Friday, March 28, 2008

Our last full day in Rome.

It is our last full day here in Rome and today we made it out to the Vatican Museum. Our super helpful B&B helped us book a reservation which allowed us to have a super fast que compared to the "regular" line which stretched about 5 people wide for nearly a kilometer! (Look at me, we've been in Europe so long I'm counting things in metric without even thinking about it). Once we got inside we began our exploration carefully because we had read all sorts of warnings that if you got off track and missed a section they won't let you go back to a previous gallery, (what a stupid rule for a museum!). Much of the ancient art was not groundbreaking in comparison with what you tend to see in every nook and cranny in the churches and museums throughout the city, but they were inspiring none-the-less.

The most amazing thing for me about the whole museum was that every single surface was covered in some sort of art. In the image below, it is a snapshot of a hall that was roped off just to show the level of detail you see throughout the museum.

Once we made it into the "apartments" of some of the former popes, we began to see a great deal fantastic renaissance work including one suite that was frescoed entirely by Raffael! Most people can afford a house painter, and maybe even a small mural... the popes, they get Raffael. Money and power can do amazing things. This is a detail from one of the every-surface-frescoed rooms in the suite from Rafael.

Towards the end of the overwhelming onslaught of art you are led into the coupe de gras of the museum, the Sistine Chapel. You are not allowed to use cameras of any kind in the room, so I will have to just describe some things. The room was much smaller than either Kerry or I had anticipated, (especially after the grand scale that was St. Peter's Basilica yesterday), but that was a really good thing as it allowed us to really examine the details of the ceiling and wall frescoes. We rented an electronic audio guide from the museum and were lucky enough to find a seat along the periphery of the room which allowed us to sit and really spend time examining the details of the truly awe inspiring work with great commentary on the subtleties we may have missed. The nearly Technicolor saturation and scope of the work was truly a site to behold. It was one of those times where you really began to understand what all the fuss was about.

After we spent some more time digesting further galleries from the museum, we headed out for a late lunch back at La Griglietta again, this time with our sites squarely aimed at getting a chance to experience the famous Roman fried artichokes (one of their specialty foods here in Rome), and WOW were we in for a treat. Our pasta dishes (Penne a la vodka white sauce, and matriciano) were fantastic, but it was really the artichokes, which had been prepared in such a way that the rough leaves were cut away, deep fried (not oily), and lightly salted and peppered to absolute perfection. It was the single best artichoke I've ever had, and I've had my fair share of amazing artichokes. Thinking about it has me salivating all over again. Good times!

Now it is back to the room for a final post from Roma, to pack our bags, have another dinner at Dino and Tony's and go to bed early for our early morning departure. It has been an amazing trip. One that, as always, will take some time to fully digest. We'll be able to share more memories and thoughts as time goes on. Once we are settled back in the states we'll get right on processing all of the images from the trip so keep an eye on our Flickr and DeviantArt accounts!

St. Peter's Basilica and lots of tiny cups of espresso.

Today we began with a nice breakfast out on the balcony of our B&B, which we followed by a visit to the opulant St. Peter's Basilica. There was a deep que, but due to the free admission, it was a really quick line (maybe 15 minutes?).

Due to some nutjob's attempted hammer attack on it in the 70's the Pietà from Michelangelo is now behind bullet-proof glass near the entrance to the basilica, so it was difficult to truly capture, but it was an impressive sculpture to be sure. It doesn't have the grand scale of David, but the level of detail and sense of realism puts it closer to what I might have expected from someone like Bernini, and since Mary is wearing lots of robes, you are not struck by the masculine qualities of the feminine figure like you would be looking at much of his other work, (he tended to use muscular male models for both his male and female work... go figure, but anyway, I digress).

The Basilica is as opulent as you could possibly make a single space. Here is a shot that tries to capture some sense of the feel you get walking around it.

The entire basilica is filled to brim with art, as you might expect, but one detail that was a complete surprise to me was that there were no paintings! Instead, due to church planner's fear of fire, they had mosaics that looked like paintings done for the domes, walls, and panels of the basilica. It was an absolutely uncanny thing to see one up close, or zoom with the lens and see that the gigantic painting you were looking at was actually a gazillion little tiles that took nearly two decades to make (each!)!

