Monday, November 26, 2007

Our Last day...Paris, Part 2


Our final day in Paris was spent touring this romantic, beautiful city. This was my second trip here, and I must admit I enjoyed it much more this time.



We stopped first at the Eiffel Tower and ascended to the second level where we had magnificent views of the city. The elevator ascends up the leg of the tower on an angle--a very strange sensation! It was a clear day, and we were high enough up to be able to see really far, but low enough to be able to recognize building and landmarks that we saw on our boat ride yesterday.

The latter part of the day was spent visiting the Palace of Versailles. King Louis XIV built added on to this palace until it was the largest in the world. Later, this was the home of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, who incidentally was the daughter of Maria-Therese of Austria (remember her?). They were betrothed to each other for purely political reasons-to unite Austria & France.


Perhaps my favorite place in Versailles is the Hall of Mirrors. This is a ballroom--long and narrow. On one side is a wall of windows looking out onto the gardens;
on the other is a wall of mirrors. It has the effect of making the room look twice as big as it is as it reflects the outside view-Ingenious!

Our last evening was spent in an authentic French Cabaret! The meal was excellent-numerous courses of salads, cheese plates, baguettes, Chateaubriand, and, of course, the wine was flowing. Then the show started...A fun time filled with musical numbers-singing, dancing, and some really good variety acts. The funniest was an acrobat/magician who called my husband on stage to be his assistant. You'd have to know my husband to know how really funny this was--He's the quietest guy and the last you'd ever think would do this. Sure the bottle of wine he drank nearly by himself helped. Well, we roared, good-naturedly, with laughter, and by the end of the night, he was famous. He even was given a diploma! Our whole group was patting him on the back & telling him what a good job he did. The rest of the audience was waiting in the lobby for him so they could shake his hand--Unbelievably funny, trust me!

I can't believe I am posting about the last day of our vacation. I have enjoyed reliving it and have the same sadness I had when it came to an end in real life. (Does that make sense?)But, oh, all the wonderful memories we have.

Thanks once again, for coming along. I hope you'll continue to read about all the Etsy shops that I am featuring as part of the "90 Features in 90 Days Challenge".

Monday, November 19, 2007

Paris!




Our first stop in Paris was The Louvre. We saw some amazing pieces of art: Venus de Milo, Winged Victory which depicts the winged goddess Nike, many religious paintings, and, of course, The Mona Lisa. The Mona Lisa is displayed now in a climate controlled area behind bullet proof glass. It is said that 6 million people view this famous oil painting every year.

We also saw the glass pyramid recently immortalized in the movie, "The DaVinci Code". We saw the gallery where the film was shot at night. (They did not want to close the Museum for the shooting.) There is also a smaller inverted glass pyramid that when the sun hits it, acts as a prism casting a beautiful rainbow all over the floor.


Later on we took a cruise up and down the Seine River. We had magnificient views of the Eiffel Tower, The Louvre which was actually a former palace, Notre Dame Cathedral, lots of museums and the School of Fine Arts.

Well, we have one more day in Paris before we end our journey & fly home.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Welcome to France!


Next we travelled past Cannes, the site of the famous Film Festival and through Aix En Provence, where Vincent Van Gogh and Gaughan lived and worked. Van Gogh painted his famous picture, "Field of Sunflowers" here. We saw the inspiration as we passed dozens of sunflower "farms" if you will, grown to be harvested to make sunflower oil. The site was breathtaking!


Avignon is a most interesting city. It is well known for the Papal Palace where the Popes resided for much of the 14th century. It is gothic in style, and the square is surrounded with walls that are over 10 feet thick! I imagine it was quite a fortress in its time. St. Benezet Bridge (Pont d'Avignon) originally spanned the Rhone River, but has suffered numerous collapses over the years. It was still exciting to see the bridge made famous by the song, "Sur le pont d'Avignon" which describes dancing on the bridge.

Today, the area is filled with street artisans, mimes, bistros, musicians and the like. It was a fun place to ramble around. We bought this little wire elephant for our collection.


Moving on, we found ourselves in the heart of the Burgundy region, in the city of Beaune. Here again, we see the narrow streets, carvings on the buildings, and elaborate roofs with spires. Mostly a shopping district, we browse before heading to our hotel after a very long day.

