Pulling Back the Veil

Pulling back the veil

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Last week the hubby and I watched the movie, The Girl on the Train. I had not read the book prior to watching it. After watching it, I planned to discuss an aspect of it. I just didn’t know aptly it might apply on the day that I would sit down to write.

I have pretty good detective skills and was the winner when the hubby and I once went on a Murder Mystery Dinner Train ride. The movie did a good job at keeping me guessing. The thing that struck me, however, can even be seen on the trailer. So…no spoilers here.

The main character thought she was watching a person’s happiness. Her perception was limited by these fragments of what was presented to her. Much like the world of social media or the Jones’s that you see across the street.

I was struck by that parallel since I find myself struggling with not falling prey to the comparison game. Why don’t my photos garner more likes? Why aren’t my followers growing by leaps and bounds like so-and-so?

And then sometimes I have moments where I realize that I’d probably be overwhelmed if those things did have explosive growth.

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Why might I be overwhelmed? Because everything I post doesn’t reflect every single thing going on in my life. It is just a snippet, a glimpse, into the mundane, into the exciting, into the every day.

I will share my children’s victories, but I will not be sharing my experiences when they make poor choices. Those moments are a sacred part of their story and while they intertwine with mine, it is my job to cover them in grace not hang them out to dry.

I will share with you that the oldest and I picked out the corsage for his date to Prom.

I will share with you that the hubby and I spent hours purging unnecessary clutter from our lives over the weekend. I was almost embarrassed at the amount we took to the local charity because we shouldn’t have purchased most of it to begin with. We are working toward a life more in line with simplicity and contentment. I felt a wave of relief as I saw spaces open.

And sometimes, I will pull back the veil and allow you to see a little deeper.

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You may recall from this post that I spoke about how our Yorkie-Poo, Kiwi, had Lyme disease.

Or may have seen this video on my Instagram story about three months ago. At the time, the doctor was really surprised that the kidneys had held up as long as they had.

This past Friday, she seemed to be a little off. Over the course of the weekend, she seemed to become less interested in eating and then less interested in drinking. By this morning, her breathing had become much more labored. I took her to the vet first thing this morning. They ran her bloodwork and it was as I expected. All of her kidney and liver values were highly elevated. Any choice that was even a remote possibility would not have changed anything. So I stood there and had to make another hard decision about a dog. We had to make the same hard decisions with our Golden Retriever, who died of cancer, two years ago.

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This time there would be no coming home and telling everyone goodbye. This situation was much more critical. God in his infinite wisdom had brought some words to me before I stood alone in this sterile room, deciding fate.

You see, this is my daughter’s dog. She begged for a little dog for years until the pull at her daddy’s heartstrings made him concede and get this dog when the girlie was 6. She carried this dog around over the weekend, tried everything to cajole her into eating, bathed her, swaddled her, and poured copious amounts of love onto her. She knew what was happening. What the future may hold. She asked me if I would need to make that hard decision. I said that it was a strong possibility given her health problems. She told me that she would rather that than her slowly starve since she wouldn’t eat. And then this morning, on the drive to school, she told me that she had said goodbye.

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It was because of those words that I chose not to extend her suffering. Had I not known if she had been able to say goodbye, I would not have known what to do in that moment. So with tears, I signed the consent and stayed with her, comforting her, until the end.

I returned home to an empty house, lay down on my bed, and let the tears just fall.

I grieved this little dog that drove me crazy with her passive aggressive antics.

I grieved this little dog that lay her head under my chin when I said “who’s mama’s baby”.

I grieved that I will not hear her pattering footsteps or the clanging of her dog tags. I grieved the emptiness when I return home and start toward the back door to let her in and realize she is not there.

I grieved this little dog who brought sunshine into my daughter’s soul.

Soon, the girlie will walk through the doors and I will have to tell her. The boys will be sad as well, but she was the girlie’s friend. Tail-wagging at the door when the girlie arrived home friend. Lay with you in the bed while you read a book friend. Share your goldfish crackers friend.

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And my heart begins to break again.

She had dreamed of taking her little furry friend off to college. She thought they would be pals for many years to come. She did not know that disease would come and take those dreams away.

