Tag Archive: photos


Back to Work

I’ve been back in Oregon for around 4 months now and almost halfway through my spring semester. I won’t be traveling around Europe any time soon, but one thing being in Europe has taught me is how much there is to appreciate at home.

It’s been unreasonably sunny in Oregon the past few weeks, which is great for photography. I’m currently taking a photography class for my major (electronic arts) and it’s been really great to come back from abroad and give myself an excuse to continue photography and even get college credits for it.

Our first assignment for the class was just working on basic composition and color. For the project we had to take photos with different compositions, monochrome color, complementary color and photos with no color at all. The photos below are my favorite from the group.

Hanging outside our dorm room on a sunny day. The grass remained wet, but it was nothing a few blankets couldn’t handle. My roommate was rocking the 90’s look and we were all having fun playing with her hula-hoop.
Carmody-3photosinthe90s

Complementary colors.

Somehow two of my roommates were wearing blue and orange on the day I just happened to need complementary colors. What intuitive roommates I have! I especially love the contrast between the texture in each shirt.

Carmody-cc-1

After wandering, my roommate Janelle and I ended up at 7-11, which just so happened to have complementary colored Slurpees.

Carmody-cc-2

Black and White photos.

For this part of the assignment we were not allowed to have any color in the photo, but we also weren’t allowed to change the image to black and white once the picture was taken. I had fun with the light and the blinds in my room.

Carmody-dc-4

My blinds with the fish-eye lens.

Carmody-dc-1

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A star-light taken with the fish-eye.

Carmody-comp-2

My favorite photo of the group. The reflection of a tree in a very old and dirty bird bath. Originally the image was upside down, but I liked it flipped better.

Carmody-comp-3

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An Unexpected Day

Our final few days in London were full of nice surprises.

We spent Christmas day around the hotel, most of London was shut down including the Underground, so there was no point in going anywhere unless we wanted to pay for a taxi. It was really strange to see a city as large as London basically shutdown. I took a walk with my father down the street and we really didn’t see that many people and even the streets weren’t that busy.

Closed

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The following day was our final day in London and my sister had been wanting to visit St. Bartholowmew’s Hospital, which is where Sherlock and John (from Sherlock Holmes) met for the first time. We took a quick taxi to St. Peter’s Church and from there it was only a short walk to the hospital.

St. Peter's

St. Bart’s was huge and confusing and we spent a long time trying to find the plaque that commeorated Sherlock and John meeting, eventually we were told that it was in a museum inside the hospital and the museum was closed. Dissapointed as we were, we still found a few fun things in the area. My entire family has watched the BBC version of Sherlock and so we recognized the area where the final scenes of the last season were shot.

St. Bartholomew's Hospital

As we walked around the hospital we happened upon a telephone booth with little notes pasted on the inside. Without spoiling anything, the notes were geared towards Sherlock and one of the themes in the final episode.

Sherlock Booth

My sister and I added one to the booth.

We Believe

A little further down, we came upon an unassuming plaque, which to our surprise was put up in memory of Sir William Wallace, who as some of you might know, was the main made famous by the film Braveheart.

William Wallace

After exploring a very cool courtyard next to the hospital, we made our way over to Hyde Park, where there was a winter wonderland set up, with rides, restaurants and games. It was great to see all the stalls of food and gifts lining the street. Tt reminded me of the Christmas markets in Austria, although the markets in Austria are the best I’ve seen so far. A lot of the restaurants in the Winter Wonderland were based on the stereotypical Bavarian taverns for Oktoberfest.

Winter Wonderland

Towards the back of the wonderland was an ice palace, which had some amazing sculptures.

Ice Palace

Owl

My favorite sculpture; a giant dragon!

Ice Dragon

The Winter Wonderland from across the park.

Hyde Park

As we were heading back to the hotel we made a chance sighting. As we walked through Leicester Square we saw Stephen Hawking coming out of a theater. My first celebrity sighting and it was of one the most intelligent men in the world!

I spent five months in Europe and although I was sad to leave it all behind, by the time I stepped onto the plane at Heathrow, I was done and ready to be home. Nobody was looking forward to the flight back, but somehow our tickets were upgraded to business class and we spent the 11 plus hours of travel in style, with our own reclining seats, TVs and pillows. Stepping back into the Portland Airport and seeing that horribly patterned green carpet had never felt better!