Next: Our last stop, Paris!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Nice, France


I cannot begin to tell you how beautiful the French Rivera is! We spent a relaxing morning enjoying the waves of the Mediterranean Sea. The beach was entirely rock-round, smooth ones, but hard to walk on just the same with our tender feet. The locals, however, seemed to have no problem. The water was so many shades of blue and darkened as it went out to sea.



We spent the afternoon exploring St. Paul de Vence, a 14th century medieval villiage that was a favorite of the impressionist artists-Matisse, Renoir, Cezanne. Marc Chagall is burried there. Everywhere you looked in the interesting town there were breathtaking views of the Mediterranean, art embedded in the walls of the buildings, and tributes to various artists. The Village was named for St. Paul, who preached here in the church.

This was a neat statue of a horse made entirely of horseshoes!

A copy of Rodan's "The Thinker"
The bay here was named "The Bay of Angels" by Ernest Hemingway, who stayed in a castle overlooking the bay. Legend says he went to Cuba afterwards and wrote "The Old Man & The Sea". Is it true? I don't know, but it certainly is romantic to think it is!

The plane framed by the clouds reminds me that it will soon be time to leave Le Cote d'Azur for the amazing city of Avignon! And also that this journey is coming to an end. Thanks, once again, for coming along!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Monte Carlo, Monaco


We continued on our journey, making our way to along the Italian Rivera to Nice, France, the last country on our tour. On the way, we passed through 168 bridges & tunnels; the coastline on one side, the Apennine Mountains on the other. As we get closer to the Mediterrean Sea, the mountains are getting closer. What looks like snow is actually white carrara
marble!

We pass the cities of Parma and Genoa-where Columbus was born. Past San Remo, where carnations are grown for export and are distilled to make Chanel perfume.

Old Casino

New Casino

Gardens

Prince Albert's Castle
We spent an enjoyable hour or so in Monte Carlo, Monaco. Monaco is the second smallest country. Because they have no income tax, it has become the home of many millionaires. We popped into both Casino, old & new, just for a look. We saw the castle of Prince Albert II, son of Grace Kelly & Prince Albert and a few memorials to Dino Ferrari. We saw where the famous Grand Prix race starts & the Automobile Club where the winner is honored. There were beautiful gardens all around the casino area


This little car really put a smile on my face!

We had fun picking out the Rolls Royces, Ferraris & Peugeots--even the UPS "truck" was a fancy car! Of course, the harbor area was loaded with yachts and speed boats of every size! A fun place to pass the time! Just to mention, another idol of mine, Ringo Starr, lives in Monaco.

Next we move on to Nice, France, the last country on our itinerary.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Pisa


Our next stop was to visit the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa. Perhaps you may not know that it is actually a bell tower. In most of the photos I have seen, you see the tower by itself, but actually there is a Cathedral right next to it.

Why does the tower lean? Glad you asked! It was actually built on unstable, uneven soil-mostly sand & clay--actually a riverbed. The weight of the tower started to compress the soil and sink, and there's where the lean came in.

Over the years, many things have been tried to right the tower. Mussolini had concrete poured into the foundation, but this only served to make it sink more. The final solution was to remove some soil from the raised end to stabilize it.

Next: Monte Carlo!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Florence

I'm finally back! The craft show went well--almost too well! With less than three weeks before the three other shows I have, I am going to be pretty busy. But, as promised,

I take you now to Florence. Florence is the capital of Tuscany which is considered the birthplace of the Renassiance movement. It is rich in architecture, paintings & sculpture.


Here is a view of the city of Florence, Italy from the Michaelangelo lookout. The color of the bricks used in the building has changed as has the style.



On our walking tour of te city we saw a marble cathedral made from 3 colors of marble-rose,white & green. It is meant to represent the Holy Trinity-The Father, Son & Holy Spirit for anyone out there not familiar.



We also visited Signoria Square where there was a copy of Michelangelo's statue of David. It was done by one of his students. The real one is housed in The Academy of Fine Arts Museum in Florence. Also in Signoria Square was a statue of Hercules holding the head of Medusa. Everywhere one looked in this square there were more and more statues. The Medici's intended it as an outdoor museum.

Next we visited Santa Croce Square & Basilica. This is the largest Franciscian Church in the world. It is also the final resting place of many notables, such as, Michelangelo, Rossini, Galileo, Marconi, & Fermi. There were a dozen or so chapels inside as well.

Michelangelo's tomb.

Galileo's tomb.

Hope you enjoyed the visit to Florence. Next we are moving on to another famous Tuscan city, Pisa! See you there!