Beauty is all around us…Past and present photos…Big and “small things”…

A few roses remain in Trish and Neil’s garden as summer comes to an end.

As we continued on our travels throughout the world we found one commonality is each location…beauty is all around us. We need only stop long enough to spot it.

Strawberries growing in their garden, well protected from birds in the enclosure.

The idiom, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” holds true. We each have our own unique perception of what we discover as beauty. For us, in our constant search for “the interesting” with the intent of sharing it with our worldwide readers, we find that which may be of interest, to possess a beauty of its own design.

Whether it’s an interesting insect, a blooming flower, an animal’s face, or form in the wild we often take a photo in nature we find most appealing. No doubt, many of our readers have no interest in many of the subjects of our photos or for that matter, what we’ve found to be beautiful. 

Here on the grounds, we noticed these flowers we’d also seen at the Pukeiti Gardens at Mount Taranaki.

Many are more interested in photos of familiar points of interest they’ve already seen in photos, online or in their own travels:  a historic building, a popular tourist attraction, a public venue, or familiar work of art. 

Were one to go back through our 1,313 previous posts, many such photos are contained therein.  From our photos in past posts, as shown below in the photo of Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain in May 2013 to the Venus de Milo statue at Le Louvre in the August 2014, we’ve seen so much.

Venus de Milo by Alexandros of Antioch, also known as Aphrodite of Milos. It was amazing there was a momentary break in the number of onlookers when 100’s had been crowded around this famous statue also trying to take photos.

Over the next two to six months we’ll be visiting and/or staying in such countries as Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and Bali when we’ll be taking photos of familiar and significant works of art, historical buildings, and endless points of interest and beauty that may appeal to a wide faction of our readers who prefer to see more than nature shots.

Sagrada Familia, the famous church in Barcelona that has been under construction for over 100 years.

For us, there’s a tremendous amount of enthusiasm as we anticipate these exciting countries we’ll soon visit.  The prospect of taking and sharing photos along the way, only adds to the excitement.

Sure, we spend a tremendous amount of time in quiet, remote locations constantly on the lookout for even “the small things” we’ve found unique and perhaps interesting to many of our readers as shown in this post and photo below.

This was our first photo of the dung beetle in action. The female often sits atop the ball of dung while the male moves it along using his back legs while his front legs grasp the ground for stability. The female lays eggs in the ball so she tags along as he rolls the ball, as they search for an adequate hole in which to bury the ball. The ball is used as sustenance for both of them as well as for the maturing larvae.

Whether it’s a small thing, a historic location, or an environment such as here on the alpaca farm in New Zealand, we expanded our personal horizons, perceptions, and expectations of that which is truly beautiful as we wrap our arms and minds around that which is located in our close proximity at any given moment.

We’ve never known the name of this dark-colored bloom although we’ve seen them in a number of countries. Any comments?

It is through this window we peer out at the world often from the lens of our camera to capture the beauty we find in our path. This, dear readers, is what brings us this infinite sense of joy and belonging.

Tomorrow on our 21st wedding anniversary (based on the date in this part of the world) we’ll be back with more on a unique, although “small” point of interest we discovered last week when we toured the quaint town of Opunake that, in our perception, we found to be “beautiful.”

Have a beautiful day!

Photo from one year ago today, March 6, 2015:

Partway down this steep trail in Kauai, we spotted this view on the steep path down the cliff Hideaway’s Beach. For more photos from that date, please click here.

More new photos…Total Expenses for 16 nights in Paris….Hotel review…Tom’s pizza and dessert for the last dinner n Paris…

Of course, we had to end with a photo of the Eiffel Tower.  It seems to have a personality of its own, offering varying views based on weather, crowds and time of day.

By adding every last Euro we spent for the 16 nights in Paris, our grand total is as shown below with a breakdown of the expenses. We were over the budget by US $250, $187, the approximate amount we paid at the airport for our overweight baggage.

Included in the total is the following:

US $3352, EU $2511 Hotel Eiffel Seine
         211, EU $158 Taxi, train fare
         644, EU $483 Tours and sightseeing
       1438, EU $1077 Dining and groceries including all taxes, fees and tips
         959, EU $719 Airfare and baggage fees

Grand Total:
US $6604, EU $4948 Grand total at an average cost per day for two of US $413, EU $310.

Wow! The architecture is breathtaking.

The total cost for this period of time in Paris is comparable to the estimated cost per day of our upcoming cruise on August 31st of US $417, EU $312 including Internet fees and non-inclusive alcoholic beverages.

It is these expenses that motivate us to stay put for two to three months at a time when we have time to recover from the higher costs for hotels and cruises. At the end of the year, it all averages to an average monthly cost we’d budgeted long ago, so far, very close to our target.

Hand made pasta in the window of a local restaurant/deli.

Where are the days of “see Paris on $20 (EU $15) a day? ” Or even US $100, EU $75 a day? In what century was that possible? 

We stayed in a mid-range hotel, dined in mid-range restaurants (except for three occasions), walked everywhere seldom taking a taxi, and made no frivolous purchases.

There’s a pharmacy every few blocks.

In all, the VAT taxes, city taxes, and built in “service charges” attributed to the high cost of our grand total, which is as much as 40%. It’s no wonder that travelers stay in Paris for short periods. 

The total cost for the outstanding two and a half months on the island of Madeira, Portugal was US $10720, EU $7979 at an average daily rate of US $139, EU $104. 

We were able to flag down a taxi as we stood at this corner after dining at La Fontaine de Mars on Tuesday.

Also, the total cost for the extraordinary three months we spent in Marloth Park, South Africa was US $11070, EU $8294 at an average cost of US $123, EU $92 per day.

Is it any wonder that we’ve chosen to stay put as often as we can? Without doing so, we’d hardly be able to continue traveling for the long term.

With almost 13,000 restaurants listed on Trip Advisor in Paris, it’s tricky deciding on where to dine.

Of course, these decisions were made long ago when we knew full well that cruising would always require staying in a vacation home for two to three months. We’ve had the good fortune of having mostly extraordinary experiences in the vacation homes we’ve rented. 

As for the Hotel Eiffel Seine, we’ve found it to be a good boutique hotel with excellent front desk service by knowledgeable English speaking staff always willing to help in any manner. The cleanliness of the hotel was superb, although the room was seldom cleaned by 2:00 pm.

Most of this perfect-looking fruit has been imported to Paris as is the case in many other cities throughout the world.

As is the case in most boutique hotels, breakfast is available at an additional cost per person at US $12, EU $9 for continental and US $21, EU $16 for a small buffet with few options: scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, cold cereals, toast and basic French pastries, juice, coffee, tea, and milk. 

We only had breakfast once, early on, provided gratuitously by the hotel when our bathroom ceiling had been leaking for days. Had it been more appealing, we may have had it again, especially when we booked late dinner reservations in finer restaurants and for the River Seine cruise. 

Beautiful fruit for sale along the boulevard. 

Yes, we’d recommend this hotel without hesitation. With its free WiFi, high level of service and cleanliness, the most comfortable bed and covers in which we’ve slept in two years, proximity to the train station (across the street) and buses. Of course, the three-minute walk to the Eiffel Tower and the River Seine, the Hotel Eiffel Seine only adds to the motive to stay in this hotel for the mid-range traveler.

During our 16 day stay, occasionally we had entertained the thought of having breakfast in an outdoor café. But, after many less than memorable dining experiences in the neighborhood, we decided against it. Why pay for less than desirable food when one isn’t hungry?

In the city of Paris, we never saw a free standing single home. Literally, all the housing consists of apartment buildings such as this. We’ve found living in apartments such as these unappealing to us. We’re glad we stayed in Paris for this shorter period than our usual two to three months. Apartments such as these are very expensive.

