Wednesday, May 9, 2012

More on Our Instariffic European Vacation

 Our first day in Amsterdam was fairly grey and dirty.  As I mentioned before, it was Queen's day the day before and it was disgustingly dirty as a result.  Crushed beer cans everywhere, piles of used joints and moulting orange feather boas, and the overwhelming smell of stale pot and urine.  Gross.

Try as I might, and even though the architecture was still beautiful, I couldn't get Blake to understand why I'd loved the city so much before.  We drove out of the city that night a little deflated because of how grim it was. 
Blake's faith in me was restored when we went back the next day and the city was almost back to the sparkling utopia of my memories.  That second day we took another canal tour, wandered the antiques district and spent a couple hours in the Van Gogh museum.  The Van Gogh museum and the Rijksmuseum are next to each other (we had gone to the Rijskmuseum the day before) and the I Amsterdam sign is out front of the Rijksmuseum.  If you squint you can see the photo of Queen Beatrix hanging on the front of the Rijksmuseum above the I Amsterdam sculpture behind us.

After two days in Amsterdam, we jumped in the car and did the 5-ish hour drive down to Paris.  We arrived to gorgeous 70-degree weather with blue skies and puffy white clouds.  Paris traffic is pretty intense, but Blake handled it really well.  He made it around the Arc de Triomphe not once, but twice (due to my faulty navigational skills and lack of knowledge of the 16ieme arrondisement) without so much as getting honked at.  That's got to be some sort of record.  Or, at least a right of passage.
Once we got settled in at the hotel, we grabbed dinner at a bakery and then walked over to the Eiffel Tower.  Again, could the day get any more beautiful?  Even now it breaks my heart to look at it and not be there. 

I enjoyed pointing out old landmarks to Blake and reminiscing about the time we rode this same carousel for my friend Nikki's 21st birthday.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, you can't truly appreciate the beauty of Paris until you've seen it at night from the water.  All the bridges lit up, the Eiffel Tower sparking at the top of the hour.  This is most certainly heaven.
Our second day in Paris started out overcast, but even with the forecast of 100% chance of rain all we got was a few showers.  It cleared up by noon and was as sparklingly perfect as it had been the day before. 

We walked all over the city: both islands, the Marais, the Latin Quarter, Saint Germaine, the 16ieme, the Luxembourg Gardens.  My feet were sore and swollen by the end of the day, but, as all perfect days in Paris are, it was all worth it.
We ate lunch at the same no-name bakery/cafe in the Latin Quarter that Blake and I had wandered upon last year.

The sandwiches and quiches were amazing, but what I was really holding out for was the pastries.  Blake and I split three pastries between the two of us (a tarte citronne, a charlotte aux framboises and a charlotte au chocolate).  I was in a little bit of pain for the next hour or so, but you better believe I finished off every last bite.
One of the things I love so much about Paris is the abundance of bridges and public spaces.  We walked up the quais with the book sellers and across the 400-year-old Pont Neuf (pictured here). 
I used to walk by the Hotel de Ville every day on the way to class and I never got tired of it.  I feel like it's one building in Paris that is not given proper attention by the tourists.  It's gorgeous and also full of history.  Plus, it's only a short walk from Notre Dame...and it's always deserted.  So strange.
At the top of Blake's Mom's agenda, was going to the new Hermes store on the Left Bank.  After a couple of missteps, we made it.  And it was as interesting/overflowing with style as we'd hoped. 

Basically, I can't afford to even breath in that store.  Being surrounded by $2,500 blankets and $5,000 dresses was a little more stressful than I'd like (I was worried I'd accidentally bump something and get yelled at by one of the stiff, suit-clad, Frenchman milling around the store), but it was worth seeing the Mongolian wooden sculptures and the original pool-tiled floor.  Such a cool store.
Day three in Paris was spent at the world-famous Marchees Aux Puces in Saint-Ouen. 

Oh. My. Gosh. 

I was in heaven.  Perfect weather.  The best flea market in the world.  French antiques.


We ended up with an original oil painting by French artist Gaston Prost.  Blake bargained the owners down about $200, so we were happy campers.  And now we're proud to add Mr. Gaston's painting to our slowly growing collection of original art.
As I mentioned in my trip list post, we took a couple of detours on the way back from Paris to Heemstede, and ended up taking 8 hours to drive what had only taken us just over 5 hours before.

But, I'm just glad we didn't end up running out of gas in the middle of the Belgian countryside.  I was a little stressed there for a while.  And when I say a little, I mean a lot (complete with sweaty, shaky hands).  But, we made it to the gas station in the nick of time and were back on our merry way with much less sweat on my part.

Waking up that next morning was so sad.  I miss the canal view that I had out the window of Kirk and Ali's place in  Heemstede.


  1. This looks like such an amazing trip! Someday I hope to drive through Europe, but until then, thank you for posting your beautiful pictures so I can live vicariously through you.

  2. So so so so beautiful. I am so glad you posted all these pics. I am DYING to go there!! Happy you are back (for us) Sad you couldn't stay longer (for you).

  3. just caught up on your trip posts. wow! wow! wow! my jealousy is making it hard to like you right now ;) what an incredible trip! loved every pic and detail! next trip?? maybe dallas??