All About Trey

Life, Travel, Adventure

Filtering by Tag: Paris

Paris (Part 1)

Note to self. Saving $300 on a plane ticket to fly a connecting flight to Paris on US Airways does not equal a direct flight on United where I get Economy Plus seats. Yes I get points for the US Airway flight, but I’ll never get the leg room, or the chance for a semi-decent night sleep on the flight, if I fly US Airways. I’m not a snob, I’m just saying.

Having said that, despite the dash through the airport in Philly (which I don’t remember being so big), I had a decent flight to Paris. The Nyquil helped. When I awoke, something was wrong. It was sunny. I was on the right plane, and we were descending into Charles de Gaulle, but it was sunny. In Paris. So odd.

Got my luggage and my BNL was there to pick me up. And again with the sun. I actually needed sun glasses. Usually when I come to France. It’s cold. And raining. All the time. We fought our way through the traffic into the 16th where I crashed for a quick disco nap and then I got up and after a quick baguette sandwich, I started on my trek through Paris. The goal? Keep moving. Stay in the sunlight. Try to force myself to adjust the new time zone as soon as possible. So my first stop is always Trocadero, overlooking the Eiffel Tower, it’s like my first “Bonjour” to Paris. I made my way down to the Seine and then walked along the water till I got to the Grand Palais where I cut across to the Champs Elysees. Up the Champs to the Arc and then along the Foch back to my sisters place. I did step into Zara's to do a little bit of window shopiing. Mind you, everything is insanely expensive, but still. Now here's the thing. French men are twigs. I think they like their cigarettes so much that they want to look like one. And I am not a stick. At all. But I see a shirt I like and I thought I would try it on. You know what words I hate? "Slim Fit." You know what's really disgusting? "Super Slim Fit." That's right, when slim fit isn't tiny enough for you, now there's "super slim fit." I tried on the shirt and it was not pretty. Really bad sausage casing. Okay, I get it. I can't shop in these stores. But I feel sorry for the odd french guy who doesn't have a 28in waist. Where does he shop? The other fashion comment I'll make is that it's hot and sunny outside and people are in long sleeves, sweaters, and jackets. How can you possibly not be just sweating to death. Oh, and only the French would have "summer scarves"? Seriously, WTF? Anyways, my trek like a 4 plus hours long and it was great. But it was sunny, and hot, have I mentioned that? So I was just ugly sweaty by the time I got back. The kiddos were back from school then so I got to spend some quality time with them.

Note to self: Need to practice my Wii skills.

Since the kiddos we out of school (for Ascension?) we had to have a mission for Thursday. When they aren’t in school, you really need to make an effort to get them out of the flat and away from the Mac, Wii, and TV. So that’s what we did. We headed out to Auvers. Auvers is where Vincent Van Gogh lived right before he died. So we all piled into the minivan and made our way out of the city on another GLORIOUS sunny day in France. It was about an hour or so out of town, give or take some mis-direction by bitchy Betty (the GPS wench). Auvers is cute. A very small, quaint little French village. After parking the car, we made our way o the châteaux which had been converted into a museum about Paris around the time of the impressionists. It was oddly fascinating. While I had been expecting to see rooms filled with period pieces, instead we learned of the building of modern Paris. How the trains opened up the French countryside and how that impacted the impressionists. It was very interesting. And I do love the audio guides. After the audio tour, we walked around the gardens where some people were setting up for some performance art thing. One woman has these huge white cloth wings that she was waving back and forth. In the middle of the garden, two women were wrapping themselves up in a huge piece of purple cloth. After the tour of the chateaux we had crepes at a little creperia in the middle of town. I’m good with sweet crepes, but I’m still getting used to the savory crepes. After lunch, we headed up to the cemetery where Vincent and his brother Theo are buried. Kind of cool and it was a good outing and we had spectacular weather. We managed to make our way back into Paris without incident and had a nice quiet dinner at home. The BNL makes a mean Kir Royal. Love them.

