Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A bientot, Paris

All I Ask of You (Reprise) - Yes this song is fitting for this post, don't you worry. Also, I love Ramin Karimloo, so I had to throw this in here.

Alright, I really want to get caught up before I get to London, which is in oh 2 days. NBD. We are all so anxious to get there. Traveling around has been fantastic, but it gets hard to be on the road for such a long time. I can't wait to actually be living in London! Ok, ok. Back to Paris. I only have a few days left to tell you about in Paris, so let's finish that up, eh?

Day 7:
This was a pretty awesome day. Started off with a visit to the Paris Opera House! I was a little bit excited. It was so amazingly beautiful. Sadly most of the lights were off in the auditorium, so it was hard to see everything. But I could see the amazing chandelier and the box seats and all that. I would love to sing on that stage...  It was really cool to walk through the whole opera house because you can just picture Phantom of the Opera and it's perfect. Loved it. We were definitely humming songs from the show the whole time we were there.  And we didn't get to go on the roof, but we did go out on a balcony, which was pretty exciting.

After that we headed to the Cimetiere du Pere-Lachaise, which is a famous cemetery in Paris. Delacroix, Chopin, and Oscar Wilde are all buried there. We got lost in there for a little while, but it was cool to see all the different headstones. Some of them were seriously huge! Then we split off from our group and a few of us went back to Jardin du Luxembourg because well, we love it so much. Also, in case you missed this before, this is the park where Marius and Cosette met in the novel of Les Mis. We got pretty wet at the gardens, and some of us were not really prepared for the rain... but it was definitely worth going back. It's just so beautiful.

Pictures? OK.

 The beautiful Paris Opera House

 This room was built as a walking room during intermission... Oh ok.

 The lights were so bright! But the stairwell was beautiful.

 Oscar Wilde's grave. Got to pay our respects. People wrote all over the glass surrounding his grave though, which looked pretty tacky..

 Paris definitely changed from summer to autumn while we were there. Time for my favorite season!

 Luxembourg Gardens :)

Day 8:
Saturday was pretty chill. Tabs and I went to Musee de L'Orangerie where they have more impressionist pieces, including Monet's water lilies! The colors in those pieces are so fantastic. Our plan then was to head to the Pantheon, but we had some minor detours on the way... First, all of the metro stops near us were closed! We could not figure out what was happening and then the cops wouldn't even let us walk down the street. It was the weirdest thing. We later found out that there was a riot down in the metro, so I guess it was a good thing they didn't let us down there... 

So since we had to walk for a while until we could find an open metro stop, we came across a big crowd of people with cameras standing in front of a hotel. We were like, there has got to be someone famous staying here or something. So we joined in of course, hoping to see a celebrity! I asked a kid next to me who they were waiting for and guess who it was... Oh Lady Gaga of course. ha. We ended up waiting with those crazy peeps for like 2 hours just hoping she would come out. Yeah, she never did. I guess she didn't come out until later that night, so that was kind of disappointing. Lady G, lettin us down.

 Yay! Waiting for Gaga. So not worth it.

After that little adventure, we finally made it to the Pantheon. Who knew that there was a Pantheon in Paris too? ... I sure didn't. The coolest part was the crypt where a bunch of famous people are buried: Marie Curie, Pierre Curie, Alexandre Dumas, Emile Zola, Voltaire, Rousseau, and Victor Hugo! 

 Pretty epic.

Two brilliant men buried in the same room. (The second name is Alexandre Dumas, if you can't read it.)

That night we went to downtown Paris, the side with the skyscrapers and newer buildings. They did a really cool fireworks show! Probably the best one I've ever seen. But somehow some of the fireworks started coming closer and closer to us, and they were literally going into the crowd! Uhh yeah. Kind of terrifying.

Day 9:
On Sunday we went to Stake Conference in Versailles! It was at a cool government building, and they had headphones for all of us to listen to a missionary translate it to English. It was a great experience to be there with so many of the French members and to hear them speak and see their faith and testimonies. I actually ended up sitting by a man who is American and from San Diego! Poway no less. And he knew my grandfather! Papa died before I was born, so that was so cool to meet another person who knew him in his lifetime. What a small world.

