Monday, May 30, 2016

A Paris Birthday, Ooo La La

This year was a double big birthday for me. It is a significant number and my birthday fell on Mother's Day.

I had planned for several years to take daughter BSB scuba diving in Palau but sweet little LW arrived and my plans changed.

The next plan was to take grandson BSJ and granddaughter ML to Paris and Rome. It sounded like a great idea – take my 2 older grandchildren to Paris and Rome for MY birthday. It could be a very significant experience for them and we could bond even more.

This photo was taken last Christmas when Grandpa DM came to Florida.  This is ML and BSJ with him.
And, again plans changed when BSJ had some stomach surgery.  He is doing fine now but his doctor would not let him travel.

The tickets and the accomodations were already purchased so Hubby D said he would go and we invited a couple of ML's friends (JB and EF) and off to Europe we flew.

What started out as a bonding experience for myself and my grandchildren turned into a trip to give 3 young people a taste of Europe.  A great trip but not what I had first envisioned.

Hubby D and I decided to arrive in Paris the night before the 3 young people. It was a great decision.  We biked the Seine and had dinner at Le Grand Colbert site of the last scene in one of our favorite movies, Something’s Got To Give. It was fantastic. It might have been the best meal of the trip.

Side comment from the wife of an engineer (me).  The infrastructure in Paris and Rome is aging. It is even more run down than the United States. We often talk in the States about our bridges that need renovating but in Paris and Rome everything seems to be on the verge of breaking.

Our day in Paris was amazing. If we had stopped right then I could have said it was one of my best birthdays ever.

This was the table where they filmed for the movie. It looked the same as in the movie.
We really enjoyed our alone time and didn't even mind getting up really early the next morning to head out on the train to Charles de Gaulle airport to meet the kids.  They arrived on time and we were waiting for them at the gate.

Our accommodations in Paris and Rome were secured through AirBnB.  I am not going to elaborate but on the next trip we will probably not use AirBnB.  It is just not for us.  The kids loved the accommodations.
Here is the door to our flat. It was in a great neighborhood with restaurants and stores.
Awe yes, French wine on our little balcony! Fantastic!!!!
In Paris our flat had a small balcony overlooking a quiet street just a couple of blocks from the Seine River. The location was perfect. After getting the kids settled, our group started the afternoon with a chocolate and pastry tour late in the day. At sunset we toured the Eiffel Tower.

The trip was off to a fantastic start.

Our tour started with a real artist who also makes over the top delicious chocolate.

He crafts animals out of chocolate and then turns the sculpture into metal. I could not resist photographing these penguins that were originally made of chocolate.

Did I say "sugar high"? It was delicious.
Then off to the Eiffel Tower where we had to buy warm hats because it was COLD!
This is looking up inside the structure from the ground.
Later JB and I walked to a vantage point for some long shots of the tower. 
Eating crepes in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower with your Grandfather --  Ooo La La.

The next day we toured the city and had a great time.
In Paris we traveled by metro most of the time.
I am not sure the girls were impressed with French Impressionist painter Claude Monet.

JB pointed out this sculpture in the Lourve. It looks like she is taking a selfie. This is my selfie of an ancient selfie. 
Yes, that is the Mona Lisa. "Underwhelming" was the word for this.

These are the crown jewels. The girls picked out the sapphires as their favorites.

Another interesting experience in Paris was an educational wine tasting at La Cave in the O Chateau Wine BarThe O Château residence has known many names: Hôtel du Vin, Hôtel Dupin… and now O Château!

The building, built in the mid 17th century, number 68 rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau has a strong presence in French literary history. Not only is it located on a street named after one of the most important French thinkers and writers of the time, but throughout its lifetime, it has welcomed many others through its doors.

The wine bar offers wine experiences of all kinds. The tasting room in this historic setting harkens back to bygone days, with stone walls, vaulted archways and a cozy wine cellar atmosphere.

An interactive area offered a chance to learn about the history and mechanics of wine.
You could experience the smells and tastes that lead to good wine.
In this area you could try your hand at putting hot red wax on the cork of a wine bottle.  ML did not realize the hole on the right was filled with hot wax. Thinking it was a bottle holder, she inserted the wrong end of the bottle in the hot wax.  LOL
And, finally you could taste the different varieties.
Our last dinner in Paris was at Brasserie Lipp.  Many years ago we visited Paris with friends BM and TM. They had lived there for 2 years so they knew all the great places.  One of the restaurants we went to with them was Brasserie Lipp. For years I kept a small chocolate from there in a bowl in my bedroom. I thought of that wonderful trip to Paris every time I saw the chocolate.

When we arrived at the restaurant, I was very surprised that the same maitre 'd was there.  I asked if he remember BM and he exclaimed, "Of course, Madame B. How is she?" And, he told me to tell her, "Patrice sends kisses." Then he placed us at exactly the same table as we had when we visited years ago. It was priceless!

After several days in Paris, we traveled on to Rome. Our very short flight on AirFrance was fine except that because we were flying economy we could not reserve seats. I found this very stressful. However Hubby D helped set up the seats so ML and I could sit together. This was wonderful.

ML and I spent the hour and half talking about everything, -- college, professors, her internship coming up, life in Oklahoma, her life goals and of course our relationship. There were even a few tears as we shared with each other how special this time was together.

As I write this my eyes are tearing up again. When you can really connect with your granddaughter in a way that shows to you how special she is and what a wonderful person she is becoming, it is something that touches you so deep, you have to cry. That one short conversation was probably worth the entire trip. (Thank you, ML from the bottom of my heart.) I even cried again when I proofed this blog.

Paris was wonderful and experiencing it through the eyes of these 3 young people made it more meaningful. Hopefully we will all return many times for more memories.  I think a trip to Paris should become my birthday tradition.  (hint, hint to D)

Next blog -- ROME!


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