Paris in the Summer – Day 2

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After a restful night of sleep, we made our way to Notre Dame. We were in Paris the end of June/beginning July. If you want to visit one of the more popular sites during the peak tourist season, summer, try to purchase tickets ahead of time online. I’ve heard there are bogus web sites out there, so I was careful to choose sites that were recommended by Fodor’s or DK Eyewitness Travel Guide. Both of these guides are available at bookstores online and libraries.

Our first stop the second day was Notre Dame. We arrived early and experienced minimal wait times. This is one of the iconic sites associated with Paris. The cathedral was built in the late 10th century but not finished until almost 200 years later. For great views of the city, and if you do not mind heights, climb the 387 steps to the top. There is also a crypt underground that you can visit.

To travel around Paris there is the metro, taxi or walking. For shorter distances, we chose to walk, since taxis were too expensive. The metro was another option, however, we wanted to stay above ground, so we wouldn’t miss anything. The Hop-on Hop-Off buses are great for tourists. I read numerous reviews and decided to go with the Paris L’Open Tour Hop-On-Hop-Off bus. Instead of going through a third party, we purchased our tickets as we were entering the bus. There are three different lines that hit all the major sites of Paris. You can get on and off at your leisure. Often, we would get on one line, for instance the red line,  jump off, visit a site, walk a couple of blocks and take a bus on either the blue or white line.

After Notre Dame, we walked a short distance to Shakespeare & Company bookstore. This bookstore is supposedly the most famous independent bookstore in the world. It is near the Latin quarter and faces the Seine.

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One of the last sites we visited that day was the Pont Des Arts. The Pont Des Arts is a pedestrian bridges that crosses the River Seine. It links the Institut de France and the central square of the Palais du Louvre. This bridge is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 2008, tourists began attaching locks to this bridge as a romantic gesture to show committed love. On June 1, 2015, the locks were removed due to concerns over health and safety. The locks weighed about 45 tons.

 

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Paris in the Summer – Day 1

Three years ago, my husband surprised me with a trip to Paris. An entire week in this beautiful city was a dream come true. Our first stop, after a lovely afternoon nap, was the Eiffel Tower. Since this was a once in a lifetime trip, we decided to splurge by dining at Le Jules Verne. Le Jules Verne restaurant is located on the second floor of the Eiffel Tower. It has its own private elevator. Reservations at this restaurant are highly recommended.

My husband and I weren’t sure what to expect upon visiting this restaurant. I was afraid it was going to be an overpriced tourist trap. We were delighted and pleasantly surprised with beautiful food, wonderful service and magnificent views. Yes, it is very expensive–but it was worth it, for us. My husband and I ordered the 5 course with wine pairing. Afterwards, we went outside and took pictures. When we were ready to go back down, we buzzed the restaurant and again descended in the private elevator. I would not recommend this restaurant for families with small children. Most of the ladies were dressed in cocktail dresses with the gentlemen wearing jackets.

If you desire to dine at this restaurant, but are not able to obtain dinner reservations, try reserving a table at lunchtime. The prices are not as expensive and you may have an easier time getting a table.

Cincinnati Zoo

A couple of years ago, we found ourselves in Cincinnati. Whenever I visit a place, I try to hit the major sites. When someone mentioned the Cincinnati Zoo, I cringed. I’ve been to many zoos in my lifetime, so even though I love animals, I didn’t have high hopes.

I’m delighted to say that we had a wonderful time. First of all, the Cincinnati Zoo is the second oldest zoo in United States. It opened its door in 1875 just 14 months after the Philadelphia zoo. It is rated one of the top zoos in the country by the Zagat survey.

That being said, I still had to see for myself. The exhibits were well organized and clean. The jungle trails were a joy to explore. One of the highlights was watching a cheetah race around a grassy enclosure. I tried to film the cheetah, but he was too fast for me. If you find yourself in the Cincinnati area, I recommend checking out the zoo. We spent the better part of the day exploring the various exhibits.

A Yen for Yoga

I have long contemplated taking a yoga class. It always helps to enlist someone else in your exercise routine, in order to stay motivated. The lucky individual I chose is my husband. Thankfully, he is usually game to try almost anything. The question was, which yoga class to choose.

After getting the all clear from my doctor, I started off by googling yoga classes around me. It seemed like Hatha yoga was the class for me. Unfortunately, as I pulled up yoga places around me, they all seemed to focus on hot yoga, or else I found a gym offering yoga classes. Due to health challenges, I quickly ruled out hot yoga. I also had no desire to go to a gym. If I was going to try yoga, I wanted to find a place that focused only on yoga, not that there aren’t phenomenal classes at other places. I finally found a yoga studio.  YAY!

I contacted the studio and told them about some health concerns. They recommended I start with a Gentle Yoga class. I was concerned that my husband might be bored to tears in this baby yoga class, while I was hoping I could at least do a couple of the moves.

The minute we walked in for our first lesson, we were warmly welcomed. I was thrilled to find that the class was challenging for my husband. Next, I was happy to find that if I couldn’t do a move, the instructor would easily modify the move for me.

So far, we’ve completed four yoga classes. Everyone seems so nice and non judgmental. We’re both getting a workout that our bodies appreciate. We’re also making new friends and having a good time. Plus, I found the cutest pair of leggings that I wore at Halloween. IMG_7698

Grand Cayman Adventure Highlights

Dolphin Discovery on Grand Cayman is an experience that our entire family enjoyed. I was adamant that I wasn’t going to join in, but I’m happy to say that I gave in and had a wonderful time. The only downside to the adventure was the photo prices once we finished swimming with these magnificent creatures. Since you’re not allowed to take pictures, the only pictures available are the ones for purchase.

Once the adventure was finished, my family immediately wanted something else to do. The Cayman Turtle Center was right across the street, so we traipsed over there. I have to admit, I didn’t have high hopes for this adventure, especially after swimming with the dolphins, but I’m glad we went there.

Initially, I figured we might spend 30 minutes exploring this center. Instead, we stayed almost 3 hours. There are salt water pools for snorkeling. There were people of all ages engaged in this activity and they all seemed to be having a marvelous time. There’s a nature trail, a couple of water slides for kids and an aviary. Besides the turtles, the aviary was one of the highlights of the center. The colorful birds weren’t afraid to land on you and eat out of your hand.

We saved the turtles for last. We enjoyed learning about and interacting with them. If you remove your shoes, you can get in with the baby turtles. Highly recommend.

 

Queen Elisabeth II Botanic Park

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Whenever I plan a trip, I make sure I keep the trip chock full of fun and interesting things to see and do. When I mentioned the Queen Elisabeth II Botanic Park, my family greeted this news with groans. They and I were pleasantly surprised to find nice walking paths (this is especially welcome when you’ve been busy sampling the local cuisine), and some blue friends.

I read reviews about this park on trip advisor and some reviewers were disappointed that they were unable to spot any blue iguanas. We spotted at very close range as evidenced by the picture above, several blue iguanas. This was biggest one and very happy with his spot in the sun.

In addition to the iguanas, there are colorful parrots and other birds. We visited the park over the Christmas holidays, however, we were told if we return in May or June,  the orchids are in bloom. If you decide to visit the park, which I recommend, wear sunscreen and bring water. There’s little shade and, depending on the time of year, can be quite hot.

Seven Mile Beach

Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman is known for its coral sand beach which I found out is actually 6.3 miles long. This is also one of the most developed areas of the island. Luxury hotels and pricey restaurants litter this space of beach, so be prepared to budget in advance. Grand Cayman, in general, tends to be one of the pricier islands.