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Paris: the day of Diana

Here is a look at the Seine river from our hotel room window.  We rose on the morning of day 2 to find it quite overcast.  Not to be deterred by the gloomy weather, we got all gussied up, me in a skirt and sandals and him in shorts and a tee, and headed out for our first full day in Paris.  The moment we headed out the exit we were shocked with a chilly breeze (the day before it had been sweltering), and I turned tail and headed back up to our room to change into jeans.

The first stop of the day was this cute little Boulangerie a couple of blocks from our hotel.  So cute, in fact, that we proceeded to eat there every single morning for the rest of our trip.  I dare anyone to try and stroll past a Boulangerie window and not be swooned by the sweet Parisian atmosphere and the aroma of fresh baked breads and pastries.

Because it was getting close to lunchtime, we split this savory french bread dressed in melted cheese and tomato slices.

Next, we headed to the Louvre.

This glass pyramid was constructed in 1989 due to some problems with the main entrance of the museum.  It is now used as the entrance – visitors enter the structure, then immediately descend down by way of escalator to the lobby of the museum.  When plans were made to build the pyramid, there was much controversy as many people believed the modernity detracted from the beauty of the Louvre’s architecture.  While Jon loved it and thought it was brilliant, I was, at first a bit more skeptical; however, it didn’t take long for it to really grow on me and by the time we left I found the contrast of styles quite charming.

This sculpture of the Greek Goddess Nike owns the top of the front entry staircase.

Gotta love the peacefully quiet ambiance.  lol.

Speaking of peacefulness, poor Mona Lisa will never have peace in her life again.  This room was a madhouse.  It was rather surreal to see The Mona Lisa in person, but by the end of the experience I wondered if it was worth it!  These people were crazy.  We got pushed, pulled, elbowed, stepped on, and even harshly reprimanded by another museum goer for taking pictures, when there is no rule about using cameras as long as there is no flash.

As I said, however, it was still quite novel.

And of course we both had to have our picture taken.  If nothing else to make all the work of getting to the front of the mob worthwhile! ha.

On our way out.

We stopped for a snack at this little place – and the owner was a bit crazy!  He even looks crazy.

I ended up with the only thing they had outside the realm of ham and hotdogs – a baguette with cheese and tomatoes.  Very similar to what I had for breakfast a few hours earlier.  Cheese and bread actually made quite a presence in my life while in Paris.  All my hopes for veggies and legumes were crushed as we encountered cafe after cafe, serving jambon (ham), and fromage (cheese).  And bread of course.  I made due, though, and tried to enjoy the cheesefest.

Next up, we visited this Cultural Center.  It was built with all the electrical wires on the outside.  Nestled in among the charming French architecture, it is seen as an eyesore by many people and was also very controversial when it was built.

While I personally didn’t see much culture inside, I did find a couple of wonderful things – this clock, which is the exact same cuckoo clock we have hanging in our living room (random much?) and this….

The Mini Diana camera.  It is a smaller version of the Diana F+ camera – but even better because it uses 35 mm film and has the unique ability to shoot half frame or square frame photos.  Throughout our last days in Paris, I used two rolls of film in this gal and got some really amazing pictures out of them.  If you stop back by tonight, I’ll be putting them up on the blog.  It’s my new baby.

Don’t worry, Olive, you’re still my favorite:)

I’m not sure which one of us is more excited about the new addition to our family:)

Okay, okay.  We’ll start taking pictures with Diana rather than of Diana;)

How about if we bike over and get some food??

Enter the Canal Saint Martin, Paris’ lesser known waterway (next to the Seine) that runs through old parts of the city and is lined with beautiful trees, cafes and locals living it up in their own Parisian way.  We strolled by the water for awhile before stumbling on this perfect little cafe.

Cheese Ravioli with a cream and tomato sauce

And Spinach Ravioli with cheese on top

We shared these two dishes, and it was the best meal this side of heaven.  Regardless of the fact that it was technically still cheese and bread (my third of the day), it was so delicious it didn’t matter.  The cheese was French, and it had just a hint of sweetness.  I die.

And the bread, of course.

We worked off dinner by biking home the long way back to our hotel.  Hands down, the best part of the trip.

