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Saturday, September 26, 2015

Citizen Chuck

Dear Family and Friends,

Chuck is now an Ecuadoriano!!!

There was a nice ceremony and Chuck sang the Ecuador national anthem.

Ecuador has gained a deserving man and Chuck has gained a wonderful new country.


Saturday, September 5, 2015

Another Great Day Walking in Paris

Dear Family and Friends,

Paris is a very walkable city.  It is flat, has great sidewalks and many tree lined streets.  Perfect conditions for walking.

Last Sunday we took a stroll of maybe fifteen blocks from our hotel to the heart of the tourist area in Paris.  We walked down the wide Avenue de Opera that connects the Opera House to the Louvre Museum.

This is a picture of the Carrousel arch that is outside of the Louvre.  It is the smallest of three arches along Triumphal Way.  The largest arch is Arc de Triomphe, which we did not see on this trip. This arch was built by Napoleon I to commenorate his military victories.  It was built between1806 and 1808.

We strolled over to the large plaza outside the Louvre.  The Louvre is one of the most famous museums in the world.  Before it was a museum, the Louvre was the royal palace to the ruling families from 1358 until the French Revolution.

The glass pyramid in front of the Louvre was added about 25 years ago.

We did not try to go inside the museum this visit. The last time we were in Paris we spent a whole day from opening of the museum until closing and still we had not seen it all.  The Louvre is so special that one cannot run in and spend an hour or two and then leave.  So we kept on walking.

Here is a typical magazine stand along the river Seine.  They have posters, copies of old newspapers, old magazines, photos, and books.

We stopped for a light lunch.  Chuck had a salad of young greens, parmasean cheese and mushrooms on top of thinly sliced raw beef.

I had my all time light lunch favorite...fried calamari.

After lunch we strolled over a pedestrian bridge across the river Seine.

The Consiergerie is a tourist site we had not visited before, so we decided to have a look see.

The Conciergerie is a former prison.  Before it was a prison, it was a royal palace of medieval kings of France from the 10th to the 14th centuries.  This is a very, very old building.

King Charles V abandoned the palace in 1358 to move across the river to the Louvre.  I can't much blame him since this building had no running water.

France's first public clock was installed on the side of the Conciegerie in 1370. The clock in this picture is a replacement to the original clock.  The current clock dates from 1535.

The French Revolution lasted approximately 10 years (1789-1799).  September 1793 - July 1794 was known as the Reign of Terror.  A very dark period in the history of France.  Although this lasted only 10 months, thousands were imprisoned and died by guillotine execution.  The Conciergerie became a holding cell for the prisoners awaiting their execution.  The most famous person to be a prisoner here was Marie Antoinette.

There is a room where a list of the names of the 2780 people condemend to death.  Chuck's mother's maiden name is Parmenter.  Chuck found a Parmentier listed on the wall.

This is a view of what Marie Antoinette's cell looked like.

While the Conciegerie was still the royal palace, King Louis IX - 1214-1270 (know as St. Louis) added Sainte-Chapelle (Saint Chapel).  The reason he had this chapel built was to house a relic purchased from the Crusades.  The relic?... the claim is that it is the crown on thorns that was placed on Jesus' head.

The outside of Sainte-Chapelle.

Lower level...for common folks.

Upper level for the aristocrats.

After a couple of hours of French history we continued on our walk.

We ended our walk at a Sunday bird and fish market.  At this market they sold exotic fish and birds and all the things you need to raise them.

Here is a tank of fish....these are not so exotic...but fun to look at.

Fun parakeets.

My grandmother, Mama Jessie, had a parakeet.  His name was "Pretty Boy." She taught him to say a few things like "Kiss your mama."

The story I always heard was that she and my grandfather were having a disagreement and voices were raised.  Out from the other room came "Pretty Boy" saying "Kiss your mama."

This large Macaw was the center of attention.  I don't think he was for sale.  He seemed very attached to his owner.

Another beautiful bird...I don't know the name.

The birds were beautiful to see but in my heart I felt so sad that they were not in their natural habitat.  After visiting the prison I really was sorry for these beautiful creatures who will be caged for the rest of their lives.


Sunday, August 30, 2015

A Walk Through Bohemia

Dear Family and Friends,

One tourist attraction that we had not done on a previous visit was the Sacré-Cœur Basilica.  

The weather was perfect and there were thousands of people doing the same.

Since the basilica is built on top of a hill it can be seen from most anywhere in the city of Paris.  It was constructed between 1875 - 1914.

The hill, Montmartre Butte, that it is constructed on has quite a colorful history. In this neighborhood many famous artists lived, or at least at one time had a studio.  Salvadore Dali, Claude Monet,  Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh and Pierre-Auguste Renior to name a few.

The struggling artists of that time could not afford to live here now.  It is full of tourists eating and drinking at cafes and shopping at souvenir stores.

There are many artists hawking their ability to do a portrait of you while you pose.  This lady below seems to be quite talented.

Keeping well hydrated on a sunny hot day like today is important.

After a rest, we continued down the hill.  We visited the Montmartre Museum which included Renior's gardens.  Through photographs and paintings you were shown the colorful history of this bohemian neighborhood at the turn of the the twentieth century.

Renoir's grape vineyard.

After the museum is always the gift shop.  Here is Chuck trying on a hat like the one used in a portrait of Van Gogh.  Actually, Chuck did buy a hat but not this one.

I will tell you about the hat he bought later.

After the museum, we continued our walk down through the neighborhood.

When we got to the bottom of the hill, we stopped at this sidewalk restaurant for lunch.

Chuck's salad with ham, fried potatoes, cheese, tomatoes, lettuce and topped with a poached egg.

My lunch consisted of a small steak, salad, french fires and in the cup is a wonderful onion reduction dip.

We ended out walk by making our way to the famous Moulin Rouge.  They are performing the "Can-Can" for tourists still at this place.

Below is a Renior painting... notice the hats the men are wearing in the upper right corner.  These straw hats were quite popular and can be seen in many paintings of the 1890's.  The reason I am pointing this out is...

because that is the type of hat Chuck bought at the museum gift shop.

It looks like a sunny Sunday is ahead for us.