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Travel the World

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S: A Tour de France

FC: France and Spain 2011 A Turbulent & Wonderful Mother & Daughter Adventure | A Mother and Daughter Adventure | France 2011 | A Mother and Daughter Adventure | France 2011

1: Instead of these awesome first class seats, we were very disappointed to find out seats separated by an aisle. | Mom took an Ambien and was out like a light. Manda was awake for almost the whole flight. | The Grueling 15 Hour Voyage | Armed with her custom built map, Manda foolishly thought that nothing could go wrong. As it turned out, Google maps didn't print nearly enough detail to get us to the first hotel.

2: We found ourselves hopelessly lost when the subway workers went on strike. This very friendly French stranger took pity on us and walked us all the way to the other subway to get us home. | We never even knew his name. | He led us safely to our home Metro station.

3: After he helped us find our way, he asked Mom out on a date! She accepted and he took us out to dinner and on a personalized tour of Paris. | Touring Paris with a Local

5: The Garnier Opera House where the Phantom of the Opera is set. Everything is very ornate. We couldn't find the lake though...

6: The Louvre was enormous. We walked from masterpiece to masterpiece for 6 hours and didn't see a quarter of the art. We walked so much that we were sore for 3 days.

7: Mom's favorite at the Louvre was Tony Cragg.

8: Mary Magdalene | We paid $25 for lunch at the Louvre and all we got was a small calzone and a tart. | Coronation of Napoleon | Cupid and Psyche

9: Some of Manda's Favorites | We bought audioguides to help us find our way through the maze that is the Louvre. Unfortunately, it seems much of the art has been relocated since the guide was made. Every five minutes we were lost...

10: The Tuilleries and Place de la Concord | We had to rent a boat at the Tuilleries for Grammy. Then it took us two tries before we found a kid to give our boat to.

11: It was pure chance that we happened to stumble on the delicious smelling bread festival. We were distraught when it looked like they weren't selling any bread, until we found the shops outside.

12: We didn't go in to Notre Dame, but the exterior carvings were unbelievable.

13: Fun Fact: It takes 25 people 50 tons of paint to cover the Eiffel Tower And it needs paint every 3 years.

15: Sainte Chapelle

17: Mom loved the Musee d'Orsay much more than the Louvre, especially the temporary Manet exhibit. She had read all about the realist artists displayed there. | Renoir Dance in the City | Monet Lunch on the Grass | Carpeaux La Danse | Degas Ballet Class | Manet Olympia

18: On the Champs Elysees we saw some futuristic cars, | These touching bumpers were a common sight. Our guide told us they just don't worry about scratches or dents...

19: In this display of Chucks, every shoe rotated every couple seconds! | This bizarre store front had a forest growing on its face. | This McDonalds was Mom's savior when she had to pee so bad she almost died. | This Virgin Megastore was Manda's savior when her power converter broke. | Manda's Electronics: It was a rough trip for them.

20: Some more creative French parking... | A slight oversight in planning resulted in our arrival at Versailles on a day when the Chateau was closed. So, we stayed an extra day and enjoyed the small town. At this cafe Mom drank from her 2-liter Diet Coke and Manda fed the birds. | The car we rented to get us back on schedule. The attendant did a 15 point turn to get it out of this tight spot. We . struggled with the lack of traffic signs and lights. We had to ask our B&B host how to put it in reverse...she had to ask a stranger. | Versailles

22: We rented a row boat and paddled down the grand canal. We counted the manicured trees to mark our progress. We pondered about how many hours it must take to maintain the thousands of hedge rows.

23: Manda couldn't get over this perfectly choreographed musical fountain.

24: Royal Chapel

25: Versailles

29: Giverny was the most beautiful town we have ever seen. Quite aside from Monet's breathtaking gardens, every home in town obviously took great pride in making their own gardens stunning.

30: Monet's Home

31: We stayed at this beautiful bed and breakfast. We had our own entrance, a private patio and very friendly hosts. He didn't speak a word of English, but Mom performed admirably and communication was no problem. When Mom left her Marvin-shirt in the sheets, they were kind enough to mail it all the way to Kansas.

33: This 500 year old clock is entirely mechanical. It puts on a show with moving wooden figures of Mary, Jesus, and others twice a day. | In Lyon we rode the Fourviere to the top of the mountain, saw the metal flower tree, and visited a rose garden with 5 million roses. It was a beautiful town. Manda wanted to ride the motorized bicycles, and we wandered around asking about it all day. We gave up and tried to rent the regular bikes - the machine wouldn't take our credit cards.

35: The Basilique Notre-Dame was the most beautiful green and gold church. We lit a candle for Uncle Marvin and Kevan. Manda liked this church so much she bought a disc from the gift shop.

36: A river runs straight through Annecy. The boardwalk is lined with colorful shops and cafes. Everything was slow paced and beautiful. We didn't see any sites, but relaxed and shopped. The lake was the most astonishing shade of blue, like nothing Manda had ever seen.

