Sunday, June 24, 2012

Day 20 ~ Paris

Our last day was a rainy one. We decided to spend the afternoon in the Louvre, and we weren't the only ones...the line wrapped 1/2 way round the building. We saw the Mona Lisa, Venus De Milo, and many other ancient artifacts. We ate baguette sandwiches on the sheltered steps of the Museum, shopped along the Champs Elysees and soaked up our last moments our adventure.

Day 19 ~ Normandy

The marble grave markers

The American cemetery at Omaha beach

The memorial for the fallen soldiers

American soil in Normandy, France

Omaha Beach

Monument at Omaha Beach

Point Du Hoc
Craters left from allied bombs

A Nazi bunker

View at Point Du Hoc

We traveled with a guide out to Normandy, France today to get a look at where young, brave American soldiers landed on June 6, 1944. The beaches were pristine and peaceful. At Point Du Hoc everything has been left just as it was on D-day, even the barbed wire is original. We made our way down the coast to Omaha beach. It is a massive expanse of perfect sand which makes it hard to imagine the carnage that took place almost 70 years ago. We are so grateful for the service and sacrifice that so many chose to make in order to preserve freedom not only for our country, but for the world.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Day 18 ~ Paris

Quaint Parisian architecture

Walking the streets of Paris

Notre Dame

The choir in La Madeleine

Taylor in the dark spiral staircase at Sacred Heart

The view of Paris from the top of Sacred Heart

Sacred Heart Basilica

Today we made our way to the Sacred Heart Basilica - 850 years old. We walked up 513 steps to get to the very top. The view was amazing and well worth the effort. We stopped by a cafe and tried escargot for lunch. Everyone but Tate tried it, not my favorite at all. We walked back down to the city center and went into La Madeleine Church. To our delight their choir was putting on a performance, an angelic musical experience. We made our way by tour bus to Notre Dame where they were performing a mass. My grandma Rose must have been smiling in heaven!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Day 17 ~ Paris

The Champs Elysees

Romance at the Eiffel Tower

In front of the Military Museum

Trace entering a public toilet

Eiffel Tower

Arc de Triomphe

The spiral staircase up to the top of the Arc

Me & Trace

The view of the Eiffel Tower from the top of the Arc de Triomphe

Today we made our way to the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffle Tower. We again toured around on a hop on & off bus, which was especially helpful because in the late afternoon it began to rain hard!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Day 16 ~ Paris

Crepes fresh from a street vendor
Tres bien!

Beautiful & yummy macaroons

We arrived late in the afternoon in Paris. We did have enough time to walk down the Champs Elysees and visit our favorite shops - Maille (mustard store) and Fauchon (macaroons & sweets). The kids also had their first taste of REAL FRENCH BREAD - and yes there is a difference!

Day 15 ~ Barcelona, Dinner

After spending a full afternoon at the beach, we made our way down the pier and ate a delicious dinner at "The Crazy Crab" - rough translation. Beautiful view!

Day 15 ~ Barcelona

Building castles and seeing whose will last the longest

The pillowcase towels we borrowed from the maid cart ;-)

Fun in the ocean

Lifeguard tower

Eating our spoils from the market

Meat & Cheese

The local farmers market just minutes from our hotel

Fresh herbs

Gummy candies in every imaginable shape

We began our day at the farmers market and found delicious fresh fruit, pastries, and sweets to take to the beach with us. Everything looked delicious, except for maybe the sheep heads with eyeballs intact that followed you when you walked by. We also took in the Picasso Museum, which was bizarre, I am not cultured enough to appreciate it. We then went to the beach, what Tate had been waiting for since we arrived. It was a beautiful afternoon and Tate was in the water for about 4 1/2 hours. He only came out because everyone was ready to eat dinner. Bill, Trace, and Tate all swam out to a buoy that make the edge of the man made reef. Bill had tried to be sneaky and resourceful and grabbed a couple of 'sheets' from the maids cart. When we went to spread them out, they ended up being square pillowcases. We laughed pretty hard, another fun memory. The pillowcases got the job done - we did return them to the cart the next morning.

Day 14 ~ Barcelona

The "jungle"
The pedestrian walk in front of our hotel - La Rambla

Inside Gaudi's cathedral - Sagrada Familia

Amazing stained glass inside that makes color dance on the floors and ceilings

At a cafe inside the Music Palace

A square where Woody Allen filmed one of his movies. The orange flowers were just falling from the sky, truly magical. The picture doesn't capture it very well.

Beautiful apartment window

Barcelona is beautiful and very clean - especially compared to Rome. It is full of life and art. The street outside our hotel is called La Rambla, and that's exactly what people do - ramble. There are restaurants and shops all the way down to the pier. We spent our first day with a guide getting a architectural tour. Barcelona chose to keep whatever buildings were still standing and incorporate modern life around it. Our guide called it recycling. The effect is that you can have a Roman wall from the 4th century connected to a 16th century wall, which a 20th century apartment building uses as it's foundation. The artist, architect Gaudi has a huge influence in the city. From the street lamps, to family homes - the dragons stomach & the jellyfish, to the amazingly bizarre and breathtaking Sagrada Familia! This man was a brilliant savant, who clearly had vision beyond his time. We finished our tour with traditional Spanish Tapas at a restaurant nicknamed the jungle. There were vines hanging from the ceiling.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Day 13 ~ Rome

The view from the top of the Spanish steps

The Trinita dei Monti Church at the top of the Spanish Steps

Our favorite restaurant find

Our waitress, so cute and short!

We had most of the day in Rome before we had to get to the airport to fly to Barcelona. We enjoyed a relaxed morning and then walked back to our favorite restaurant. Rome is wonderful on a Sunday, much less traffic and so much more quiet. It was so nice to walk the streets without risking ones life. We enjoyed another amazing pasta meal!!! (this time they did give us spoons to twirl our pasta) Our cute server was the same one as a few days before. She didn't seem to speak any English, but could understand a little. I swear she was shorter than Tate! We also wound our way to the Spanish Steps. What an amazing view! Ciao Roma!!