Thursday, September 30, 2010

Krakow, Poland

We flew to Krakow on Friday and were there for 3 nights. It was rather whirlwind but we took advantage of the time we had. We stayed with Margaret’s sister and brother in law. I felt very welcome despite the language barrier. Poor Margaret had to keep switching languages – she’d be on a roll in one language and forget to switch languages depending on who she was talking to. It was quite funny.

The Main Market Square in Krakow is huge. There are a lot of shops, cafés, horse-drawn carriages and it’s a great place to people-watch. We went there 2 evenings for coffee and dessert.

Saturday we went to the Wieliczka Salt Mines which dates back to the 13th century and was mined up until 1996. I can’t remember how many flights of stairs it took to go down but 4 days later my calves are still feeling it. (There’s an elevator to go back up to ground level at the end of the tour) When Margaret told me we’d be going to a salt mine I thought what a lot of you are thinking – huh? I’m so glad we went though. It was very interesting. We saw a lot of sculptures down there – all carved from rock salt. The tour ended in one of the 40 chapels in the mine. A beautiful huge room where everything is carved in salt including the gorgeous shiny floor.

Sunday we took a trip to Auschwitz. What can I say about that. It was as you’d expect. Emotional. I am glad I went. It was a once in a lifetime visit and I won’t forget it.

Even the chandelliers are made of salt

Floor carved by miners over a 3 year period


A few of my favorite foods: borcsht, pierogies served with fried onions and ham – both homemade. I’m spoiled now. When I go back home, frozen pierogies are going to be such a disapointment.

Tip for flying within Europe – do NOT fly Easyjet. We had huge problems with them.

~ L

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Avenue des Champs-Élysées

One beautiful sunny day last week we spent the afternoon on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. We went to see the Arc de Triomphe although we didn’t go up.  We had a lovely lunch at a café and then did a little popping in and out of stores.  We each bought a little something for ourselves.  We also went to check out Avenue Montaigne which is the street to shop on if you have money – Chanel, Gucci etc.  Needless to say we didn’t buy anything there but we did peek in through the windows like little girls dreaming that maybe “some day…”!

Swarovsky stairs


Ladurée - mmmm macarons

Until next time and Krakow, Poland...

~ L

Monday, September 20, 2010

We’re not in “Kansas” anymore…

Last night was the first night I slept right through.  Jet-lag be gone!  *knocks on wood and gives a big cheer*
We haven’t done much besides explore.  Every day we’ve walked and walked and walked – Margaret and I have the sore feet to prove it.  The neighborhood my apartment is in is wonderful!  There are so many stores and restaurants/cafes around here I’ll never be at a loss.  Every corner you turn there is more and more to see.
Yesterday we actually made plans to do something specific.  We met at Notre Dame for mass.  Glad I did it.  (Dear lady with the loud camera,  Mass is not the time to take pictures with your loud camera – respect please!)  After mass Margaret and I did some more wandering – since we’ve become so good at it.  Had lunch at a café – my first Croque Monsieur of this trip was memorable.
Here are a few random photos taken since our arrival.
Notre Dame
Notre Dame

Fountain on Boulevard Sebastopol
Interesting building




Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cheers! Here's to being laid off!

My alternate title for this post was "The  Beverly Hillbilly Goes Business Class on a Swiss Airbus A330-300".  It's not that I haven't flown first/business class before but I forgot how much fun it is to be treated like a queen by an airline.  Not 5 minutes after boarding I had a glass of champagne in my hand and a bag of goodies beside me.

The goodies consist of socks, ear plugs, eye errr mask?, toothbrush/paste.  Not that exciting really.  This is Swiss Airlines - where are my Chocolates?  (Whew I found them at the end of dinner)

So the seat - yep it's good.  There's a button for "Mood light" - erm what exactly do they expect people to get in the mood for on a plane? (We'll call that a rhetorical question.)  There is lumbar support - 4 buttons for just, out, up, down.  There's a button for the leg rest.  Is the seat too hard or too soft for you Goldilocks?  No worries, they've thought of that too.  It's like a "Sleep Number" seat.  Mustn't forget the bed button - these puppies lie flat!  Those are all wonderful features but I think my favorite has to be the massage button!  Yes it's true...massage on a plane - I like it!

I've never disliked airline food.  I realize it has a bad reputation but I've never had a bad meal.  They brought me a menu for my dinner of many courses.  I started with a Seasonal salad with balsamic vinaigrette (Why does that sound so classy, when normally I don't even like salad!) followed by my choice for main course which is Fillet of beef with cress butter, potato, and  basil gratin sauteed mushrooms. (What the hell is cress butter?  Oh well, see above re salad).  The beef was followed by two different cheeses, with bread (that had walnuts in it -yum) and non-salted butter.   All accompanied by another glass of champagne.  Dessert was a wonderful Chocolate, pistachio and hazelnut mousse.  To top it all off, tea and Swiss chocolates. 
Dinner was delicious.  I watched a movie while I ate.  It's almost time for a sleep.  I've tested out the massage action of my seat and yep it works just fine!

At this point we're 1 hour and 39 minutes from Zurich.  Yep I have a third leg after this.  No biggie though, it's a short flight. Margaret should have just landed in Paris.  We unfortunately didn't end up on the same flights, let alone airlines, but we did happen to be connecting in Montreal at the same time so we saw each other for a few minutes.  I haven't napped (par for the course with me when I have a head-cold like I do) but hopefully she has had better luck.  Once we get to the apartment I think we'll both try to get a little shut-eye before we venture out.

~ L

Monday, September 13, 2010

Time flies...kinda.

It was just over a year ago that the idea of going to Paris was born.  Time seemed to go very slowly, until recently. Now I have two more sleeps.

My emotions are all over the place.  I'm going to miss Keith and Alex a whole bunch.  It breaks my heart to leave Bizou (my dog) for such a long time - he's my baby and tad spoiled.  I wish he spoke English so I could explain.  I'm nervous too - can't really pinpoint why.  Perhaps because I've never been away from home for such a long period, or because I'm traveling without my family for the first time.  I'm also extremely excited - no explanation needed there.

Three days from now I'll be in Paris.  In my new temporary home.  In my temporary neighborhood.  I'm really looking forward to exploring the neighborhood.  My neighborhood!

~ L

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Getting there...

I've about finished making my notes.  Lots of places I'd like to visit, eat at, window shop at.  It's like my own personal version of Frommers'.

We want to go to Amsterdam by train for 3 days - that is proving to be complicated.  The train tickets have to be purchased on the French site as we are not in the U.K.  I have some French under my belt but get stuck at the part about picking up the tickets.  I've read that a foreign credit card can't be used when picking them up.  That can't be right but it's holding me back none the less.  I haven't given up but what a pain.  I've also been doing a lot of research on hostels there - the common word that keeps creeping up (pun intended) in reviews of various hostels is "bedbugs".  I can handle dirt or crappy paint jobs, but bugs?  No way!  Disgusting!  I'm looking into hotels at this point.

~ L

P.S.  I've decided not to bring nail polish and just buy a bottle there...but what do I do about base coat and top coat muuuuuhahaha *rolls her eyes*

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Two Weeks from Today...

I'm not ready...I have a million and one little things to do.  Kind of reminds me of the panic of getting ready for Christmas. On the other hand I'm so damn excited it can't get here soon enough. Oh, I know it'll get it all done.  I have been making lists - that helps.

Speaking of lists - what's the rule on taking nail polish in your checked suitcase?  Anyone?

Pardon my ramble ~