This is a shot that shows some of the detail you see looking up, including one of those incredible mosaics.

Once we had our share of dead popes and mind blowing art, we decided to wonder down the Tiber river towards the Trastevere area of Rome. It was a beautiful walk, even in the sprinkly weather, down the river's edge, and we finally made our way to Trastevere which was a wonderful tangle of small cobbled streets perfect for getting lost in, (which we happily did). We roamed the streets until it started to rain a bit harder so we ducked into a cute little cafe/restaurant for a snack and some warm drinks.

I should mention that I LOVE drinking tea, and while Rome doesn't seem to really get the tea thing right, WOW do they get the coffee thing right! I'm completely hooked on cafe macchiatos, and ordered two of them at the little cafe. The proprietor was a really charming host and we lingered there for a while, but once the rain slacked a bit, we jumped back into our not-really-aiming-for-anything-in-particular route back through the neighborhood. We stayed lost for a long time and ended up stumbling into an old pharmacy run by monks for hundreds of years that services the popes. The walls had some really cool botanical paintings of medicinal herbs from treatments ages past.

Later that day we decided to take our B&B's suggestion and try out a restaurant called La Griglietta. A former guest from Texas had said to our B&B that he had the best steak of his life there, and with an endorsement like that how could I resist! Kerry was treated to an artichoke lasagna made by the owner's wife that was out of site, while I had the Taglietta, a full kilogram of superb cut of beef, (not unlike something John Candy was served). It was cooked to absolute perfection, slightly crisp and seared through on the outside, and tender buttery raw goodness on the inside. We both ended up gorging ourselves far past sanity due to both the amazing symphony of flavors and the portions that were, especially with the meat, truly meant for two. It was another meal to remember. We both wished we could have eaten more, but as it was we had to waddle home and crash into a food-coma, (the great wine helped too). Tomorrow, we will get up bright and early to finally see inside the Musei Vaticani (Vatican Museum)!

Centro Storico and beyond...

On Wednesday we headed out to see several big attractions in Rome, must of which are in the Centro Storico region where the streets are all cobbled and cute. The first thing we hit was the church where Bernini's "Ecstasy of St Theresa" sculpture is featured. That's the one that shows St. Theresa with the angel standing over her. St Theresa's recollection of the event said that the angel stuck the fiery spear deep into her bowls, giving her the lords good lovin'.I'm paraphrasing, but you get the point. and her face is famous for, err, looking like she is getting some good lovin' from the lord. check it out:

After that we went to see the crypt of the capuchin monks, which is famous for having several rooms decorated entirely with bones and dessicated monks still in their robes. It was really amazing- Isaac and I were both expecting maybe 1 or 2 rooms, with bones lining the walls, but there were 5 or 6 rooms, with elaborate bone chandeliers, bone archways, and bone designs (such as a child's skeleton holding a scythe and scale, also made out of bones and attached to the ceiling). They didn't allow any photos or video, so here's a link.

Actually, it seems that several places that have a single "money maker" attraction don't allow photography, presumably so they can sell more postcards. Michelangelo's David in Florence was the same way. The next thing we saw was the Pantheon, (it's crazy to see so many legendary things so close to each other in a city). We took photos of the Pantheon, but they don't really do it justice. After that, we went to see the famous Trevi fountain, which is HUGE:

Then we walked a few blocks to see the 3 Bernini fountains in Piazza Navona. Unfortunately, the biggest one in the middle was being restored and completely covered except for small plexiglass windows to peek through. the other 2 were impressive though, and we were just happy that it wasn't raining! It was overcast much of the day but finally warmed up a little. Before dinner we stopped by the castle Sant'Angelo via the bridge of angels. The bridge has angel statues lining it

(Bernini again- our new favorite sculptor!) and it is really close to our B&B. Every morning we see tourists on top of the castle from our room, so it was neat to look through the camera's zoom lens and find our room from the castle. We also got a few nice aerial shots of the city despite the overcast conditions. And it was another free attraction, thanks to Cultural Heritage week in Rome. For dinner we went to a little trattoria called Dino and Tony, which is supposed to be pretty famous in the area. It was AMAZING. the portions are huge, and they kept saying "eat!' when we would set down our forks, so we left feeling slightly sick from too much food but it was really really good. Isaac and I split what turned out to be a huge appetizer plate with stuffed olives, pizza, salami and prosciutto, and some sort or ricotta and spinach thing. then I had 2 small bowls of chef's choice pasta (they brought me a mushroom one and a gorganzola one) and Isaac had Pasta carbonara (bacon, eggs, oil and some other goodies in a huge bowl). All the pasta was fresh, and we left feeling very lucky to be eating Italian food in Italy!

