May 27, 2015 – Paris

Woke up at 2 in the morning and went to smoke (habit).  Ernie heard me and told me to come back to bed.  But, I couldn’t.  Had some coffee (by this point, the staff were used to me asking for extra coffee, creamer and sugar – I did it every day), sat around, went outside and talked to my mom at one point.  She told me a bunch of shit that was going on – same shit, same city, different day.  Then I went back and sat at the desk with a cup of coffee, contemplating writing in my journal when I actually fell asleep, head on desk.  I woke up at some point and said to myself “This won’t work”, so I finally made it back to bed.  By the time Ernie woke me, it was 7:00.  We had the Louvre to do today!  I hurried to get ready and off we went.

The Louvre is such a magnificent and confusing building at the same time.  I think I got some great pictures there.  I just wish the Mona Lisa had come out more vividly on my camera.  What are you going to do, when you can’t have any flash of any kind? (Something I got in trouble about at one of the other museums.  It was the AF Illuminator, not the flash.  Whatever.)

So, we quickly went through the museum, taking random pictures along the way.  Then we went to the cafeteria and got some pretty good food and they even had wine!  (I seriously have no idea how much wine we put away during this trip.)

After lunch, I wanted to go to the gift shop (one of many in that building), even though I wanted to originally stop at the one by the Mona Lisa.  (I did stop there, but Ernie told me to just wait.)  We headed to where it was pointing toward “boutiques”.  Bad idea.  They turned out to be different upscale stores that had nothing to do with the museum, that I could tell.  So, we had to go through security and ticket checking again.  I went to another gift shop and something he said or did just set me off and I was just in a pissy mood then.  We quickly, but quietly, started to argue.  I put the stuff back and we were going to leave.  But he said I would be mad if I didn’t get something.  So where did we end up?  At the fucking Mona Lisa shop.  All I kept thinking was “This is not how I want to spend my last full day in Paris.”  We bought trinkets and such and made the trek out of there and back to the hotel.  He bought me some ice cream as a nice gesture though.

We regrouped at the hotel, then we took the Metro to Notre Dame de Champs and took a walk through Le Jardin du Luxembourg.  From there, I had to find pain medication for my feet, which had two open blisters and swollen feet from walking.  Found a pharmacy and got some Advil (which ended up not really helping).

We headed through the Latin Quarter to see the Pantheon.  Little did we know the police or some group had it blocked off blocks away from all sides..  Ernie was disappointed (I was a little too) so we walked some more, not really talking.  When I brought up the catacombs (which he seemed interested in going to while we were home and he even brought it up at the hotel earlier), he refused to go there.  Fine.  Whatever.  This day is just fucking fantastic.

We found a place for drinks and dessert and had a quiet yet contentious talk about things.  We got through the talk and then went in search of dinner.  We found Le Petit Zinc, which was pretty good.  Actually, all the places that we stopped at were really good or above.  I tried different things, including the way dishes (plats) were prepared.  We were sat right away at all of these places, at outside tables (remember the whole smoking bit) and we could just people-watch and observe our surroundings.

We went back to the hotel for a while.  When I took off my shoes, I literally cried.  My feet hurt so bad.  It was just too much.  Ernie laid down while I repacked as much as I could so I didn’t have to do it in the morning.  I decided that I would wear my Choo’s, because I thought my feet wouldn’t be as swollen by then.

Ernie wanted to go to the bridge that came from the Invalides with these gilded statues at each corner.  I decided that, even though i was limping around, I would go with him.  It only seemed right to experience it with him.  Little did I realize, first, how far away it was and second, about the spectacular view of the Eiffel Tower lit up from that vantage point.  I was glad I went, even though I could have really used a Tuk-Tuk or even a wheelchair at that time.  We got pictures and went back to the hotel to finally sleep.

May 26, 2015 – Paris

So, I’ve been up since 3:45 am.  I got up for something, knew my alarm was going off at 4:00, so I said fuck it, I’ll stay up.  I sat down, made coffee and finished writing my last journal entry for yesterday.  By the time I finished, I thought, okay, I’ll go back to sleep.  The I saw that the clock said 4:45 and I had set my second alarm for 5;00, so there was no point.  Went outside a good bit since I had woken up, without waking up Ernie.  Got ready for the day and he finally got up and went down to breakfast with me.  Wasn’t too thrilled about it.  Oh, well.