Some days I will pull back the veil. Some days I will allow you to see deeper into my pains and my joys.

I am reminded that just as a dog’s lifespan isn’t promised in terms of years, neither are ours.

Don’t think that what you want to do “some day” is promised.

Truly live in the moments. Embrace today. Chase your dreams.

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. Quote by Maya Angelou

Let your light shine!

Amy

Friday Faves- Edition 13

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Friday seems to come around faster than I can blink my eyes!

Between editing some photos, running errands, spring purging of household stuff, and life in general… I somehow ended up at Friday (and with my house showing the chaos of my not tending to it!).

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One of my frantic errands this week was procuring ingredients for cinnamon golfeados. My middle son is in his third year of Spanish and chose this as the recipe he would bring in. You can find the recipe he chose here.

I do like making treats, but not ones that require letting dough rise and rolling it out. To say I was nervous about its chance of success was an understatement. But they turned out.

The main reason it’s one of my faves this week isn’t because they tasted wonderful. (we didn’t know star anise smelled like black licorice and would have reduced the amount called for if we knew that it, not the cinnamon, would be the main flavor).

No, it’s because my son carried out all of the steps to create this recipe. INCLUDING, rolling out dough. I was only there to oversee. We bonded as we laughed and wondered how a cinnamon roll with cheese in it might turn out. It was moments spent in the present, creating memories.

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And since we are on the topic of food….here’s another of my faves this week. Our gas grill finally died. And, of course I needed some things grilled. The hubby picked up this handy, dandy Weber charcoal grill.

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Prior to vacation I decided that on May 1st I would do what I am calling a 10-day detox (aka real food, minus cheese and alcohol). I’ve said before that I don’t like diets. I really worry about the message they send to my children and I want them to have a healthy relationship with food. However, I did think that in Europe I would likely eat more than normal because I wanted to try new things. I ate more than one of these croissants at our Paris hotel’s breakfast buffet each day, plus tons of other tasty treats that I don’t normally eat. And let me tell you, they were all worth it! I did not gain weight (probably due to tons of walking), but still decided to do a reset. Hence the need for a grill.

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We’ve had a ton of rain! Last night was a huge downpour. The creek by my house only has water for a couple days after a rainstorm. It rushes quickly enough in the beginning to pose a real danger if you step into it. You may recognize it as the location where I practiced my skills on long exposure photography. You can check out one of the photos that I shared in this post. I took this photo to share another fave.

My bracelet.

It’s a hammered metal bangle. It’s a piece of costume jewelry that I found at Anitya, located at 45 rue d’Hauteville in Paris. I wanted to take home a little piece of jewelry to remember this day. The boys wanted to pick out a piece of jewelry for their girlfriends. The middle son has had this girlfriend for some time. We went to a few store, but it was at Anitya where he chose a necklace and ring for her.

The part of this journey that makes my heart smile is that he was so thoughtful about his purchase. He also asked my opinion. Which if you are raising teens or have raised teens, then you know that doesn’t happen often. When I look at this bracelet, I remember that he truly is caring and sweet. Even if sometimes he makes me forget that. 😉

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If you’ve seen my Instagram, then you already know that this is a photo that I took of the girlie’s middle school soccer team. It was for the coach’s gift.

Last night they held their banquet. To say that these girls have had an amazing season would be an understatement. They completed the season undefeated. They are the district champions. Due to the rain, they were only able to have a 10 game season. Yet, in a 10 game season they scored 40 goals, 1 shy from setting the school record of 41. So had they played the other four games…

One of the forwards scored 28 goals, shattering the school record of 13 (which, if I heard correctly, was also her record tied with someone else.) And don’t quote me, but the center-back had 4 goals and 5 assists (this could be reversed), which if you know soccer (and I barely do) is not typical. We play our home games on a turf football field and watching her score a goal from the 55 yard line was impressive! But it took every single girl to make this season possible. A fact that did not go unnoticed.

Not only did the entire team come together on the field, but off the field they rallied around some personal situations.

The coach called each girl forward and offered such kind words about who they were as a player. I admit that I was misty-eyed as he spoke words of encouragement to my daughter.

