September 2007 Archives

Man oh man, was today a busy day! We had to get up at 7:00 in order to leave for the train station by 7:30 to get there by 8 to catch an 8:40 train to Normandy.We planned to stop at the little store by our place to get breakfast but unfortunately they weren't open yet so we headed off to the train station. Once we got there we spotted a little food stand so I walked up and ordered 3 crossaints, 2 for me and 1 for Jake. I was hungrier then him.

We looked at our tickets which didn't say a track number & the board didn't list our train so we sought out an info booth and asked them. They told us it was at gate 23 so we headed over there and got on our train. About 15 minutes later we were off to Normandy. The train ride only took about 2 hours so by 10:30 we were pulling into the station. We went over ot the car rental place that we booked our car through and picked it up. Jake was the driver and I was the navigator. It was pretty stressful driving in a country we have never driven in before. They have different road signs and they use kilometers instead of miles which I am really bad at understanding. You tell me something is 10 kilometers away and I would have the slightest idea how long it takes to go that far. I know it is all math but I want to try to convert to miles but it isn't easy to do. The other weird thing is there doesn't seem to be any yellow lines dividing the opposite directions. Also the street signs are very badly posted. So after passing a few streets I was wishing I hadn't directed Jake to go through town.

We managed to find our way out of Caen and the road leading to Bayeax which is where the hotel was at. It was about a 30 minute drive on the highway until we pulled into Bayeax. We didn't have a map of the town yet so we followed signs to the tourist office. We started to head down this one street when all of a sudden Jake questioned if it was a 1 way street so he started to back up which left the girl in the car that was turning to where we were backing up from looking at us as if to say what the heck are you people doing?? Since that car when in that direction then so could we. We drove about 6 blocks until we found the tourist office and parked. I stayed in the car with the luggage and Jake went in for a map. While he was inside I ended up finding our street on the drawn map in Rick Steves' book. As it turned out back at the intersection where Jake tried to back up ended up being our street. We decided to walk to our hotel since we already paid for parking but after the 4th block I was really wishing we had driven. It ended up being about 6 blocks and we still had to walk back to get the car.

After the trek back to the car we left for Arromanches to see the D-Day beaches. It was a very short and amazingly pretty drive. Our first stopwas up on the hill above the beaches looking down on them. The American sectors were to the left and the British, French & Canadian beaches were to the right. Out on the water you could see parts of the break wall that was created for the invasion. Although they were 1.5 miles off shore they still looked enourmous because each section was the size of a football field. It was a pretty spectacular sight.

We had already paid €2 to park so we decided to walk down the hill to the town. Before we left though we decided to watch the 360 degree movie of the landing. It was pretty cool. It showed footage from the landing and how the area looks now. After that we headed down the hill. We walked around for a while then caught the little trolly train back up the hill to our car.

This is going to be a long entry but it is getting late so more to come at a later date...

Today has been a very relaxing day. We got up this morning at 10am and headed out to the Eiffel Tower. That thing is enormous! It cost €11.50 to get to the very top so we paid and headed for the elevator. The entrance to the elevator was packed full of people and I figured not everybody would get on but the elevators are huge and fit everybody that was waiting. We stopped on the 2nd floor and took a ton of pics then we got back on to get to the top. Let me tells ya…it was dang cold up there, and I don’t mean it is less then 70 cold…I mean it was probably in the 40´s cold. So we braved the coldness but got the payoff. Spectacular views!! I didn’t realize that Paris was so big. We stayed up there for about 20 minutes then got back on the elevator heading back down. We got off on the 2nd floor and took the stairs to the first floor where we had 2 hot dog wieners and fries and a coke for lunch. After we ate we got back on the elevator and went down to the bottom. I wanted to get some good pics of it so we headed over to Trocadero.

We then walked to the Arch de Triomph. It was only about a half mile away. We decided against paying the €7 to get to the top since we had just done the Eiffel Tower and it wasn’t even close to as high. We were sitting on the bench next to the exit from the inside when these 2 guys came over and each set a box down on either side of the door on the bench and left. Jake looked at the boxes then looked at me and said “I think we should move.” So we got up and walked away. When we looked back there was a security guard there with the boxes and then the 2 guys returned. So it turned out ok but it just looked suspicious.

After we left there we walked down a street called Champs-Elysees, which is basically just a road with nice shops. When we found the next metro stop we got on and headed for a train station where we could buy our tickets to Spain. It took a while of walking before we found the place to buy them but we managed to find it. We were hoping to get 2 night trains but since only 1 of them was available that will have to do.