Tom and I calculated how much more we could have spent if we were like most travelers eating three meals a day. It could easily have been as much as an additional US $100, EU $75 per day (for two) for an extra US $1600, EU $1196 bringing the grand total up to US $7604, EU $6644.

We realize that most people coming to Paris as a vacation/holiday don’t stay for over two weeks. From what we’ve gleaned from sitting in the lobby posting each morning, many from the US for example, stay for a weekend or a maximum of five nights. However, the average daily cost would be the same.

Carved door to a city business center.

We’ve spoken to others stating they’ve allocated $1000’s for a special occasion trip to Paris to celebrate an anniversary or a birthday. Simply put, one must be prepared to spend approximately US $500, EU $374 per day to do so comfortably, in a mid-range hotel with more than one meal per day and one bottle of wine per day, including airfare, hotel, dining, transportation, tours, and entertainment.

I must add that Tom drank alcoholic beverages less than four times at dinner, our only meal, usually having one 50ml beer averaging US $11, EU $8.24. I don’t drink alcohol and on a rare occasion, I order tea or mineral water at about half the cost of beer. It’s our responsibility to research restaurants before choosing them to ensure they fit our guidelines.

Tom was ready to dig into his large pizza at Amalfi.

Had Tom consumed three beers each night, the additional cost would have been approximately US $352, EU $264.  We can only imagine how much more it would have been, had we ordered wine or two to three cocktails with dinner. (Tom doesn’t avoid ordering a cocktail due to the cost. It is his dislike for the available options.  Often, I encourage him to have a beer or cocktail but he declines, content to drink water with dinner).

Oh sure, we sound “nitpicky,” nickel and dime-ing ourselves to the hilt. However, we tend to order food off the menu that we truly want, not the lowest priced items, and never making any type of fuss about the bill or prices of the food, services, or products. 

The dish of Italian grilled calamari (squid) in a gluten-free chunky tomato sauce with a side of green beans and salad was one of the best meals I’ve had in Paris.

Diplomacy. This is crucial for us, for our personal enjoyment and integrity.

We may seem as if we’re “tightwads.” We’re not. We’re careful and most of all appreciative of the opportunity we’ve created for ourselves to travel the world for as long as we can, for as long as we chose, only possible with our diligent record-keeping while maintaining a budget that impacts every expenditure.

Last night Tom had this pizza topped with an egg at Amalfi, our favorite local restaurant.

So, dear readers, that’s the scoop of our time in Paris. Today, we’re off to London on the Eurostar, eyes wide open for pickpockets and for the excitement of traveling on this unbelievable train that travels under the English Channel. 

By late afternoon, we’ll be situated in our London hotel, expecting similar expenses with very otherwise different experiences.  We’ll be back tomorrow morning with our first post from London, photos, cost, and description of traveling on the Eurostar plus, our first peek at the London scenery.

Tom’s last dinner in Paris was topped off by a banana split. Our total bill for the above dinner US $50, EU $37.50 which we considered reasonable especially including this US $12, EU $9 banana split. Tom said it was well spent. Nary a taste for me but, the viewing was lovely.

Thank you for “virtually” traveling along with us as we continue on our worldwide journey. Pack your imaginary bags (not too much stuff) and prepare yourself for the next leg!

                                             Photo from one year ago, August 16, 2013:

The view from the 300-year-old stone house where we lived for two and a half months, located in Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy. We wrote about Tom’s frustration over the poor Internet signal preventing him from watching the Minnesota Vikings football games after paying US $169, EU $126 to the NFL website for viewing games while outside the US.  No refund was provided. As a result, he has given up hoping to watch the games. For details from that date, please click here.

Packing day…Eurostar to London tomorrow morning…Goodbye, Paris!…Tomorow post with more photos and final total costs for the past 16 nights…

When we finally had a relatively clear night we got this shot from the balcony in our hotel room.
The progression of the sunset in Paris.

Our time in Paris is coming to an end. Tomorrow morning we take a taxi to the Eurostar station. Causing Tom a little bit of angst is the fact that one must be able to carry their luggage onto the train in order to board. 

Many historical buildings line the boulevards.

With our two heavy large bags, two heavy small bags, one duffel bag, my handbag, and the one computer bag, we have quite a load. All of them have wheels so we’ll see how it goes. 

As we walked down a side street.

We’re putting a plan in place, testing it today. Shortly, once I complete today’s post, we’ll walk the several blocks to the laundromat where we’ll spend an hour and a half getting two tightly packed loads washed and dried. 

Tom didn’t order a single pastry from a boulangerie (bakery).

As the proverbial food voyeur, I’ve always reveled in looking at pastries, especially in Paris.
Good thing I can’t eat any of this. We’d have spent a fortune and I’d have gained so much weight I wouldn’t fit into my clothing. As it was, we each lost a few pounds while here.

We’ll pack everything once we return to the hotel wearing the same clothes for the rest of the day today that we’ll wear tomorrow, hand washing underwear tonight before bed.

In our travels, we often try to stay close to water, such as the River Seine, which is walking distance from our hotel. In London, we’ll be within walking distance of the Thames River.

These 16 nights in Paris have been one of the shortest periods we’ve stayed in one location, except for past cruises most of which have been in the two-week range and a few single nights in hotels in between flight. 

Renovations on an archway over the River Seine.

It’s hard to be packing again. At least at this point with the lesser amount of stuff, it doesn’t take too long, less than two hours at most. Recently, we’ve been asked if we’ve lightened our load so much, why do we still have such weight?

A street view of the restaurant we visited on Tuesday night, we’d yet to post.

My only response to that is this: If you had to pack everything you needed for the next year into one large and one small bag, could you do it? 

Earlier, I posted a similar photo.  We’ve loved this scene as the sky became blue.

With 12 pairs of shoes between us, two jackets each, everyday clothing, very few casual dressy clothes, two swimsuits each, two beach towels, emergency medical supplies, dental supplies, prescriptions, toiletries and cosmetics, and vital digital equipment. We have nothing we don’t need.

A bee was inside these flowers working on the nectar in the pistil.

As for Paris…have we enjoyed it?  I must say, I’ve loved every moment. For Tom, not as much. He’s only interested in certain sightseeing but, he graciously tagged along with me to see many of the sights I’d longed to see most of my life.

This was the window in a tailor shop we spotted on one of our long days of walking.

When I sensed he’d had enough, we slowed down over the past few days dining out by taxi a few times, otherwise staying close to our hotel taking walks, and enjoying the area. I am no way disappointed in not seeing more. 

These “hop-on, hop-off”  tourists buses are a good way for those who prefer not to walk, to see many of the sights of the city. We’d intended to do a three-day pass. But with the rain on and off almost every day, we never booked it fearful we’d pay and then be stuck inside the bus.

We exceeded our budgeted amount for tours and sightseeing and for me as the budget police, I have little room to complain. Nor did Tom complain about the day-long walks and lines at venues. 

Dogs are allowed in restaurants in Paris. This well-behaved guy was next to us one evening during dinner.

Paris is a complex city. One could spend years and never know it all. For the time we’ve spent here, we feel comfortable that we’ve seen all we’ve wanted to see, getting a feel for its charm and appeal, it’s dark dangers lurking under train stations at night, and its wide array of place to dine.

So typical Paris, motorbikes, and motorcycles parked along a narrow one-way road.

My favorite aspect of Paris, as it is for many, has been the Eiffel Tower both during the day and at night. The light show on the hour after dark made my heart pound with excitement. I’ll never forget that and we’re happy to have two videos of this breathtaking event. 

Cafes and bistros can be found on many corners inviting passersby to stop for a glass of wine or cup of coffee or tea.

It’s unlikely we’ll return to Paris. Yesterday, upon entering where we’ve been into my Trip Advisor profile, using the map to mark cities and countries we’ve visited, it appears we’ve seen so little. We have a lot of world left to see. 