This year my girlie played a left back. She also played defense for travel this year. But it was an adjustment for her. She had played left forward the years, leading up to this. She was hoping for mid-field, but you play what the team needs and so she did. She worked through the learning curve of moving from an 8 v 8 game to 11 v 11, and from moving to a defensive position.

He spoke about how she played the position that the team needed. As a left foot in soccer, she’s kinda rare. The team was lucky enough to have two left foot players and she was strong enough to play a defender. But where he really made me teary was when he went on to say that she is unselfish on the field. It made my heart well because that is just who she is. I was so happy for her that in her final game, she came in as a center-mid and kicked a beautiful cross to the other player, which resulted in a goal.

The 8th grade parents also came up and said kind words about the team and spoke with love about their children.  I’m not sure there was a dry eye by the end.

It’s again in moments like these that I am at peace with this season of living so far from my family.

Because in moments like these, community IS family.

And since I’m tearing up still thinking about it, I’ll share my next fave.

Plane tickets and hotel rooms have been booked! My mom, my aunt, and I will be heading to Scotland this month!

In the end, the Highlands just weren’t an option because I’m not ready to leave my kids for that long. It was hard to give up as we wanted to see the Isle of Skye and I would love to see Highland Coos and sweeping vistas. My mother and I both had a strong pull to visit the Standing Stones of Callanish, but the Outer Hebrides are much too far. She doesn’t know if she will ever have a chance to return. I am convinced we will return for the Highlands.

We are splitting our time between Glasgow and Edinburgh. Our traced ancestral history is mostly in the areas surrounding Glasgow. Along with sights there and in Edinburgh, we also plan to see Stirling and Doune castle. I am studying public transportation as I will NOT be driving on the opposite side of the road. 🙂

So lastly, I close with a song I love although I don’t have a real reason. I’ve mentioned in the past that I love the sound of Gaelic and envisioned that I would have Percy Jackson-like abilities and miraculously be able to understand it.  Alas, I cannot. This version, however, shows the translated lyrics as well:

I hope that you have a wonderful weekend filled with blue skies and joy in your heart.

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Let your light shine!

Amy

 

Inside the Palace of Versailles

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Versailles.

As promised, today I’m sharing some of the photos of the interior of the Palace of Versailles.  If you missed my last post where I shared exterior photos and some helpful hints about touring it, you can check that out here.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while you know that I bought my first DSLR camera, a Nikon D3200, in 2014. I had inherited some money after my grandmother passed away. She was a woman of very simple means and bright beacon in this world, so this money was extremely meaningful to me. I am lucky enough to live where I don’t have to wonder how I’m going to survive financially so it was important to me that I spend this money in a way that would bring trigger happy memories of her.

Half of the money purchased this camera. My kids were going to be playing soccer and football and I wanted a camera that could capture the action. That was how I used the camera… until…

The winter of 2015. I knew that I needed to find a way to survive what, for me, is a depressing season. I needed to actively seek beauty in the everyday. I started taking photos of nature. I started this blog. I took my Instagram public.

Why do I share all of this? Because, I came home a little disappointed in my photography skills when I reviewed my photos of the interior of Versailles and Notre Dame.

But as I worked on editing them, I realized that my skills have progressed. And while I still am using that same camera with its kit lenses (I actually almost never use the 55-200mm zoom lens, preferring the 18-55mm for almost all my shots), I can see where moments where I wish I had a wider angle lens. Or a moment where a macro lens would be wonderful. When I edit, I see how I really would like to add more than the Snapseeed App to my options, and have been checking out Lightroom. After the bulk of my DSLR, I am looking at the mirrorless options that so many photographers that I admire have switched to using.

And mostly, I realized that I really do love photography.

Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still. -Dorothea Lange.

Once again, I have more photos than I can share in one post. Today, I have chosen my two favorite places in the Palace… the Royal Chapel and the Hall of Mirrors.

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The Hall of Mirrors is considered the most famous room in the Palace.  One reason being that it is the location of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, ending World War I. Work was started on the Hall of Mirrors in 1678 and completed in 1684. You can find out more about its history here, at the Palace of Versailles website.

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The room is quite stunning, filled with light from all of the windows and reflections from the mirrors.

