Monday, January 4, 2010

Paris Day 1, New Years Eve!

This year we decided to spend New Years Eve in Paris with some of our friends from Ramstein: Drew, Rhiannon, Triven, and Christina (visiting Triven). We took a guided bus tour out of Ramstein that is run by a travel agency contracted out by the base. It was a very different from how Phillip and I have become accustomed to traveling, but with how crowded and expensive the city gets over this holiday, it was probably the best choice.

On our way to Paris we stopped at the Taittinger Champagnery in Reims. We learned all about how their champagnery came to be and how they make champagne. We then took a tour of their cellars and even got the opportunity to taste some of their champagne before we left. It was really interesting and a lot of fun! I even bought us a bottle to enjoy later!

When we arrived in Paris we went straight to Notre Dame Cathedral. It is so beautiful!! All the carvings, flying buttresses, stained glass windows; gorgeous! Our tour guide gave us an introduction to the cathedral while we were standing outside, and then we had time on our own to see the inside. This is probably the biggest difference between how guided tours work and how Phillip and I like to travel; they are all about the time limits! Phillip and I like to take our time and wander, but we were only allowed 1 hour. Not nearly enough time at all! However, we made it through the cathedral in time, and I especially enjoyed the beautiful rose windows.

Rose window from inside. It was a cloudy day, so the light was not as great to see them clearly, but they were still beautiful!

We then went to check into our hotel and get ready for our New Years celebration. To begin our evening we took a boat ride down the Seine River. It was really beautiful with everything lit up. The night was chilly, but not bad, so it was a pretty enjoyable time. I think it is one of my favorite things that we did on the whole trip. We got some great pictures of the Eiffel Tower too and watched it's light show at the top of the hour.

The Eiffel Tower while on our boat ride.

Drew and Rhiannon on the boat ride.

Next we had dinner reservations at a French Restaurant. It was a nice little restaurant that the tour company rented out for the evening. We enjoyed a 5 course French dinner: champagne aperitif, foie gras salad or seafood pastry, main course of duck or fish, brie cheese, and ice cream roll (similar to a baked Alaska), including wine, water, and bread! I ended up with the foie gras salad and duck while Phillip had the seafood pastry and duck. Gotta say, not a big fan of the foie gras, and I think it has a lot to do with me taking so many anatomy courses!! :) When you can identify liver based on anatomy class experience it loses its appeal! But the rest of the dinner was pretty good, it just took a really long time to eat!! I understand it is a French thing to have the long meals, where it is all about see and be seen, but our dinner lasted over 3 hours!

Inside our private French restaurant.

After the meal we headed outside to watch our tour guide set off fireworks and toast in the New Year! While Paris the city doesn't do much with fireworks displays, they allow its people to set off their own fireworks. The main gathering place in Paris on New Years Eve is the Champs Elysee so our tour company offered to take people over there if they liked, but our group decided to stay and watch the fireworks our tour guide would set off. We're actually very glad that we did because it sounded like the people got dropped off at the wrong spot, missed their ride back, and eventually had to walk back to the hotel! Instead, our group bought a nice bottle of champagne and we wished each other Bonne Annee in front of the restaurant as the clock struck midnight!

Drew opening our bottle of champagne for New Years.

A New Years kiss in front of our restaurant!

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