Friday, October 5, 2007

Houston to Amsterdam to Paris

September 2006

I flew into Amsterdam but immediately took the high speed Thalys train to Paris. I wanted to start my journey in Paris and I will end it in Amsterdam. I have my passport, credit cards. a eurail pass and only the clothes that will fit in my small, carryon backpack. I will buy clothes if necessary. This is only my second time to go overseas with Kilimanjaro and Africa in March 2006 being the first.

Paris, France

After arriving in Paris from the train ride from Amsterdam, I checked into my room and went out to explore Paris. I took the subway to the Arc de Triomphe. It was erected in 1806 by Napolean to celebrate his armies victories. The Arc de Triomphe is also connected to the Champs-Elysees which is one of the main highways in Paris. The Eiffel Tower is probably the most recognized monument in the world. It was originally built as a temporary, decorative centerpiece for the 1889 Universal Exhibition but was saved as a radio tower because it was the tallest structure in Europe. Today, it is the very symbol of Paris.
" ' If one of us dies, ' the husband told his wife, ' I shall move to Paris. ' "
Sigmund Freud

Paris, France {The Louvre}

The Louvre. Once the largest palace in the world and now the largest museum in the world. Home of the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo. It contains over 400,000 works of art, 35,000 of which are on permanent display.

Paris, France (Notre Dame Cathedral}

Notre Dame Cathedral is the 3rd largest Gothic cathedral after Rome's St. Peter's and Canterbury Cathedreal and the first to use flying buttresses. It is known for its unrivaled stained-glass windows and sculptures. The beautiful stained glass windows were removed piece by piece during both world wars and put in a safe place. Climbing the 376 steps to the bell tower gives you a great view of Paris along with its famous gargoyles.

Versailles , France

The Chateau De Versailles was home of one of the most flamboyant court since the fall of the Roman Empire. Its most memorable room is the 236 foot long Hall of Mirrors. There is also a 250 acre park.

Madrid, Spain

I took the overnight train from Paris and arrived early Sunday morning. Madrid was beautiful and is supposedly the cleanest city in Europe. I believe it. Not as exciting as I had hoped but the fact that it rained both days and I was there on a Sunday and Monday may have been contributing factors. The Mayor Plaza was especially nice and there were sidewalk cafes everywhere. It rained too much to take many pictures.

Barcelona, Spain {Las Ramblas}

My favorite place in Barcelona. The street performers, restaurants, markets and flower and bird shops line this beautiful street.

Barcelona, Spain (La Sagrada Familia and Port}

I took the overnight train from Madrid to Barcelona. Barcelona is truly beautiful especially Los Ramblas and the port. La Sagrada Familia is one of the most famous sites in the city. The enormous incomplete, roofless mastepiece of the eccentric genius Antonio Gaudi. He was run over by a tram in 1926 before he could complete his most bizarre, controversial creation. The construction is still ongoing.