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I see photos that run the entire length of the Hall of Mirrors without a single person included or just the one person as their focal point. If you are trying to achieve that, then I suggest you follow some of the time frames offered in my prior post. I’m sure you can gauge the size of the crowd by those waiting to get inside.

Had we not been exhausted by all of the walking that we had done that day, I may have tried to go back at the end of our day to capture a less crowded hall.

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Of course, I could not show you Versailles on a Thursday without including at least one of the magnificent doors! This is one the doors to the Royal Chapel.

If you love doors, head on over to Norm 2.0’s blog where door lovers come together each Thursday to share doors from around the world.

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The Royal Chapel was the fifth and final chapel built in the Palace since the reign of Louis XIII.

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One of things that I found interesting about the Royal Chapel was that the design was presented by the Architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart in 1699. He would not survive to see its completion, dying in 1708. His brother-in-law completed the works which were finished in 1710.

It reminded me of a story I once read about motherhood, which could be applied parenting in general. It was about how as mothers we are building a masterpiece, like the cathedrals of old, and will not likely survive to see its completion. About how we would never live there, but if we built it right, God would.

It also brought to mind, that we remember those names who lived in this Palace. But there were countless people whose hard work brought about the possibility of them living there. The people standing in the sun creating walls, people chiseling the finest of details, people cooking, people scrubbing floors.

We should remember those people who spent their lifetime behind the scenes making their bit of difference in the world.

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Let your light shine!

Amy

 

 

Palace of Versailles – Part I

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Versailles.

I still have a lot to share about the Amsterdam portion of our trip to Europe, but for today I’m jumping over to Paris. My daughter has been learning about World War I and was asked to bring in photos from her visit to Versailles, which means that I am editing those photos first. 🙂

While we were in Paris, we did opt to take a day trip out to the Palace of Versailles. I have so many photos from this part of the trip that I will be presenting them in a multi-part story. We decided the night before that the next day would work best for our schedule.  It’s best to order tickets online.  If you are good at planning ahead, you would probably do this prior to heading to Paris.  We wanted to watch the weather before making our decision.  The concierge of our hotel was very helpful in ordering up our tickets and giving us the printout of the ticket. The cost to visit the Palace and the Estate of Trianon is 20€. The gardens are free unless there is a musical fountain or garden show. If you are under 18 (or under 26 if you reside in the EU), then there is free admission. When traveling with 3 teens this is a welcome surprise (just be sure to have i.d. for any child that might look questionable as to whether they are under 18. Such as my 6’6″ teenager. Only the Louvre questioned him in two entry points, one of which asked for i.d.).

I mentioned in my last Friday Faves that we stayed at the Hotel Opera Richepanse, located at 14 rue du Chevalier de St. Georges.  This is located in the 1st arrondissement of Paris. The metro line 8 was easily walkable from the hotel. Both to the Madeline and the Concorde stop.

Based on Google maps, it is perhaps slightly closer to the Madeline stop, but the Concorde stop is beside Place de la Concorde and Jardins de Tuileries and I enjoyed seeing those spots every day. Speaking of Google maps… the app was VERY helpful in navigating the city.

Versailles is considered Zone 4, so it is not the standard Paris metro ticket for riding around the city. I’m sure it was better to purchase a round trip ticket, but we purchased them one way on either end. The cost was 3,55€ per person (at the time of our trip, April 2017). The metro was a little overwhelming with this day trip being our first use of it. Since then I have found this information sheet  which I think is very helpful to familiarize yourself with prior to traveling on the Paris subway.

We took the 8 line to Invalides, where we caught the RER C to the Gare de Versailles Chateau/ Rive Gauche stop.  It was about a 30 minute train ride from where we got on at the Invalides stop. It’s about a 10 minute walk from the train station.  There are signs everywhere, but there are also crowds all heading that way as well.

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Versailles is definitely a sight to behold.

Originally the site of a hunting lodge for the future Louis XIII, rebuilding of the residence from 1631-1634 laid the basis for the palace as it is today. Louis XIV was the one who would love the place and build it into the masterpiece that it would become. More work was done under the reign of Louis XV.

