Pensacola, Pensacola, Here We Cooooooome

it finally happened.  after months of prodding, guilting, and possibly some crying, hubs finally relented and took me to the beach this weekend.  and oh, what a weekend it was!

we made the 6 hour drive from atlanta to pensacola beach on thursday after work.  here i am getting jazzed for the car ride, because typically 4 hours is my whiney limit.  but i did okay this time!  i wore this obnoxious shirt so hubs wouldn’t lose me in any alabama gas stations.

roadtripselfie

i continue to be horrified by hubs’s taste in car ride candy.  i am a reese’s pieces girl myself.

peachringsvom

we stayed at the holiday inn express, because all of the rooms have oceanfront balconies, and also hubs had enough points to make our 3 night stay completely free.  free is my favorite.

my point-and-shoot camera died a slow, jerky death upon our arrival, so all of these pictures are iphone pictures, and possibly not of the best quality?  that being said, here is the moon over the ocean!

moonoverocean

we checked in at about 11:00 p.m. central time, and wanted to go out to get a celebratory beverage.  the only place open was one of the top 5 sketchiest bars i have ever been to, called sandshaker lounge & package.  emphasis on the “& package”.  that should tell you everything you need to know.

hubs and i had a round of beer, and then when he went back for seconds, this happened:

hubs: what do you want to drink this time?
me: i’ll take another blue moon.
hubs: okay i’ll get you a bushwacker.
me: so, just to reiterate, i want a blue moon.
hubs: bushwacker it is!

(5 minutes later, hubs sets down my not-blue-moon)

bushwacker

hubs: i’m so sorry.
me: don’t apologize, you knew what i wanted.
hubs: no, i am REALLY SORRY about this drink.  i think it’s the worst drink i’ve ever had.
me: well what does it taste like?
hubs: dishwater…dirty dishwater.

and you know what you guys?  it totally did taste like dirty dishwater.  and i drank hubs’s beer and he drank the bushwacker, and all was right with the world.

anyway.

the next morning, we ate the free hotel breakfast (toast w/ peanut butter and banana slices, oh yes), and then did some shopping, mostly at circle K to stock up on beach suppiles.  and by beach supplies, i mean booze.  specifically, this booze.  it hit the spot.

limearite

we spent most of friday beaching, beveraging, and have a damn good time.  we rented one of those 2 person wooden beach chairs, and if you were situated just so, you could close your eyes and pretend like you were in maui instead.  sort of.

then we did early bird dinner at pegleg pete’s which i neglected to photograph?  probably because i was famished.  we came back to the hotel and fell asleep on accident, and then woke up at 9:30 and scrambled to go back out, as adults do.

our hotel was less than a mile from all of the big restaurants on pensacola beach, but in between us and the food was jimmy buffett’s margaritaville hotel, which we may have walked to on more than one occasion for a real margarita.  the hotel was nice!  way nicer than i would’ve thought.  if we go back, we would maybe stay here instead?  tbd.

on our walk from margaritaville to second dinner at flounder’s late friday night, we stumbled upon this sign that totally made my night.

dogwalkerssign

and then we went to flounder’s and had a diesel fuel, which is supposed to be lethal, and while it did taste good, it did not knock me on my ass, so i was slightly disappointed.  but their chowder was delicious.

annieanddieselfuel

also, worth noting, i am not on drugs in this picture.  the flash was bright and i was fighting the urge to give the stink-eye to the girl at the table behind us who kept squawking “HATERS!!” throughout dinner.  i think she liked the diesel fuels?

on saturday we paid the $1.25 fee to walk to the end of the world’s longest pier* and watch about 200 shirtless men fish.  it was okay.

pensacolapier

onthepier

this was taken from the end of the pier.  the closer hotel is margaritaville, and the other one is our HIE, for reference.

pensacolahotels

pensacolabeachfromthepier

we also partook in a few frozen drinks from bamboo willie’s, which is just like wet willie’s, but with redeemable bushwackers.  and an electric lemonade that i didn’t totally hate.

electriclemonade

and then we had more beach time, followed by more napping.  my two favorite activities of all time.

