A Travellerspoint blog

France: Champagne Region & Versailles

Poppin' Bottles & Racin' Around France

sunny 72 °F

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Champagne. That one beautiful, majestic word has the ability to conjure up anticipation & delight. I absolutely LOVE champagne. It’s my favorite alcoholic drink. For me, mimosas are appropriate at all hours of the day. It’s a crime to regulate it to brunch with milk, tea and coffee. Seriously. I know I sound like an alcoholic but listen…I can stop drinking it anytime I want. I just choose not to. It would be unfair to the makers of this beautiful, sexy beverage.

I was blessed to visit the bubbly cities of Reims & Epernay. I only had 1 day (Saturday) since Sunday would be spent running the Paris-Versailles 16K road race.

My travel buddy, sister & overall fabulous superstar friend, Renee, joined me! We dragged Tony along too. Our day started early as we needed to take the train from Versailles (where we were staying) so Tony & I could pick up our race packets at the Paris Sports Complex. We then took the TGV high-speed train from Gare Paris-Est to Reims.
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Reims
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Beautiful, beautiful Reims (pronounced “rance”, rhymes with France…I know, you don’t see the letter “n” either. I can’t even begin to sound this stuff out. You know I was saying “reems” forever. I can’t tell you how many times I asked the sexy train ticket agent to pronounce that for me. Ha!). It’s the administrative capital of the Champagne region and is pretty modern. Reims is approximately 45 minutes from Paris if you take the TGV train. This city is where 26 French kings & queens were crowned, where champagne first bubbled (mmm, mmm…I think I need to get a flute of the bubbly to type this post up…hold on…………………………………………………………………………………[looking for champagne]……………………………………………………………………………………………………..maybe I should drink a glass before writing? Then have another glass while I continue to write? You know it will go flat if I leave it out so I better just finish off the bottle. Ooh, I have mimosa sorbet that I made last night. I should get a bowl of that too.) Sorry, I had to think thru this dilemma. Where was I? Oh yes, Reims. This is also the city where the Germans officially surrendered in 1945 bringing WWII to an end.

The great thing about visiting Reims is that most of the sights are within a 15-minute walk from the Reims-Centre train station. Otherwise, you can take the bus or tram (which are really easy to use) to your destination. Now, my focus was to tour the champagne caves and do tastings ALL DAY LONG! I am so serious about this. Did I mention that I love champagne? It’s like the Bert to my Ernie, y’all.

Despite the fact that we started our day at 8am, we were only able to catch the 11:30am train to Reims. So, we arrive during lunch. All the Champagne Houses close down from 12-2pm. So, we take this time to walk down the main boulevard
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and get some lunch.
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This was a steak and cheese sandwich with fries loaded on top. Awesome! And, I’m pretty sure it’s only 8 points on Weight Watchers but I need to verify it…once I finish my cool drink.

Fun fact…did you know that a glass of champagne every day increases the quality of your life? You didn’t? Well, now you do. Don’t bother trying to fact check me. It’s something I know in my soul. I don’t need the FDA or Dr. Oz telling me lies trying to keep me away from my precious.

After we finish lunch, we start walking towards our first Champagne House…Taittinger. On the way, we pass a line for people to get in this round contraption so they can spin around like a ball for 2 minutes.
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During our walk, I realize I need to use the bathroom. We come across a McDonalds so I say that I’m going to go in there. Now, McD’s has never let me down. Tony comes with me. We enter and realize it’s 2 stories with the bathroom being upstairs. But, as we get to the stairs, I notice there is a man blocking access and he’s wearing some sort of gold shield. Apparently, they have security. He asked if we purchased food because the bathrooms were only for patrons. Um, why wasn’t he looking for the Hamburglar who, last I heard, was busy stealing kids Happy Meals? Or did they crack that 45-year old case? Seriously? I meant to check if Ronald McDonald was on the gold shield but I was so thrown that I didn’t think quick enough.

So, being denied relief at McDonald’s (that sounds dramatic doesn’t it? I wanted to throw that in just in case Tyler Perry wants to turn this into a movie.), we head to the Reims Cathedral.
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It’s absolutely breathtaking! This cathedral was built in 1211 and is a great example of Gothic architecture. The details are similar to the cathedral I saw in Strasbourg last year. It’s known as one of Europe’s greatest churches. The first king of the Franks, Clovis, was baptized in this church in 496 AD. This really helped to establish Christianity in France. Since C-money’s baptism, Reims became the place for the coronation of French kings & queens (as mentioned above, there were 26 in total). For this reason, it played a more important role than Paris’ Notre Dame cathedral. Joan of Arc led Charles VII here to be crowned in 1429. The French rallied around young Charlie 7 (or probably as he was known to his friends…Sev’s) to push the English out of France and end the Hundred Years’ War (which was a series of wars waged from 1337 to 1453 by the House of Valois and the House of Plantagenet, also known as the House of Anjou, for the French throne, which had become vacant upon the extinction of the senior Capetian line of French kings.). As you may remember from my London blog, the House of Plantagenet loved to fight. They were involved in the War of the Roses (fighting cousins) and this is the same house in which crazy King Henry 8 or as I like to call him, Crazy 8s) descended (the one killing all his wives).

I cover the origins of the French Revolution in my 2010 Versailles blog post but during the actual revolution, the French decided to convert all the cathedrals and places of worship into “temples of reason”. They didn’t want religion to be forced on them. After the monarchy was restored, Charles X was crowned King in 1825…this was the last coronation in France. I guess old Double Nickels couldn’t keep it going. The cathedral was almost destroyed by bombs during WWI and was completely rebuilt by John D. Rockefeller. Who, interestingly, also rebuilt historical places in Athens and of course, Colonial Williamsburg.

Taittinger
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After getting our church on, we power walk to Taittinger (pronounced “tay-tan-zhay”) because we are thirsty and that sweet nectar is calling. Taittinger is one of the biggest & most renowned of Reims’ caves. We took a tour of the cellars (which are freezing). Now, when we arrive, we ask to sign up for an English tour and the French receptionist was like, “weez ‘r full at de momeent. You’ll have to take ze Fraaanch tour unless you wait 2 more ooww-weres.” So, I told him we’d take 3 tickets for the French tour, then we just filed in with the rest of the folks when the English tour started. Where there is a will, there is a way.

The tour starts with a 10 minute promo video about the beauty of Taittinger, then we followed our guide down 80 steps
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to the underworld city of champagne!
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The deepest of the caves were dug by ancient Romans. They were everywhere y’all. There are approximately 3 miles of caves and 9 million bottles of champagne located here. During the tour, our guide explained the process of making champagne.

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The history of Champagne dates to about 1700 AD and a monk cellarmaster at the Abbey of Hautvillers near the city of Reims. As the story goes, a monk named Dom Pérignon was making wine for his colleagues when, unbeknownst to him, he failed to complete the fermentation before bottling and corking the wine. During the cold winter months the fermentation remained dormant, but when spring arrived the contents of the sealed bottles began to warm and fermentation resumed producing carbon dioxide that was trapped in the bottle. Later that spring Dom noticed that bottles of wine in the cellar were exploding, so he opened one that was intact and drank, declaring "Come quickly! I'm drinking stars!" Thus, Champagne was born and named after the region where it was discovered. Today Möet & Chandon make a Champagne named in honor of Dom Pérignon, the serendipitous inventor of Champagne. A bronze statue of the famous monk stands outside Möet & Chandon in Epernay, France.