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Louis XVI would spend a lot of his time in Versailles until the court would leave for Paris in 1789, where Louis XVI and Marie-Antionette would be executed along with over 1200 others at Place de la Concorde during the Reign of Terror.

It was hard to imagine that such horrific events took place at this spot while standing with my girlie and  watching the sun set.

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Back to Versailles.

Here is where I tell you to learn from my mistake.  

I had read if you don’t get there early (i.e. -you are traveling with teens), visit the gardens first and then come back to tour the palace. If you look at the first photo of the palace, you will see a white tent. This is where they do a cursory look into your bag. Then you get in line to see the palace. All of those people in the photo above are in line. There are four or five rows, stretching from near the white tent to near the palace gate. We are in the final row before you are in line along the gate and walking through the entrance. Once inside, they will scan your ticket and then you put your bags through a scanner and walking through the metal detector.  You are then free to explore the palace.

That line to get inside was 1 1/2 hours! I thought it was a requirement to get through security. THIS IS ONLY FOR THE PALACE. There is an entrance with signage to the left of the pillared part of the building for the gardens. We arrived to this crowd around 10:45 a.m., when we left the estate at 4:30, there was not a line! The palace did not close until 6:30. Had I understood that the line was palace security only, we would have done the gardens and Trianons. The Queen’s hamlet was ultimately the destination that I most wanted to see.

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Don’t get me wrong.  The palace was definitely stunning.

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Its architecture was magnificent.

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The history palpable.

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We stood inside the Royal Gate, which was originally torn down in the French Revolution and was re-created with gold leaf and unveiled in 2008.

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Standing inside those gates, it was hard to believe that during a moment in history, this was where the Royal Court stood.

It would be inside these walls that the Treaty of Versailles would be signed on June 28, 1919, officially ending World War I.

My words and photos can’t do justice to the amount of history held between these walls. In a tying together of visits to two wonderful cities, Versailles felt like a good conclusion from a history component to the fact that we visited the Anne Frank museum while in Amsterdam.

I hope that you’ll check back for more from my trip to Versailles… the interior, the gardens, the hamlet and more.

Plus I have plenty more to share from the wanderlust created by Paris and Amsterdam.

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Let your light shine!

Amy

 

 

 

 

Friday Faves – Sweet Memories

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It’s Friday!! It’s Friday!!

I’ve had a week of playing catch up so it’s flown by.  I hope that you all have had an amazing week as well.

Some of my favorites this week are from reflections on our trip to Europe.

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One of our dinner stops in Amsterdam was the Hard Rock Cafe. I know some people might think this was cheating since it is American food, but I have a love for the Hard Rock Cafe.

When we lived in Florida, we had annual passes to Universal Studios and would always eat at the Hard Rock Cafe in Orlando. We even stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel once for my 25th birthday. Wow! Was it that long ago!

My daughter has a little bear with angel wings that was a limited edition souvenir for Valentine’s Day in 2003.  I was sure I was pregnant even though it was too early to tell and bought that as a gift for her.

So I couldn’t pass up the chance to go to the Hard Rock in Amsterdam. The hubby and I opted to order the Double Dutch burger (sourced locally from Dutch Blonde d’Aquitaine cattle and finished with homemade onion jam, traditional smoked Dutch sausage and ‘Henri Willig’ mature Gouden Cheese) and the Guiness and Jameson burger and split them.  They were both amazing, but the the Guiness and Jameson burger may have been the best burger I’ve ever had…. and that’s saying a lot.

We opted for Heineken… because… we were in Amsterdam! We couldn’t pass up the chance to have Heineken on tap. And we got to bring home some glasses to add to my collection.

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In Paris, we did quite a bit of sightseeing. My daughter wanted to pick up a little gift for her friends.  We decided that the best place to purchase our mass produced items was at a Bouquiniste stall along the Seine. That way there would be a great memory associated with it.

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The Bouquinistes are booksellers of used and antiquarian books. They have four boxes assigned to them, only one of which is allowed to contain souvenir items. Their trade along the Seine goes back the 16th century. If I hadn’t been traveling with three teens, whose interest wanes after so long of perusing titles, I could have spent an afternoon just sifting through the treasures.