After the conference, we went to the Palace of Versailles. It was incredible, inside and out. Beautiful rooms with huge paintings, and of course, the miles of gardens surrounding it. They had some weird modern art that was on display inside, which didn't fit with the palace at all... And there were a million people there! It was one of the worst touristy places I've been. It was sooo ratchety. But it was still a must see and very cool to be there. 

Then that night Tabby, Katie, and I went to Amorino's for more gelato and walked by the Seine. Always a good time. 

Just chillin in the courtyard

 I wanna know where da gold at.

The Hall of Mirrors. Amazing.

Day 10:
DISNEYLAND!!!!! I was seriously so excited all the way there. When we walked through the gates, I was ridiculously giddy. We were all like little kids all day. No joke. How could you not be at Disneyland? I loved it so much! It was such a fun day. It was pretty rainy for a while, but we didn't even care. Cuz we were at Disneyland, the happiest place on Earth. That's a true statement. The rides were really cool and some were a little bit different. Indiana Jones was an outside roller coaster that went upside down! And Space Mountain... well, it blew our minds. So of course we went on it twice in a row. We were sideways, upside down, all over the place. You couldn't even tell what direction you were going. Mind officially blown. I can't even really explain how great everything was, but let's just say, it was a good day. :)

Disneyland! Woohoo!
By the way, it's Disneyland Paris' 20th anniversary, so that's why there's a big 20 on the sign.

 Sleeping Beauty Castle!
Here's our group that stuck together all day: Jane, Tabs, Me, and Katie

 Waiting in line for Pirates! The pirates spoke in French, which was pretty hilarious.

 The Queen of Hearts' Castle. Super sweet maze leading up there.

Day 11:
Last Day in Paris. We had to do laundry and get ready to go, so we had a late start that day. But we had to get in a few things before we left Paris! We went back to Shakespeare and Company and actually went inside! So. many. books. It was a beautiful thing. I really wanted a book from there, so I bought The Hunchback of Notre Dame. It seemed fitting, seeing as Notre Dame is literally right across the street. And they stamp the book for you, so it was pretty legit. We made one last stop at Amorino's (hazelnut gelato of course) and then headed back to the hotel. That night we decided we had to go to the Eiffel Tower and eat some crepes one last time. It was a perfect end to our stay in Paris.

Yay, I bought a book! And it was laundry day, so.. no pants. Genius.

Oh baby. Partying at the Eiffel Tower.

Au Revoir Paris! I miss you already. Hopefully I'll see you again someday. :)
Get excited for my next post with pics from the beautiful French countryside!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

"The Louvre in Rome..." "The Louvre is in Paris, Alvin."

Happy conference weekend! It was so nice to actually watch a little bit of it today. Elder Holland's talk... I love that man. I just have to talk about the mission age freak out for just a minute... A bunch of the girls in my group were talking about this for a long time, and we decided that the best word to describe our feelings is "flabbergasted." I am just so shocked that I don't even know what to do with myself! The fact that I could go any time now kind of terrifies me to be honest. I know that the Lord will help me figure out when the time is right for me to go. So I guess I have a lot of praying to do. :) 

This is my song for today. #1 I LOVE this song. #2 Jonny Vance is the best. #3 This song definitely helped me to calm down a little bit and see some perspective. I just need to turn to my Heavenly Father, and He will help me through this. Listen to this - My Kindness Shall Not Depart From Thee 

Alright, back to Paris. Here's a few more days of my adventures. This is a longy but a goody, so buckle up. Lots of good pics :)

Day 5:
Tabs and I went to the Musee D'Orsay and spent a good long time there soaking up the fantastic art. I love Impressionism! So much. There were pieces there by Monet, Renoir, Alfred Sisley, Camille Pissarro, and they also had some Van Gogh in a different section. It was amazing. Then we headed over to Notre Dame and finally went inside! It is so beautiful. I am a stained glass fanatic, so obviously I was in heaven. Loved the rose windows. Fun fact: They do not actually ring the bells of Notre Dame. The bells were causing too much structural damage, so they now play a recording of bells! However, they are working on a new project where they are planning to add eight new bells that they will in fact be able to ring. I think that's pretty funny that it's totally fake..
I love seeing so many cathedrals here (and they are all architecturally astounding!), but there is always something missing in these churches. I am so grateful for the faith and the testimony that I have of the gospel, and the spirit that can be felt at our churches anywhere in the world. I have definitely gained a stronger testimony of the fact that our church is absolutely a world-wide church, and the people are so strong everywhere you go.
Anyway, here's a few pics of the incredible Notre Dame:

 Tabby and me. Yeah this place is kind of famous. Also, the pigeons there are insane. We almost got attacked.

