Sunday, January 31, 2016

Paris (and London) 2015

I apologize in advance for the length of this. Casey and I spent a week in Paris, with a day trip to London, in early December. We flew Delta from Des Moines to Minneapolis, then to Paris. I scored a really great deal on 1st class tickets for the transatlantic portion of the flight. No pictures of that, but it was super nice with the fold down beds, amenities kits, great food and service and all that. I wouldn't do it all the time because I'm usually cheap and fine with coach. I mean, I rode in a middle seat from New Jersey to Ireland. No problem there. Anyway, neither of us managed to sleep because we were having too much fun enjoying first class.

I arranged for a private car to pick us up from the airport and take us to our hotel. On our trip to Italy last year I learned that town cars aren't much more expensive (especially for 2 people) than taxis but are way nicer. Our driver met us with one of those signs at the arrivals gate, which felt pretty cool.

The ride to our hotel, Gardette Park, took about 45 minutes. We stayed in the 11th arrondissement, near Bastille and Pere-Lachaise. It wasn't a touristy neighborhood, which we liked. The hotel was super small though. It was a challenge to stand at the sink and close the bathroom door at the same time. The elevator, which only held two people at a time, stopped between floors, so you had to walk up or down stairs to get to your room. I liked the neighborhood and that it wasn't too touristy, but I don't think I'd stay here again.

We didn't do much on the 2nd besides eat lunch at Mac Do (MacDonald's), nap, unpack, explore our immediate neighborhood and have dinner at the Wall Street Bar. I didn't feel bad about eating at MacDonald's, as it is now a very parisienne thing to do. The bar had a really cool concept. It's a wine bar, but prices fluctuate based on demand for the particular wine. It was fun to try and time our orders when the price was best. We need this in America.

On Thursday we followed Rick Steve's historic Paris walk, starting at Notre Dame then going to the deportation memorial, Shakespeare & Company bookstore, St. Severin, the Latin quarter, Place St. Michael, St. Chapelle, Conciergerie, Place Dauphine and Pont Neuf. In the afternoon we toured the Louvre. Notre Dame is always stunning, but I was blown away by the interior of St. Chapelle. The bookstore was really fun, and had a cafe next door so we stopped for coffee. The Louvre is really just too big to enjoy in an afternoon; we hit the highlights.

On Friday we started at Musee d'Orsay then walked through Tuileries gardens and the Christmas market on the Champs-Elysees all the way to the Arc de Triomphe. We had time to kill before dinner so we found a bar and drank beer. There was a friendly cat and a way too makeout-y couple there too. That evening we did the most memorable thing on our trip. Casey booked dinner through Vizeat. The site pairs travelers with cooks to provide a meal and unique experience. We met at Marine and Roman's place at 8pm. It was an adorable Parisian apartment near the Eiffel Tower.

They were great hosts, and we had great conversation all evening. Marine served foie gras with gingerbread, cream puffs with caviar, trout and pasta with a cream sauce, bread, a cheese course and adorable individual Christmas Tree croqueembouche desserts. Each course was paired with a different wine. When dinner was over they walked with us to find a taxi.

On Saturday we started at the Musee de l'Orangerie. This was amazing! It's where Monet's Water Lillies lives. I found a new favorite painting, Les Biches  by Marie Laurencin. Afterward, we took a tuk tuk to the Eiffel tower. What a cold but awesome time! We took some daylight pictures there, then walked around the Trocadero neighborhood and had a cocktail and snacks. That night we took a Seine river dinner cruise. The food was just fine, but the view was amazing and romantic. We then went up to the top of the tower. It twinkles every hour on the hour, and we were on it when it did this, enjoying a glass of wine.

Sunday morning we walked Rue Cler, buying amazing chocolates and having breakfast before touring Napoleon's tomb and the army museum. This was surprisingly awesome and I wish we'd had more time there. The medieval weapons and WWI and WWII exhibits were impressive. In the afternoon, we met up with our guide from Paris Greeters, Beatrice, at 2pm and walked all around the marais. This neighborhood includes the Bastille, the opera, Place des Vosages (where Victor Hugo wrote Les Mis). We also walked by Hemingway's flat, the Parthenon and the Sorbonne. The climate summit was going on in Paris while we were there and there were huge blocks of ice in front of the Parthenon in some sort of demonstration.

On Monday we were up super early for our day trip to London. We got a taxi to Gare du Nord to catch the Eurostar to St. Pancras. I slept most of the trip (both ways) so I didn't really experience the chunnel. I booked the Golden Tours hop on hop off bus for our time in London. Normally I'm not a fan of these, but it actually was a pretty fun and cheap way to get around. We got off at the Tower of London, got Starbucks (sticky toffee latte for me) and then took some photos of London Bridge. We took a Thames river cruise over to the London Eye, but didn't ride that. We walked over to Big Ben, Parliament and Westminster, then through St. James park to Buckingham palace. For lunch we took a bus over to Marble Arch/Hyde Park/Oxford Street and found a fantastic pub for lunch, then went shopping at Selfridge's. They had a room just for Christmas crackers! Finally, we walked over to Hyde Park, before getting the bus back to St. Pancras. We popped across the street to see Platform 9 and 3/4s at King's Cross.

Tuesday we took a taxi to Sacre Coeur, then walked down the hill through Monmarte to the Moulin Rouge.

We flew home Wednesday, no first class this time, but it was still a pretty comfortable flight, connecting through Detroit.