we capped off our weekend with dinner at crabs! we got ’em.  we ate some oysters and watched a hermit crab race, and had more delicious drinks.  and then we were too tired from all the beach time to do anything else notable.  so we were vegetables for the rest of the night.

oysters

on sunday morning we got up, regretfully packed our belongings, and headed back to atlanta on what would become a 6 hour rain-soaked car ride.

overall it was amazing to get away, even for just a short 2 days.  it is always good to spend some quality time with each other and away from the hubbub of our daily lives.  additionally, i may have tipsily told hubs he could buy a big green egg if he takes me to new york later this summer, so there may be more travel in our future yet.  we will see!

pensacolapanarama

*unverified and probably not true.

green smoothie tips & tricks: learn from my mistakes

hubs and i ponied up a few weeks ago and bought the rolls royce of blenders, a vitamix.  it is INSANE.  we’ve made at least one smoothie per day in the month that we’ve had it, and i am loving it.

i’m also shocked that hubs loves it too.  this morning he had to leave for work early and asked me to make our daily smoothies before he left.  i resisted until hubs said “that’s fine, i guess i’ll just get some solid foods to eat for breakfast…” and then made a sad face.  so i made us some smoothies.

we learned pretty quickly what works and what doesn’t work in a smoothie, so today i am going to share my knowledge with you so you don’t have to make the same mistakes we’ve made.

greensmoothie

here’s how we load up our blender.  this makes 2 big smoothies.  probably 4 small ones but who wants a small smoothie for breakfast?  you’ll be starving by 9 a.m.

how to fill up your blender (in this order)

1. water
fill the pitcher with water until the water level is just above the blade.  you don’t need much.

2. veggies
2 large carrots, and either 2 celery stalks or 1/2 of a cucumber.  celery and cucumber have stronger tastes when in a smoothie.  use them wisely.

3. citrus
1 whole navel orange and 1 whole lime or lemon
[we like to cut the peel off of the orange with a knife to leave the healthy rind.  we peel the lime/lemon old-school style.]

4. frozen fruit
3 cups of any frozen fruit
[in my opinion, a variety of mango/pineapple/peaches/strawberries works the best.  frozen bananas work well too but the taste is strong.  if you add blueberries, your smoothie will turn brown.  it will be delicious but will also look disgusting.]

4. seeds
1 tablespoon flax seeds, 1 tablespoon chia seeds
[flax seeds prevent cancer, or something, and chia seeds help grab toxins in your gut and flush them out. awesome!]

5. green stuff
2 cups of spinach, kale, or both
[parsley is also good for the gut, you can add that in too.  spinach is the most neutral taste-wise.]

6. ice
2 cups of ice
[if you’re blending the night before, leave this out – it’ll just melt.  i like the crunchy texture that the ice gives the smoothie but hubs differs.  it’s up to you.]

now i am not saying this is a miracle breakfast, but for what it’s worth, my caffeine headaches have disappeared since we started drinking these on a daily basis.  HMMM…!!!

a few quick no-no’s that i have learned in my short time with these smoothies:

  • bell peppers: strong, spicy taste. don’t do it!
  • apples: the make the smoothie frothy which i…don’t appreciate.
  • bananas: if you add bananas, you won’t be able to taste any of the wonderful tropical frozen fruits. and i also don’t like the taste of bananas. oh snap!
  • sweetener (honey, stevia, etc.): i don’t think these smoothies need sweetener, it just competes with all of the natural sweetness of the fruits.  skip it.
  • dairy (yogurt, ice cream, etc.): you don’t need it.  these smoothies are, well, smooth without it.  and i’m also a little suspicious of dairy and its intentions in general, so…
  • dates: we’ve been adding 1 or 2 dates, but i’m not sure they’re necessary.  they are high in sugar content and i’m not sure you can actually taste them.  to be continued.

I can’t mention green eating and smoothies without also giving a shoutout to my favorite show (that will probably get cancelled soon) happy endings.  this clip is from my favorite episode of all time, in which alex and penny go on a cleanse.

and that is all of the wisdom i have for you on green smoothies.  so far so good!

Summer Travels

So how about that summer?

Right?

I struggle to even call it summer because when you work full-time and don’t have kids, the extent of summer is lighter traffic during your commute, and also the pool is open.

