{Travel Tuesday} Versailles

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

We’re down to the final day of our trip =(
 

Today we’re off to the VERY opulent Palace of Versailles.


Versailles is outside of Paris, so you have to take the train or join a bus tour to get out there (assuming you don’t have a car). We decided to take the train so we could tour the palace on our own schedule. It’s pretty easy to ride the train out there – just find a station on the RER C line, buy train tickets to Versailles, and hop on! Exit at Versailles Rive Gauche, I think it was the last stop. The palace is a short walk from the station. 


I’ve said this every week, but I’m going to say it again: get there early! Versailles opens at 9 and we arrived around 9:30, so there was hardly any line. That means not only did we get through the line quickly, but we were also able to take pictures in front of the palace without anyone else in the picture. By the time we left, the line was massive and this area was filled with tourists. 


To say Versailles is opulent is a serious understatement! I’ve never seen so much gold leaf and marble in my entire life!



My favorite room (and the most popular) was the Hall of Mirrors. It’s absolutely gorgeous!


The room is also full of historical significance - the Hall of Mirrors is where the Treaty of Versailles was signed in 1919 to mark the end of World War I. 


After we finished touring the inside of the palace we explored a small portion of the garden. You could spend half the day getting lost in the gardens of Versailles. 


From there we took the tram to the Grand Trianon. The tram is an additional fee, but will save you a lot of walking. The grounds of Versailles are massive and we had already done enough walking the past 2 weeks, so we were more than happy to dish out a few extra Euros for a ride.
 

Unfortunately, the Grand Trianon doesn’t open until noon, so we had to kill some time before it opened. I took the opportunity to get some pictures before the crowd rolled in and just sat around enjoying the beautiful weather and hot potato from a nearby food vendor. Oh, and of course we did plenty of people watching too. 


Once the doors finally opened we were some of the first people inside. The Grand Trianon was built as a retreat from the Palace and court life. It’s not as fancy as the main palace, but it’s still very beautiful (love the pink marble).  


The hallway in the Grand Trianon was beautiful and so full of light. I would love to have floor-to-ceiling windows like that in my house! 


Once we finished at the Grand Trianon we hopped back on the tram. It stopped at the Petite Trianon and Marie Antoinette’s hamlet, but by then we were tired and ready to head out.
 

On our way back to the train station we stopped at McDonald’s to see if the royale with cheese mentioned in Pulp Fiction really does exist…it does! Of course we had to order one to show my dad – Pulp Fiction is one of his favorite movies.


From there we did a little shopping in the area and then took the train back to Paris. The ride is only about 30 minutes long, so we were back in the city in no time. We stopped in a little shop on our way back to the hotel and bought the most amazing dessert I’ve ever ate. It was cake, cream, fresh berries, chocolate shavings and pure heaven – I would have filled my carry-on with them if I could! The airport shuttle was picking us up the following morning before dawn, so we had an early dinner and went to bed.
 

We had such an amazing time in London and Paris. We really couldn’t have planned a better trip and I’m so thankful that I got to share this experience with my mom! We’re already saving up and planning our next trip!



{Travel Tuesday} Louvre and Arc de Triomphe

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Today we’re talking artwork, macarons, and rain!
 

We started our day at the Louvre. As usual, we arrived around the time they opened, so the line was pretty short. We used the pyramid entrance, but I’ve heard that you should use another entrance if you show up later. Apparently the lines are a lot shorter at the other entrances. 

 

After buying our tickets we decide to see the Mona Lisa first, hoping to beat the crowds. A million stairs and winding hallways later (ok, that might be a slight exaggeration), we found it! Apparently everyone else had the same idea because there was a pretty big crowd already there, but we eventually made our way close enough for a quick look and picture. Surprisingly, the painting is pretty small (31 in x 21 in).


From there we made our way to one of the most famous ancient Greek sculptures - Venus de Milo. 


Our last stop in the Louvre was the Egyptian Antiquities wing. I’ve always been fascinated with Egyptian history, so I loved seeing all of the sphinxes, sarcophagi, and statues. 


By then we were sick of the Louvre. This is probably going to make me sound like an uncultured brat, but I didn’t like the Louvre. Yes, the building is beautiful and the artwork is amazing, but it’s also hot and really crowded. OK, and can we all agree that you don’t need to take multiple pictures of yourself in front of EVERYTHING?! Seriously, take a picture and move on!
 