Today, the production of Champagne is quite different from Dom Pérignon's accidental discovery.

The key reaction of winemaking is alcoholic fermentation, the conversion of sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide by yeast. The maximum amount of alcohol attained through alcoholic fermentation is about 15% because the yeast cells are killed by high alcohol concentration. The maximum alcohol content can be determined by multiplying 0.55 times the percent sugar initially present in the grape juice before fermentation. For example, if 24% sugar is initially present, about 13% (0.55 x 24) alcohol will be realized. Most still wines (i.e., table wines) contain 12 to 14% alcohol.

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The key process in producing Champagne is a SECOND fermentation that occurs in a sealed bottle. The entire process is described below.

SELECTING THE CUVÉE (La Cuvée)
The cuvée is the base wine selected to make the Champagne. The most expensive Champagnes are made from cuvées from selected vineyards in the Champagne region. Cuvées can be from a pure grape variety, such as Chardonnay or Pinot Noir, or can be a mixture of several grape varieties. Chardonnay is a white grape variety with white juice, Pinot Noir a red grape variety with WHITE juice. Pinot Meunier, a relative of Pinot Noir, also is used extensively. The slight rust color imparted to some Champagne results from using Pinot Noir cuvées that acquire some red color from contact with the skins. The longer the juice remains in contact with the skins, the darker red it becomes. If a Champagne is made exclusively from Chardonnay, it is called "blanc de blanc," white wine from white grapes. Most Champagne is made from mixed cuvees. The alcohol content of the cuvee is usually around 10%.

THE TIRAGE
After the cuvée is selected, sugar, yeast, and yeast nutrients are added and the entire concoction, called the tirage, is put in a thick walled glass bottle and sealed with a bottle cap. Approximately four grams of sugar per liter of wine will produces one atmosphere of carbon dioxide. Since Champagne contains approximately six atmospheres of gas, 24 g of sugar are added per liter of base wine. After fermentation, and subsequent manipulations, the final product ends up with about four atmospheres of carbon dioxide. The tirage is placed in a cool cellar (55-60 °F), and allowed to slowly ferment, producing alcohol and carbon dioxide. Since the bottle is sealed, the carbon dioxide cannot escape, and,thereby producing the sparkle of Champagne.

AGING ON DEAD YEAST
As the fermentation proceeds, yeast cells die and after several months, the fermentation is complete. However, the Champagne continues to age in the cool cellar for several more years resulting in a toasty, yeasty characteristic. During this aging period, the yeast cells split open and literally spill their guts into the solution imparting complex, yeasty flavors to the Champagne. The best and most expensive Champagne is aged for five or more years.

RIDDLING (Le Remuage)
After the aging process is complete, the dead yeast cells are removed through a process known as riddling. The Champagne bottle is placed upside down in a holder at a 75° angle. Each day the riddler comes through the cellar and turns the bottle 1/8th of a turn while keeping it upside down. This procedure forces the dead yeast cells into the neck of the bottle where they are subsequently removed. A riddler typically handles 20,000 to 30,000 bottles per day.

DISGORGING
The Champagne bottle is kept upside down while the neck is frozen in an ice-salt bath. This procedure results in the formation of a plug of frozen wine containing the dead yeast cells. The bottle cap is then removed and the pressure of the carbon dioxide gas in the bottle forces the plug of frozen wine out leaving behind clear Champagne. At this point the DOSAGE, a mixture of white wine, brandy, and sugar, is added to adjust the sweetness level of the wine and to top up the bottle. The bottle is then corked and the cork wired down to secure the high internal pressure of the carbon dioxide. The sweetness levels of Champagne range very dry (ultra brut) to very sweet (doux), with brut being the most common. Personally, I love demi-sec.

Many Champagne houses produce "luxury cuvées," their best and most expensive wines. Dom Pérignon is the luxury cuvée of Möet & Chandon; Cristal is pride of Roederer. Bollinger produces R.D. or "recently disgorged" wines. For example, you can purchase a 1982 Bollinger R.D. that was disgorged in April 1991, nine years after being placed in the bottle. (source “Making Champagne” by Alexander J. Pandell, Ph.D.).

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We had a group of senior citizens on our tour…if you read my Las Vegas blog post, you know how they keep it real. At the very start of the tour, Archie starts in.

Archie: Excuse me. That was an excellent overview of the champagne making process. Really, it was very, very good. You have great oratory skills. I just have a question…are you a member of the Taittinger family?
Francy the Guide: Um, thank you. No, I am not a member of ze Taittinger famileee. I work for the family giving tours of the cellars and explaining how champagne is made.
Archie: You aren’t a member of the family? Well, do you want to do this forever? What’s your 5 year plan look like? You can do better than giving tours.
Me: Seriously? Again? Why, God?

You know the Oldies but Goodies Group had to worry that guide with 1000 questions and block everything. We just gave up trying to participate and meekly just followed them at a distance. I couldn’t do it. In fact, I was just looking for the exit so I could start the champagne tasting.

It was magnificent to see millions of bottles fermenting. I want a cellar in my next home. The House of Nichole. That’s going on my Vision Board right now.

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The expensive bottles were behind locked gates.
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We then get to my favorite portion of the tour…drinking! I love Taittinger. It really is very smooth. I’m partial to sweeter champagnes (demi-sec) than dry (brut). But, I will drink it all :)

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We then head over to the next champagne house…Martel. This offers a homey contrast to Taittinger’s more “business” ambiance. At this point, I was done with touring cellars figuring that once you’ve seen 1, you pretty much know what to expect. I just wanted to go drinking. Unfortunately, Martel didn’t offer tastings without the tours. Renee and I did end up buying a couple of bottles of champagne since I love Martel too.
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After we leave Martel, we head another champagne house which allowed tastings without a tour (yay!) and met some people from the U.S. who happened to be at every house we were visiting. The husband & wife now reside in Brussels due to a job transfer with Fedex and their friend was over for vacation. I believe he bought an entire case of champagne (so of course, I realized immediately that he was cool). At this point, Renee & I are feeling no pain. Look how happy we are!
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Tony had abandoned us after we wanted to go to another champagne house claiming he just wanted a beer. But, he was back 15 minutes later at the champagne house. Champagne is the new black. Live it, love it. Can’t stop, won’t stop.

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Epernay
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After leaving our last champagne house in Reims, we catch a train to Epernay because I have always wanted to visit Moet & Chandon! However, we arrive just as they are closing so no tastings.
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I do get a pick with Mr. Perignon though!
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We walk up Avenue de Champagne
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Past Hotel Ville (City Hall)
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And see a couple more champagne houses.
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Renee was able to buy a couple more bottles of champagne and then we had dinner before heading to the train station to catch the last train back to Paris.