37: We were hopelessly lost trying to find our hotel the first time. The terrain was terrible and Manda kept picking up her suitcase over the rough spots. Eventually, Mom insisted that Manda had not tried rolling her 4 wheel suitcase on two wheels. We traded suitcases and for about 15 seconds mom had great success with Manda's suitcase on 2 wheels. Knowing it couldn't last Manda asked "Do you feel the turbulence?" She went another 10 feet and the suitcase was pitching violently from side to side. We stopped and laughed so hard and long that Mom nearly wet her pents. | We were so lost that our street eventually turned into a river. We decided to ask a friendly woman on her way into her apartment. She didn't speak much English, but between Mom's French and a little of Manda's Spanish we got our messages through. Even though she lived in Annecy (a small town) she had no idea how to get to our hotel. She pulled her own city map out, and couldn't even figure out where we were standing (even though we were standing at her apartment). After much frustration and several "Aye yia yia"s she insisted that we get in her car and she would drive around until we found it. She couldn't find her keys (though she had just parked her car) and her car was so messy we each had our suit cases on our laps. She reminded Mom of a mix of Judy Domke and Mrs. Frizzle of the Magic School Bus. We drove around for nearly 10 minutes before Manda spotted the hotel. Though she was very eccentric, we remember her as the kindest soul we met in France. | Hotel View | View from Our Hotel Balcony

39: We had a wonderful cheerful guide for our Segway tour around the beautiful Lac du Annecy. Mom only screamed a few times while we learned to use them. We also enjoyed the exotic gelato displays. We saw one with a coffee cup in it, one with a whoel chocolate bar, a whole pineapple....etc. We loved everything about Annecy, except leaving it. Especially because we boarded the wrong train and ended up going a full hour in the exact wrong direction. We never got on another train without asking someone what the destination was again.

40: Nimes | In Nimes, aside from the arena and the temple, the most interesting moment was when Mom accidentally ordered shark. She cut it into pieces and hid it under her lettuce ...just like a kid.

42: Carcassonne

44: Carcassonne was straight out of a fairy tale. We toured the castle and walked the ramparts. We learned about how they would throw water over the walls to stop intruders and about the murder hole where large stones dropped on any who enter. Unfortunately, that's where Carcassone's charms ended. Inside the city, it was nothing but tourist shops and restaurants. We kept expecting to see medieval themes, but everything was modern and tacky. Even most of the restaurants were American fast food style. We found | one unique restaurant. The feature was called Cassoulet. It looked awful, but was delicious. The funniest thing was that we weren't hungry and they were very expensive, so we told the waiter that we wanted to share one. He repeatedly insisted that they were too small and we needed to have one each. When we had both eaten all we could, we each still had half of our bowls. The last straw was when he said he had no to-go boxes, but we could buy the bowl for $30...

46: Mom got pretty excited when she saw this American Soda shop on La Rambla.. Europe was a little short on Diet Coke. | B A R C E L O N A | This rowdy and loud group of families kept us entertained while we ate our dinner one evening. | Barcelona's own little Arc de Triomphe viewed from our little three wheel car. | La Rambla was lined with living statues. Some were so realistic that we didn't realize they were alive until they moved when someone tipped them.

47: As we sat at a street cafe on La Rambla, this man in a monkey suit started to perform. He would choose a pedestrian innocently walking by our cafe and either walked behind them too closely, mocked the way the walked, or sidled up discreetly beside them. Eventually the victim would see the monkey and cry out in fright. Everyone in the cafe spent the entire half hour performance laughing uproareously. He made the funniest face with his bottom lip protruding absurdly out. When he came around for tips everyone donated generously. For the rest of the trip we used that memory to cheer ourselves up whenever we needed it. Another day, I became his unwitting victim. | La Rambla | A seemingly-drunk street vendor stumbled onto our table and dropped all his wares. When he scooped up his wares, he took our camera with him. We were so upset about the loss of our photos that we changed clothes and set up a sting operation. Alas, our villain did not return.

48: La Boqueria | Our hotel was a one minute walk from the largest market in Barcelona.

51: We ate a variety of scones and tarts for breakfast every morning. The only problem was there was no where to sit and eat. So one morning we ate at the restaurant and ordered churros, but they were gross and tasted like potatoes and Mom wouldn't eat them. The fish section was so disgusting that we had to hold our breaths to run through the rounder. We also saw some whole g goat heads with the eye balls still in them.

53: These were in a big sculpture garden outside Poble Espanyol. The village was built for a World's Fair and is now full of shops. Mom's favorite was the Picasso plate.

54: Mom was completely enchanted by the Magic Fountain. We watched the show from the steps of the Contemporary Art Museum. They broadcast music that varied from Mozart to Lynyrd Skynyrd. The fountain sometimes looked like pure, colored fog. Mom made us stay for two full performances. We even tried to come back the next night, but it wasn't running that day.