In Paris, there have been restrictions as to the height of buildings in Paris which may soon be lifted. The height limit is 590 feet, 180 meters for office buildings and 150 feet, 46 meters for apartment buildings.

For us, it’s not a sprint nor is it a marathon. It’s a long walk. We work our way from location to location, choosing those which we find most appealing and interesting, from which we’ll hopefully continue to grow and learn. 

Many bridges in Paris have decorative ornamentation.
This artwork on the bridges in Paris is definitely worthy of note.

We stumble along the way, making mistakes, encountering obstacles, and having good days and bad. Life is a life wherever one may live. It just so happens that we’re experience life in locations all over the world.

This appears to be a variety of hibiscus.
A rose growing near the entrance to a bridge.

We’ll be back tomorrow with the final costs for 16 nights in Paris, posting before we leave for the train. And on Sunday, our first glimpses of London.

An orange tree for sale outdoors at a flower shop.

Be well.

                                              Photo from one year ago today, August 15, 2013:

Two weeks before we were leaving Italy for Kenya, we started assessing how much stuff we had to pack. At that point, we had considerably less than when we left the US but still had to unload much more. which we eventually accomplished. For details of that post, please click here.

Two new trendy dining reviews in Paris…Paris is wrapping up in two days!…Total expenses for 16 nights in Paris coming on Saturday’s travel day…

La Fontaine de Mars is located in an upscale neighborhood from what we observed.

On Tuesday night, we took a taxi from our hotel to La Fontaine de Mars, a popular French dining establishment a 10-minute drive from our hotel. We could have walked, but decided on a cab when we were in casual dressy attire with shoes not befitting long walks.

We paid twice as much for the outgoing taxi (the round trip was US $25.52, EU $19) on the way to the restaurant as opposed to the return drive later in the evening. The lower-priced taxi of the night was a newer black Mercedes with the driver wearing a suit. 

 Tom wasn’t his usual smiley self while waiting for La Fontaine de Mars to open for our 7:30 reservation. Us old-timers always arrive too early. Why is that?

Later, our concierge explained that when a taxi is called by phone, they turn on the meter from wherever they are when they get the call and for the time it takes them to pick up their passengers. Often over US $12 is already posted by the time the passengers enter the cab! Wow!

Once seated in the taxi, it’s awkward and uncomfortable to grumble, get out of the cab, and flag down another taxi. We don’t do this.

The staff was busy preparing for the evening’s usual totally booked tourist crowd, often Americans, from what we read online.

Taxi drivers in Paris don’t negotiate as they have in many other countries we’ve visited. Actually, unlike many parts of the world in general haggling over product and service prices is considered tacky in Paris. Then again, we never haggled over the price of services in Minnesota.

Arriving 15 minutes early for our reservation, we walked up and down the charming neighborhood taking a few photos and noting the number of restaurants ,many of which were highly recommend and a bit too pricey for every night dining.

This tiny room where we dined had seating for 16. The restaurant appeared to be a converted house with three of four rooms such as this on the second level, which we read was preferable to dining on the loud, busy main floor. However, some may prefer the more lively pace.

Had we stayed in Paris for a shorter visit spending less overall, it would have been worth trying a few other restaurants in this special area with several restaurants owned by the famous chef, Christian Constant who’s creative influence was apparent in La Fontaine de Mars with many unique items on the menu, many of which I’d love to have tried had I been able.

Trip Advisor rated La Fontaine de Mars #361 of 12,672 (the number of restaurants in Paris on TripAdvisor has increased by almost 100 since our arrival in Paris two weeks ago).

This is the menu with prices in Euros. US $10 converts to EU $7.48 based on today’s rates.

Unfortunately, the limitations of my way of eating limits my menu options with many flour laden sauces and side dishes. As for Tom and his limited taste buds dictate that he order mostly beef and pork and potatoes for a side dish. Many options in finer establishments include beans, lentils, and varying forms of rice, none of which he’s willing to try.

As a result, Tom chose the filet mignon with fries and I did the same, exchanging the fries for spinach when the menu indicated Bearnaise sauce was served with the steak. Bearnaise sauce typically isn’t made with flour, starch, or sugar.

The opposite side of the room in which we dined at La Fontaine de Mars.

Béarnaise sauce is made with butter and egg yolks, not unlike Hollandaise sauce but, with the addition of finely chopped fresh tarragon, shallots, wine vinegar, and white wine.

When the gravy boat of Bearnaise sauce was placed on the table with a small spoon on the side, I took a taste knowing Tom wouldn’t try it. It was heavenly! I could have eaten the entire portion with the spoon. I almost did when scooping a sizable dollop on each bite of my rare, cooked to perfection steak.

My filet mignon on a bed of spinach. I moved over the steak and piled the sauce on the spinach. My way of eating encourages eating lots of fat, excluding trans fat and vegetable oils, but includes animal fat, butter, coconut and olive oil, avocados, and nuts.

I chose the spinach as opposed to the fried potatoes in order to smear as much of the Bearnaise sauce over it as well. It was delicious, to say the least. I’d considered a salad, but again, olive oil atop a bunch of greens doesn’t do it for me.

The steak, spinach, and Béarnaise sauce consisted of my entire meal, leaving me hungry after returning to our hotel later in the evening. I took out the nuts and topped off my evening and my appetite. 

Tom’s filet mignon with fries and butter for the breadbasket.

Tom had the bread (which at this point he’s tired of crusty bread), the medium-sized portion of fries, and the steak sans sauce. None of the appetizers or desserts appealed to him.

We share a one-liter bottle of “still” water. Our total bill for dinner US $96.20, EU $72 plus the taxi fare of US $25.52, EU $19.

By the time I remembered to take this photo, I’d already consumed half of this server of Bearnaise sauce.

This restaurant had become more popular over the past several years after Obama’s had visited in 2009 which had no influence on our decision to select this restaurant. We discovered this fact after we’d found the listing on TripAdvisor and booked the reservation. The concierge at our hotel shared the Obama story which we later found online at this link.

Apparently, after their visit, visiting Americans stormed the restaurant as a favorite place to dine in Paris making getting a reservation difficult five years later.

Our bill, which converted to US $96.20.

Overall, it was very good.  It would have been fun to be with a group ordering numerous appetizers, desserts, and wines to share. Otherwise, the cost to do so for a couple could easily bring the bill upwards of US $300, EU $224 by each adding an appetizer and a dessert, plus one bottle of lower priced wine.

View from the upper level of La Fontaine de Mars from the steps to the upper level.

The service was exemplary, the intimate ambiance on the second floor was quaint and charming, the table settings with patterned tablecloths and oversized matching linen napkins was classic French, the menu interesting and the food very good.

View of the back of Tom’s head and the busy first level, which many diners prefer or where latecomers are seated. No reservations are held beyond 15 minutes of their scheduled time.

Overall, it was a pleasant dining experience which we’d recommend to others without hesitation if one is prepared to spend well over US $150, EU $112 for an entrée, and a bottle of wine.

Tom, as usual, first in line, waiting for the restaurant to open at 7 pm.

Now on to last night’s dining experience at Bistrotters, rated #5 of 12,672 on Trip Advisor. With high expectations, last night we took another taxi to the further distance to the restaurant situated in an average residential neighborhood on a side street.

Based on the lighting it was tough to get a good shot of the menu. Enlarging this photo will enable easier reading.

Arriving 10 minutes early, we waited with a dozen or so other diners outside the door for the restaurant to open. We were the first to enter having a choice as to where to sit. We chose the quiet corner in the back area away from the windows in a tiny table with a half-moon shaped table leaf we and others opened for added table space.

Tom’s first course of chorizo, which he found appetizing.

As Tom perused the surroundings shortly after we entered, all the tables were filled, it appeared the charming little bistro could serve 24 diners at a seating. We imagined it turned over several times per evening.

