Our Europe Trip: Paris Part 2

Day 4: Paris

In the morning, we were picked up from our hotel for our “bus” tour around Paris. We were expecting another tour like the one we had in London, but it ended up being a 10-passenger van with a tour guide and 8 tourists. Once we started driving around Paris, it made sense why we couldn’t be in a full-size van; Paris streets were not made or big buses.

Our first stop on the tour was Montmartre, where we were able to get out and walk around. It was so beautiful and has a great view of the city. We walked through the basilica at the top of the hill, la Basilique du Sacré-Cœur. It was kind of rainy that day, which might have bummed me out, but Paris is so gorgeous in the rain with the water reflecting off the cobblestone.

Our tour guide was brilliant. She would transition between fluent French, English, and Spanish without any hesitation. I’ve decided that Europeans are way smarter than us because everyone is fluent in at least 3 languages and they don’t think anything of it.

Oh, our tour guide (Sophia) was probably the craziest driver I’ve ever seen in my life. And I say this after hanging out in cabs in NYC. But then again, I think that’s just the way you have to drive in Paris. In the giant round about circling the Arc de Triomphe, she was cruising in the innermost lane (Why would there ever be 5 lanes in a roundabout?), saw that we were across from our exit, and proceeded to drive perpendicular to traffic in order to make the exit. Considering that nobody was really trying to stay in their lane and the rain on the cobblestones made it almost impossible to see the lines, none of the other drivers seemed to be surprised by her maneuver. Who needs lanes, anyway?

Speaking of the arc, it was WAY bigger than I thought it would be. It’s safe to say that everything is Paris is totally overwhelming. Notre Dame was totally beautiful on the outside with insane detail on the façade and those flying buttresses … crazy! However, the inside was pretty dirty. There were cardboard boxes all over the place and everything was very dark and dingy. Maybe we went on an off day.

On the tour, we also drove by the Luxembourg Palace, which, of course, was built because the queen didn’t like the Louvre. The more palaces we saw, the more understandable it become that the French had 2 revolutions. At least they made all their palaces well so I could hang out in them, though.

The tour ended at the Eiffel Tower, so we were able to snap a couple pictures of it during the day. Then our tour guide dropped us off at the Arc de Triomphe. We had big plans to go to the top, but it was pretty rainy and miserable, so we just took a bunch of pictures from the ground.

Then we battled the subway to go to Musée d’Orsay. Unlike the Louvre, which is a converted palace, Musée d’Orsay is a converted train station, so there is one main gallery with smaller rooms surrounding it. Again, so cool. The art there is mostly French art from 1848 to 1915, while the Louvre only houses art from the 17th and 18th centuries. I swear, between New York musuems, the National Art Gallery in London, and Musée d’Orsay, Doug and I have seen every Van Gogh, Manet, Monet, and Picasso piece.

Our feet and legs were mostly broken after Musée d’Orsay, so we went back to the hotel to do some laundry. We were so excited to be super ghetto and do our laundry in our fancy kitchen sink. Welp, it didn’t turn out as well as we had hoped. Our hanging clothes refused to dry and when they finally did, they smelled all mildew-y. Word to the wise, just go to a laundromat.

After our laundry attempt, we walked to the Louvre (only because we couldn’t find a metro station on the way). Since we got there later than we planned, we were only able to be in the Louvre for about an hour and a half before it closed. We were able to see the most important thing – The Mona Lisa. Everyone I talked to said it was way smaller than they expected, which made it bigger than I expected; pretty good trick. Of course, the Mona Lisa was cool, but nobody told me about the TONS of other priceless art hanging in the same room as the Mona Lisa or covering every inch of the halls. It was totally overwhelming.

P.S. The Louvre has 11 miles of wall space completely covered with art. So when Doug says Paris is greedy, that’s why.

Our Europe Trip: Paris Part 1

Day 3: Paris

Paris is absolutely magical! After taking the Chunnel from London, I was still trying to recover from whatever I sickness I had. So, we just napped in our hotel for a while.

