Sunday, August 22, 2010

End of Summer Parties

This past week, the base chapel hosted Vacation Bible School and it was awesome! The girls had a ball!

It was Monday through Friday from 9am - 12pm.

Each day the kids (about 100 of them) met in the chapel to get their mission for the day (the theme was Galactic Praise), then got sent out to 25 minute sections each of: music (singing and dancing), recreation (outdoor play), science experiments, arts and crafts, a bible lesson and snacks!
Friday (the last day), each of the classes performed their favorite song for the parents in the chapel complete with choreography! It was great... then we broke for an ice cream party!Rayna is NOT excited about the ice cream party because she is allergic and they didn't have we went for pizza as a special treat for her. (*See her pouting above.) LOL!

Good times!

Also, the base's library hosted a summer reading program which met each Monday for stories and arts and crafts. We are book worms in this house, so we LOVED the reading program which gave us an excuse to read and read and read all summer long.

Thursday afternoon, the library hosted a party for the summer readers at the bowling alley and the kids got to bowl, eat pizza, cake and they got awards and prizes.

We love Naval Station Rota!

Montmarte/Sacre Coeur

On our last day in Paris, we went to our favorite cafe for breakfast, said goodbye to our little waiter and took the metro to Anvers to walk up the stairs to Sacre Coeur (Sacred Heart Cathedral)and Montmarte (the artists village).

The metro station let us out into the bustling streets of rue Pigalle and as we turned the cobbled stone streets, there on the hill ahead stood the stunning Sacre Coeur.

We took the stairs (past another carousel that we promised we MIGHT visit on the way back down) and Reese about gave me a heart attack as I turned to see her climbing the wall...GET DOWN!!!

Well...ok, sit there for a quick picture, but hold onto me and then GET DOWN!

After touring the church we walked through Montmarte's winding streets, enjoying the artists displays and the smell of fresh crepes and paninis from the street cafes.

There was a little storm brewing so we ducked into the cafe Le Mere Catherine for lunch and waited out the rain. We were SO glad we did because the food was excellent...Johann ordered a cheese platter - Camembert, Blue Cheese, Brie, Swiss, Roquefort...

Reese about threw up when she got a taste of the blue cheese and has vowed to never eat blue cheese again.

I ordered Escargot, because we were in Paris for Pete's sake......and Johann got the most delicious bowl of mussels and fries...

We topped it all off with creme brulee ...and a delicious wine that we also ordered another bottle of to take home as a souvenir.

The rain ended along with our meal and we went back for one last stroll down the Champs Elysee before heading back to the hotel for our luggage and the airport.

There couldn't have been a better vacation for our family! Of course now, the girls are all, "Can we go back to Paris?"...the other day, Rayna asked to go to Rome...sigh...3 year olds...

Paris Disneyland

Friday, we took the train out to Marne le Valle to the Disneyland Paris parks. There are two parks, the Disneyland Paris park and the Disney studio park, which is kind of like a bootleg Universal Studios but with Mickey and Minnie. There are also some aspects of the California Adventure park (for those Californias who know what I'm talking about) with tributes to Animation and the process of film making. And lastly, there is a Downtown Disney kind of place called Disney Village with a Hard Rock Cafe and a Rainforest...the biggest McDonalds I've ever seen and an entire block long Disneystore.

The Disney Studio park was under construction...they were adding a Toy Story section with some cool looking the meanwile, there wasn't much else...a Dumboesque magic carpet ride, some stage shows (Playhouse Disney and Lilo and Stitch, which we didn't see) there was this really lame studio tour...they blew up a set and there was fire and a flood...not nearly as cool as the Universal Studios ones...but I guess if you don't have that frame of reference, then it might be ok.

The Disneyland park itself was much more fun. It was kind of like walking through the looking glass for us, since we are so familiar with the California park and this one was the same, but SO different. There was a Main Street with New England style homes/shops...named after old Disney, the Harringtons porcelain shop (a la Pollyanna Harrington)...there was a fancy American sit down restaurant called Walts...there was an old town hot dog restaurant called Casey's...There were the 4 lands of course...Fantasyland with all the animated movies turned rides...and a super cool labyrinth inspired by Alice in Wonderland with cards painting the roses red, an Unbirthday party, the Queen of Hearts popping up out of the brush yelling, "Off with their heads"...definitely a highlight. "Its a Small World" was lovely too...very nice spin on all the nations of the world..and not all ridiculously PC like the one in LA.

We took the girls on Star Tours and they both cried...and vowed to never get on "scary astronaut rides" again. Whoops...I think it was even more creepy because the little robot "driving" the space craft was speaking French...sigh...oh well.

Adventureland was mostly Pirates of the Caribbean inspired and there was a Pirates lair playground instead of the Tom Sawyers island... there was also a great section of Adventureland inspired by Agrabah (from Aladdin)...we ate lunch there at this beautiful middle eastern restaurant. Really good baklava and lamb!

The parade was awesome. Princess Tiana did a stage show and sang "Goin' down the Bayou" in all her New Orleans was great.

We were running low on camera battery by this point of our trip and we knew Disneyland was crawling with paparazzi, so we opted to save our camera battery (110 voltage and impossible to charge in Paris) for the final day and rely on disposable cameras for our Disneyland pictures. So...stay tuned for pictures to be uploaded from our Disney day at a later date.

