Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Jew-lie

I've got jury duty tomorrow and it doesn't exactly feel like a party in the U.S.A. Much has happened since last month, not all of it good unfortunately. My uncle passed away and my mom, sister and I have been going back and forth to my cousins house to offer support and food. It's been difficult considering how much time we spent with them but at least our family is large and I'm very close knit with all of my cousins. 
This was taken on Father's Day and the last time I saw my uncle.
Right after this happened, my sister turned 19 and we celebrated with a tea party at our house for some of her girl friends. Since my mom was fielding calls all day, I made tea sandwiches, brewed tea, and baked chocolate peanut butter birthday cake. My mom also made scones and we had strawberries from the farmers market. For such skinny girls, they managed to eat almost everything. I was very impressed. 
We also went to an outdoor screening of Beetlejuice and I got to play with a prop.
I made my first beach trip of the summer with Megan and Anna in Santa Monica.
Last week, my mom, Anna and I made a little trip to the Venice beach canals. It was overcast but muggy and a fun adventure. 
Last Sunday was my uncle's funeral so my dad came home from Virginia and some other family friends came in from SF. The service was in Palos Verde and it was unusually warm and sunny so I almost passed out. Slightly embarrassing but my cousin Gracie fanned me while I sat in the shade. Afterwards everyone went to my aunts for the reception and it eventually turned into cousin beer pong and boba fetching. 
Anna and I began a month pass to core power yoga and have been every day in hopes of gaining abs or toned arms. 
I spent the 4th at Greg's house during the day, 
went home to wrap up toffee bars and then went to Megan's to watch fire works on her front lawn. 
My moms birthday was the 5th so we went to marina del Rey for breakfast at Le Pain and walked on the boardwalk. 
I have to wake up early and skip work to be at the courthouse by 9:30 in the morning tomorrow. UGH. Please cross your fingers I won't be chosen and will not have to return Thursday! At least there's wifi, marukai/Starbucks for lunch and an excuse to read the book I just got from the library.
I'm jealous of Katey's trip to Paris, I want to go somewhere so badly!! Perhaps next summer, post graduation I'll get out of this country or city or state and get a little vacation!
Happy July all!


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Katey's Family in France Part Five: Reflections on French Onion Soup and the Moveable Feast

This is likely my last post devoted entirely to this trip, barring the occurrence of anything particularly eventful on the way to the airport or on the flight home. It's been a strong finish to my dad's and my time in Paris (my mom will be staying on with one of our friends for a few days).

Yesterday we took a fairly leisurely morning before heading over to the Holocaust Memorial/Museum in the Marais. You are not allowed to take photos, so I do not have any to share, but I highly recommend it. I had been last year but did not get to spend much time in the main exhibit on the bottom floor due to a mix up in which I at first did not notice the sign telling me to go downstairs (laugh, if you must). Anyway, I got to spend quite a bit of time down there this year, and it is by far one of my favorite museums. If you have any interest in history, WWII, or the French, it's worth a visit. If you speak French, it's all the better because you can watch the videos and understand them; although my dad seems to think he got the gist of them regardless (I'm skeptical).

After our trip there, we walked over to the Île Saint-Louis to eat at the little restaurant where my Aunt Patty and Uncle Tim would by me ice cream from the window when we stayed on the island when I was 13. I also had dinner there with friends last year, so I could vouch for the food as well as the ice cream.



I forgot to mention in my last post that I had French onion soup at the restaurant in Montmartre. I meant to write about how it was almost as good as my dearest friend Laura's French onion soup. To be honest, it might have been a little bit better (no offense, Laura). But this is also relevant here, because I ordered French onion soup at Pom' Cannelle on the Île Saint-Louis as well. And it was even better! Ok, I actually knew that in advance though because I ordered it last year. Despite being a little heavy on cheese, it's excellent. Laura, we'll have to come to Paris one day and uncover their French onion soup-making ways.


The soup was delicious, but the ice cream did not disappoint either. Just as good as when I was 13!

(Gail is really into action shots these days)

That evening we again met up with Cathy and John for dinner. I walked through the Place Dauphine earlier that day and took inventory of some available restaurants. Then I checked out what people had said about them on the internet, which led me to choose Ma Salle à Manger. It was an excellent choice if I do say so myself. It's a little Basque restaurant, and I must say that I have a new affinity for Basque food and will be in search of a Basque restaurant in Seattle. Also, our waiter was super nice and funny, and it was all around a very pleasant experience. 

Then we went on one of those little boat cruises on the Seine. It was actually quite a nice way to end the evening!



Plus it was a beautiful way to see the sunset!