Now, I’m waiting for him to shower and get ready.  I believe we are going to the Musée d’Orsay today; Louvre tomorrow.  I think that’s how it goes.  Possibly doing some shopping today – Louboutin, I’m coming for you.  I’m so tired but I just want to go and get moving.  Actually, I’m starting to feel homesick again.  When Ernie started talking about Paris months ago, it took me a bit, but I was getting pretty excited too.  It’s not living up to my expecations, maybe?  I don’t know.

(Did you ever notice that crumbled up potato chips are like food confetti?  Yep.  I’m that tired.)

I’m going to pause here, after that really weird thought and get my shit together to go out.


I’m back.  After breakfast, we went to Musée d’Orsay.  Quite cold this morning – so much so, my hands were numb from the cold.  We had a museum pass so we shouldn’t have had to wait in a queue, but we must not have gone to the right area.  Dunno.

As soon as we got in there, I forgot I was in Paris.  I was just so enthralled by the artwork there.  I’m thinking about making an additional Shutterfly book just on the pictures I took at all the museums.

Afterward, Ernie started hurting, so we decided to leave and get lunch at Les Deux Musées.  He, of course, got real food, while I decided to have ice cream.  Ah, the perks of being an adult and on vacation.  I also tried crème brûlée for the first time – wasn’t too bad.  Yes, wine was the beverage of choice.  Needless to say, I got a bit (well, maybe a little more than) tipsy at the restaurant.

We made a pit stop back at the hotel, for some reason.  Can’t remember why.  Shortly after, we took a walk through the Jardin des Tuileries. which was very pretty.  We walked to the rue Saint-Honoré, which I believe is the French version of Bond Street.  Very expensive.  But I was on a mission – Christian Louboutin!  So we waited (yes, we actually had to wait in a queue outside of the store) in the hot sun for quite a bit.  They only let in a few people at a time.  At one point, I was going to leave, but then the line moved again, so I decided to wait.  I had been thinking about this since Ernie had brought it up.  It had to be done.

My turn arrived and I just stared in awe at the collection.  Then, I was told there was an upstairs!  I was in love!  So I picked one out and the lady got my equivalent size.  Then, BAM!  Reality hit.  I couldn’t fit into the shoe (with my wider foot with a bunion)!  This wasn’t happening to me!  The sales lady was very helpful and found a rounded toe nude Mary Jane – still in love.  Nope.  Mind you, I’ve been doing a lot of walking and it was warm and my feet were swollen.  Finally, she let me try on a ballet flat that was a little larger in size for me.  Big nope.  The bunion stuck out and they would’ve slipped off when I walked.  These shoes weren’t made for me.  They were made for petite, skinny females.  Not people like me.  My dream was dashed.

However, there was still hope.  I found a pair of slip-ons for Ernie and convinced him to try them on.  The sales lady left and reemerged with no box in hand.  They didn’t have his size in stock.  Deeply disappointed (at least me), we left and went back to the hotel with Ernie trying to console me.

From a short stop at the hotel, Ernie said we were going to Le Bon Marché – France’s version of Harrod’s but more reasonable.  Ok.  I’m in.  More reasonable, my ass.  At least the ground floor – Hermès, Chanel, Prada, etc….more disappointment.  We continued on and found some clothing and shoes for both of us that were expensive but doable.  I was going to get a Stella McCartney long-sleeved shirt but then I spotted shoes.  Having learned my lesson earlier, I looked for something more fitting for me.  After searching Prada and Chanel and countless other big names,  I found Jimmy Choo.

I got Ernie from where he was sitting and tried to get is opinion.  After looking at another set of Mary Janes and other heels with pointed toes (a no-no for me apparently), Ernie found sparkly black slip-ons and thought they would work for me.  I said I’d think about it and off we went to look for him.  After much searching, he found a blazer that was not bad, price-wise.  He was also looking at a pair of navy slip-on suedes.  Both were something to consider.

So, we went about searching just men’s shoes.  I told him if he proposed any penny loafers or shoes with tassels, I would turn them down.  Then we found a pair of Prada slip-ons and they were perfect!  Mr. Sensible needed to think about it.  We decided to go to the Champagne Bar for a drink and think things over.  I was starting to like those Choo’s even more.  So, we got them.  Tight, but you know why.  We found out the store was open longer so we went to look at the blazer.  The biggest size would close on him, but they were going to open it up a bit and send it home.  Ernie decided not to chance it.  And the first pair of shoes that we saw fit but they were a bit long and narrow.  So he gave up on them and also decided not to go after the Prada.