While we were waiting for our train back to Paris, we met a girl named Toni. She's 25 and her story is so fascinating. Toni sold her stuff and moved overseas with her passport and a backpack. She ended up getting a job on a yacht as part of the crew and has 3 months off each year where she just travels around Europe and does some sort of work exchange...so, she basically works for a room to sleep in. I was like, "um, how can I do that?" Some of the jobs she has is bartending, waitressing, working in a kitchen, etc. You work out the particulars before you actually arrive in the city.

PARIS-VERSAILLES 16K RACE
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I had running an international race on my bucket list this year so I jumped at the chance of running the Paris-Versailles 16K (which is 10 miles)! I was required to have my doctor sign a medical waiver (clue #1). Since I love Paris and Versailles, I thought this would be a great idea and it would give me a chance to see some beautiful scenery. I had read the info on the race website and a question was asked about the terrain. The question was "I've never ran the Paris-Versailles, is the race difficult?" The reply, "The race, in spite of the reputation of the "Côte des gardes", is still easier than a half marathon. Be careful on the last climb to Viroflay (before the feeding station of km 13) who is redoubtable, as well as the slight incline of the Avenue de Paris in Versailles, which can seem endless." That's it. Keep that response in mind for later, k?

Tony & I get up, head to Starbucks for yogurt and then take the train to the Eiffel Tower where the race is to start. Um, why were there several funky folks on the train? Dude, you haven't even ran the race yet? You want to be smelling like booty funk when you wake up? Hose yourself off and get some deoderant. The thought going thru my mind was, "what the hell is it going to smell like after the race?"

So, we arrive at the Eiffel Tower and it is packed. The race had sold out about a month prior.
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View of people walking over the Seine towards the starting line.
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Tony & I meet up with a couple of other French colleagues in the starting area (which is packed).
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We are all smiles before the race...
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Then, as we are lining up, my French colleague says, "Hey, be careful out there because people have died running this race." Wait, WHAT? People have died? Why wasn't that in the literature??? He tells me that people always overdo it because they aren't prepared for the huge hill and they don't pace themselves appropriately. Then, he says that he saw 2 people die a couple of years ago. WHAT THE HELL? WHY AM I JUST NOW HEARING ABOUT THIS MESS? I AM NOT READY TO DIE. I HAVEN'T SAID GOOD-BYE! So, I did the best I could...sent a message on Facebook telling everybody that it's been a good life. Ha!

So, the race has a rolling start but unlike half & full marathons, you aren't grouped by pace. They just let a certain amount of people start running every 2 minutes.

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Our group is released to start the race and we start running. A couple of things I notice from the start. First, there is no concept of personal space. People just run all up on you so you are constantly covered in other people's sweat. It's gross. And you cannot avoid it. Second, Port-O-Potties are a suggestion. While they have some located at the hydration stations, most people just stopped running and peed on the side of the road. Men AND WOMEN. I don't need to see Jean-Claude pull out his junk and I certainly don't need to see Chanel pull her pants down and squat. Really? On the side of the road??? I can't take it.

So, once I'm over that, I'm able to continue focusing on my run. Then, I see some guys running in chicken costumes. In the heat...for 10 miles. I'm sure that seemed like a neat concept in theory.

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By the 3km marker, the chicken head had come off and was tossed to the side...by the 6km marker, the entire suit was tossed.

I'm just running along and then I come to the 6km marker and see what I'm gonna call the "Hill to Jesus". It was straight up. I was like, "what the hell?" and I just started looking around for a train stop because I just knew that I the hill would kill me and I would have to ask Jesus to help me out. As I start my Jesus quest, I'm thinking that I have 20 Euro and could either find a taxi or bribe a kid to let me hop on his scooter. The 2 km Jesus run seemed like it was 26 miles. I honestly didn't think I would make it. I think I cursed myself out the entire time I was running. But, I made it, gave thanks to Jesus and prayed that it was all downhill after that. It wasn't. But, 11-13km was pretty good. While I survived the hill, not everybody did. I saw 3 people being rushed to the hospital via ambulance. It's weird passing ambulances that are stationed at every kilometer. I also ran past several people at the medics tent getting oxygen and other medical care. You know I was like, "uh...maybe I should just take a quick break and have them check my pressure?" But, I kept it going.

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But then there was another hill. WTF?!?!?!? Then, I saw the scooter and thought, "I'm saved!"
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I hit a hydration station that has sugar cubes (that's new for me), oranges, water and Powerade...and they are playing Michael Jackson's "Thriller"...aw yeah! That gets me hyped and I get a little burst of energy...
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And, finally crossed the finish line 2 hours later. One more goal achieved!!

Versailles
While I was running for my life, Renee was walking the grounds of the Palace of Versailles. As mentioned (and linked above), I covered Versailles pretty extensively in my 2010 blog. But, I am including her pictures because it was sunny during her visit (while mine were taken on a cloudy day).

"To all the glories of France"
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Pics from the grounds around the Palace of Versailles.
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Marie-Antoinette
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Posted by nikkipitts 18:06 Archived in France Tagged paris france versailles reims champagne epernay moet taittinger dom_perignon Comments (0)

Paris...ooh la la

Fierce, Fabulous & Fun

sunny 70 °F

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Bonjour! Words cannot fully express how much I love Paris. Even with some difficult/diva personalities that you encounter (pretty regularly), it's just a wonderful place. If I was this fabulous, I'd be a diva too (and some will probably say that I am a diva regardless...but I digress). I was blessed to spend a week in lovely Paris for work. I've covered Paris in a previous blog post (Paris blog) so I'm just going to go thru the highlights of my trip.

My colleague, Tony, and I took the train from Geneva, Switzerland to Paris. It's about a 4 hour train ride thru the countryside. After we checked-in to our hotel, we took the Paris Metro (which is super easy to navigate) to Champs-Elysees and found a restaurant to have lunch. It's 1:30pm when we arrive...but lunch prices didn't go into effect until 3pm. So, we ended up paying dinner prices for lunch. The food was excellent (I had lemon-infused chicken with sauteed veggies). But dessert was WONDERFUL!

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It's a chocolate torte with vanilla cream & hot chocolate. Delish! I had dessert everyday!!!

After lunch, we headed to the Louvre. It's a beautiful walk down the grand boulevard of Champs-Elysees. 183.jpg 184.jpg

On our way to the Louvre, we passed...

Pont Alexandre III
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Luxor Obelisk (brought in from Luxor, Egypt...formerly known as Thebes)
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Concorde Meydanı
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Prior to entering the courtyard for the Louvre, you pass thru the Tuileries Garden, which is Paris' grandest park and was once the private property of kings & queens.

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It also happens to be a favorite workout spot for locals. I even saw people doing bootcamps.

And, finally...Europe's oldest, biggest, greatest and second-most-crowded museum (after the Vatican)... the Louvre aka Musee du Louvre. The Louvre is a 16th century U-shaped palace accentuated by a 20th century glass pyramid.

