Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Day 4 in Europe: Headed to Paris

    After a quick hotel breakfast, we loaded our tour bus with our luggage and headed to the Eurostar. There was a little time at the station for us to spend the rest of our British currency or have it exchanged to Euros. I bought a few snacks for the train. We had to go through customs and security before we headed to the boarding area.
   When we were seated backward, I got a little nervous, as Clay and I both have been known to get carsick.  I also didn't realize that going through underground tunnels would make your ears pop worse than going up in a plain! I had to get out some gum for us to chew and it still didn't help all that much. There wasn't much of a view on the train ride but we arrived quickly.
   After arriving in Paris, we loaded another bus and drove through the town for a bit of sight seeing. We were given a bit of free time so Clay and I bought a few souvenirs, checked out Notre Dame and it's gardens.
Beautiful stained glass windows inside Notre Dame


The grounds outside Notre' Dame
The magestic Notre Dame Cathedral
   

We also found the bridge of love locks. The story goes that you and your love put a lock on the bridge and throw the key in the river and nothing can ever separate you.  There are so many locks on the bridge that it is starting to lean and break.  It was a really neat sight to see.

    
    After our free time, we loaded the bus and were treated to an organ concert by Humpus Lindwall at the Saint Esprit Cathedral.
Inside the Saint Esprit Cathedral 

    Supper was GREAT! We had turkey with mushroom sauce and potatoes, then apple tart for dessert while dining at Cafe de' New York. 



Turkey with mushroom sauce and potatoes
Apple Tart



































  After another quick sightseeing tour via bus, we headed towards our hotel. We stayed at the Hotel Novo. This was upscale and modern compared to where we stayed before. There was free wi-fi and  a Kinect in the lobby.
The rooms were good size with a queen bed and a queen pull out sofa.  The shower was different.  I had a hard time figuring it out and accidentally sprayed water all out into the bathroom floor! Finally made it to bed around 2:30 AM to prep for a long day in Paris. Stay tuned to see the visits to the Louvre, Eiffle Tower and our cruise on the Seine River.


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Summer Trek out West Day 4

Crazy? Courageous? Or Both! Day 4
     Arizona gave us much more to see on our Trip day 4! We walked around the Route 66 town of Williams, AZ first. Hit up a souvenir shop called "Get your Gifts on Route 66"! I couldn't resist that shop. It had all the expected souvenirs, as well as metal signs, button up skirts, license plates! Next door is the Cruisers Café, all decorated from decades ago. Some old trains, Life-size Elvis, and an awesome town clock all make this town so worth the 2 mile detour off the interstate. It also has the train a lot of people take for the day trip to the Grand Canyon. At this point we have been driving for about 26 hours.
     As we head west, Joel's Wikipedia App tells him about a town called Seligman, AZ just west of Williams. This is the town Radiator Springs from the movie Cars was based off of! Right from the start, we can tell. The hotel with separate cabins, the car repair garage, even the little town jail! There are replicas of Mater, Fillmore, and Sheriff! This town has found a way to stay profitable along Route 66!
     After an hour of more desert-like driving, we head north towards Boulder City and Las Vegas!! The rocky hills surrounding Lake Mead and The Hoover Dam, keep the views of the Colorado River to a minimum, but several Scenic Views give us a taste of what is to come! We cross over  the Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge above the Hoover Dam. We decided not to stop off today, but wait till our oldest Daughter meets up with us. The power lines are crisp crossing everywhere, and traveling off far into the distance, all fed from the Hoover Dam under us. The tall metal power lines are even fascinating- built on angles up the sides of the hills, in symmetrical lines taking the energy from the Dam across the states.
     Once we cross into Nevada, we map out our first stop- In-n-Out Burger! All along the way, we see signs for animal crossings- Deer, Elk, and Big Horn Sheep. We have been watching the hills, and plains for signs of wildlife. As we drive through Boulder City, near the white stucco houses, and St Jude's Ranch, we see 2 Big Horn Sheep running across the 4 lane road! We tried to get a picture, but in our surprise, we just watched for a little first. As we get into Las Vegas, we find an In-n-Out along the way, and it was Oh So Good!!! It's a simple menu, but the burgers don't leave you wanting for anything else!
     We head to the Las Vegas airport to pick up our first-born. She stayed behind for a youth group event and flew out by herself. The airport was full of bachelorette party goers, slot-machines, and big TV screens advertising the shows on the Vegas Strip. Thought I would see a celebrity or two, but not today. After safely gathering our daughter, we head to the Wyndham Grand Desert, our condo for the week. It is part of a time-share we have through my husband's company. It was really nice, and the people were super friendly! Yes, we signed up for a presentation, but we knew it would be low pressure since we already own. As we waited for our room, we head to the local grocery store to get some food for the week. We try to eat simple for 2 meals each day, and eat out the other to save money. We did a good job, not buying everything we wanted, since we always seem to have so much left over at the end of the week. Ice Cream is good, but not so great when we are forced to eat it on the last day of vacation for breakfast just so we don't throw it away!
     Once we are able to get into our room, we are super impressed! Caitie loved the view of the pool!! It was a 2 bedroom that sleeps 8 so we all had plenty of room to spread out, and enjoy the 3 TVs! Since it was our first day in Vegas, we clean up and head to the strip! My husband has been here before, so he takes us to the Venetian Hotel. This place is so giant, there is a mall inside! We wander through the Italian decorated, elaborate, clouds on the ceiling walkways. We forgot how hungry we were as we are amazed at what we are looking at. Gondola rides, waterfalls, elaborate statues! There is a branch of Carlo's Bakery here! But, it is as popular as the original, and instead of getting a cupcake, we pose for several pictures in front of the shop. Next we wander through Caesar's Palace's mall area. We are met first with a 3 layer-curved escalator! Unfortunately, they didn't do a great job with store directories and we end up traveling up on the escalators too far! Several other tourists were lost along with us, and we ended up finding our way down the side of some stores and on the way to Cheesecake Factory! We got a bunch of restaurant gift certificates from credit card points before the trip so we were able to eat out guilt free! The restaurant is all the way at the end of the mall area, but the wait was shorter than at home and we enjoyed the aquarium out front. The statues on top of the mini-aquarium moved and gave a show- The Lost City of Atlantis. The kids real enjoyed it, fire effects and all!
     After a wonderful free dinner, we head through Caesar's Palace to see the Fountain Show! Every 15-20 minutes, the famous fountain show goes on. There is a schedule of songs, and the fountains and lights in front of the Bellagio give a wonderful show. When we came out the door, "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds by The Beatles was playing. That was great. I wish we were there 2 minutes earlier to see all of it! The crowd dispersed, so we found a spot in the middle and waited for the next show. A man from the street came by and Joel bought me a rose made out of palm leaves :)
    Caitie loved all the people and the water, and really loved the fountain show! The schedule isn't exact, so we waited for at least 20 minutes. As the crowd filled in, the notes begin, and a few other women and I cheer, knowing it is Céline Dion!!! How exciting! Joel is less than thrilled... Anyway, the fountain show was simply wonderful! The lights, and water, even the ducks were great to watch! Caitie would tap the lady on the shoulder next to us and then point to the fountains, to be sure she saw it! I must say, I am glad the show didn't start any later, it was dark not much longer after it ended and we really wanted to get the kids off the street. I wasn't worried about safety because of anything I saw, just in a different city with sooooo many people, and not all like us country folk! We dropped exhausted after another busy and wonderful day!