Friday, August 23, 2013

Gardens of Versailles

    We spent Saturday taking a nice train ride to Versailles ... of course when we got there we had to wait in line another hour and half just to get tickets to go inside and then you had to get in another line to actually get in blah! but despite the line delays we decided to start off at the gardens. When I visited Versailles as a teenager we did not get to spend any time in the gardens.  I really only got to peer at them through the windows, so I wanted to really walk around them this time around. The gardens are acres and acres of manicured hedges and large fountains. It felt a little like being in Alice and Wonderland, the queen would be playing croquet just around the corner. There was a little outdoor café towards the front and we stopped there for lunch where we ate what else but baguette sandwiches and pizza. The idea that all the grubby commoners are eating sandwiches and drinking cokes in shorts and tennis shoes where kings and queens used to ramble around with their fellow upper classmen seems almost comical. Can you imagine if they could see it now filled to the brim with "common tourist"?.... the nerve. We walked and walked through mazes with classical music playing in the background, it was delightful.
   After getting our fill of the grounds we went into the palace, I remember it being beautiful and worth the trip but, on this visit it was so crowded you could scarcely see the rooms themselves mostly the only view you had was of the person squished up in front of you....lesson learned do not visit Versailles Palace on a Saturday in August!
    The train ride back into Paris was just about like the inside of Versailles , no room. We wanted to see just one more thing before the day was done so we choose the Moulin Rouge. Mostly just because I loved the movie so much. It is hardly a site to see however , there was a giant grate in front blowing air that provided the kids with a good deal of entertainment for the night.
The little dots out in the water are people in row boats ... amazing

The Commoners

pretending that we are not commoners

So flat it seemed fake

and the winner is

Guess what's being said in this picture.... if you travel with kids you already know

this never got old

OMG Cheesy.... Paris

Last weekend we took a four day trip to Paris, both Michael and myself had already been but for some ridiculous reason, I cant quite remember, we wanted to take the kids. I guess just so they could say that they have seen it (worst reason ever.) So we got an apartment that slept five on the out skirts of town reasonably priced, nothing special but functional in the fact there were actually enough beds for our whole family. We arrived around 11 in the afternoon and headed straight for the train in the direction of the Eiffel Tower, we neglected to pre-purchase our tickets to go to the top and when we arrived there was a snaking line a mile long all around the base of the tower... this may or may not have caused a fight between me and Michael.. When Oliver saw the tower  for the fist time he yelled OMG Cheesy, I don't know what he meant, or if he even knew what he meant, but it was funny. We laid in the lawn for a bit then got back on the train to Notre Dame.  Notre Dame according to the kids was just another big church. Sad isn't it when a famous land mark becomes just another church? Oh well, we walked around a little but, it was also crazy crowded and we decided to walk down to the Orsay Museum because the train line was out of order. Several miles later with tired kids we got there only to find out it was closing early for some unknown reason. Ugh.... Paris was proving a little difficult by then It did not seem beautiful and romantic just crowded and dirty.
Day two the Louvre ... bright and early we headed to the Louvre to.... stand in line some more.  After getting in we hit up all the famous statues and pictures until our legs felt like they were going to fall off. We ate in the cafeteria area for lunch and had the best Mediterranean food, if your in the area I would recommend the cafeteria everything we had was delicious. Then we went to the lock bridge closest to the Louvre which is what the kids had been waiting for.(forget the Mona Lisa when you could draw on your own lock) They each got a lock and decorated it with the American flag and the Texas flag of course name, date, etc. They were very excited so we locked them up and they deiced to keep their keys but me and Michael through ours in the river Seine, never to be seen again. From there are we walked all the way from the Louvre to the Arc de triumph, which is a three mile walk down the gardens and shopping district! I did get to stop at Laduree's for some famous macaroons. They are just so beautiful !Six tiny cookies cost 15 euros but to me they were worth it. The arc was another arch, much like another church, big and arch like.. Then we headed back to the Eiffel tower to try one more time. We had no other choice but to get in the seemingly unending line and wait our turn. The only thing that made up for our 2 hour wait... we made it on top right at sun set and it was beautiful.  I can't not use the word romantic here because there were literally so many people up there with us you were constantly being bumped and elbowed, but the view was unforgettable. Then we saw the city of lights lit up from the very top. One the way back down there was a young America couple in the elevator that had just gotten engaged on the top, they had their family with them. All I could think was what a horrible place to get engaged!! surrounded by 100's of tourist bumping into you in the most unprivate  crowded setting. Some times it's just the idea that sounds good... she can just tell people she got engaged on top of the Eiffel tower and leave out the part where strangers were breathing on her neck the whole time and she had to push her way into the elevator to leave the "romantic" tower. Once we got down we ate at a corner café outside and I had the most amazing French Onion soup and the kids had 18 euro cheese burgers, oh well that's Paris.

We met lady liberty's twin sister

Proof they saw her

Our lunch ... Yum

It's thiiiiis big

On the back of our lock Michael wrote ... Love is like being on lock down.... how romantic!

our keys are gone forever

Bird man... they loved this guy ... a bum that put pigeon food in their hands

The best money spent was on slushes during our three mile walk to the arch

That's like a 1,000$ worth of cookies.... but look how pretty

She made it up

View from the tippy top

The twinkling light show

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Neanderthal Museum

   We took a trip just down the road to the Neanderthal Museum in Mettmann Germany. It is unanimous! the museum gets two thumbs down from every one in our family. With your tickets you get headphones (in English) to plug into outlets stationed at each exhibits. Looking forward to not having to read every plaque I eagerly plugged mine into the jack, only to here an endless drone of less than scientific facts about how they lived with no proof thereof. The museum wound around with more and more pointless propaganda and anti Christian monuments. We paid extra so the kids could go into an additional play area that was equally disappointing.
     So if you find yourself in the area save your self some euros and don't pay to enter, instead take a walk around the nature trails and creeks that show where the original bones were found. It was  a beautiful walk and it was free.

This picture was taken on a walk in the woods around Mettmann Germany

Friday, August 9, 2013

Back Home

We went home for a month and it was wonderful we....

Went to Silver Dollar city ( a staple in my family)
Oliver turned 7
Stella turned 9
We went to Splash Kingdom aka (Watertown)
The kids caught
                         A Baby Raccoon
 Watched kittens being born
Climbed into multiple chicken coups
Played with Cousins galore
Went Glamping
Went Camping
Ate     ...............Canes 7 times
                            Mexican food
                            Moms snow cones
                            So much more we all gained several lbs.
Went to a Rodeo
Drove through Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, and Texas ( all the southern basics)
Saw all of JAAG
 Elijah became covered in Poison Ivy head to toe ...

Home is where the words cousins and best friends are interchangeable. Where family and friends mean the same thing. We are so very lucky to have the family and friends that we have thanks to all of them for a wonderful time.

William teaching uncle Michael how to use the I pad

Nana and Michael

Two of a kind


Canes in south LA

Stella and Stella

Officially 9 in Missouri