Our last morning in Istanbul was an early one, and we were up before morning call to prayer. Our ride to the Istanbul airport picked us up at 5:50 a.m., and we were at the airport by 7. We found a small cafe after security, and each had a cup of tea and what we thought was a chocolate muffin, the only thing that looked remotely like breakfast.
Well, it wasn't a muffin, but a molten chocolate cake, complete with a drizzle of chocolate sauce. Nothing like starting our day with dessert!
We wandered around the airport for a while--and look what we found! This one's for you Matt and Debber! And no, they didn't have P-popeye's p-p-peppers or P-p-popeye's p-p-pudding--I checked!
It was a smooth and easy 3 hour flight to Paris; we were given bulkhead seats so we were pretty comfy. I even slept a little.
We landed in Paris, picked up our luggage and hopped in a taxi to our hotel. As we were only staying for two nights we didn't rent an apartment as we usually do. We used points to stay at the Ambassador Blu--and it was lovely! Much nicer than our usual budget accommodations. I did feel a bit like the "Beverly Hillbillies" checking in---Granny to be exact!
It was our lucky day, we were given an upgrade to a Business Suite, and WOW! A nice\
foyer, marble bath complete with real orchids, and a lovely 4 poster bed. Also included were snacks and drinks throughout the day as well as a really nice breakfast spread each morning. Oh, don't forget the fluffy robes and slippers, and turn-down service each night--complete with chocolates on our pillows. For a couple of days I was thinking we just might be related to the Rockefellers!
We did have a long wait for our room, but they gave us free drinks in their lounge, so we relaxed with a glass of really good red wine!
After we got settled in our room, we set out to explore. We were very near the Galleries Lafayette, so we checked out their Christmas displays and windows--pretty amazing. Here's the beautiful stained glass dome, complete with huge tree decorated with Swarovski crystals--it was definitely sparkly:
Their window displays were wonderful. All sponsored by Louis Vuittone--so you know they were over the top! What you can't see in these pics is the animation--they were adorable, especially the dancing can-can girls and cheerleaders:
A "break dancing" Panda:
A very silly polar bear--he could really shake his booty! Note the LV pocketbook:
This dog had on headphones, and was nodding along with the music:
After watching those fun window displays, we explored the streets around our hotel and found a wonderful passageway full of old book stores, art galleries with antique prints and some great vintage jewelry shops. I saw many lovely things to bring home--but no room in my suitcase!
We then hopped on the Metro to go to our favorite dinner in Paris--mussels and fries. While we were waiting for our train we spotted this lady on the opposite platform. Look at that hat--it was a hot mess of feathers and fur. We never did see her face--but WOW--that hat was huge!
After our delicious moules y frites we Metro'd back to our hotel and went up to the roof top lounge for a glass of wine and watched the Eiffel Tower twinkle--just for us!
Early to bed yet again--I'm sure hoping we can get our schedules turned back around when we get home!
Wednesday, Nov. 21st
I think our "morning call to prayer" friend has trained us to wake up early, because we were up at 5:30 again on Wednesday. We relaxed in our very comfy and luxurious bed, planned our day and researched our Metro routes. Right at 7 a.m. we went to the lounge for our breakfast, what a nice spread. Fresh fruit, eggs, delicious French pastries and a wonderful espresso machine--Yum!
David had chosen two museums to visit today, the first was The Musee de Cluny--museum of the medieval age. The museum is located in a beautiful mansion originally built in 1334. It was rebuilt in the present style in the early 1500's, and made into a museum in 1843. Beneath the building are ancient Roman baths dating to the 3rd century.
The interior courtyard
The Cluny houses beautiful tapestries from the 13th-15th century, the most famous being the "Woman With a Unicorn" series. They were displayed in dark room, hung in a semi-circle, and spot lighted. They were breathtaking, what a treat to see these in person!
There were also many artifacts from medieval churches, including these wonderful hands, a reliquary of St. Jean. I really need these for my hand collection!
These bracelets were amazing--very fine gold wire work. Sherry--I thought of you when I saw these!
Gold, ivory and gemstone book cover from the 13th century:
One of the most interesting areas contained statues from Notre Dame Cathedral which were removed during the French Revolution. As was common at that time, the saints heads were removed:
The heads were recovered:
This statue of Adam was still intact and in amazing condition, although the Eve statue that was next to him was completely destroyed:
A 12th century wooden beam from Notre Dame--interesting horse motif:
The detail was incredible:
We spent almost 3 hours in the Cluny, and agreed it was one of the most interesting museums we've been to. I could easily go again, there is so much to see and appreciate.