Anyway, after the Louvre we walked through the Jardin des Tuileries. After sweating in the crowded Louvre, sitting in Tuileries Garden felt like heaven. There are plenty of chairs around, so we took some time to cool off and enjoy the beautiful garden. This is one of my favorite pictures!


At the edge of the Tuileries Garden is the Musée de l’Orangerie – home to Monet’s famous Water Lilies. Did you know that Water Lilies isn’t just one painting? It’s an entire series of paintings and the Musée de l’Orangerie is home to eight water lily murals by Monet. The paintings are displayed in two oval rooms. The museum doesn’t allow photography, so I pulled this picture from the internet. It is pretty amazing in person. 

 

Also at the edge of the Tuileries Garden is Place de la Concorde. Once known as Place de la Revolution, it was the site of the guillotine used for executions (ex. Marie Antoinette) during the French Revolution. Now it’s a peaceful public square and home to the 3300 year old Luxor Obelisk, originally located at the entrance of the Luxor Temple in Egypt.


By then we were hungry for lunch so we stopped at a café for a Caesar salad –best Caesar salad I’ve ever had! For dessert we bought a couple macarons at Pierre Hermé. A must while in Paris!


We took the metro to see the beautiful Paris Opera building and ate our macarons on the steps. Enjoying a beautiful Paris day whilst eating chocolate macarons on the steps of the Opera…it doesn’t get much better than that! 


From there we walked to the Galleries Lafayette to do some shopping. Unfortunately, most of the items were out of the price range and we only left with a few small gifts to take home to friends. 

We hopped back on the metro towards the Arc de Triomphe. Unfortunately, it started to pour rain so this is as close as we got. I had to take this picture while holding an umbrella, trying to block the crazy sideways rain. We were only outside of the station for a few minutes, but still got soaked. It sucks that we didn’t get to see the Arc closer or climb to the top, but this is the only thing we missed because of rain during our entire trip, so I can’t complain too much.  



That night we headed to the Eiffel Tower to see the light show. We arrived just before dark, so the lights were already on. The Eiffel Tower is amazing during the day, but is absolutely gorgeous at all lit up at night. It’s a must-see while in Paris, plus the light show is spectacular…especially if you stop to remember where you are and truly appreciate the moment. 



Next Week: Versailles 


Travel Keepsake Boxes

Thursday, November 14, 2013

I used to love scrapbooking, but I haven’t put together a book in a few years (probably because photobooks are so much easier).  Even though I haven’t done any scrapbooking lately, I’m still in the habit of saving every ticket/pamphlet/memento…just in case. That means have manila envelopes full memorabilia from the past few years.

One day while browsing Pinterest I saw a pin for travel keepsake boxes. The travel keepsake box idea is from Martha Stewart and you can see the original here. Basically, you paint a wooden box, stencil the destination on the side, and fill it with mementos from your trip.

I decided to make a London box and Paris box to hold all the tickets, pamphlets, pictures and scraps from our trip. I bought two of these wooden boxes from Michael’s – originally $19.99, but only $12 with coupon.
 

I painted the London box robin’s egg blue and painted the Paris box navy. Then I used my Cricut (did I mention that I bought an Expression 2?) and some scrap vinyl to cut out “LONDON” and “PARIS”. I used the scissors from the Cricut Tools Basic Set to cut the vinyl the same size as my wood box (it helps to keep the letters straight when placing the vinyl). Then I peeled away the lettering to create a stencil and used transfer tape to place it on the side of my box. Although the scraper tool is meant to clean the cutting mat, it also helps smooth out the vinyl on your surface.

 

First I painted a thin coat of the original color to prevent any bleeding. This method worked really well when I painted the stripes on my office walls, so I decided to try it out on a smaller scale. After that dried, I painted two coats of white paint over the stencil.

As soon as I finished painting the second coat, I peeled the vinyl off so I’d get a nice clean line. I used the weeder to peel off the smaller pieces– way easier than using a toothpick (my old method)! The white paint only bled under the vinyl in one spot, so painting a coat of the original color first definitely worked well. 


Once the paint was dry I filled my box with our plane tickets, entry tickets, pamphlets that we picked up from each stop, printed copies of my blog recaps, and pictures.



The boxes are now sitting on the entertainment center in the living room. I love that I can see them all the time and I catch myself reminiscing about our trip daily.


