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Europe, France, Museums, Travel

Paris With A View

June 15, 2015
Paris with a View

Paris with a View

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We all know the famous landmarks of Paris, the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre and the list goes on. Other than the Eiffel Tower, most people don’t realize that there are amazing views from many places in Paris. I am deathly afraid of heights, so please appreciate the fact that I have gone up most of the ones I am going to mention! Above is a view from the Eiffel Tower. Not from the top-level, as that was never going to happen. My tour guide actually mentioned that the views are better from the second level. This is where this photo was taken from. I had to get pretty close to the edge to take a photo between the metal fence. Here is another from the Eiffel Tower.

Paris with a ViewThe next place is Montmartre, which if I had thought about it, would have told me it was a hill. We had gone up there to see the Sacre-Coeur Basilica. Montmartre is in the northern part of Paris so it is like you are looking down on Paris. It is also the highest hill in Paris, thus giving it great views! You can see Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower from here.

Paris with a View

Paris with a View

Not only is the Arc de Triomphe an amazing landmark that leads to the Champs-Élysées, but it is also a place with a view. I had no idea that you could go up inside the monument or that you could walk around the terrace. Unfortunately, I did not do this. There are quite a number of steps to climb to the top and I also had my heart set on walking down the Champs-Élysées, my feet were not going to do both. I looked at some images online and I may have to head back and beg to take the elevator! The view is spectacular and gives you a 360-degree look of Paris.

Paris with a View

Even museums have a view! Yesterday, I visited the Musée d’Orsay and discovered that they also have a terrace! Not only that you can see the Louvre and the Seine River from the terrace. There are also some amazing statues carved into the building that you can get up close to by being out there. You can also get a cold drink or an ice cream out there!

Paris with a View

Sometimes to get a great view of Paris, all you need to do is to look out the window! Yesterday, I moved from a hotel to an apartment and the rooftop view is quite lovely and is probably a more authentic view of Paris. I could see into the neighbor’s apartments and hear their dinner conversations. (Not that I understand any of it!) Last night, I looked out and saw two cats sitting on the terrace next door. Day-to-day life in Paris with a view!

Paris with a View

Have you discovered unexpected views? Share with us in the comments!

Bahrain, Middle East, Museums, Travel

Exploring the Bahrain National Museum

May 11, 2015

In my quest to visit more of the Middle East this year, I decided to go to Bahrain over the weekend. It is a very short flight. The airline website says it is 55 minutes, but the flight back was about 20 minutes. I wasn’t keeping track on the flight over as I fell asleep! A friend of mine who is also interested in exploring the Middle East came with me.

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We had both been told about the Bahrain National Museum and how amazing it is. We were not disappointed. This isn’t to say it is the best museum in the world, but when you live in a country with few museums and almost no local artifacts on display, this was a treat. The Bahrain National Museum was opened in 1988. It is a mix of history, archaeology and modern art.

The first thing I noticed when I walked in was the giant aerial photograph of Bahrain that was on the ground of the main floor.  It was very cool to see the scale of Bahrain. My friend and I walked around trying to find our hotel, but we think it was underneath a model display. The first floor had two temporary exhibits. One was on folktales and the other movie costumes from a specific designer. I don’t know who the designer was as I missed the label and the museum doesn’t have a good website. The permanent exhibit spaces on the first floor contained artifacts of the Dilmun civilization, which encompassed Bahrain and other Middle Eastern countries. Many of the artifacts were very old, but in very good shape. There were seals, pottery, coins, scrolls, documents and metalwork on display. Upstairs there was a life-size Souq with dioramas. While dioramas are no longer the norm in museums, they were great even if some of the mannequins needed a facelift. Look in the photo gallery for the poorly taxidermied cat! I think the dioramas worked because you walked through them instead of them being faced out behind glass.  It felt very real. There were two other galleries that were being renovated that looked intriguing. I will have to pay a visit the next time I go to see what becomes of them.

Outside is sculpture garden. It starts on the entry side and goes around the back of the museum to the water side. Some of them were huge. I am not usually a fan of sculpture but these were very beautiful and done in a modern style and seem to tell a story. Unfortunately, it was too hot to stand outside looking at them for too long.

Interesting story, my friend and I walked in the entrance and we were already hot from the 50 yards or so we had to walk from the cab. We commented on how hot it was to the guards at the ticket desk. When we asked how much, they said nothing because it’s hot. We were like okay, sounds good to us! Unfortunately, when we were leaving they were charging a family 1 dinar each for adults! We aren’t really sure why they let us in for free and I am not sure I want to know. However, if you get to Bahrain, make the museum your first stop!

Next post, Bahrain food and nightlife! Have you been to Bahrain? What was your favorite spot?

