Monthly Archives: May 2014

Olivia’s Trip to France, Part 2: Paris

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Hi everybody!

Here is (FINALLY) the second installment of photos from my trip to France last summer. Paris is a beautiful, vibrant city, and being there and catching sight of the tip of the Eiffel Tower over the tops of apartment buildings was like a dream. I hope you enjoy and get a feel for the electrifying atmosphere of Paris, the City of Lights, through my photos.

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A glimpse of the famous Eiffel Tower through the trees. What a magical sight…I never get tired of it.

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A street corner a few blocks away from the apartment we were staying.

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I apologize in advance for the multitude of Eiffel Tower photos in this post. While in Paris, I challenged myself to take lots of pictures of the Tower from different vantage points throughout the city, and at different angles and times of day. I had been seeing pictures of the Eiffel Tower in books and my mom’s photo albums for my whole life, and finally getting to see it in person was truly enchanting.

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We saw this plaque on the side of an apartment building. It reads, “Here lived Antoine de Saint-Exupery from 1934 to 1940.” (In case you don’t know, Antoine de Saint-Exupery is the author of the famous French book Le Petit Prince, or The Little Prince.) As wonderful as America is, you just don’t see stuff like that walking around in any old city in the States.

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Les Invalides, which contains the Musée de l’Armée, the military museum of the French Army, as well as the tombs of some of France’s notable war heroes, including Napoleon Bonaparte.

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Napoleon’s tomb. It is HUGE.

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The outside of the Musée de l’Armée.

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The French flag, waving proudly in the warm summer breeze.

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The famous Paris metro sign. In Paris, EVERYONE takes the metro – tourists and locals alike.

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The Arc de Triomphe, one of Paris’s most famous monuments. It commemorates those who fought for France during the Napoleonic Wars. I like this picture because the people milling about underneath give you some perspective on just how big the arch really is.

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Underneath the Arc de Triomphe is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Here the Memorial Flame is perpetually burning to commemorate those unidentified soldiers who lost their lives in World War I.

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The view of the Eiffel Tower from the top of the Arc de Triomphe.

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Outside the Centre Pompidou, a famous modern art museum. Even the outside of the building is artsy. Those red platforms are escalators – this is how you enter the museum. Outside in the square around the museum, musicians and artists gather to perform and sell their work.

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The Stravinsky Fountain, located just across from the Centre Pompidou. The colorful, eccentric moving statues make this fountain a true work of art.

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The view of the Eiffel Tower over the tops of apartment buildings. I took this picture at the top of the escalator going up the side of the Centre Pompidou.

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Another pretty shot of the Eiffel Tower through the trees.

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The famous Jules Verne restaurant at the base of the Eiffel Tower. Unfortunately, my family was not interested in spending $500 for lunch, so we didn’t go, but I hope I get the chance to go someday, even if I can only afford a glass of water. Haha. 🙂 (I’m exaggerating a little. But still, it’s pricey.)

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The view of the Seine from the top of the Eiffel Tower. In case you’re curious, getting to the top required climbing over seven hundred stairs and then waiting in line for twenty minutes to take an elevator that was crammed with about thirty tourists at once.

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The view of the Parc du Champ de Mars from the top of the Tower. (That random building in the background is the Montparnasse Tower. I think that it completely destroys the view. Apparently, I have heard that the only reason to go up in it is so that you don’t have to see it, which is a pretty depressing reason.)

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An artsy picture of the Eiffel Tower. This kind of gives you an idea of its incredible sky-scraping height.

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The Notre Dame cathedral. There was about a mile long line to get in, but it was worth it. It’s absolutely incredible and gives you a sense of the height of God’s glory and majesty.

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A gargoyle atop the Notre Dame.

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Another gargoyle. This one looks rather bored, don’t you think? Guess I don’t blame it – I would be too if I’d been sitting in the same place, in the same position, for over six hundred years.

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Another vibrant view of the city.

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The outside of the Louvre museum. This museum houses the famous Mona Lisa (which is disappointingly small in person), among other incredible things. The museum has one of the largest collections in the world, if not THE largest, and it is just a treasure trove of beautiful artifacts, including ancient Egyptian sarcophagi, the Winged Victory of Samothrace, tablets carved with Mesopotamian cuneiform writing, and medieval triptychs. The museum itself was once a royal palace, but the more recent addition of the glass pyramids blends modern and traditional architecture, which I find so interesting. It seems bizarre, but it works. It really does – it’s quite a striking sight.

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People sitting on the edge of the fountain in front of the Louvre, dipping their feet in the cool water. It was so incredibly HOT that summer.

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On several bridges throughout Paris, lovestruck tourists write their names on padlocks and lock them onto the gate as a symbol of their everlasting love. I think this is just so romantic and such a sweet idea. All the colorful padlocks create a sort of collage of color, which makes for an interesting photo.

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A closer look.

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A beautiful pastel sunset seen from the Seine.

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Luxembourg Palace. I took this photo strolling through the magnificent gardens of the Jardin du Luxembourg.

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I think the color in this picture is absolutely stunning. The flowers are so vibrant, the grass so green, the sky so deep and blue…

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Yes, we DID stop at a McDonald’s once on our trip. I know, I know – why go to McDonald’s when in Paris, the food capital of the world? Well, as hungry tourists, we weren’t especially interested in a two-hour long sit-down meal at a fancy restaurant, and we were so famished from all our traipsing around the city that we would have eaten anything. So we stopped at this McDonald’s along the Champs-Élysées for a bite to eat. I just thought this was too funny, so I had to take a picture. For the most part, McDonald’s in France is the same as McDonald’s in the U.S. But you can see here that the French have added their own twist.

