Thursday, December 12, 2013

Friends, Fest, and a Birthday in Paris

Late in September, our friends Kim and Keely came out for a 10 day visit.  They were here for the beginning of Stuttgart's Oktoberfest (Volksfest) and also for Kyle's birthday!  We headed to Tübingen on their first day here, like we do with most of our guests.  It's such a beautiful town and really makes you feel like you're in Germany.  We walked around the farmer's market and had lunch at a favorite local brewery, the Neckarmüller.  We also had big cappuccinos at a cafe to try and keep Kim and Keely awake after their red eye flight.  We hung out at home that evening to get ready for our trip to Paris the next day!

September 21st was Kyle's birthday, and we headed downtown to the train station to catch the high speed train to Paris.  The train gets you to Paris in just 3 hours and 45 minutes, getting up to speeds of 319 kph (198 mph).  The train is much more relaxing than driving 5 hours, then fighting Parisian traffic! We rented a cute little apartment in a perfect central location.  We were just a ten minute walk from Notre Dame, so that's where we headed first after our lunch at a sidewalk cafe.

Heading out!


Ahhhhhh, coffee!


This place needs no introduction!



After Notre Dame, we walked a ton to see some of the big sites.  We walked by the Hôtel de Ville, the Pompidou center, the Stravinsky Fountain, and the Louvre.  We even walked from the Louvre, through the lovely Jardin des Tuileries, all the way up the fabulous (and ridiculous) Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe.  Needless to say, we were very tired of walking, so we took the metro back to the apartment to get ready for Kyle's birthday dinner.



Hôtel de Ville 

Stravinsky Fountain

The Louvre!




Arc de Triomphe

That evening we had dinner reservations at a favorite little family owned restaurant called Au Petit Tonneau.  We've eaten there on our honeymoon in 2007, last Valentine's day, and now for Kyle's birthday!  The people that work there are extremely friendly (which isn't always the case in France :-)  We had an excellent meal, and for dessert they turned out the lights and brought Kyle's chocolate mousse out with candles in it.  He was a little bit embarrassed to have the restaurant sing to him (actually in English, not French), but it was very nice!  After dinner, we walked to see the Eiffel Tower, which sparkles every hour for five minutes after it gets dark.  It's so impressive and pretty!

Gorgeous evening!

Hot goat cheese on toast; Keely wouldn't eat it because she said it smelled like goats...

Honey glazed duck and roasted potatoes

Happy birthday, Kyle!




We started off the next day at the Louvre.  The Louvre is definitely an impressive museum.  There are so many treasures there other than the Mona Lisa!  It's the world's biggest museum, so you could spend a week there and just barely see everything.  We saw the highlights, and a few old favorites of mine.  A new thing we saw that we didn't catch last time was the Code of Hammurabi, which is the world's oldest written code of law dating back to 1772 BC.


Everyone is trying to get a pic of the Mona Lisa...is anyone actually looking at it with their eyes and not the camera?

Love this!  By Giuseppe Arcimboldo...a Surrealist before his time.  


Venus de Milo

I think we look better than the Greek original :-)

We look just like it, right?

Code of Hamurabi

I don't know why museums are so tiring!  After barely scratching the surface at the Louvre, we were pretty tired of standing, so we took the metro to our next destination.  We headed to the Montmartre neighborhood that is capped with the wedding cake-esque Sacre Couer on the highest point in Paris. Montmarte is an extremely cute area that has more of an old village atmosphere rather than a big city feel.  Many artists used to live in the neighborhood, until the rest of the city discovered how nice it was and inflated the prices, thus forcing the artists to find a new neighborhood.  From there we headed to the Montmartre Cemetery to have a look around.  It might sound a bit weird, but this is by far the most interesting cemetery I've ever seen. We spent quite a bit of time there.  Kim was especially impressed, and I think she was disappointed when nothing creepy happened!

Sacre Couer

An amazing street performer!




Moulin de la Galette 





We caught a train home in the afternoon the following day, but we still had time to check out the Galeries Lafayette before we headed back.  The Galeries Lafayette is a gorgeous, ritzy "department store" the size of a couple of city blocks.  We of course couldn't afford anything there, but we sprayed ourselves with expensive perfume so we smelled rich while we admired the beautiful store. We smelled fantastic for the train ride home!

Crazy beautiful glass dome




The pressure in the tunnels didn't agree with the sinus infection.  Kim looked like this most of the way home!

Kyle still had one day off once we got back.  We were all pretty tired from walking our legs off in Paris.  We slept in, relaxed, and went to see the Birenkopf, or Rubble Hill.  It's the highest point in Stuttgart and was made from piled up debris and rubble from WWII.  They were actually filming a movie while we were up there, so Kyle and I will have to be on the lookout for it!  After hiking Rubble Hill, we headed to relax in the local biergarten at the Schönbuch Bräu.  It was the perfect fall afternoon for relaxing in a biergarten!

Beautiful walk to the top if Rubble Hill


Kyle had to work the next few days, so we had some girl time!  We spent a day shopping downtown, which was a lot of fun.  We were all successful and found some really cute stuff!  We also visited Hohenzollern castle, which is such a gorgeous place!  On Kyle's work days, we came home to have dinner with Kyle, and our "thing" was dinner in pajamas, which I had absolutely no problem with!

We had reservations for opening night at the Volksfest with a Ladies Night Out group that I'm a part of.  (The boys were allowed to come to this one, but Kyle had to work.)  We went to my friends' Alison and Travis' house for a little birthday celebration before heading to the fest.  We had a great night!  The band of three German men in lederhosen was actually a lot of fun.  The fact that their band is lacking female representation didn't stop them from rocking I Will Survive.  It's always funny to hear Germans sing American hits like Sweet Home Alabama and Sweet Caroline!  The food was sehr gut, and so was the beer!




We went back to the Volksfest the next day to walk around the fest grounds.  It's just like a state fair on steroids, with a bunch of huge beer tents!  Keely and I rode a little roller coaster, which was a lot more fun than we thought it would be!  Kim has problems with motion sickness, so she was the purse holder. We also had some really tasty food.  Once Kyle got off work, for their last night here we went out for some traditional Italian food.  It was a really nice evening!

We were sad to see Kim and Keely head back to Indy the next day.  It seemed really quiet around here once they left!  We're so glad they made the long trip over, and it was so much fun having some girl time!  We're already planning their return trip here next year!  :-)






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