Monday, August 25, 2008


And so after the Argonne Forest and the American Cemetery, we continued on our journey to Paris. When we arrived in Paris (I think we both thought Thank Goodness for GPS) we looked for the Eiffel Tower as the "landmark". As many of you know, I grew up and worked in the Chicago area .... and the Sears Tower can be seen for miles away - long before you even get close to it.'s not the same for the Eiffel Tower, or at least not the way we came in - the highway from Germany (possibly it is from other directions.) We just figured it was going to be this gigantic thing we'd spot for miles and miles away ....but we didn't see it. We kept saying ... OK, so where is it?? LOL!

We get to our hotel, which was a wonderful boutique hotel right off the Champs Elysees. This hotel was designed by Pierre Yves Rochon, who also designed the Four Seasons in Paris and I'll just say that no detail was left untouched. It was probably the most modern hotel that I've ever been in - (from hallway lights that were motion activated to room dimmers and speakers throughout the room/bathroom.) The bathroom had one of those "waterfall" showers which we loved (had us contemplating re-doing our bathroom!) However, despite the modern conveniences the only downside was that in Paris, the room and the bathroom combined was about the size of our bedroom. Scratch that, it was about the size of Addison & Avery's bedroom! LOL!!! Seriously....we both couldn't stand next to each other if the closet was opened! Heehee!
Here's some pictures of the hotel:

The lobby / bar
Different part of the bar area
The room. Literally - that was it, besides the bathroom....LOL. But it sure was nice! (I don't figure you all want to see pictures of the bathroom here!)

Anyway, enough of the hotel. It was pretty nice, you get that. We spent our three days doing all the normal touristy stuff - from the Champs Elysees - where I got a new bag at Louis Vouitton for my upcoming 30th birthday - (haha) - to Notre Dame to the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa and of course.....the Eiffel Tower. We loved walking around seeing the incredible architecture and eating at the outdoor restaurants and watching the crazy people trying to maneuver their way down the busy streets! We had some time to spare before our "behind the scenes" tour of the Eiffel Tower - which was a pretty neat private guided tour where you go inside the Tower's mechanical compartments and see how the lifts work, as well - we got to see an underground "tunnel" that was used way back in the war and now serves several purposes - it has storage for food for the Tower's gourmet restaurant, and it also has a passageway for the French President (much like what is supposed to be underground our White House) should there ever be a threat on the United States. We didn't get to go too far in, but we did get to go down the stairs and see inside ... it was under a lot of construction and it goes pretty far underground.
We were there on the day that the Olympics started and our hotel wasn't too far from the Chinese Embassy. The first day we walked down the street where the Embassy was (first let me tell you this - Sam goes I think that's the Italian Embassy - I said are you sure? It looks more like something Middle-Eastern....we get closer and it was the Iraq Embassy. Heehee. Sorry hun. Had to share that one - you would share it if it were me! (And trust me, I'm half Polish - I honestly don't have a clue what the Polish flag even looks like. Probably two colors that don't match, right??) The flag WAS kind of scrunched together so you couldn't really tell, I'll give him that. I just had to share our funny moment, because we both went - uh nope, definitely NOT the Italian Embassy! Anyway, there is this building and it's HEAVILY guarded, like police in riot gear, machine guns (OK Sam... I know I'm slightly embellishing.... they weren't machine guns, but they were some sort of semi-automatic gun AK 47 looking thing, I have no idea the difference, lol) and they stopped us and were like "Are you going down that street" .... we were like "ummmm, no, that's OK" - we didn't know where we we were going anyway. So later on, coming the other direction, we saw the same thing. So I HAD to ask one of the Police Officers (he was sort of friendly...but not that much) what was going on and they said that it was because of the Olympics in Beijing. Can you believe that? What in the WORLD would the Olympics in Beijing have to do with the Embassy in Paris? What is the world coming to??? I just can't figure that one out. I also have to say, there were SO many police in Paris - I've never seen so many police in one big city - and I've been to Chicago, NY, LA and lots of other big cities. Later in our trip (after learning that) I asked one if it was common or if it was just because of the Olympics ad he said Paris always has a lot of police because of threats (terrorist, etc.) Scary! I didn't feel safer, I felt kind of creeped out! I mean every busy street corner had anywhere from 4-8 police officers (1-2 on each corner!) Crazy! This little outdoor restaurant that we ate at (twice) was right next door to Givenchy - which was basically right next door to the Chinese Embassy - and it was kind of scary - every time a truck stopped on the road I was expecting it to blow up! lol. Thankfully, they were just taking precautions!

