Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Trip of a Lifetime: Part 5

On our fifth day in Paris we slept in, all of us had a late night the night before and we were just exhausted.  We finally got up and headed down to breakfast about 9:30 and then headed out to take the Metro for a day full of shopping.
 (My hubby and my sister-in-law)

(The Metro)

We went over to the Champs Elysees.This is a major avenue in Paris that is famous for its theatres, caf├ęs and luxury shops  It is the same street that General Charles de Gaulle came into Paris on when the city was finally liberated from The Nazis in August of 1944.

This is a photo of the day of Paris liberation.

Since I have given you a little history I will tell you that we spent the rest of the day shopping. We went all the way up one side of the avenue passing restaurants, stores, and then stopping at the world famous Laduree pastry shop. We had been told by our flight attendants that we must go there and try some macaroons. It was my one major splurge of the trip. I purchased eight cookies for 18 euros, about $25 American dollars. (Most of them were very good, but one tasted really bad.)
Laduree


We passed by the Louis Vutton store and then made our way up to the Arc de Triumphe. The only way to cross the street was to take the tunnel underneath the Arc. It was pretty neat to be walking under the highway.
Louis Vuitton
 


Walking under the Arc


We then continued on down the opposite side of the road stopping along the way to shop, rest and watch street performers. It was during this day I got to visit my very first Tiffany and Co. boutique.  I can assure you that I didn't buy a thing, that place was way to rich for my blood.


Along with shopping we also did a little sight seeing and ate a crepe from a street vendor, another thing we were told we must do while there. The crepes were delicious and it was amazing to watch them being made right out in the open. 
Winston Churchill

Charles de Gualle

Crepe Street Vendor

Aunt Na enjoyed her caramel crepe

We didn't stay out to awful long, everyone was still tired from the day before and we were all still trying to adjust to French time. We took the Metro back to the hotel, dropped off our packages and headed out for supper. We ate at a steakhouse called Hippopotamus, only after my sister-in-law knew for certain that it was cow we would be eating.  It is not as common as it once was, but some people still eat horse in France.


We made our way back to the hotel and called it an early night. As I lay there in the bed I had mixed emotions. I knew the next day was our last full day in Paris and I was feeling somewhat sad, but the thought of getting home made me very happy.  The next day we got up early, had breakfast and headed out for our last day in the city.





To be continued.....

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Trip of a Lifetime: Part 4

I have decided, after my little break last week, to continue on with my blog series The Trip of a Lifetime. Back in October of 2014 we were able to travel to Paris through the Make-A-Wish foundation and it was an unbelievable journey. In fact sometimes I sat back and think, "Did we really go to Paris?".   It was an amazing journey that I hope you are enjoying reading about. So let us continue....

On our fourth day in France we took a tour bus,  left the city of Paris and traveled to the Normandy section of France. I admit I loved it. Being out of the city and in the country reminded me so much of home. There were farms and pastureland with animals and everything was so green and pretty. The tour guide explained to us that it rains almost everyday of the year and that was why everything looked so green.




Our first stop was in Caen, France. This is the home of the D-Day Museum and the city is also the burial place of William the Conqueror. Unfortunately time did not permit a stop at the church he is buried in, but I did get to see it from the road. Here are a couple of pictures that I found online to share with you.



 The first thing we saw when we got to the museum was the 70th Anniversary D-Day memorial statue that had just been put in place four months earlier. 

The museum had so much information to read, so many things to see and we even got to go into a real bunker that belonged to Nazi General  . 




After a fantastic dinner of chicken, fried potatoes and salad we boarded the bus and headed over to the actual D-Day beaches. We stopped at Point Du Hoc, the place were the Army Rangers were to climb up and engage the Nazi's to take the attention off the beaches. Unfortunately they were late and the plan was discovered.  As you walk around you can still see the craters left behind by the bombs the Allied forces dropped over 70 years ago.

This is my oldest daughter down inside of one of the craters
 



We had a quick stop at Omaha Beach were I got a bag of sand to bring back home. It was so surreal standing there on the beach, seeing the memorial and thinking about all those brave men who stormed those beaches that day. Omaha was one of two American beaches, the other being Utah. The greatest loss of life was at Omaha.  I can only imagine the fortitude and courage it took for those soldiers to run into what they must have known would mean death for them.  It brought tears to my eyes and made me think of my good friend Charles Pike, who was a WWII veteran. He was one of the greatest men I have ever known, one of the Greatest Generation. 



We then continued to travel on past Gold Beach (one of the British beaches) onto our stop at the Normandy Cemetery. We had a brief time to spend here, but it was still overwhelming and emotional for me. So many of those markers bear no name, for that person was unknown. It makes me sad to know that someone's son never made it home and they have no idea where he is.  While there we also saw an entire wall of names of the missing, those they were never able to locate, even though they knew each man was present there. It makes you wonder what may have happened to them. 




Our next stop was what is referred to as Port Winston Harbor, named after British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. It was a man made port that allowed supplies and troops to be brought into France. 




(An archive picture of what the Port looked like in 1944).
 
 
We continued on with our tour and made a quick stop at Juno Beach (the Canadian landing spot). It was so nice to let the girls have a chance to  play on the beach and run on the sand along the English Channel. As we drove along the coast, heading back to the city we passed by Sword Beach (another British landing spot). 









All in all it was a very emotional day for me and made me even more appreciative of what our brave soldiers did that day and through out the entire war.  You see on that day, June 6, 1944, 156,000 soldiers stormed the beaches of Normandy. Americans, Brits and Canadians all joined together to defeat the Axis power and bring liberation to France, Paris and Western Europe.  In total 4,413 men died that day (2,499 American fatalities and 1,914 from the other Allied nations) giving their lives for freedom  and justice for all mankind.