The waiter was surprised when I ordered the foie gras based on my food restrictions. He felt it may be too fatty without bread or crackers. I found it to be extraordinary, the best foie gras I’ve ever had. This morning, I looked up a few recipes and if I can find duck liver anywhere, I think that once we’re situated again in a few months, I may attempt to make this. Note the next photo for a perspective of the size of the serving.

The waiters were quick to attend to our drinks, provide English menus, and take our orders. With no beer or cocktail on the menu that Tom wanted, we opted to stick with the fresh bottle of tap water placed on the table after we were seated. (The tap water is safe to drink in Paris).

This plate provides a better perspective of the size of my portion of foie gras.  In the middle were pickled tomatoes and a salad, both of which contained sugar in the dressing which I opted not to eat after taking a taste. The coarse salt and the cayenne pepper on the right of the plate were the perfect accompaniment.

Once again, Tom ordered the filet mignon with fries and I ordered fish. I had no idea as to the type of fish when the waiter’s heavy accent made it difficult to determine with all the background noise. As long as fish is filleted properly I’ll eat any type of fish with the exception of bottom feeders or farmed fish.

The room in which we dined before the other reservations were seated.

On the menu was a choice of two courses for US $40, EU $30, or three courses for US $49, EU $37. I choose the starter of the most delicious foie gras minus the bread, with a small salad which I didn’t eat when I could tell there was sugar in the dressing. The fois gras was heavenly. I cut it into tiny squares savoring one bite at a time, dipping it into the Kosher salt and cayenne pepper on the side of the plate.

This was the room in which we dined located at the back of the tiny two-room restaurant

Tom’s dessert of caramel chocolate French toast looked divine. I watched him take every bite spreading it through the caramel dollops and melting slices of rich chocolate on the plate. He said it was excellent.

The other tiny room in Bistrotters with seating for 12.  Total seating appeared to be available for 24 diners.

Our bill arrived without asking, most likely to begin accommodating other diners soon to arrive for the next seating. Without cocktails and neither of us able to handle caffeine after dinner, we were ready to go. I must stress that we didn’t feel rushed by any means.

This was my entrée, the size deceiving in this photo.  There were two small pieces of an unknown fish atop a variety of vegetables and vegetable puree, although they appear as fruit. It was good, not great.

Our total bill with my two-course and Tom’s three-course meal with no additional items added with gratuity and taxes included came to US $99.60, EU $75, less than we’d expected when we booked the reservation. Here again as above, with a bottle of wine added, the bill would easily come to US $150, EU $112.

Tom’s filet mignon main course with a side of peppercorn sauce and fries.

Yes, we’d recommend Bistrotters as we have as well for La Fontaine de Mars above.This charming little spot so bespeaks the French style of dining by conserving space, serving consistent delicious meals, all meticulously prepared and served and priced comparably to any upper midrange restaurant we may have frequented in our old neighborhood in the US.

Overall, the four meals we had in the trendy more upscale restaurants in Paris, we found to be fresh, delicious, creative, and with good service, similarly prices:
1.  Les Ombres, Trip Advisor
2.  Bateaux Parisiens, the dinner cruise on the River Seine, Trip Advisor
3.  La Fountaine de Mars, Trip Advisor
4.  Bistrotters, Trip Advisor

Tom dessert, a caramel, chocolate French toast.  The slices of chocolate melted over the warm French toast after it sat for a few minutes. 

The total combined cost for dining in the above four establishments, keeping in mind that the Bateaux Parisiens included the two and a half-hour boat tour of the River Seine and all the wine Tom could drink, totals US $634, EU $474, averaging at US $159, EU $118 per venue. With the remaining meals we’ve had in Paris staying under US $60, EU $45, we stayed well within our budget of US $100, EU $75 per day. We expect that by adding breakfast and dinner, that amount would double.

In London, the budget is comparable to Paris, also allowing us to dine in a few finer establishments during the 15 nights of our stay. So far, it appears prices are similar to those in Paris.

The bill from Bistrotters converted to US $99.60.

Hands down, Tom and I both feel the Bateaux Parisiens, the dinner cruise, had the best food and value when it included multiple courses, two bottles of wine, champagne, and divine desserts for a total of US $270, EU $202 and of course, the exquisite boat ride down the River Seine at night with the lights of the city aglow.

Again tomorrow, we’ll make the 15-minute walk to our second visit to the laundromat and then back to the hotel to pack for the Eurostar train to London on Saturday morning. We’ve already managed a reservation at the #3 spot in Trip Advisor for Saturday night at 7:00 pm. Safari luck.

Over the past two weeks, it has rained most days having an impact on our sightseeing.

We’ll be back tomorrow with more new photos of Paris. As for Saturday’s travel day, we’re in the process of preparing a post you’ll see at our usual time with the wrap up of our total expenses, line by line, for 16 nights in Paris. Stop back!

                                              Photo from one year ago today, August 14, 2013:

Yesterday, in error I posted the wrong date from a year ago. As a result, there’s no year-ago post for today. 

Part 3, the Louvre…What can we say?…It was all we imagined and more…Venus de Milo…Final photos of the Louvre…

Venus de Milo by Alexandros of Antioch, also known as Aphrodite of Milos. It was amazing we got this shot free of onlookers when 100’s were crowded around also trying to take photos.
Waiting for the perfect opportunity to get a photo without more people in the photo. I have an app that removes people, however, it impacted the quality, inspiring me to leave them.

With only today and tomorrow remaining to see more of Paris when Friday is laundry and packing day, we must admit we have done our fair share of sightseeing. We’re ready to call it a day, keeping in mind, we have two weeks in London coming up in a few days and more sights to see.

Many of the statues were of a spiritual nature.
Exquisite fireplace and mantel.

Actually, we’ve seen most of which we wanted to see in Paris, leaving nothing nagging at us as a “must do.” Considering our combined general lack of interest in sightseeing, we’re satisfied that we’ve done exactly what we’d hoped and we’re ready to move on.

Artemis, the Moon Mistress.
Scary looking skeleton statue.

The high cost of great food in Paris and the taxis required to get to the higher quality restaurants can take a huge dent out of one’s wallet. London, although not known for great food has reportedly improved over the years and we expect prices to be the same.

This statue was make incorporating color.

Tom’s picky taste buds make dining out in mid-range restaurants challenging. Either he likes fine dining or fast food, neither of which we do often. Fast food? Never.

One can only imagine the skill required for the detail in this sculpture.

Tonight, we’re booked for Bistrotters which was in the #2 spot of best restaurants in Paris upon our arrival. It’s moved down to the #5 position dropping since we originally booked it. Last night we dined at a very popular restaurant that gained added notoriety when Obama’s dined there awhile ago. We’ll report on both restaurants with photos and pricing tomorrow.

These three statues were placed together perhaps created by the same sculptor.

It was hard to get either reservation. Somehow we got lucky when there were no waiting lists for weeks. Tonight’s reservation sent us several email messages asking for confirmation for our reservation. Guess, they don’t want to miss a beat. Good planning on their part.

It was necessary to raise the camera over the heads of the visitors in order to take this photo.

Overall, dining in Paris has been a bit disappointing. Unless one is prepared to spend US $200, EU $150 for two, most of the food is mediocre at best. Yes, we’ve had a few good dinners, although not filling, especially when my meals contain a small portion of protein and a few cooked vegetables

The Louvre contained many nudes difficult to identify online.

There’s an extra charge as much as US $8, EU $6 to order a side salad of only greens. They don’t have salad dressings other than olive oil which I don’t care for alone on greens. 

I wish we could identify each statue. There hasn’t been enough time to research the subject of every one of our photos.

It’s hard to spend that much for a small bowl of mixed greens that aren’t satisfying or filling. Each night, after we’ve gone back to our hotel, I’ve eaten a good size portion of organic raw nuts to top off the inadequate meal.