We took the Metro back and started to look for dinner.  We did so much walking (at the end of the whole story, I’ll tell you how many miles we walked) because there was nothing I liked or it was all in French.  We finally came upon Restaurant La Frégate.  Not bad at all – unfortunately, I can’t recall what I ate there.  There was quite a bit of wine drinking in both cities, but more so in Paris.  When in…Paris…  Dinner was pretty late because we got to see the sunset while we were there and that doesn’t happen until after 9:00 pm.

That was our day in the biggest nutshell you can find.

May 25, 2015 – Paris

So, we started our day off at a market that I asked the concierge about to find a marker and a lock.  Being that today was a “free day”, their Pentecost, she wasn’t sure what was open.  Ernie and I walked down to the market to no avail.  Then I found a souvenir shop that had a marker (which i could “borrow for 2 minutes”) and locks.  I wanted the marker for two things – one, for the lock and two, for Jim Morrison’s grave.  That’s right.  Ernie agreed to go to Le Cimetière du Père-Lachaise!

However, first things first.  We borrowed the marker to write “Steph & Ernie” and “2015” on a lock engraved with “Paris” and a heart on it.  Then we crossed the bridge that we were on yesterday and locked it on somewhere around the middle. (There were quite a few other Stephanies on there too.)  I kept the keys as a memento to remind me of it.  (Only after we got back home did I see that Paris was taking down all of the locks from the different bridges for safety reasons.  We got it there just in time and I have pictures to prove it.)

Love Lock on the Passerelle de Solférino

Love Lock on the Passerelle de Solférino

From there, we traveled by metro to Père-Lachaise.  I saw a flower shop and since Ernie didn’t want me to desecrate a grave – which I had no marker to do so anyway – I bought a beautiful silk rose to place on his grave site.  We made a mistake though and walked up a hill in a park that we had no clue it had nothing (that I could tell) to do with the cemetery.

After getting out of there, we saw a sign pointing to the entry to Père-Lachaise.  The place is huge, with worn-down and moss-covered monuments and markers.  And each section was numbered in an odd way – at least to me, it was.  I got the idea of the arrondissements of Paris being numbered in a spiral pattern, but I couldn’t figure this one out.  After some well-intentioned but aimless walking, we finally came upon Jim Morrison’s grave.  And it was blocked off.  Dammit!  And they must have cleaned it up too because at the few moments I looked at and took pictures of it, I hardly saw any graffiti like I did in pictures years ago.  So I asked the man next to me (who happened to be American) “How the hell am I going to get this (the flower) over there?”  He laughed and said he didn’t know.  So I decided to launch it like a large dart.  It landed on the grave and rolled off next to it.  The guy said “Nice shot!”

Jim Morrison's Grave with my flower

Jim Morrison’s Grave with my flower

Then I went about, taking pictures quickly to get out of everyone’s way.  Only seemed fair.  Then, Ernie and I set off to go sit down for a minute.  As I sat there, I realized I didn’t get artistic mode shots, nor did I get rocks for Marci and me (bonus one for her).  So, I went back to the business at hand.  Did that, went back to Ernie and we were off.  Except for a quick bathroom stop – no paper of any kind in there…boo.  Off to manger!

We found a place – I believe it was called Restaurant Obododo – with seating outside.  This seems to be a big thing in Paris, seating outside of nearly every place that we saw.  A plus for me because I could smoke right there at the table (Thanks for putting up with that, Ern).  The food was great.  Unfortunately, we’re not well-versed in mLs when it comes to wine, so we each ordered what we thought were medium glasses of wine.  Nope.  We each had our own bottle!  Needless to say, we were both a bit tipsy after that.  Time to walk it off.

We headed over to Voltaire Circle (?), then Bastille, took pictures and kept going.

I found a store with some nice scarves in it and we went and checked it out.  I ended up with a sparkly coral one for about €15.  Brilliant.  Then we found a little toy boutique and got the girls some interesting puzzles.