We did manage to squeeze quite a bit of travel into the past 3 months, so this will be my quick bullet point list of where we went and how much we ate while we were there.

Omaha

A week after our amazing, epic and life-changing excursion to Europe, hubs was shipped to Omaha for work for two months.  Two months!  He got to come home for one weekend in the middle of it, and I cashed in the last of my skymiles to fly up and see him 3 weeks in, because Ben & Jerry’s and Two Buck Chuck can only quell your loneliness for so long.  It was a dark time.

To my surprise, Omaha was surprisingly charming!  Granted, they have the worst weather combination in the universe: scorching hot summers and epically cold winters.  The timing for hubs’s work trip couldn’t have been better though, as both the college world series AND the Olympic swim trials were both going on while he was there, so he had plenty of entertainment.  And the weekend I visited, Taste of Omaha was going on, and we also went to the zoo and stalked Warren Buffett.  Good times were had by all.  Although not good enough to merit staying permanently, as hubs’s company begged him to do.  No dice, company!

(Omaha sign, white tiger at the Omaha Zoo, a tribute to Chef Boyardee)

Asheville

By the time July rolled around, it was time to celebrate our 2 year wedding anniversary.  We originally planned to go to Maine to eat lobster and sight see, but those plans were abandoned when I got pitiful and used up all my miles.  So instead we opted to drive the 3 hours up to Asheville, North Carolina.  THE FOOD WAS INCREDIBLE.  We were there for less than 48 hours, but we managed to eat at Tupelo Honey Cafe twice.  Word for the wise: They bring you biscuits, jam and tupelo honey AFTER you order your food.  You will have to roll yourself home Violet-Beauregard-style if you order anything besides an entree.  It was delicious and I will never forget it.

Also, Asheville, you have so many young, attractive hippies.  And also so much beer.  We stayed at Hotel Indigo which is mere blocks away from all there is to see and do in Asheville.  I may or may not have picked it out based on the fact that the cast of the Hunger Games stayed there while filming the first movie.  We spent a day at the Biltmore, which was redonk.  It was like Downton Abbey but in the Appalachian Mountains and on crack.  It’s crazy expensive so google around for coupon codes if you plan to visit.  I made up the price of the ticket by fully exploiting the wine tasting portion of the day.  They make about 30 wines and I tried every. single. one.

(the Biltmore, a glass of Bordeaux, the patio at Asheville Brewing Co.)

Savannah

I’m not sure if this counts as travel, since hubs is from Savannah and my in-laws still live there, but we took a weekend visit while hubs’s sister and her 3 kids were in town.  Fried scallops, hush puppies and low country boil were consumed.  Margaritas were had on the beach at Tybee Island.  Sweet Melissa’s pizza was eaten at 2:00 a.m.  If you need a killer small business idea, start a 24 hour pizza-by-the-slice restaurant in a party town, but maybe name it something that doesn’t make pervy men giggle.

I also peer-pressured my father-in-law into busting out his Margaritaville machine which had been collecting dust since Christmas.  He whipped up some pina coladas for us but mostly me, and my mother-in-law said she had never seen me giggle so much.  Mission accomplished?  Most importantly, we spent a lot of time with 3 of our nephews, the oldest of which will tell blackmail-quality stories about his mom for hours on end, and the youngest of which is going through a boob-punching phase.  It was a special weekend.

(Sweet Melissa’s, low country boil, Tybee Island)

California

This past February, we experienced The Greatest Loss Of Our Time when two of our best friends moved out to California.  Jerks.  We flew out to visit them over Labor Day weekend, and had the most amazing time seeing the middle of California in all its glory.  We flew into LAX, had lunch in Santa Monica, dinner in Visalia (where they live), and then woke up bright and early to watch the Georgia/Buffalo game, which started at 9 a.m. pacific time.  We also made it out to the beach for a night, staying in Pismo Beach, partying in San Luis Obispo, and breakfasting in Avila Beach.  We swung through Paso Robles wine country on the way back, where our friends revealed that they are secret ballers who are VIPs at a winery with a code and a gate for private tastings.