Friday AM we were off to the Grand Palais to see an exhibit by Andy Warhol. The Grand Palais used to be this huge palace that is now one of the main exhibition spaces in Paris. It’s huge. We got the relatively early, but there was already a line. At 1000. Which was kind of shocking since the Parisiens don’t really do early. My nephew has a standing aversion to anything that has the word museum in it, but he was a trooper and made it through the exhibit. So I know a little about Andy Warhol, but it was definitely interesting to learn more. First of all, the Andy Warhol Museum is in Pittsburgh? Most of the pieces were from there, though there were many that were donated from Paris, New York, Cologne, and Tokyo. The exhibit was huge and took you through all of his major phases. It really is interesting and very different. And the Society for Cutting Up Men? SCUM? I knew he had been shot, but not the rest of it. I guess in his heyday, he was charging $25K per portrait. Nice work if you can get it. And he would paint businessmen and royalty to earn a living and then return to New York where he did more of his experimental work. So very interesting. After the exhibit, we headed to the lower part of the 16th questing for a solar car. Long story short, my nephew’s teacher gave him a little solar car for him to put together and it got gone. Lost or stolen we’re not sure. So we hunted for this store that I will say reminds me of the Discovery channel store to look for a replacement. We get there and they don’t have it. And while I love the French, their customer service skills suck. “It’s out.” No, “we’re sorry”. No: “Do you want me to check another store”. Just: It’s out. Thanks. And my sister speaks pretty good French, so this isn’t a language issue. Now my nephew was not happy, so we pestered the sales lady to call another store to see if they had one. They did. So we were off to another part of Paris. We did finally obtain the solar car. Afterwards, we grabbed some baguette sandwiches and picnicked in a nearby park. It was another sunny beautiful day in Paris so we just hung out in the park for a bit. And while it wasn’t crowded at first, it definitely got more crowded as we hung out. I guess when the weather is nice, everyone leaves their small little apartments and just hang out in the parks. So it was a good day.

Snotty and Sniffling

Yep, I'm sick again. As is quite typical on my trips to Paris, I usually get sick a day or two after I get back. And while I usually blame the walking & talking viral factory that is my niece, I actually think it was my Mom this time. So I've been trying to lay low for the past week or so to try to recuperate.

Christmas in Paris was good. Ish. Five adults and two children does cause some interesting family dynamics. But I think it went better than I thought. And while the weather was pretty cold, atleast it didn't rain much. So we did managed to get out of the flat every day for little adventures or the daily chores.

Let's see, Christmas highlight? I have to say that it's my niece listening to my iPod and singing along to Pink's "So What" at the top of her lungs!

"So so what?
I'm still a rock star
I got my rock moves
And I don't need you"

Just too funny and too cute.

And the trip back rocked! I got bumped to business class (thank you United!) and the flight got in an hour early!

I stayed in on NYE. Museum Man and I watched a movie and had some kirs. Nothing too wild. Though we did have an exceptional brunch at Fahrenheit at the Ritz Carlton in Georgetown with the Glamazon on New Years Day. We had several cosmos and we were feeling pretty toasty by the time we left about 3 plus hours later. Definitely a good time.

Started the new gym routine yesterday. It's been three months since I started at my self esteem crushing gym and I need to mix up my routine to see some new improvements. And like any gay man, I normally ignore my lower body. Well, with the cardio I do, my lower body is fine. But I finally decided to add some legs to my routine. Plus I'm mixing up my other workouts. I want to lose 15 pounds by the cruise in March. So that's the goal!

Springtime in Paris!

So I finally went to Paris and the weather was nice! YEAH!

The flight over was a little bit more than the usual punishment since I had to fly through Chicago to get the frequent flier seats. But I had a nice little pill to help me make it through the flight and United even gave me a free cocktail, so that really put me out. Plus, leaving from Chicago means you don't get to Paris until 930 or so, much more civilized than the 630AM arrival from DC.