Thursday, March 27, 2008



So, Tuesday started out with a 7:45am train to Salerno.

On Monday we booked the earliest trip to Pompeii, and the latest trip back. what we ended up with was a 7:45am trip to Salerno, where we would need to transfer to Pompeii, and a 7:36pm train from Naples to Rome, (we would need to get to Naples from Pompeii). Pompeii is between Naples and Salerno, about a half an hour from either direction, not considering the inevitable delays. Rome to Naples is about 2 1/2 hours. The train ride to Salerno was bright and sunny and gave us hopes that we might not get rained on for one day in our trip. I thought, "This is the Mediterranean!" and "my goodness, there are lemon trees and clothes on clotheslines at each town we pass. What do they do with all the lemons?" I guess that explains Italians fondness for lemoncello liquor. After a transfer and several delays, one which included us getting locked into a stationary train with several Italians who were in a hurry and banging on the doors, (I guess they aren't that laid back), we ended up at Pompeii around 1pm. The good news is, it's Cultural Heritage week in Italy so we got in free! The bad news is, the second we entered the gates, no joke, it started raining. We have become one with the rain. But I'll be honest, it limited our "artistic" shots of Pompeii. There was no changing of lenses, and our photos were more documentary than expressive because it is hard to shoot photos through a plastic bag. Even when you've bought that plastic bag on eBay with the express purpose of photographing in the rain. There were still other tourists, but overall, many streets were empty, and there only a few times when we had to wait for school groups to enter a building before we could enter. I imagine it is insane in the summer, or at least that's what we are telling ourselves to make up for the miserable weather. Pompeii itself does feel like a real city, with streets in a grid pattern and buildings still standing next to each other everywhere. Here is a picture of what it looks like to be walking down the street.

Pompeii is huge! Honestly, it felt bigger than Venice. There was no way to see everything, and archaeologists are still digging, (they have about one third left to excavate). Still, we feel like we hit most of the sites we wanted to see. Like the brothel, (ooh, la, la, pornographic frescoes!), and two areas that had plaster casts of the victims of Vesuvius's massive eruption. Here is a very visceral one of a dog that died from the eruption.

Speaking of dead dogs, I'm 97% sure I saw a dead dog in the Naples metro station when we were transferring trains. Seriously. A little kid was pointing at it and her mom dragged her away in horror. Naples is in the middle of a garbage strike,(which is an annual event), and smells exactly how you would expect. The metro station looked like it had been under attack, with rubble everywhere. And the fellow American who was living in Italy who told us, "Watch your wallet", wasn't kidding. Everyone seemed sketchy and angery, and I took some solace in the fact that my wallet had already been stolen in Paris two weeks prior. Isaac watched his money, and I watched his back. I put on my best "don't mess with me" face. To make matters worse, our connecting train to Rome was delayed an hour, and we had to wait outside in the cold. There was a nice Italian old lady sitting next to us who spoke no English who was helping translate the delays with pantomime, pointing to my watch and saying, "Mama Mia!" repeatedly. The train, when it arrived, was completely sold out, (including standing room), so we were glad we had reserved seats! We kicked some squatters out of our seats without too much fuss. The other four Italians in the coach with us were traveling from Sicily and really cool. One guy said sarcastically, "What, you don't want to stay the night in Naples?!" which was funny. The train kept loosing lighting because it had broken down in Sicily, (hence the hour delay), and we were all hoping it would actually get us to Rome. One of the Italians spoke excellent English, and was joking, "This isn't a train it's a disco!" (because of the lights going in and out). We ended up having a really nice conversation with them. They were asking all sorts of questions about America, and convinced us we definitely need to visit Sicily in the future. They were also very firm in explaining to us that the Sopranos does not accurately describe Italian mafia, (they brought the subject up). Apparently Italian mafia isn't that flashy. We tried to tell them that it's entirely possible that mafia in New Jersey are that flashy, but they didn't believe us. At any rate, we arrived in Rome around midnight with our wallets intact, and happy to be going back to our B&B.