After that we weren’t really sure what we wanted to do next so we headed back to our hotel. We stopped in the front lobby for a bit to send a quick e-mail to Jessie telling her that we booked our tickets and sent a few e-mails off to hotels in San Sebastian to hopefully find us all a place.

We were getting hungry at that point so we walked around looking for a place to eat. We had passed an Indian restaurant on the night we walked home late at night so we figured if we don’t find a place by the time we get there we’ll eat there. Well, we ended up having Indian food tonight and holy cow was that the best aloo ghobi i´ve ever had. We stopped on the walk back for some beer and now here we are almost 10pm and sleepy again. We leave for Normandy tomorrow morning so I suppose I should get to bed.

Today has been an amazing day. We woke up at 8:30 and got up. Good thing we did because it took us until about 10 before we arrived at the Louvre. The building was pretty amazing although neither of us are very interested in art it was still nice. We did get to see the original Mona Lisa. It was behind glass with multiple guards around it. We also saw the Venus de Milo. After that we went to the train station to buy our tickets to Versailles. When we got there the ticket counter was closed but as we were contemplating walking to the next station it reopened and we bought our tickets and off we went.

Let me tell you Versailles was absolutely over the top spectacular!! The castle was pretty amazing and we went to see Marie Antoinette’s private wonderland that she had built so she could go pretend to be a peasant. I would love to live in a place that was her idea of what peasant life was like. It was basically every little girls dream! The best part of the whole place was the gardens though. Fountains everywhere you look. They were pretty spectacular! We almost rented a boat to go rowing on the Grande Canal but we were both so exhausted that we decided against it as it was a long, long walk from where we were to the boats. So we headed back towards the trains. We stopped for dinner at, of all places, McDonalds, and now we are on the train heading back to the hotel. We were thinking of going to the Eiffel Tower tonight but again we are too tired. So it is off to our hotel to do laundry and check e-mail and then sweet, sweet sleep.

Today was our first day in Paris. The only available train was at 1:30 so before that we went back over the Imperial War Museum and looked around some more for about 2 hours. We had already checked out of our hostel so we had to walk with our backpacks. Luckily the museum could hold our bags for us so we didn’t have to carry them around while we were there. At around noon we headed back over to the Waterloo Station to catch the Eurostar to Paris.

When we arrived in Paris I felt pretty intimidated not knowing French and all. But we managed to find the ticket counter and bought our tickets to and from Normandy. We then proceeded to find an ATM and internet café. We asked the lady at the info booth and she pointed to the left for the internet café and to the right for an ATM. We found the ATM she was pointing towards but couldn’t find the internet café. We gave up on that after walking up and down the road a bit and went down to the metro station to try to figure out their system so we could get to our hotel. I’ve got to admit I feel a little silly talking in French because the only time I ever did it was when I was a kid playing.

So we found our street on the map and figured out what stop we would need to get closest to our hotel. When we got off the metro we walked up to the street level and stopped to look around until we figured out which direction we needed to walk. Quite exhausted we found our street and walked down it hoping that it was the only and that it didn’t continue somewhere else and we were in the totally wrong area. Luckily there it was, Hotel des Allies. We went and checked in and dropped off our stuff and went back to the metro station to buy tickets to Notre Dame. We got off the train and headed up the stairs, turned around and there it was. It was enormous and really pretty! We only saw the outside since you have to pay to go inside and then inside you have to walk up 450 stairs and you can imagine that 450 stairs didn’t sound very inviting.

We planned to do a city boat tour so we walked down the end of the pier to where they sold the tickets for it and got in line. There wasn’t a very long wait so we got right on. It was just starting to get dark and lights were all coming on around the city. The boat took us up past Notre Dame and down to the Eiffel Tower and back. The lights on the Eiffel Tower were on and for a while they were sparkling. It was amazing and far larger then I imagined. I think the plan is to go up to the top on Monday. The boat ride took about 1 hour and it was around 10pm by the time we pulled back to the dock. So we got off and headed back to the metro to go back to the hotel. When we got to the station it appeared that the ticket counters were closed. It seems we were about 30 minutes to late to buy tickets so we looked at the map and decided to try to walk it. After missing our street and taking the long way around it ended up being about 2-3 miles.

