Yet MORE obligatory shots of the Eiffel Tower

I knew the Eiffel Tower lit up at night but I didn’t know they did a little light show from it! At eight o’clock on the dot (probably at other times too, I don’t know) the Eiffel Tower started to sparkle! It was great timing too because we happened to be sitting on the lawn beneath it and right as I turned my head to look at the Tower, it lit up. The twinkling effect (“twinkling” makes it sound soft and subtle… it was much more in your face than that) is a bit cheesy but hey, I like cheese. :)

The Louvre

If you only get to go to one museum in Paris, make it the Louvre. You see pieces in there that you only see in history books, and I’m not just talking about the “Mona Lisa,” though I’ve never seen a crowd like that at a museum before. We ran into the room where the “Mona Lisa” hung, snapped a quick (and terribly blurry) photo of it, and ran out! We decided to go to the Louvre after we went to the Eiffel Tower that morning, so we ended up spending about five hours there until the museum closed. Millie came with us too, which was fun.

My only problem was that the jetlag didn’t decide to hit me until we were in the middle of the Louvre. My friend once told me that she’d fallen asleep running (twice!) and I laughed (I mean… it’s kind of a funny mental image and she was fine both times) because I couldn’t imagine being so tired that I’d fall asleep during that kind of physical activity. And then I went to a museum with jetlag. I didn’t actually fall over but I felt like I had to mentally keep telling myself to put one foot in front of the other. Once I sat down on a bench and almost fell off because I nodded off instantly. Millie had to ask me if I was OK… I said I wasn’t but dang it, I’m a trooper! Nothing against the Louvre; my body just couldn’t take it anymore! Eventually I pulled myself together and felt a bit better but it was a little scary there for a while.

There she is...



An album and a workout

We finally got around to posting pictures on Facebook from our Europe trip so I’ll just refer you to the album. These are the bare minimum of pictures though as we didn’t want to bore anyone, so I’ll still be posting some pictures and stories on here as I go! Don’t expect postings on a regular basis though. :) I feel like I have to say that so no one expects daily posts or anything like that. I used to be able to post daily but now I’m lucky if I get three posts up a week!

Speaking of busy schedules, I made up a killer lower body workout on Monday that only took 24 minutes. I love workouts like this because I can mix in cardio and body weight resistance but get done in half the time than if I went for a run and did weights afterward. So I put a butternut squash in the oven to roast, set the timer for 25 minutes, and went to the garage to work my buns off!

24-Minute Lower Body Workout
Set 1:
30 Jumping Jacks | 15 Squats | 10 Seconds of Rest
Set 2:
15 Mountain Climbers | 10 Lunges (each leg) | 10 Seconds of Rest
Set 3:
15 Jump Stars | 15 Single Leg Lifts (each leg, from plank position) | 10 Seconds of Rest
Then do it all again!
The trick here is to do the workout FAST so you keep your heart rate up the whole time. My least favorite part is the lunges but you bang through them so quickly that before you know it, you’re done. You can make this workout harder by holding dumbbells during your squats and lunges but your body weight already offers plenty of resistance, especially when you’re going fast. When I finished and walked back into the house, the squash still had 40 seconds left. My kind of workout.

Obligatory Eiffel Tower shots

Le Tour Eiffel

Upon going to bed Sunday night, we told ourselves we’d be up and at ‘em early Monday morning to beat the Eiffel Tower crowds! That didn’t happen. We got to the Tower probably around 11 and I could see what looked like two entry lines, both of them double-spanning the width of the square where you wait to buy tickets. Not too bad, I thought. Until I realized it was one line. But hey, what can you do! We waited there for about 20 minutes until Mark saw a different, shorter line at the other side of the square and went to investigate. That shorter line was actually the line to walk up the stairs to the first and second level of the Tower instead of waiting for the elevator. Plus it was cheaper! So we moved to the walking line.