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La Conciergerie, a former royal palace and prison. Marie Antoinette stayed here briefly before her execution.

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This is a picture of the Paris Plage, or the Paris Beach. Basically what happens is, every summer, a bunch of sand gets dumped on the side of the Seine, and umbrellas are set up and palm trees planted, to transform downtown Paris into a “beach.” Nobody actually goes swimming in the Seine, of course, but I guess it gives people a chance to “escape” urban life for a while if they aren’t able to literally take a vacation. I find this so bizarre and so neat at the same time.

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The Eiffel Tower illuminated at dusk. For the first five minutes of each hour, starting around 9:00 PM, the Eiffel Tower twinkles. At the beginning of each hour, as the twinkling begins, you can hear “ooh”s and “ahh”s from all the awestruck viewers on the lawns below. It is truly a magical sight.

I hope you enjoyed these pictures. I was so thankful for the opportunity to visit such a beautiful city, filled with so much vibrant history and rich culture, and I hope I will be able to return someday. Keep an eye out for the third and final installment of photos from my trip to France last summer, coming (hopefully) soon: Normandy!

À la prochaine (Until next time), Olivia

STTA #11

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What was the weirdest/craziest/funniest dream you’ve ever had?

I personally love when this topic of conversation comes up, probably because I have SO many totally bizarre dreams that are so funny to share. But this is the one I remember most vividly: I was standing in the front of a gym that was filled with monkeys. Yes, monkeys. The room was packed wall-to-wall (-to-ceiling) with monkeys. I was standing on a podium at the front of the gym and trying to raise my voice over the chattering and screeching of the hundreds of crazed monkeys. I was, for some strange reason (or for no reason at all), teaching them how to do the chicken dance. “Okay, now, everyone. Flap your wings and wiggle your behinds!” I was demonstrating the moves as I spoke, but all the monkeys were climbing all over each other and screaming and basically not paying attention. At all. Just as I was beginning to get desperate, Tarzan swung in on a vine (out of nowhere), pounding his chest and hollering, and scooped me up and saved me. “Bye!” I shouted, waving at all the monkeys, who were staring up at me, silenced, perhaps wondering how the heck Tarzan got in there. Then my dream ended (perhaps before we slammed into a wall and died – ever notice how your dreams always seem to end right before something really bad happens?). Just in case you’re starting to think I’m a lunatic, let me remind you that I was asleep and my perfectly sane brain would not have been able to conjure THAT one up any other way. Now, I’m dying to know – what was the strangest dream you’ve ever had? Feel free to leave a comment below!

Writer’s Block

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I wrote this poem, appropriately, as I was procrastinating on my English essay. I couldn’t think of a single thing to say, so I fought my case of writer’s block by writing. This poem was the result. I hope you enjoy!
I put the pencil
down,
pick it up, put it
down.
The
panic
starts.
Why isn’t this easy?
Why, oh why, am I
struggling?
A
blank
piece of paper
was once a friend, but
it is now my
worst
nightmare.
Every time I picked up a pen, the
words would flow
out of me,
cascading out of
my heart and
spilling out of my
soul, splattering beauty
across the page,
scattering the
horrid
bright
blank
whiteness
and creating something
lovely
in its place.
It was once
so easy to dispel, but
now,
as I am staring
down
at the paper,
its blinding brightness
burns into my eyelids and
halts
my imagination.
Oh, imagination, creativity,
why have you
forsaken me?
Why have you left me
devoid of inspiration,
deprived of ideas,
drained of dreams?
Why have you left me grappling
in the darkness,
searching for a light that
has been
put
out,
shrouded in the
darkness
of a
barren
brain?
But a small voice inside my head
tells me to pick up
a pen, and
though I am
drained
of all inspiration,
I reach for it and
begin to write,
knowing that with each
stroke of the pen, with each
word,
I am fighting that horrible
deadly beast known as
writer’s block.
So there. I am
unstuck! I just
wrote
a poem.

Spring Has Sprung

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Hi, everyone.

Several weeks ago, I was sitting outside with a book, as I often do, and I was suddenly overcome by the gentle beauty of the world caressed in spring’s sweet embrace. I ran inside to grab my camera, and snapped these photos in my own backyard, inspired by the grace and delicate beauty of the world in springtime. I hope you enjoy this compilation of spring photos and quotes, and I hope they inspire you to get outside and take notice of the beauty of nature as the world awakens from its long, wintry sleep.

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“Spring is nature’s way of saying, ‘Let’s party!'” ~Robin Williams

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“Spring shows what God can do with a drab and dirty world.” ~Virgil Kraft

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“Spring won’t let me stay in this house any longer! I must get out and breathe the air deeply again.” ~Gustav Mahler

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“See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come.” ~Song of Solomon 2:11-12

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“Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems.” ~Rainer Maria Rilke

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“Awake, thou wintry earth – fling off thy sadness! Fair vernal flowers, laugh forth your ancient gladness!” ~Thomas Blackburn, An Easter Hymn

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“The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing.” ~Isaiah 35:1-2

Your friend, Olivia