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Honeymoon Trip Report: Dec. 21 2009 - Dec 31 2009

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Jan 25th, 2010, 07:06 AM
  #21
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Thank you LoveItaly! We definitely are ones that can "go with the flow" and we always try to make the best of whats happening...even if it's not always convenient.

thank you for your well wishes and I will have our Paris information up by the end of this weekend! Hopefully pictures too!
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Jan 25th, 2010, 07:33 AM
  #22
 
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Keep on writing! Enjoying your report . . .
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Feb 5th, 2010, 09:38 AM
  #23
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Sorry for the wait, I will have Paris and pictures from the trip posted this weekend!
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Feb 5th, 2010, 10:27 AM
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Great report. Thanks for sharing and congrats on your new life together.

M.
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Feb 5th, 2010, 05:41 PM
  #25
 
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Stuart...Congrats to you and your lovely wife.

I had the pleasure of staying at the Empire Palace hotel too. And loved it. With that said.

I loved your trip report. Thank you so much for taking the time to put it here on fodors. May God bless you both on your new life together.

Mamaw
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Feb 6th, 2010, 05:58 PM
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Stuart and Michele...

Got Pix???

Stuart Tower, L.A.
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Feb 7th, 2010, 08:57 AM
  #27
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Finally got them linked up!

Pictures of Rome:
http://picasaweb.google.com/StuartSh...eat=directlink

Pictures of Florence:
http://picasaweb.google.com/StuartSh...eat=directlink

Pictures of Paris:
http://picasaweb.google.com/StuartSh...eat=directlink

I am in the process of typing up the Paris section of our report and I'll try to have that posted by tonight. Oh, and forgive me for some of the pictures..we got a little camera happy and there are plenty of pictures of us kissing (it was our honeymoon after all!) We also took advantage of the amazing scenery and made our own photoshoots.

Some of the pictures we took were action shots so if you scroll through them quickly it will seem like a movie (multiple frames per second setting).
ENJOY!!
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Feb 7th, 2010, 10:07 AM
  #28
 
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Congratulations! What gorgeous photos!!

It sounds like you had a wonderful time. That's the best way to travel - pack lightly, discover places on your own, lots of walking and go with the flow.

This reminds of our trips to Italy. We also went on our HM to Italy. You will have such amazing memories forever.
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Feb 7th, 2010, 11:53 AM
  #29
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So immediately after landing we get our bags (somehow they were some of the first bags that came out!) and met our driver Patrice. He had waited the 3 extra hours that we were delayed! After a 40 minute ride into town we got to our Hotel (Sofitel Paris Le Faubourg), which happened to be on the same street as the American Consulate. We checked in, cleaned up and immediately got out to see the city…we only had 1 ½ days there thanks to our delay so we couldn’t waste any time.

We walked out of our hotel and quickly realized just how close we were to the Champ de Elysses…about 1 block away! There was a huge carousel at the very end near where our hotel was and we were going to go up on it but the line was kind of long and we didn’t have enough Euro on us at the time. We turned around and decided instead of the carousel to walk down the Champ and go see the Arc de Triomphe. Along the way we window shopped and took in the city and the joy of an evening promenade.

We got to the Arc and had just enough Euro to get tickets and made our way to the top up the 284 stairs. There was no line for the Arc and it took us no time at all to get to the top. It was about 8 pm when we got to the top so the city was all lit up. It was absolutely GORGEOUS! We took some pictures of the view, the tower and the beautiful city and decided it was time to get some dinner…we hadn’t realized it had been about 9 hours since our last meal.

After getting to the bottom of the Arc we made our way back towards the Champ and quickly realized how over priced the restaurants were on the street. We found a side street that looked inviting and made our way to get some food. I can’t recall the name of this restaurant but it was my first and definitely not the last time ordering real French Onion Soup…though there it’s just called Onion Soup . We also shared some bread, had some drinks, and a chicken kabob and rice meal. After dinner we made our way back to the hotel to get to sleep so we could wake up early and see the rest of Paris the next day.

We woke up and enjoyed an AMAZING breakfast in our hotel’s restaurant. The baguettes with freshly pressed coffee got us on a good start to the day. We took off on foot to see the city, walking down towards the Notre Dam and the Muse De Orsay. We didn’t go into either but got great pictures of the Notre Dam from the park behind it. There were practically no people there and it gave us some great shots of the building.