We were both completely exhausted by the time we made it back and we hadn’t found food yet. We ended up buying 3 bananas, a 7-up and a beer for dinner at the little store by our hotel. We laughed about what it must have looked like to the guy at the store when we bought 3 bananas and only 2 beverages since there were only 2 of us. We thought it would have been funny to buy and extra drink and give that and the extra banana to our invisible friend Raul and since he obviously doesn’t exist the banana and drink would have fallen on the floor. Ok I think we may have been a little delirious because that was a lot funnier last night. After we ate it was off to bed for us.

Last night since we were so tired we went to bed around 8pm. He time adjustment has been very difficult for me. We both woke up around 2am and were awake for a couple hours. I then put my earplugs in managed to sleep until 10:30. Jake had to wake me up by saying my name over and over. We planned to watch the changing of the guards today at Buckingham Palace at 11:30 so we had to hurry up and get ready to go. When we got there we overheard someone talking about the queen coming out so we figured that the changing of the guard must not happen today but since we were there we might as well stay. I wanted to take a picture of her but I didn’t know if there would be multiple cars and if there was I didn’t know which one she would be in. So when the first car passed I snapped a picture. Luckily that was her car and I got a pretty good shot of her in the backseat. Very cool!!

We then headed over to buy our Eurostar tickets to Paris. The guy at the counter asked if we wanted round trip tickets and since he said they would be cheaper we agreed and bought the tickets. We then stopped to make sure everything on it was right and realized that we weren’t planning on going back to London from Paris. We planned to return to London from Brussels so we went back up to the counter hoping they could change it and luckily they did it with no extra charge. That is scary though. If we hadn’t noticed that we probably wouldn’t have noticed until it was time to come back and our tickets were from the wrong city. That would have really sucked.

After that we got back on the tube and went over to Westminster Pier to catch the sightseeing tour boat to the Tower of London. The ride was about 20 minutes and when we pulled up to this huge castle I was surprised. I always thought that the Tower of London was one big tower not a huge castle. It was pretty cool! We took the guided tour and got the hear details about everywhere we went. After that we took the tube back and walked through the Holocaust Exhibit at the Imperial War Museum. It also had different war planes and bombs. We didn’t have much time for that since it was closing soon.

After we left the war museum we took the tube back to our neighborhood and set out to find dinner. That took way to long!! My feet hurt, my back hurts, I was hungry and I really needed a restroom. We ended up at the little store right by our place after much walking. We picked out some soup and bought breakfast and lunch for tomorrow. We came home, ate, took showers and here I sit writing about my day. Tomorrow it is off to Paris. We get to sleep in too since our train doesn’t leave until 1:30. I’m kind of nervous about the rest of our trip. Here everyone speaks English and signs are in English. From now on we’ll be on our own.

Boy oh boy is my body tired. My legs, feet and back are all killing me. This morning we got up around 8:30 took a shower and got ready to go. If you get on the underground after 9:30 its cheaper so we grabbed breakfast which consisted of a banana, bread and jam on it. We took it over to Big Ben and ate it. Today was a total museum day. We started with Westminster Abbey which I would say was just alright. The outside was quite impressive but the inside the items displayed were way to jammed together. We did get to see where Issac Newton and Charles Darwin are buried though. After that we headed over to the war rooms and the Churchill Gallery. The war rooms were my favorite place today. It showed all the secret rooms where Churchill and his cabinet worked and lived during World War II. They said that invasion was fully expected in Britain and when they realized that it wasn’t coming the war rooms which had been occupied 24 hours a day for years was deserted. They said they just turned the lights off and left.

After that we headed to Trafalgar Square and ate lunch on the steps by the fountain. We then went to the National Gallery where we saw all sorts of famous paintings. Then over at the British Museum we saw a bunch of broken sculptures and a lot of Egyptian artifacts. The highlight of that was we got to see the actual mummied body of Cleopatra. They showed an x-ray of the mummy so you could see that it was really there.

By this time both of us were hurting so we headed back to our place and made some sandwiches for dinner. It is almost 7pm right now so we’ll just hang out here and relax so we aren’t so sore in the morning for more sightseeing. One more day left in London and we’ve almost seen everything we came here to see.

Oh, one thing is the price of things here would be good if pounds were worth the same as dollars but since 50 pence = $1.00 we have to double all the prices to see how much things are in dollars. For example there was a hotdog stand and it said the price was 2.50 which would be an ok price if that were dollars but doubling it to make $5.00 for a hotdog….come on, that is just crazy!

Random Photo

Miles Truman

Lilypie Second Birthday tickers

Jessica Danielle

Lilypie Fourth Birthday tickers