Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

I love Halloween! This halloween was the first time I dressed up since my freshman year, so it was extra fun. :) And I'm pleased to report that my stage makeup skills have not diminished. :) Everyone at our ward party tole me that my costume was too realistic. >:) It was great!

Wanna take a guess at what I was? Two words... Rexburg. Pedestrian. :)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Quick Sidebar...

Have you ever wondered what happens to grass when it is watered on a freezing night? Yeah, I hadn't either. But oh man does it have a cool result! It's probably one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen:


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Explorer le Musée du Louvre et D'aller Jusqu'à la Tour Eiffel

K Taralyn, this is the one you've been waiting for! On day 3 of Paris it was time to see the Louvre! I could not believe how incredibly massive it was. The tour guide lady on our cruise down the Seine told us that it would take 3 months to get a good look at every piece in the Louvre. I don't think we even scratched the surface. But what we did see was pretty sweet. I love the glass pyramid. :) It's pretty epic, plus it plays an important role in the Red Pyramid (read it Mom!!!).

The teeny Mona Lisa, with a sea of people in between us.

By far my favorite piece in the Louvre. She is so beautiful!

You get the idea. The Louvre is pretty sweet. The building itself is absolutely beautiful, and all the fine art doesn't hurt, either. I don't have much else to say about the Louvre though... pictures speak 1,000 words, right?

After we left the Louvre, we went to Jardine du Luxembourg, aka Luxembourg Gardens. This is when I realized that English gardens are about a million times better than French gardens. French gardens usually consist of some grass, sandy dirt, and square trees. Sometimes some shaped hedges. Not exactly my thing. We didn't do much there besides pay a Euro to go to the bathroom and get some really poor excuses for crepes (blech! They were awful). We also watched some little French tweens race around the pond. We were rooting for the girl but she lost by a long shot. :( After we left Luxembourg, we decided to go get a closer look at le Tour Eiffel.

It's pretty cool, I guess. :) I also really liked this carousel. I have a thing for carousels. They're so cute and pretty!

We hung around the Eiffel Tower for a little while, but then we decided to head back to the hotel for a little bit. Kaity, Mary, and I all had a fairly low tolerance for the unpleasant aroma of eaux usées that wafts through les rues de Paris on a constant basis. We didn't stay there long before it was time to get some dinner and head back to the Eiffel Tower so that we could go up it! Getting back there was quite the adventure. First, we got some pizza from a bar/cafe on the street our hotel was on. There was a big language barrier, but before long we were able to decipher the menu and get something. It took forever for them to get the pizza out to us. By the time it came out we had to take it and go. We were halfway down the block when we figured out that they hadn't sliced the pizza. Our solution was to rip it and eat it as we walked. I felt like a savage. And it was a really awful pizza. We didn't have a very good food day. We wanted something to get the terrible aftertaste out of our mouths, so we stopped by our favorite patisserie, wherein I ordered a Tarte aux fraises et au chocolat Eclair. We took them to go then booked it to the Jares Metro station, huge box of pastries and all. When we got on the train, it w absolutely PACKED. Rush hour in Paris is way crazier than rush hour in London. We were packed in there like sardines. The whole ride there was a big hairy French armpit in my face. It was about a million degrees, and we were trying so hard to protect our box of precious pastries. We were miserable, but for some reason we all thought it was hilarious. We lost it. We were laughing like crazy while everyone else on the train looked at us like we were crazy. It didn't help that it was so hot that Mary's mascara melted and mixed with her sweat until it smeared all over her face. It was pure madness. When we got there, we opened our box of pastries. It was so sad. It was a mess. A melty mess. We ate it anyway. :) And it was gooooood. Do you know what else is good? The view from the top of the Eiffel Tower!!!!

That little tiny building in the distance is Sacre Couer. It doesn't look so big from 1000 feet up.

The skyline of Metropolitan Paris

This is really random, but this happens to be my favorite sign in all of Paris.  It was in the elevator up the tower.

Yeah we were really high up... it was epic.

Do you see the eensy teensy Notre Dame?