Did you know that every hour for ten minutes the Eiffel Tower illuminates with these tiny flashing bulbs that make it appear as if it is glittering?  I didn’t know that beforehand, but it was so beautiful.  We would often stop at it’s feet on our way home at night and linger for just a few extra minutes to catch the show.

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this girl knows what she wants

So, I’m not the only one who knows exactly what I want in my food.

For awhile now we’ve been having trouble with Olive not being able to um….let’s just say “hold down her food.”  It finally dawned on us yesterday that she might just be trying to tell us something.  Maybe losing your lunch at least once a week for no apparent reason isn’t totally normal.

After a short visit to the vet, we decided to change her food.  You can’t just change it overnight, though.  You see, if we switch her cold turkey lamb, we’ll risk having problems at the other end.  The trick is to sift in the new food just a little at a time and after about a weeks time be completely done with the old food.  Well, that only works if the ahem person involved agrees to continue eating the old food.  As opposed to only picking out the new food kernels of course.

Exhibit A.  This is what we found after having incorporated the new food in with the old.  If you look closely you can see that there are bits of food under her bowls.  She also had trailed it all across the kitchen floor.  So, we decided to do a little test to make sure it wasn’t a fluke.

Exhibit B.  Olive is given an Olive sized bowl each of California Natural (the old food) and Prairie (the new food).

Exhibit C.  When given the go-ahead, Olive immediately goes for Prairie.

Exhibit D (not pictured).  Trickster Dad stops Olive mid-gulp and quickly switches up the bowls to see if she chooses the same one again.  Of course she does.

Lastly, dad gives Olive the California Natural bowl and scowls as she turns her nose up at it.  He then proceeds to give her the Prairie bowl, which she immediately devours.

Folks, we have a verdict.  Now we’re left scratching our heads and wondering “has she been throwing up as an act of rebellion because she doesn’t like her food? or is she allergic?”  We may never know.

Onward and upward.  Today Jon and I proudly made it out of bed in time to get in a workout.  We had planned to break our sweat at the gym because it is so dang hot outside, but we were pleasantly surprised when we stepped outside and it felt only like a cool 80 degrees.  Without hesitation we abandoned our gym passes and headed to the street.  After putting in a quick 20 minute run, we came back to get O for a walk.

Shortly after our run, I was reunited with this guy

2 big handfuls spinach
1 cup soy milk
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 scoop Amazing Grass
1 tbsp almond butter
ice

Because of vacation and a lack of groceries since, I have not had a green monster in a couple of weeks!  It was a grand reunion.  Tomorrow I shall be reunited with overnight oats methinks.

I spent most of the morning at the coffee shop working on some stuff and sipping on a nice iced soy latte.

Now I know how this looks.  Let me explain.  When Jon and I decided to commit to our “no eating out for a week and that includes coffee” challenge, we agreed that we could still get coffee drinks from The Daily Grind.  Jon worked there for five years during college and we’re still good friends with the owner, so we have a prepaid card and we are only charged a dollar per drink.  I know, I know.  It still seems like we’re cheating, but technically no money changed hands, so I vote that we’re in the clear.

On a more honest and admirable note, I did pack my lunch so I wouldn’t be tempted to grab something.

Thank you Mister whole wheat tortilla broccoli slaw sprouts hummus and tempeh wrap.  You saved me from making a decision I would later regret.  Just a warning for tomorrow, though.  A good friend whom I haven’t seen in some time asked me to meet for lunch tomorrow, and I agreed.  Hey, life happens.  And the point of the challenge is still being driven home.

And dinner…

Carrots, onions, bell pepper, squash and zucchini sauteed in Evoo and doused with Bragg’s Liquid Aminos and Nutritional Yeast.  Served over a bed of Soba noodles.  A go-to favorite.

Followed by banana soft serve with a bit of Maranatha Chocolate Almond Butter mixed in.

The rest of the day consisted of a long overdue phone chat with my college roommate, starting to clean out our office and chilling with my sweet husband.

I’m off to bed now!  G’night!