This morning we decided to go on one of those hop on/hop off tours. Now, normally I'm skeptical of these sorts of things, particularly after my aunt and uncle and I tried to do one when we were here in 2004 but then couldn't figure out how to hop back on after we "hopped off." But this actually wasn't bad. It was kind of a nice last look at the city, and it's a relaxing way to do it. Also, it was really nice out this morning and there weren't too many people on the bus. For those of us who choose to listen to the commentary, it's a nice history lesson (or a refresher for those of us who already know a fair bit of French history and simply like to be able to quiz our friends and family after tours like this), and for everyone, it's a nice way to get to take pictures like this:


I could also see what I suspect is preparation for the Tour de France:


Afterward we had lunch at a place in the Latin Quarter with some charming waiters, and I got mussels!


It was lovely and very close to Shakespeare and Company, which we perused after lunch.


Then we went for a walk, which led us to the Luxembourg Gardens, where we stopped for coffee and crêpes (which were a bit underwhelming but still a nice dessert). 





After heading back to the apartment to get my dad and I packed, we met up with Cathy and John again for our last dinner all together. We found a nice little place where I had steak and then a coeur coulant au chocolat for dessert. It was wonderful. What a pleasant end to our stay.

The three who depart demain matin! 
These two will stay to drink more wine for the next week.
All in all, a lovely trip. It will be nice to be home, but I'll certainly miss Paris. À la prochaine, Paris!

xoxo
K

“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” 
― Ernest HemingwayA Moveable Feast


Sunday, June 30, 2013

Katey's Family in France Part Four: Good Catholics and Gay Pride

Well it's been a church-filled weekend but also full of some unexpected and super fun surprises!

Yesterday we started out the morning at Sainte-Chapelle, which is one of the most beautiful places ever. Built by St. Louis (King Louis IX) to house the relics of the passion of the Christ, but I likely covered that in a blog post last year, so I'll spare you the details.


The moral of the story is that the windows (depicting the various books of the Bible) are most certainly worth a visit, and it's pretty amazing that they've survived revolutions, fires, and everything else that destroyed other parts of the palace. 

We were then supposed to go to mass at Notre Dame (according to our clearly laid out itinerary), but as we approached, we saw that the cathedral was otherwise occupied. There was a large crowd outside and two big screens on either side of the doors showing what appeared to be an ordination (I speak from prior experience with ordinations). We knew, of course, that there would thus be no mass for us, so we went to a café across the street where we could enjoy our coffee and pain au chocolat to the sound of Notre Dame's bells and with a view of the little alter servers lining up to perform their holy duties. 


And after our coffee, we headed over to the Conciergerie! It's actually one of my favorite museums in Paris, because it's been such a key piece of history. Also I find the history of the Revolution particularly fascinating. So here's a glimpse of the chapel where Marie Antoinette's cell was (I'll spare you the history lesson that I'm sure I covered in a post last August):


And, you know, me in the women's courtyard for the female prisoners:


Then we went for a lovely lunch in the Latin Quarter at a place my friends and I frequented last year. It was fabulous, and although my parents headed home right after, I wanted to walk around a bit. And I am so so so glad I did! I stumbled upon the pride parade!! It was um completely fabulous! And here I thought I was going to miss out on the pride festivities because I wasn't in Seattle, but Paris had an amazing amazing amazing parade with so many people! 

Including this guy who ran right past me with his butterfly wings:


Also, there were a ton of different groups addressing specific issues, like this one focused on the use of the death penalty as punishment for homosexuality in various countries:


This was one of my favorite signs:


And this photo with one of the guys who was standing by me (aka Dominique Strauss-Kahn according to his mask) was definitely a highlight:


And then I actually sort of had to jump in the parade in order to get where I needed to go. This was my view from amidst my fellow parade marchers:


After I met up with my parents, we got connected with our dear friends, Cathy and John, and went out to dinner:
All in all it was a lovely lovely day!


And then this morning my mom and I got up and actually did make it to 8:30 mass at Notre Dame. I will not disclose how long it had been since one or both of us attended mass. It was a lovely service, and my mom got her wish of having been to mass at Notre Dame. 


Also, I got to investigate the structure outside Notre Dame, and I have decided that it serves very little, if any, functional purpose. I think it's pretty much to raise awareness about the 850th anniversary of Notre Dame, but I think it would be better if they offered some additional information about the history inside of this blue thing. But I suppose no one asked me. 


Inside the blue thing is some stained glass and various quotes about Jesus. I think, however, that the structure in the background is meant to imitate what the palace (of which only Sainte-Chapelle and the Conciergerie remain) would have looked like when Notre Dame was built.