From the Roman period.

Tom is able to fill himself with potatoes, bread, and rich French sauces made with flour. For me, eating a deck of cards sized portion of salmon and a cup of green beans is hardly satisfying. I know, some may say, if we dined during the day, a smaller dinner would suffice. 

Entitled, The Boy Struggling with a Goose by Botheus, possibly from 160 AD.

My way of eating literally kills the appetite for 20 to 24 hours and I can’t conceive of eating when not hungry.  Tom is always full from the previous night and never cares for breakfast or lunch, although I’d gladly go out to dine with him.

This painting is entitled, The Fish Market After 1621 by Frans Snyder.

I suppose on the upcoming cruise ships we’ll have breakfast each day. It’s tough not to eat twice a day on a cruise ship. I’ll skip the nuts, eat a light dinner, and maybe be ready for bacon, eggs, and veggies the next morning. After all, we’ve paid for the food at the recently higher cruise prices over the prices we paid when we last cruised over a year ago from Barcelona to Venice.

Baby angels with Jesus.

Paris is a beautiful, artsy, historical city. Overall, we’ve enjoyed our time here. However, we aren’t city people.  We like wildlife, nature, down-home warm friendly people, and locations filled with natural beauty. Our hotel concierge staff has been wonderful although some, not all, other service staff throughout the city have not been friendly. 

Headless statue in a room filled with statues.

Why did we choose Paris and London? Simple answer. We’re traveling the world. We felt we couldn’t leave them out of our itinerary when neither of us had visited either city.

Tom in front of a statue of a hunter in the center courtyard.

Then again, we chose to visit London when our upcoming cruise sails out of Harwich, England on August 31st and, visiting Paris and then London was a logical way to fill a month’s gap in our itinerary. 

Another exquisite statue in the courtyard under the glass pyramid.

Also traveling on the Eurostar (the so-called, “chunnel”) under the English Channel on a train was on the list of things we wanted to experience. In three days, we’ll be on that train. That’s exciting!

In the center courtyard on the ground floor of the Louvre.

With few tours planned for London, we’ll probably plan less in advance on the remaining days waiting to see what we feel like doing day by day.

In the courtyard within the Louvre, surrounded by the glass pyramid, the views were excellent.
Of course, there were many expensive shops on the way to the exit.

I have a planned lunch date with Liz, whom I met through “comments” who lives a train ride away from London, who’s coming to the city for the day. How exciting! I’ll have a “girl’s lunch” and Tom gets a few hours on his own. He’ll like that!

Once we exited the Louvre, it didn’t take long to find a taxi.
We spotted this view from the window of the cab while we were driving back to our hotel.

For those still working, it’s “hump day.” Start to relax and wind down for the weekend!

It wasn’t long before we spotted the famous landmark, the Eiffel Tower, a short walk from our hotel which has been a great location for our time in Paris.
Ah, there it is.  The Eiffel Tower has been my favorite sight to see in Paris.

                                           Photo from one year ago today, August 12, 2013:

No photos were posted one year ago. As time marched on as we continued in our travels, eventually we started posting photos every day which will start soon in these “year ago reflections.” For details of our story that day with tips we’d discovered required for “turning off the brain at night”, please click here.

Part 2…The Louvre…What can we say?…It was all we’d imagined and more…Tomorrow, Part 3, with Venus de Milo!

In taking this photo from a window, I later thought it was a painting. But, it was a photo I took.

Yesterday morning, we canceled the trip to Notre Dame. After a horrible night’s sleep of only three hours on Sunday, I just don’t have the energy to climb 22 flights of stairs up the Cathedral and then walk for an entire day. 

In this photo you can see a reflection of a statue behind me and also, me taking the photo.

Sunday night, at a nearby restaurant where we had an awful meal, in a desperate attempt at something different to drink, I ordered a Coke Zero which I rarely do. I’d given up drinking soda a long ago.

Whatever happened to figurines such as these, that our grandmothers had on a Fhyfe table in the living room next to the sofa.

The caffeine from the Coke Zero coupled with several cups of tea later in the day kept me awake, not falling asleep until 3:00 am, awakening at 6:00 am. After a good night’s sleep last night, I’m raring to go and we’ll be back out again today.

These cups and saucers reminded Tom of a set he’d had that belonged to his mother that was over 100 years old.  He saved it in a tote with other memorabilia that he left with family to later give to the grandchildren. It may not have been valued as much as these shown, but, it was fun to compare.

I believe Sunday’s post may have included more photos than we’ve posted in any of over 700 posts. There may have been more when we were on safari in Kenya or on a busy “visitors” day in Marloth Park.

More familiar looking dinnerware.

Loading more than 10 photos per post presents problems with editing, increasing posting time by almost double. How could we not share the number of photos we’ve been posting in Paris? Please bear with us if the formatting is less than perfect, particularly in paragraph spacing.

This pattern was similar to a set of dishes I’d purchased years ago, that were well over 100 years. We sold the set to friend Peggy, knowing they’d be in good hands.

With over 80 remaining photos to share, we’ll be adding Part 3, the Louvre for Wednesday. As I go through the remaining photos deciding what I could leave out it’s impossible to decide. 

Small jewelry boxes created with the finest of detail.

As a result, posting the Louvre on Wednesday, especially convenient when we didn’t do the Notre Dame Cathedral on Monday, will wrap up that segment leaving days for sightseeing which we’ll commence again today.

Another room with royal treasures.

The Louvre is a complex place. One could visit every day for a year finding something new each day. For a scholar intent on studying the complexity of the Louvre, it would be a daunting task.

Clocks are a common theme in several modern art areas of the museum.
Perhaps an official or a self-portrait.

For us, neophyte photographers that we are, and seldom art aficionados, the undertaking is pure pleasure combined with curiosity. However, this website is not intended as a scholarly journal. 

Stained glass windows.

Instead, it’s the telling of an ongoing tale of two semi-retired 60 something’s with few aspirations beyond the exciting lifestyle associated with that “telling.” 

More exquisite stained glass windows.

Many blog writers have dreams of writing books, making public appearances while itching for a certain degree of notoriety. Not us.

Could these be compasses with only one hand?

Many world travelers, some similar to us, have embarked on book writing campaigns with TV appearances, book signings, tours of their native country, and beyond. That’s not for us. At times, we’ve discussed writing a book. (How easy it could be when we already have the outline here online!). 

Pocket watches.

But, as we’ve observed a few other world travelers similar to us in ways, on news programs, dressed in business wear, hair, and makeup was done by the network, we cringe at the thought. 

Art is more symbolic than literal to be interpreted by the beholder, as in the case in these beautiful pieces.
Mother and daughter.

We have no interest in traveling across the US to go from bookstore to bookstore, signing and smiling until our hands and faces hurt to promote a book. We want to live the contents of what such a book would tell, not tell about such a book.

Religious connotation.

For many years, I promised myself I’d write a book. Now, as the book industry rapidly changes from paper to digital, the profits have been diminished and it just wouldn’t be worth it. If someone offered me one million dollars today to give this up, I wouldn’t accept it.

As we peered outside there didn’t appear to be many visitors in the courtyard.  Most of them were already inside trying to take photos of the more popular works of art.

Happiness is happiness. Why would one sell out happiness for money? Sure, peace of mind about money is nice. We have that as long as we continue to follow our budget. Does more peace of mind guarantee more happiness?  I doubt it.

Heaven and earth?

After a few days, the knowledge of having more money settles into the familiarity zone and in no time, the quality of the life one had before the money seeps back in. If one was happy then and is happy with the new life the money dictates, then all is well.

Ladies playing cards.

For us, an advance on a book would mean pressures of time and effort I don’t feel we want to give, especially the contractual piece about promoting the book in bookstores and on TV. No thanks.

