April 28, 2012

I see London, I see France...

I had the amazing opportunity to go with all my sisters and our mom to London and Paris!

We toured hard - each day we were out the door at 8ish and not back until at least 9 at night.  One night in Paris we actually stayed up til 2am.  Then we all came back to the states and either hit a wall or got sick.  But we made the most of it while we were there!

Shopping at Liberty of London - a must stop for those that love that floral Tana Lawn fabric that they are known for.  The fabric was almost half the price that I could get here in the states.  It was magnificent.  A dream for a sewer.  Here's the outside of the department store.  The whole building was a site in itself.  Traditional English Tudor.  "Lovely" as we are now saying every other word.  That and "rubbish" and "bullocks".  I'm not sure which is just slang and which is swearing.  Better be careful I suppose.

We saw so many sites:  Tea at L'Orangerie in Kensington Palace, Hampton Court Palace, Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace, Picadilly Square, Portrait Museum, Trafalgar Square, The London Museum, The Foundling Museum, Kensington Palace to see Princess Di's dresses, London Tower, The Eye, London Bridge, Big Ben, St. Paul's Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, British War Museum, and even managed to see a musical - We Will Rock You, with music from Queen.

After 5 nights in London, we were on our way to Paris for 3 more nights.   

We just happened upon Michel Cluizel chocolates and Calvin and I had stopped at their store in NYC on 5th Avenue at Christmas.  I had to bring back some chocolates for him.  They are that good.

At the top of Arc de Triomphe.  We went nonstop in Paris too, but we had time to stop for crepes often and their fabulous French pastries.  Amber even bought a baguette as a prop.  At first no one was allowed to eat it as it was for looks only but that didn't last long.  We each had a taste.  The food quality there was so far above our expectations as Americans.  Nobody was eating while walking, on the subway, or ordering take out that I noticed.  Most people weren't eating at all actually - just smoking and drinking.  Maybe that's their secret!

 We waited in line at the Eiffel Tower for a couple hours.  It was insane but we made it fun by making up stories about all the people who were going in the express VIP dining line.  Then we did get some excitement when security heightened and bodyguards and drivers got out of two black cars.  A few people emerged and we were still speculating as to who they were.  We had no clue but the people behind us in line were from Brazil and filled us in that he was a major soap opera star there.  I can't remember his name and was just nearly traumatized googling "soap opera star Brazil" when a X rated site popped up.  So anyhow, he was very very good looking and it was fun to have some entertainment while we waiting in the "commoners" line.

This is one of my favorite pictures, the view from our hotel room.  Notre Dame out one side and the Eiffel Tower was out the other window.  The muted colors here are mimicked in all their clothes.  A nice palate for kids wear as well, with little crafted details in their clothing.

We truly had a great trip.  Lots of good uninterrupted conversations, advice, and quality togetherness.

Amber introduced a nice tradition that she does in her family where on the last night, we each fill out a series of questions such as "What was your favorite church", "Best food", "Worst food".  We went around the room each telling our answers.  What a nice way to wrap up a trip, by reflecting upon it and seeing what was important to each person.  It was most interesting to me to see how it wasn't usually the things we saw that were memorable or touching.  It was the small moments, the food we ate, and the places we happened upon that left the most impact.  Something to remember for our future vacations.  You certainly can't plan those moments, just as you can't predict which lessons you will learn about yourself.  I learned that I could walk farther, stay out later, and go longer before a meal that I ever thought possible.  A good lesson indeed.