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Sat, May 8th - 4:00AM

May 8, 2010 - Last Day in Paris
A leisurely last day!  We will wander and eat and wander and shop and sit, too.  Right now we are sitting in the lobby visiting with another couple from Seattle.  Au Revoir!
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Fri, May 7th - 9:48AM

PARIS! May 4, 2010

Our bags packed to the max (with lots of Lindsay's clothes and shoes) we headed to the airport.  Tim warned me that there would be long lines and crowds - but there weren't!  Maybe it was the holiday over there, maybe our luck had changed...who knows...we sailed through ticketing, immigration and check in.  And somehow, we ended up in Business Class!  (maybe after the volcano fiasco they felt sorry for us? Who knows?  we just enjoyed the slightly roomier seats and the bit of extra service - at no extra charge to us! yay!)

Arrival in Paris went just as smoothly.  We splurged on a cab and it was well worth it.  We arrived at the Port Royal Hotel feeling rested and ready to explore a few blocks of the city.  We unpacked, admired our bright, clean litle room and headed out to choose a place to eat.  We ended up at Cezar for Italian food.  I got some thinly sliced beef over rocket greens with mashed potatoes - OMG - heavenly!  The beef was so lean and tender, grilled to perfection and I'm not sure if they were mashed potatoes with butter or butter with mashed potatoes - seriously rich and oh, so delish!  Tim had a filet in peppercorn sauce with pasta - the best peppercorn sauce he says he has ever had.  We could not even look at the dessert menu - ok - we looked, but we were so full.  Our waiter was so sweet - hel helped our French and did not make us feel silly at all.  He even threw in an Italian word now and then.

Ah...fun evening.  Then back to our lovely Port Royal with clean, crisp white sheets.  Ahhhh...again...a good sound sleep.

May 5, 2010

This morning we had traditional French breakfast at the hotel - baguette, light and crusty, with butter and jam, and of course cafe au lait.  Then off to the Eiffel tower we went.  We braved the metro and did ok once we found where to buy our tickets. 

At the tower we had to figure out which line to be in.  We finally did and from there it went smoothly.  WOW - yes - it is as impressive as everyone says.  We walked up the first two levels (all they allow) then took the elevator all the way to the top.  Weather was cool and breezy but mostly clear with puffy white clouds.  We got some beautiful pictures....and a great workout!

Afterward we strolled through the park and made our way to the Rue de Cler where we looked in shops and had lunch at a little cafe.  Tim had a chicken sandwich on a crisp baguette whil I hose a buttery-crusted quiche with leeks - warm and oh so tasty!

We wandered and people watched some more as we made our way back to the hotel and dinner and to plan out the next few days.

May 6, 2010

Today was our whirlwind blur - oh, I mean whirlwind tour - lol - of Paris.  This is Tim's description (I was too tired to write more - this is perfect):

-Breakfast - coffee and croissant - Bus - Notre Dame: Gargoyles - Acacia tree: Louis XIV - Gyros in Latin quarter (croissants were not enough) - Narrowest building - St Chappelle: stained glass - Madeline: lunch - Orsay:  fuzzy paintings - Coffee @ Orsay - Louvre:  Mona Lisa - Walk, walk, walk and eventually get to the correct bus stop - Hotel - Dinner - Bed.

May 7, 2010

We finally slept in - we were SO exhausted.  Decided to stick with our plan and go to Versailles anyway.  Our lovely front desk clerk gave us perfect directions first to a little cafe around the corner for a 'real' breakfast (omelet) and then which bus and RER train to take to Versaille (and back - very important). 

Train trip was fun.  Palace was overwhelmingly huge and over-ornate and very crowded.  Definitely worth experiencing, though, and we got some great pics.  What we really enjoyed were the gardens!  No flowers yet, too early, I guess, but the greenery, the designs, the sculptures, fountains and ponds were exquisite!  next trip we may plan to do a full day (or even an overnight) in Versailles and rent bikes to explore the whole place.

Pizza for lunch at an out of the way - non-touristy cafe (we are learning).

Back at our hotel - we got moved to our new room - had to switch middway due to mix ups from the volcano fiasco.  Heavenly!  This one has a double bed - we can snuggle again (last one had twins) and a deep lovely BATH TUB!  Yes - there is a God! 