After we walked over the Ile St. Louis and made our way towards the Louvre. We weren’t planning on going in, due to the fact that we had such a short amount of time there, and it didn’t help that the line was still about a mile long! Even at the end of December!! Fortunately it wasn’t really raining hard, just a slight drizzle that cleared up around noon. We passed by the Vedette de Pont Neuf boats and decided we should try to see if we could get new tickets to replace the ones we had lost (we accidentally left our tickets for a champagne cruise on the Seine in our hotel in Florence. It was a wedding present from some friends. We tried to get the hotel in Florence to fax it to our hotel in Paris but for some reason it never came through. We are a little suspicious of this for I had called the hotel in Florence and they said they sent it. The front desk in Paris said it never came through….). We spoke to one girl at the register and she couldn’t understand what I was saying so I tried talking to the man at the other register. I’m not sure if he understood me, but eventually he gave me a piece of paper that had a stamp that was valid for 2 tickets on a cruise that day. We thanked him profusely and went on our way.

My wife wanted to do some shopping so we made our way to the Marais district and the Jewish Quarter. While she shopped I took my time walking around and taking pictures as well as trying some of the local cuisine. The baguettes were so fresh and cost only 1 Euro!! We loved the fact that you never had to worry what you were going to do for food…the European version of fast food is so much better than ours!! As you can see from the photos I got plenty of good pictures while Michele shopped. Everything about the city is so amazing it’s hard not to find something good to take a picture of. The city is very photogenic.

After Michele was done shopping we walked to Montmarte and made our way up to the Sacre Cour, passing all of the knock off stores that reminded me of Canal Street in NY. Such great views of the city at the top, but it was so packed up there with locals and tourists that it was almost too much for our senses. We had gotten used to very little crowds that we were almost uncomfortable. There were some street performers putting on a good show so we took that in for a little while. The street vendors got to be a little too much though. They were very pushy with their products and kept on egging us on to buy something even when we said no. I don’t quite understand the strings that were being sold an their significance. We saw those vendors in each city.

After we made our way down we made our way towards the Moulin Rouge. The street it is on is loaded with souvenir shops and sex shops and we had to take the opportunity to get some funny pictures. We got some great photos of the Moulin Rouge entrance, got some coffee and decided if we wanted to get to the Eiffel Tower before sunset we had to take the Metro.

We hadn’t taken the Metro yet so we needed to get some tickets and I wound up buying 2 books of 10 at the kiosk in the station. The Metro is AMAZING! Coming from a city that, even though is very large has limited and poor public transportation, we were just astonished at how well timed and well planned the Metro is. It was very easy to figure out the lines and once you get that sorted out it’s really an easy means of getting around the city. The only reason we hadn’t taken it yet was so that we could enjoy the city by foot and not miss out on anything.

Once you are in the Metro it’s very easy to switch lines and get to any part of the city you need to. We had to transfer once in order to get on the line to take us to the Tower, but once we got there it was quite the site! We had to walk around to the front to where the park is and wouldn’t you know it, they had all the grass fenced off! We had a photo shoot of sorts in front of the tower and got in some great shots before the sun set. It started to rain towards the end of our photo session so we wrapped it up and made our way back to our hotel to change and get ready to go out for dinner on our last night in Paris.

After we changed we had some wine and we got a nice buzz going before dinner. We go to the Metro station and it was packed with everyone trying to get home after work, so we decided it might just be best to walk to the restaurant. Michele and I were feeling a little too buzzed so we felt that in order to not get sick it might be a good idea to grab a baguette on the way to dinner…it really helped us feel better!

Some friends of ours have relatives in Paris and they had recommended we eat at their friend’s restaurant L’epouvantaile. This was a very small restaurant that could seat at most 40 people and they change the menu daily, depending on what the chef picks up that day at the market. There were about 20 other people there and it felt really cramped but it was sooo worth it. The food was OUTSTANDING!!! I had a glass of wine while Michele sipped on a fruit drink with liquor that our server made for her. It didn’t have a name, it was just a bunch of fruit blended with rum.

For dinner we each had a cucumber soup and Michele had a shrimp meal while I had meat and mashed potatoes. It was our best meal in Paris and I’m unsure if it will ever be topped by any other in our future. I highly recommend this restaurant. There are pictures of the menu in my album that I attached. It is written on a chalkboard and they bring it to you when you are ready to order. A really nice set up and definitely something you won’t find here in the US.

After dinner we headed towards the Vedette de Pont Neuf boats and we boarded the last boat for the day. We enjoyed an hour long boat tour of the Seine with a guide telling us more detail about all the places we had walked by throughout the day. We had started out the ride on the top of the boat but about halfway through it was too cold to handle and we went underneath. There weren’t a lot of people on board so there were plenty of seats to choose from. Again, something that I doubt would be the case if it were spring or summer. We know we missed out on our champagne tour, but we still had a good time nonetheless. It was just another story to add to our travels! After the boat ride we went back to the hotel to pack up and get ready to go home.