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our first look at Paris

We rose early in the morning to make our 10am flight to Paris.  I had planned meticulously for what I would eat on our flight from the states to Europe (see this post); however, it is a little bit harder to plan for travel in the middle of a trip.  So, I found myself scouring the airport for a decent breakfast option, and all I could come up with was this:

That’s right, a big hot bowl of spaghetti with marinara.  When McDonalds is the only other option, spaghetti at 9am starts to look decently appealing.  I have to admit, it was tasty:)

I ended up being thankful that I ate a heavy breakfast because once we arrived in Paris, it was about 7 hours before we ate again.  If you know me at all, you know that doesn’t fly.

We had decided instead of taking a cab from the airport to our hotel, we would take the train and then connect to the subway.  In theory this was a brilliant idea, and I can’t say we wouldn’t do it again, but it was rough.  We were on that train for over an hour, it was sweltering hot, and we went through really sketchy parts of the city.  Picture us crammed on this train with our suitcases and some questionable looking characters in 95 degree heat.  Not a happy Candice.  Then when we came up out of the subway, we had no idea where we were and spent another half hour at least trying to get to our hotel.   With two suitcases in tow.  Not a glamorous arrival for sure.

It ended up okay though, and at least we saved a lot of money….which we readily spent a week later taking a cab back to the airport;)  This girl can only “rough it” so much.  lol.

Once we got cleaned up at the hotel, our first stop was of course, the Eiffel Tower.

Hours later we finally made it to this cute little cafe.  Notice my “I’m smiling for the camera but I’m going to kill someone if I don’t get some food asap” smile.  It was definitely worth the wait, though.

I ordered this vegetarian plate which included a bagel, cream cheese, pesto, onions, pickles, artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes and oil soaked eggplant, bell pepper and zucchini.  With a side of fries.  This plate was really phenomenal.  Or maybe I was just so hungry that anything would have been appetizing.  The only dilemma was how to go about eating this beautiful meal (the French put so much care into the presentation of food).  I ended up putting the cream cheese on the bagel, open faced, and then adding the veggies and a drizzle of pesto.  The next picture I’m showing not because it looks so mouthwatering, but so you can see why the waiter looked at me quite strangely the next time he came to our table.

I completely ruined the presentation, but at this point I was so famished I could have cared less.

Jon ordered a club sandwich with fries, and was happy as a clam.  By the way, did you know that in Paris a soda costs between 7 and 8 dollars if you order it from a restaurant?  Wine is cheaper than soda.

In case you haven’t noticed from my vacation recaps so far, Jon and I love to wander around new cities.  We almost always walk rather than take the subway if at all possible.  And we never take a cab.  We just want to see as much of the city as possible, and there’s no better way to do that than hoofing it everywhere we go!  The only downside is that we always end up walking at least 7 or 8 miles throughout the course of the day, and after day one of that our feet are screaming.  This trip was no different.  There were moments when I compared the pain to how my feet felt at the end of our marathon last spring. The upside is that it often makes for great photo ops!

Doesn’t this look like a backdrop?

And finally the Parisian Arc de Triomphe.  We’ve seen the Laotian version, we’ve seen the Spanish version.  And now we’ve seen the real deal.  As expected, it was the biggest, and quite possibly the most beautiful.

After our visit to the Arc, we continued walking along the Champs Elysee, which is one of the most famous streets in world and is the most expensive strip of real estate in Paris.  It’s saturated with high end shops and restaurants, and also serves as the final stretch of the Tour de France.  We splurged on a Starbucks drink, but wisely waited until a little later to grab a snack because it’s also one of the most expensive areas in Paris.

We didn’t wait long, however, before grabbing this delicious crepe.  We honestly aren’t big crepe people (probaby not many Americans are I guess:), but they are so popular in Europe, and we couldn’t resist having this cultural experience.  Obviously.

We passed by this extravagant government building that sat alongside the Seine river on our the way to our ultimate and final destination for the day.

The Louvre Museum.

Please stop back by later for the daily post and then tomorrow for a look inside the Louvre!

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simple pleasures

Today has been the best day ever.  And there was nothing major that happened.  It was all about the simple pleasures.

A constant thunderstorm all day.  Got to lay in bed with J after the alarm went off and had time to make him breakfast.  Went to the gym and wasn’t rushed.  Picked up my Mini Diana pictures (more to come on this).  Blogged TWICE!  Ran errands with J.  Was able to do lots of laundry and get the bathroom cleaned.