Hubs loves the weather on the coast of California like I love Cheez Its, which is to say, a lot.  The fact that it was August and in the low 50’s by 9 p.m. gave him a serious hankering to also relocate to the west coast.  Our friends may have wined and dined us into submission, which sounds suggestive, but is true.  I am not typically a crier but I quietly sobbed after they dropped us back off at the airport, though hubs doesn’t like to feel feelings and kept trying to distract me with questions like “don’t you miss Buster?” and “are you wearing tights as pants?” (They were leggings and it was LA and my shirt covered my butt so don’t judge).

(Paso Robles, Irish coffee, a sign in a garden in a winery)

For the next 3 months, the only travel we’ll be doing is to-and-from Georgia Tech for tailgating and football.  We have 4 home games in a row in September.  Whoever made that schedule needs to be punched in the face.  One the plus side, hot dogs and beer before noon are totally acceptable for all Saturdays this month, so I’ll allow it.

Happy fall!

Last Day in Paris: Sacre Bleu!

Our last day in Paris (sob) started with a quick trek up to the Sacre Coeur Basilica in the Montmartre area north of the city center. Here’s how it looks on a normal sunny day:

And here’s how it looked when we saw it:

If I had to use one phrase to describe the weather on our trip, it would be schizophrainic fogpocalypse (see what I did there?).  It rained on and off for the entire trip, but that’s okay, because it allowed me to get shots of Paris like this one that a coworker complimented me on because, “You can always google a picture of Paris on a clear day…but your pictures are really depressing.”

Why thank you!

STORY TIME:

We had a lot of creepy moments during our 10 days in Europe, but probably the creepiest of all was the band of misfits that was loitering near the base of Sacre Coeur.  It goes like this:

A man walks up to you holding a string between his hands and saying “Hakuna Matata!” which, due to my experience with bums on the streets of Atlanta, immediately put me on high alert. So I put my hand on my purse and say, “No thank you.” The man proceeds to approach me with the string, saying, “No no, hakuna matata, it’s okay!” Then he GRABS MY ARM, so I yell, “NOTHANKYOUDON’TTOUCHME!” and quickly shuffle past him. There were four of us and probably 6 or 7 of the Hakunas, and we all miraculously managed to evade them.  I didn’t see it with my own eyes, because he was behind me, but I heard that hubs turned into the Hulk and practically threw them to the side, but I don’t know, I can only speculate.

It turns out that their trick is to make you think they’re going to give you a friendship bracelet of sorts, but instead they TIE YOUR FINGERS TOGETHER and refuse to untie you until you give them money.  They’re entrepreneurs at heart, after all.  Crisis averted, but lesson learned: If you hear the words “Hakuna Matata” in public, turn into the Hulk and run for your life.

We then grabbed some breakfast and wandered through the Montmartre area looking for things we never actually found, such as Van Gogh’s house.

We finally made it to Moulin Rouge, which looked nothing like it did in the movie:

After learning our lesson about trying to walk too far, we took the subway down to the shopping district so we could pick up some waaaaaay cheaper in France Longchamp bags.  We headed to Printemps, the famous department store, which has an amazing rooftop cafe where you can take pictures of the entire city.  And also shop your face off.

We took our time strolling back toward the river, passed by the Louvre and the Musee d’Orsay one last time, before catching the subway back to our ‘hood, where we picked up a last box of glorious macaroons.

We weren’t actually leaving Paris until the next morning (Sunday), but the person who checked us in and out of our rented apartment came by on Saturday to make sure we hadn’t destroyed the place.  When she asked about our dinner plans and we said we had none, she called an amazing hole-in-the-wall steak restaurant and asked for a table for four, in French.  I wanted to hug her and stroke her hair and never let her go.  We said goodbye, got gussied up, and went to eat at Robert et Louise.

The restaurant only has room for about 5 tables total, and all of the meat is served on wooden plates, while communal bowls of salad and roasted potatoes are passed around.  It was an amazing finale to an incredible trip.

The next morning, we got up and went to the Eiffel Tower one last time to try to climb at least part of it…but it was pouring rain (shocker) and about 1,000 tour buses had already beat us there.  So we took a few shots of its underbelly and bid the Eiffel Tower adieu.

