Thursday, 26 February 2009

Paris, France!

Before you start this, go put on a pot of tea, and get settled in, because this is going to be a long entry! We covered a lot of Parisian ground in a mere 2 days!

We basically hit the ground running when we landed in Paris on Tuesday. It was a little after lunchtime by the time we got checked into our hotel and upon the receptionist suggestion, we headed over to a restaurant called La Petit Uachon. I quickly realized as we sat in this quaint French cafe that it has been 8 years since I took any French lessons, and upon realizing that, I remembered that when I sat in Mrs. Young's French 1 and French 2 classes, Amber Simpson was in there with me and we did a lot more goofing off than we did paying attention on how to conjugate words and make sentences. Not a good feeling. I could manage to decipher random words, so I could pick out what we were eating at least. I had escargot (snails) and Christopher had some type of delicious fish dish. We had no idea what it was, but it was absolutely delectable.

Looking at the map:

Speaking of food, the bread and pastries in Paris were amazing. The "french baguette's" you get in the grocery store in the states have nothing on real baguette's. It was the best bread I've ever put in my mouth. Perfectly chewy and crusty and an absolute staple in French diet. People would literally walk around holding a baguette in their hands on the street. And the croissants? The flakiest, most buttery, melt in your mouth pastry. Delightful!

We spent Tuesday walking around the streets of Paris. We ended up walking about 15 miles, I'd say. We've learned that by walking around, you get to see so much more of a place than if you just take cabs or buses everywhere. We walked along the Seine River, munched on fresh crepes from a street vendor and made our way to the Eiffel Tower.

Both of us, honestly, were not expecting the Eiffel Tower to be very impressive. We knew it would be kind of cool, but nothing fantastic...boy were we wrong! It is absolutely MASSIVE! It almost makes you dizzy to look straight up at it! We were going to ride the elevator to the top, but the line was so long, so we decided we'd do the stairs. I'm pretty sure weeks of training need to be had before managing the stairs at a decent pace. By about the 175th step, we both were exhausted and out of breath, but we pressed on and made it up 328 steps all total! And that only brought us to the 1st level. We rested at that level for a bit, taking in the breathtaking sights of the city, then we took the elevator the next level, which still didnt bring us to the top. We spent the sunset up on the 2nd level of the Eiffel Tower and it was, cheesy as it sounds, incredibly romantic! The line to go to the very top wrapped around the 2nd level twice, and it was getting colder and colder, so we headed back down (luckily on the elevator) and headed back to our hotel.

Kisses at Sunset atop the Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower all lit up!

Being only a couple of minutes from the Louvre and having an obvious language barrier, we had our taxi drop us off at the Louvre instead of our hotel and got to lay eyes on the most amazing art museum in the world! Pulling up to the Louvre is a dramatic experience. The building itself was erected in th 12th Century by Phillip II as a fortress. After many additions to the building, the actual Museum opened 10 August 1793 and housed royal and church property. Napoleon managed, through military campaigns, to acquire many works of art, that, after the French were defeated, many had to be returned to their original owners.

The largest pyramid:

The metal and glass pyramid's that stand outside the building were complete in 1988, and they're an amazing site to see! After spending close to an hour just walking the grounds of the museum, we stopped into a cafe near our hotel and got some food to take back for dinner. I got a Croques Monsieur (a fancy ham and cheese sandwich) and Christopher got a baguette sandwich. We got dessert from a Patisserie, 2 lemon tarts that were exquisite!

The next day, on my 24th Birthday, we had croissant's and crepe's for breakfast and then headed to the Louvre. The Louvre we know today is home to 380,000 objects and displays 35,000 works of art in 652,000 sq feet. Which, if you can imagine, makes it extremely huge and it is impossible to see everything in one day. I would venture to guess that its impossible to see everything in a month! We didnt leave the ground floor in 4 hours and I know we didnt come close to seeing everything on that floor!

It was amazing to be surrounded by some of the world's best art! To see things in person, to be in the presence of the works of the great master's, was indescribable! Christopher and I both had goosebumps the entire time!