Ancient Rome! (fullfilling a childhood dream)

So we arrived in Rome on Easter Sunday, and the train was not nearly as crowded or crazy as we expected, which was great. We had a moment of severe panic when we arrived at our Bed & Breakfast and no one answered the door. Luckily the nice restaurant owner next door was able to hunt down the B&B owner's cell phone number and found out that he was just running late. Once we got inside the B&B via a terrifying 1930's elevator everything got a lot better. The place is super cute, and the owner is really nice and helpful, and even reserved our Vatican Museum trip for Friday. We even have a view of Castle St. Angelo from our room! Everything is IKEA so we feel right at home here. If you know anyone that wants to go to Rome, we would like to recommend our B&B. There are only two rooms, and it's 80 euros a night with a private bathroom. We totally lucked out. We took it easy the rest of Easter Sunday doing laundry and having dinner at the restaurant that had helped us out earlier.

On Monday, we went to Palatine Hill and the Colosseum. Thank you Lonely Planet for telling us to get our tickets at Palatine Hill for both places because we still had to wait an hour, but it was MUCH better than the never-ending que at the Colosseum. This was something Isaac had really wanted to see since he was little, so it was a real treat. This is a photo from inside the Colosseum.

Below is a photo of the Ancient Roman ruins at Palatine Hill. It is amazing that things are still so well preserved.

Afterwards, we went into Vatican City, which is right by our B&B. We had hoped there would be some gate where they would check our passports, or something that would make us feel like we had entered another country, (Vatican City is not even a member of the EU, so in theory they should have a Customs check, and stamp passports). Nope! We were walking around wondering when we would arrive there, and suddenly we were in St. Peter's square. There is a big wall, but no signs, gates, or officials! So weird. We got to St. Peter's square right before it started dumping rain again. Still, it HAILED at breakfast, (no joke), so at least it wasn't hailing! Still we are getting sick of the rain. "Real" restaurants around here don't open for dinner until about 7:30pm, and it was about 6:30, cold and rainy, and we were hungry. We found a decent touristy place that had average food, so that was OK, but nothing special.

Tuesday = Pompeii! :)

Sunday, March 23, 2008


(Firenze is Italian for Florence)

Rain, rain go away, come again some other day! It's been raining pretty much non-stop this whole trip, and while we won't let it get us too down, it would be great for those sweeping views and all day walks through cities to have it let up a little. We may get a little break next week in Rome, but it looks like it's cold and wet from here on out. C'est la vie, or whatever that is in Italian (I should really look that one up!).

On our our third and last day in Florence, we did finally get a break in the rain! It was a beautiful mild and sunny day. We saw Michaelangelo's David in dell'Accademia, and Galileo's tomb in Santa Croce.

The bad weather has kept Kerry's cold up full-force, but we still went out for a great Tuscan meal, and she commented that even though she couldn't taste very well, "at least it looked delicious". I had a wonderful meal starting with a duck meat sauce pasta, followed by a few perfectly cooked pieces of pork wrapped in the famous Tuscan lardo, which has a much milder flavor than bacon, but a buttery rich texture that keeps the meat moist and delicious.

Our bed and breakfast here in Firenze has been wonderful. It is a small charming place with a handful of rooms, and ever-present classical music. The decor is a mix of Florentine etchings and kid's art, which somehow works here, and the whole atmosphere is very comfortable and relaxing. The building the bed and breakfast is housed in reminded Kerry and I both of an old college building, in a good way. It is actually in the Swedish consulate building, which was pretty confusing when we first arrived and were trying to figure out if we were in the right place. It is a super-duper charming place, it definitely paid to do a lot of research in advance, (thanks Kerry!).

