Paris – Day 2

Louis XIII

4th of November, 2011

I am in PARIS! This was nearly always my first thought when waking up each morning. Paris is right there out the window, out the door, and the common impulse is for me to get out and walk, to get my bearings and explore this City on foot. By the way, when I woke up this morning I had this pounding headache. It might have been from two glasses (or maybe three) of wine I had last night.

Oh well…I am in Paris and a meal without wine at dinner time is like a beautiful woman with only one eye. Anyway I forced myself to get up in spite of the hangover. I’ve left the apartment around 10 a.m. and begin my First Walk at this magical city.

My first thought of Paris was exactly just how I pictured it. It was absolutely beautiful seeing architectural styles of Medieval and Renaissance-era buildings, classical inspired apartments, narrow streets and elegant people walking along the boulevard. I am super excited to be here and started taking pictures almost immediately. I love taking pictures of street signs so when its time for me to share my travel adventure I will remember all the places and streets that I’ve been to.

History of Paris

From my apartment in the Marais District (4th arrondissement) I’ve concentrated my walk in the direction of Paris’s Hotel de Ville. I’ve passed several well-known streets and hotels such as rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine, Place des Vosges, the Garden of Hotel de Sully, Hotel Carnavalet and many other side streets and alleys. Marais is one of Paris’ oldest and most dazzling quarters, and has a much different flavor. Since its revival in the 1960’s, it has shone as a center of Parisian artistic and cultural life. Its dramatic residences (hôtels), artisan’s boutiques, galleries, lavish squares, and fascinating history are worth reserving at least a half-day and the best way to explore the City is on foot.

One thing I’ve noticed, Parisians have a different idea about distances. When they described as only a mile away, I am telling you it could turn out to be a walk of several miles. I thank GOD because for the last couple of days, we have been having a fabulous weather and taking a walk is the best way to see other neighborhood. Ahhh to wander over Paris even with an aching feet!

Street signs

OBSERVATION:

One good thing about visiting foreign country, it helps me to be more observant with my surrounding. In today’s walk I paid attention to everything that I stumbled upon. Case in point: I did not see any drunks reeling about in streets nor did men/women talking on their cell phones while walking. Park benches showed no other marks other than the natural wear and tear of people sitting on them. What surprises me the most are the presence of dogs every where. It seems that dog is a part of accessories in here. Parisian women seem never made an appearance except in the company of her dog. A tres petite chien (very small dog).

Paris is just amazing as it actually outdoes its reputation for splendor. It is really hard to explain the splendor of the City, and best of all, seeing the world-famous buildings at magnificently lit against dramatic backdrop of the beautiful sky are just incredible. There is something magical happens when evening sets in this beautiful City. Now I know why it’s called the “City of Light!”

PARIS – Day 1

CDG Airport

3rd of November, 2011 – Thursday

Bienvenue à Paris! My plane arrived at Charles Da Gaulle airport exactly at 8 a.m. (2 a.m. US EST). After retrieving my bags and gone through customs, I stopped by at the nearest tourist office and purchased a carnet of 10 tickets for €12,50 plus a separate ticket for RER B line. Tickets on hand I followed the sign for the train station (“Gare” in french) at Terminal 2. The RER train bound to Central Paris comes every 15 minutes so before I know it I am heading to the City of Light.

Signs to follow

In about 45 minutes or so, I’ve arrived at Bastille station, the closest metro (a/k/a Subway) line where my apartment is located. I got off the train and followed the EXIT sign (SORTIE in french) with my luggage in tow. After walking a considerable distance I’ve finally reached the surface and…

VOILA PARIS! – With my mind full of the splendid views of squares and columns, and bridges, I could not believe I am now in PARIS. The street runs zigzag and abuts against each others and I don’t know which way to turn. As for the weather, it is gorgeously cool with plenty of sunshine. Almost immediately the famous allure and vitality of the City won me over. I have never seen so many cafes in every corner and so many people of every kind. I am so captivated by the human scenery. Sidewalk vendors out on the streets, cars, buses, motorcycles and bikes…it is mind-boggling.