It should also be noted that there is a Hollywood Tower of Terror at the Disney Studio park and poor Johann had to ride it all by himself (twice) because his family was too chicken to go with him. He has a great picture...which will also be added later.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Paris (part deux)

So, we finally made it to the Louvre. There was a 15 minute wait to get into the Pyramid and then we had to wait 40 minutes in a line to take the girls to the bathroom...Of course there's NEVER a line in the men's bathroom, so Johann was in and out in 2 seconds, stood in line to buy our entry tickets to the museum (some nice person actually gave us one of their extra tickets, and R&R were free, so we only had to buy one), got a map and located all the hot spots before we even made it in view of the actual ladies room...


And before you suggest it, Reese refused to go into the Men's room with Johann because "it's gross"...

whatever...if I were 6 and had to go, I sure would have gone...Rayna girl.

Anyway...we saw all kinds of cool art...sculptures......of course the coveted Mona Lisa...Reese said, "It's small"...I agree...especially with that sea of people standing in front of it.

We saw my favorite, the Winged Victory ......and another hour later wanted to find the exit, but spent another hour getting lost...

It was our fault really...we got strollers for the girls, lest we have to walk at a snails pace through the museum and the strollers obviously won't go down we had to find all the elevators...what we didn't know is that there are 8 million elevators in the Louvre and only like 2 of them actually go to the floor with the exit...the rest take you to other random parts of the museum...

While lost, we did see some cool stuff, including the "ancient Louvre" which is the original two towers from the castle and the moat...before it was renovated into it's current palace like state...

So...once we finally escaped the Louvre, we were pretty we went to the Opera district and ate dinner...and dessert. :-)

The girls were excited to see the Opera because it is featured in one of their favorite movies, Disney's Three Musketeers with Mickey, Donald and Goofy.

And that's pretty much how we ended Wednesday.

Thursday was our actual anniversary, so after breakfast at our little cafe, we boarded the train for Versailles.

We got in free there too because we had our handy Espana drivers' licenses and apparently young families from the EU are admitted free!!!

We toured the palace ...King Louis' rooms, Marie Antoinettes rooms, the Hall of Mirrors...

Reese was like, "Mommy...people LIVED here???!!!" I was like, yep...and then I gave her the bad news about Marie Antoinette...bwahahahaha!

We kind of sped through the palace tour because we were all anxious to get out to the beautiful gardens...

And take a rowboat out in the Grande Canal...

It was my favorite day of our fun, so romantic (even with les enfants)...

We all took turns rowing the boat .....and keeping R&R from hopping out and into the water...we even had a small collision...whoops...

And then we ate lots of ice cream, and the most delicious panini's EVER!!!

Then headed back toward the train for home since we had a hot date at the top of the Eiffel Tour!

(I should make a small note here that we got a tad lost finding the train home...but it's a sore subject, so I won't mention it...)

We did get back to the hotel in time for quick showers and took a taxi to our dinner date...Reservations for 4 at Restaurant 58 - which was 58 stories or feet high...or something like that.

Dinner was delicious, the view was gorgeous - we were looking out onto Trocadero...

And R&R were having a ball with our waiter. (And with their dessert....)

We took another elevator to the next level after dinner to take a panoramic view of Paris...and then after waiting a while for elevators, decided to WALK down the stairs...

As I was in 3 inch heels...

I plead the case for an elevator trip after we got down the first set of stairs...

And we got to the bottom as the Tower sparkled above...

Happy 10th Anniversary!!!

To be continued....

Perfect Paris (part one)

***Disclaimer - There's some shenanigans going on with the formatting of this post and I may or may not get around to fixing, please pretend it's fine. Thank you - The Management.

So, for our 10th anniversary, Johann took the girls and I to Paris, France! It was a fun-filled, action-packed, calorie-ridden week of fun!

Here's a day by day of our trip!

Tuesday – August 10, 2010

We arrived in Paris at 9am and went to our hotel. Our room wasn't ready yet, but they took our bags and we left to start our day.

First stop - Breakfast at La Rotunde cafe in Port 'd Orleans where we ate practically every morning.

Cafe au lait for Johann and I, tea and hot chocolate for R&R - pain au chocolate all around! The

weather was great for all the walking we did...about 77 F - not to hot, not too cold!

Metro to Trocadero to see the Eiffel Tower and ride the carousel

A walk along the Seine and a stop by Musee d'Ete (We didn't actually go INTO the museum, but we walked around the beautiful exterior and tribute to summer and gardens.)

Metro to Cite - We walked around the Latin Quarter saw the Hotel de Ville and ate CREPES!!! 1 Ham, cheese and egg & 1 nutella crepe

Notre Dame Cathedral (R&R HAD to light a candle...everyone ELSE is doing it...)

Jardin du Luxembourg w/ children's playground (We loved (and took advantage of) all the gardens and parks in Paris...such a great place for children.) Notice the look of terror on Rayna's face as she flies around on that swing...she rode it 2 more times!) and the mini Statue of Liberty!

Back to hotel to order a pizza and CRASH - what a day!!! (zzzzzzzzzzzzz)

Day 2 - Wednesday – August 11, 2010

Metro to Charles de Gaulle - Etoile to see the Arc de Triumph

Lunch at Café George V on Champs Elysee -

Plat du Fromage

Beouf Bourgenon

Stroll along the Champs Elysee to Musee Louvre ( Cartier, other ridiculously expensive stores...$1500 shoes)

Concorde Obelisk/Fountains/Madeline (still along the way to the Louvre)

Jardin du Tulleries (still Louvre bound)

Carnival in Tulleries (Daddy and Reese on the Air Whip! Rayna on yet another carousel...and lots and lots of candy! - next stop...FINALLY...the Louvre starring Mona Lisa!)

To be continued...