And ate lots of good, healthy food right at my own table.

Breakfast:  Oikos plain greek yogurt, Optimum Cereal, sliced banana, cinnamon.

Snack number one: a bowl of fresh cherries.

Lunch:  Morningstar spicy black bean burger, leftover guacamole, hummus, onion, tomato, pickles. With an unpictured ear of corn on the cob (obsessed).

Snack two:  more Optimum cereal with soy milk.

Dinner:  a spinach lavash wrap, organic mushroom and wine pasta sauce, broccoli slaw, leftover veggie and hummus mix.  And slightly overcooked brussels on the side.

I’m off to hang out with J and possible enjoy some more of my current read, Glass Castle.  One of my goals for this summer was to read more just for pleasure.  I read American Wife and Sarah’s Key while we were on vacation, and now I’m on to this new one.  Being an English teacher, I of course love to read, but it seems like it has been months since I’ve been able to just sit and read for pleasure.  I hope you all have had a wonderful Monday!

Off I go!

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Barcelona: dia tres

Our third lovely day in Barcelona started off with a little breakfast at this sweet Boulangerie.  We loved these little corner pastry and bread shops and stopped in often.

We ordered a quiche…

…and a sinfully delicious pastry to share.  Normally I would cringe at the thought of such a buttery, chocolaty, indulgent breakfast, but something about the charm of this city wiped clear my conscience and I enjoyed every little morsel.  Isn’t that how it’s supposed to be on vacation in another culture?  All bets are off when it comes to experiencing something new, right?

After breakfast, we strolled over to this work of art, La Sagrada Familia.  This Roman Catholic church is nestled in the middle of the busy streets of Barcelona.  Construction on it began in 1886 under the instruction of a famous architect, Antoni Gaudi.  Construction is expected to go on until 2026.  It was incredible!

The opposite side, where we entered.

Close up of the front entrance

and the inside

there is something novel to me about this incredible church with equipment and workmen filling the inside

Next up was a trek to the Mediterranean.  The beach was beautiful as was the water.  Not having worn our swimsuits, we marveled at the scenery for a few minutes, then moved on to get some pizza!  We were starved!

My little vegetarian eyes lit up as soon as they spotted the sign reading “vegetarian pizza,” but this pie left something many things to be desired.  I think it had been sitting out a little longer than I’d like to imagine.  Regardless, we ate most of it in an effort to tame our hunger and then headed back toward our hotel for some pool time.

Along the way we enjoyed the endless quaintness of the Spanish architecture…

and somehow couldn’t resist joining in on some good ole’ fashioned tourist fun:)  While Jon and I typically shy away from overtly touristy attractions, I couldn’t stay away from the fruit man!  Who could?

We denied our itch to keep exploring the city, surrendering instead to the luxurious rooftop pool of our hotel. I think this was the most relaxing part of the entire trip for me.

After lounging at the pool, we were off again.  This time to an area of town which features more work of Gaudi.  Among the quaint, Spanish buildings lining the streets, you’ll find random modern architecture mixed in.  These buildings were insane and interesting to say the least.

Not modern, yet too beautiful to be left uncaptured.

Stopping at this Croissantery to get a bite to tide us over until dinner.  The Spanish way – a big baguette!

And a couple of hours later…time to eat again!

Sangria to start with…obvs.

Next, a dish found on many a Spanish menu – Patatas Bravas.  Aka fried potatoes.  With spicy sauce of course.  Delish.

And for our main dish, an entree that is seemingly quite popular on the streets of Barcelona – vegetable Paella.  I still can’t pronounce it.  It was really very tasty.  It basically consisted of rice, and vegetables, sauteed in a savory sauce served in a skillet.  Nothing to get too worked up over, but pretty good nonetheless.

To end our last night in Spain, we were lucky enough to stumble upon this light show that was going on at the National Museum.  There were droves of people there, and for good reason.  It was beautiful and entertaining to say the least.  The perfect, romantic evening to end our days in Espanya.

This fountain “danced” and lit up in an array of colors in beat with music that played out over the city.

Next stop: the City of Lights.

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