seek drive climb

Simplify our lives, meet new friends, climb new crags. Go Goose Go.

Two days in Paris

On April 30th, we had a tour scheduled with Sight Seeker's Delight for a four hour tour along the Seine. The tour was led by the one and only Karen , one of my oldest friends from the Philly dayz. Karen is not only a tour guide but the owner of Sight Seeker's Delight, the number one tour company in Paris on tripadvisor.com. Though our tour did not begin until 11am, we decided to take an early train into Paris and meet Karen at her place prior to the long walk.

We have all survived so long without the Internet or cell phones, but life seems so much harder without them now...there aren't many payphones around since everyone and their mother has a cell phone but when you are a traveler and aren't ready to throw down the cash to keep your cell phone going through other countries, getting in touch with people is a bit of a hassle...luckily, there was a McDonalds right next to the Place d'Italie metro stop, a stop close to Karen's apartment. We went in for a cafe créme and an expresso and used their free wifi. Fred, Karen's husband, picked us up, along with his coworker and buddy Benoit. We arrived, dropped off or bags and headed out to meet the rest of the folks on the tour.

The tour was phenomenal. Karen was as charmingly witty and enthusiastic as ever. There were four of us on the tour and we hoofed it for the complete four hours, beginning at Notre Dame and ending near the Palaces on the Champs Élysées. We walked along the Seine, through the kings church, the courtyard of the Louvre, alongside the Comedie-Français, the Samartaine, and the grand Palaces, in addition to a getting a glimpse and pic of the Opera House. All this and a fifteen minute lecture on 2,500 years of Parisian history while sitting in the famous green chairs at the Jarden Tuileries. Karen is right at home, relaying the stories while always focusing on the irony and/or gruesome details. Fee Fi Fo Fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman. Who knew that a children's tale was all about cannibalism in gay Paris?

After the tour, we headed back to Karen's pad to hang with Fred and Azriel, Karen and Fred's absolutely adorable and energetic 2 year old. Hanging out with Azriel is just the thing that I need to show me the joys of parenthood. "Pud", Azriel's nickname, is the perfect bundle of energy and intelligence; he is an absolute joy to be around. It is amazing that a two year old (well, 23 months) can open an iPad, turn it on and put on the music that he wants to hear. He is already addicted to the iPad and iPhone. Who knows what it will be like in another ten years; I can't even imagine.

On Tuesday, Karen had another tour to give but we decided to head over to Montmartre, the "Soho" of Paris. Since it happened to be May 1st, which is a holiday in France (labor day), Montmartre was packed. People from all over were there, but we mostly heard French. The weather was beautiful, a wonderful respite from 3-4 days of rain. Everyone wanted to hang out in sunny Montmartre and see the best views of Paris from the Sacre Coeur. Later on was another wonderful evening with Karen, Fred and Azriel, with great food, conversation (Fred spoke the most English that Karen had ever heard him speak) and laughs (Pud is a constant amusement).

Karen and Fred were amazing hosts. Everyone should visit them! We had such a great time that we extended our visit and of course, I am definitely planning on going back again...not sure when but definitely at some point and Karen knows that I actually visit when I say I will...

Big hugs and love to Fred, Karen and Pud! ~the big C

Musee D'Orsay in a day

Due to the incessant rain, Ginny, Daniel and I decided to go into Paris instead of climbing. We drove in and checked into a hotel for Daniel, Ginny and Marykate, as Ginny and Marykate were to spend the next day shopping in Paris.

We arrived in Paris in the afternoon just in time for lunch. Daniel walked us through the fifth arrondissement toward the sixth, slowly making our way from the hotel to the Musee D'Orsay, the goal of the day in Paris. We stopped in a semi-touristy brasserie and had a small bite, served by an adorably sweet and young French waiter.