 Amazing rose windows!

Central nave. Love everything about it.

That night we went to... the LOUVRE. It was such an incredible feeling to actually be walking the halls of the Louvre surrounded by amazing artwork. But it is so overwhelming! We definitely got lost, and it was pretty tiring to be there for nearly four hours. But it's the Louvre, so well, it's worth it. It really was so unreal to see such famous pieces of art right there in front of me. Want to see a few of them?

 You walk in and see this at the top of a big staircase. So incredible.

 Me and Mona. Chillin. Yeah she's behind 5 inches of glass.

 Some people say that she's overrated, but I actually really loved seeing it.

 The Code of Hammurabi! So cool.

 Venus de Milo

They had a lot of Egyptian stuff that was really really cool.

View from a tiny little window inside. Isn't it amazing?

Day 6:
This was such a random day! Started off with an attempted trip to Pierrefonds, the castle where the tv show Merlin is filmed. We take the metro a super long way out, and then after some struggles, we find out it's pretty expensive to take the train all the way out there. So. Briana and I decide it's not worth it, and we head back to the city to explore on our own. First we went to Sacre-Couer, which is a really really cool church. Then we made a quick stop by good ol' Moulin Rouge. It's not super exciting, but it was definitely an epic moment to stand in front of it. That part of the city is kind of sketchy even during the day, so I'm really glad I wasn't there at night like some of the other girls in my group... After that we went to Hotel de Soubise, which to be honest I still don't even know much about after going there. But they do have the last testaments or final letters of Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, and Napoleon! Very cool. We ended our afternoon with Hotel de Ville, which is a French Jewish holocaust exhibit. Holocaust memorials are always extremely moving and emotional places, and this one especially had some really great stories. That night I had a girls night out with the roomies, Katie and Tabby. And by girls night out of course I mean eating crepes while looking out on the city and the Eiffel Tower. When in Paris...

 Sacre-Couer. I love the exterior! It's so different from the rest of the city.

 Moulin Rouge... had to go there. Just had to. While singing songs from the movie of course.

 Napoleon's last testament! That's his signature right there.

 Hotel de Ville. Really like the architecture here.

 GNO. Presh roomies. Love them.

There she be in all her beauty. I loved seeing this everyday.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Paris, Je t'aime

Paris holds the key to your heart - Because Paris won over my heart

I know it's been a while, but I finally have good wifi! Let me tell you, it's been a struggle. Well I'm going to write a little bit about each day that I was in Paris, so I'll try and get through at least the first few days right now...

On Day 1 I was still with Michelle in Barcelona and then we had a few hours in Paris together, which I already posted a picture of. So we'll skip to the next day I guess.

Day 2:
We went to a cute little ward with such sweet people! They were nice enough to translate for us, which is great. Turns out I know zero French. I've learned a bit more now after being in the country for 2 1/2 weeks, but it's still a struggle. After church we went to Luxembourg gardens, which is where Cosette and Marius met in the book. :) It's such a cool place with so many trees! I loved it.

And here's the rockin view of the Seine from my hotel window

Day 3:
Walking tour with Sam, our beautiful American tour guide. He knows the coolest things about the city. Story time: He told us that there are always secret parties down in the catacombs. One time two police men found a legit movie theater down there with popcorn machines, seats and screens and everything. They went for back up and when they came back, all of it was gone! All that was left was a burning candle with a note that read: You've found one; there's four more. Good luck.
We went through the Latin Quarter, with a quick stop by Shakespeare & Co. and then on to Notre Dame! It is unreal to see so many things that I've learned about and seen pictures of my whole life. I'm actually looking at it in person, with my own eyes! Incredible. We walked across the Lovers Lock Bridge, where couples bring little locks, attach them to the bridge, lock them and seal away their love by throwing the key into the river below. Some people think it's cheesy, but I'm gonna say I thought it was pretty cute.

Then we walked by the Louvre; again, another incredible place to see in person. Sadly we ended our tour with Sam, but he was so wonderful. Then we walked up the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe! We climbed all the crazy spiral staircases to the top, and let me just say, we felt pretty triumphant. Not a bad view from the top, eh?

