Wednesday, October 13

Paris, Je t'aime!

Hello lovelies! Our favorite dessert in Paris is found at Crepes a Go-Go near the Pantheon. Heaven help us, we barely snapped this picture before we finished devouring them! The salted butter caramel sauce, vanilla ice cream, and caramelized apples have my mouth watering still! You?

Ryan and I took off for the long weekend to hit Paris once more. A family I grew up with in Kennewick, the Stitts, have been able to live and work in Paris for a year now and their kids are up and grown. Nate and Kathryn's visit happened to coincide with our visit too and it was fun to catch up. The Stitts let us crash on their sofa bed again and we had a great time! It was a soul-filling opportunity for me to reconnect with friends who know where I came from and are doing this crazy living abroad thing too. Soul-filling, does that make sense? I can't figure out how else to describe it. Awesome!

The day before we left, I dropped the kids off at their cousins'. The boys immediately scattered as an instant game of hide-n-seek with the younger cousins took precedence over bidding mom farewell. Morgan, however, stuck to me like glue! She never knows if visits to the cousins will be with or without her parentals. Afterall, I am her favorite minion to order about.

I was a bit apprehensive about this trip to Paris. I've never felt in danger here in Europe, but all the latest terrorist alerts here had me a little spooked. Ryan said that made it the best time to travel since everyone would be more vigilant but I had to wonder. Once on the ground there, it felt no different that other visits and we weren't really visiting the bigger, most famous sites.

In fact, we spent most of our time walking through different neighborhoods, enjoying the different vibe and feel of each on our way to one site or another: the Carnavalet Museum (French history museum, mostly the revolutions), a Garnier Opera tour, the Barbes-Rochechouart market Saturday morning, and so on. It was one of those trips where we simply didn't bother to take out the camera most of the time because it would have ruined the moment of being among locals. I think the Opera tour and the trip to the Barbes market were our favorites this trip.

As I was looking for the market's name, I stumbled across a blog with good pictures that also described the market scene pretty well:

The Barb├Ęs market is located in what one might call a ‘transitional’ neighborhood, which means a lot of different types of people and ethnicities share the quartier. You’ll find Africans dressed in brightly colored robes, Arabs haggling in their excitable voices, a few French people scoping out bargains, and an occasional American thrown in the mix. The market is a massive crush in places and I often think that if I picked up my legs, the crowd would simply carry my along, from one end to the other. . . The accent is on value and price, not quality. Hence thrifty Parisians shop here when they need to stockpile things. . .

Our friends had planned to go grab produce for the coming week so we tagged along. It was amazing how packed it was! It was the closest thing I'd been in that reminded me of my study abroad in the Holy Land. It just needed to be wedged within the walls of the Old City with a hanging sheep and camel or two. You could barely get out of the metro station doors because individuals were selling random wares that looked like cupboard leftovers out of their rolling errand carts you see everywhere here. Odd stuffs. After pushing through that crowd, you cross the street to enter the crazy market. The first stall made us all laugh. Two vendors had metal mesh colanders secured to plain old broomsticks in order to retrieve items and payment from customers. Necessity is the mother of invention!

The fish stalls made me gag but the herb stalls were heavenly - fresh mint, coriander, and basil - Come to Momma! I had to stop and enjoy the aroma each time! The fruit stalls all wanted you to sample their wares so they'd slice off a good-sized chunk of mango, pineapple, apple, orange, melon, or pomegranate chunk for you as you passed by. Costco's free samples just can't compete on this one!

As for the Opera, it was grandiose and opulent at every turn. So over-the-top and so was our guide, a theatre student who enjoyed having an audience. It was the kind of place that was so super fancy you felt underdressed walking through on a tour, even amid other tourists just like yourself. It was amazing to stare at parts and marvel at the craftsmanship of those that built it 130 years ago.

The infamous chandelier of Phantom of the Opera fame. Ryan and I both weren't awed so much by the Chagall ceiling and totally get why it didn't exactly get the warmest welcome. It is beautiful in its own right, just not in this precise location. Each color themed part is depicting a famous opera. It was like trying to hang a Chagall at Versailles, just not the right mix for my taste. But what do I know?

The opulent intermission gallery. The whole building is designed to see and be seen by wealthy patrons. It's newer, taller, and wider than the the original Hall of Mirrors at Versailles and obviously simply gorgeous!

After our trip on my drive to Munich to pick up the kids, I was struck by the beauty of the sweeping Bavarian countryside in peak fall foliage radiance. I couldn't help but feel the difference between man and Master's creations. Our creator's craftsmanship never ceases to amaze me and make me feel at home in my own skin. Some of man's works make me feel this way, but some simply do not. As I drove on, listening to General Conference in the solitude of an empty van racing down the autobahn, I felt so incredibly grateful to be able to witness so many beautiful sights in a short period of time! We had also visited the famous Gothic Chartres Cathedral on our way out of Paris.

In Munich, Morgan greeted me at the screen door with her face all lit up happy to see me. Ahh, the best feeling is to have been missed and reunited! She let me hold her tight for as long as I wanted, keeping her own tight grip on me. As I entered the hall, my leg was attacked. McKay was hugging it fiercely. Oh how I love that boy so much! I had to stand near Easton to be noticed and he wanted to share every minute detail about whatever game he was playing. It's so great to be missed!

We had to head straight to soccer practice rather than home. We were all a bit distraught at that one. But my knight in shining armor arrived just minutes after us and the kids went nuts seeing their daddy! Ryan ran both practices while I managed my clingy kids. At one point I had to peel a screaming Morgan from his arms so he could start the second practice. Oh how she loves her daddy!

This morning as Ryan was ready to leave for work, all three kids barricaded the door, spontaneously lining up in a row. It was hilarious! Their eager, teasing faces defying him, their favorite playmate, from trying to leave them. It made his day! When Ryan turned to go out another door, they hollered and ran with a war cry to block the other door. If only we could freeze time and enjoy it longer sometimes!