Now that I’ve established we’re in line, let me back up a day and a half (bear with me): on the flight from New York to Paris, I sat next to a girl from Australia named Millie. We chatted and became buds but didn’t make plans to hang out while in Paris since none of us had phones. So when we parted at the airport, we expected to never see her again.

So, back to the line. As we stood there chatting, we heard a loud “OH. MY. GOD.” And who was standing in line in front of us but MILLIE, who was obviously just as shocked as we were. I mean, it’s a huge city with tons of attractions! And we just happened to meet up at one of them at the same time in the walking line. By accident. So we climbed the Eiffel Tower together and hung out the rest of the day. A perk of having another friend with us was that we had someone to take our picture! It’s funny to look through all our pictures because most of them just have one of us or perhaps both at arms-length, but on this day we have plenty of the two of us from a normal distance.

Millie and me

I was amazed by just how huge the Eiffel Tower is. It’s about the same height as an 81-story building! You can walk up to the first and second levels of the Tower, but if you want to go to the top then you have to take the elevator. We’d heard some friends say that you don’t have to go to the top to get the full experience but we figured that since we were already there, we might as well!

Seattle to Paris

After a five-plus hour flight to New York, a three-hour delay at JFK, a seven-plus hour flight to Paris, and a delay at the Paris airport due to a controlled detonation of a suspicious package, we were finally on vacation!

I know: a controlled detonation of a suspicious package? They actually do things like that?? They sure did. Everyone was cordoned off from a specific part of the airport which blocked us from the exit while the military took care of the situation. And by “took care of the situation,” I mean we heard three loud beeps followed by a small explosion. And then we were allowed to leave. Welcome to Paris.

Our first challenge was to get to our apartment we’d rented for our four-day stay. The Paris metro system was surprisingly easy to navigate and soon enough we found ourselves in the Montmartre neighborhood, where our apartment was. I initially wasn’t sure of our decision to stay in Montmartre – it’s home to the red light district of Paris (the site of the famed Moulin Rouge) so I wondered if it would be sketchy at all. A friend of ours stayed there though when she was in Paris and gave it a glowing review and once there, I found I couldn’t have been more pleased with it! Montmartre is filled with cute little shops and cafes and is a short metro ride away from the main attractions in Paris. The entry to our apartment building was a small and nondescript door sandwiched between two cafes (we missed it the first time down the street). Even though we met our apartment host  a few hours later than anticipated, he was very gracious and sweet to us, and provided us with croissants, bread, jam, and orange juice before leaving us to spread out our things and get comfortable.

Our studio apartment in Paris - the futon is
behind us.
And then we got moving! Paris had some unseasonably nice weather the day we arrived, so it was about 80 degrees. We walked around Montmartre and ended up at the Sacre Coeur, a church on top of the hill that gave us some great views of Paris. It was our first glimpse of how ornate and grand everything in Paris is. Since it was Sunday, the tourist crowds were out in full force!

The Sacre Coeur
The city behind me.
See the soccer ball dangling from the
performer's foot? He entertained the crowd with
his soccer juggling and lamppost climbing skills.
And then the police came.
 After roaming Montmartre, we took the metro to the Notre Dame cathedral, which is much more grand than I’d ever imagined. It’s absolutely massive! But then again, everything there is massive. It was free to enter the church, but you have to pay if you want to climb the stairs, which is what we did. I think it was worth it (somewhere around 8 euros) – the view was fabulous and we got some great pictures of the stone gargoyles up top.

The Notre Dame

Inside the Notre Dame

The line to get into the Notre Dame -- we
were already at the top.
The bell of Notre Dame
My favorite gargoyles: aren't they funny looking?
Gorgeous view that day

The rest of the day was spent wandering and trying to stay awake until at least 9 so our bodies could get used to the new time zone. We tried to get into a church called Sainte-Chapelle, which is on the same island as Notre Dame, but it closed minutes before we got there. I heard Sainte-Chapelle has beautiful stained glass though, if you’re into that sort of thing!