Tower of London

Our second day in London was just as full as the last. We rode the underground to the Tower of London. The fortress, which sits right along the Thames was built by William the Conqueror and over the years other royals added to the fortress. The Tower is very impressive, although it was strange to see the old castle  surrounded by more modern and taller buildings.
Tower of London

Upon entering the fortress we were greeted by Water Lane. This area was originally part of the river, but the water was pushed back.

Entrance

Looking down on the entrance to the fortress.

Inside the Tower of London

Just a quick walk down Water Lane is Traitors’ Gate. This is another entrance to the fortress, but not one that many people would be happy to use. Originally, the gate was meant to be used as a water entrance to the fortress, but during the Tudor’s time it was used as a prisoner’s entrance. One of the more famous prisoners to pass through this gate was Anne Boleyn.

Traitor's Gate

After Traitors’ Gate we made our way along the Wall Walk, which took us around the outside wall of the fortress, showing what life was like for the soldiers, how they would have defended the tower and even what life was like for the animals in the royal menagerie. After the tower walk, we came to the building housing the Crown Jewels and from there we headed to the White Tower.

The White Tower is a fortress within a fortress. It stood for the king’s power and I can only imagine how impressive it looked sitting atop its hill next to the Thames. Today, it is full of old relics of past kings and knights. Hopping joyfully on the lawn before the Tower are the famous ravens. If the ravens leave the tower it will fall, along will the power of the monarchy. Today, there are seven ravens, although there were originally six. I suppose it doesn’t hurt to be safe.

White Tower

After leaving the Tower we headed along the river and took a stroll over to Tower Bridge.

Tower Bridge

Just across from the Tower of London on the other side of the Thames is the HMS Belfast, which was a used as a warship during WW II.

Belfast

When we boarded the HMS Belfast, I was immediately impressed. The tour took us through level after level of the ship and really went into detail about how each part of the ship had been used, who had used it and what its purpose was. My favorite part was climbing down a small ladder to reach the engine rooms, where we had to duck under pipes and walk on small walkways to find our way through the maze. Every few minutes a recording of the working engines demonstrated just how loud the ship was when moving. I have a newfound respect for the men that worked down in that dark and confusing place.

The Engine Room

Meters

STOP

The Belfast's Weapons

It probably took us a good hour and a half to make it through the ship and that was after getting lost a few times. Once we came up on deck the sun was already setting and the city began to glow.

A stark contrast between the stone Tower of London and the new glass buildings on the left.

Along the Thames

The Tower Bridge at night.

Tower Bridge Night

Hello London!

Our time spent in Paris was amazing, but it was time that we moved on. Our last destination was London and it would be in London that my family and I would celebrate Christmas!

To get to London we road through the Channel Tunnel (aka, the Chunnel), which is an underwater train tunnel that crosses the English Channel from France to England. It was exciting and nerve-racking thinking about crossing through a tunnel that was surrounded by water. However, going through the tunnel itself turned out to be rather uneventful, which is probably a good thing now that I think about it.

Once we arrived at London at London St Pancras we were met by a spattering of british accents. Although it wasn’t like home, I felt relieved that I was finally back in a country where English was the main language. It made me realize just how much I had missed hearing those familiar and recognizable words. From the station we hauled our suitcases out the front doors and decided to drag them down the street for a few blocks to our hotel, which was really close. My family and I made sure to look for cars driving on the opposite side of the street, which even with the LOOK LEFT or LOOK RIGHT signs on the ground, was still hard to remember.

We made it to The Hotel Russell in one piece and were greeted by the warmth of the sun (it would be our only day in London without rain).

The Hotel Russell near Russell Square Station.

Russel Hotel

fronthotel

Just across from our hotel were the famous London telephone booths. Don’t let the bright red exterior fool you though, inside they smell like any other telephone booth (not good) and upon the walls are a number of scantily clad women with a telephone number next to them (you can probably guess on your own what they’re advertising).

telephonebooths

We didn’t have much of the day left to go exploring, so we wandered over to Charles Dickens’ house and took a few photos of the outside, because the museum was closed. We then made our way to an small Italian restaurant. The meal was delicious and the waitress was more than happy to chat with us and give us some information on what there is to do in London.

