Archive for July, 2012

Paris continued: We do art

July 22, 2012

So what does one wear to the world’s most famous, grandest and over-the-top Palace of Versailles? You wear formal black, of course. The place is located about an hour’s ride on the train and then you just follow the hordes of tourist for another 10 minute walk to get there. The places is, as described above, way over the top and then some. Gold covered statues, marble floors and manicured gardens second to none. Plus they have a small lake for boating if you are so inclined. Man, could Louie the XIV the “Sun King” really know how to build’em. One great surprise was the modern and quirky art work done by an artist (not sure if she is French, Portuguese or Spanish) scattered throughout the palace. She lives in Lisbon maybe we can do brunch. See pictures.

NOTE: It is just amazing after walking for 5 to 6 hours a day you can eat anything you want and not gain weight and you never have trouble falling asleep at night. But how do the Parisians (as opposed to the distinctly different French) maintain their health and shapely girth who don’t walk that many miles a day? That is, this is the land of cheeses galore, bread and chocolate shops on every corner and butter in every recipe? It must be all the wine they drink to flush the bad cholesterol from their body. At least that is my theory. Traffic in Paris is not bad or congested. Most people take the Metro, at least the proletariats and the 40 million tourists a year do. Weather has been cool at times but fine.

Museums: OK, this is the deal on seeing (too mnay) museums in Paris. You can purchase a museum pass that will get you into more museums than you can care to walk. We tried to see them all. The passes also get you to the head of the line in many museums. Note: Do not buy the 2 day pass thinking (boy are you dreaming) you can see 6 museums in 2 days. No bloody way. The Louvre is a must, Anita is not fond of “old masters” so we dashed through there (A dash is 2 hours) The Pompidou is wild, weird and wacky and you should see that one. (Again budget the whole day)The D’orsey is the Valhalla of impressionist and post impressionist paintings. The Orangerie has 8 of the enormous Monet Waterlily paintings presented in 4 painting each in oval room where you can meditate on the beauty of the paintings. Unfortunately the Picasso Museum was closed for something or other. We also used the passes to go to see the Saint Chapelle stained glass, the Arc de Triomphe, and Notre Dame. It was all our feet could take.

Before you come to Paris to see museums comfortable shoes are utterly, fantastically and forever mandatory. Also sole inserts are helpful and it is a good idea to change your shoes (comfortable again) every day. I read somewhere that changing shoes helps your feet. Do not be stylish (I’m talking to the gals on this one) and think you can stay on your feet for 6 hours in any footwear with high heels of any height. It would be the death penalty for your feet.

Anita’s comments:

Everyone(men and women) are wearing tight narrow legged pants.

Parisian women wear sensible, flat shoes. High heels are rare during the day and mostly ballet pumps are in although sandals are common.

All women seem to be wearing long scarfs wrapped around their necks.

In July all the store have huge sales of 50-70% or more off and clothing is pretty inexpensive. I bought a pair of sandals at H&M for one euro. Lots of tops, bathing suits, etc. were 5 euros.

Not all women dress well here, but most are really thin. Overweight people are few. As Michael said, how do they do it.

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Paris 5th day blog

July 17, 2012

So far in Paris we have traveled the METRO like natives ducking in and out, negotiating turnstiles, pressed together with the common man and woman rider on the crowded train cars. The Paris METRO is efficient and modern for the most part, and way cheaper than the British over priced system. We have also spend about 8 hours so far looking at more art, mostly paintings, mostly impressionist and post impressionist art and old masters in a number of Paris museums to include the Louvre and the Orsay.  Tomorrow we travel by train to Versailles to see how the 1/00th of 1% lived in the 18th Century. We probably have walked fifty miles in the last 5  days. We have walked Rue Saint Germaine, along the Seine and Monmartre, gone to Saint Chapalle and  walked around Notre Dame. We have joined the Parisian sunning in the Luxemberg Gardens. We have shopped in the local grocery stores and street markets and been astounded by the prices that the Parisians pay for meat and vegetables. What an adventure we have had so far in this beautiful city with so much more to come in the remaining 10 days we are here if our feet hold out.

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Bastille Day Paris

July 15, 2012

“Paris is not France”—-Anonymous

We awoke in Paris on Bastille Day and rode the Metro to the military parade—three jets fly over with red white and blue smoke and soldiers march in parade. Having marched in several military parades it was better than average and the French armed services have unique and varied uniforms. I thought the hats some of them wore were a little too 19th century for my taste. The streets around the parade route were all blocked so getting around became a nightmare—-we just wanted to go to the Louvre to see some art. After about 2 hours of struggling to get through we finally made it after the parade ended. Thanks to a friend’s advice we went to a relatively unknown entrance on the side of the building and got right in…for free avoiding a huge line by the front pryamid. They let the proletariats in for free on Bastille Day and once inside wasn’t terribly crowded.
That night we rode the Metro back to a spot near the Eiffel Tower along the Seine and watched a 30 minute fireworks show. Viva la France!