Ernie wanted to visit Notre-Dame Cathedral so we took the Metro to get us their quickly. (My feet weren’t getting any better.)  Little did he or I know that our walk out after the ride would take us past L’Occitane en Provence.  I, naturally, had to stop and get something.

Unfortunately, at some point, the handle on the children’s bag broke, so I found a souvenir shop with small but useful totes.  Snatched one up, put everything from both stores in there and set off to Notre-Dame.

This place, from the outside, looks marvelous.  We took quite a few pictures from different sides of the building and the statue of St. John Paul II (my favorite pope, even though I’m not religious).  The queues were too long, like the Eiffel Tower, so we skipped the inside and went in search of bathrooms (damn you, large carafe of wine…).

After a quick respite on a bench, we took a walk back to our hotel to unload and regroup.  The reason we walked so far?  Ernie couldn’t find a nearby Metro.  While he was looking for on on his phone, I saw a bike with a basket of Pomeranians in it.  It was a must for me to have my picture taken with at least one of them.  So I did.  Cute little basket of lovely furriness.

Since he couldn’t find the Metro, we decided to walk by the Seine.  We followed that the majority of the way and went back up, with hopes of finding a stall for drinks (again, damn you, wine).  After what seemed like forever – Musée d’Orsay seemed like a mile long – we finally made it back to our room to figure out the next plan.  I ended up napping while looking at the Christian Louboutin website.  Got back up around 6:30 and hurried to get ready for some sightseeing and dinner.  I know we were in the 6th arrondissement but can’t remember the name of the town we were in.  Did a little walking and found a “tourist trap” restaurant and were seated right away.  We stayed for quite a while, eating and drinking and people-watching.  When we were done, I was ready to go back to the hotel.  After what took forever (again), we found our Metro station and headed back.

Ernie headed up to the room for a minute and I sat downstairs by the bar until he came back.  We did a shot of Jack and called it a night.  These days, so far, have been daunting with all the walking we’re doing.  At least for today, I really didn’t get homesick!  Bonus!

May 23, 2015 – London, Part II

Thankfully, we got an early enough start this morning, because of the fact that I seemed to be on my “normal” schedule now of getting up in the middle of the night.  Can’t remember if I mentioned this earlier or not, but I actually fell back asleep while trying to write again.  Oh, well.  I caught up.  Ernie woke me up so I just hopped out of bed and did my thing.

First stop of the day – Abbey Road!  And yes, I crossed it.  Multiple times.  I even wrote my initials and a peace sign on the wall outside of Abbey Road Studios.  I almost cried – I was in Rock ‘n’ Roll Heaven!  Ernie let me spend a little bit of time there and endured taking pictures of my many crossings to get it just right.

From there, we went in search of Baker Street for two reasons. One was to see 221b Baker Street (Sherlock Holmes).  Never found it but found the museum and I wasn’t interested in waiting in line at the time.  The second reason was to go to the Beatles Store, which ended up being just steps away from the museum.  And, of course, I bought a bunch of stuff for myself!  (Well, Ernie did, technically.)

Afterward, we went on to find the British Museum.  We didn’t see all of the exhibits but it was fascinating nonetheless.  Stopped at the gift shop for some stuff for the in-laws and Marci.  (By the way, Marci wanted a rock from each city.  I got one near Abbey Road that I thought I lost, but found it in my purse.)

After our quick walk-through, we hailed a cab to Harrod’s.  Yay!  We rode in a black cab!  Another thing off my list.  Anyway, being in there was as depressing as going to Bond Street.  It was Ernie’s turn this time, but I got a little myself.  We did end up dining in The Champagne Room (or Bar; can’t remember the exact name).  Ernie wanted or expected the food to be terrible.  We sipped away at our champagne until the food came.  Absolutely delicious!  He got some chicken dish and loved it.  I got a crab cake and I only wished I had gotten one or two more.  Superb.

We quickly left Harrod’s after lunch to avoid more disappointment but it was too early to call it a day.  I had to set foot in a McDonald’s – only to use the bathroom.  No American chain fast food for us!  We’re in a place to try new and hopefully extraordinary things, me especially since I’m so damn picky.

