Sacré Cœur

Sacre Coeur is an amazing church. It stands on the top of the big hill in Montmartre, a lively and artsy neighborhood. It may even be the highest point in Paris, outside of the Eiffel Tower. It’s a beautiful church and the center of a thriving market. Here are just a few photos.

As you can see, it was important for the church to be very pretty. I took the tour to the tomb and then the dome. It was all pretty.

On the to the top I spotted this one

I find it fitting to profess your undying love on a piece of construction plywood. It really symbolizes the down-home love that you share.

In the last one you get a fairly good view of Notre Dame. There are a lot of good photos from Sacre Couer. Check them out of you like.

There was a parade in my neighborhood for Fete des Vendanges. This is a harvest festival with long tradition. Read up in this NPR article. Just a few photos from the parade and fair.

The festival moves up to Sacre Couer at night. You can buy all kinds of sausages and cheese, plus the warm wine, traditional to fall in Europe. Supposedly there are fireworks on Saturday evening, but I missed them. More parade photos.

Finally, I’ve had a request for some Eiffel Tower photos. I haven’t visited it yet on this trip, but you can see it from many points in the city. Also, consider how tall it is!

From Sacre Couer

Another of the Eiffel Tower from the Louvre. Please excuse the poor quality.

Food Post 1

I’ve been meaning to do a food post for a while now, so here are a few photos to describe what’s going on.

Mostly cheese. I do love cheese, so it’s nice that there are so many options around here, even in the grocery store. The cheese stores are amazing.


The first cheese was quite a surprise. Gouda Chevre turns out to be quite awesome. I’ll look for it again. The middle one is just so-so for a soft cheese. The last one, is kind of a Tomme from central France. I bought it at the Fete des Vendanges de Montmartre, or the harvest festival. The photos from that turned out quite poor due to me neglecting to carry my good camera. That’s why cheap cameras are worthless!

In case you’re wondering what food costs, this bag of groceries cost €13. Not the best deal in town, but it was at a cheap store.

In this one I was feeling sick and wanted familiar food. I obviously don’t have charcoal or an oven, so the steak and potato were just an approximation of what I would cook for myself, but it was nice and comforting during a pretty bad cold. And the meal was relatively cheap. I’m glad I brought medicine with me from the US. Everything you touch in this city is touched by thousands of people per day. Think about the handholds in the metro!

I haven’t been drinking as much wine as expected, but here are a couple of bottles, none more than €6 or €7.

These are burgundies and tasty. I also bought a white bordeaux to cook with. It’s still in the fridge. I guess I should drink it before leaving to go to Morocco this week. Maybe not.

Here’s cow tongue for fun.

Incredible

I just can’t believe this. How is it possible that you could get an 81 sqft apartment for only € 94,000? It’s unbelievable right?

I was thinking about buying the bathroom sized apartment, UNTIL I REALIZED IT COST MORE THAN MY HOUSE IN AUSTIN.

WOW

Walking on Champs-Élysées

I had a nice walk yesterday down a big boulevard in the city. It was a bright sunny day sandwiched between several rainy days and called for me to be outside. I wanted to do some walking and sight seeing, so I chose this destination. There was a lot going on, so I’ll just post a few photos and link to the album, which has some interesting other sights.

The first thing you’ll notice when you get out of the subway is the huge arch that greets you. It was named to honor the soldiers of the French Revolution and Napoleonic wars and certainly stands the test of time. It is so famous that some people will risk their life to get a decent photo of it. I can say that because Parisian drivers are not impressed with the Swag or daring of a tourist looking into a camera.

On the street you may find grade B street performers and top quality auto dealers, but those guys don’t often associate. The street is well known for shopping. I saw some Lamborghinis and other fancy cars there. Post cards were quite expensive on this section, as was a McDonalds hamburger. (Personally, I think you can get better food in Paris – for example lamb)

One of the great parts of Paris is the parks. They are few and far between, but they are quite beautiful. Of course you cannot walk on the grass, so they provide dirt paths for your convenience. The plazas are also quite nice with fountains and statues.

To be fair, the gardens were lovely and smelled quite fragrant, a nice break from the urine, exhaust, and cigarette smoke smells you normally get when walking down the street. Mostly I enjoyed the views and architecture. It is difficult to find so many wonderful things in one place.

The bride you see is one of a series I hope to compose. Often the photographer tries for the best shot and has to crop out or turn the camera from other things going on. In this case I thought the “behind the scene” was nicer than what would go in a photo album.

Finally I found myself at the Louvre, which is one of the most impressive buildings I have ever seen. Not only does it house some of the most famous art in history, the building is a magnificently creative and beautiful sculpture in and of itself.

This post isn’t about the Louvre, but I’ll add some photos just for grins. There are the main exhibits and then the temporary exhibits. Right now there is an ancient Islamic art exhibit, and it was important to see that while it is in town. Plus it makes an interesting place for a blind date (although bad for conversation). I should put a lot of detail into these photos, but the subjects are famous enough that you can look them up themselves.


Left to right: Venus de Milo, Mona Lisa, Psyche and Cupid, and Michelangelo’s Captive

Here you can find all of the Louvre photos I took yesterday.

The last part of the walk was chilly, but worth looking over the Seine. There are at least 3 super famous landmarks in the first photo – they’re all partially blocked though. Can you guess what they are?

