My vacations with my family are always pretty interesting. We don’t do anything touristy and tend to spend most of our time hanging out, reading (so many bedtime stories), and just being together. Highlights of my vacation include:
Being goofy with the kids
Joining my niece’s class for a field trip to the post office and then to a forested park (and, enjoying it, but also being really glad I don’t have kids)
Going to the library with my brother (I’m such a nerd)
Taking the kids (and my brother) for a nature walk to do a nature scavenger hunt
Helping the Easter bunny hide eggs and create a fun little scavenger hunt for the kids
Eating dinosaur shaped grilled cheese
Doing a puzzle with my brother
Having many long chats with my sister-in-law
Finding the first crocuses in their garden
Reading bedtime stories several nights
Playing indoor “hockey” with a large ball, a play golf club, and a play mop
Playing hide and seek or tag several times
Visiting some cute shops in a small town and buying a cool tin (which I now use for my markers)
Getting some great art books (and a screwdriver) from my dad
As mentioned in my last post, I finally finished going through my photos from my Paris trip 5 months ago (!!). While in Paris, I became a little obsessed with chandeliers. Yes, those ornate light fixtures that I would almost definitely never have in my home because the glamorous look isn’t for me. I adore them. I looked for, admired, and took many pictures of them in every place we visited. They hung in art museums, castles, the city hall and pretty much any semi historic building (unless the era didn’t have chandeliers, like Chateau de Vincennes).
I loved them all: the golden ones, the crystal ones, the large ones, the small ones, the ornate ones, and even the so-simple-they-look-modern ones. My love for them is so vast that I felt a tinge of excitement when I saw a picture of painting and immediately recognized the chandelier. Is that Mozart being presented to Mme De Pompadour? Who cares! I have a picture of those chandeliers!
Truth be told, half of the “pretty hall” photos I took were really “look at the chandeliers” photos.
I just love them. I love the details and I love seeing how people updated them to use electricity (some add wired-in sockets for mini light bulbs, some add faux candle sticks, and some leave them as they are). The ones covered in crystal or ornate sculpted pieces (animals, cherubs, foliage, etc.) are my favourites, but I also really love the ones that are surprisingly simple.
I don’t know why I love them so much. It’s not like there weren’t a million other things to fall in love with: tapestries, painted ceilings, hand painted walls, velvet curtains, detailed flooring, etc. But, I guess we all have our oddities.
Here are some of my favourite chandelier pictures from my trip.
Five months ago, I flew to Paris with a friend. Four months ago, I wrote a post about my experience. About a week ago, I finally finished going through my pictures. A few days ago, I finally finished labeling, compiling and sharing those pictures.
While I work on a few Paris related posts, here’s what I did in Paris, according to my Instagram account.
I went to Paris with a friend for two weeks in September. It was lovely, exhausting, over-rated, under-rated, delicious, crowded, rainy, and busy. Since arriving back at home, I’ve been struggling with what to say about it, bouncing back and forth between everything and nothing, positive and negative. It’s been over a month since I flew there and I still haven’t even gone through all the pictures I took. I can’t figure out why I’m struggling with this so much.
The trip to Paris was not intended to be a trip to Paris. I had a lot of extra vacation days and asked my friend if she wanted to go on a trip, thinking we’d do something small, relatively close and inexpensive. Somehow it turned into two weeks and Paris. I was pretty excited. It was the only the second time I left the country. And, I knew a little bit of french, so I knew enough of the language to understand most things (though, not enough to speak it very well).
We stayed in a fairly basic hotel in the 6th “arrondissement” (administrative district), in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés area, which was in the middle of most of the places we wanted to visit. We could even see the Eiffel Tower … if we leaned out the window.
We saw a lot of places in the two weeks: the Pantheon, Notre-Dame, the Conciergerie, Sainte-Chapelle, the Catacombs, Sacré-Coeur, the Louvre, Chateau de Fontainebleau, Pere Lachaise cemetery, Chateau de Vincennes, Hotel de Ville (City Hall), Champs-Élysées, L’Arc de Triomphe, Chateau de Chantilly, Jardins des Plantes, Mélodies Graphiques, Île Saint-Louis (the smaller of the two islands), Place du Tertre, the Jardin du Luxembourg, Versailles, and Musée d’Orsay. We also walked by, but didn’t actually visit, many other places, like Les Invalides, the Eiffel Tower, and Musée de Cluny.
It was a lot to see and I’m sure there were a million more things we could have seen but, two weeks was too long for me. I started getting tired of it after the first week. On the Tuesday of our second week, the Musée d’Orsay, which had been the one place I insisted we visit, was closed because of a strike (one which I supported, despite the fact that I was worried that it would continue all week). We split up for the day and I realized that I’d lost interest in Paris. I was tired. My bad joints were achy despite having rested the day before. I wanted to go home.
Thankfully, I wasn’t willing to just give up and mope around for the week. Someone on Instagram made a few suggestions that I decided to check out. In the end, I had a nice quiet day with lots of time to think about how lucky I was to be there, how I could make the most of the last few days, and what I want to do when I return in a few years. While I didn’t regain the excitement I’d had in the first few days, I’d at least made the decision to be grateful for the opportunity and enjoy the rest of the trip. Also, I bought my first piece of art and some much needed Advil.
In retrospect, I suspect part of my frustration was that this felt like my first really big trip and I felt a both disappointed and guilty for not loving Paris as much as “everyone else” seemed to. And, as much as I enjoy the company of the friend I travelled with, I don’t think that we make great travel buddies. At least, not for long trips. She wants to see all the famous things, I only want to see things that are special to me*. She wants to gogogo all day and everyday, I want to take breaks and have quiet evenings. She’s not much of a breakfast person, I struggled everyday because I didn’t have a proper breakfast. She liked to window shop or browse the kiosks, I was on the move with a mission**.
*Not that I wasn’t willing to compromise – in fact we saw a number of things I had no interest in and one that I had very clearly said I didn’t want to go to.
**I know this drove her nuts as she complained about me getting too far ahead, after which I tried to be more careful.
The last few days of the trip were done on automatic. I mostly just followed her around, making a point to find something I liked where ever we went while plotting out my dream Paris vacation in the moments when I was fed up with fellow tourists or bored of seeing yet another castle. Despite this fatigue (mental and physical), I still enjoyed myself. Even as I was being elbowed by pushy tourists in Versailles, I was still able to appreciate how lucky I was to be there.
I loved all the beautiful architecture and decorative elements, even if it did look like just a repeat of things we’d already seen several times before. The quiches and pain au chocolat (chocolate croissants) were incredible. And, Musée d’Orsay was open on our last day. I was too exhausted to enjoy it fully, but I still loved it. That’s where I saw van Gogh’s La siesta and a self portrait from 1889. Seeing them in person was the highlight of my trip!
I will go back. Probably on my own so that I can focus on the art museums and not worry about accidentally getting ahead of people who want to browse.
As mentioned above, I haven’t sorted through my pictures, yet, but I did share a number of pictures via Instagram at the end of each day. You can see them here. I’m not sure if I’ll write much more about it, but I will share some more pictures eventually.