Our hotel, by the way, was so cool and bizarre. It was this little turn-of-the-century hotel with Barbies hanging in the lobby window. You could tell they built it before elevators were a thing, because the staircase barely wrapped around this tinsy elevator that barely fit two people (without luggage). And the staircase was pretty skinny and sketchy to begin with. But we had a kitchen in our room. That does not happen in Paris.

Once we mustered our strength, we started walking. We stopped at a little pastry shop by our hotel (which we later found out our hotel was pretty much in the red light district … haha) and I was so excited to use some of my French. The lady behind the counter was the first person we heard speak French and I was like a deer in headlights. All my words were gone, so Doug stepped in to answer he question with “si” … hahaha! It was a total mess. So, we stumbled through our order and I’m shocked we were able to get out of there with our baguette and doughnuts.

Then we just walked and walked down every street, each one more beautiful than the last. I wanted to take a picture of EVERY street we went down; they all looked like postcards. I couldn’t believe that Paris really looked the way I always imagined it.

After walking for a while, we found ourselves at the Louvre. It was also incredibly beautiful and gigantic (11 miles of museum wall space). And we couldn’t believe how quickly we were able to walk from our hotel (near Montmartre) to the Seine. Paris seemed so small.

We crossed the Seine and had dinner in a cute little bistro. Then we walked to the Eiffel Tower to go up to the top. I was worried it wouldn’t be as magnificent as I thought it would be, but I was not disappointed. It was totally beautiful and amazing. I’ve decided it was impossible for people to make the Eiffel Tower in 1899. It is just too big and crazy – giant, steel beams going all over the place and somehow not collapsing at 1,000 feet. Nope, it’s impossible.

The night we went up wasn’t super cold, but once we got to the first stop on the tower, it got really cold. It was so windy, I was ready to go back to the bottom, but I knew I would never forgive myself if I didn’t power through. And it was worth it. Seeing the light of Paris from above the city should be on everyone’s bucket list.

Our next challenge was to find our way home. That’s when we realized how annoying Paris metro can be. They don’t have good signage and random stops don’t have places to buy tickets. It was a big contrast from the luxury of the Tube. Needless to say, we didn’t pay for every subway ride. Yep, we were the kids hopping over turnstiles (look, we couldn’t figure out how to pay and it was way too late to be walking all over Paris to find a metro station with a ticket machine). ☺

Our Europe Trip: London

It’s been about six months since Doug and I went to Europe, and I have been shirking my blogging responsibilities. So, to all five of you, I apologize. Warning: All these posts are going to be pretty long, so hold onto your butts … or just look at the pictures. Here’s how it went down …

Day 1: London

We took the redeye from JFK and got to Heathrow at 9:30 a.m. on October 14. I slept about 3 hours on the plane; Doug didn’t sleep at all, so we were off to a good start. By the time we got to our hotel, they informed us we weren’t able to get into our room until 2 p.m., despite the fact that I called and told them we needed an early check in. Not cool.

The nice people at the front desk (not very nice) suggested we walk down the street and check out the museums. So we took a short jaunt down the street to the Natural History Museum and Victoria & Albert Museum.

Even though we were so tired and miserable, both museums were totally amazing; huge with tons of detail. It’s crazy to think about what would have been required to create such intricate buildings in the 1800s.

The best part about the museums: They were FREE. I kept looking for signs to tell me what I had to pay, but it turns out London loves culture. And there were kids EVERYWHERE. I don’t know if it was because it was a Sunday or if parents just take their kids to museums all the time, but there were a ton that day. British kids with little accents are pretty stinking cute.

After being in New York for a few days, London was so clean. There were cool, tiny street sweepers on the sidewalks. I even saw a dude with a spray bottle cleaning light poles. Who does that?

And let me tell you, the traffic was tripping me out. Luckily, there were directions on the ground at intersections to tell you which way to look before crossing; otherwise we would have been in trouble. Thanks, London, for being nice to foreigners.

Day 2: London

We took a bus tour of the royal sites. It was super cool to see Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abby, and Big Ben. It kept weirding me out to think that people still live in Buckingham Palace and all the other surrounding palaces. Royalty … silly, am I right? The Brits don’t seem to mind, though. That day was kind of rainy and chilly, so it was nice to be in a bus – not double-decker. Sorry to disappoint.

