Friday, October 30, 2009

Paris - Louvre

We all really liked the Louvre; we were a bit worried that Noah would get bored spending the whole day there but he really enjoyed it as did all of us. They have some really good collections including the Egyptian collection, which we were thinking must be a bit controversial because they had so many things, you would think that the Egyptians would want some back. The marble sculptures were amazing.

Here are some pictures from our trip to the Louvre:

Noah in his Egyptian pose:
Working the autoguides:
David and the Venus de Milo: Noah admiring the sculptures, he really like the sculptures the best.
Liss taking a break looking at the frescos:

I see a resemblance.
David, Mona, Mona, David:
Getting later in the day, more time for some breaks:

Really liked this statue, the detail was amazing, she just got bit by a scorpion.
The scorpion.
Outside the Louvre at night.
Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel and the Eiffel tower from outside the Lourve at the end of a long day.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Trip to Paris – Chateau de Versailles

On our first full day in Paris we decided to visit Versailles. To make our visit to Paris more cost effective we decided to avoid tours and to use local public transportation when possible. For this trip we walked about 2 miles to the RER station (RER is a local train system in Paris) where we paid about 27 Euros for round trip tickets for 4 to Versailles and back. This is very reasonable compared to the ~50 Euros a per person for a bus tour.

We spent the whole day walking through the gardens, the Chateau, the Grand Trianon, and the Petit Trianon (Marie Antoinette’s private getaway). We all really liked this and Noah and David commented on the train ride back to Dresden that Versailles was their favorite trip.

The front gates to Chateau de Versailles (There is a Starbucks right outside the RER station in Versailles Rive Gauche, to Melissa and David's delight):

The gardens extend as far as the eye can see, we could have spent a lot more time walking around.
More gardens:

On our way to the Petit Trianon (Marie Antoinette's private getaway Chateau). David really wanted to see this and it was nice, had to walk through the garden a bit and we took only one wrong turn.

Looking back at the Chateau de Versailles:
Noah checking "how much further":

Melissa taking a break (deciding whether it is a goose or a gray duck):

In front of the Grand Trianon:

Stairway in the Petit Trianon (David thinking a piece of cake would be good):
The hall of mirrors in Versailles where the Treaty of Versailles was signed; ending World War I.
Noah on the Train ride back to Paris, still ready for more sights. Noah (and the rest of us) really liked the automated auto guides that you can rent. It really kept his interest as he could learn about the different things he saw.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Trip to Paris - Day 1 - October 18

We have wanted to visit Paris for a while and since the kid’s school had a two week fall break this presented the perfect opportunity. We took an overnight train from Berlin to Paris for which the travel time was about 12 hours; add on another 3 hours from Dresden to Berlin (2 trains; via the schönes wochenende family special; 37 Euros for a day’s worth of travel on the slower regional trains); which made for a long day of travel. Being this was an overnight train we reserved a berth for 4. We managed to sleep pretty well and woke up a few times due to an occasional hard turn or change of directions. David even managed to sleep some; David never sleeps while traveling. I actually enjoyed the overnight train (I don’t know if I want to do it for every trip) and thought it was a fun experience for our family.

David planned out the way from the train station to our rented apartment flat via the Metro. We got to the metro stop perfect and were able to find our flat with only one wrong turn; which is a record for us. The transitions are always the most difficult; coming out of an underground subway right in the middle of a foreign/unfamiliar city is hard to do. It is difficult getting your bearings; street signs are always different; in Paris, like Prague, they on small signs pasted to the walls of buildings not always were you would expect them. It is also difficult to get familiar with the naming conventions of the streets.

We arrived at our destination a few hours early (before check in time), being that we were renting from a person not a hotel and we had a bunch of luggage in tow (and 4 laptops) we had to find a place to wait. We ate a long lunch and went to a nearby park. After this it was close enough to check in time so we headed to the flat and waited for the person to let us in. 15 minutes after our check in time we started to get nervous, talking about what to do if they didn’t show. After some quick thinking we remembered the flat had wireless internet and we were given the codes. So from the hallway we were able to connect, and after a few emails (Melissa reading an article on the New Times, using the last of her battery), and a Skype call in broken English, we had someone there to let us in.

After a bit of rest we decided to walk around a bit and see some sights; starting at the Louvre Museum (an easy Metro trip away) and walk to the Arc de Triomphe; which is not a short walk but doable. We had a great afternoon and walked by a lot of the sights which we would visit later. Melissa has been to Paris before and David has dreamed about coming here for a while so they both knew their way around and we had a great day.

David has had 3 years of French so he is a valuable asset as he was able to translate for our family. He had a little difficulty at first because he has been working on his German in Dresden and would mix in a few German words once in a while. English is fairly well understood at restaurants and tourist locations and we find that sometimes they will just answer in English to David’s French. It is interesting listening to the French from David then they answer back in English; and we are curious how they know we are English. Sometimes they will just start talking to us in English without a word. Must be the way we dress; perhaps they find it a challenge to guess where people are from.

Here are some pictures from the first leg of our trip.

Our flat, kitchen/family room:
In front of the Louvre:

Tuileries, chilling out:
Place de la Concorde:

Palais Royal:
Effel tower from on top of the Arc de Triomphe:
Sacre Coeur:

Stairs to the top of Arc de Triomphe:

Sun on the Arc de Triomphe:
Arc de Triomphe:

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Festung Dresden (Dresden Fortess)

David and i toured the Festung Dresden; which is the old fortress entrance to Dresden. It has been built over a few times. The whole fortress is underground, with excavations of older buildings including a draw bridge.
Water marks from the major floods in the 1600's/1700's.

Lots of passage ways and rooms for storage and guards. This was the front gate to the city and needed to be defended.
Entrance to the guards quarters.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pillnitz schloss - bike ride with Noah friends family

Pictures from our bike ride to Pillnitz schloss, one of "Augusta the strong's" retreat castles on the Elbe river. Melissa, Noah, and biked about 10 miles up the Elbe with one of Noah friends David and David's family.

We had a great trip and great weather. Here is a picture of Pillnitz from the river. In this picture we are on a river ferry that we needed to take to cross the river. Not a lot of bridges around here, a bit out in the country. They have a lot of ferrys to cross the river, cheaper then building a bridge.

Noah and his frend on the ferry, if you look hard enough you can see lissa also.
Picture of adults in castle grounds.

Lots of gardens in and around the grounds. We ate at a really nice beer garden here also.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Noah and David School

Noah and David's school, building on the right, this is the building where David has most of his classes. The church in the left is the Annekirche.

This is Noah's class room, and Noah looking for his homework in his cubby. This is the building where Noah has all his classes.

This is the court yard of the school, behind Noah is his building and the red building is where David's classes are. In the backgound you can see the gym, the lower level is an indoor gym with a basketball court and the roof top is an outdoor basketball/soccer field. They have a really nice gym.
This is more of Noah's classroom.