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The gentleman whose stall we chose to purchase from had the best deal on trinkets.  I think this was because he was located in the middle and easy to pass.  I decided to purchase a set of coasters as well even though I’m not a fan of mass produced merchandise. He was out there trying to earn a living and selling lower than the other stalls to achieve that, so I wanted to make a slightly higher purchase.

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One of my favorites makes me smile each time I think of it.  My husband and I have an “our cafe” in Paris. We stumbled upon it our first night in Paris.

Le Relais Madeleine. 9, Rue Chevalier Saint-George.

We had checked into our room and decided to stroll down the Jardin de Tuileries.  The girlie wasn’t feeling wonderful and so we decided to grab a meal and settle in for the evening. We found this restaurant near our hotel.  The menu was in French with English below so we were hoping to run into luck and have them speak English.  They did! We had a wonderful meal and sent the kids over to the hotel while we sat outside, had a drink and watched the city life go by.

In case you haven’t been reading my blog long, my kids are 13,15, and 17 so we didn’t just send minis to the hotel. And if you look at the photo, we are on a one lane street and our hotel is the one with the black flag hanging down. The Hotel Opera Richepanse, which was a wonderful hotel that I will talk about in a future post.

We ended up back at the cafe for drinks two more of our four nights there, officially making it “our” cafe.

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I had read that no trip to Paris would be complete without a trip to Laduree, a French bakery and sweets maker created in 1862, for some macarons.  Our final night in Paris, the hubby and I strolled along the Champs Elysses and got some macarons for all of us to taste.

I’m enjoying reliving some of the fun times as I put together my photos.  Keep checking back as I continue to share more of my newfound wanderlust on my first European vacation.

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I hope that you all have a lovely weekend filled with lots of happiness.

Lastly, I leave you with a song that I am loving this week.

I’m not gonna lie.  It’s mostly because I love Chris Martin’s voice.  Way back when, my ringtone used to be “Yellow”. I’m not sure I’ve heard a song that he sings that I don’t love.  Pair him with The Chainsmokers and how could you not love this song:

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Let your light shine!

Amy

 

 

 

Amsterdam Bike Town

Amsterdam – Bike Town

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Amsterdam.

I’ve returned from my first journey overseas. While technically my first stop was Frankfurt, Germany for my layover and also my first passport stamp, Amsterdam was the first city in which I got a view of more than than just a runway.

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The weather in the spring can be fickle, and it proved so on our journey. Amsterdam was a little more wet and cold than we had originally thought that it might be. It worked out well for my photo of the I amsterdam sign. I don’t know anyone in this photo, but it was the only occasion on my 2 1/2 days there that the sign wasn’t swarmed with tons of people. That is the Rijksmuseum in the background.

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In case you missed it, we did not take only carry-ons. However, that decision was made 45 minutes before we got in the car to drive to D.C. and included dashing to the store to buy two medium suitcases and rapidly moving our clothing from two of the carry-ons…which meant I did not actually get to take more clothes, only that my camera traveled in its padded case. Priorities… 😉

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The view of the Earth from the sky was beautiful. We watched the sun set and rise again, over the ocean. After we landed at the airport and collected our luggage, we decided to take the train and then tram toward our hotel. Amsterdam has a good public transport system. We purchased a 3 day travel ticket.  This was good for trains, trams, ferries, metros, and buses operated by GVB. I will note that this is 3 physical days, not 72 hours. We were there for 2 1/2 days and did try to see if it was valid to take the tram to the train station our final day, at less than 72 hours. It was not.

IMG_0743.jpgWe stayed at the Hotel City Garden, which is located on P.C. Hoofstraat. Finding accommodations for a family of five is never easy. Add to that fact that we were traveling during prime tulip and spring bloom season, wanted a hotel that made the city walkable, and did not want to stumble into the red light district (which we did anyway…but that is a future post) and this hotel worked well for us.

We had the room listed as Souterrain family 5 person.  It has 5 single beds, although 2 are pushed together, so if it’s a friend group going, you should make sure you don’t mind feeling like you’re in a king bed together. Our room was located in the basement, with a window opening into an enclosed garden. Since it didn’t appear that there was air conditioning, the window came in handy.