It was a long day, 16 hours to be exact and we were exhausted when we arrived back in Paris. We headed straight up to bed and decided to sleep in the next day.
 
 
To be continued.....






Saturday, January 17, 2015

Dixie: The best dog ever

 
I had considered another blog about our trip, but instead decided this week to write about my precious little doggie Dixie Belle. I know that everyone will disagree with me when I say that she is the best dog ever, well at least the ones who have a dog will.

While growing up I had lots of dogs. We had run around the yard dogs, strays that we would bring home and then of course my daddy had hunting dogs. When I think back to the barking sounds that those old hound dogs used to make, it reminds me of my childhood. Those old hounds had beautiful voices.  Having grown up with dogs all my life I understand how important they are to families.

 I know that my Dixie is a member of this family.  I always tell people that she is my fur baby, my middle child. I can imagine what our lives would be like without her. I recently saw a story on the news about how pets have a positive influence on our lives, so I decided to do a little research on it.The following website, http://www.helpguide.org/articles/emotional-health/the-health-benefits-of-pets.htm, has as list of ways that pets contribute to our health and well being. I however don't need a study to prove that our Dixie is good for us, all I have to do is look back over the last 10 years she has been part of our family to see the influence she has had.

Here are just a few ways she has helped us:
1. Protection: She always lets me know when someone pulls into the driveway or is at the door.  It is good to know that she is always ready to warn us of something that she feels is dangerous.

2. Friendship: I have to say that she is my friend. She always listens to me and never talks back. Of course a person needs human friends, but it is so nice to have a friend that will just listen, sometimes that is exactly what you need.

3. Exercise: Many days we spend time outside throwing the tennis ball for her and watching her chase it, she never brings it back so the kids have to chase her, that gives them lots of exercise. She also tags along with me when I go walking in the evenings. It is nice to have her tag along and enjoy the outside with me.

4. Unconditional Love:  She loves me with an unconditional love, but sometimes I have to scold her. Like the other night when she stole a Twix candy bar and ate it. Her face was priceless! She knew she was in trouble, but she looked so pitiful up at me, I just had to laugh.  Sometimes she can be plum aggravating too. She follows me everywhere, sticking her nose under the bedroom or bathroom door waiting for me to come out.  It is nice though to know how much she loves me and just wants to be near me.

5. Comfort: This one is most likely the one thing she does that helps the most. I remember how she stayed right by my side after each miscarriage, how she was right with me when my grandfather passed away. How she stayed close to my daughter when she was going through her cancer treatments. Each time she was there to offer comfort to us the only way she knew how. She would just snuggle up to us and lay close, just letting us know she was there.


Of course she is getting older, her hearing is not as good, her eyesight is starting to fade, she sleeps a lot more than she used too and she is not as fast as she once was, (she is 10 in dog years and 70 in human years.) but she is still very important to us. As I sit here on the couch typing this blog she is curled up right next to me. She is keeping her eye out for her family, giving us love and keeping us heathly. What more could we ask for? She is by far the best dog ever.




"That's my 'two-cents worth', what's yours?"
 
 
 
 
 
 


Saturday, January 10, 2015

Our Trip of a Lifetime: Part 3

On our third day in Paris we decided to sleep in, have a late breakfast and then head out to see the city. We took the metro and then boarded a Batobus for a tour of Paris by the Seine River.  The tour was one of those hop on/hop off tours, so we decided to hop off at the first stop and see the Love Lock Bridge.
 


Our tour guide the day before had explained to us that the city was in the process of removing the locks, but it was so popular that people had started puttings locks on all the bridges. My sister-in-law decided to buy one, even though she was not technically in a relationship. Here is how it goes: You buy the lock, place it on the bridge and then throw the keys in the Seine River.
 
 
 
I wonder just how many keys are at the bottom of that river? :)
 
After our stop at the LLB, we decided to walk to the Rodin Museum. While on the way it started to rain, but we had umbrellas. After about 45 minutes of walking, stopping for directions three times and waiting out a down pour we finally found said museum. It was so busy and crowded and the people working there were so pushy and bossy we decided not to even visit.  It was just 5 minutes later that I finally saw it on our city map and we realized we had only been about 10 minutes away from it to start with. At this point we decided to head back to the river cruise and again it started to rain. My poor sis-in-law had my cheap Dollar store umbrella and the wind was blowing so hard it turned it inside out. We laughed so hard we were crying. In the words of Aunt Na, "I got mascara all in my eyes, I'm going to be blind!" It was an hysterical moment. I am sure it will stick out as one of the best memories of the trip. 
 
When we finally made it back to the river we stayed on the boat almost the entire rest of the day. We rode up and down and up and down the river. It was my husbands favorite part. It was a slow relaxing day and the prefect way to see many of the main points of the city. We saw The Eiffel Tower,Norte Dame and so many other city spots.
 
 




 

 

 



 
We did decide to take the chance of getting off the boat one more time to go into The Lourve and take some pictures. We had already been into the musuem the day before, but had not seen the outside or the grounds. 
 







 
 
While we were waiting for the return of our boat, we saw that even in France they have the occasional stray, just like home.
 

 

 
The girls wanted to pet him, but we didn't think that was such a great idea and he just went  on this way.  Since she was bored and couldn't pet the doggie my youngest started investigating and found what she called a Parisian fairy house in the ground, she has such an interesting imagination. 
 
We continued on with our boat ride until it started getting dark, we wanted to take some dusk/night pictures of the Eiffel Tower.

 
We then took the metro back to the hotel and got a cheeseburger and fries in a little hole in the wall place. We had an early morning the next day so we went on to the hotel and to bed. It was a full and fun day in The City of Light.
 

 
 
To be continued.....