That night we walked out on the little island in the middle of the Seine and watched our favorite lady for a while. She sparkles for five minutes every hour, and it is pretty fantastic.

I know people talk about how dirty Paris is, but honestly I did not think it was that bad. I think it's a beautiful city, with some amazing buildings and gorgeous sights like this one right hur.

Day 4:
This day started out a little bit slow... We went to Les Invalides - the Army museum - and let's just say a few of us got quite bored really quickly. There was just WAY too much information that we did not want to hear about. But. Napoleon's tomb is there which was really cool. It is huge! I guess he was kind of a big deal.

Then we went to the Musee Rodin, which had some amazing sculptures. Followed that up with the Musee D'Orsay! We didn't spend a ton of time there, but never fear. I went back again the next day with my roommate Tabby. I definitely needed some more quality time with the fifth floor Impressionistic pieces. Love it. Right by there we found a statue of our boy Thomas Jefferson. Turns out they love him there. Who knew? Then we wandered past Notre Dame again and found some delish crepes. Crepes are no joke there; Paris is seriously all about the crepes. And they are fan-freaking-tastic. We sat on some steps leading down to the Seine, while eating crepes and listening to accordion music. Sounds pretty Parisian to me. Later that night we noticed that we can see another lovely lady from our hotel room... that's right, Lady liberty! Great sight to see. We climbed to the top of the Arc again, and it was a fun to see the difference at night. 

 This lovely man would not move out of my shot... but there he is, Mr. Jefferson himself. In Paris.

 Notre Dame... so beautiful. Wait for pictures of the interior.

 Lady Liberty, Lady Liberty. Around the harbor.

Can I just say it again? I love Paris.
More to come on Paris tomorrow. :)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

A little bit of catching up...

Theme song for my trip with Michelle: Lady in Spain - Ingrid Michaelson

Hello from Paris! Now that I've been in Europe for two weeks, I finally have a blog up and running... Hmm, seems like I missed a lot. My time here has been such a blur. I've been trying to cram in so many things, and it is just insanity! Well let's start at the beginning... Sister week was definitely a success! We were able to see so many fantastic things in just 7 1/2 days. We went to a different city every day! Oh yeah, and we were in 3 different countries during this time. No big. It was a big undertaking, but we did it and we rocked it. Here's some pictures to share the awesomeness:

The sexiest bathroom on Earth? Yeah, we were confused too. But how could I not use it?

The ultimate question: are we in Rio de Janeiro, San Francisco, or Lisbon? We weren't sure either.

The best dang hazelnut gelato in the world! No joke. And they make it pretty. Thank you Lisbon.

And never fear... we found it in Barcelona too. Turns out there's a lot of them in Europe. Thank goodness.

Palacio da Pena. Such a cool palace in Sintra surrounded by beautiful gardens. Loved it.

Looks photoshopped? Definitely not. We found this gem in a square in Lisbon. Too bad it was gone the next morning.

Parc del buen retiro. That park is so beautiful! And not a bad place for a nap. :)

This was def one of the best pictures from this trip. "Hi Pau Gasol."

Montserrat. I loved hiking these beautiful mountains.

Making faces like Gaudi chimneys. Gaudi is THE coolest.

La Sagrada Familia. I am in love with this church. It is so incredible. And check out that intense reflection.

Look at the inside of this masterpiece. Simply amazing. Again, Gaudi is genius.

Fantastic stained glass windows

Sagrada Familia is definitely the most amazing church I have ever been to. Everything about it is so beautiful. There are amazing sculptures on the outside, all depicting parts of the life of Christ. Michelle and I were talking about how different it felt being inside this church compared to other Catholic churches; we could definitely feel God there. We realized it was because the church is completely focused on Christ, no other saints or anything like that. They got it; it really is all about our Heavenly Father and our Savior. Basically, this church rocked my world.

We ended our trip in Paris, so of course a trip to good old Eiffel Tower was necessary.

Well that is an extremely summarized version of our week. It was probably one of the craziest weeks of my life, but it was so much fun! I loved spending all that time with Michelle and experiencing so many new things together. 

I have now been in Paris for a week! I love this city so much. I could totes live here; just need to work on the French a bit. :) I'll try and post again soon to share more of what's been happening here!