After our tour, we went to the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square. That place is way legit (and free). Again, there were tons of kids and students all over the place. Most of them were in groups, getting art instruction in front of the most famous paintings by Monet, Manet, Van Gogh, etc. You know, just a regular day at school.

Later that day, we went on a tour of the Tower of London. This was probably our favorite part of London. It was cool (and gross and creepy) to hear about all the crazy things that happened there. The weirdest part was that our guide (a beefeater) told all these sketchy stories totally unapologetically. “Yep, tons of people were killed and a lot of them were innocent … check out the crown jewels!”

The crown jewels are RIDICULOUS. There was a gold punch bowl the size of a bathtub. And one of the millions of scepters had a diamond that was 500 carats. It was insane.

But let’s just talk about the Tube for a second. It’s the best. We loved it (especially after gross NYC subways). The whole system is so simple and the stops and cars are so clean. And padded seats? Yes, please!

That night, I ended up getting pretty sick. I was up most of the night hoping to puke, but nothing happened. Luckily, I was able to get ready and get to our train and continued to feel pukey on the Chunnel.

Our First 10 Months

I can’t believe Doug and I have been married for 10 months. It’s gone by super fast and it’s crazy to look back at all the things we have been able to do in that time. We went on our honeymoon, I got laid off two days later, I made a lot of crafts, Doug was a rock during my unemployment ventures, we learned how to make dinners other than nachos, I got a new job, we planted a garden, and all while learning how to be married.

Without further ado, here is a quick look at what we’ve been up to as The Thompsons:

The Honeymoon: Bahamas Cruise

One of the stops on our cruise was Nassau, which is where the Atlantis resort is. It was super cool. Sorry, we didn’t go on the big slide, but Doug went nuts for their aquariums.

Doug and Cari on the cruise deck

Cari and Doug on the deck in the sunset

Atlantis Resort

Cari and Doug at Atlantis Resort

Doug looking at the rays in the aquarium

Doug looking at a huge fish in the aquarium

The beach at the Atlantis Resort

Cari and Doug on the beach

Cheesey silhouette of Doug and Cari kissing

 

Snowboarding

Doug was so nice and took me snowboarding for my birthday. It was our one snowboarding trip of the season; bitter sweet.

 

Lexington, Kentucky

In the middle of May, two of Doug’s friends from law school were getting married, which created a great excuse for us to take a trip out there. It was so beautiful and green and full of Southern accents.

 Horses on a Lexington horse farm

Cows gathered in the shade of a tree

Doug sitting at a lunch table in Lexington

Doug and Cari dressed up for the wedding

Cari, Doug, and Charlie before the wedding

The Shins Concert

Doug and I had been to other concerts. All of which had varying degrees of enthusiasm from each of us. For example, I had already made Doug go to a Kenny Loggins concert. Needless to say, Doug was not as excited as I to be there. However, he seemed willing enough to take the highway to the Danger Zone.

Due to our previous concert experiences, we were especially excited to hear The Shins were coming to SLC in May as we both have a deep and abiding love for them. (I’m pretty sure that’s one of the reasons Doug married me.)

Cari and Doug and The Shins Concert in Salt Lake

 James Mercer singing In Salt Lake City

Lake Powell

Lake Powell is one of my favorite places in the whole world. We were so lucky this year to go on a family trip with my fantastic Uncle Rich and Aunt Dallas. We had the best time ever hanging out with friends and family, eating delicious food, and wakeboarding and wakesurfing. This was the first time Doug ever wakesurfed EVER and he was a total stud, so I had to include video. AMAZING!

 

 Doug and Cari on the back of the houseboat

 Everyone tired on the boat at Lake Powell

Doug giving Cari a piggyback ride

Cari, Doug, Eddie, and Linz on the ski boat in Lake Powell

Wedding Reception at Communal

Doug’s brother Brian totally hooked us up and we were able to have the most delicious family dinner the world has ever tasted at Communal in Provo, followed by a super fun and totally chill reception. Communal has such a cool look and vibe that I didn’t have to do much decorating, which was so nice. Everything just came together perfectly and we loved it!

Look at how fun it was!

Page 2 of 3123