The sunset that day was spectacular. It was a pleasant view.

The Eiffel Tower is a lot more crowded up top than it is in the movies. But it was still quite amazing. We came down before the nightly sparkling, which I kind of regret. But it was still really beautiful from the bottom. I like it when it sparkles. Sparkly!

The train ride home was MUCH more enjoyable. The train was nearly empty, and this guy helped to make it especially great:

Sorry that the camera work is pretty bad. As awesome as this song was, the next one was even better. He started singing Numa Numa as soon as I turned my camera off. It was marvelous. There are few things as inspiring as a Frenchman singing Numa Numa. ;)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

La Deuxième Partie de Paris

Our second day in Paris was a Sunday. When we left our hotel that morning we (including our instructors) didn't really have any idea when or where Church was, but we left for church all the same! Brother Waddell had a general idea where the meetinghouse was, but it was a very general idea. There we were, standing in a big cluster on a sidewalk in the middle of Paris, while our directors stared at a map trying to figure out where to go. I was worried. Missing church that Sunday was the last thing I wanted to do. I needed church that day. Needed. I don't know how others felt at that time, but I was in need of some spiritual relief from the city. So there we were, standing around, with me in my own private panic attack, when a really friendly man in a suit and tie walked right up to us. "You looking for church? Follow me." So we did, and he led us right to the meetinghouse. Which was BEAUTIFUL, by the way.

When we got there, the place was absolutely packed with people. I guess that day was ward or stake conference or something. Walking through the archway from the street into the courtyard of that building, I could almost physically feel the nastiness of Paris lift and be replaced by complete and utter peace. The difference was amazing and freeing. When we got there they were already halfway through church. Which meant I was severely bummed out, but grateful just to be there. I wasn't bummed for long, because the bishopric set up a sacrament meeting just for us! It was amazing! It was conducted by Brother Romney, presided over by a member of the French bishopric, the sacrament was blessed by Brother Hartvigsen and Juan, and it was passed by Brother Holt and someone else. I don't know how to explain what I was feeling in that moment. It was a mix of joy, relief, gratitude, an overwhelming sense of the Spirit, and pure exhaustion, I think, but as soon as Juan started saying the sacrament prayer, I started sobbing. I completely lost it. I am so grateful for the gospel. I am grateful for it's truth and that it is spread throughout the world. That Sabbath day, I had an overwhelmingly powerful experience in which I received witness of its truth. I also was so so so grateful for the church members who were so open and friendly to us. This one single sacrament meeting changed my entire attitude about France and its people. It made the remaining few days of my journey more worthwhile, it expanded my view of the expanse of the church, and it made me more aware and grateful of the beauty of the organization of the church. It is absolutely, without a doubt, true.

Going to church was literally a breath of fresh air, so it was sad when we had to leave. But it renewed my spirit, and I was ready to take on the city once more! The rest of the day in Paris actually turned out to be quite amazing. First we headed to Notre Dame! It was so beautiful!

I stared at this massive rose window for about twenty minutes. It was stunning. Notre Dame felt/looked different from any other cathedral we'd been to.

After  we spent some time inside, we headed up the 402 steps to the top of the towers of Notre Dame. The view was pretty incredible.

Me and the gargoyles! They were pretty stinking sweet!

The bell of Notre Dame! Quasimodo was here...

Upon our departure from Notre Dame, we crossed the courtyard to Saint-Chappelle. This building has the largest collection of 13th-century stained glass. That means I liked it. 

It was so beautiful. Each pane depicted different moments of Christ's life. I loved it!

Here's a random pic of the Metro in Paris. It was pretty cool.
After Saint-Chappelle, we headed back to the hotel and got out of our church clothes. We had to be warm for our boat cruise down the Seine! It was a great way to end the Sabbath.

I've decided that Paris is a really beautiful city. That is, when I'm not actually in the city. I like seeing it from up high, or from the steps of Sacre Couer, or on a boat on the river Seine. That's when I loved it the most. Those were the moments when I felt like I was in Paris.