Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Exercise in Europe

Bonjour! We're still in the midst of our Parisian getaway, and I felt compelled to update about two things.

First: working out on vacation. Now, usually I love to work out on vacations. Terry and I find ways to take long hikes or just squeeze in a jog in the mornings. But both times we've been in Europe, we've felt almost as though we don't need a workout at all. In London for our honeymoon, we ran twice through the park near our hotel (Hyde Park), but we used it as a mode of seeing the park more thoroughly. Here in Paris, we feel like a workout would be insane.

On our first day here, we walked about 13.5 miles (I originally estimated 12, but Terry mapped it out to prove me wrong). 
Our first day in Paris
Yesterday, we climbed the first two levels of the Eiffel Tower. I had no idea you could climb stairs that high. It was about 600 steps, and we also tackled the steps at Sacre Coeur, another 100 or so. You want a workout in Paris? Get one in while sight-seeing! Plus more walking around the city earned us each at least one extra guilt-free croissant.

Today was more walking around the city of Versailles. I didn't know much anything about Versailles before a friend recommended it, so here's the rundown if you're like me: It's a city about 30 minutes south of Paris where Louis XIV made his home in the late 1600s. The main part of the palace is a grand chateau, which puts all other palaces to shame. It is truly breathtaking. We toured the chateau, the gardens, and Marie-Antionette's (Louis XVI's wife) Hamlet. The Hamlet was my favorite part. Marie-Antionette thought peasant life was adorable, but she didn't want all the hard work and poverty, so she had a group of cute fairy-tale-like, thatched-roof houses built, complete with working farms and animals. The houses were truly sweet and straight out of Hansel and Gretel or Little Red Riding Hood. Plus, there are still animals! We saw roosters, goats, pigs, bulls, swans, ducks, geese, and sheep. It was a wonderful little surprise, as no one had mentioned it before our visit.

The chateau and gardens of Versailles cover about eight miles, but we only walked maybe five of them. Today, however, was freezing! We estimate 35 degrees, plus wind chill. Weather.com had said 50 degrees, so guess what we were dressed for? Yeah, we were cold. So by the afternoon, we opted to take the Metro instead of walking and significantly reduced our energy exertion.

And part two that I need to share with you: the food. It just keeps getting better! We ate our favorite dinner so far tonight. For me: escargot and beouf bourguignon; for Terry: oysters and duck. We both made weird "yum" noises as we ate and ignored everything else around us. Food that phenomenal doesn't come around too often, and we savored every bite. Also, as we walk the streets of Paris, I insist (though, honestly, Terry doesn't really argue) that we stop in nearly every bakery/pastry shop we find. Which, I'm learning, occurs about every 30 feet in Paris. So we're eating tons of croissants, pain au chocolat, and baguettes. Today we tried an apple turnover and a chocolate-chip-swirl-thing, both of which earned a few more of those "yum" noises. We're suckers for good food, and we found a whole city of it.

In between sight seeing, walking, and eating, we've managed to read a lot on our trip. I finished one book, The Violets of March, and Terry just finished The Hunger Games book two. We're both going to read the third book in The Hunger Games starting tomorrow and are excited to see how it ends. In respect of those readers who may not be so interested in the whole book thing, I'll write a separate post with my thoughts on the books from my trip (I have a few more I plan to read) in case you might want to pick one up. Sorry - the English major in me just can't resist!

I want to share more details and highlights with you, but it's almost midnight here, and tomorrow is our last full day in Paris before we head to London on Thursday. Tomorrow we're hitting up the Louve, Musee d'Orsay, and a few other "last minute" stops that we hope we have time to see. Must sleep - and dream of pastries! Au revoir!


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