We then made our way to the long line outside the museum where we parted from Daniel, as he had some other sights in mind to see during the rest of the day. Ginny and I waited for maybe 45 min before gaining entrance; Ginny picked the only line that did not move for 10 minutes. We waited very impatiently while listening to announcements that the museum would be closing in an hour and fifteen minutes. Feeling rather rushed, we tried to figure out what we could see in such a short amount of time. We saw an advertisement for a new Degas exhibit, but we had to pay extra, so instead, we wandered through the first floor paintings, which included paintings by Millet. We had been by Millet's house in Barbizon the day before so this was a nice continuation of our Font experience; it seemed quite fitting. We then headed for the Impressionism exhibit on the fifth floor. I wanted to take the stairs; I had not for two days and any exercise that I could get was welcomed. As we headed up the stairs, we decided to stop on each floor along the way to. IWW the other exhibits. We saw some very cool Norwegian and Finnish furniture, paintings and plateware from the late 1800's. They were pieces that I normally would not go to see but I was so pleased that we did. Once we made it to the fifth floor, it was already closing time, so we speedily viewed some Monet, Manet, Degas etc as we headed toward the exit.

Though the visit was not as long as I would have liked, I can only handle about two hours in a museum before I am completely exhausted. The price is also cheaper later; it only cost €6.50. It was a short but sweet visit. I am glad we are returning on this coming Monday!

Au revoir! Corinne

London calling...

Well, we have arrived.
We have begun our journey, our travels, our new life on the road.

We first arrived in London at approximately 8am on April 17th unscathed, for the most part. Our luggage ended up costing us an extra $270 total, mostly due to our climbing pads; United charges a whopping $200 for the sports equipment...they first tried to charge us $400 ($200 each) but luckily, our new Organic pads link together pretty easily, thus seeming to be one piece of equipment. Oh and the $70 was for having an additional bag, which had the rest of our climbing equipment. So much for customer service when flying internationally...we now realize that the best way to use United miles is to book on other star alliance airlines, ie. Singapore airlines, where customer service is still part of their business model and they don't attempt to nickel and dime you...

We had already booked a room in London, using an online flat room rental site. The room, located in Maida Vale, was great but it was on the third floor, ugh as we had a lot of bags. The room wasn't quite worth $60 per night but hey, it's London, what are ya gonna do...London is a great city; the pubs are awesome, the Indian food is delicious and the mix of old and new architecture is awe-inspiring.

During our last day in London, we visited the Tate Modern museum, where we witnessed For the love of God, the diamond skull created by Damian Hirst and worth £50,000,000. A bit overkill but cool to see nonetheless. The most impressive piece of work that we saw at the Tate was Giuseppe Penone's sculpture, called Tree of 12 Metres, created from two wood beams, placed vertically, that were actually carved back into trees, branches and all, representing the form from whence it came.

After visiting the Tate Modern, we decided to stroll over to Burrough Market. Unfortunately, most of the market was closed but luckily, we did find some delicious drip coffee, by Monmouth, which reminded us of our favorite San Francisco coffee haunts, Blue Bottle, Four Barrel and Sight Glass.  To accompany our coffee, we had a delightful little snack there, called a torta (sp?), a wafer-like cookie made from flour, water, brown sugar, fennel and olive oil.

For anyone going to visit London, the tube is the best underground around, well, at least compared to SF or Philly, both of which we have some...ahem...pretty thorough experience with. Getting around on the tube is so incredibly easy. We were told that the bus is best in terms of sight seeing while traveling but as far as efficiency, the tube wins out...

On our second and last night in London, we got to visit with Almudena Castro, a friend of mine from Madrid, whom I met during my solo travels around Barcelona about seven years ago. We met Almu in front of St. Paul's and went to this great pub nearby. Don't remember the name of the pub but the food was fantastic and filling, as traditional pub fare always is...Almu was a trooper and hung out with us until late on a "school night" and then bid us adieu as we journeyed back to our room in Maida Vale for our last night in the big city.

London is rad...we will visit again...when, I don't know but it WILL happen.

With love from the UK,
Corinne

The first of many big grins.

MMM...Firm.
Outside the Tate Modern.

For the love of God. Damian Hirst. 

Giuseppe Penone, Tree of 12 Metres, 1980-82
Inside the Tate Modern

It has not stopped raining since we arrived. Not a constant down pour, but enough to make London feel exactly as everyone has described.