That night we all rested well for the day to come.

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The following morning we all trooped down to the Underground station for what was going to be a day packed full of sightseeing. There was a long line for the elevator at the station, so my family turned to walk down the steps, but we turned right back around when we saw the sign proclaiming that it was 175 steps to get to the Underground. What we didn’t realize was that the elevators were large enough to fit a small car inside, so we made it to the Underground without any fuss.

One thing I loved about the signs in London… the exit was called the “way out”. I have no idea why someone decided “way out” was better than “exit”.

Way Out

We road the Underground (the trains are surprisingly small, I could have touched the ceiling) to Parliament and came out of the station right under Big Ben. I’ve said it before, but it still amazes me when I go somewhere and see famous sights. There are so many movies, TV series, and books set in London, so many in fact, that I felt like I knew London without even having been there. In reality there’s nothing as inspiring as seeing the sight for yourself.

Big Ben

The Clock of Big Ben

After admiring Big Ben, we headed to Winston Churchill’s WW II bunker. He only spent three nights total in the bunker and the bunker itself was never bombed, however it was the base of operation for Churchill during the war. The bunker consisted of sleeping quarters for his officers, war rooms, meeting rooms, the map room, a kitchen and rooms for communication. Churchill even had his own secret room with a telephone that connected directly to the President of the US (FDR at the time). Today it is a museum, which has kept many of the original rooms intact and has added a room specifically dedicated to Churchill and his life.

Churchill’s room. He loved maps, so the walls are covered in them, he probably thought of strategy in his sleep. Although he didn’t often spend the night in this room, he always took a one-hour nap during the day.

 Churchill's Room

Correspondence room. During the war there were a number of workers here sending and receiving messages. There was always at least one person there.

Secretary Room

The tunnel to the map room. The walls of the tunnel are made of concrete. The map room is filled with maps from ceiling to floor, which are covered in so many pins that they are more hole than map.

The Map Room

Churchill’s bunker was impressive and a great museum, but it was a relief to finally step outside again and breathe fresh air. I can’t even imagine what it must have been like to work there for most of the war. The bunker halls and rooms were lit, but the light was dim and orange and the small hallways and constricting rooms couldn’t have been relaxing. Of course most anything was preferable to actually being out on the street while the threat of an attack hung over the city.

After the museum, we crossed the street to St. James’s Park, which surrounds a small lake. The park is filled with birds of all kinds and hundreds of squirrels. All the park creatures were daring and approached people with the hopes of a snack. The squirrels were especially brave and would walk onto the pathway and take food from people’s hands. We fed a few of the squirrels and one started to climb my father’s leg until he got scared and shook it off.

St. Jame's Park

A curious squirrel.

Squirrel

We walked through the park until we came upon Buckingham Palace. For some reason the Queen’s Guard was not wearing their red uniforms. I’m not sure why, so if anyone knows, please feel free to tell me!

Buckingham

A guard with his bearskin cap.

The Queen's Guard

Lock and Key

The Queen Victoria Memorial in front of the palace.

Victoria Memorial

Soon after the palace we took a taxi to 221b Baker Street, which is the famous residence of the London detective Sherlock Holmes. To the left, is the actual apartment, which is set up to look like his house. To the right, is a shop where the souvenirs and tickets are bought. The apartment was fun to wander through. The first and second floor consisted of rooms set up with various knick-nacks and items from Sherlock and John’s life. The third floor had wax figures from all the cases Sherlock had solved. I had quiet a scare on the third floor, where an old man sat against the wall with the wax figures. At first he sat very still and I thought he was apart of the exhibit, but he suddenly began moving I had to do a double take before I realized he was alive!

Sherlock 221B

Our last stop of the day was the London Eye. It was pouring rain, but lucky for us the line was not too long. The Eye was beautiful and glowing blue in the rain. As we walked up to the enclosed carriages they didn’t stop, but moved along the ramp at a slow pace and we had to stumble our way onto them. The carriages held around 20 people.