Overall Florence is much smaller than we expected, you can walk the whole city pretty easily. We expected Venice to be quite small, (and it was), but the size of Florence was a surprise, and a pleasant one given the lack of subway system here!

We are off to Rome in a few hours, it is Easter today, so things could get interesting with the crowds gathering there to hear the Pope's Easter announcement today. We learned our lesson in Paris to book our train in advance so at least we know we have seats on the train. More when we arrive!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

On our second day in Venice we made our way to the surrounding islands of Murano and Burano, famous for Venician glass and lace respectively. In Murano we had one of the best meals yet in Europe off the beaten track in the local hub of the island. It was a great meal filled with fish, squid, squid ink pasta, and the best most unbelievably tender octopus I've ever had.

In Burano, the buildings are even more saturated with color than those in the rest of Venice so we had a great time strolling the quaint cobbled streets and just taking it all in.

Kerry's head cold has persisted, and with it began a little ear stuffage with all the usual sinus junk. She started to get legitimately concerned that the deafness in one ear would be permanent. At various points throughout the day Kerry would tilt her head all the way back so her face was to the sun and then turn her head slightly to shift the fluids and get a little hearing back, and I realized... Maybe Jean de Arc wasn't actually turning her ear to hear the voice of some god, maybe she just had a head cold? I mean, what if she had friends who she just didn't hear until her ears cleared out a bit, and that didn't happen until she had her ear turned to the clouds? It's a theory, I'd like to see some grad student looking for a thesis topic pick up, I see great promise!

Whatever the symptoms of Kerry's cold are (I could read off the contents of her now French and Italian pharmacy in her purse for clues), a scoop of gelato seems to be the best cure, but really, what doesn't it help?!



So we made it to Venice, and with that we begin our jaunt through the second and final country of our trip. Recall if you will all of those paintings and pictures of a picturesque town full of vivid colors, and waterways flowing with singing gondoliers and know that they are not exaggerating. The city has gone to great lengths to preserve the city's historic feel, and they have done an uncanny job. Who knows if it will be here forever, but while it is, it is beautiful.

Now, that isn't to say it's all sunshine and lively pealing plaster over jade colored waterways... that's all there, but there are also lots of tourists, (even in March) along with the tacky shops that cater to them, and you have to go to extraordinary lengths to find a restaurant that doesn't break one of cardinal rules of either being next to a train station, near an airport, has a menu in more than one language, and in the worst cases, PICTURE MENUS! In a moment of weakness and desperation brought on by sun and hunger, we convinced ourselves that it was worth the risk to try one against our better jugement near the famous Piazza San Marco. Wow... just wow... we should have known better. For example... the barley soup starter with squid fritti served next to potatoes daphne, finished with desert, was actually, salty can quality soup, diner quality fried calamari with over salted fries, finished with canned fruit salad... ya... we left hungry and were much more satisfied with our later slice of pizza from a street on the walk back to our hotel.

While exploring the small wandering streets of Venice, we had a few destinations we felt we absolutely could not miss, and one was a famous craftshop that makes Venician masks, and boy were we not disappointed! The shop was fantastic-- full of plaster and leather masks from Venice's history, local plays, and mythology.

Many jester and harlequin masks were better versions of what you might find in Mardi Gras down in New Orleans, but others were unique and new to us. After some seriously hard debate, we decided on a the "plague doctor" mask. It looks kind of like a bird mask with a huge beak and round eye holes, and that's what we thought it was, but the shop lady gave us the rich background that it was in fact a historic piece modeled after a mask worn by physicians during the Black Plague that spread through Venice in the 1630's and wiped out a third of their population. The large "beak" of the mask would have been filled with herbs and lots of garlic to both block out the horrible stench and to hopefully cleanse the air before the doctor breathed it in, (at the time they thought the plague was airborne). The round eye holes look like the spectacles they would affix to the mask and hat to seal their head from the bad air. The "current" plague doctor masks around in other shops have stylized that particular style of mask much further and actually has a slit along the mask's beak to make it more bird-like but less true to the original design. Ours is dark and made from leather. We will take a picture and post it when we get back to the States.