La Grande Odalisque by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres 1814:

And I think what's taking place as my new favorite painting, The Virgin of the Rocks:

And of course, the Mona Lisa, herself:

Besides seeing some of the most beautiful paintings in the world, we also got to see Statues like:

Venus de Milo:

The Winged Victory of Samothrace:

and Eros and Psyche:

And also lots of Egyptian, Mesopotamian, and Iranian arts and artifacts. Among them, the mummy of a man, lots of sphynx's & sarcophogi.

And me, standing at the inverse pyramid inside the Louvre on my 24th Birthday!

That night, after a quick cat nap to rest up, we got all dolled up and headed to Montmarte, the city on the hill above Paris that was home to the Bohemian revolution at the turn of the 20th century. Its a place where artists lived and worked and among said artists, Van Gogh, one of my favorites, made his home here for some time. We walked around the streets and quickly realized after counting up all the, shall we say, adult stores, that we were in the red light district of Paris and made a note not to stick around too long after dark.

We had reservations at none other than the Moulin Rouge, for dinner and a show. The Moulin Rouge is one of the most famous Cabaret's, and is where the French Can Can originated! Those of you who know me well, know that the Moulin Rouge movie starring Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman is one of my all time favorite movies, so this was something I was really looking foward to!

Some of the paintings at the entry way:

We ended up at a long table with 6 other people at it and 4 of those people were from England, so we got to talk to them through the whole show, so that was nice. The show itself was really awesome. I'm not really sure what I was expecting out of a cabaret, having never been to one, but it was bright lights, high energy, great music and costumes, and as Christopher said, Tattie overload! It was relatively tasteful, as tasteful as a French Cabaret can be anyway, and it was really fun. They ended with the Can-Can in the full, ruffled skirts and everything, so that was really neat to see.

After that, we took some pictures outside in front of the infamous windmill that was all lit up and then headed back to our hotel.

We left early the next morning and were sad to go, but excited to head back in the next few months to see more. The good thing about going for such a short time, was that we still have lots to see, like the Arc du Triumph, Notre Dame, and we even passed by a Church claiming to have artifacts from the Passion of the Christ, which we really want to go back and see. So, we'll have plenty to do next time. And poor Christopher, after spending my 24th birthday in Paris, he says he has no idea how to top it for next year's 25th birthday! I do have to say, it was one of the best birthday's ever!

Links to Pictures:
Walking along the streets of Paris:

Eiffel Tower:

The Louvre itself:

Paintings of the Louvre:

Sculptures of the Louvre:

Artifacts of the Louvre:

Monday, 23 February 2009

Off to Paris!

Tomorrow we are heading off to Paris!!! So, we'll be gone for a couple of days, but be prepared for a huuuuge update and tons of pictures when we get back!!!

The puppy finally has a name, its Angus, but we call him Gus Gus, like the little fat mouse on Cinderella. It totally fits him. We tried lots of names, we thought we were going to go with Rascal for a bit, then Max, but we've finally settled on Gus Gus. And he's answering to it already, so that's good. We dropped him off at his breeders house today and they're going to watch him for us while we're gone.

Oh and 2 days til MY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!! YAY!!!! We got our birthday packages from Mom today (Christopher's birthday is in 10 days), and among all our presents and cards was a card from Josie and Denny and Mom even inked their feet and put their little foot prints in it... it was really sad and we both cried, but we love it!

Sunday, 22 February 2009

A sad night....

Tonight, as I was getting ready to go to bed, I got some devastating news. A friend of mine, Jamie Cambell, passed away on Wednesday from Meningitis. They caught it too late. She was only 20 years old. I'm still trying to recover from the shock of it.

I met Jamie one night while hanging out with the "Theatre Kids". It was the end of Jesus Christ Superstar and the night before Easter. Oddly enough, Jamie and I had both given up Coke for Lent and that was the year they introduced Diet Coke with Lime and we were both itching to try it! She asked me for a ride home since we both lived in the same neighborhood, and we stopped at a gas station on the way home to grab a Diet Coke with Lime that we'd been craving for all of Lent, and at Midnight that night, over the phone, we popped the top and drank our coke's together. It's a silly meeting, but I remember it all the same.

