Posts filed under ‘Europe’

Paris Planning – initial thoughts

Obviously the biggest deal to Alice will be seeing the Eiffel Tower.

It features heavily in Madeline (from Madeline’s Paris):

It’s also in quite a number of other favorite books: Chasing Degas by Eva Montanari, A Spree in Paree by Catherine Stock,  Adele and Simon by Barbara McClintock, and so on.  We also see it in beloved Disney movies Aristocats and Ratatouille!

Alas, the Eiffel Tower is a bit trickier these days than when I last visited (gasp – 2004!).  Sometimes folks have to wait in line for more than two hours just to buy their tickets.  This does NOT sound like fun with a six year old in tow (or at all really).  There are four options to skip those long lines:

  1. Book reservations in one of the restaurants.  The Jules Verne and 58 Tour Eiffel were completely booked up by the time we looked, so that wasn’t a real option for us.  If folks are going at a less popular time of year or planning more than 3 months in advance (yes, seriously, that’s when I looked!), you can do this, and you get to go to a special elevator and skip the lines.  Of course, you’ll still have to purchase a separate ticket for the elevator ride to the very top, but the worst line is at the bottom.
  2. Join a guided tour.  There are a couple of official options for this.  Our group opted not to do this in order to save a few euros.
  3. Climb the stairs.  If you’re willing to climb to the first or second level (about 300 steps each), then you can purchase a cheaper ticket from a much shorter line.  This is a good option if you want to remain flexible about when you go up if you’re hoping for nice weather or you couldn’t otherwise get tickets for when you want to be there.  I’ve done it before, and the views are pretty great!  And you can still buy a ticket to the top once you’ve climbed the stairs.
  4. Buy tickets online in advance for a specific time.  These can sell out well in advance, so it’s best to plan ahead.  This is what we’ve opted to do as we want to go up on our very first day.

Have you been to the Eiffel Tower?  Which way did you get in?


April 28, 2017 at 9:32 pm Leave a comment

Paris Planning – initial thoughts (2)

Like I said before, the inspiration for the trip is Madeline!  Continuing as set out by this website, Madeline’s Paris, we’ll also have to make sure to see:

3. Pont Neuf and the River Seine: the oldest standing bridge across the river Seine in Paris, France. Its name, which was given to distinguish it from older bridges that were lined on both sides with houses, has remained after all of those were replaced. It stands by the western (downstream) point of the Île de la Cité, the island in the middle of the river that was, between 250 and 225 BC, the birthplace of Paris, then known as Lutetia, and during the medieval period, the heart of the city.

4. Jardin des Tuileries: a public garden located between the Louvre Museum and the Place de la Concorde in the 1st arrondissement of Paris. Created by Catherine de Medici as the garden of the Tuileries Palace in 1564, it was eventually opened to the public in 1667 and became a public park after the French Revolution. In the 19th and 20th centuries, it was the place where Parisians celebrated, met, strolled, and relaxed.


The pièce de résistance is yet to come…

April 25, 2017 at 9:05 pm Leave a comment

Paris Planning – initial thoughts

Alice’s nursery theme was Paris in Springtime, so she has literally always wanted to go to Paris.  I kept telling her I’d take her when she could read Madeline to me.  Well, she finally got through it the first time last fall, so it was time to start planning!

Obviously we simply *must* visit all the sites in the book. This website, Madeline’s Paris, sets them out.

  1. Le Jardin du Luxembourg:  located in the 6th arrondissement of Paris, was created beginning in 1612 by Marie de’ Medici, the widow of King Henry IV of France, for a new residence she constructed, the Luxembourg Palace. The garden today is owned by the French Senate, which meets in the Palace. It covers 23 hectares and is known for its lawns, tree-lined promenades, flowerbeds, model sailboats on its circular basin, and picturesque Medici Fountain, built in 1620.

2. Notre-Dame de Paris: a medieval Catholic cathedral on the Île de la Cité in the fourth arrondissement of Paris, France.[3] The cathedral is widely considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture, and it is among the largest and most well-known church buildings in the world.


More to come!

April 10, 2017 at 8:59 pm Leave a comment

Destination: Tallinn, Estonia

You know what’s totally adorable and nearly unheard of in the area?  Estonia.  It has a population of just over 1.3 million, so that’s fewer people than in the Triangle.  Since it’s in Europe and snuggled up to Russia, there’s no doubt that it’s adorable.  Tallinn was a super cute, and seemingly pretty well off, walled town.

We hopped off the boat in Tallinn, and made our way through a little booths.  We spotted a couple sheep in a pen there.  At first we thought it was strange.  Then we realized that not only were they cute, but they were also super friendly!  The ram pawed at the fence, rubbed his horns on the fence, and batted his eyelashes at people trying to get everyone to pet and treat him.

We had Rick Steves’ Scandinavia, so we were prepared to hit the top spots.  Um… If you’re also working from this book, you’ll want to pick up another tourist map.  It was a little tough to follow.  That said, it definitely gave us a good overview of what to see.

We started at Fat Margaret, one of the best known towers.  We wound our way through the town and found our way to St. Olaf’s church.  This church was first constructed in the 12th century as “the center for old Tallinn’s Scandinavian community prior to the conquest of Tallinn by Denmark in 1219.”  Between 1549 and 1625, this was the tallest church in the world.  It’s life continues today as a Baptist church.


April 13, 2010 at 9:22 pm 2 comments

Destination: St. Petersburg

Sorry it’s been a while.  Our final deposit for the Galapagos cruise is coming up, and I’m afraid we’re going to have to cancel since I still don’t have a job.  I’ve been really bummed about canceling a trip that I’ve been dreaming about for 10+ years and even more bummed with the thought that, once I cancel that, we’ll have no trips for me to plan and look forward to.  Fortunately, my wonderful husband has agreed that a super cheap vacay might not cripple us after all, so we’re going to cross our fingers until the payment is due and then, if we have to cancel, we’ll figure out something else.  Anyway, on to the point of the post.  Back in December, I shared the details of the first three stops on our Baltic cruise in September – Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Helsinki.  Since I’m going in order, I now have to address the crown jewel of the trip , St. Petersburg.

First of all, let me gush.  St. Petersburg is now officially one of my fave cities I’ve ever been to.  It has the beauty of Paris and Prague, palaces that kick Versailles’ butt, and a museum that makes the Louvre look like a snooze fest (okay, this is totally coming from an Impressionist lover, so keep in mind that my feelings on museums are *very* biased; also remember that the Hermitage has 3 mil+ works of art and the Louvre has less than 40k).  Plus the food is better than Germany and the people are fascinating.  Be warned though – this place is pricey to visit if you want to see a lot in a short amount of time and actually understand what you’re seeing.  Translation: You’ll want a private guide.


February 14, 2010 at 4:35 pm 1 comment

Destination: Helsinki, Finland

We stopped in Helsinki on a Sunday.  I wish we’d had a few more hours and/or visited on any day other than Saturday.  We had time to hit the high points in town, but the shops were closed and I would’ve liked to have visited Suomenlinna Sea Fortress.  That said, I think a stop on a cruise ship was a good way to visit Helsinki.  The rest of Finland has a lot more to offer, but we got to see enough of Helsinki that I’m satisfied for now.


December 14, 2009 at 2:39 pm 19 comments

Destination: Stockholm, Sweden

We all really enjoyed our time in Stockholm on our cruise – other than the transportation issues.  I’ll tell you more about that under the “tips” section.  Anyway, here’s how we spent our day as well as some other ideas about what you might see while you’re there.


December 1, 2009 at 5:49 pm 2 comments

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