Melanie and Hunter's Wedding in Paris

These photos are from Melanie's wedding on Saturday the 15th. She was an amazingly beautiful bride, and since we only brought our point and shoot to the ceremony, the pictures don't really do her justice. The image of the 5 of us (with Silvie, another bridesmaid and good friend from when she was a kid in NY) is at a restaurant a few days before the wedding. The rehearsal dinner was at an amazing restaurant along the Seine, La Peruse, and I was able to say a nice little speech there after dinner. This ended up being fortuitous, because the day of the wedding I developed laryngitides! I blame Paris's freezing rainy weather the week previous to the ceremony. I now have a French pharmacy in my purse for my sore throat, cough, and cold. But I rally on! Anyways, the day of the ceremony itself the weather was gorgeous before the ceremony and started to rain after. Please click on the images to see them non-pixelated, we are having blog formatting issues, and cannot really deal with them overseas.

A tender moment with Hunter and Melanie.

The ceremony was in the oldest cathedral in Paris, completed in 1100 (take that Notre Dame!), and in some of the photos we will post later you will see Notre Dame in the background. After the ceremony Melanie and Hunter, their parents, the photographer and Silvie and I took a limo to a few different famous sites to take wedding photos. Silvie and I went to help carry and arrange the veil and train and keep them out of the mud- Melanie referred to us as the "fluffers". Enough said. You can see in the photo how fluffy her dress is- We did well. By the time we were headed to the boat that we were having the reception on, Melanie had been in the dress about 5 hours and REALLY needed to pee. It also started raining really hard, which didn't help. At one point in the limo Mel looked at me and said "have you seen the movie 27 dresses? where the bride needs someone to help her in the bathroom because she can't lift her dress?" I hadn't seen the movie, but I said I certainly didn't mind. Once we were on the boat, she really was about to lose it and we raced for the bathroom- only to find it was a boat bathroom the size of an airplane loo. I looked at Mel and said "you sure you need my help?" and she said yes, so in we went. We made it work, and were both laughing hysterically (the dress was huge- Melanie said it counted as at least 3 more people) because it was like squeezing into a clown car. I can only imagine what the captain must have been thinking. The last photo is me and Isaac on the boat at dinner.

He looked cute in his suit as you can see! We made really good friends with all of Melanie's other bridesmaids and their guys, so that was a really nice aspect. At one point Silvie remarked that all of Melanie's friends are just alike. Isaac got along so well with the 2 bridesmaids' boyfriends/husbands that were there (and at one point discovered one of them knows a "secret" hand puppet thing he made up when he was a kid- the other guy had made it up when he was a kid too) that one bridesmaid, Christina, said "not only does Melanie have a "type" of friend, but we are all dating the same guy!"

The day after the wedding we relaxed and went to a huge flea market, where we wanted everything but showed restraint (thank you, lowly American dollar$) and bought only one etching from the 1800's for 30 Euros. It has a bunch of hydras on it- might be the evolution of hydras? At least it's mythical snakes with several heads. Pierre will have to read us the French on it when we get home. We were supposed to catch the 7:45AM train to Venice on Monday, but when we got to the station they said all the trains were booked until 7pm! Suckage. We put our bags in lockup and strolled around a very cold Paris until the train left. And, while I'm glad we tried a sleeper train, it was not comfortable at all. I don't want to do it ever again! 12 hours later, we were in Venice.


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Notre Dame

Notre Dame, originally uploaded by craftyK.

So, uh, well, this is Notre Dame! It is a pretty overwhelming structure. We thought this would be our "inside" day, but it turns out, the building is pretty big, so a lot of time was spent walking around checking out the abundant gargoyles, and then a line in the blustery wind and rain, (yes this shot was during a brief break in the weather), to be able to climb the hundreds of stairs exploring the towers of the cathedral.

Once we got inside we spent quite a bit of time checking out the endless supply of alcoves, relics, tourists, and priceless art. The architecture is baffling; I know it took 300 plus years to build, but even then it is a marvel.

Afterwards, we stumbled upon the fact that catacombs are closed this month, (bummer), but afterwards stayed in the Monteparnasse neighborhood to visit the grave site of Jean Paul Sartre and Simone De Beauvoir, (shout-out). Good times, but in the end, it was the only slightly disappointing neighborhood in Paris thus far. Not that it was bad, just not quite as impressive and quintessentially French as the rest of the neighborhoods we've spent time in.