Europe, Museums, Rome, Travel

Christmas in Roma! – Rome Part 2

April 21, 2014

Christmas time in Italy is all about family (or so I am told!), so I was counting on less crowded streets and museums.  Not so!  The streets were less crowded but the Vatican Museum was full.  I had bought my ticket in advance, which I highly recommend unless you love waiting in long lines.  My ticket included a guided tour, which was the best idea I had.  I would have been lost and not really sure of what I was looking at.  Of course, it meant I didn’t see everything, but that would take days.  The guide was very knowledgeable about both art and the history of the Vatican.  There was so much to look at!  The guide kept pointing out things on the ceilings and the walls.  There were amazing tapestries and sculpture.  One thing that was rarely mentioned was the floors almost all the floors were tiled with elaborate patterns of small tiles.  Most of these were in excellent condition considering how many people have walked on them over the hundreds of years and even more so now that thousands of tourists come every day.  Here a just a few pictures from the Vatican Museums.  (No pictures of the Sistine Chapel as it is not allowed.)

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Christmas Day!  The only thing I wanted to do was to hear the Pope give the blessing on Christmas Day.  Not knowing how many people would have the same idea, I got there about two and half hours before the blessing was scheduled.  I was there in plenty of time and it wasn’t busy in St. Peter’s Square when I arrived.  I was able to take pictures in front of the Christmas tree and the huge Nativity scene.  I made my way to the front of the square (which is actually a circle) to the fenced area.  I now had about two hours of standing to do, or so I thought.  In front of the fenced area, there were rows of chairs.  I had seen events before and Cardinals or dignitaries would sit in these seats.  About 1o minutes after I got up there, they opened that area up to the public!  Not only was I closer to the action, but I also got to sit.  It was like a party up there.  People were singing and chanting.  The best was all the flags people had brought from their home countries.  Because of all this, I totally forgot I was spending Christmas alone in a foreign country.  After a while, music started to play and the Swiss Guard marched in playing music and then some Italian military marched in from the other side.  There was some kind of ceremony between the two. The Pope came out right at 12 and greeted everyone in Italian with Buon Natale.  I didn’t understand much of what was being said, but it didn’t matter.  It was an experience I will never forget.

Want to download this article with a walking tour? Check it out on GPSmyCity.

Belgium, Europe, Museums, Travel

Exploring Brussels, Part 2

December 9, 2013

Since I had a short time to sightsee in Brussels, I decided to use TripAdvisor for suggestions for things to see.  I have to admit, I never thought I would be going to Brussels.  It has never been on my travel to list.  I had no idea what to do and as I mentioned in my previous post, people said it was boring!  TripAdvisor had a list of things to do if you had three days in Brussels.  I didn’t have that many and the first couple of things I looked into didn’t fit with the conference schedule.

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The buzz on TripAdvisor was about this amazing museum that you just had to see. This was the Horta Museum.  I knew nothing about Horta or why there was a museum, but after reading the reviews and looking at the website, I knew I had to go.  The only day I could go was Sunday after the conference because they are not open on Mondays and open at 2pm and close at 5:30!  I was warned to go early as there is a line and they only let so many people in at a time.  If you don’t make it in by 5:30 then you are out of luck.  Never heard of a museum with such short hours that could afford to stay open.  I managed to get there around 1:40 and yes there were already three people waiting!  As i waited the line got longer.

I don’t even have the words to describe the museum, but it was beyond amazing.  Plus it is actually a house.  It is the house built by Victor Horta, as his house and studio.  I knew nothing about him and didn’t know what the museum contained.  This was one of the best ways to experience a house museum.  You have no expectations as to the contents.  The house was built during the height of Art Nouveau.  Every last detail of the house reflected this down to the radiator in the front hall and the details are exquisite.  You aren’t allowed to take pictures inside the house and I am not sure it would do it justice online.  I was so intrigued about the house, I plan on learning about the actual construction and interior design in more detail.  I need to know how you build a house with a stain glass roof!  Here are two pictures I took of the outside and you can see the line.



The people of Brussels was one of the other great things I experience.  Everyone was very friendly and the minute I spoke English they smiled and spoke excellent English.  I did try to greet them and thank them in French though.  One person even saw me looking at a map and spent several minutes giving me detailed directions to the Horta Museum after I had gotten off the tram.  I guess I look pretty friendly as well, because several people asked me for directions and some spoke to me in French.  That baffled me because I feel like I look very American and that I looked out-of-place.  One restaurant even brought me an English menu once they realized I could barely read the French one.  The people of Brussels made the trip less stressful and I was able to enjoy my time.  Thank you Brussels.

I had promised to talk about my hotel, but considering all the positives I just mentioned, I won’t talk about the negatives.  Let’s just say if you want the story, email me.  I can tell you where not to stay!