After catching my breath I’ve started walking in search for my apartment. The apartment is only five minutes walk from Bastille station but not knowing my way around in this great city it took me at least half-an-hour finding it. The streets are so confusing and I got lost in the long run. Thanks to my limited knowledge of the French language I was able to ask for directions and arrived the apartment around noon time safe and sound. Then jet lag and fatigue took over right away. I fell asleep for few hours and when I woke up I’ve gone out to a nearby grocery store (Franprix Marche) and pick-up few things such as fruits, coffee, cheese and a bottle of wine.

At around 8 p.m. I’ve gone out again and started wandering around the Marais District neighborhood in search for a good hearty meal. I found a resto along Blvd. Henri IV (“Chez Margot”) and had a glass of Mojito framboise ou gingerbre for aperitif served with light snacks such as olives and peanuts.

Framboise Mojito

Bastille area - 4 arrondissement

As for my main entrée, I had pâté du jour ou cheese ravioli. It sounded very french but when my meal arrived I was a little disappointed seeing the pâté du jour I just ordered was the American version of Lox (Salmon) on top of cheese ravioli. It was good but I thought I would be eating French meal. With my dinner I ordered en carafe of Rose wine and creme brulee for dessert which was to die for. It was so yummy!

Countdown has begun!

1st of November, 2011

My childhood dream is about to become a reality. In less than 12 hours I am bound for France and my first stop – PARIS!

Going abroad alone feel that I am taking a bold and almost rash step…but I go for purposes of education and to gratify my longings that prey upon my mind.
Several friends and colleagues have told me already that I am crazy visiting a foreign country alone. But I know myself…when I put my mind into something…nothing can STOP me. Seeing Eiffel Tower has been a childhood dream of mine. I have delayed some of the things I wanted to do so I can make this particular dream a reality.

I am charmed by PARIS and the thought of going alone makes my heart leap. I honestly never thought I would have a chance to spend two-weeks in this great City. I am determined to take in all I possibly could in the time alloted and to document everything that I experience so I can share them all with you.

I must admit that traveling is an expensive hobby and I can see now how it can become an addiction. The more of the world I see, the less satisfied I am because I realize how much more I have not seen.

So wish me luck!

My Top 25 Holiday Movies

There is nothing better during the holidays season than a great Christmas movie. Below is a list of my all-time favorite and I love watching them during the holidays season.

It has becoming a yearly ritual for me watching these movies to put me in a good mood.

1. You’ve Got Mail
2. Sleepless in Seattle
3. Phantom of the Opera
4. The Notebook
5. Casablanca
6. Pretty Woman
7. The Wedding Date
8. Guarding Tess
9. The Pianist
10. Dreamgirls
11. A Beautiful Mind
12. La Vie En Rose
13. My Bestfriend’s Wedding
14. Death Poet Society
15. Its A Wonderful Life
16. An Affair To Remember
17. The Holiday
18. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s nest
19. The House Sand and Fogs
20. Somewhere In Time
21. Same Time Next Year
22. Hilary and Jackie
23. The Joy Luck Club
24. The Hours
25. The Bridges of Madison

Men Have All The Luck!

Men are just luckier and happier people —
What do you expect from such simple creatures?

His last name stays put.
The garage is all his.
Wedding plans take care of themselves.
Chocolate is just another snack.

He can be President.
He can never be pregnant.
He can wear a white T-shirt to a water park.
He can wear NO shirt to a water park.
Car mechanics tell him the truth.

The world is his urinal.
He never has to drive to another gas station restroom
because this one is just too icky.
He doesn’t have to stop and think of which way to turn a nut on a bolt.
Same work, more pay.
Wrinkles add character.
Wedding dress $5000. Tux rental-$100.
People never stare at his chest when they’re talking to him.
New shoes don’t cut, blister, or mangle his feet.
One mood all the time.
Phone conversations are over in 30 seconds flat.
He knows stuff about tanks.

A five-day vacation requires only one suitcase.
He can open all his own jars.
He can get extra credit for the slightest act of thoughtfulness.
If someone forgets to invite him,
He or she can still be his friend.