Big Ben from the Eye.

Big Ben from the Eye

Versailles

I thought that Schönbrunn was the largest palace anyone could possibly want or need. How wrong I was.

Versailles is by far much larger and grander than Schönbrunn, both in the size of the gardens and in the size of the palace itself. However, like Schönbrunn it started as a hunting lodge and was slowly expanded and built into what we see today. Once it was transformed into a palace, the seat of the French government was moved here and the kings of France had their homes in the palace. It was only after the French Revolution that it was no longer occupied.

There are a few different sections of the palace that can be explored. We took a tour of the King and Queen’s Grand Apartments, which are set off to the right of the palace. They built this section, because the king and queen wanted an area where they could live separate lives from the court and have some peace and quiet. The King’s Apartment was very impressive, although the rooms were smaller than I thought they would be. Many of the rooms had hidden doors that led into secret sections of the apartments where the king could spend his time alone and working on official business.

The rest of the palace has been transformed into a museum. Below is a model of the palace when it was in the first stages of its construction. Although it is large, this little place is nothing compared to the vast palace today.
Versailles Model

The palace and the gardens today. The two buildings in the very front of the model are the stables.

Model Today

The front gates.

Versailles Front Gates

Inside the front square.

Inside the Gates

The Queen’s bed. The queen never actually slept in this bed, but simply received her guests in this room.

The Queen's Room

The Hall of Mirrors.

Hall of Mirrors

Even more impressive than the palace were the gardens. The garden itself could hold a small town, with enough space for people to live comfortably. My family and I decided it was worth the money, and we became the ultimate tourists by renting a golf cart and touring the gardens that way. It was a good thing we did, because it would have taken us well over an hour just to get to the Grand Trianon, which sits on the other side of the garden from the palace.

The Gardens from behind the Latona Fountain. The large lake in the center is called the Grand Canal, after the canal in Venice. There used to be two gondolas floating in the lake as well.

Latona Fountain

The Apollo Fountain

Apollo Fountain

Notre Dame

We were in Paris, so of course we had to visit Notre Dame. Thanks to Disney, my sister and I had a number of songs to sing about the Hunchback of Notre Dame.

The front of Notre Dame is actually rather plain, the two towers hide the back of the tower making the church look smaller than it really is. It was the 850th anniversary of Notre Dame while we were visiting, so there was some sort of exhibit in front of the church, plus some bleachers for people to sit on and admire the architecture.
Front of ND

We climbed the left side of the tower first. The entire tour takes you up through the left tower across the small bridge and then up again to the very top of the right tower. From there we were allowed to walk around the small tower and see the city from various angles. The only disappointing thing was that the bells were being worked on, so we had no luck seeing them.

The steps up to the lookout.

The steps were worn down by so many feet that they were more like bowls that steps.

Stairs up to ND

The back of Notre Dame.

From the top of ND

The famous gargoyles of Notre Dame.

The church is said to be one of the better examples of Gothic architecture both in France and in Europe as a whole. I’ve seen a lot of churches on this trip, and I have to admit that these were probably some of the most beautiful and creepy gargoyles I’ve seen. Each and every one was different in shape and character. Some were just sitting looking over the city, while others held smaller creatures in their hands and enjoying a meal.

Gargoyles

Over Paris

After descending the right tower, we visited the inside of the church, which really put into perspective just how huge the cathedral really was. Once we exited the church we headed towards the back and it took on a completely different look. I actually like the back of Notre Dame the most. It has huge arches that shoot out from the main building and form into sturdy pillars, making the building look like a creature, ready to lift its massive body from the earth.

From the Back of Notre Dame.

A typical street in Paris.

The streets of Paris are just plain dirty. There are unpleasant things all over the streets and sidewalks, but despite this I felt like Paris streets had a certain charm and character that I hadn’t yet found in any other European city. There was always a small restaurant to stop at on every corner and the buildings were smashed together creating small alleys, each of which seemed to hold its own special secret.

Paris Streets

I was told by a friend that I needed to visit a bookstore not too far from Notre Dame. After not much searching at all, we arrived at Shakespeare & Company. It is a very unassuming shop, just off the main street and somewhat hidden behind a wall, but despite this it was my favorite place in Paris. True, I was born to love books, but even one who reads only one book a year would appreciate the charm of S&C.

