Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Merry Month of May

I really think my mom used to say "The Merry Month of May."  Not sure what it's from.

After we returned from France, May brought longer, warmer days -- a wonderful Spring with no snow and very little rain. Warm, but not hot.  So different from the past few Mays!! Yea! 

All three boys played baseball and finally Nick had his own games to go to instead of being shuffled around to Marty and Chris' games. He still had to go to their games, but now he looked forward to playing at the park or watching their games because he was having fun on so many other nights at his own games.
Marty -- all the boys were red this year. Plenty of socks to go around!

Chris up to bat!
Nick's machine-pitch team.
Nick at bat!
Chillin' wating for the game to end.
Nick also played lacrosse and soccer.  Didn't really mean to have him in three sports at one time. Thought he wouldn't play soccer in the Spring because he was tiring of it in the Fall. But, when the season came, he had a renewed love for the game! Also thought lacrosse was only on Saturdays and it would be a good way for him to make more friends at his new school.  BUT, he had amazing coaches who actually held practice 3 times a week!  We didn't make it to many, but what he did go to he really liked. Just wasn't always in the mood to go.

Courtney also did lacrosse and had a great season playing Varsity. With all her soccer training, she was in great shape running up and down the field and defending players!
Finally, warmer days are here!
Christopher was playing in the new house being built next door and cut his leg on metal as he was jumping out the window. He had to get quite a few stitches and a couple of layers too. Grandma was in town -- it was nice to have her come with us to Instacare.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Paris, Day 4


Sunday morning we woke up and rode the subway to our meeting spot for our Bike Tour of Versailles. As we got off the subway, we walked into a Farmer's Market -- a perfect place to buy croissants and strawberries for breakfast! 

We met our tour group (Fat Tire Bike Tours) and then took the train out to Versailles. We loved riding bikes around Versailles! We started out finding lunch at the Outdoor Market. I stood and videoed the vendors because I loved hearing them speak French like it was so easy! (ha, ha) It was beautiful to listen to and so fun to watch!

We weren't sure which cheeses to choose, so we just pointed to a variety.

We met some great people on the tour and it was fun to find things in common with people travelling on the other side of the world from home! After several days on our own, it was fun to visit with people and make new friends.  Once we got to the Palace, we were free to roam on our own and take as much time or as little in each area.

The only downside of being in a tour group is it takes so long to get going. We saw bikes for rent as we entered the pastures of the Palace and thought next time we'd rent there which would also allow us to stop and go inside many of the other buildings on the grounds as well. However, then we wouldn't have had such a nice lunch and visits with new friends...  And truly, we weren't really in a hurry anyway. 

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Paris, Day 3

After seeing so much of Paris, we were excited to take the train to Giverny and see Monet's Gardens. I have always loved Monet's art and couldn't wait to actually visit in person.

We took the 8:15 train from Gare St. Lazare and arrived in Vernon at 9:00.  A bus waits at the train stop to take tourists to Monet's home, but we rented bikes instead from a corner cafe.  The ride was an easy 4 miles and beautiful! It was a little drizzly, but didn't last long. We rode through the town of Vernon and then found the bike path for the rest of the way.

We had purchased our tickets to Monet's Gardens ahead of time online which again saved us a wait in line.  The Gardens open at 9:30 and we'd heard it was best to get their early before the crowds.  Also, tour the house first and then the gardens. We were glad for the advice as we could easily walk through the home when we arrived right at 9:30, but soon many, many tour buses arrived and the house got crowded.

Monet's house is so quaint and colorful and has been replicated as if he was still there with his paintings hanging in his studio -- and photos of him in his Family Room/Studio surrounded by his art.

Don't miss the signs to cross under the highway and visit the other side of the gardens -- the lake and bridges.

We spent about an hour at the Gardens. On our bike ride home we did stop at the Musee des Impressionismes but it was an exhibition of one artist. We went through, but wouldn't recommend it as a must-see.

Back on our bikes, I made us stop every few minutes to take more pictures of the homes along the lane. Every one was so charming and quintessential European countryside.  We also stopped at the cemetery to see Monet's grave. It's just off the side of the road and takes 2 minutes to walk up the the grave and get going again.

We made it back to Vernon in plenty of time to visit the Saturday Farmer's Market (Saturdays from 8:00 - 1:00 p.m.)  We parked our bikes at a bike stand and then wandered the market stalls and bought lunch (baguette sandwiches, of course, with pain au chocolate for dessert).

After returning our bikes, we ate lunch on a bench outside the train stop and took the 12:53 return train to Paris.  We had plenty of time to explore the area, ride easily and enjoy the gardens (and gift shop) in Giverny, wander the Farmer's Market in Vernon and still make the return train at 12:53.

Arriving back in Paris, we were an easy subway ride to the Moulin Rouge area and Montmartre. We walked passed the Mouline Rouge just to say we'd seen it and take a picture, then followed Rick Steves' historic walking tour up to Montmartre.

Can't pass up a crepe!

We LOVED the energy--all the people, the artists, performers and street cafes!  

Sacre Ceour -- We didn't get a chance to go in... Next time!

View from Sacre Ceour -- we couldn't decide to come here or Eiffel Tower on our last night in Paris.

 My favorite were the accordian players. It was exactly how I'd picture an evening in Paris!

 We also visited the Salvadore Dali museum exhibiting many of his sculptures. 
Very comprehensive review of his life and work.

We headed home for our late afternoon nap. When we woke up, it was pouring outside. Yep, Paris is still beautiful in the rain.  We took the subway down to the Latin Quarter for a fondue restaurant on a narrow pedestrian-only street. We were seated right by the window which was fun to see all the tourists passing by.  After, instead of taking the subway, we took a cab home so we could see Paris at night. We drove up the Seine and saw the lamp lit bridges as well as the Eiffel Tower lit up and sparkling on the hour.  Everything was always turning out perfect!