The first thing my niece said to me? "Did you bring my DS?" The first thing my nephew said to me? "Did you bring us anything?" Love them to death, but how about a hello Uncle Trey? Is that to much to ask? The DS was a big hit. And it's amazing how quickly they can master the games. It reminded me of my days at the arcade playing Tron (which I *RULED* at). And how quickly they go into the zone and are quiet as they go through level after level. I did "borrow" the DS a couple of times to try my hand at it. It really is fun and so very addictive. But like I need another way to throw my time away?

Now, with the better weather (and btw it still rained almost everyday) and the sun coming down (sometimes) you get better feel for Paris. But you also get a better smell of it. And maybe "better" isn't the right word. It's amazing how many times I would be walking down the street and smell some just amazing perfume, and then someone would walk by who obviously doesn't use deoderant or bathe frequently and that pungent smell would want to make you hurl. The other smell I must comment on is urine. Sure there is dog poo everywhere, but you just ignore that. But with the warmer weather, the smell of urine seems to waft through Paris. One day as I was walking through the Tuilleries I realized that I need to rest. So I saw the sign for the WC and headed over. The steps down to the left led into a small restroom where for only 40 centimes (probably a buck with the exchange rate sucking so bad) you could relieve yourself in a clean, decent smelling bathroom. I did my business and headed back up the stairs when I realized that instead of walking down the stairs to the left, some guy had walked down the stairs to the right and was pissing in a corner. So you're too cheap to pay 40 centimes to use a public bathroom? I mentioned this to my sister and she laughed. She said that it doesn't even surprise her anymore when some guy will just turn against a wall and let loose. And sadly, I did see that two more times. How odd. Have you no shame? No dignity? No common courtesy for your fellow Parisians? Apparently not.

But Paris is not all about the strange odors. Paris is about the food (love the pain d'raison!), the beautiful architecture, the Eiffel Tower, Sacre'Cur, the Marais, and just people watching. I did get up twice to run down the Champs. That's one of my favorite things to do. Well, it would be it it actually didn't involved running, but I digress. So I'm hauling my fat carcass up and down the Champs and I LOVE the people watching. First of all, everyone is IMMACULATELY dressed. I mean there is some fierce fashion going on! Second, they are all very thin. Really, like rail thin. Which is probably do the cigarette that is surgically attached to their face. Ye gads people, put the cancer sticks down!

On Friday night, my sister and my BNL had a dinner party to go to, so I head to the gayhood, the Marais, to grab a bite to eat and to wander. And what do I run into? The Bear Happy Hour! Outside of a bar called, "Le Cox Cafe." Naturally. It was insane, there must have been a 50 people hanging out on the side walk outside of the bar. And while few of them would really qualify as bears on weight alone, a lot of them were sporting some decent facial hair, or shaved heads, or some interesting tatoos. As I approached this swarm of men, I realized that they were all on the sidewalk is because you can't smoke in restaurants. So my first order of business is to get inside and order a beer. And it was packed inside also. I wormed my way to the front of the bar and quickly ordered a beer. It was so packed that I was momentarily trapped at the bar, but I was okay with that because one of the bartenders was drop dead gorgeous. Tall, muscled, tight NYPD tank top stretched across his very firm chest, and a huge tribal tatoo on his shoulder/arm. HOT! But eventually I started to have a little bit of claustrophobia, so I escaped from the bar and hovered near the door where there was little bit of space. So I'm slowing sipping my beer and I realize that I have no idea what I'm doing here. I don't speak French. The odds of me going up to some guy and trying to have a conversation with them are insanely low. And I'm tired of getting jostled. So I bail to a little pizzeria down the street. I sit in the outside of the cafe, and of course there are two guys sitting next to me. I'm not really paying attention to me until the waft of smoke comes my way. Since we are technically outside, he can smoke. Fine! I've got some good real estate and I'm not moving. But the funny thing, is that said smoker is apparenlty sick and coughing up a lung. So he has this huge coughing fit, and then pulls out another cancer stick. Obviously he's not too bright.

Overall it was a great, fun, but too short trip to Paris. It was good seeing my sister, BNL, niece, and nephew. I may try to go back in September, but we'll see.