Even before entering the store you have travel through thick curtains to see inside. As I pushed them aside, I felt like I was entering another world. The rooms of the store hardly fit together. It was almost a game to try to discover all the different nooks and crannies the store was hiding. Books covered the ceiling from top to bottom, they were piled on tables and overflowing in customer’s arms (especially mine).

S & C

The first floor of the building is a store, while the second floor is a living space, but also holds a number of books not for sale. There was a small living space, a cubby for writing, a small nook for reading and a bedroom with a piano. Basically, I want to this place as my home.

WIndow Seat

A small cubby filled with notes and a simple red typewriter.

Writing Corner

Typewriter

After buying the store out, we headed back to the apartment as the sun set. Every hour after the sun sets, the Eiffel Tower puts on a light show and sparkles in the sky. We were barely able to catch the show and ended up watching the beautiful sight from the side of the tower.

The Eiffel Tower at night.

Orange Sky

Under the Tower at Night

Omaha Beach

We felt like it was important to go to the American Cemetery next to Omaha Beach. It’s only a two-hour train ride from Paris and a half-hour drive from the city Caen. When we reached Caen there was a car rental just across from the station so it was easy to go and pick up a car to drive to the coast.

Before reaching Omaha Beach we stopped for lunch in the small town of Bayeux, which is most known for the famous Bayeux Tapestry, however, we didn’t have enough time to visit the tapestry ourselves. We stopped for lunch in a cute little restaurant off the main road and walked around the little town for maybe five or ten minutes before moving on.

A House in Bayeux

The coolest part of the town was probably the church, which stood in the very center and was a massive structure of stone.

churchlarge

Church in Bayeux

To me Bayeux seemed like the typical French country town. The buildings were especially cute and small. The stone homes were plain and simple and the streets were quiet. Only the splashing of rain and cars disturbed the peace.

Muddy Water

A small river/creek that ran through the town.

Bayeux Creek

After driving through large swaths of country land, we arrived at the coast and a number of signs directed us towards the cemetery.

Omaha Beach was the code name given to the Normandy beach along the French coast during WW II. This particular beach was important because it was the only possible area where the Allies had any chance of liberating France from Hitler’s clutch. Omaha Beach was only one section of the Normandy Landings. There was also Utah Beach, Gold Beach, Juno Beach and Sword Beach.  The day that the Americans, British and Canadians landed on Normandy is known as D-Day (June 6th, 1944). It was a battle with heavy casualties, but resulted in victory for the Allies.

When we arrived at the parking lot there were only two other cars parked in the area and it was drizzling outside. It rained while we walked over to the memorial and cemetery. As we rounded the corner of the memorial the wind picked up, making the flags whip and snap in the gale.

Flags

Looking out from the memorial doesn’t even let the visitors see the entire cemetery. It goes even further back and I couldn’t believe how many white crosses stood vigilant on the green grass.

The memorial from the front.

American War Memorial

We walked towards the middle of the cemetery; the rain pouring down on us when suddenly the clouds began to clear and over the ocean was a rainbow. It was one of those serendipitous moments and I couldn’t have asked for beautiful weather while I paid my respects to the soldiers.

Rainbow

A Soldier's Grave

After rounding the cemetery we headed down to the beach. Just looking down the hill into thickets of leaves and bushes, it was made apparent just how much of a challenge the soldiers faced climbing from the beach with German artillery and gunfire blaring down on them.

Looking down onto the beach

The Path to the Beach

Uphill Battle

Once we began walking down the hill, I was even more impressed and horrified at the prospect of capturing that hill. The bushes were thick and dense, sometimes disappearing into darkness. As we neared the beach, we were met by a large section of swamp, whose water probably would have gone over my knees. To top all that off, shoulder high grass grew out of the water before reaching the dunes of sand. All I can say is that it is incredible that ANYONE even made it past the first sand dune.

The Beach of Normandy

It was a humbling day to see the things someone would go through for their freedom and for the freedom of people they had never even met face to face.