His underwear is $8.95 for a three-pack.
Three pairs of shoes are more than enough..
He almost never has strap problems in public.
He is unable to see wrinkles in his clothes..

Everything on his face stays its original color.
The same hairstyle lasts for years, maybe decades.
He only have to shave his face and neck.
He can play with toys all his life.
One wallet and one pair of shoes — one color for all seasons.

He can wear shorts no matter how his legs look.
He can ‘do’ his nails with a pocket knife.
He has freedom of choice concerning growing a mustache.
He can do Christmas shopping for 25 relatives
On December 24 in 25 minutes, and lastly:

Men wake up as good-looking as they went to bed.
Women somehow deteriorate during the night.
A woman will dress up to go shopping, water the plants, empty the trash, answer the phone, read a book, and get the mail.
A man will dress up for weddings and funerals.
No wonder men are luckier.

Paris – Day 3

The smell of fresh bread woke me up this morning. There is a boulangerie right next to the apartment and the smell of the croissants or may be its the baguettes make me hungry.

My apartment building

I’ve quickly checked the temperature outside and it looks like Paris is going to have another awesome weather. This may seem unnatural for Paris because it usually often wet in the fall but I AM LOVING IT.

My bedroom - I am on top of the "roof!"

Anyhow, my dear friend Helene and I are heading outside the City to visit hidden gems of France. She has promised to show me around her hometown Rambouillet which lies on the edge of the vast Forest. I am excited visiting these small villages, château and castles. I had mentioned to her once that I am so fascinated with castles and anything “royalty” so she is kind enough to be a wonderful hostess by making my childhood dream a reality.

I shall be back soon to continue on my report.
-Continuation –

I spent all day venturing Rambouillet which is located in the suburbs of Paris. As I have mentioned earlier this part of town is famous for its historical castle. The Château de Rambouillet in particular hosted several international summits. Due to its proximity to Paris and Versailles, Rambouillet has long been an occasional seat of government.

We also visited the chateau of Marie Antoinette which was built specifically as her farmhouse.

ADDITIONAL REPORTS AND MORE PICTURES TO FOLLOW:

United Kingdom – Arundel Castle

Part of our London trip was a quick visit to the Arundel Castle, a half-hour drive from my brother’s house. We paid for the full package tour which includes the bedrooms which may seem expensive but when you look at how well the castle is preserved, and how beautiful the gardens are it all seemed well worth the money especially if you don’t know the history behind this beautiful castle.

The staffs were very friendly and knowledgeable. The best part of it all each room had a sheet that describes what we were looking at. The Castle rooms were well-lit but beware some areas were blocked off with cord but visitors could see almost everything.

Arundle Castle is set high on a hill in West Sussex. This great castle commands the landscape with magnificent views across the South Downs and The River Arun. Built at the end of the 11th century, it has been the family home of the Dukes of Norfolk and their ancestors for over 900 years.

Lord Arundel was the first of the great English art collectors whose antique marbles are now at Oxford, and the library at the Royal Society. But the magnificent Van Dyck and Mytens portraits and some other objects commissioned or collected by him form the basis of the collection are now at this Castle, while his retrieval of lost family estates, titles and honors after the disasters of this ancestors’ executions and attenders in the previous century were instrumental in the revival of the Norfolk family.

Pictures of Arundel Castle & Gardens, Arundel

The movie of ” The Young Victoria” was partly filmed here in September 2007 so the archives exhibits during our visit was devoted to the historic links between the Queen and the Dukes of Norfolk.

Photos of Arundel Castle & Gardens, Arundel

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert stayed here in 1846. The 12th Duke organised her coronation; the 15th Duke her funeral. The 13th Duke was master of the horse at her marriage to Prince Albert and his daughter Lady Mary was one of the bridesmaids on that occasion.

The garden is divided into formal courts with a centre canal pond and outlined cascade. The garden centerpiece is the rockwork mountain planted with palms and rare ferns to represent another world, supporting a green oak version of “Oberon’s Palace.”

After walking around the castle and its beautiful grounds, we wondered around the small village which had lovely little shops and cafes.

With my brother and aunt

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