I'm so glad we didn't cancel our trip after the terrorist attacks. We never felt unsafe (partially due to added security everywhere). Our hotel was maybe five blocks from some of the sites that were attacked and we saw endless flowers, candles and French flags at the memorials. Everyone we met was friendly and seemed grateful for our tourism dollars.

The first time I was in France in 1999 I expected the French to be rude, but that couldn't have been further from the truth. I'm happy to say that hasn't changed. The sights, the food, the culture make France one of my favorite spots in the world. I look forward to visiting again.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Weekend wrap-up

I'm going to blame winter, but I really didn't do much this weekend. 

Friday afternoon I took Mimi to accupuncture. That night we ate dinner at home and watched Agent Carter.

Saturday I got up early and did some work then made Caelen come shopping with me. He had some $$ to spend at Barnes & Noble. He bought three new novels and already read them all. I took a nap that afternoon and then Casey took us to dinner. Casey and I watched Big Hero 6 while Caelen watched TV - he's seen the movie before. 

Sunday I was up early working again. Casey made a big breakfast and we watched news. I did laundry and got a massage and gave myself a facial. For Sunday Funday we watched episodes of Modern Family while I worked some more. 

You'll note that I was up early both days. Since I really do need to be up at 5am during the week, I'm trying to get up earlier on the weekend so it's not such a jolt on Mondays. We'll see how that goes. 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Moar yoga!

Still going strong with #yogacamp; I haven't missed a day.

The thing about yoga is that it really does help relieve stress and make me calmer. Maybe even  nicer and happier. I should be happy about that, but I'm not sure I am. I've been called "intrisically ornery" and a "bitch" on more than one occasion.  I aspire to be Karen from Will and Grace. I dye my hair red, but I'm 100% the quick to anger red-head stereotype. I'm also an INTJ. Emphasis on the "J". Sitting in judgement on others is my favorite pass time. But lately, I find myself not getting angry or annoyed as much. In fact, I've been talking other people out of being angry. And I've been less judgemental too. Like, I just can't be bothered. I've never wanted to change my personality. The Dogbert comic below basically sums up my philosophy.

Actually, re-reading that, maybe it's not a bad thing if I become less of an asshole.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Friday Update

Down .8 this week. I kind of feel like, now that I'm in my 40s, half a pound a week is acceptable. If I did that consistently for a year, that'd be 26 pounds, which would be better than I'd hope for anyway. I'll be happy if I can just lose another 10 and keep it off. At this point, I'm just committed to eating healthfully most of the time and moving with some regularity, regardless of what I weigh.

I'm trying to eat pretty clean in January, just to make up for Paris and the holidays. I did have one cocktail to celebrate Casey's promotion though. And I've have some dairy here and there. Other than that I'm happy with my diet.

The biggest hurdle for me seems to be sleep. I used to struggle more with getting to sleep, but I notice now that I watch my carbs it's not so bad. These days it seems like I wake up more frequently and/or earlier - it's just harder to stay asleep. I'd say that I'm just at the point where I need less sleep but if you could see the circles under my eyes you'd know that isn't true. I guess there is always something to work on.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Lazy 3-day Weekend

I'll blame the sub-zero temps, but I really didn't do much this 3-day weekend. Caelen was at a camp out Friday night through Sunday morning and stayed at his mom's last night. Friday night we had a fire in the fireplace which was really nice and is something we don't do often. We cooked dinner and watched Mad Max Fury Road, which I hated. Casey was out and about Saturday so I had alone time. I walked the dogs and did some chores. We went grocery shopping that evening and then Casey made dinner and we watched Captain Phillips which I loved. Sunday we watched a fair amount of TV and napped. Casey made dinner and I did laundry.

Today we're going to Casey's parents to make plans for activities for our spring break cruise. I need to run a few errands and work too.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Two things

I'm still doing #yogacamp and loving it. Although it's kind of not the point, I'm really starting to improve in a lot of the poses. I even "flew" in crow for a second on Wednesday. It is definitely making my body (and mind) better. 

Speaking of making my mind better, that is negated if I'm hungry. I've learned that I need about 100 grams of carbohydrates a day or I feel like crap. I was hypoglycemic when I was younger and I wonder if that's not still a thing with me. If I go too low, I get sweaty, chilled, nauseated, headache-y and angry until I eat something carby. Last night I was irritated with Casey and told him so. I couldn't figure out why until I realized I'd only had about 40 grams of carbs up until dinner. A baked sweet potato completely changed my mood. I still log my food intake on fitbit and the online app shows macronutirents but the mobile app doesn't. I need to watch this more closely.

I'm not watching carbs for weight loss, I just find that there is a sweet spot for me for optimal performance and well-being. Too much makes me feel more tired and lethargic and makes my allergies a bit worse. So, I try to keep around the sweet spot.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Friday Update

Down 1 pound this week. .2 the week before. A maintain before that. It's fine I suppose. I'm at 32 pounds lost now.

I did some closet shopping this week. I went through a bunch of my summer dresses and they all fit or are too big - so I'm all set for our upcoming cruise. I got into some smaller pants and jeans.

I also had a couple people comment on my weight loss recently, which is nice.

But before you think I sound upbeat and positive, don't. I mostly think about how I don't deserve to have people commenting about any of my weight loss because I've been to the rodeo before. Bought the t-shirt. If I had just not been an idiot and gained more than half of my 100+ pound loss back I wouldn't be here. I shouldn't be here.

So no, no medal for me, and certainly no cookie.