Eiffel Tower

The following morning my father and I went to the Eiffel Tower early to try and reach the top before it got too crowded. Even though I had seen the Moulin Rouge the day before, I still wasn’t really convinced that I was in Paris. Walking along the streets felt different than any other city I’d been to so far, but it still hadn’t really hit me that I was in Paris.

We came from the northwest side of the city and rounded the Palais de Chaillot, which provided a dramatic lead-up to the tower’s unveiling. It was only after I was standing in front of the tower that I truly felt like I was in Paris. It was an impressive view and a site I had never really imagined seeing in person. I’ve seen Paris in movies, read about it in books and seen it in pictures, but there’s nothing like actually standing in front of the Eiffel Tower to put in perspective how lucky I am.

The Eiffel Tower from the Palais de Chaillot. The sun was just rising, but already the entire place was covered in tourists!

Eiffel Tower from the Palais de Chaillot

Tower in the Morning

As we walked towards the Eiffel Tower, I couldn’t stop thinking, “I’m in Paris!”. It was really surreal and I almost couldn’t wrap my head around it.

Eiffel Tower Silhouet

The tower from below.

Under the Tower

We reached the tower and then frantically searched for the quickest way to the top. Maybe I’m spoiling the secret, although I feel like it’s really not that huge of a secret, but the Eiffel Tower can be climbed! That one or two-hour long line that you’re waiting in, well just go around the corner and it takes a minute to buy a ticket and start the climb. This is what we did and it was actually really nice. There was no line, the staircase has a number of informational posters and along the way you get to admire the incredible infrastructure of the tower. I can’t even imagine how Eiffel (the tower is named after its architect, he also built the Statue of Liberty) could conceive such a massive tower of steel.

Some fun facts about the Eiffel Tower. It was built by Gustave Eiffel in 1889. It was finished in only a little over 2 years and it reaches the height of 324 meters or 1,063 feet. There are 704 steps to the second floor.

Steel

Almost there!

Climbing Up

As far as I know no one is allowed to climb to the very top of the tower, but we were able to make it to the first and second levels. It really wasn’t that bad of a climb and once we reached the top we were able to snag some tickets to ride the final elevator to the summit.

The view from the summit looking out over Paris and the park, Champ de Mars.

Lookout

Paris from Above

The Sacred Heart Basilica, which we visited the other day.

Sacre-Coeur de Montmartre

The L’hôtel des Invalides really stands out on the Paris skyline. It sparkles among all the short grey buildings.

L'hôtel des Invalides

The metro station in the vicinity of our apartment. The entrances to the stations are done in the Art Nouveau style, painted green with swirling arches and curves. It’s really beautiful, but sometimes makes it difficult to find the station entrances among the busy streets and buildings.

Metro

After visiting the Eiffel Tower we picked up my mother and sister at the apartment and then headed to the Arc de Triomphe. This arch is surrounded by the world’s largest roundabout. We witnessed a few daring (or stupid) people running across the roundabout, but there is of course a safer way in an underground tunnel.

The Arc was commissioned in 1806 by Napoleon to celebrate his victories, but it was not finished until 1836. The Germans and Allies took turns marching through this arch at different periods in time. First the Germans marched through in 1871, then the Allies in 1919. During World War II the Germans marched through the arch again in 1940 and at the end of the war in 1944 the Allies marched through.

Arc de Triomphe

Looking out over the tomb of an unknown soldier from WW I. The flame burns for the lives lost during WW I and WW II.

Eternal Flame

The ceiling of the arch.

Under the Arc

After touring the arch we turned towards the Avenue Des Champs-Élysées, which lines up perfectly with the tomb of the unknown soldier and the arch. This avenue is full of big-name stores, Christmas stalls, people and cars.

Champ Elysee

At the opposite end of the Champs-Élysées is the Place de la Concorde, one of the larger squares in Paris. Situated in the center of it is the Grande Roue de Paris, the ferris wheel, and the Luxor Obelisk. The Obelisk used to be at the Luxor Temple in Egypt, but was offered to France as a gift.

Grande Roue de Paris and Luxor Obelisk

One of the fountains on the Place de la Concorde.

