Friday, August 29, 2014

Paris Part II

^^^Paris Temple Grounds^^^
Tuesday we got up bright and early so we could spend our entire day at Versailles with Mike and Amy Livesay, and Brooks and Shirley Baltich. Unfortunately, when we arrived, the line into the Chateau was 2 hours long, so we decided to walk the grounds instead. We wandered through the gardens and onto the Trianon Palaces and Domaine De Marie-Antoinette. Thankfully, there wasn't as many people exploring these areas, so the paths through the estate were fairly quiet giving us time to enjoy the beauty around us.

After eating lunch, we meandered back to the Chateau, but the line was still 2 hours long, so we skipped the palace altogether and agreed on finding the LDS Temple construction site instead. Although the temple grounds aren't much to look at yet, I know amazing and profound things will happen on that land. What a blessing it is that the gospel is spreading throughout the world.

I'd like to tell you the rest of our day went smoothly, but that would be a bold face lie. Normally, I'd say we're smart and efficient at getting around, but when it comes to traveling in another country where the language is a bit tricky, it's a completely different matter. So basically, what I'm trying to say is, we got lost. We were trying to make it back to Paris for the State Farm dinner the company holds for all the agents but it took us A. Long. Time. There was lots of confusion, walking this way and that, and many agitated sighs, but we did make it. It may have taken 5 hours, but at least we were with entertaining people who kept the mood light. :)
Wednesday ended up being one of my favorite days of out time spent in Paris. We had more great people to spend it with, our food choices were outstanding, and we actually spent some time relaxing.

Brandon got up early to attend a business meeting while I ate breakfast and planned our day. Before we'd left for Paris, we did some research on where we could find the best crepes (we like to pretend we're foodies). Creperie Brocelianed came highly recommended so we met up with David and Catie Borland and found our way to the Montmartre Area. Our expectations were met and exceeded with Brocelianed's sweet and savory crepes. If you're ever in Paris, the Nutella and whip cream sweet crepe is a must.

When our stomachs were content, we walked up stair after stair to Sacre-Coeur for a stunning view of the city. Aside from the overcast weather and the light rain, it was perfect. After walking through Sacre-Coeur and appreciating the architecture, we strolled along the surrounding streets, and eventually back to the hotel. If we ever go back to Paris, this is one area I'd love to visit again.

We spent the next 3 hours at the hotel spa turning prunie in the hot tub water, and dissecting topic after topic with the Borlands. It felt wonderful to unwind and get to know our cousins even better than we already do.

Charly's Bun's Burger was our dinner destination. Brandon still thinks 5 Guys has the best burger but I think Charly's Bun's Burger has taken over my number one spot. It was amazing. No really. SO GOOD!

When dinner was finished, we walked through one of the oldest parts of Paris, lle de la Cite, and found a yummy gelato place for dessert, although I ended up with a Nutella covered waffle instead (I couldn't get enough Nutella while we were there). It was another home run in the food department.

The night ended with a slow, quiet walk back to our beds.

We spent our final day in France visiting Normandy. Now, if we could do everything over again, I would have made this a two day trip because we spent eight hours getting to and from Normandy, and only four hours at the D-Day sites. I would have loved to have been able to take my time and explore a little more.

The first place we stopped was Pointe du Hoc. On D-Day (June 6th, 1944) the United States Army Ranger Assault Group scaled impossibly steep cliffs to disable a German gun battery. Shortly thereafter, Americans spilled out of troop transports into the cold water of Omaha Beach. Over a thousand soldiers died that day and many were fatally wounded.

Omaha Beach was our next stop. We walked along the beach, cooled our feet in the water, and felt the smooth sand against our skin as we remembered the soldiers who gave their lives to valiantly. Once a blood soaked battle field is now a peaceful, quiet place to reflect, and give thanks.

The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial was our last stop of the day. Crowning a bluff just above Omaha Beach and the eye of the D-Day storm, 9,387 brilliant white-marble crosses and Stars of David glow in memory of Americans who gave their lives to free Europe on the beaches below.

Although our trip was longer than I liked, it was a day I'll always remember. The sacrifice of hundreds saved thousands. I am extremely grateful to each man and woman who died for the price of freedom, something that is too often taken for granted.

When we finally arrived back in Paris, it was time to eat again. With Mexican on the mind, we found a Chipotle without too much trouble and walked around near the Opera Garnier. As the evening passed by, we slowly roamed the streets of Paris soaking up the last bit of culture on our last night. As we neared the Arc de triomphe in hopes of finding a creperie, Amy and I spontaneously decided we wanted to hike to the top of the Arc for a final view of the city. The men didn't share our enthusiasm, so we left them in the busy streets, and made it into the ticket line just before closing. The view from the tip top was sensational and worth every step of the way (pictures never do these views justice).

Our time spent in Paris had finally come to an end, but seeing our little ones was still a few days away. Au Revoir Paris. Hello London!