Anyway, after that my mom and I had breakfast at the same café as yesterday and then returned to my father (he may not fall in to quite the same category of Catholic loyalty as we do). Together we ventured out to the marché aux puces at Clignancourt, where I found a hat, and my mom and I both got some tennis shoes (matching) and nail polish. After our purchases, we didn't really feel the need to linger and so moved on to Montmartre. We went through the Basilica and then had lunch at a nice little place nearby, with the cutest baby at the table next to us.


On our walk down to the metro station we detoured to see the Moulin Rouge, and then we headed home. But on the walk from the stop where we got off, we ran into a demonstration that appears to have been related to Egypt's recent protests regarding Morsi.

The sign in the back says "pain, libérté, justice sociale" or "bread, liberty, social justice."
But then there were also these anti-marriage equality people who kept driving by and getting in the way of my pictures. They had these obnoxious flags and kept honking, and a ton of them had their kids with them. I really just wanted to see the Egypt demonstrators. 


So as to not let the homophobic demonstrators have the last word/photo in this post, here's a reminder of how much bigger and more awesome the pride parade was than their "protest."



"Love doesn't discriminate, not by sex, not by color."

So proud of the US (goodbye DOMA and Prop8!) and France for being leaders in the global movement for equality. My two favorite countries are doing good things. And I was lucky enough to witness it this weekend! 

More soon,
xoxo
K

Friday, June 28, 2013

Katey's Family in France Part Three: The Bourbons and the Impressionists

For my friends who are not so well-versed in French history, I'll let you know now that the title does not refer to any alcoholic beverages. I'll forgive you if you stop reading now. In fact, it refers to our adventures in Versailles yesterday, followed by our trip to the Musée d'Orsay today.

We knew Versailles would be a big day, so we tried to get out of here somewhat early to get to the metro. I had to buy the RER tickets, but I had double checked that I could get them at the Saint Michel-Notre Dame station, so I wasn't worried.

One thing I didn't count on, however, was an SNCF strike. That is, the employees of the RER and other train-related things were not at work. I probably should have counted on it, as la grève in Paris is hardly groundbreaking news. Alas, we had to buy our RER tickets from the little machine. Which didn't take bills. And of course didn't take our puce-less credit card (American cards don't have a necessary chip in them to be read by machines). And so we counted up all of our little coins to scrape together the necessary change for one-way tickets (although I wasn't really positive they were one-way until we had to buy return tickets under similar circumstances). And of course we had to wait in line behind all of the other tourists attempting to buy their tickets - some of whom had to discover that their cards wouldn't work by trying them over and over again and some of whom had invested in cards with the correct chip but that simply were not functioning properly. It was during this time that the SNCF man came buy to get something from the office (you know, the booth where they would normally be selling tickets and helping the struggling tourists) and informed an inquiring French woman that they were not working because of the strike. By translating this to my parents, I inadvertently informed the surrounding line of bewildered Americans and Brits of the situation. But we got the tickets.

The next step is always not taking a train that doesn't go all the way to Versailles (the RER C splits off in several directions). We were fine on this note because I was prepared for it, but I still have a bit of a guilty/worried conscience about some people (from the aforementioned ticket line) whom I witnessed getting on the wrong train before I could stop them. My mother just informed me that she did, in fact, see them at Versailles later that day. Conscience clear.

And so we got to Versailles. And we got audio-guides (Being nine months removed from my last tour and my French history courses, I was not prepared to relay the history of Versailles + Trianon). And we had a lovely lovely time with a wonderful lunch at the place my group ate at last year. But I didn't get ice cream. Oh well.

We saw all the rooms in all the palaces, of course including the Hall of Mirrors:


And of course we had our photos outside:


And we made our way up to the Grand Trianon as well as the Petit Trianon.


All in all, a successful day. Even if at the train station I promptly realized that our tickets were only one-way (in my defense there had been no aller + retour option presented, merely a "Chateau Versailles" ticket). There had been someone at the booth when we arrived, so I thought perhaps the Versailles employees were not on strike. My mistake. Then, of course, we had the needing change issue. Luckily, about a zillion other people also needed return tickets, so my mom had plenty of time to wait in line while my dad and I ran to buy an orange juice and hot chocolate from the McCafé across the street. I asked the nice young man working for extra coins, and he was quite accommodating. And the orange juice wasn't bad either. After watching a few more Americans (a few too many, I might add) struggle through the realization that their credit cards wouldn't work in the machine, we made it to the machine and got our tickets. A little later than planned, we made it onto the RER C headed for Paris. Needless to say, we were a bit tired and opted for dinner in. But it was delicious, and we all slept quite well. 