Right at the end of these buildings is an entrance to Vondelpark, which is a beautiful 120 acre park that we spent a lot of time strolling through.

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I will tell you that this was the location where we most encountered the scent of marijuana, so if you are hoping to avoid that smell, this probably wouldn’t be a lovely stroll for you.

But then again, Amsterdam may not be for you if you think you will avoid the smell. We smelled it here… we smelled it near the I amsterdam sign…. we smelled it down at the fun fair in Dam Square… and probably tons of other places.

Personally, I think it smells better than cigarette smoke, the scent of which seems to be more prevalent in Europe than it does in the parts of the U.S. that I frequent.

And yes, Amsterdam is known for it’s legality of pot and prostitution. But I went there for its tulips, its architecture, its canals, and its friendly reputation.

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On the train from Schipol Airport to Zuid station, we were trying to make sure that we were going to get off at the right stop and this lovely girl informed us that this was the correct stop.  When we got off the train, we were looking at the map that came with our ticket. The girl had walked toward her destination, and she turned around and came back to us and told us how to get to the tram station. It was a welcome experience upon my first interaction with a foreign country. We made it to the tram and were trying to figure out how far until the stop listed on the directions to our hotel. A gentleman offered to look it up on his google maps (and yes, I had this app downloaded, but was so overwhelmed that I hadn’t thought to use it yet. It would prove to be a lifesaver throughout Paris and extremely helpful in Amsterdam).

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Another thing that Amsterdam is well known for is…

Its bikes.

And there were bikes everywhere.  They have their own lane and lights.

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I took the photo above while on the canal cruise.  It had just stopped raining so there were still raindrops on the windows.  That’s an entire parking garage of bikes!

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The kids really wanted to rent bikes and go for a ride, but the weather was mostly drizzly and our time there brief.

What I found most surprising was how many children just rode behind a parent on the little metal piece over the back fender. I don’t tend to take pictures of strangers unless they happen to be in my shot so I don’t have any examples of how it appeared. One child was toddler age and the mother rode along with her arm behind as a back rest holding the child in place.

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Quite often there are baskets attached so they can carry the groceries or other purchases.

I have read that bikers get irritated if you are in their way. I don’t know if this is sometimes true, but there were accidental moments of stepping onto the bike path because it seems like a sidewalk. They would ring their bell as they approached and you would realize your mistake and move. Never once did I see anyone angry about anything.

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While most bikes are purely functional, there were quite a few that put time into making their mode of transportation unique.

I did not even capture a fraction of the amazing bikes or multitude of bikes around the city.

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Another sight that seemed so romantic were the girls who were probably in their early 20’s riding sidesaddle behind what I assume was their significant other.  They were just sitting on the metal plates over the back fender. I wondered how in the world they could stay up there, but given the fact that they had probably been on a bike since infancy, it was probably deeply ingrained into their being.

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Amsterdam definitely stole a piece of my heart.

I’m only just beginning to process through my pictures and have so many more to share.

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I hope that you’ll check back as I share more about my excursions in Amsterdam and then over to Paris!

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr "A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions"

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Faves – European Vacation


Here we are at Friday!

Tomorrow I will catch a flight back to the United States.

All in all, I would say that my first vacation overseas has been amazing. I’m looking forward to sharing so much when I return home. I have lots of photos to process, with only the ability to share Iphone pictures today.

It’s closing in on 11:00 pm here, and we are mostly packed. I wanted to share just a few photos for my Friday Faves… because this weeks Faves were all about Europe.


Amsterdam was beautiful.


Paris was beautiful.


Integrity prevailed in Vondel Park in Amsterdam where items found in the park where hung to be found by their owners.

Arc de Triomphe Paris, France
Resilience prevailed in Paris. This capture of the Arc de Triomphe was taken this evening. Yesterday evening , there would have been chaos  on this street. Today… strength. And not just on this street. We were near Montmartre, Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower, and Champs de Elysses over the course of today.


We have formed a lot of memories during our travels. I look forward to sharing them when I get back home.

I hope that you all have a wonderful weekend and I will be spending next week playing catch up, both with editing non-phone photos and reading blogs! 🙂

So lastly, a song:


Let your light shine!

Amy