June 13, 2010

J'adore Paris

Ahhh paris, where do I start with you? I had some misgivings about Paris before coming, only because I've been building this place up for my entire life. I've always had an interest in all things french, I'm sure this is due to the fact that I was named Madelyne Dufresne. I've dreamt of going to Paris since I was a little girl and finally getting here was surreal, I couldn't believe it was actually happening, I could actually say the words, I'm in Paris! Anyway, I am here to tell you that it is impossible to build up Paris.

So yes, Seth and I love this city, but our first night wasn't great for me, I don't know if it was culture shock or homesickness or what, but I felt really strange when I first got in. About 3 days before leaving Moscow the girl who's apartment we had planned on staying at said she wouldn't be able to rent it out to us anymore. I was so worried about finding a new place I didn't really have time to get excited, we ended up staying in a hostel for the first two nights, a crappy hotel one night, and then we found another apartment for the rest of our stay. The hostel was in a fabulous location, Montparnasse. We could see the Eiffel tower from our room. I knew I would like Paris, but I was feeling kind of lost in a big city and it took us a while to find the place, the hostel had given us directions on how to get there and we must have got off at the wrong stop, we were really close to where we needed to be but we had a hard time finding it. Here is a view from our room, the sky was really red that night.

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Walk to The Eiffel Tower

It only took me one day to get over my homesickness and fall in love with Paris. Since we hadn't figured out the metro system yet we decided to walk to the Eiffel tower. It looked pretty close but it was actually a lot longer than we thought. It was okay though because it was a beautiful walk and we really enjoyed it.

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We see our first of several protests, not sure what this one is for but everyone was dressed in scrubs.

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I love the little European cars, so cute!

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Lots of trees!

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Postcard pictures.

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Once we (finally) got to the tower, we both were surprised at how massive it was. It's always hard to tell how big something is until you see it. I remember when I saw Mount Rushmore I thought it was really small. When we got there, we ate brie on a yummy baguette, grapes eclaires, paid 7 euro for water, was begged for money, all that good stuff. It was kind of cold and windy that day, and there was a long line to go up the tower so we went to the Museum of Modern art, which didn't really have any pieces we liked, and after that we went back and decided to go up, since who knows when we would do it later. We stood in line for a very long time and it was freezing. But it was worth it, we went up to the top and it was scary but awesome, it was even colder up there than when we were on the ground.

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So that was our first day seeing Paris and we love love loved it. It was all greens and pinks and cream colors, so beautiful!

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One of the best things about Paris has to be the metro system. I love it. It's so easy and convenient it's almost ridiculous. The best way to figure out the metro is to get a metro map and just start using it, you'll quickly realize how easy it is and when you know where you want to go you just look on the map and find the nearest metro stop. I wish every city had one of these.

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I took this shot at one of the metro stops

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This is a fountain we saw on our way to Il de Cite, which we found in our guidebook later on, of course I can't remember who it is now.

Il de Cite

Il de Cite was my favorite place in Paris, there are two little islands on the seine, one of them has the Notre Dame and the other one right next to it has expensive apartments and lots of little cafes and bakeries.

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So I think this makes my blog like, totally legit right? What's a blog without a picture of macaroons? But in all seriousness, and this is a serious matter, macaroons are the best little treat imaginable. I never thought macaroons looked that good, I just thought I'd try one since we saw this little bakery, and I was totally blown away when I took my first bite, I thought, that was really good, like really really good. After that point we kept our eye out for macaroons and whenever we saw someone selling them, we got them, Seth even went on the internet to find the best ones, and we went to this shop to get them. But these ones we got on Il de Cite were the best. We have a few hours before we fly out of Paris and we are making it our mission to go back to this bakery and get more of these macaroons to bring home and share with people.

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I wish I had bought some of these Little Prince postcards, how sweet.

Notre Dame

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Notre Dame is not my favorite church (I don't really like the gothic style) but it was still really amazing, and cool to see since it's so recognizable.