This morning we could sleep in a bit, as we were just headed over to the Musée d'Orsay (where the Paris Museum Pass gets you in a separate and super fast entrance unlike Versailles, where there is only one entrance and one über long line). We started with the top floor, home of most of my favorite impressionist pieces, and spent quite a bit of time there. Although my mom spent about twice as much time as my dad and I. We all looked at various areas for a while and then met up (after my dad and I chased down my mom, who always seems to be difficult to find in museums). We had lunch at the café on the fifth floor, which was actually quite good. I was pleased with their Quiche Lorraine and very satisfied with their Chocolat Liégeois (an ice cream dish). Anyway, although we were originally planning to squeeze in the Musée Rodin, we decided to round out the day with the rest of the Musée d'Orsay. I may have encouraged this decision, as I am inclined to think that, while I am very glad I saw "The Thinker" and other Rodin works last year, sculpture museums only need to be visited once or twice in a lifetime, and in the case of my parents, my account and photos of the experience will suffice. 


Because you are not allowed to take photos in the Musée d'Orsay (I saw a sweet Italian man get fiercely chastised for committing this crime with his ipad), this is the only picture I can offer. I did, however, recently take photos from my parents' camera, so I may add a couple to old posts and more variety will come in the future!

All for now, but we've got some fun days ahead!
xoxo
K




Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Katey's Family in France Part Two: Paris Paris Paris

We arrived on Sunday night and got all settled into the apartment! It's pretty cute too:


I sleep here:

I was a little nervous the first night, but now I'm a pro on the ladder and not so concerned about falling out of my little cave. The rest of the apartment is great, and it has everything we need plus a view of the Tour Eiffel!

Oooh! And the first night, there was a manifestation (protest/rally/demonstration) in memory/support of Clément Méric and the anti-fascist movement generally (http://news.fr.msn.com/m6-actualite/france/manifestation-antifasciste-%C3%A0-paris-14-interpellations#tscptmf). As a matter of fact, it held up our traffic and made us late to meet the person with the keys to the apartment, so our taxi driver suggested we get out at the corner and walk down the street. And per normal course of the universe slash my luck, a torrential downpour began the moment we got out of the cab. But I nonetheless think the manifestation was super cool and am glad to have been even the teeniest bit part of it. I think something else may be beginning ce soir, because from the balcony I saw a bunch of people run down our street to join a group shouting something I couldn't quite make out. We shall see.

On Monday we took it easy, slept in, and went over to see the Galleries Lafayette and Printemps. I very much enjoy both stores, but I have to consider much of their women's fashion to be more museum than store. All of the clothes are, nonetheless, gorgeous. And the ceiling is fabulous at Galleries Lafayette as well, but I think I put a picture of that in a blog post from last year, so I wont repeat photos. I got a new one of the parentals on top though! Not as nice of a day as when my friends and I went last August :( Oh well! You can still see the Tour Eiffel.


That night, my mom and I saw a performance of La Sylphide at the Opéra Garnier. It was simply fabulous. And it was a special performance for Pierre Lacotte, who put together the choreography after it had fallen out of circulation for years. This meant that everyone was a bit more dressed up than usual, and certainly more than us, but it was an honor just to be in Lacotte's presence. For more on La Sylphide: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Sylphide


Not my best photo, but the Opéra was all decorated with fantastic flowers!


Also, it was evidently totally cool to take photos during the curtain call, so of course, I did. These dancers were amazing. The man (red) was incredibly powerful, and "la sylphide" had impecable lines and precision. All in all, beautiful. Pierre Lacotte is onstage on the right. 


And of course, we've found a bakery nearby, recommended to us as having "the best croissants in Paris." I haven't had all the croissants in Paris, but these are, indeed, excellent.


Tuesday was Giverny. For all of my gushing about flowers, see last August's post. The flowers weren't quite so fully blooming this June, but we had a lovely trip, a lovely lunch, and a nice visit to the Musée d'Impressionisme and Monet's tombstone. 

And everyone got photos on the bridge!



Last night and tonight we made dinner here, which I must say is actually quite nice.


And after some rest, we got up today to go to l'Orangerie (a personal fave!) and the Louvre. Here's my obligatory photo of the Mona Lisa:


But after a lovely lunch at Café Marly (home of a delicious whipped avocado and crab dish as well as a particularly good looking waiter), I split off and went to see the new (ish) area for l'Art d'Islam. I'd been wanting to see it for a while but didn't get there last year. I would definitely recommend it.

For example, one can see this super cool Mughal warrior outfit plus weapons and tools from various societies of various countries.

And many many gorgeous pieces. 

All in all, a great few days. Tomorrow we are off to Versailles, which will be a big day but is always super interesting and awe-striking. I'll keep you posted!

xoxo
K