Saturday, December 31, 2011

Thank You!

Thanks to everyone who followed my blog and enjoyed hearing about my trip. I'll let you know the next time I'm traveling, but until then, check out my crafting blog at:
Best wishes,

Monday, December 19, 2011

Last Day

This morning we were among the first in line to ride to the top of the Eiffel Tower. It was fun to ride the elevator at a diagonal up through the gears and workings of the tower. It felt very steampunk. And the views from the top were amazing!
Then it was goodbye to Paris! We took the Eurostar back to London and spent the rest of the day getting ourselves and our luggage to our hotel. Then it was just last minute details and packing. I come home tomorrow. Happy holidays to everyone!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Glorious Paris

We started this morning by climbing to the top of Notre Dame. Over 400 steps straight up, with only two chances to pause on the way. By the top we were panting and our legs felt like jelly, but the city spread out before us was beautiful and we got a gargoyle's view of Paris.Next we went to a giant outdoor flea market which was interesting but not very picturesque (hence no pictures of it). But then we went to Pere Lachaise cemetery, which is possibly the most picturesque place in the world, and consequently my very favorite place. It is beautiful this time of year, with all the bare branches leaning over the tombs. One had a giant bunch of mistletoe hanging over it (but not Oscar Wilde's unfortunately, as that is the one everybody kisses). I could wander around Pere Lachaise for days, but eventually we left and went to have tea at Mariage Freres in a beautiful tearoom which huge potted palms and bouquets of birds of paradise. It looked like somewhere that Hercule Poirot would go for tea. After that, we went to another outdoor market, where they didn't have any jackets or shoes in our sizes, which is probably a good thing because we would have had a hard time fitting them in our luggage!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

I Love Paris in the Winter

Paris is beautiful this time of year. Everything is decorated for Christmas, and everyone seems to be in a good mood. We breakfasted this morning at one of those little patisseries that makes you feel like you are inside a chocolate box.Next we visited strolled down the Champs Elysees from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde, where a giant Christmas Market was set up. There were booths selling everything, including several devoted to cheese.
We went to Mariage Freres, my favorite tea supplier, and bought some delicious blends to take home.Then we hopped on the Metro and rode to Notre Dame, where we bought some books from the stalls by the river, and at Shakespeare and Company, the bookstore founded by Sylvia Beach.
We walked around Notre Dame Cathedral, and admired the giant Christmas tree in front. On our way back to our hotel we stopped at another large Christmas market, this one right by the Eiffel Tower. Then as we were walking under the tower on our way out, they turned the sparking lights on, and the tower looked like it was covered in shooting stars. Beautiful!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Eurostar to Paris

This morning we got up early and headed to the Portobello Road outdoor vintage market for some last minute shopping. We did see a fabulous top hat. It gave us some ideas for decorating ours.When we were leaving our large suitcases at the luggage storage at Paddington, we saw the Royal Scot train. It's gorgeous, sort of like a British version of the Orient Express.Next, we headed for St. Pancras to catch the Eurostar to Paris. They are gearing up for the Olympics next year, with a giant set of rings inside the terminal.We checked into the Grand Hotel Leveque, where my parents stayed 20 years ago. It is lovely, with the smallest elevator we've seen yet. And we discovered a useful way to keep cheese cold from our neighbors across the courtyard.We are very close to the Eiffel Tower, so we walked down to see it, past a bakery with an amazing macaroon display. The tower is incredibly beautiful when it is all lit up at night. We had dinner at a nice little Italian restaurant, and are looking forward to our weekend in Paris!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

An Excursion to Oxford

This morning we got to Paddington Station with plenty of time to catch our train to Oxford. But the self-collection kiosk wouldn't work, and the queue at the ticket counter was very long, so in the end we had to run across the station and jump on to our train with just seconds to spare. It felt like a scene in a movie. We should have had a soundtrack and some slow-motion.

Once we arrived in Oxford, we had a wonderful time. It's a beautiful, picturesque city, with lots of wonderful gargoyles! We found some fun little outdoor Christmas markets, where we did a little holiday shopping.We visited Alice's Shop, where the namesake of Alice in Wonderland used to buy sweets as a child, and we had high tea in a cafe down the road. And if you are having the Mad Hatter's tea in Oxford, shouldn't you be wearing a teacup on your head?We toured Christ Church, and saw beautiful stained glass and carved stonework in the cathedral.
We walked along the canal before we caught our train back. A pair of swans were annoyed that we had nothing to feed them, and the houseboats were beautiful.
Our Christmas concert at St. Martin in the Fields was wonderful. World class performers and a magnificent venue. We were up in the rafters and didn't actually have a view of the stage, but we could hear splendidly, and that's what it's really about.
Another wonderful day in England, and tomorrow we take the Eurostar to Paris!