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(beautiful panoramic picture by Benh LIEU SONG)

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It began as a fortress built in the late 12th century under Philip II. Remnants of the fortress are visible in the basement of the museum. The building was extended many times to form the present Louvre Palace. In 1682, KL14 (King Louis XIV) chose the Palace of Versailles for his household, leaving the Louvre primarily as a place to display the royal collection, including, from 1692, a collection of antique sculpture. In 1692, the building was occupied by the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres and the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture, which in 1699 held the first of a series of salons. The Académie remained at the Louvre for 100 years. During the French Revolution, the National Assembly decreed that the Louvre should be used as a museum, to display the nation's masterpieces.

The museum opened on 10 August 1793 with an exhibition of 537 paintings, the majority of the works being royal and confiscated church property. Because of structural problems with the building, the museum was closed in 1796 until 1801. The size of the collection increased under Napoleon and the museum was renamed the Musée Napoléon. After the defeat of Napoléon at Waterloo, many works seized by his armies were returned to their original owners. The collection was further increased during the reigns of Louis XVIII and Charles X, and during the Second French Empire the museum gained 20,000 pieces. Holdings have grown steadily through donations and gifts since the Third Republic. As of 2008, the collection is divided among eight curatorial departments: Egyptian Antiquities; Near Eastern Antiquities; Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities; Islamic Art; Sculpture; Decorative Arts; Paintings; Prints and Drawings (sourced from Wikipedia).

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It's a bit overwhelming since it's so large. Nearly 35,000 objects from prehistory to the 19th century are exhibited over an area of 652,300 square feet (sourced from Wikipedia). Therefore, you will need to be selective about what you choose to see. I believe I heard the guide say that if you were to view & read the descriptions of every item in the Louvre without stopping (24/7), it would take you 9 months to see the entire thing! All of the descriptions are in French but you can pick up sheets with translations in each exhibit. The most famous items in the Louvre are:

Mona Lisa -- Painted by Leonardo da Vinci. This is the portrait he painted of a woman named Lisa del Giocondo, the wife of a wealthy Florentine merchant. King Francis I fell in love with the painting and made it the centerpiece of his small collection of Italian centerpieces. He originally named the portrait, "La Gioconda" -- both her last name and a play on the Italian word for "happy woman." However, we know it as the contraction for the Italian phrase, "my lady Lisa"...Mona Lisa (source Rick Steves). I was a bit disappointed as the painting is dark, small and hidden behind a pane of glass which made it hard to get a good picture. Still, it was awesome to see in person (even if I don't have the artistic eye to see why this is such a beautiful painting).
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Venus de Milo – This Greek statue of Aphrodite is named for the island where it was discovered (Melos), and dates to roughly 100 B.C.E.
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The Wedding at Cana – This enormous (and I do mean ENORMOUS) 16th century painting by Veronese shows the Biblical story where Christ turned water into wine. It's opposite the Mona Lisa and it basically shows love of beautiful things gone crazy. I tried to get a picture but it's massive & I didn't have the right camera to capture it. However, I am posting a picture so you can see what it looks like.
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Michelangelo’s Slaves – There are two unfinished carvings by Michelangelo at the Louvre, called the Dying Slave and the Rebellious Slave.

Winged Victory – This Greek statue is located at the top of a staircase in the Louvre and one of the most famous sculptural figures in the world. It dates from the 2nd or 3rd century B.C.E. and depicts the Greek goddess of victory, Nike.
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Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss Antonio Canova's statue was first commissioned in 1787 and exemplifies the Neoclassical devotion to love and emotion. It represents the god Cupid in the height of love and tenderness, immediately after awakening the lifeless Psyche with a kiss, a scene excerpted from Lucius Apuleius' The Golden Ass.
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We also viewed Egyptian antiquities
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And here are a few other favorites...
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We leave the Louvre when it closes at 5:30 and head over to a cafe for cafe au lait. Then, we walk to the Chatelet area of Paris.

Oscar the Grouch
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Somehow, I don't think this has been sanctioned & approved by Lady O.
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Paris Ghost Tour
You know I couldn't resist doing this. The Paris Ghost Walk is an English language evening walking tour exploring the mysterious “Darkside of the City of Lights.” Our guide walks us around Chatelet area of Paris while presenting stories of alchemy, murder, haunted history, urban legends, myths and legends! Some of the ghost stories include the ghosts of Marie Antoinette, Louis XVII, The Red Man, Nicolas Flamel, lovers of the Eiffel Tower, lost spirits in the catacombs, real vampires, the Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre.

Our guide, Francois. He really tried to take it to another level by wearing fake vampire fangs. LOL
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We start off by going to the house where Nicolas Flamel used to live. Francois asked the group (there were 8 of us) if anybody had heard of him. I raised my hand and said that I knew him from Harry Potter and the Sorcer's Stone. That's right. I ain't ashamed that I love Harry. Y'all know that. Why did Francois say, "That's nice. Not all of us get our history from a Harry Potter book."? Um, what? You already know what my face looked like. Buddy, I have a BA in History. Don't play with me. So, I gave him the side-eye for a good 30 minutes. Afterwards, I guess he wanted to be buddies so he tried to incorporate Harry into everything. Stop it, Francy. Just conjure up a ghost so I can take a picture. Sigh. Back to the story. If you read Harry, then you know the EXACT SAME STORY that Francy told us. Nick was into alchemy and he and his wife found the right chemical formula for everlasting life. Only Nick drank it...Mrs. Nick did not. They traveled to Spain and other places learning more about alchemy and became rich. Once Mrs. Nick died, Nick lived a while, then "pretended" to die. The church he had built contained his coffin but when it was looted, no body could be found. The legend is that old Nick is hanging around today...he may be your co-worker.

Next stop is the Cemetery of the Innocents which was the oldest and largest cemetery in Paris . This fountain sits upon where the cemetery used to be. Apparently, this is where they used to bury the paupers. But, it became overcrowded (it contained the bones of 6 million people!) and stank to high heaven. They used the bones to build walls and everything. They dug up all the bones in order to put in the Metro system. Those bones are now located in the catacombs. I cannot tell you how much I want to visit the catacombs which is supposed to have an entire secret "rogue" society...they show films, party...everything! I thought for sure I'd see Casper at the former cemetery but no dice.
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Apparently, there was a rat problem back in the day. Rat Trap Shop...awesome!
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Lost love at the Eiffel Tower I can't remember the names of the people involved in this story so I'm just going to make some up. Once upon a time in NYC, a no-count fraudster (we'll call him Roscoe) knocked up a woman who had his son (Roscoe Jr.). After RJ became a teenager, he wanted to know his dad and apparently carried the same scamming genes. So, Roscoe & RJ hook up and decided to go to Paris and "sell" the Eiffel Tower. Don't ask me how this makes sense but go with it. While they are looking for someone to scam, RJ falls in love with Chantel. They are able to "sell" it to some unsuspecting fool and when it comes time to leave, RJ can't let his baby boo go. So, he stays in Paris while Roscoe goes back to NYC with his money. RJ asks Chantel's daddy for her hand in marriage. He says yes as long as RJ doesn't propose to Chantel on the Eiffel Tower because it's tacky and would ruin the family name. RJ didn't hear any of that and takes Chantell to the Eiffel Tower and proposes. Chantel is mortified and as she's backing up, falls from the top (they didn't have guardrails back in the day). It's said that you can still hear her screaming for the top of the tower. Fun fact...Tom Cruise proposed to Katie on top of the Eiffel Tower :)
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Paris Night Bike Tour
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I covered this in my 2010 Paris blog post (linked above) but wanted to add a couple of things.

