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Christmas in Paris
The city is decked out with lights, trees, holly, and wreaths which ever way you look. Paris has really put me in the Christmas spirit and I must say it has to be the best place in the WORLD to be at during Christmas time. Yes, better than New York hands down! Last night we went to the Traditional Christmas Concert at Notre Dame. The concert is free but you need a red ticket to sit in the VIP section otherwise you would be in an obstructed view seating. We did not find this out until we arrived and we sulked over to the long line to get in. But then a Christmas Miracle happened, a woman walked up to me in a HUGE crowd of people and handed me two red tickets to sit in the VIP section. I wished the angel a “Joyeaux Noel” and we took our place in the front of a very large crowd for a beautiful Christmas concert.
I love Paris in the Winter!
Though it is freezing and quite snowy, we have loved our time in Paris. Well, honestly I probably enjoyed it more since poor Jackson has been sick the entire week. We did get a few good walking tours in despite his illness. One was a four hour overview of Paris general walking tour on a gorgeous, sunny day. We started at Place St. Michel, walked to Notre Dame, St. Chappel, crossed Pont Neuf, walked through the Louvre, the Garden of Tuileries, the obelisk, the Champs Elysees, and finally ended near Napolean’s Tomb. We learned more about the Louis’ and the Napoleans of French history and how France fought hardest for its democratic society. Our passionate tour guide Arnaud (from LA!) ended the tour with the moving reminder that Paris might not exist today if it was not for the Dietrich von Choltitz, the Nazi General who ignored Hitler’s request to burn down the city of Paris at the end of WWII. I am sure we all have heard this story at one point in our lives but if you have not, you can read more here. This of course left me moved to tears and my love for Paris grew even stronger.
Our second tour was a rainy, wet tour of Montmarte (the Mountain of Martyrs). Though the weather was not what I would have chosen and our guide was not as passionate as Arnaud, it was still a great tour. The Montmarte area is just what I imagined Paris to be like – cobblestone roads, artists painting, terrace cafes, boulangerie’s and flower shops everywhere you turn. This is the area where Picasso, Van Gogh, Dali, Toulouse- Lautrec, and many other big time artists lived and painted.
If you are ever in Paris, take one of these New Europe tours! The general tour is free and the Montmatre one was only 12 euros. You can find out more info on their website.
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Awesome Video of Haley Ushering in the Christmas Spirit in Paris
So since we are spending our last 7 days of our trip in a Paris apartment, we went out and bought a Christmas tree. Now, they are ridiculously expensive so all we could afford was a block of wood with some pine branches stapled to it, but hey, it looks really cute and fits in perfect with our tiny apartment. Check out this video of Julia Childs – I mean Haley – describing how we are going to decorate our tree!
Daytrip to Brussels
Only an hour from Bruges is the capital of Belgium and the European Union. Despite the bitter cold we squeezed in the European Parliament, Godiva chocolates, Manekin – Piss (the Belgian version of Italy’s the David – 1/10 the size with even less modesty), and its greatest site – Le Grand Place. Victor Hugo called it “the most beautiful square in Europe.” While we wanted to sit and enjoy it we were so cold that Haley’s hands turned white and “started to burn.” We thought those might be symptoms of the early stages of frost bite so we figured we move on to some place warmer.
You can see more photos at http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=592057&id=648610330&l=a8fe0830d9
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Experimenting on a Frozen Pond (Video)
At first glance I thought it was an ugly pond or just kind of swampy, but upon closer inspection I realized that the water was frozen solid. I was tempted to try and walk out on it, but Haley was strongly opposed and said I should see if it could support something smaller since the ice did not look sturdy. Check out the experiments and you will see why I decided against venturing out. I was actually able to draw a crowd and you can hear some of their comments in the background.
Winding canals similar to Venice, stone house that look like they’re made of gingerbread, and some of the best beer and chocolate in all of Europe, we couldn’t disagree more with Colin Farrell’s description of Bruges in the movie In Bruges (click here to see quote).
Our favorite memories were jogging through this canal filled town early on our second morning, buying a few Havana cigar chocolates (technically illegal but I don’t think customs will mind), touring a Belgium brewery, and munching on some Flemish Fries (some argue fries were invented here).
Oh, and we have to make sure to mention that we caught a fantastic sunset while walking through the canals. It was bitterly cold but we hung out so we could take in the beauty. We then of course ran into the nearest store, which happened to be a chocolateria, and enjoyed some free samples while we warmed up.
You can see our best of Bruges photos at http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=16271754&l=ad9109c31b&id=648610330