Our next stop: The Pantheon
The Pantheon was built in 1790, almost new by Paris standards! It was originally a church dedicated to St. Genevieve, and now functions as a secular mausoleum, containing the remains of distinguished French citizens.
It is a huge building, in a very classic Greek design:
The columns are massive:
One of the most interesting items was The Foucault Pendulum, which demonstrates the rotation of the Earth, and was originally installed in the Pantheon in 1851. The pendulum rotates 11 degrees clockwise per hour, making a full circle in 32.7 hours. This original pendulum was moved to a museum in 1855, where the cable broke, the bob crashed to the floor causing irreparable damage to the marble. This exact replica of the original Foucault's Pendulum has been swinging continuously in the Pantheon since 1995! It is almost hypnotic to watch:
In the back of the Pantheon there is a magnificent statue, which shows Marianne, the symbol of France, surrounded by soldiers and members of parliament after the French revolution. It bears the inscription "Vivre libre ou mourir"; translated "Live free or die".
The crypt of Marie Curie, the only crypt that had fresh flowers:
The crypt of Louis Braille (1809-1852) Braille was re-interred in the Pantheon in 1952 on the 100th anniversary of his death. The procession and ceremony included Helen Keller:
Other famous French who are interred at the Pantheon include Alexander Dumas (The Three Musketeers--"One For All and All For One"; Victor Hugo (Les Miserables) and Voltaire.
After we finished at the Pantheon, it was definitely time for lunch! We walked a few blocks and chose a small cafe a little off the beaten path. Since this was our last lunch in Paris for a while, we ordered one of our favorites to share, escargot. They were delicious--buttery, garlicky and chewy:
I'd been wanting to try beouf tartare, but just hadn't found the right place. It was on the menu at this nice little cafe, so we ordered it to share. Tartare is raw freshly ground beef (NOT hamburger!) topped with an egg yolk. It was very fresh tasting, but didn't have as much "beef" flavor as I expected, probably because it's served cold. We mixed in the egg yolk and ate it on top of baguette slices--pretty good stuff! We ate most of it--it's very filling:
We shared a carafe of red wine, relaxed and talked about our wonderful trip, and I might have even mentioned (about a dozen times!) that I wasn't ready to leave Paris. I asked David if he though I was a Parisienne in a former life, he said I sounded like crazy Shirley McLaine--Hmmmmph!
We needed to do some last minute shopping, and one of our stops was the Marche St. Quentin. We'd been there with Matt a couple of weeks ago, and found a great fromagerie. The young owner was great in helping us choose an assortment of cheese to take home. He even vacuum sealed them for us.
Hmmmmm-I wonder who we'll be sharing this wonderfully delicious stinky cheese with?
Our very helpful fromagerer, and he's cute, too!
We took our cheese purchases back to the hotel and put it in our mini-bar fridge, and headed right back out. We're not wasting one minute of our last day in Paris!
We wanted to find a nice box of chocolates for our wonderful neighbor Brenda--she is always so kind when we are out of town, and keeps a close eye on our house. We have the BEST neighbors!
On the advice of the concierge at the hotel, we went to Galleries Lafayette. He was right, they have a huge and wonderful chocolate department. Aisles and aisles of chocolate from all over the world! I don't even like chocolate, and it looked pretty delicious to me! We left with a nice box of chocolates for Brenda, a little airplane treat for us, and maybe even a tiny little something for Jeanne! Framboise & chocolate? Oh, yes!
By now it was dark, and I was feeling a little blue--did I mention that I really don't want to leave Paris?
We decided we'd Metro over to the Eiffel Tower--one last look at her twinkling just for us. We sat on a bench, cuddled up and gazed at that lovely tower for a few minutes--I tried to really soak it up, it may be a while before we get back to Paris.
We ate a quick dinner at a small cafe on Rue Cler, one that we'd been to with Matt. We each had a bowl of French onion soup to warm us up. I was too tired to eat dessert--that doesn't happen often!
By now it was after 9 pm, and we were just plain exhausted! We'd really packed in the activities our last two days in Paris, and we both feel that we are really winding down. We've been traveling and exploring for 4 1/2 weeks, and that might just be a little too long!
We took one last Metro ride back to our hotel, finished up our packing and hit the sack. It will be an early day again tomorrow, and a loooong day of travel to Seattle Thursday night, then on home to Spudville on Friday.
It was a wonderful trip with my two favorite guys, and now it's time to plan our next adventure!