You can't unlock love...
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The locks above are located on the bridge in front of the Notre Dame. It's supposed to symbolize that love can't be unlocked or broken. The keys are thrown into the Seine after they locks are secured. I'm not sure what the combination locks are supposed to mean...maybe those are the locks for folks that have pre-nups :)

Berthillion Ice Cream...the most wonderful ice cream in Paris! Seriously. Last year I had raspberry, this year it was chocolate. And, it was so delicious! You've got to check it out whenever you go to Paris. It's right on the corner as your cross Pont St. Louis to go to Ile St. Louis (where all the rich folks live) -- almost across the street from the Notre Dame.
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The Louvre at night.
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The Seine river cruise!
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The magnificent Eiffel Tower. The light display occurs every 5 minutes and contains 50,000 lightbulbs (5K on each side).
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One of the greatest travel items I have is this emergency toilet kit!
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I needed that sucker several times due to the restrooms being out of toilet paper, soap, etc.

Another thing I noticed is that earbuds are out of style...it's all about rockin' the big earphones...like you are a dj. Everybody was rockin' these.
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Like London, Paris is a city that you can visit time and time again without ever getting bored or running out of things to see and do. I absolutely ADORE Paris. From the cafes to the architecture to the overall beauty of it...it's phenomenal. I don't really pay close attention to mens wear but let me tell you...the men in Paris are S.H.A.R.P. Very crisp & tailored. These folks make you really think about what to wear each day. No baseball caps or sweats. I cannot wait to go back during New Years. I miss it already!

Posted by nikkipitts 16:22 Archived in France Tagged paris ghost_tour versailles reims champagne the_louvre bike_tour epernay paris_versailles_16k Comments (0)

WTF, Vegas?

The wonderful world of Las Vegas

sunny 94 °F

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What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas…unless it’s funny & juicy, then it’s shared on my blog! And, have I got some stories for y’all. My BFF, Isina, joined me in the big LV for the weekend and we had a FAB-U-LOUS time!

Of course, y’all know how my luck rolls so craziness greeted us at the airport shuttle. Isina is now a firm believer in the fact that I am a crazy people magnet.

Airport Shuttle AKA “WTF?”
Sigh. This is going to be pretty long so sit back and make sure you have something to snack on. Isina and I arrive at the Vegas airport and decide to take the airport shuttle since it was $7 (a taxi probably wouldn’t have been much more but we didn’t know that at the time). We arrive at the shuttle stand, buy our tickets and find the appropriate line. There are approximately 15 or so. The queues are organized by number. You’ll have 2 queues per stand (i.e. signs for shuttles 1 and 2 are in the same section).

We head for the sign that says “2” and stand in the queue thinking a shuttle will be along shortly (because the line was fairly long). Wrong. After 20 minutes, a bus sidles on up and fills up pretty quick so we are left to wait for the next shuttle…which takes another 20-25 minutes. We are now towards the front of the line. It’s not complicated and we have just seen that the system can work. But, it wouldn’t be my story if things worked out perfectly. So, as the second shuttles pulls up, we work out a plan that I will stay in line to make sure the bags make the shuttle and Isina will save us a seat. Well, a rogue line that I hadn’t been paying attention to (they were loitering over by queue #3) made a mad dash and rushed onto the shuttle so those of us who had been standing in line were left out. I was like, “Wait a minute. What just happened?”

You know who have the biggest problems with habitual line jumpers? Old people. They can’t handle it. I don’t know if it’s the fact that they feel their time on earth could be up at any moment or what. But, they will bust a cap over someone cutting in front of them. I had the pleasure of witnessing 2 such incidents. It all happened when the bus driver (who is now opening the back of the bus to start loading luggage) stated that if you are in line, you aren’t getting on the bus and need to move your bags because the bus is full. Why did he say that? That set it off.

Mr. Vernon Dursley (I swear he looked just like Harry Potter’s uncle) got this wild eye look and was like, “OH HELL NO! WE WERE HERE FIRST!” But that didn’t make any waves. Then, he was like, “THEY JUMPED THE LINE! THEY WEREN’T STANDING IN LINE #2. I TOLD THEM THAT THE LINE STARTED AT THE OTHER END AND THEY SAID NOT TO WORRY BECAUSE THERE WOULD BE ENOUGH ROOM ON THE BUS!!! KICK THEIR ASSES OFF!!! I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS SHIT!!! KENO DON’T PLAY ITSELF!!! SHIT!” The bus driver’s reply? “I’M KICKING ALL THESE MUTHA FUCKAS OFF THE BUS!!!” It was like he was speaking to himself but I was like, “Um, if you are kicking them off, does that mean there is room for us?” Just sayin’.

Alas, he didn’t kick them off but he and Mr. Dursley started going at it. Clearly, he doesn’t know how Mr. D can get…I mean, he made Harry live in a cupboard under the stairs for 9 years! Get back on the shuttle, bus driver!!! But, he decided to try his luck…because it’s Vegas, I guess. Anyway, he disappears for a few minutes, then comes back and gets into it with Mr. D again.

Just long enough for another guy (who had to be 104 years old if a day…he was wearing khaki pants pulled up to his nipples, a flowered shirt and had cotton in his ears…he was old y’all) to show up. So, Father Time had been grinning and seemed to be in a happy place. Then, it turned on a dime. Another shuttle worker shows up to diffuse the situation with the bus driver and Mr. D. He’s a black guy who is probably in his mid-30s (who I will call Ice Cube). So, as Cube is trying to calm down Mr. D, Father Time hops up and starts waving his receipt in Cube’s face and screams “WHAAAATTTT TTHHHEEE FUUUUCCKKK?” I was like, “oh hell, here we go.” FT then screams out “WHAT THE FUCK? I’VE BEEN WAITING FORTY-FIVE MUTHA FUCKIN MINUTES FOR A MUTHA FUCKIN SHUTTLE AND IT HASN’T SHOWN UP MUTHA FUCKIN YET. GIVE ME MY MUTHA FUCKIN REFUND BEFORE I FUCK YOU UP!” Father Time is gangsta. I wasn’t all that confident that he wasn’t carrying.

So, Cube was like, “Who the fuck is this old mutha fucka talking to?” Then, he does something unexpected (and not very customer service friendly)…he starts screaming back at Father Time. He says, “WHO THE FUCK YOU TALKIN TO? YOU BETTA WATCH YO’SELF! I DON’T PLAY THAT SHIT. GET YO ASS BACK IN LINE OR GET THE FUCK OUT. YOU AIN’T GOTTA TAKE A SHUTTLE…GET A FUCKIN CAB!!” FT screams back, “GIVE ME A MUTHA FUCKIN’ REFUND AND I’LL TAKE A CAB.” Cube, “AIN’T NO REFUNDS, BITCH (the bitch part was implied)!” It just got really real y’all.