The next morning we woke up, had another delicious breakfast in our hotel and made our way, taking the Metro, to the Galeries Lafayette and the Pretemps malls. Michele did some shopping while I wandered around and eventually took a seat and waited for her to be done. We stayed in that area for about 2 hours and even though I didn’t get anything, Michele got some good deals on some stylish clothes. These malls are a must for all shoppers. There is so much to choose from and they are decorated so ornately that you must go even just to see them and experience the energy.

Our time was running short so we decided to end our shopping and take the Metro back to our hotel. It started to rain pretty hard so we quickly got to the station and hopped on the train. We got back to the hotel just in time to grab our bags and get downstairs for our waiting taxi. For the 40 minute or so ride back we reminisced on our honeymoon and what we would miss the most and what we want to see first when we come back. Security at the airport was normal, but due to the attempted Christmas day attack in Detroit, there was extra security on all flights going to the US. We had to get patted down and our bags searched again when we went to board. On top of that they wouldn’t let anyone switch seats; even the two children sitting behind us who wanted to switch their aisle and window seats. And again, when we got back to the US they checked our passports as we got off the plane. Customs was really empty due to the fact that it was New Years Eve, but they were still as strict as ever and we had to go through security a 3rd time before we could get to baggage claim. But, we were finally home!

So this was the end of our amazing 10 day honeymoon. We know for sure that Paris will be a city we return to most often. There is so much more to do and to see that we plan on returning within the next 3 years. Florence we will visit again and Rome too but those will be a while from now. There are so many places in the world that we want to see. After this trip my wife and I reevaluated our priorities and instead of fixing up our house to sell and move to a bigger one, we have decided to still fix up the house but instead of moving, we plan to travel more. This was an eye-opening experience. We realized that the lifestyle in Europe is very different from ours as Americans. There the people work to save their money for travel and to experience the world, while here we work to save our money and purchase material items. For my wife and I, we value more the experiences gained in life than those material items.

I hope that everyone enjoyed my trip report. This was my first and I apologize for the spacing issues before. I know this was quite lengthy so thank you for reading the whole thing! If anyone has any questions please don’t hesitate to ask me! Thanks again for reading and commenting! I can’t wait to write about our next trip!
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Feb 7th, 2010, 12:29 PM
  #30
 
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What a great finale to a wonderful report. It's interesting that your wonderful trip together has also helped you reevaluate how you want to move forward in your new life together. Best wishes to you both.
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Feb 7th, 2010, 06:31 PM
  #31
 
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Stuart and Micehel...your enthusiasm is infectious..happy all went well and fun was had by you two....pics are storytellers in themselves. Thank you both . I use Picasa also..I'm now scanning all of my pre-digital pics going back 40-50 years and more...
It's never to early to plan your next trip...you'll find the same eager help here as always.

Stu Tower
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Feb 7th, 2010, 06:59 PM
  #32
 
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Great photos. I did as you recommended and some of your pics were indeed like looking at a flip book. Very entertaining.

Thanks for posting your experiences here. I love Rome and Paris, and really like Florence, so it's always fun to read about someone's first visit.

Congrats--and many happy travels to you both!
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Feb 7th, 2010, 08:01 PM
  #33
 
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What a pleasure to read about your honeymoon trip! Your enthusiasm for the trip and the fun you had together is easy to see in the way you wrote up the trip.

Congratulations on your marriage and your first trip report. You are well on your way to becoming a very helpful Fodorite.

Your photos are really fun. Ah, young love!! ain't it grand?
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Feb 8th, 2010, 03:58 PM
  #34
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thank you very much everyone! I read a great article today on MSNBC about how what you experience on your vacation can impact how you come away from that trip - http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35261984/ns/travel-tips/

It's all in how you look at each experience that wasn't planned or forseen. I had to share this article because I learned so much from reading the forums on here and I want to give back. No matter what happens on your trip, good or bad, always look at the bright side or take those lemons life gives you and turn them into Limoncello. Just look at every odd experience as just another "crazy" thing that you experienced on your trip and no one else, no matter how well you explain it to them, can come close to the feeling of being there where you were.

So with that being said, thank you everyone for commenting on my trip report. I'm looking forward to our next vacation so that I can scour this site for tips and learning from everyone else's experiences.
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