travel companions.  I am lucky to have a superb one.  Not only should you like the same type of places, adventures, hotels, and standards, but you should be good enough friends to be able to give each other space. 
During our adventure, Lesa needed a day to rest her injured knee to be able to fully enjoy the trip to Normandy and the Omaha Beach tour.  Having had knee troubles and knee surgery myself I fully understood, so off I went.

One of my favorite artists is Rodin.  I saw a copy of The Thinker in the Tate Museum in London years ago and always wanted to learn more about his work.  The Rodin Museum in Paris is just across the street from the metro—very convenient.  Nice that it is on the Museum Pass and that it is an estate comprised of two building of his work and gardens with his sculptures scattered throughout.  I learned that many of his works are a combination of smooth and rough stone. While we are familiar with many of his works like The Thinker and the Kiss, I was taken by two of his works that were intertwined hands.   
The gardens are lovely and provided a lovely nasal cocktail with probably 50 different rose bushes in full bloom.  The cafĂ© provided a lovely lunch and scenic outdoor seating to enjoy a quiche and salad.  I particularly like the Edvard Munch painting of The Thinker.
From the Rodin I took the metro to the Musee de l’Orangerie which was thankfully less crowded and relatively quite on a Friday mid morning.  The two oval galleries of Monet’s waterlillies were engulfing.  Sitting in the middle of the room and then slowly turning 360 degrees you got the sensation of the garden from early morning to sunset.  The downstairs gallery had additional  Impressionists work.  My attention was captivated by the two cathedral paintings.

Given my love of opera, I next jumped the metro to the Opera House or Palais Garnier and stood in line to check out the options for the evening performance.  Rameau’s first opera was playing and they had only a few seats—yes, the best seat in the house on the front row of the balcony, middle seat—but the price tag was 180.  Lesson learned is to buy tickets way in advance so that the good but less costly seats will be available.  Walking through the Opera House was amazing, though I decided to save that tour for the next Paris visit.
Just behind the Palais Garnier is one of the largest department store in Paris, Galeries Lafayette, which is quite the experience.  The hotel had provided us a discount coupon and never wanting to pass up good saving, I ventured forth.  Seeing an information booth inside the front door with maps and guides should have given me a clue.  Taking the elevator to the first floor, I was in the shoes.  Not only were there thousands of shoes, there were sections (the designer shoes) where there were black ropes and you had to wait to get into a particular section to look and try them on.  While I’ve always fancied myself a good shopper, I must admit I was overwhelmed and decided to exit the store while I still was in one piece as there was potential for bodily damage in the sale areas.  You know they are serious when they accept over 5 different currencies.  That’s some serious shopping.
After escaping the Galaries, I decided to head back to the hotel to relax, share about my adventure and be rested for the day trip to Normandy.  After all, vacationing is about going at an enjoyable pace and taking time for nasal cocktails and people watching.

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