The first photo there has an interesting story. Those locks you see are put there by lovers that want their undying love to be locked for ever. It is quite romantic. Every bridge in this area that has a wire rail is covered with locks.

Well, I had a great day and hope you enjoyed the photos. If you want to look at all from the walk, just click here.

Some thoughts on Paris pt 2

There is a lot to do here.  One could see or try something new every day, and it would take a very long time to run out of things.

It hasn’t been 2 weeks since I arrived, and I can see why tourists are annoying.  Mostly they slow things down by being in the way.  I’m trying to cross the street with a green, and someone with a map moves in my way.  People move fast here, tourists inhibit that.

I don’t mind the small apartment.  I would like to have an oven and a bed that wasn’t 2ft from the ceiling, but with just a few more square feet those would both be possible.  Small bathroom is no fun though.

My commute to work is ~ 45 minutes.  I have zero control over that (until I move in November).  That means I’m on a metro for an hour and a half per day, usually more if I want to see something new (photos coming soon).  It’s impossible to work on the metro, and reading is difficult because they are so packed during work hours.  Just stand there and try not to accidentally molest someone.

There are really pretty parts of the city.  Most parts don’t fit that description – more on this later when photos are ready.

Weekend in Germany, Volksfest and Stuttgart memories

This has been a busy week. After getting things situated in Paris, and some sight seeing of course, I flew to Stuttgart for the weekend to visit my long time friend Johannes. We hadn’t seen each other since I was last in Germany in 2009, and before that when he came to Austin after his year in Portland. Johannes is a great guy, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see him – especially during a beer festival. I’m glad I did! Not only did I get to relive some fun times drinking beer in a German festival, but I also got to walk down memory lane in Vaihingen, at the University where I used to live. It was quite a trip, and a lot of great memories came back to me. It’s the people I miss the most, but the locations bring them back clearly. I won’t bore you here with any pictures of buildings, so you’ll have to go into the photo gallery to see them if you’re interested. Mostly they were taken for me and posterity.

Now for the fun stuff! In-dorm beer machine, just a few steps from my former apartment.

and for reference on the price of beer (one bottle is 1/2 liter or 16.9 ounces, just over a pint)

Then there was the festival. If you’ve ever wondered what a beer festival (such as Oktoberfest or Volksfest) is like, think state fair with all the types of food, rides, games you’d normally find plus all the beer you can drink.

For instance

I spent most of the time with Johannes. We did some home improvements, ate meals, and played board games together. Another friend, Martin, moved to Stuttgart recently, so he joined us for the beer drinking parts.


Johannes on left, Martin on right.

Here are some sights you may find outside the beer drinking tents (not that you cannot find a beer outside)

And here are some you might find inside a beer drinking tent.

Here is the gallery of Volksfest photos

I had such a great time. It was quite the pleasure to be back in Stuttgart. If nostalgia sets in I may have to post some of those boring pictures of buildings just to make sure they’re saved somewhere.

Some thoughts on Paris pt 1

Here is a list of thoughts and observations.  I’ll probably add more as time goes on.

 

It never gets dark here.  No matter what time of night, the light pollution is remarkable.  There has been one clear night, which was great because I could see some bright stars and Jupiter.  There was still a lot of sky-glow coming in the windows.

Driving a car here is a nightmare.  Besides other vehicles (motorcycles and scooters running every which way) you have to worry about pedestrians and bicycles crossing at any moment.  Walking is pretty bad too.

Even cheap food is good, but food ain’t cheap.

You can exit at the wrong metro stop and accidentally find yourself at a world landmark, like the Louvre or Notre Dame.

That was just a few.  I’m sure more will come up as I stay longer.

Visiting Stuttgart: friends and the Volksfest beer festival

This has been a busy week. After getting things situated in Paris, and some sight seeing of course, I flew to Stuttgart for the weekend to visit my long time friend Johannes. We hadn’t seen each other since I was last in Germany in 2009, and before that when he came to Austin after his year in Portland. Johannes is a great guy, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see him – especially during a beer festival. I’m glad I did! Not only did I get to relive some fun times drinking beer in a German festival, but I also got to walk down memory lane in Vaihingen, at the University where I used to live. It was quite a trip, and a lot of great memories came back to me. It’s the people I miss the most, but the locations bring them back clearly. I won’t bore you here with any pictures of buildings, so you’ll have to go into the photo gallery to see them if you’re interested. Mostly they were taken for me and posterity.

Now for the fun stuff! In-dorm beer machine, just a few steps from my former apartment.

and for reference on the price of beer (one bottle is 1/2 liter or 16.9 ounces, just over a pint)

Then there was the festival. If you’ve ever wondered what a beer festival (such as Oktoberfest or Volksfest) is like, think state fair with all the types of food, rides, games you’d normally find plus all the beer you can drink.

For instance


If I look like I’m having a good time, it’s cause I am.

I spent most of the time with Johannes. We did some home improvements, ate meals, and played board games together. Another friend, Martin, moved to Stuttgart recently, so he joined us for the beer drinking parts.


Johannes on left, Martin on right.

Here are some sights you may find outside the beer drinking tents (not that you cannot find a beer outside)

And here are some you might find inside a beer drinking tent.

Here is the gallery of Volksfest photos.

I had such a great time. It was quite the pleasure to be back in Stuttgart. If nostalgia sets in I may have to post some of those boring pictures of buildings just to make sure they’re saved somewhere.