We looked at a map at one point and decided that we weren’t too far from Kensington Palace.  And Ernie was willing to go!  So we hailed another black cab (!) and set off for it.  The grounds around it were beautiful.  When we got closer, we realized we could go into part of the house, so we did an impromptu tour.  It was lovely, but man, did I wish to run into Duchess Kate!  Ha!  I, of course, did some shopping at the gift shop and we started to make our way back to the hotel.  As we were walking toward the next Tube stop, Ernie wanted to eat.  We ended up at this place – I think it was called Zizzi – and had dinner.  The food was pretty good there – dipping oils and bread, calamari – yum!  That was it after that, except for a stop in a chintzy little store for souvenirs.  We made our way back to the hotel and started packing for the next leg of our trip – Paris!

So (almost) packed and ready to go, I started to write about our day before my words became illegible and I fell asleep

4;00 am came around and it was time to get up and get going.  Did my usual – smoke, coffee, shower, more coffee, another smoke, etc.  My anxiety was starting to rise about going to Paris and I didn’t realize it right away to nip it in the bud.  We had our breakfast after Ernie got up and showered, finished packing and went for a stroll down to Westminster to kill some time.  We came back, grabbed our bags, checked out and we went off in another black cab for our next adventure…

May 23, 2015 – London

So I drifted off earlier and forgot what I was going to say.  Still can’t remember.  It’s almost 3 am here so I’m finally adapting to the time change.  Seriously, I get up at random hours of the night at home and stay up.  Never been diagnosed with insomnia or anything like that though.  Anyway, nothing like having a hot cup of instant coffee 2 hours before you planned to get up.  Par for the course.  So, let me see if I can jog my memory about yesterday some more. (I said that if I publish this later, that I would fix it, but I probably won’t.  Just a warning.)

Actually, I’m trying to remember two days ago.  More walking, more sightseeing and some pictures.  Going through those pics, I didn’t take a lot except for the Changing of the Guard.  Interesting and we can say that we saw it in real time.  But it kinda took a while.  Standing in one place is tiring (I don’t know how the hell they do that), so there were a couple of times I almost nodded off (yes, while standing) and became dizzy and thought I would take a header down the marble steps of the Queen Victoria Memorial.  Ernie kept a good grip on me though, so I made it out okay.  Afterward, we walked through St. James Park, which was quite beautiful.

I think we came back to the hotel for a short time and then we set off for Bond Street.  Now, I knew in my head that all of the designer places were going to be expensive, some even extremely so.  I didn’t really take any pictures there.  I was too enthralled with all of the names – Chanel, Dior, Van Cleef and Arpels, Prada….Christ, they have a four-floor Victoria’s Secret, with one floor being a lounge (I guess for the guys.  Dunno.)!  I saw some very beautiful things that I so wanted, including this fabulous purse at Chanel.  One of the employees informed me, very kindly, that it cost over £4,000 and I only hoped that my eyes did not betray my mouth at that moment.  We left there and went to Alexander McQueen. There was a small floral 3-D purse that was over £1400.  It had matching shoes too!  I was in shopper’s heaven and hell.

I stopped going into some stores because it was plain depressing.  But we did stop at Tiffany’s and Ernie bought me a pair of sunglasses.  Not sure if they were the exact kind I wanted years ago, but I love them and finally got a pair.  We stopped in Coach (more in our price range) and I found this pretty mini bag that I had wanted earlier, but as I perused the store some more, Ern in tow, I looked at others – each bag getting cheaper, but I convinced myself not to get one.  I think Ernie was in my head at the time as well.  Needless to say, it wasn’t a fabulous shopping trip (except for Tiffany’s), because I knew these shops would be expensive, but I got a rude awakening each time I went into a store.  There are still plans to go into Christian Louboutin in Paris, but we’ll see how that goes.  Not getting my hopes up again.

We stopped at this pub on a side street and I had some fish and chips and he had some kind of steak and ale pie.  It wasn’t bad and I got another thing checked off my list of places to experience – an English pub.  I don’t remember doing much after that – a little more walking and the Tube.  We came back to the room early, ordered room service and crashed.

As for yesterday, I already said that we went to Westminster Abbey.  Did some souvenir shopping at their store and off we went on foot to places unknown.  Took the Tube to a station closer to the Tower Bridge and crossed that twice.  We took a walk by the River Thames (where I made a joke about being back at home) and just kept walking and taking everything in.  Oh, yeah – before we went across the bridge, we stopped at the Tower of London shop and I bought a few trinkets.  While I was shopping, Ernie was sitting around waiting and got shat upon by a bird.  Quite amusing, at least to me.  Then, after we crossed the river a couple of times, we went back to walking aimlessly around the city.  Ernie wanted to go to Fleet Street but  he didn’t realize how far that actually was, so that never happened.