We followed the advice of our host lady and took the Roissybus from the center of Paris to Charles de Gaulle airport for our flights home.  It was a hell of a lot easier than changing trains 3 times with all of our luggage.  And of course by the time we left, it was 70 and sunny across Paris.  Go figure.

Just finishing my recaps of our trip makes me sad that it’s over all over again.  It was a long and sometimes grueling but ultimately amazing trip with good food, great friends, and experiences I’m sure none of us will ever forget.

Until next time, “Bonjour!” 🙂

Beer & Waffles: A Love Story

Here we go with another travel recap.  I feel like I can’t write about anything else until I’m done with these things, and since I’ve had at least 3 people tell me how lazy I’ve been at blogging lately, let’s just get ‘er done.

On our second-to-last full day in Europe, we headed to the Paris Gare du Nord train station to buy 4 tickets to Brussels.  Based on research we’d done online beforehand, we thought we’d be able to buy discount passes in person, but, we were SO wrong.  Buy your tickets in advance, people.  Lesson learned.

The Brussels Grand Place looked a lot like Munich’s town square, including the old churches and, just, old buildings in general.  We started our day with breakfast, which mostly included a first but definitely not last round of Belgian waffles.

Belgian waffles are different than regular old American waffles because they have chunks of sugar in them.  It’s a totally worthwhile diabetic nightmare.  If you happen to have a friend who is obsessed with perfecting their version of Belgian waffles stateside, then you should count your blessings (ahem, Greg).

One of the buildings in the square has a pretty obvious architectural flaw.  You can see that two different architects each worked on different sides of the building before meeting in the middle, though the results weren’t exactly symmetrical.

One of our first tasks of the day was to track down the Mannekin Pis, aka The Peeing Boy.  Go here to read more about it.  It’s basically a statue of a boy peeing, and it is usually clothed in one of several hundred costumes, although it was naked the day we were in Brussels.  Just our luck.

We brought back many seemingly inappropriate Peeing Boy souveniers for our friends and family.  I’ll assume that they were grateful.

We also tracked down the Jeanneke Pis, which is the female version of the above statue, which was put up by a restaurant to attract tourist traffic.  It’s at the end of a quiet alley, and is honestly kind of creepy.

On the same quiet alley, we found the Delirium Cafe, which might just be our Favorite Bar Of All Time.  It’s actually made up of multiple bars on the same block, but we headed to the basement beer bar, which holds a Guinness record for having more than 2,000 beers on the menu.  The menu is the size of a phone book.

It was dark, cool and cozy, and we got to try beers that we’ll probably never have the luxury of tasting again. I’m holding a Delirium Tremens in the photo below, which is admittedly not rare, but, when in Rome.

From Delirium we went to get the best frites I’ve ever tasted, probably because we were pretty drunk.  I’ve never power-eaten french fries like that in my life, and I hope I never do again.  Come to think of it, I don’t remember if we ate actual lunch?  Can anyone confirm?

With bellies full of frites, we caught a cab to Cantillon, a brewery in Brussels that was founded in 1900 and is still run by the original family today.  They make lambic beers (aka sour & sometimes fruity) that are spontaneously fermented by yeast in the air, rather than by yeast that is manually added directly to the beer.

There is a self-guided tour through a rickety wood building that ends with a tasting. The brewery itself is really hard to find.  We found the street address in a Rick Steves’ book, and gave that to our cabbie, and made it just fine, but if you just tell them to take you to Cantillon, you probably won’t get very far.  You can walk from Grand Place, but the neighborhood it’s in is pretty shady, so I don’t recommend it unless you have a posse.

SInce we’ve been home, we’ve had a couple of bottles of Lindeman’s lambic that is readily available here in the states, but it pales in comparison.  Cantillon is so good and tasty, so if you ever get the chance to try it, please do, or I will curse you for the rest of your days.

After Cantillon, we grabbed one more drink (of water) in the town square before heading back to the train station and catching an evening train to Paris.

Oh and I also bought this pillow in Brussels.  I have no explanation.

Paris Part 2: Stinky Cheese Edition

(Travel recaps, continued!  I’m almost done, I swear).

On Thursday morning, we got up and took the 40 minute train ride to Versailles, where Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette and probably lots of other people lived in the 1700’s.  It was huge, opulent, and crowded as all get out.  Prime elbow-sticking-out time, I tell you.  The line was long but moved quickly, and the cost to enter was included in our museum passes.