Could this be a card reader?

I don’t know what this has to do with the Louvre. Perhaps it revolves around the fact that we make every effort to create an appealing story with photos each day with “literally” no ulterior motives, no priming for a book deal, or notoriety. Its basis is a pure and simple pleasure.

Are these smaller boats “tenders” of that era, taking passengers out to the ships?

This legacy in words and photos for our grandchildren and for generations to come in leaving this adventure behind also provides us with great joy. Knowing that we have almost 200,000 readers worldwide (by the time we leave here on Saturday) gives us all the satisfaction that we’ll ever need.

We loved the depth in this painting.
We spotted this man drawing from a painting on the wall.

We hope that through our stories and photos that readers may find a morsel that appeals to them, piquing their interest and inspiring them. Some of our readers write saying that they “travel along with us in spirit.

This farm scene with goats was located in the Nordic area of the museum.
From the romantic period.

Such words from our readers mean more to us than any mandatory book tour or a chunk of money we’d add to our safety net, forgetting about it in a few days or weeks.

This is Queen Marie de Medici by Frans Pourbus.
A man and his dog.

As we continue to write about the Louvre, we smile at the reality that we aren’t into sightseeing and Tom’s not into walking. Although, that’s all we’ve been doing since we arrived 12 days ago with over 35 miles, 56 kilometers, logged in the first eight days.  Surely, we’ll walk many more miles.

Enjoy these additional photos of the Louvre today, finalizing tomorrow in Part 3 with excellent crowd-free photos of the Venus de Milo.

Happy Tuesday!

                                            Photo from one year ago today, August 12, 2013:

A year ago, I wrote describing this book I’d read while in Tuscany about how we as humans can spend too much time sitting and how destructive long periods of sitting are to our health. For details from that day, please click here.

Part 1, the Louvre…What can we say?…It was all we’d imagined and more…

Purse free, with empty pockets, it felt great not to be bulked up when Tom carried our cloth bag with the few items we needed. I was standing behind the entrance gate to the Louvre.

Having appreciated fine art, I’d never taken the time to become knowledgeable about learning different works of art, their history, and their artists. For some of us learning about art becomes a passion, for some of it becomes a passing fancy from time to time and for some, they never give fine art a thought.

On our way to the Louvre we drove through the tunnel where Princess Diana was killed in August 31, 1997.
The entrance to the Louvre with the Grande Roue de Paris Ferris wheel in the background.

I guess I fall into the middle category loving art from time to time, with Tom never giving fine art a thought. We all have our own interests which adds to the uniqueness of the individual. 

We were grateful for our “avoid the lines” tickets where we were able to enter in a matter of minutes, as opposed to waiting in line for what could have been hours.

There were many ways one can make their way through the enormous museum.

Not having any interest in fine art doesn’t make a person less intelligent or worldly. Our brains are wired differently. Tom’s total lack of interest didn’t concern me a bit when he’d kindly agreed to visit Le Louvre and other museums with me in Paris. He never complained continually making certain that I didn’t miss a thing.

The vast size of the Louvre is difficult to fathom.
It took a few moments for Tom to figure out where we were to enter to avoid the line.  In minutes we were on our way and indeed had no wait at all.

He was not only “the pack mule” as he often refers to himself, carrying the cloth bag with incidentals; bottled water, maps and an extra camera, leaving my hands totally free to take photos, he also was, as always, my personal navigator. 

This was the first area we encountered upon entering the building.
The glass pyramid is a cover over the entrance area.

We hardly missed a room in the massive 652,300 square feet, 60,600 square meters, other than a few rooms we entered immediately exiting, that held little appeal for either of us.

We entered the Louis XIV and Louis XVI areas. The crowds were just beginning to accumulate.
These rooms are a part of the Louis XIV area. As is the case in Versailles, the ceilings are often as interesting as the walls and paintings.

With 35,000 objects in the museum, it’s not possible to stop to look at each item. That would take days if not months to accomplish. However, we’d walk one side of a room perusing everything to our right and then double back to the opposite side when the configuration of the room allowed this plan. 

We chose to stop and enjoy the paintings that appealed to us.
In several of the paintings, we weren’t able to get close enough to get a straight shot with no alternative but to take photos from the side.

We’d stop and look at the items that caught our eye, both of us often attracted to the same items. When possible, we took photos. Although when viewing certain items, the huge crowds made it impossible to find a spot for a good photo, especially at the Mona Lisa where there were literally hundreds of people with cameras raised into the air attempting to get a shot. 

The Mona Lisa, encased in thick glass with lots of heads and cameras in the way of taking photos. It was challenging if not impossible to manage a good photo through the glass nor through the crowd. We chose not to wait for a better opening.
Taken from an angle, this was the best I could do. Tom was steering me from behind to move me forward into the crowd, but I quickly tired of that tactic and cleared the crowd in order to move along.

Honestly, I wasn’t frustrated by my lack of ability to get a good photo. Encased in thick bullet proof glass the glare was unavoidable with my camera and getting a straight-on shot was impossible unless one was willing to wait to squeeze into a good spot.

The ceiling paintings continued to be breathtaking throughout the museum.
We wondered if there will be art from our era that will hold such interest to the public in centuries to come.

Let’s face it.  Most people know what the Mona Lisa looks like. As art appreciation neophytes, we simply wandered around in Tom’s methodical manner, choosing to look at and take photos of items that both appealed to us and were less crowded. Most people have already seen the most popular items. The more obscure appealed to us the most.

Romantic art.
Religion and angels are a common theme through art in most countries.

An important point to mention is that it wasn’t possible for us to maintain a record of every item in our photos as to the dates, the artist, etc. Most often, it wasn’t possible to include the description of the item along with the item itself when the little signs were often anywhere from a foot to three feet away (one meter). 

Whimsical art.
Looking out a window to a balcony with statues.

Taking photos of those descriptions would have resulted in days of editing to ensure we matched up the correct descriptions with the correct items.  As it was, the hundreds of photos we took required most of the day yesterday for me to sort, crop and review.

Many of the works of art depicted rulers of varying importance.
Art of spiritual significance. is predominant in many paintings.

As a result, we are not including captions with names of the photos, the dates and the artists in the majority of the photos we’re posting today and tomorrow in Parts 1 and 2 of the Louvre.  There are a few websites that contain partial catalogs of the Louvre. 

Many works of art bespeak musical themes.
A portrait of a woman of notoriety or a beloved woman or both.

But, honestly, we don’t have that kind of time to match the items to the descriptions when we’re busy each day sightseeing, posting and handling the over 1000 photos we’ll have taken in Paris.

A portrait of a leader or person of significance.
Femininity of the era by Leonard de Vinci.
This sign is next to the above portrait.

If you see a particular piece in our photos on which you’d like more information, please click this link for thousands of photos of items located in the Louvre.  Of course, if you have any questions or input, please feel free to comment at the end of any post for a fast response, usually within 12 hours.

We moved from painting to other artwork of many eras and countries.
The long view through multiple rooms is lovely.

Yesterday morning, we took a taxi both ways to the Louvre when there was no easy means of arriving there by bus or metro.  The cost for the taxi was US $16.23, EU $12.10 on the way to the Louvre and oddly, US $ 13.41, EU $10 on the return drive.  Admission to the Louvre is US $16.09, EU $12 for a full day pass.

We were also attracted to the smaller pieces.
Figurines. Notice the dates.

How long did we stay?  We entered at 9:30 and left at 2:30 when the camera’s battery was almost dead. Soon we’ll purchase a new camera purchasing extra batteries.  Constantly checking on the remaining battery is annoying.

Not only are the artifacts amazing but, the rooms into which they are housed are equally amazing.
There are exquisite statues throughout the museum.

Certainly, no amount of time in a single day would be sufficient but, after the five hours, we felt we’d done all we could do having seen every floor and almost every room as mentioned above.