Internet access has been spotty so we haven't been able to blog as much as we wanted. The wedding was amazing, we will be able to post more and catch up soon. Tomorrow we take a 12hr. train ride to Venice!

Au revoir!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

La Tour Eiffel et Montmartre.

La Tour Eiffel

On Tuesday we went to see the Eiffel Tower and it was pretty rainy and CRAZY windy all day. The lines were pretty long even now in off-season and with foul weather, so I can't imagine what it would be like in the summer on a clear day. It was really foggy and we faced gale force winds at the summit, but there were some truly stunning views. There is an unavoidable attraction to the beauty the tower has. It is a modern relic of the World's Fairs of the previous century, and with its sturdy structure and feminine curves it just pulls you towards it, but I'm rambling...

After spending most of the day wondering around the tower and going to the summit, we headed out for Montmartre for the evening. Montmartre is magical at night. We got some amazing, postcard perfect images strolling around the neighborhood and had an amazing meal, (Let's put it this way, they know how to make French onion soup in France, go figure). Also a glass of wine is cheaper than a bottle of water, a coca-cola, or a cup of coffee. At least they have their priorities straight!



After our rocky relationship with our euros kicked off our bon voyage, it seems our trip has swung into gear. We spent Monday's light hours, (note it was not light here, but rather deep dark and dumping buckets in a maelstrom all-day-long), at famous for a reason Louvre, (the weather was great inside!). They say it would take 9 months to just glance at all of the art there because it's a touch on the large side, so you have to plan ahead and just pick a section or two, and pretend the rest of the galleries don't exist. We chose to check out most of the French and Italian paintings and sculpture including La Jaconde (the Mona Lisa). Most of the museum is moderately to sparsely filled with visitors from around the globe, but the Mona Lisa crowd is absolutely bat-guano crazy, (see coming image for more). Kerry and I both found ourselves drawn to capture the crowd rather than try and take a mediocre photograph of the small master painting. It is pretty funny, it is in a spectacular room full of gargantuan paintings and only a small fraction of the visitors seem even remotely interested in them.

Afterwards we treated ourselves to some delicious Vietnamese Pho, (Isaac's bowl containing not just a few animal parts they he cannot name), and some good-ol-times sipping on what could be the world's greatest mojitos at a really fun bar. Au revoir for now, more to come later today.

Sunday, March 9, 2008


Welcome to Paris., originally uploaded by Simian Cephalopod.

Sooooo. Here we are! This was the amazing view from our hotel room when we got in, which we very much needed to brighten our day. Why you ask? Well, in addition to an unscheduled 7 hour layover in Philadelphia due to "mechanical problems" (errr...yeah, go ahead and fix that, guys), I (Kerry) lost my wallet within 1 hour of arriving. Yes, you heard me- my wallet was either pick pocketed or somehow fell out of my bag, (both seem unlikely, but it had to be one of those things) between the train ride and the hotel. While I was initially devastated, after a while (and after Marc and Lisa helped cancel the cards -- shout out Marc and Lisa) I am (kind of) able to see the humor in losing all of my credit cards, my CA ID, my health insurance card, and a ton of cash all within 1 hour of touching French soil. That's got to be a record! How much money? 500 Euros (about $750). Major suckage. But it does make me wonder- what kind of an evening did my 500 Euros have last night? I would like to think it ran as fast as it could into the arms of some widowed grandmother who is barely scraping by, or even cuddled up with some poor Parisian schoolboy who has never seen, never even SEEN that much money in his whole life and now can finally buy a new suit so that Chloe, the shopkeeper's daughter, finally notices him. That's what I'd like to believe. But you see, I feel like I know my money pretty well. My money likes to spend it's time doing careless, regrettable things. And remember, this is my money's first time in Paris. I'm guessing my money hung out all night with strippers, used lots of drugs, and is just now waking up in a pile of it's own vomit, wondering what happened to it's pants. That's just a guess, but still. You so crazy,500 Euros. I love you, but you so crazy.
Well,we are off to see the Louvre! SOME people like to be productive (I'm talking to you, 500 Euros).