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Michael and Anita’s Sojourn to Europe…or until the money runs out

July 12, 2012

The week before I left Ajijic I took time to look around at the green mountains and the orange sunsets in the west knowing it would be some time before we returned to paradise.

The flight out of Guadalajara was easy enough as was the flight to Mexico City. We had a three hour layover in the airport before our flight to Miami. The highlight (or maybe lowlight) was I bought a Snickers candy bar in the airport for 75 pesos. When the revolution comes I want to be in the mob that liberates the airport stores of their money grubbing, captive audience ways.
The flight from Mexico City to Miami took about four hour. The hotel shuttle service was an hour late picking us up and it was dark when we rode to the hotel. I was tired so I closed my eyes and listened to the shuttle driver, an older man who sounded just like Ricky Ricardo.
How did it feel to be back in the USA? We never left. It seemed people all spoke Spanish, except the Cuban Spanish is Spanish on methamphetamine. If there is a faster speaking Spanish I can’t imagine what that sounded like.
The flight the next day we flew on AirBerlin to Dusseldorf Germany, it took about 9 hours, mas or menos dinner and then breakfast, free pillows, blanket, and bag of travel items . We landed early morning, cleared customs and immigration and somehow we negotiated through the metro into town all the time wheeling fifty pounds and a backpack of another 20 pounds. After more than several wrong turns we finally made it to our hotel. Thank God the elevator worked up five floors.
Dusseldorf is situated on the Rhine river and is a modern city. Looking around the city there was graffiti on buildings everywhere. I respect a good graffiti artist but most of what I saw was from taggers (A tagger is a lesser form of graffiti artist)
I really can’t say much because of our short stay. The metro was clean and efficient. It did cost 1 Euro ($1.26 American) to use the “W.C.” and I thought 30 pesos was expensive in Mexico. I noticed the German women did wear practical shoes and not stiletto heels favored by the trendy fashionistas senoritas. I’m sure that will not be the case in France.
The next morning we were on a bus to Holland and Amsterdam.
You can tell you were into Holland when the billboard signs changed languages from German to Dutch. Since both languages are alien to me how could I tell? It seems the Dutch are fond of vowels. No, make that mad for vowels—double oo uu gg hh ii. Example: Central=Centraal eye-drops=oogdruppels Stork=oolevaar uncle=oom recommendable=aanbevelenswaardig
As you may know the city of Amsterdam is reclaimed land from the sea and has canals all through the city. The place is charming and not car infested because most people ride bikes rain or shine, mostly rain it seems. The other remarkable thing about Amsterdam is all, really ALL, the people speak English. As explained to me, all the films and TV shows are subtitled in Dutch so people grow up hearing English. Also English is taught in the schools.

The Dutch also are not prone to smile at strangers and avoid eye contact, and for the most part are “poker faced.” You have to talk to them first to get them to act friendly. Maybe it has something to do with the always cool weather here or maybe all the vowels they have to pronounce to make sentences—I’m not sure.
We did go to the red light district and looked at the prostitutes in the windows. Sorry sight. Maybe if I was a sailor who had just returned from two years at sea they would appeal to me, but the working girls all looked rather used, if you know what I mean. We also walked by the coffee shops that sold marijuana. Didn’t stop in. And speaking of smoking, too many people smoke (tobacco), especially the young women. Very unappealing. Aside from the smoking the people seem very fit and healthy. There are no fat people here. Maybe all the bike riding makes them slender. There are only 1000 windmills left in Holland and people only ear wooden shoes on farms in the countryside.
Of course we went to the Van Gogh museum and the Impressionist show at the Amsterdam Hermitage museum. We first met at an art gallery and our first date was at an art museum so we do art. We also found enough dry time to do a bus tour of the city, a walking tour of the Jordaan and a canal boat ride.
It is amazing how ethnically diverse Amsterdam has become. Walking around this city you are constantly hearing different languages and seeing many many people of different ethnicities. If the dutch aren’t a minority they must be close to it.
7-12-2012 is our last full day in Amsterdam and it is raining and I guess we will have to go to the (see above) coffee shops to have some, uh, coffee.

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