The Egyptian art was of particular interest to us.
There is an endless array of Egyptian artifacts.

Did we enjoy it?  Very much.  Luckily, with our decision to see many of the less popular items instead searching for those that appealed to our taste, at times, we were alone in a room or with only a half dozen people. 

Stunning artwork.
The cat is a revered creature in some area in the Middle East in both Egypt and which we observed in Morocco.

Visiting the Louvre under our own terms pleased us when we were able to appreciate those treasures that perhaps others may have found less enticing. 

Perhaps a mummy was in this sarcophagus at one time.
More colorful art on the ceiling.

After all, aren’t we the couple who doesn’t necessary live the lifestyle commensurate with most of the modern world’s population: homeless, no stuff, wandering about the world indefinitely?

Gold Egyptian figurines.
Sign posted under gold figurines as shown above.

Most of all, I’m grateful for Tom’s willingness to let me live yet another dream of seeing Paris; the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, Versailles, the Arc de Triomphe, the River Seine, Notre Dame (today) and many more points of interest we’ve mentioned or are yet to mention as we roll into our second week. 

Colorful Egyptian art.
Small Egyptian artifacts.

Add the fine dining which we hope to continue to experience, the nice French boutique hotel, walking distance to the Eiffel Tower and much more and I couldn’t be happier with our visit to Paris so far.

Egyptian pottery. Several rooms are filled with pottery which didn’t appeal to us.
This piece is approximately one foot tall, .3 meters.

As I write this, its Sunday afternoon, August 10th, hoping to be done by dinnertime. I’m writing Monday’s post in advance since we’ll be gone all day Monday, posting it in the morning before we head out.  I’m sitting at a tiny bistro table in the lobby of our hotel where I’ve been working on my computer for the past six hours writing both Sunday and Monday’s posts. 

This Egyptian piece is well preserved.
One can only wonder as to significance of these artifacts when they were created.

Tom’s comfortably ensconced in the corner of a relatively comfortable sofa, listening to his favorite radio show from Minnesota, Garage Logic, content as he could be.  It’s raining again which inspired us to spend Sunday indoors getting these two posts completed. 

Modern art in an ancient era?
The last of the Egyptian art rooms.

Don’t get me wrong, we love posting here.  Tom is usually busy helping me with research, facts and figures while I busily type to my heart’s content.  And indeed, it is truly is to my heart’s content.  In essence, that’s why we do this.  Because, we want to.

Napoleon III room.
More Napoleon III room.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with Part 2 of the Louvre.  Wednesday and Thursday, we’ll present our visit to Notre Dame with many photos.  On Friday, we’ll post photos we’ve yet to share, review our hotel with pricing, (plus our total expenditures for the 16 nights in Paris), the quality of services and amenities and Saturday, dear readers, we’re off to London.

Note the dates on these figurines.

Have a wonderful Monday for those of our readers who continue to get up and go to work every Monday.  And for those who are basically retired, as we are, who cares what day of the week it is?  We hope to see you tomorrow for Part 2, the Louvre!

Photo from one year ago today, August 11, 2013:

This was the exit from the yard of the 300 year old stone house in Boveglio, Italy.  A year ago on this date, we realized that in only 20 days we’d be leaving Tuscany, Italy for Diani Beach, Kenya.  Its hard to believe that was a year ago, when at that point, we hadn’t yet decided to come to Paris to fill a gap in our itinerary. For details of that date, please click here.

Part 2, River Seine Dinner Cruise…Many photos!…A trip to a Paris self serve laundry…

The Assemblee Nationale, the French National Assembly. The interior of many of these buildings are worth seeing by clinking on the links included here.

This is our second Eiffel Tower video taken after the cruise on the River Seine.

As we continue sharing the photos of our night on the dinner cruise on the River Seine on Thursday night, we can’t resist including photos of our trip to a self-serve laundry.

The lighting inside the boat was red LED bulbs that had a huge impact on our photos. Tom’s filet mignon included mashed potatoes which he hadn’t had in a long time.
This was my veal filet.  I don’t usually eat veal. However, in Paris, one must try new things. I was served a delicious plate of less common sautéed vegetables.

During the summer, many restaurants and other businesses close for as long as a month, most likely as a result of the owners needing time off from the constant flow of residents and tourists.

Tom’s dessert #1, a strawberry mousse. The pink appearance is due to the red LED lights on the boat after dark.
Tom’s dessert #2, a layered chocolate torte embellished with a strand of delicious French chocolate.
My lovely dessert, two creamy French pieces of cheese.

Last week on a walk, we went in search of a self-service laundry when the pile of dirty laundry continued to grow. We wear shirts for a few days and jeans for several. It’s the socks and underwear that are worn for one day and I was almost out by Friday. I own two bras and eight panties. Tom has eight briefs. We each have about six pairs of socks. 

The Palais de Justice, the French Palace of Justice.
Another area of the Palais de Justice, the French Palace of Justice.

We found the closest laundromat four blocks away after walking for 15 minutes. Perfect. We’d haul the two big loads in the wheeling duffel bag on Friday.

The scenery along the river was enhanced by the reflection of lights.

Of course, it rained for several days, including Friday, but we decided to head out in the rain anyway. I’ve never been one to use an umbrella although the hotel loaned us one. The wind was so strong it kept flipping inside out. Tom had no interest in attempting to stay underneath the umbrella. You know…his short hair.

Tom’s photos of me are always blurry to some extent. That explains why I take most of the photos.
We were nearing the end of the cruise when I took this outdoor photo of Tom.

Once we arrived at the Laundromat, we discovered it had closed for the remainder of the month a few days earlier. With the rain escalating, we were determined to go back to the hotel with clean laundry. 

The moon peeking out of a cloudy sky, the green lights, the reflections on the water…nice.

Asking a server at a restaurant, she pointed in the direction we should try. Off we went in the rain. Another 12 minutes later we found an open laundromat, figured out the French instructions as to how to operate the machines. An hour and a half later we were out the door with clean clothes.

We loved getting this shot of the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty.

There’s only been one other occasion that we’ve done laundry in a public facility. While on a cruise on the Carnival Liberty beginning April 9, 2013, we were thrilled they had coin-operated washers and dryers, a rare amenity on cruise ships.

For one load, it was EU $4.50, US $6.00.  With one load of whites and dark each, we spent a total of US $20.12, EU $15. 

The cost of washing and drying the two loads was US $20.12, EU $15. One can only imagine what it may cost a family doing their wash when the cost is over US $10, EU $7.50 per load. We usually have 10 loads per week with bedding, towels, and clothes.

Tom with a toothpick in his mouth waiting patiently for the laundry.

This upcoming Friday, one day before we depart Paris to take the Eurostar (train under the English Channel) to London, we’ll do another few loads and be able to pack only clean clothes for the upcoming two weeks, repeating the same process while in London. Having laundry done on cruise ships is outrageously priced as much as US $4 for one underwear item.

 A French laundromat, not so romantic but certainly useful. 

In a funny way, we enjoyed doing the laundry. Mindlessly sitting in the chairs watching our wash, chatting endlessly, the time went quickly. How easily we’re entertained.

Today, we’ll be staying close to the hotel. It’s another rainy day, many restaurants are closed. Taking a day off of walking will be good for my blistered feet. Yesterday, we walked no less than another four miles getting to the Louvre and going through the Louvre which we’ll describe in tomorrow’s post.

Enjoy a lovely Sunday and we’ll see you again tomorrow. 

Photo from one year ago today, August 10, 2013:

Not speaking of word of English, our lovely housekeeper Santina was always brought treats when she came to clean. We used these vegetables from her garden to make Mexican food that night.  For more details of life in Boveglio, Italy, please click here.