Versailles, Paris, and Home Again

Friday I got up early and went to Versaille. The BNL helped me navigate the RER (local trains) and I got to Versaille a little after 1030. My foot was feeling better and I walked under the grey and drizzling skies to the front of the palace. Holy Cow! I just hadn't realized how huge it was. And it was amazing how crowded it was that early on a cold, rainy Friday morning. The line for people with tickets was easily 200 people long and I stood there for a good half hour before I got int. I was worred that it was going to be like the Louvre where a gazillion people are there and every one is jostling each other and I was right. Luckily the ticket also included the audio-tour guide so I could use that to drown out the noise from the masses. And I just tried to ignore the constant bumping from the masses. Lots of kids, and some of them were definitely not interested in listening or learning, it was more like a sprint to get through the museum so they could stand outside, under some of the archways and smoke their stinky french cigarettes. But I took my time and enjoyed it. Afterwards, I walked down into the gardens. The fountains were not on, and it is still early spring there, but the gardens were pretty and huge. I walked all the way down to the Grand Trinon and the Petit Trinon. These were the "summer palaces" when they (Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette I think) wanted to get away from Versailles. Pretty cool. As I walked back up to the main palace, they turned on some of the fountains and I got some cool pics. I'll try to download them later this week. I got back on the RER and made it home just about the time the kiddos got home. So more quality time with them.

My time in France is weird. It's good because I'm not rushing myself. I'm very relaxed. There's no pressure to see everything in 2 or 3 days. No insane schedules. I get to spend some great quality time with my niece and nephew. Kind of like when I went to LA to visit them, I really don't go out much. I do dinner with my sister and her family. I play games with the kids, we watch movies. All kind of relaxed. I did end up going out once to a french gay bar. With a very interesting downstairs cruising area. But I don't know, between the basically unattractive French guys, the smokey bars, the jet lag, the crappy weather, I just don't see the point in going out much. I'm getting old, aren't I?

The other thing that is weird about my time in France is that I sleep like a rock. Every time I went to sleep I had such great restfully sleep I never wanted to get up in the AM. I'm not sure if it's the mattress, or if I'm not thinking about work at ALL, or what. But it was amazing.

My last day in Paris, we took the kiddos for haircuts (which are EXHORBITANTLY expensive) and then to the Paris Air and Space Museum. It was cool and you got to go inside a Concorde. For some reason I thought they were bigger, and the seats looked really small. I think it's good the flight was so quick, becuase I think being on those seats would have sucked. It rained again most of Saturday and for my last night we went out to dinner at the local equivalent to the Olive Garden. Hey, it was cheap (for Paris), the food was decent, and they put up with the noise of the kiddos. So that was good.

My flights back were the usual. My foot is hurting again. This time not the toes, but the heel. I'm taking the gout medication again and I hope that's what it is. If not, it's back to the Dr. Oh joy.

Do You Speak English?

My flight was actually quite pleasant. I got to Dulles early enough to avoid the evening jam. I lucked out and got an exit row seat with plenty of leg room. And I popped a Nyquil, ate dinner, and then crashed. I woke up when we were almost to Ireland. The rest of the flight was a breeze.

Paris! I'm psyched about my time here. The drugs have worked on the gout, but I'm still battling a cold. And I've moved into the aches and pains phase. So much fun. My brother-in-law (BNL) picked me up at CDG and we fought the traffic back to my sister's place. I crashed for a bit and then got up to wander around. I headed first to the Trocadero. It's got a great view of the Eiffel Tower and there was a photo I wanted to take that I couldn't get last time. There are two statues, one male, one female, facing the Eiffel Tower. Needless to say I was looking for a shot of the back of the male statue, a very nice strong back, with the Eiffel Tower in the foreground. When I get home I'll share it. Then I crossed over the Seine and walked under the tower itself. And that's where I saw the gypsies.