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I love how morbid this is.

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Champs Elysees & The Arch de Triomphe

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We saw these guys right by the Arch de Triomphe, they were really good and I would have tipped them but we only had 50 euro and I'm not sure they were that good.

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Seth is triumphant, standing under the arch of Triumph. These next two are blurry, because I shoot with a 50mm 1.8 lens, and it's a difficult lens to focus if you don't know how to use it, so a lot of the picture taken of me are out of focus (that is until I taught seth how to focus better). Seth also has a habit of taking pictures of me as I'm walking towards him, this super blurry one of my face is probably my favorite.

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I can't get over how awesome this guy's expression is, like he just overheard some crazy gossip or something. These are the stairs we climbed up, we have climbed so many stairs on this trip!! I like it though, gotta burn those carbs right!?

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View from the top of the arch.

June 6, 2010

Russia - In Conclusion

Christ the Savior Cathedral

This beautiful church is right in downtown Moscow, what's interesting about this place is that Stalin turned it into a public swimming pool during soviet times. There are so many quirks about every place you visit in Russia seems like. Anyway I couldn't take pictures inside but it was pretty fantastic.

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Garden of Fallen Heroes

After the fall of communism, Russia wanted to get rid of all of the soviet statues, so they basically put them all in this park. Although, there are still tons of statues of Lenin around the city.

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There are also some other really neat statues, that have nothing to with communism.

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I've never seen seth make this expression before, so I'm just glad I was able to capture it.

I was pretty blown away when I saw this, it was really moving seeing all of these deformed statues surrounded by an over powering statue of Stalin. Behind Stalin is a wall full of deformed heads made of stone, surrounded by barbed wire, to represent the gulogs. It was really powerful I have to say.

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We went to a few really cool museums in Moscow, including the Tretjakov museum that had all artwork done by Russian artists. It was cool because it went in chronological order so you could see the progression. The only thing I wish they had was some more modern art.

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I'm assuming this dude is Tretjakov?

After this museum we walked around this really pretty area and came across the kissing bridge (I'm not sure if this is the only one but I'm guessing there are several). We saw two brides on this bridge taking pictures. Couples will come here and put they're initials on a lock and lock them on these metal trees. Isn't that cute?

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The other museum we went to was the Pushkin, which had an AMAZING Picasso exhibit. We waited in line for 45 minutes but it was completely worth it (I did want to see some more pieces of his rose period...where are these??? It seems like I've seen a million picasso's by now and I've only seen about 2 or 3 pieces from the rose period). Anyway it was totally fantastic.

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I thought these buildings were pretty cool. This is going to sound bad, but I can't remember if it was Stalin or Lenin that built these. They were 7 around the city and they were built for his sisters.

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The Russian Market

I loved this market! There was so much stuff I wanted to buy it was ridiculous, but I didn't buy it all, don't worry. We did however buy tons of Martrushka dolls. Not all for myself, but I have to say when I got home and looked at all of them I realized that I might not be able to give some away that I thought I would, so we actually went back and bought a couple more. Seth had to put a stop to it. Besides that though, we bought 2 soviet astronaut vintage posters and a few other little trinkets.

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We ate in this smokey restaurant and for some reason it was full of stuffed animals.

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When we got home we went through all our loot. And since we are 10 years old we decided to take some pictures of me modeling the merch.

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I really enjoyed this trip and I was sad to leave. When people asked me how I was liking it there, the best answer I could come up with is "it's interesting" and it really is. I can't say I fell in love with it, but it was so different than anywhere I've ever been and it was so interesting to see this entirely different culture. It was so great spending time with my family, which was definitely the best part.

I also learned a ton about the country's history and it was all fascinating. I don't think I'd ever come here on my own, it's a difficult country to visit. Nobody speaks english and it's pretty hard to get around. Once we came to Europe we couldn't believe how easy everything was. Anyway thanks so much Aunt glo and Uncle Tony for an amazing three weeks!

Next stop: PARIS!!!