Part 1…River Seine Dinner Cruise…Loved it!…Many Paris photos!…

Tom was carrying his dress shoes in a bag when the dress code for the dinner cruise stipulated no sports shoes were allowed. However, on a rainy evening, they made exceptions when most of the passengers were wearing sport shoes.

Yesterday, we asked the concierge at our hotel to call the river cruise company as to where we were to go for the boat for the dinner cruise. The River Seine has hundreds of tour boats along its banks. 

As we walked down a few flights of step to the boardwalk along the River Seine searching for the dinner cruise boat, the Bataueux Parisiennes.

Our tickets didn’t indicate a location as to where to find the boat which was surprising. Then again, we’ve found in Paris, that even if directions and instructions are provided in English, they are often confusing and incomplete, which we’ve discovered to be the case almost everywhere we’ve gone.

The walkway onto the boat.

Leaving the hotel on foot at 8 pm, we found our boat, the Bateaux Parisiennes which we’d booked through Viator, a reputable online tour booking company that makes arranging tours relatively easy.

As soon as we were seated, we were served these little French pastries and champagne. I didn’t try the buns but took a few sips of the delicious champagne. Tom ate all four of these pastries plus three of the white buns.

With vague instructions, we managed to arrive at the dock for the luxurious boat where we were immediately escorted to a table by the window. When I’d booked the event, I’d chosen the option for a table in the center of the dining room, away from the window which was the additional US $100, EU $75, over the all-inclusive cost for two at US $270, EU $202.

Dark clouds loomed over the city for days as it rained heavily off and on. 

Safari luck kicked in once again, and we were seated at the window at an ideal table for two.

Most of our photos shown here today and tomorrow were taken through the blue glass dining enclosure on the boat. We apologize for the unavoidable glare.

After seeing how impossible it would have been to take photos from the center of the dining room, we were all the more grateful for the window seats. With minimal areas to stand outside the glass-encased dining room, most of our photos today were taken through the glass diminishing the quality. 

The gold pillar tops as the boat drove past Pont Alexandre III. We boarded the boat at 8:30 explaining the darker photos.

Surely, in our remaining full week in Paris, we’ll have many more unobstructed photos to share.

The ornaments as we passed under one of many bridges.

The boat was full of well-dressed passengers. The dress code indicated no sports shoes were allowed so I wore the blister-inducing sandals I’d worn a few days ago and we brought along Tom’s dress shoes in a cloth bag. 

This foie gras appetizer was amazing. I savored every morsel along with the single perfectly cooked, cold asparagus spear, lying atop a line of what tasted to be an anchovy paste.

Once we boarded the boat we noticed that many passengers were wearing dressy casual clothing with sports shoes. It had been raining in buckets all day. Tom never had to put on the dress shoes. Nor was a sport coat required, which Tom no longer has in his possession.

Tom’s appetizer of grilled prawns and vegetables.  He doesn’t normally care for shrimp. After sharing a few prawns with me, he said, “There was nothing offensive about this.”

On several occasions, we attempted to get someone to take a photo of us together, which always presents a challenge. A couple of young women offered, but, the photos they’d taken didn’t work out so well with the bright lights in the background. We’ll post them tomorrow.

We weren’t certain as to which building this is as we cruised under another bridge.

The dinner was fabulous, to say the least. The menu options allowed me to order an appetizer, entrée, and cheese plate for dessert at an extra EU $5, US $6.69. Tom had my included dessert along with his menu as shown in these photos.

We’ll find out what building this is when we go to Notre Dame on Monday.  It was next door to the Cathedral.

A glass of champagne was presented to each of us the moment we were seated and throughout the dinner, two full bottles of French wine were served and left at the table for our consumption. 

Interesting architecture located along the River Seine.

Since I don’t drink alcohol for health reasons, (although I did taste the wines), Tom wiped out the entire bottle of the white wine and half of the bottle of the red wine.

As night fell, it became more difficult to take photos with the glare of the glass enclosure.

Tom was pleasantly tipsy by the end of the evening. Tom is not a big drinker, rarely drinking at “home” and often drinking water instead of a cocktail in a restaurant. 

Many bridges were constructed with ornate decorations.

When he does imbibe, he’s a fun drunk, doesn’t slur his words, doesn’t fall down, and has his wits about him, including his great sense of direction and sense of humor. He simply ups the ante on his humor and playfulness, all of which I thoroughly enjoy. We had our usual great time, perhaps escalated by the romantic environment and that insane playfulness.

Tom’s eyes were also riveted on the beautiful scenery.

After dinner, we wandered outside to the small outdoor area of the boat (the rain had stopped) staying outdoors to watch the City of Light go by as the boat made its way back to the pier.

On occasion, we spotted advertising along the River Seine.

Docking at 10:50 pm, we were anxious to make our way to the Eiffel Tower for the on-the-hour light show. Tom dragged me along to ensure we were the first people off the boat hoping we’d make it on time. Had we waited five minutes, we’d have missed the light show.

A portion of Notre Dame.

The crowds in the area of the Eiffel Tower at 11 pm were like nothing we’ve ever seen. It was literally body to body, but, the excitement generating from the crowd was intoxicating. I was literally reeling, not from the few sips of wine, but from the energy of the crowd.

With the full moon only days away, we enjoyed seeing it peeking out from the heavy cloud cover.

Surprisingly, it felt safe. Armed guards were everywhere and, other than the necessity of taking precautions against pickpockets, for us, Paris felt relatively safe, even at night in the crowds. 

Some of the spires of Notre Dame.

At this point, as I write here late in the day on Saturday, August 9, when this morning we left for the Louvre, which we walked for almost five hours, the dinner cruise on the River Seine may prove to be our favorite experience in Paris. 

As the boat continued on the River Seine. The 2½ hour cruise eventually turned around to go back the way we’d come enabling us to see the other side.

The combination of gourmet French food and seeing many of the major venues along the river created a memorable experience.

The French architecture in apartments, condos, and office buildings is pleasing as well as the more prominent and well-known buildings in the city.

Plus, wrapping up the evening with the Eiffel Tower light show capped off the perfect evening. We couldn’t have been more pleased. 

At this point, we were nearing the turnaround spot.

With the handy food list in French on my phone, the chef on the boat easily and willingly accommodated my requirements which our excellent waiter gladly relayed to perfection. 

There were many dinner cruise boats on the River Seine for considerably lower prices, as low as US $51, EU $39 per person which we less luxurious with standard fare. We’d researched extensively to decide on the Bateaux Parisiennes which was highly rated on various websites.

As it turned out, many of the menu options were suitable for me. I gave Tom my dessert while we paid the extra US $6.71, EU $5 for a delicious small portion plate of a variety of French cheeses. Superb!

There were many day tour boats along the river.
The sight of all the well lit boats on the river at night was captivating

We finally fell asleep well after 1:00 am with smiles on our faces awakening at our usual early time to begin yet another fine day in Paris. Tomorrow, Part 2 with food photos and our exciting nighttime photos and video.  Please check back.

Tom was certainly enjoying the included two bottles of wine plus two glasses of champagne served when we were seated. He prefers the white over the red.

Photo from one year ago today, August 9, 2013:

We found this type of bat in the house in Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy. (Not our photo). Living in the mountains covered in lush vegetation and many flying insects is an ideal habitat for bats. Finding this bat is the house startled us. Little did we know what awaited us in Africa. For details of that date, please click here.

Late posting today…Off to the Louvre this morning…

Our first photo when we arrived on the Bateaux Parisienes, the beautiful dinner cruise we booked for Thursday evening. What a fabulous evening! Check back later today for the remainder of the photos taken during the cruise including photos of many of the sites of Paris as seen from the River Seine.

We have so much to share. Shortly we’re taking a cab to the Louvre returning in the afternoon when we’ll post details of the most amazing dinner cruise we ever could have imagined.

Please check back later!