I was shocked that Father Time had such a potty mouth. I mean, nobody knows when their time is up but when you are looking like Cocoon and clearly your number could be called any day…I just thought he’d be acting better. You know how folks get religious when they get older in order to get a few more credits when they get to the Pearly Gates? Like, “Hey Pete? Can I call you Pete instead of Peter? I mean, I feel like we’re boys since I read my Bible every day after I turned 50. Can you tell Jesus I’m here? Picked up my water at reception…just need him to turn it into some Chardonnay. Thanks!” Maybe Father Time had a slip up? I mean, how are you going to explain the cuss out in Vegas to Peter???

Now, during this whole show, Isina had been looking for a taxi so she missed everything. When she walked up, I calmly explained that she had missed a fight. Because you don’t act all excited when crazy is close by. You don’t know what could set them off again. Kinda like earthquake aftershocks.

So, the shuttle finally takes off without us and the crazies on it. That’s when Mr. D feels that he has found a friend in me and wants to talk it out. Sigh. Why? This happens to me dang near every trip! But, I listen as he explains what happened for the 10th time (like I wasn’t there when it happened or when he explained it the previous 9 times). Here is a transcript of the convo:

Mr. D: DID YOU SEE THOSE PEOPLE JUMP THE LINE? I TOLD THEM THAT THE LINE FOR SHUTTLE BUS 2 WAS AT THE OTHER END BUT THEY SAID IT WAS COOL AND THAT EVERYBODY COULD GET ON. CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT? THEY JUMPED THE LINE AND RUSHED ONTO THE BUS? PEOPLE LIKE THAT ARE A MENACE TO SOCIETY.
Me: You are right. I can’t believe it. It’s shocking.
Mr. D: Karma is going to come back and get them bad. They will lose at every game they play.
Me: *giggling because he is now the white Celie…all that was missing was the hand gesture with the fingers* You are right, ugliness never wins, sir.
Mr. D: I’m calling someone about this.
Me: Yeah, you can’t let this go.

Mr. D then decides he’s exhausted telling the story to those around him and now needs to call up his homies. So, he tells Mrs. D (Petunia) to watch the line and make sure no rogue jumpers cut in while he is 2 feet away screaming the story into his phone. Mr. D gets on the phone and in the middle of telling his story, he sees a couple of women who are in line #3. But, they apparently have drifted too close to line #2 because he pauses his phone call, gives a pointed look to Petunia cuz she is apparently slipping on the line protection job, and yells out to the women “ARE YOU WAITING FOR SHUTTLE BUS #2 BECAUSE IF YOU ARE, YOU NEED TO GET TO THE END OF THE MUTHA FUCKIN LINE BECAUSE AIN’T GOING TO BE NO MORE LINE CUTTING AROUND HERE. I’M MISSING OUT ON BLACKJACK BEHIND THIS SHIT.” They were like, “No sir, we are waiting on shuttle #3.” So he leaves them alone and goes back to his call. After the call, he walks the 2 feet back to the head of the line, notices the 2 women again…and again says, ““ARE YOU WAITING FOR SHUTTLE BUS #2 BECAUSE IF YOU ARE, YOU NEED TO GET TO THE END OF THE MUTHA FUCKIN LINE BECAUSE AIN’T GOING TO BE NO MORE LINE CUTTING AROUND HERE.” They calmly tell him again that they were waiting on shuttle bus #3. Five minutes pass… nobody has moved but he sees a leaf or something and takes notice of the 2 SAME LADIES FOR A THIRD TIME AND GOES THRU THE WHOLE THING AGAIN! At this point, they are shutting him down and Mrs. D can’t be found because she is embarrassed. I’m entertained.

After all of that, we finally get on the bus after Cube comes over and asks which bus we were waiting on. As we are riding to the hotel, we see that the shuttle with the line jumpers had broken down right outside the airport. Mr. D was like, “THAT’S KARMA BITCH!” Glorious.

MGM Grand

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We stay the first 2 nights at the MGM Grand because I am cheap. The conference I’m attending doesn’t start until Sunday so that means my job isn’t picking up the cost until Saturday…so, the fabulous Cosmopolitan Hotel will just have to wait.

The first thing we notice when we arrive is the boxing ring set up to advertise the Mayweather vs. Ortiz fight (which was occurring the next weekend).
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Then, as we are standing in line to check in, I notice the guy in front of us has a cooler. That’s right. A cooler. As luggage for his hotel stay. I don’t even want to know.
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We check in to our room (which was pretty cool).
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Then go to get something to eat. Admittedly, I haven’t been to Vegas since 1997 so it’s been a while. Back then, stuff was cheap to encourage you to lose all your money in the casino. But, apparently, things have changed. Everything is sky high! Food was expensive! Shoot, a McDonald’s McNugget Meal (which I love and know the price for in Atlanta down to the last cent at at least 3 Atlanta-area McD’s) was $8! Seriously? Stop it, Vegas.

The MGM has a pretty cool Lion Habitat. I’m so conflicted about this. I mean, the lions & cubs were so cute but I hate to see animals caged. That’s why I don’t go to the zoo.
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And, while my dog Riley would dispute this fact since he had to start spending time in the crate while I’m not at home, my rebuttal would be that peeing on the carpet negates any feelings of guilt :) The lions are supposed to be the actual descendants of the original MGM lion. The cubs were so freaking cute that I wanted to take one home with me…but I don’t think they would take one at doggie daycare. And, I’m pretty sure that Riley’s face would’ve looked like this (which is an actual picture that the daycare sent to me):
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Then, we walked past the “odds” area where you figure out what the odds are on certain events so you can place your bets. First time I’d ever seen that.
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The Venetian/Tao Nightclub
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We met up with my cousin, Aaron, and his friend at Tao Nightclub. Which was a pretty cool spot. But, it did remind me of why I don't go out to clubs anymore. I'm too grown for all the foolishness. Between the prostitutes "working" to get clients and folks on crutches/in wheelchairs that just had to get their party on, it was too much. I find that I like a more low key scene as I age. Then, there are the "playas" who just have to hit on you. One such playa approached me and asked me where I was from. I answered his question (albeit reluctantly because I didn't want him to get comfortable) and then asked where he was from because he had a foreign accent. His reponse, "why does it matter?" My response, "bye". First, stop acting like you are Jason Bourne or are in Witness Protection. It's not that serious. Second, work on your game.

Television City
Isina and I participated in a tv sitcom focus group. Basically, you and about 20 other people watch a 20 minute sitcom pilot that the network executives are trying to figure out whether to green light or not. You watch them on computer monitors (as well as a big flat screen).
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There is a dial that you can turn from 0-100 while watching the show. 0 = hate it; 100 = love it. Afterwards, you have to complete a survey of not only that pilot but then you rate current tv shows as well. Our sitcom to watch was The Rob Schneider Project. I do not like Rob Schneider. I felt he was lame like Adam Sandler, Tim Meadows, etc. So, you know I turned the dial to 0 as soon as I saw him. Then, about 5 minutes in…the unthinkable happened. He started winning me over. The show is about him marrying a Latina (who comes from a well-to-do family) on the spur of the moment and their reaction to him (because the wife is fabulous and you know what Rob looks like). It had me laughing out loud and the cast was great (I mean, it’s got Cheech Marin!). Witty writing & sharp jokes. One of the better pilots I’ve seen. Overall, if it comes on tv, I highly recommend that you check it out.