Place de la Concorde

From the Concorde we headed towards the river Seine so that we could walk back towards the Eiffel Tower along the river. We crossed the Seine on the famous Pont Alexandre III bridge, which is decorated with a number of statues, some completely gold and also intricate lamps. The view of the Eiffel Tower from the bridge is beautiful.

Pont Alexandre III

As we headed back to our apartment the sun was beginning to set and the Eiffel Tower was lit.

Eiffel Tower at Night

First Day In Paris

We left Vienna early in the morning, taking a two-hour flight across Europe to Paris. When we landed the sun hadn’t even brightened the sky, so we got to the see the twinkling lights of the city below. Once we had gotten all our luggage we jumped on a train to get to the Guard du Nord (one of the train stations). It was nice arriving early in the morning, but we were not allowed to check in to our apartment until four in the afternoon. Despite this setback we found a locker room after some searching and left our bags at the station for the day.

The Guard du Nord.

The Train Station

Our first view of the streets of Paris.

We ate at a little cafe just across from the train station. The food was amazing and the waiter served us our meal with a “voilà!”

Arriving in Paris

After eating we made our way to the Basilika Sacré-Cœur, which sits on a hill overlooking Paris. It’s actually a lot larger than it looks, because the dome blocks the rest of the church. While we made our way up to the top, we had to dodge these men who were trying to sell something. I couldn’t tell what it was, but it looked like a basic piece of string. I wouldn’t have thought that anyone would give them money, but their tactic was one of intimidation. They would surround one or two people and talk and even grab them to try to get their money. I’ve never seen so many scammers in one place before. In reality, I think it’s a shame that they choose to stand outside a church and hassle people, but what can you do?

Basilika Sacré-Cœur from A Distance

Basilika Sacré-Cœur

After walking through the church we headed back down the hill. Most of the streets were quiet except for one in particular, which was packed with tourists and cheesy shops.

Tourist Shops

The Moulin Rouge was also in the vicinity. It is not the original one, which burnt down, but it was still exciting to see.

The Moulin Rouge

Eventually, we made our way back to the train station and the next few hours were spent hauling our bags all over Paris. The company we booked with decided it was a good idea to switch our apartment and not tell us, so instead of being where we had planned, we were actually another two or three major streets away. Lucky for us there was a nice taxi driver who was willing to flag down a van, which was the only vehicle that could fit all our luggage. We all made it to the newly assigned apartment in one piece, although we were all a little frazzled.

It was a long, but exciting day. My first time in Paris will be an exciting experience. I can already tell that it has a different feel from the other cities that I’ve been to.

Winter Lights

Christmas is just around the corner, which means that the lights go up (as well as the electricity bill) in all the homes and around the city. Over the past few weeks the busy streets of Vienna have started to sparkle. The Christmas markets, called Weihnachtsmarktes in German have also popped up everywhere.

The lights on Kärtnerstraße heading away from the center of the city.

Kärtnerstraße2

Kärtnerstraße

Lights on Kärtnerstraße heading towards the Opera House. This is one of the popular shopping streets.

Shopping

A random street.

I like these the most. It looks like it is raining light.

Snowing Lights

Schönbrunn has a Christmas market out front. Every night the building is lit as well as the Christmas tree in front. This is probably my favorite market so far. It’s touristy, but there aren’t too many people, plus the giant palace in the back just adds to the beauty.

Schönbrunn

Schönbrunn Christmas Tree

Chandeliers hang from the buildings along the Graben. Both Kärtnerstraße and the Graben were flocking with tourists and Christmas shoppers. It’s worth seeing the lights, but be prepared to do some ducking and dodging.

Graben

The Rathaus. Probably the most crowded place in Vienna at night. This is one of the bigger Christmas markets and it is always packed with people, to the point where it’s almost impossible to move between the Christmas stalls.

Rathaus

An ornament stall at the Rathaus. There are toys, candy, chocolate, ornaments, classic Austrian foods, and of course the famous Glühwein (mulled wine) and punsch (flavored schnapps)!

Ornament Stall

Lights

St. Stephen’s

St. Stephen's

A giant Christmas tree of lights by Schottenring.

X-mas Tree

Even the grocery stores are covered with lights!

Billa