Au Revoir for now - off to explore a bit more and grab some bath salts for later!


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Wed, May 5th - 2:15PM

May 3, 2010
I put yesterday behind me as we plunged into our next and final Kiev adventure. We took a cab to the Perchsk Lavra Monastery. It is a beautiful place high atop a hill with several churches and other buildings with fascinating exhibits. One had miniatures that were made by Nikolai Syadristy, so small that each one had to be viewed through a powerful magnifying glass. It was amazing to see the intricacies of such small pieces of art!
There were also caves (catacombs) where the priests and monks of long ago were buried. You could take a tour through them (which we did) where you held a lighted beeswax candle and walked with a crowd of other people holding lighted candles through dark tunnels that were about 6 feet high and 3 feet wide. Talk about fear of fire, claustrophobia and possible mass hysteria….OMG! But…we did get to look at lots of very small (about 4 ft) tall bodies of monks preserved in glass coffins and adorned in all their finery – lol. I think we were all feeling a little anxious as we made our way past the people on the guided tour (in Russian of course) to find the exit. Ahhh….the sweet, fresh open air! Lindsay said, ‘there are more caves if you want to….”. “No, no”, Tim and I said in unison, ‘enough caves!’
We finished our tour of the Monastery complex , grabbed cab back and took a little time to refresh before our last dinner in Kiev at a Georgian restaurant for tasty dishes of rice, meat and veggies. Especially interesting and delicious was the stuffed eggplant – yum! Then back to the apartment to pack and get ready for tomorrow’s flight to Paris.

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Wed, May 5th - 2:13PM

May 2, 2010

I started to title this ‘The BAD day’ – but now that some time has elapsed between the actual day and the day I am posting, I realize it was not that bad.  In fact it started out great.  The city was very crowded since it was a holiday in Ukraine (labor day), but we headed to Andreevskiy’s Descent, the part of town with all the little vendor booths set up selling souveniers of all kinds.  We were having fun choosing little trinkets and looking at all the stuff when suddenly the crowd sort of pushed and shoved into me and I was separated from both Lindsay and Tim and I realized in an instant that someone had unzipped my purse (which I WAS wearing cross-body and close to me) and pulled out my wallet!!  I WAS SO FREAKED OUT!!!! I found Tim right away and then Lindsay called on her phone, looking for me and we tried to assess things.  I knew all my cash was in it, plus my credit and debit card, but also thought my passport was in it as well!  BAD, VERY BAD!!!!  Tim and Lindsay each got on their phones – Lindsay to the embassy, Tim to the banks and I just sort of kept freaking out (you know me). 

Ok…so we headed back to the apartment to sort of re-group and Tim said he needed a beer.  So I said, I think I have an opener in my purse and I started unzipping pockets and VOILA! – MY PASSPORT!!!! We were all SO relieved – I cried and we all hugged each other.  I don’t even remember when I moved it, but it was such a relief.  The cash was lost, yes, but thankfully not too much, and the credit/debit card were cancelled and we had others…so the most important – the passport was still safe.  And we – especially I – learned an important travel lesson – to never keep all the money and cards in one place AND to never think anywhere is safe from pickpockets!  I was prepared and forewarned about Paris, but thought Kiev was ‘safe’.  Lesson learned….

****NOTE:  Jumping on my days but after our arrival in Paris, I received an email from the American Embassy in Kiev.  Someone had turned in my wallet with credit and debit card intact, as well as my driver’s license.  Of course the cash was gone…but…it did restore some of my faith in humanity!

 


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Wed, May 5th - 2:12PM

May 1, 2010

Lindsay and I slept in then took the metro to see a few more sites while waiting for Tim to return from Cyprus.  We got a text while out:  2 hours late.  So….we wandered a bit more, grabbed an ice cream cone and when Tim called from the taxi, we made our way back to the apartments.  We all took a little break then showered and ‘dressed up’ for our dinner downtown at the Buddha Bar restaurant.  It was a beautiful, quiet and serene atmosphere with exquisite food – sort of asian/fusion.  Afterward we walked upstairs to the bar area to enjoy an after dinner glass of wine.  They asked if would like ‘hookah’ but we politely declined, even though Lindsay did make a pretty good case for us to try it – lol.