CSI Experience
After leaving Television City, we headed over to the CSI Experience which says you can solve crimes with Grissom and his team! Yay! This was so fun. There are 3 different crimes you can solve. We had a crime involving a hotel housekeeper who was murdered. Technically, we weren't supposed to take pictures but you know I feel like I paid for my experience and that includes taking pictures so...here you go. Now, the quality may not be that good because I had to keep a lookout for employees and snitches. Last thing I wanted was to be escorted out before I solved the crime.
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I don't know why it takes the police so long to solve crimes. Isina and I were able to figure out DNA and do forensics in 45 minutes! Turns out, the girls "friend" murdered her by giving her bad crack! I called it at the crime scene when I saw the empty baggie. Some guy doing the same scene gave me a dirty look. Hey, don't hate on me because I can spot dead crackheads. It's a gift.

New York New York Hotel
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I love the NYNY Hotel. It has $5 tables so you know I had get my gamble on. And, I'm happy to say that I won almost $200 on the Roulette table. As we were eating pizza, we noticed people leaving Coyote Ugly with these HUGE drinks. They were approximately 4 feet tall...and that is not an exaggeration. That's real. Now, why do you need 4 feet of liquor to walk around Vegas?

Bad Boss voodoo doll...this is hilarious.
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Hooters has a hotel? Seriously? I was tempted to go in and see if the housekeepers were dressed in the Hooters uniform but realized that it was just too sleezy for me to spend time investigating it.
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The Fabulous Cosmopolitan
On Saturday, we checked into The Cosmopolitan where my conference was due to start. It is so fantabulous!

The suite
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Around the hotel
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The gym (which cost $15/day! Seriously?)
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Look what was delivered to my room!
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Dinner at the hotel...Now, we go to a Spanish restaurant and why did they bring out our croquetas in some shoes? I don't remember that being the Spanish experience when I was in Barcelona. Seriously...don't put my food in a pair of Adidas. The visual isn't very appetizing.
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There is also another element to the hotel at night.
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Um, what? The girls just dance around and perform skits in the windows, I guess.

Gladys Knight is in town performing
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Clearly Club Nikki is hot
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We went to the Bellagio for the fountain display.
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Inside the Bellagio was beautiful as well.
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Caesars Palace
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Isina playing the slots at Caesars
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We went to Planet Hollywood and walked around the mall attached to it. It had an indoor rainforest which was pretty cool.
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And a strip club/restaurant which was not.
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Now, if I can see you stripping from the store across from the restaurant, how are you making money? I mean, do folks just rush over there, order some wings and drop some dollars on the girl hanging on the pole???

Random
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Posted by nikkipitts 08:39 Archived in USA Tagged las_vegas airport Comments (1)

Hilton Head, South Carolina

No hurricane = a Happy Birthday weekend!

sunny 95 °F

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I celebrated my birthday in Hilton Head with my family and future family. The picture above was taken when my future sister-in-law and I went for a morning bike ride on the beach. Talk about a great workout!

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Hilton Head is beautiful (although HUMID). We stayed in Shipyard Plantation which is a collection of different communities on the beach. The preferred mode of transportation seems to be bicycles which was fabulous! My Dad and I actually took a ride around the community to see the sites.

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Had the pleasure of seeing alligators...
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cranes...
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and turtles
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San Miguel's on the Marina
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Harbour Town
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Hilton Head was even better than I expected. Hurricane Irene threatened to show up but we were blessed in that she didn't hit SC. We only had off/on rain and slight winds. Cannot wait to go back next August to celebrate my brother's wedding!

Posted by nikkipitts 14:06 Archived in USA Tagged bikes beach alligators hilton_head Comments (2)

Dublin, Ireland AKA the "Dubbly Dubs"

Even better the second time around

sunny 67 °F

Last stop on this work trip was Dublin! And, honestly, it was fantastic! I enjoyed it last year but had an even better time this year. I think it's because I was in town much longer so I had the opportunity to explore the city more.

We were all over the place as far as sightseeing goes. I am not going to review or include places I covered in the blog post from last year. So, I will just highlight my favorite things!

Queen of Tarts
Okay, I know I talk about food a lot...especially tea and scones. But, seriously? The Queen of Tarts is AWESOME! I went there 4 TIMES in 2 DAYS! That's right. I ain't ashamed to admit it. I love scones and clotted cream. In fact, clotted cream is like whipped creamy crack to me. When I got back to Atlanta, I spent days tracking down a store that imports it and bought 4 jars. Yep...it just got real, y'all.

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Breakfast (OJ, tea, raspberry scones, & clotted cream)
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Lunch
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Temple Bar district
This is where most of the action (bars/pubs, outdoor performers, etc.)
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As we are walking thru the area, we come across a Little Person (I'm trying to be politically correct and stop saying "midget") dressed as a leprechaun. Sigh. Y'all know how I react to this sort of thing. I don't like coming up on this unawares. It startles me.

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Was he working for the Leprechaun Museum? I didn't see him holding a sign. He just had a hat to collect money and would take pictures with strangers.

Just as I was processing this, the pub across from him has gotten out of control. It's 5pm...and these folks are drunk like it's 2am. What the hell? Faces are red, folks are drunk screaming (you know what I mean, "WOOOOO! THAT WAS F'ING AWESOME, DUDE! I'M GONNA FIGHT LIAM IF HE LOOKS MY WAY AGAIN!"). It was one of those things where you just start backing away slowly because you didn't know what was about to jump off. When a guy came out with his face covered in purple/bluish bruises, I knew it was time to go. So, we keep walking to a different pub.

A colleague that works in the Dublin office recommended we check out a pub in this area. It was even recommended by Rick Steves. Sigh. Maybe it was an off night? We go in and I noticed the crowd was mostly elderly. I mean, they were playing ABBA. Uh, are they Irish? I didn't think so. But, we take a seat at the bar and order a Guiness. This pub is on the infamous "pub crawl" which is about to start in 30 minutes or so. I'm thinking that it will get better. And, it does. But for totally different reasons.

1. Blue Collar So You Think You Can Dance = a group of guys come in dressed in their work clothes. These work clothes are blue jumpsuits (like adult onesies). Instead of taking the entire onesie off, they just unzip the top part and tie the arms around the waist. Clearly they have on clothes underneath (t-shirt & jeans) so I'm not sure why they continue to wear the onesie. But, they do. As they are drinking, the onesie slides down a little more...because they are getting crunk. Guiness is potent y'all. The Irish jigs start playing and it turns into a juke joint. I'm like, "the hell is this?" Next thing I know, they are doing Riverdance and trying to pick up the nearest lady that passes them. But, not to be outdone...

