Astral Nomads

One man, one woman, one rabbit......traveling with the stars.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Oui, even more Paris

Yes, there's more....

Another day, another beautiful blue sky over the Seine.
What can I say? Paradise!

One of four Egyptian man-headed lions spitting water.
There are so many fountains in Paris that I guess
they started to go crazy in search of originality.

The runes on the columns reveal all.
If you can translate, please let me know.

Let's not forget the Patisseries!

Un Petit Joie de Vivre

When it's summer in the Tuilleries
life is, indeed, a carousel.

This was the day we decided to go to the Louvre. Since the
Astrals don't excel at planning, the Louvre was closed. Oh, well.
Might as well truck over and see what's going on with the Eiffel
Tower. We took the Metro part of the way. I found the Metro to be a tad
confusing at first, but somehow we muddled through.

Another palatial public space.

I think we're getting closer.

How can one city have so many identical streets?

Voila! We have arrived.

Just another gorgeous garden.

Since we were in the area, figured we should check out the 

Here's our hotel again, from another perspective.
Good Grief! Is that a minivan?

Back at the Brasserie, time for some braised bouef!

And some pork loin with coulis.

And back to the room for some relaxation.
Check out those curtains! Oh, the decadence.

Our home cocktail lounge. Not too shabby.

Down the rabbit hole. Or should I say the "Terrier du Lapin?"
Otis, you've been on our minds. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

A little more Paris

Well, the City of Lights looks pretty damn sweet in the daytime too. The Astrals prefer to walk a city and walk we did. It's nice in Paris to stroll along the Quais and see what you can see. Of course, by day five my dogs were barking. But that's a story for a subsequent post.

The Seine is scenic from any vantage point.

Our first full day in Paris we started strolling and sort of accidently 
on purpose made our way to La Sainte-Chappelle. From 1248,
it's the oldest church on the Ile-de-France and it's pretty spectacular.

The downstairs is beautiful but the upper chapel, with floor-to-ceiling
stained glass is breath-taking.

Almost made me hungry for a wafer. Of course, I'm
always thirsty for a glass of wine but it was 10am, which
is a little early, even for a lush like me.

Amazing. They should call Paris the 'City of Angels'

Even vandalism is beautiful in Paris.

A chic Astral Wendy in front of Notre Dame. In Paris, I'm
pretty sure you are required by law to wear a scarf.

Some groovy graffiti on the base of the statue of Charlemagne.

Charlemagne and his cohorts had some crazy facial hair.
I was thinking 'Looks kinda Germanic for a Frank."
Of course, the Holy Roman Empire was neither Holy
nor Roman nor an Empire. Discuss.

The main vault of Notre Dame. Seemed a little narrow.
What's the point of the Flying Buttresses, really?

No Sainte-Chapelle but some pretty
nice stained glass. 

So many flowers, so little time.

Old Notre Dame looks pretty good from the back too.

This is this cool footbridge over the Seine where lovers affix
padlocks with their names inscribed. Tres Romantique! I was reading 
that the City of Paris cleaned this up once (with bolt-cutters) but
then a new set of locks appeared. Last I heard, they're just
letting it be. 

Shakespeare & Company. Had to pose here and pretend I was
part of the Lost Generation. 

What can I say? Paris has incredible public spaces. This
used to be royals only. Viva la Revolucion! 

Here's a creepy statue.

Now for the good stuff. Another Brasserie, another great meal.
I went with Ceviche and Pomme Frites. 

Astral Wendy, in another stroke of menu genius, went Salad Nicosie.
Of course, I had some. The herring were divine. You just
can't get good herring in the States. I think they keep all
the good ones in Europe. Can't blame them really.

Yes, more to come......

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Paris, Finally. Et Viva la France!

There's a bit of history to the Astrals and Paris. I had planned a trip a few years back for Astral Wendy's birthday and the morning of our scheduled departure, as I was attempting to download our boarding passes, I realized that my passport was expired. Ooops! So I owed this trip to Wendy big time.

Paris is so beautiful that it's difficult to put into words, but I will try: It has this uniform palatial grandiosity that is unlike any city I have ever seen. The architecture is united in its sense of being over the top with gold-leaf and statuary and friezes and monuments everywhere. Add to that the river Seine winding through the city over ancient bridges and the cerulean blue skies overhead and you've got yourself a masterpiece.

I am a huge fan of Marcel Proust, too, so that added to my sense of wonder. And the gardens and public spaces are unequaled in any other city that I've been in. 

We stayed at the Hotel du Lourve, a five star hotel
right across the street from the famous museum. A slight
upgrade from the Eurovan camper. Our lobby had a
copy of the Venus de Milo. I don't know why people say
the Parisians are rude. We found them to be pretty friendly.
Of course, we're used to New York City, where rudeness
is an art form.

Here's the hotel. Pretty swank for a couple of nomad bumpkins.

In the courtyard next to our hotel, this guy created a chalk masterpiece 
every day. I love the celebration of the ephemeral.

The Louvre is gigantic. That is not an understatement. It's also crazy 
crowded and mostly focused on older art. The Musee D'Orsay is 
a better go in my opinion in terms of the quality of the collection but
the Louvre does have a couple of must sees: Mona, Venus, and Nike.
Since we never plan anything, the Louvre was closed the day we walked
over so look for interior photos in a subsequent post

This type of facade is everywhere.

Speaking of gardens, this shot is from the Tuileries. Central Park,
hang your head in shame.

Just a little arch in the Tuileries. And it's pretty damn big.
And over the top, The Arc de Triomph is yet to come.

The controversial I.M. Pei pyramid in the Louvre courtyard.

Typical and mind-blowing. 

A view down the Seine with Notre Dame towers in the background.

From the excesses of the royals back to the people!

How can one city have so many monumental streets?

Show me a NYC subway entrance even remotely close to this Metro entrance.

Viva la difference! A very chic Astral Wendy.

After the original birthday snafu, I think I've been forgiven,

This was our first day in Paris so we just dined at the hotel
brasserie. This is my braised pork short ribs. Yummy. Since we're 
gluten-free, we didn't touch the bread that night. More about the
baguette and croissant break-down in a later post.

In an insightful move, Astral Wendy went for the chicken draped
with mushrooms, tarragon and a white sauce. I grabbed some and,
as good as my pork was, I think Wendy won the night.

This is my quizzical look at the monster chocolate dessert
(foreground) that Astral Wendy went for. And she never eats dessert.
Of course I shared. It was the gentlemanly thing to do.

I forgot that it did rain a little. Just made Paris more beautiful in my opinion.

Interior of our hotel.

We never drink spirits but after that meal, it seemed like
a spot of Armagnac was in order.

This is right outside the front of our hotel looking up the Avenue de l'Opera.
This is our view when we stood outside to smoke. Unlike in America, you
don't feel like a pariah in Paris when you light up. Seems like everybody smokes.