We were all really tired so we didn’t stay up too late.  We wanted to be up bright and early for another day of urban trekking. 


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Wed, May 5th - 2:11PM

Friday, April 30, 2010

Our temperature today may have rivaled Cyprus.  Sunny and warm – it had to be up into the 70’s by mid-afternoon.  We made an excursion to the country today!  First we took the metro all the way to the end, then got on a bus and took that all the way to the end and got off at the open air museum of Peragova (sp?).  It was a fascinating place made up of many acres of rolling hills.  It has a real working village where people still live, but also windmills and buildings that have either been brought over and renovated, or reproductions. 

We had lunch at a little picnic-type place.  Traditional Ukranian ‘country” food – sausage and bereniki (sp?) (little ravioli type pasta dough stuffed with meat or potatoes) – we tried both kinds, of course.  They are served with sour cream and spicy mustard on the side.  A nice, ice cold beer to wash it down and we were completely satisfied and ready to continue our journey through the village settings.

Of course the last bit was UP hill and we were sweating by then.  Luckily they sell water and ice cream bars where you wait for the bus.  Yum – I haven’t had an Eskimo-pie type ice cream bar in years – it was delicious and did help to cool us down as we sat on the hot bus waiting for it to fill with people so that we could leave.  The good news was we DID get seats for which we were very grateful  as the bus proceeded to  pull into each stop and take on more and more people.  The middle aisle was packed so tightly I don’t know how anyone could breathe!

The metro was just about as crowded for the last stretch home.

It was interesting to note that there are VERY few parking lots.  Even at the huge open air museum there were just a few cars pulled off to the side of the road with the rest of the space taken up by waiting busses, both public and private touring ones. 

We met Lindsay’s friend Lyuda for pizza at one of their favorite places and it was great to meet her and talk with her.  She is learning English from Lindsay and Lindsay in turn picking up some Russian from her.  We talked about the lack of cars and she told us how people don’t even think twice about walking long distances.  She said they live in the city, but have a garden plot in an outlying village.  Her mother often walks the hour from city to village to work in her garden!  Amazing!


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Wed, May 5th - 2:07PM

Friday, April 30, 2010

Our temperature today may have rivaled Cyprus.  Sunny and warm – it had to be up into the 70’s by mid-afternoon.  We made an excursion to the country today!  First we took the metro all the way to the end, then got on a bus and took that all the way to the end and got off at the open air museum of Peragova (sp?).  It was a fascinating place made up of many acres of rolling hills.  It has a real working village where people still live, but also windmills and buildings that have either been brought over and renovated, or reproductions. 

We had lunch at a little picnic-type place.  Traditional Ukranian ‘country” food – sausage and bereniki (sp?) (little ravioli type pasta dough stuffed with meat or potatoes) – we tried both kinds, of course.  They are served with sour cream and spicy mustard on the side.  A nice, ice cold beer to wash it down and we were completely satisfied and ready to continue our journey through the village settings.

Of course the last bit was UP hill and we were sweating by then.  Luckily they sell water and ice cream bars where you wait for the bus.  Yum – I haven’t had an Eskimo-pie type ice cream bar in years – it was delicious and did help to cool us down as we sat on the hot bus waiting for it to fill with people so that we could leave.  The good news was we DID get seats for which we were very grateful  as the bus proceeded to  pull into each stop and take on more and more people.  The middle aisle was packed so tightly I don’t know how anyone could breathe!

The metro was just about as crowded for the last stretch home.

It was interesting to note that there are VERY few parking lots.  Even at the huge open air museum there were just a few cars pulled off to the side of the road with the rest of the space taken up by waiting busses, both public and private touring ones. 

We met Lindsay’s friend Lyuda for pizza at one of their favorite places and it was great to meet her and talk with her.  She is learning English from Lindsay and Lindsay in turn picking up some Russian from her.  We talked about the lack of cars and she told us how people don’t even think twice about walking long distances.  She said they live in the city, but have a garden plot in an outlying village.  Her mother often walks the hour from city to village to work in her garden!  Amazing!