We hadnt really talked much in the past few years, life seemed to get in the way and our paths just werent crossing that much, but I did happen to see her twice while I was home for Christmas a couple of months ago and I'm so grateful for that.

I know people always do this when someone dies unexpectedly, so it's a bit cliche, but I'm going to do it anyway... I want to take the time to reach out to you, whoever is reading this blog and say you mean something to me. I dont know who all is reading, but thank you for your friendship and love and support. My life is richly blessed with family and friends, and I want each and every person in my life to know that I love them. I want to shout out to each and everyone of you, I want to throw my arms around you all and tell you I love you, so open your arms and here's a virtual hug all the way from England! Know that you are thought about often and my life wouldnt be the same without you!

and Jamie, Viva La Vie Boheme!

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Another Doggy Update!

Well, yesterday we went to the Wood Green Animal shelter to see if we could find a dog. We looked at all their animals, found one or two possibilities and went inside to fill out a form and talk to them.

When asked on the form where the puppy would be at night, I answered in a crate. Apparently they dont agree with crate training at all and the girl that was helping us shut us down pretty quickly, thanked us for our interest, and moved on to the next people in line. She told us that instead of putting a puppy in a crate at night, that it should be allowed to run free. Okay, now I understand that a dog should not be left in a crate for hours and hours at a time, but for the dog's safety, a crate is best. What if there's a fire? If a dog is in a crate, you or a fireman if you're not home, can get to it no problem. If you let a dog run loose at night or while you're gone, if there's a fire, its going to hide and the odds of it being able to be rescued are much slimmer. Plus, at night, as inquisitive and nosey as puppies are, what if it gets into something it shouldnt and gets hurt?

Needless to say, the shelter thing didnt go so well. But alas, we kept up our search and today we went to meet a lady who breeds Cairn Terriers. One look at the little boy she had for sale and I knew we were in trouble. She set him down on my lap and he looked up at me, kissed me and snuggled in for a nap.

So, as I type this, I have a snoozing baby boy Cairn laying next to me! He was born on 6 December 08 and so he's almost 11 weeks old! He is full of spunk and tenacity and he is every bit a terrier! We still dont have a name for him yet, but everyone, meet the newest addition to the Koenig family:


Monday, 16 February 2009

Doggy Update

Well, after 3 days of searching, talking to 4 or 5 different breeders and conferring with Mom Wofford, we've decided to hold off on the search for an Affenpinscher. We love those little dogs and think they're so cute, but I got a really bad taste in my mouth from the 2 biggest prospects we found and there's just not that many out here. So, what we're going to do is go to an animal shelter and rescue a dog. Its something I've never done before, and I think it would be a good experience.

Wish us luck! We'll keep everyone updated!

Saturday, 14 February 2009

A dog!

Well, last night (13 February) was not a good night in the house. I guess being a Friday night, there were some guys who had a bit too much fun at the Oliver Cromwell pub which is at the end of our street. They were walking around the street being loud and obnoxious and knocked on our windows a couple of times and even knocked on my door once! Of course, Christopher wasnt home, and I was freaking out, but they eventually stopped, thank goodness. There were a few other creaks and groans that got the hair on the back of my neck standing up, but Christopher got to come home from work about 1am to check on me before he had to go back and finish the night out, so that was good. I felt like a whimp, but he pointed out that I'm still getting comfortable in a new place, albeit a new country even, and that not every night is going to be perfect.

But, we decided that for Christopher's peace of mind at work and my sanity in a creaky old house at night, we're going to get a dog! We miss Josie and Denny terribley and dont know if we'll be able to bring them both over here. To get them here, it would require a 6 month home quarantine, which Mom has offered to take care of, but the big problem is on the flight over, they have to be in a kennel in the underbelly of the plane, instead of in the cabin. Which really worries us both...they dont call the belly of the plane the "puppy snuffer" for nothing.

So, in the meantime, I spent most of last night and quite a bit of this morning researching breeds online since we kind of wanted something different. After much consideration, we've decided on one of these guys:

An Affenpinscher

Here's some info:

Pronounced 'Affen - pincher' meaning Monkey Dog, this breed has the face and expression of mischievous little black monkeys. The dark, sparkling eyes and prominent chin are framed by a beard, moustache and topknot of tousled black hair. The coat on the rest of the body is shorter and rough in texture needing little care except for brushing.