The Champs Elysees made me laugh - there were what someone from Sam's work referred to as "Ninja shoppers" everywhere - these Middle Eastern ladies wearing these scarves that covered their hair and most of their faces - but yet, they had MAKEUP on. Oh, and many of the "scarves" were LV, Gucci, Prada - etc. (UM, HELLO, I thought the WHOLE POINT of covering themselves was to not show beauty or worldly possessions or that type of thing???) She named them Ninja Shoppers because they were the rudest people of all - they walked right into you (expected YOU to move out of THEIR way) had loads of bags and kids trailing behind them, they apparently took something she was looking at RIGHT OUT OF HER HAND! Just definitely not what you'd expect from this supposedly quiet sort of people. I think a lot of people from Dubai come to Paris - maybe this is the case since Dubai is a very wealthy country, but what's up with the scarves? I don't get it - if you're wearing make up, buying all this stuff - WHY THE SCARF to hide it all? Someone help me understand that one, I'm sorry if I'm ignorant...but I don't get it.

Here's me shopping on the Champs Elysees - you know - where Sam bought my THIRTIETH birthday present? GET THAT PEOPLE....THIRTY?

We spent about two hours in the Louvre - it was SOOOOOOOOOO crowded. I mean, panic attack over crowded. (At least I thought so anyway.) We saw the Mona Lisa, which amazingly is extremely small! Everything else in the room(s) where the Mona Lisa sits is huge ... but then there is this tiny painting. It's obviously the most coveted item there - there were tons of people taking pictures and standing in line to see it. It was an incredible feeling, though, to be standing just a few feet from it. I couldn't believe that they let you take pictures inside the Louvre. I thought flashes and such ruined the quality of the art, etc. (Note, the only painting we saw that was protected (in about 5 inches of glass) was the Mona Lisa.) Everything else was right out in the open, you could pretty much walk up and touch it. (Well, I'm sure if you did you'd set off an alarm of some type but it was all within arms reach). Other than the Mona Lisa, we saw a few other notable pieces of art, but that was about it. You could spend probably full weeks there and not see everything - the museum is huge.

Oh and the Louvre brings me to the story of getting ........... taken for a ride, I guess would be a good term.

See this picture? I took this picture as we were walking up to the museum and I thought oh, look, these artists are out there selling there wares - this is truly Paris. (Ah, the romantic in me.) The word " SUCKER" was blinking in NEON lights on my forehead, let me tell you. So take a look at the guy in the blue shirt - you may need to click on the picture (and if you're reading this through an e-mail update and not directly through our blog ----go to our blog ( so you can click on the picture.)

I walk up to him, first "artist" that I've seen (this is the first morning we've been in Paris.) He's got these wonderful charcoal pictures of the Eiffel Tower, some of the bridges, and some water colors ..... well if you've been to our house you know that most of the pictures on our walls are black & whites...I love black & white pictures. I saw this "charcoal sketch" of this bridge (that was around the corner from where we were) and it was so pretty. I asked him if he drew it, he said yes, see - it's charcoal - and he proceeds to rub a little off for me to show me that it's charcoal. He says the price is 20 Euros. I totally fell in love with the picture - not sure if you can see it but it's the bottom right one. I'm like what a bargain - 20 Euros for an original sketch! Woohoo. Maybe this guy will die and it will be famous one day! Sam is standing off to the side shaking his head but I call him over and tell him I need 20 Euros and he looks at the picture (he liked it as well) and the guy is trying to bargain with us at this point - 30 Euros and we can have any 2 that we wanted. I didn't want another so we just took the one for 20. I was quite happy and I told Sam he drew this picture and Sam was like mmhmm.... (what a skeptic, I am thinking to myself!!) And I was elated for about 12 feet. Seriously, 12 feet away was ANOTHER guy selling the EXACT same picture. EXACT SAME DRAWING, with the SAME SIGNATURE. FOR FIFTEEN EUROS LESS. Yeah, that's right - for FIVE EUROS. Ok that was my one and only SUCKER purchase. Of course, what made it worse, it's obviously a famous drawing. And we saw it EVERYWHERE. At every corner souvenir shop, every guy selling pictures or post cards - that picture seemed to stick out like a sore thumb - we seriously probably saw the sketch 10 more times. I kept saying - DON'T SAY IT. LOL. (OK you can have a laugh at me now.) Heehee. I DO like the picture, and I will forever remember that story so it will always have a meaning behind it. Even if it doesn't make me rich.

Here's some pictures we took at/inside the Lourve.

Look how small it is!

Hercules? Good thing he was strong.

Well from the Louvre, we headed to Notre Dame ... and I'll work on that post next. Nortre Dame Cathedral was......stunning. We lit candles in prayer and it was just amazing being inside. I have to try to edit some of the photos because they all come out so dark (from the inside) - I hope my pictures will be able to describe in *some* detail just how beautiful all the stained glass and architecture is.
Hope you all have a great night, and I'll see you at the Cathedral! :)

Rachel xoxoxoxoxo

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