57: By our second day in Barcelona we were so tired of walking that when we saw these little three wheelers we decided to get one. Of course, they couldn't get their machine to run either of our credit cards. An hour later, we took money out of an ATM and had our own road legal yellow car. The only problem is that the engine died almost every time the car came to a stop. The built in GPS navigator told jokes and interesting facts. Our butts started to hurt from the vibrations, so we stopped out our hotel to pick up our pillows. Mom had the time of her life driving around this little thing. Manda was a little frustrated when it died and her cell phone got run over by a Mac truck.

59: These are some of the sights we saw while driving around our little yellow car. We liked the Andy Warhol statue, the giant worm, and the jungle gym traffic light. We also liked the pizza delivery man riding around on his little moped. Mom couldn't get over how much fun it was to drive down the tiny alleys that seemed like they wouldn't even fit our tiny three wheeler.

60: The Beach of the Beautiful People

61: Our little car directed us to the beach of the beautiful people. We quickly realized that we had stumbled onto topless beach. The women of Barcelona are not shy. The girl above even played badminton without her top. When we got over the casual nudity, we mosied past a couple men walking a tight rope. Then we came across an outdoor gym where absurdly buff men were pumping iron. It took some convincing to get mom to walk away. Finally we came upon the truly nude beach. We inadvertently followed a young man wearing nothing but some loafers and a backpack. One man was lying buck naked with his legs splayed wide open and his head pointed at the sea. One man lying naked with his naked wife saw me taking a picture and got up and started yelling at us. He yelled for a solid whole minute in irate Catalan.

62: This very contented woman reminded us forcibly of Grammy.

64: Antoni Gaudi helped shape Barcelona into a city with the most modern buildings I've ever seen. These photos are of an apartment complex he designed. The whole building's front was wavy.

65: Antoni Gaudi also designed and built Park Guell. Originally, this project was supposed to be an exclusive neighborhood for the very wealthy. Unfortunately, the cost was too high and the distance from Barcelona too great - so the project never took off so the land was donated to the city to make a park. All the tilework was done with broken tiles recycled from other projects. All of the fountains were fed with water from a recollection system ahead of Gaudi's time. It was a beautiful place with buildings straight out of a Dr. Seuss book. | Park Guell

66: Park | Guell

67: Gaudi's famous winding bench and lizard staircase.

68: Below: The open area surrounded by the bench serves to catch rain and directs it into the columns for storage and filling the fountains. On right: A close up of the recycled tile ceiling. We saw some old tea cups and plates included.

70: Sagrada Familia

71: The construction of the Sagrada Familia began in 1882 and is expected to end in 2026. Gaudi designed and oversaw the construction of this mammoth church until his death in 1926. The project has been privately funded (no money directly from the Catholic church) the entire time. This church was the most awesome thing we saw during our entire trip. No matter how far away or close we got, this wonder was too much to take in.

73: The Nativity Facade of the church seemed to flow like a lapping tide. In the midst of all the ornate stone carving, there is a large Christmas tree. This was the only side complete when Gaudi died. He intentionally left design details of the other three facades of the church undone. He intended for the most prominent architect of the day to design each face so that all the generations would be represented.

74: This is Gaudi's Nativity facade. The stained glass was beautiful from both inside and out. One of the largest columns was held up by a turtle. Two of the towers were topped with fruit-bananas and grapes. At the bottom there were also pictures of dead babies representing when the Pharaoh killed all the first born children

76: The Passion Facade

78: The second facade to be built was the Passion Facade. In stark contrast to nativity everything was simple and blocky. The Christ was controversial because he is naked and emaciated. This page: on left Pontius Pilot and the judgment, on right Saint Longine who pierced Jesus' side. Next page: on top Saint Peter, on bottom the distribution of Christ's clothing, on right a close up of the crucified Christ.

80: The Interior

81: Gaudi revolutionized architecture for large churches by not using flying buttresses to shift weight to the exterior walls but instead using large columns to take the weight straight down. This allowed the exterior walls to be several times thinner and lighter. The lighter walls allowed for much larger windows. The stain glass in the Sagrada Familia is unique because with thin walls and new technology it is beautiful from inside and out. The columns branch out at the ceiling to create the appearance of a stone forest inside the church. The ceiling has many skylights so that very little artificial light is required. We were unable to visit the crypt because someone had started a fire some months ago. Our guide (we finally had an English speaking guided tour) kept getting in trouble for using a microphone in the sanctuary.

83: The altar features a large canopy with Jesus hanging from it. Only a small portion of the stain glass has been installed, but what was there was stunning. Gaudi also built a school for the children of the construction workers who might spend their whole lives on the Sagrada Familia. The waved roof was revolutionary and amazing.

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