The Affenpinscher ear carriage can be either erect or dropped and the tail is left a natural length and carried in a gentle curve up over the back when on the move. The breed abroad has both ears and tail cut off though attitudes are changing and Affenpinschers 'au naturel' are appearing in America and Europe.

These dogs are as active and playful as the name implies. They are easily taught and are happy to take as much or as little exercise as you are prepared to give them. Affenpinschers are hardy and large enough to tackle country walks with enthusiasm, yet small enough to be tucked under one arm if necessary. They are full of curiosity and their own self-importance, are slow to make friends with strangers and make good watchdogs.

The Affenpinscher is one of the sturdier of the small breeds, weighing about nine pounds and being up to eleven inches in height. Like most toy breeds they are not suitable companions for very small children who can be unintentionally rough with them. Otherwise they are great comics, loyal and loving to their owners whose every move is watched with jealous attention. The breed originated in Germany and was introduced into Britain in 1975.


We've found some breeders online and I've contacted them, so hopefully we'll hear something soon and we'll have a new dog!!! Wish us luck!

Oh, and Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, 13 February 2009

Some pictures!

Since I havent posted pictures in a while, here are some to catch everyone up!

In this album there are pictures of all the snow, Oxford, and some of our new furniture!

We found this antique ladies writing desk in this antique shop in St. Ives and we'd gone back a couple of times to see it and today we went in to take another look and we ended up lucking out and finding a sofa, which I thought was from the 20's, but I'm not sure how old the sofa is, along with our desk!!! So, we really lucked out and got some really pretty pieces for the house.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Finally, an update

So, finally after what feels like forever, we have an internet connection!

We are getting settled in and starting our life here and we love it! If anyone's been watching the news, England has been hit with record snow fall as of late, so we've been holed up in our cozy little home trying to stay warm! It has been beautiful though, I've seen some of the largest snow flakes of my life in the past week. Now, we just have to worry about flooding as all that snow melts!

Travel Updates:
We've been back to Cambridge a couple of times and really love it!

We ventured over to Oxford today and were a little disappointed. We were expecting a place with an ivy league feel, a place to really dig in and soak up some history and all we managed to soak up was the dirt and grime of an unkempt city.

Lewis Carroll wrote "Alice in Wonderland" here and all we could find on him was a touristy gift shop filled with overpriced Alice-goods. JRR Tolkein lived here and walked the grounds of Oxford with Lewis Carroll...didnt see anything about him either. And the saddest part of all, the Oxford Castle, our first taste of an old English Castle, has been transformed into a tourist trap, complete with a *gasp* Krispy Kreme donut. So, we were a bit disappointed.

We saw Christ Church, which was beautiful, but cost 12 pounds to get into and you could only see 3 rooms, one of which was closed, so we didnt do that.

Needless to say, we were quite disappointed. We're not sure where we're going to visit next in England, but we're heading to Paris to celebrate our birthdays at the end of this month!!! We are both so excited!

Love to all, and pictures to come soon, I promise!

Sunday, 1 February 2009

House pictures!

I'm sorry I cant just upload them onto here, but we still dont have internet of our own and I happened to grab hold of a great connection for a little bit... so here's the link to pictures of our house! Its not quite finished yet, as you can see. We're still waiting on one last shipment of our things from San Diego, so ignore the sofa, its a rental.

We are still loving England! It is an amazing country! It's snowing right now, as it has been on and off all day, so as long as we dont get snowed in, we're heading out tomorrow to Oxford to see the sights, so pictures will come from there soon!

Christopher starts his official work schedule on Tuesday and he'll be starting out working nights from 4pm-5am. Its going to be a big change for us for the next couple of months, so please keep me in your thoughts and prayers as I sleep alone in an new-to-us, old, creaking house. I do feel comfortable here and we've already met some neighbors, so that's good. But it is still going to be a different experience than what we're used to.

Love to you all!