We all grabbed audio tour walkie talkies, which became irrelevant once we were trapped inside the hall of mirrors with 8,000 of our closest friends.  The hall of mirrors was pretty striking, and included – you guessed it – a shit ton of mirrors.

And of course, Marie Antoinette’s famous bedroom (this is one of those pictures where you keep moving, stick your camera up in the air, and hope for the best).  I haven’t seen the Sophia Coppola movie yet, but it’s on the Netflix queue for the next time hubs goes out of town, yessssss.

We went out the back of the palace to the gardens that go on for miles and miles and miles…I wonder if Bon Iver has been there.

The back of the palace itself is not too shabby either, I mean, if you’re into that sort of thing.

There was a LOT of ground to explore, so we made our way back towards what we thought included the farm area that M.A. used to use as her getaway, but I guess we got lost/tired/hungry and never got to any of these places.  But they look fun I guess.

We took the train back to Paris around the midday point, and all of us decided that it would be nice to have some time away from the group. First, we headed to the apartment to regroup, where I finally accepted the fact that the small wheel of seemingly harmless Camembert cheese I bought the day before was making our apartment uninhabitable with its odor.  Cammie had to go.

Sorry again, everyone.

Hubs and I then went off on our own to explore Notre Dame (he is Catholic, after all).  Honestly, compared to the various churches we visited in Salzburg, the inside of Notre Dame was pretty underwhelming.  But the outside was ridiculous.

Here is Notre Dame’s badonkadonk:

I have photos of the inside, but to its credit, Notre Dame is massive and my photos are limited in scope, so you’d probably get a better idea of its structure if you google imaged it.  I will give them a shout out for being hip with the times though, because they had TVs for people who had to sit behind the pillars.  So modern of them.

Our museum pass included entry to the top of Notre Dame, but, predictably, that line was also crazy long, and the guy behind us, in what I’ll assume was an attempt to shorten said line, was clearing out his sinuses in a way that I wouldn’t believe unless I had heard it myself.  So.  Freaking.  Disgusting.  So we bailed in favor of wine and crepes, which I forgot to document, since we were alcohol-famished.

With only a handful of minutes left on our 2-day museum pass, we milked it for every last penny and went to the Pantheon.

While entering, the guy at the door recognized us as Americans (I can’t imagine how), and informed us that the original version of the Statue of Liberty was downstairs in the crypt, but that we only had 15 minutes to find it.

We passed a giant pendulum before heading down a creepy winding staircase, then literally jogged around the crypt, looking for a statue that we never found.  We did find the graves of Marie and Pierre Curie, Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Victor Hugo, and dozens of others, but I didn’t take any pictures, out of respect/time.  Although now that I read the Wikipedia page on it, I’m realizing that a lot of them are buried without their hearts, and some of them were just hearts in urns…this disturbs me.

Hubs and I exited the Pantheon, then trudged through the rain towards home, I mean the Eiffel Tower.

Once home, we re-accepted the others into our tree of trust, and headed out for a most fantastic dinner at Cafe du Marche, which was 2 blocks from our apartment.  The owner keeps the entrees cheap enough for the locals to eat there nightly, so for only €10, you can get roasted duck, truffle cream pasta (which changed my life), and about a dozen other glorious things.  Plus crazy strong mojitos and a waiter with a crazy strong personality (in a good way).

Dessert was your standard life-changing assortment of creme brulee and cannolis.  We may have ordered more dessert than there were people at our table.

We headed from dinner back out to the Eiffel Tower to watch it light up, as it does on the hour every night.  It was so great to be so close to the tower that we could easily visit it in the evenings.  Although it’s not easy to photograph.  I did my best.

Next up: Jean Claude van Damme’s homeland, aka Brussels.  Stay tuned!

Paris Part 1: Ooh La La

Back to travel recapping, which, I gotta be honest, even I am getting a little bit sick of.  Shall we get this over with?