To read more about our time in London – click here

To read more about our time in Paris – click here


Disclosure: I was provided a set of the new basic Cricut tools for this post. All opinions are my own. 


Tickled Pink at 504 Main Lil\'Luna

 

{Travel Tuesday} Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower, and Seine Cruise

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Today we’re spending the day walking the streets of Paris and cruising down the Seine River!

Our first stop of the day was Notre Dame Cathedral. The cathedral is currently celebrating its 850th anniversary! 


I know I say this about every place every week, but get there early! We showed up just after they opened and we able to walk right in. When we left there was a huge line of people waiting to get inside. 


Of course the inside is beautiful, but I loved all of the details on the outside of the cathedral. Just look at all the intricate details around the doorway!


Plus there are gargoyles around the building! America definitely needs more gargoyles! 


Around the back of the cathedral is a beautiful garden. Definitely a great photo op! 


Behind Notre Dame and through the garden is Pont de l'Archevêché. Both sides of the bridge are completely covered in padlocks aka love locks. 


I bought a pair of locks ahead of time and packed them in my suitcase. Surprisingly, I actually remembered to bring them along with us that day. I added a lock for my boyfriend and me and my mom added a lock with our last name and year. Both of them are in the picture. We kept the keys to locks and I plan on framing them.


From there we had planned on visiting Sainte-Chapelle, but the line was massive and hardly moving. So we just walked around the area, slowly making our way back to the Metro. 


Our next stop was Luxembourg Garden, so we hopped on the Metro and headed to Odeon Station. The garden is a short walk from the stop and is worth a visit. It’s full of beautiful flowers, greenery, water features, and statues. 


As we walked through the garden we found a restaurant and decided to stop for lunch. I ordered a cheeseburger, but regretted my decision once my burger was served medium-rare! Don’t get me wrong, I love a good medium-rare steak, but hamburger? Not so much. Regardless, I ate it and it was good (and I didn’t get sick).


After resting in the garden, we headed towards the Eiffel Tower. 


We had wanted to take the elevator to the top of the Eiffel Tower the day we arrived in Paris, but the lines were crazy long…even the line to climb the stairs! Luckily, Tuesday afternoons are not as popular as Sunday afternoons - we were able to buy tickets and walk onto the elevator with very little wait. There’s another elevator that’ll take you all the way to the top (for an additional fee), but that line was pretty long and the second floor was high enough for us!

The view from the Eiffel Tower is stunning! Here you can see down the beautiful Champ de Mars. 


And here’s the famous Arc de Triomphe:


After we got down from the Tower, we walked to the river front to board a Seine River cruise with Bateaux Parisiens. The weather was perfect so we sat on the outside deck of the boat. 


It’s a fun way to see the city and I definitely would recommend taking the tour. I hear it’s amazing at night too. 


After the boat ride, we walked down Champ de Mars towards our hotel (we were staying 5-minutes away from the Eiffel Tower) and stopped at a nearby café for dinner. We ended our day sitting at a sidewalk café whilst eating French onion soup (my favorite) and drinking wine.  Yes, it was as amazing as it sounds!


Next Week: The Louvre





Polka Dot Trashcan

Thursday, November 7, 2013

I used to have a cute silver trashcan in the master bathroom. I got it for a steal at Kohl’s and it looked great in the room (as great as a trashcan can look). But then we got Ringo and discovered that he likes to get into the trash (he especially likes to eat Kleenex). So every night before bed I put the trashcan up on the back of the toilet so he couldn’t get into it while we slept. That got old REALLY quick, so I decided to buy a trashcan with a lid. I ended up buying this one from Amazon. 


It kept Ringo out of the trash so I was happy, but it’s pretty boring looking. I lived with it plain for almost a year, but I finally decided I needed to jazz it up a bit. I didn’t want to do anything permanent, so I decided to add some silver vinyl polka dots. I used my Silhouette to cut out the dots, but you could also do this with a punch or with scissors. I used Cricut-brand vinyl (in silver, obviously) for this project. Yes, Cricut-brand vinyl on a Silhouette…scandalous, I know!


I placed the polka dots randomly on the trashcan. I even cut a few of them to place around the bottom edge and where the lid meets the can.


I ended up using about 60 polka dots to cover the trashcan. I think it turned out so cute!


This isn’t a groundbreaking project, but a lesson that something can be practical and pretty…even if it’s just a trashcan!





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