Sunday, July 20, 2008

From Escargot to Cheap Drive-Thrus

I bought a new battery, and you know what that means: This post is now complete. Enjoy the additions to the slideshow and few new videos.

We're baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack! I certainly enjoyed our fancy meals and glasses of fine wine while in Europe, but you better believe my first meal back in the USA was cheap Mexican food that was washed down by a big 'ole DrPepper!

I missed Texas and the boys (Kerry, Grant, Rhett) more than I could bare at times. I cried a river when the boys dropped me off at the airport. A lot of this was due to Grant wanting to give me a million kisses, including Eskimo Kisses, Butterfly Kisses, and kisses the two of us have made up. That sweet moment, coupled with Rhett's huge smile and silly laugh he gave me as I told him goodbye, made it especially hard to grab my luggage and energetically walk into the airport to my adventure that was awaiting me several thousand miles away. The image of an annoyed mother tapping her foot at her child that is dragging behind came to mind at that point. I knew I had to go - NEEDED to go and that I was being ridiculous. It took me a good three days before the sick feeling of guilt over leaving my kids began to subside. This "adjustment period" should come as no surprise to anyone; I actually did better than I expected. Hooray for me!

Anyways, the trip was wonderful, and I am deeply thankful that I was invited to go along and experience the world in ways I've only read about in history and art books. It is a memory I shall cherish for a lifetime.

Quick observations:
1. Paris IS as dirty as you have heard. Take antibacterial wet wipes with you; especially on the subway!
2. Paris smells just as bad as New York, if not worse!
3. As a whole, Parisians are not a very friendly people. They certainly do not care for Americans or tourists. (that's unfortunate for them, huh?)
4. No, Paris is NOT romantic. If you want romantic, you need to go to Carmel, California. They've got Paris beat in the romantic department by a mile!!
5. Despite its dowfalls, everyone should go at least once - Paris does have much to offer in ways of history and art, and it would be so sad to miss out on all of it.
6. London totally ROCKS. I would go again and again. Unlike its neighbor, London is very clean, and the natives are extremely kind and outgoing.
7. Six hour layovers are not fun!

The Eiffel Tower at night: I believe it was lit in blue lights due to the Tour de France, or perhaps the fact that France's Independance Day (July 14) was coming up. What a fabulous surprise to learn at the top of every hour at night the Eiffel Tower sparkles!!! Did everyone know that but me???....

The view of Paris on our way back down from the top of the Eiffel Tower. Yes, that is me in the background (not a 13 year-old boy) saying how cool of a video this is, which sort of makes the video not as cool - Me and my loud mouth!

So, apparantly the Arc de Triomphe in Paris is surrounded by a traffic circle. This is not your everyday run-of-the-mill traffic circle: There are no lanes, no rules and lots of gutsy people who for some reason enjoy tempting fate where several roads pour into one another in pure chaos. If cars are not "safe" on this road, why on earth would any fool ride their bicycle or motorcyle through it? I don't know either, but they do. Anywho, we enjoyed the free entertainment at the expense of others' insurance policies possible skyrocketing.

A quick interview while on the London Eye, with your hostess, Jessica.

We did not get to see the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace, but we think this parade was a precurser to the event...

We went to a restaurant called Leonardo da Vinci's in London. We were seated upstairs across from a larger than life... well... Leonardo da Vinci. Half way through our meal, the restaurant turned him "on", and he came to life. People gathered around in awe to watch him move - but we were pretty sure it was the cheesiest thing since the nachos you get at football games. One man even got out his video camera and took a nice long video of the famous manikin's movements. I think those people needed to get out more. Yes, I too got my camera out, but for a different purpose...

We named this restaurant: European Chuck-E-Cheese

This windmill dates back to the 1100's. It has surely seen war, peace, and everything in between. We spotted it on the way to Mt. Saint Michel all alone on a hillside.

Hear Big Ben chime at noon - Sorry so short, but you get the idea. Once you've heard one chime, you've heard them all. I thought I was holding the camera pretty still...