Our first full day in Paris (Tuesday) began with a trip to the Louvre in the morning, in an attempt to beat the crazy tour group crowds to see the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, etc. etc. and so forth.  In retrospect, I don’t think it matters how early you get to anything in Paris: tour groups are there before you, guaranteed (sidenote: I always spell “guaranteed” wrong on the first try.  Always).

I can’t emphasize enough how motherclucking ginormous the Louvre is.  There are four floors, and I feel like each wing is multiple football fields long, with weird winding staircases throughout that make you confused and weepy and wishing you had just left the Louvre to the Da Vinci Code instead.  Tom Hanks made it to the Mona Lisa in record freaking time in that movie.  I don’t buy it.

Speaking of the Mona Lisa, here she is, surrounded by tour groups.  The number of photos I have of famous attractions in Paris is limited to how many times I was willing to stick my elbows out and fight for a front row view, which is to say, not many.

I left that tourist’s scalp in the photo, for authenticity’s sake.  The Mona Lisa is not large, but not postcard-sized, which I had been lead to believe that it was.  The astonishing thing is that on the wall opposite the Mona Lisa is The Wedding at Cana, which is 21 feet tall and 33 feet wide.  It’s ridiculous.

We wove our way through hundreds of other Renaissance-era paintings, that look as vivid today as they probably did in the 1500’s.  Nothing looked run down or aged.  Art preservation is fascinating.

After getting lost in the Egyptian wing, having a minor panic attack, and finally finding our way to Very Important Piece Of Art #2, the Venus de Milo, it was elbows out time again.

Victory is mine.

We spent some time wandering through Napoleon’s apartments before leaving the Louvre and heading to the Musée d’Orsay, which I have no pictures of whatsoever because photography is not allowed inside of it.  But we did see a lot of Van Gogh, Degas, Monet, Renoir, Cesanne…I could go on.  I really, really loved the Orsay.  Maybe because it was smaller, less crowded, and more logically laid out than the Louvre OH SNAP!

{not my photo, FYI}

We implemented a hard and fast rule while visiting Paris: a mandatory bottle of wine every 4 hours.  This was essential to our survival, as it kept us (me) from trying to do too much at once, and also, we were all more pleasant when seated and boozy.  Additionally, Bordeaux is super cheap and tasty in Paris, so if you go there, drink it up!  I miss it already.

We went back to the Louvre in the evening, because our museum pass allowed it and our apartment guide told us that it is open late on certain nights of the week.  We leisurely walked through some of the more obscure corridors, hunted for particularly suggestive paintings that the boys wanted to view, and finally bid the Louvre adieu once they kicked us out.

It was my brilliant idea to walk down the Avenue des Champs-Élysées from the Louvre to the Arc de Triomphe (it’s possible that we missed a wine break, which is where I became disoriented).  I know now that these two sites are more than 2 miles apart, which is not a desirable distance to cover after wandering through museums all day.  And can I just say, as glamorous as the Champs-Élysées is portrayed to be in movies and such, it’s just a busy street full of H&Ms and Disney Stores…it was like an outdoor shopping mall.  Maybe I was just too tired to appreciate it.  But it was exhausting.

We tried our hardest to find a legitimate cafe where we could eat dinner, but ended up heading to McDonald’s, relieved to be off of our feet with food in front of us.  Foreign fast food is so interesting to me, and Mickey D’s Paris did not disappoint.  They have a whole separate dessert bar inside, with good little macarons and such.  So fancy.

Hubs had the McBaguette, which it pretty much what you see above.  I don’t know if it was any better than a regular burger, but according to him, it hit the spot just fine.  Also to note: McDonald’s fries taste the same pretty much everywhere.

For some reason, about 1,000 cop cars drove down the Champs-Élysées with their sirens blaring while we watched from the 2nd floor of McDonald’s in astonishment.  Maybe it was an impromptu police parade, or maybe it had something to do with the presidential election that was going on at the time.  I guess we’ll never know.

We finally made it to the Arc de Triomphe, took a quick gander, then wisely jumped on the metro and headed back to homebase.

I want to be brief enough not to bore you, but also lengthy enough that I go over everything I want to look back and remember, so I’m going to cut myself off here rather than squeeze another day in Paris into this post.  As a preview, Thursday involved Versailles, stinky cheese, Notre Dame, and devils.  You’ve been warned.