2. Irish Kid & Play = that's right. But, it really was only Kid because his partner didn't want to drop it like it's hot. In fact, he tried to act like Kid didn't exist at one point. Apparently, he didn't recognize greatness! So, Kid sees the blue collar onesies and was like, "I see your Riverdance, and I will raise you the Michael Jackson Experience." Then, the greatest thing I've ever seen happens. Kid drops his head, raises his right arm, holds his hand up and does the Janet Jackson "Rhythm Nation" countdown, then does a pop n lock before hitting us with the full turn and the MJ "Black & White" video scream into the non-existent wind machine. This happened right in front of me. Clearly he is a warlock with tiger blood & Adonis DNA because this was made for the win. He stops, looks at the BC Onsie Crew and was like, "Checkmate, MFers".

But you know the BC Onesie Crew weren't going out like that. It's time to come out of the onesie now. They take a long drink of Guiness before pulling out the advanced moves. Oh yeah, it just got really real, y'all. They are battling...with Irish jigs playing on the 1s and 2s. Y'all ain't ready for this. So, the BC Onesie Crew raise their arms, do some sort of flapping movement (kinda like Morris Day & The Time's "The Bird") with a 2-step salsa and look at Kid like, "take that, take that." What? Not Diddy! They just came with something they had been practicing for the past month. This was it...their Big Joker. What they didn't know was that Kid was gonna run a Boston. He was like, "that's all you got?" Then looks at the DJ like, "kick an old school 13th century beat, maestro!" He takes his hat off (a la MJ at the Motown 25th anniversary when he performed "Billie Jean"), does the Cabbage Patch, mixes in some country line dancing which transitioned into the moonwalk and finishes off with the robot. Kid for the win! Y'all think I'm making this up...but I'm not. That made my night. I was like, "Jiggin' is serious in the Dubs!" Don't get caught slippin' y'all. You can't get on Ireland's Best Dance Crew doing the electric slide. You gotta mix it all up and deliver it with a flair.

Ha'Penny Bridge
Just like the name sounds...there used to be a one and a half pence fee to cross over the River Liffey (which is a river that runs thru the center of town). I don't even know how they worked that out to make change.

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What I loved most was this note on the pavement as you are crossing...
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The beautiful River Liffey
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The Dublin Ghostbus Tour
In one word? AWESOME! It was so campy and I loved every minute of it.

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The bus had blackout drapes so it was pitch dark and it was decorated like a Haunted House inside! OMG, it was fabulous.

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Our tour guide was Declan. He wore all black and talked very dramatic. Like our lives were on the line. You could die at any second. Fun fact...I absolute REFUSE to watch scary movies. But, stuff like this I think I can handle. As long as Sammy Terry doesn't come out of the woodwork. Then, all bets are off. Get the Depends because my nerves can't take it. But, I digress...Anyway, I felt like Vincent Price would be coming over the loud speakers at any moment. In fact, our bus music as we drove to different sights was "Thriller". Michael Jackson and looking for ghosts? Winning! They also played "Ghostbusters" which was cheesy but you know I was screaming out, "WHO YOU GONNA CALL?" That's right. Don't act like you didn't just say it with me. It's like mobile theater & karaoke!

We went to a cemetery that was supposedly haunted. Declan told us the story of a priest who was tortured then burned to death for refusing to convert from Catholicism to Protestant. It's said that his ghost haunts the cemetery. He also tells us that Bram Stoker went to school in Dublin (at Trinity College) and the legend of Dracula was born here.

We pass different sights with cool stories (i.e. the College of Physicians where we are told of the strange activities of Dr. Clossy, whose spirit is still seen walking the corridors carrying a bucket of human entrails -- apparently, he lived at the College and used to have students steal corpses to use as cadevers for teaching students about the human body).

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There are a lot of stories (it's a 2.5 hour tour) but the one that stuck out to me was The Lady in White. Mostly because it didn't make any logical sense and you know I need to understand why things happen. Declan tells us the story of a beautiful woman who married this wealthy business man. The man loved her more than the moon and the stars and the sunshine in the sky. Air wasn't worth breathing if her sweet breath wasn't on it. That kind of thing. He really amps it up by highlighting how much this man loves this woman...which will be important to remember for later on. So, the morning after their wedding night, the husband reaches over to kiss is wife and finds her body cold. He assumes she has died and was like, "LAWD NO! NOT MY SWEET PEA! HOW AM I GONNA LIVE WITHOUT HER?". He has a funeral and insists that his beloved (who I'm gonna call Carla) be buried in her wedding dress with her trillion dollar wedding ring. Nothing is too good for his dead baby boo. But, Seamus (the guy burying Carla) was like, "oh, I'm gettin' that ring and then I'm going down to the pub to make it rain"). After Seamus puts Carla in the crypt, he tries to take the ring off her finger but it won't come off. So, he pulls out his pocket knife and tries to saw off her finger. That's when Carla wakes up and is like, "Fool, what is wrong with you?!? You betta back up off me!" Seamus is like, "OH HELL NAW!" and he runs out. Comeback Carla is bewildered as to what has happened. Maybe she thought she took a long nap after all that good lovin' her baby boo gave her on their wedding night? Who knows? Anyway, Comeback Carla leaves the crypt and heads back to her house. Now, let's do a quick recap before I get to the end of the story. Comeback Carla & her husband Richy Rich are so in love. Carving "CC + RR 4EVA" on every tree they pass. Because their love is real. Ain't nothing like the real thang, baby...or so Comeback Carla thought. After a night of passion, CC appears dead, RR is "devasted" as he buries his beloved boo. Are we all on the same page? Good. Now, when folks die, they are usually buried in a matter of days. So, while Declan didn't say specifically, we'll say a week has passed since RR thought CC died. Well, CC shows back up at the house and when her husband opens the door, she's like, "I'm back, baby! Give me some suga!" He slams the door in her face. I'm sure she was like, "I know this fool didn't just shut that door in my face after I've been buried in a crypt with this heavy-ass wedding dress on while walking 3 miles to the house after having some fool try to cut my finger off. I know that didn't happen. RICHY! OPEN THIS MF'IN DOOR...NOW!" But, Declan said RR couldn't accept her. WHAT? That doesn't make any sense. Why wouldn't he taker her back? Did he have a new boo? Was he just in shock? It was a week! What the hell happened? Did Comeback Carla turn into Bitter Betty? Was it an episode of "Snapped"? You know I was asking questions! He didn't have any answers. He just said that RR never took CC back and ended up losing all his money and being buried in a pauper's grave. What? I was like, "you need to work on this story and come up with a more plausible ending, Dec." Seriously. I ended up Googling the story because I needed to know why RR wouldn't take her back. Something had to have happened. There were at least 10 stories about the Lady in White in every city but Dublin. I'll let you do the math.

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Other cool sights
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Comet Records...giving Black Widow Records in Genoa a run for their money. Mic check 1, 2, 1, 2. This must be where they produce the Irish jig mixtapes for the pub dance battles.

The Clarence Hotel (owned by Bono of U2)
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The Bachelor Inn
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Random
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Posted by nikkipitts 16:25 Archived in Ireland Tagged pubs dublin ghost_tour river_liffey queen_of_tarts ha'penny_bridge temple_bar_district Comments (0)

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