By now, everyone was on their way home from work and the pubs were crawling with people.  So much so, that they spilled out onto the sidewalks, where they just stood and drank.  It was just something I wasn’t really used to seeing.  It amazed me.  We were going to join in, but I was getting a bit cranky by then, so we headed back to the hotel to regroup.

We ended up having dinner at the Caxton again (which we did when we first arrived at the hotel).  I got dressed up, which was the wrong thing to do because my feet were swollen from the walking and I wedged them into platform heels.  The pain was astounding.  Anyway, we sat in the lounge area, instead of the bar, this time, which was really nice and sort of romantic because it was just quaint and dimly lit.  After days of prodding Ernie to do a shot, he relented and we had some Jameson’s.  Cheers!

Once we were done, I sent him off to get some Cokes, which was stupid, because he was buzzing and ended up down by the river.  (I wondered why it took him so long when there was a store right down the street.).  And that was about it for the last few days.  Will I keep up with the walking when I get back home?  Probably not.  But it’s not so bad doing it here since there is just so much to see.

Oh, I forgot to mention that I had mistaken the Houses of Parliament (aka The Palace of Westminster) for Westminster Abbey.  Ernie got a good laugh out of that one.

This place is just so crazy-busy but Ernie’s being a trooper, even though I think these people (any and/or all) are annoying to him.  I could be wrong.  I guess we both had our own great expectations on different things.

Well, since I fell asleep again a few hours ago when I picked up writing again, it’s time for me to go get ready.  I’m hoping the rain holds out, but with my luck, it’ll be a downpour through most of the day.  I have to get to Abbey Road, dammit!  I have to cross that street!  Although, after much thinking, I’m going to leave my shoes on like 3 of the Beatles did, have a smoke in one hand like Paul, wear a black coat like Ringo, wear jeans like George and have a pair of (sun)glasses on like John.  Here’s to hoping all goes well on my “big” photo shoot and that I don’t get run over…

Wait, forgot to mention the car crash we saw outside of Northall Restaurant (which was absolutely divine – and I never use that word).  All you heard was CRUNCH! and then the one driver jumped out, yelling god knows what.  The things you see, oh, the places you’ll go….

May 22, 2015 – London

(For some reason, I skipped writing on 5/21.  I think I was too tired.)

Okay, now that I got that out of my system…I got hit with hard news over Facebook that my brother had to put one of his beloved dogs down.  It was, quite simply, unsettling.  Losing your furry best friend is hard to do, especially when you’re the one making the decision to do so.  All of the postings from Jay and Kelly just broke my heart.  But what can I do 3,000+ miles away but offer some kind words and hope that they creep in a bit?  Losing dogs are tough, but seeing them suffer, no matter how much they “smile”, is even harder.  So I say, rest in peace, Bella, and go run around with J.R. and Bubba.

Across the pond, we had a wonderful day, besides the fact that I slept until 8:30 (unheard of for me).  I needed it, I guess.  I had the most thrilling experience in Westminster Abbey (even though I couldn’t take a fucking picture in there to save my life).  It was absolutely breathtaking and I only wished my mom could’ve been there to experience it as well.  So much history.  So many tombs.  So many thoughts and remembrances of watching the wedding of Kate and Will in the wee hours of the morning.

Even though I’m not a practicing Catholic (although raised as one), I decided to light a candle and write a prayer for my family that they would see better days ahead.  Don’t get me wrong – this trip, so far, has been an absolutely wonderful experience.  But my family – both sides – have been through some awful shit since the new year rang in.  To all of my family members, both gone and those not ready to move on – I’m grateful for all of you.

Back to the trip, I guess.  So, Westminster was phenomenal.  We did a lot of walking today including to and fro on the Tower Bridge (aka London Bridge).  Just realized earlier that my phone can count miles walked.  Have to do that tomorrow.  We had a superb lunch at Northall.  Fan-fucking-tastic.  After (or was it before?). we crossed back over…and now I forget what I was going to say.  Oh, piss it.