 


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Wed, May 5th - 2:02PM

Oops! Missed the 29th - will edit later - limited internet!
 
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Sat, May 1st - 3:32AM

Wednesday April 28, 2010 The Day the Jet Lag Hit

Tim left for Cyprus this morning to meet for a few days with Steve and the r360 guys.  After the cab picked him up at the apt. I waited for Lindsay to come meet me and take me to both her offices to meet the people she works with.  Then I got to sit in on a meeting with developers to discuss a proposed webiste she is working on.  (I will give you a hint:  it's a travel site and it's going to be fantastic!)  That's all I can say now, as it is still in the planning stages...

I was worried that I was getting a cold.  I felt headachy, and all stuffed up and just plain exhausted...or I guess  should say 'plane' exhausted...lol.  It turned out to simply be the jet lag catching up with me - yay - because  a good long nap seemed to take care of getting rid of it for the most part.

Lindsay and I walked around a bit and decided to have dinner at a Jordanian restaurant nearby.  It was very colorful in a different way from the restaurant last night.  It had the feel of walking into a sultan's den - with beads hanging down to separate the booths and lots of sumptuous fabrics.  There was even a belly dancer who danced her way through the restaurant over the course of the evening!  We munched on hummus and pita and some white beans in tomatoes - very tasty!  Then I had a bowl of lamb soup which was seasoned with cilantro - very different but good.  Lindsay chose a lamb dish with couscous which was also very tasty. 

The only 'bad' part of the meal was the first glass of wine that I ordered.  It said sauvignon blanc on the menu, so I was looking forward to that first sip of crisp, citrusy pleasure....BLEH!  It tasted like sugar syrup!!  The waitress did seem to understand my displeasure and we settled on just getting a glass of chianti instead, which seemed a safer bet.  It was fine..but they still charged for the UN-drinkable glass of wine...a custom that I do NOT agree with...oh well. 

Jet lag was not completely gone...I was exhausted by the time we got back to Lindsay's place.  I stayed with her since Tim is in Cyprus and crashed for a good solid 10 hours!  That did take care of the jet lag!


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Sat, May 1st - 3:12AM

Tuesday April 27, 2010

First morning in Kiev.  We slept very soundly in our little apt.  The city here gets very quiet at night.  Lindsay had given us directions to a nearby coffee shop so we walked over and got our 'americano' coffees - espresso in a big cup with a separate little pitcher of steaming hot water along with another of steamed milk - ummmm - just what we needed along with some nice flaky apple filled pastry.  After breakfast Lindsay met us and we walked all over Podol (which is the section of Kiev that she lives in) and visited many of the sites.  At St. Sophia's church we climbed the many stairs to the top of the bell tower where we could look out over Kiev - beautiful!  The sky was bright blue with white cotton candy clouds - a perfect day for pictures.  It was worth the climb; anyway, we considered it 'training' for the Eifel tower - lol.

Next we took a trolley up the hill and leisurely walked back down, stopping to check out the street vendor's wares along the way.  A stop for a light lunch at Double Coffee and then bck to the apt. for a nap and shower before dinner. 

Dinner was excellent and very fun at a traditional Ukranian restaurant.  The whole place is decorated to look like a fanciful Ukranian farm house, complete with animals (stuffed, of course).  We had little meat filled cabbage rolls, stuffed dumplings, Pampushka bread to dip in a light garlic flavored oil and then big steaming bowls of delicious Borsch - soooooo good! 


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Sat, May 1st - 2:45AM

The Good Critic in Kiev

Sunday April 25, 2010

We left Medford airport and flew into Portland and from there on into Amsterdam.  Beautiful airport!  Very colorful, filled with shops displaying fresh flowers and bulbs, along with everything else.  We made the last leg of the journey into Kiev and arrived at 5:00 p.m. on:

Monday April 26, 2010

Took a cab from the airport to Lindsay's place and met her at the apt. we would call home for the duration of our visit.  We then went for a wonderful home-cooked meal at Lindsay's apt. which is only a couple blocks away.  Yes!  You heard right, Lindsay cooked!  And it was a delicious pasta meal!  After some visiting and catching up, we headed back to our place for SLEEP.


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May 2010
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