"Do you speak English?" they would call out to tourists. I managed to see this set up before I got to close and then purposefully, but hopefully a bit randomly, walked away from them. Ignoring their queries when any came close. Not to self, must walk with Ipod. It gives more credibility to not answering them. I walked through Las Invalides nieghborhood, then along the Seine, and crossed over at the Grand Palais. The weather was nice and I had shoved my coat into my cuir sac. I got some good pics and then started to wander up the Champs. It was about then that the rain started. Sprinkles at first, but big cold rain drops. I put the jacket back on and then trudged on. I did do some window shopping, but I don't need anything and it really is just so expensive here. I ended up back at my sisters just as my niece and nephew came home from school. So I ended up playing Uncle Trey for the rest of the night and renewed my engineering quals by helping my nephew assemble the exo-force bionacle figure. Yikes, as if i didn't have a headache before.

I almost slept through the night and woke up to a really bad headache. After getting the kiddos off to school, I buckled down and did some work. After the BNL got back from some golf, we headed down to the Grand Palais to see the Paris Art show. It was interesting. Mainly modern art, some sculptures. And I know that most of them were French, but did we really need to see so much female genitalia presented so prominently? Or in such an ugly manner? Just kind of weird.

After that, my head felt like it was going to explode, so I came back, crashed for a bit, and then played CandyLand, Chutes and Ladders, and "Let's Go to Mcdonalds" with my niece. And the only reason I survived that was due to the nice glass or two of wine I had!

Hurry Up and Wait

Arrive at Charles De Gaulle Airport, Paris France. Local Time 550AM.
- Wait in line to get boarding pass.
- Wait in line to go through passport control.
- Wait in line to check baggage.
- Wait in line to go through security.
- Wait to board plane to Zurich.
- Plane departs at 8AM local time.

Arrive Zurich Airport at 910AM local time.
- Wander through shopping area to kill time.
- Look at insanely expensive clothes.
- Wait for train to go to the E Terminal.
- Wait in line for check in for flight to IAD.
- Wait in line for additional security check.
- Wait to board plane to DC.
- Plane departs at 1145 local time.

Arrive IAD, Washington DC at 300PM local time.
- Wait for arrival gate to be available.
- Exit the plane and trek through the narrow arrival corridors.
- Wait for mobile lounges to take us to passport control.
- Wait in line at pass port control.
- Wait for luggage to arrive.
- Wait in line for customs inspection.
- Exit Dulles Airport.

Greekboy picked me up and brought me home.

So what did you do today?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Bonjour from Paris! Today is Thanksgiving and I had pizza for lunch and pasta for dinner. I tried to get my carb fix in Jimbo, I really tried!

Let's see yesterday my sister, bnl, and I went to the Musee du Rodin. Definitely interesting and I now understand why there are so many replicas of the The Thinker and how they are all original pieces. After the museum, we hit the Marais for lunch at this little restaurant that specialized in tarts and quiches. Quite good and then we shopped a bit. After bnl went home to pick up the kiddos, my sister and I went to the US Embassy (very cool) and then walked/shopped our way up the Champs Elysee. I found some very cool coats, but even an XL here is too small for me. (Note to self: I must start my diet when I get back!) My sister didn't like the Matrix looking coats, but I did. And then finally in the last shop I broke down and bought a man bag (purse, whatevah!). I hate my backpack because it screams american touriste in the worst way. But I want to carry my camera, my tour book, etc. So the answer is the man bag. It's pleather, but good quality plether. Plus this way if I decide the man bag look isn't for me, then I haven't dropped a bundle on a nice leather bag that I'll never use.

Today I hit the Musee d'Orsay and the excellent impressionist collection they have. I really like Renoir, Sisley, and then the dot guys: Seurat, and Segat I think. Afterwards, I hooked up with my sister and her family and we trekked across town looking for a pizza place. Not a good thing to do with small hungry children. But we finally struck gold and found a pizza place. Afterwards, we walked a bit more and then the bnl took the kiddos home and my sister and I went to Notre Dame. Afterwards, we stood in line in the rain for almost an hour (it was MISERABLE) to see the Doisneau exhibit. But the exhibit was great. Afterwards we trekked home for dinner. If it has stopped raining, I may go out tonight, but we'll see.

Au Revoir!