Life is funny.
As you are making your way through the world, just trying to get by, you can't believe that life will ever be good and fun, the way you imagined it would be when you were a kid. One day, you stop and take stock of your current situation, and you see that slowly but surely, through sheer force of will and hard work, your life is actually good and fun. It happened! You have a great job, a loving fiancé, fleeting moments of serenity, and you've been on not one, not two, but three great vacations this year. You finally feel like that slippery thing they call "the good life" is in your grasp. Yes, life is funny.
So what about these three vacations? To review, you may remember Brush Creek Ranch back in June, then shortly after that was Sao Paolo and Florianopolis. Then Stephanie mentioned that she would be attending butchery school in the south of France in the fall, and I casually said I might like to join her for a pre-school trip around France. Before I knew it, the ticket was booked and I was on my way to meet her and another friend, Ben, in London where our exploits would begin.
I have to start with a really obnoxious brag, but one I feel is well-deserved considering the amount of budget travel I've done in the last...well, my whole life. I cashed in some United Airlines Frequent Flyer Miles and upgraded myself to Business Class. This one relatively small expense made all the difference in enjoying the first half of my trip without crippling jet lag. I ate dinner, watched a movie, went to sleep, and woke up to morning in London. Tada! No jet lag. I highly recommend it.
Westmister Abbey--no photographs were allowed inside, but I got this interesting window detail in the halls outside.
I've seen Big Ben before, but not from this perspective...
Waiting for dinner at Fergus Henderson's famed St. John restaurant in London.
One chunnel ride later, and we were in Paris! We stayed on Rue Cler, a quintessential Parisian market street...
...and breakfasted at L'Eclair.
We walked to the Champs de Mars in the evening and saw the Eiffel Tower in a whole new light (heh heh heh). At the end of the field, the Wall for Peace in inscribed with the word "peace" in 32 languages. Ironically, it's across the street from the military college.
I didn't get to see the tower at night on my last trip to Paris, so I was delighted to find that there is a blinking light show at the top of every hour.
The view from below.
Another highlight I missed on my last trip--the Arc du Triomphe. I didn't expect it to be so huge!
My comrades on the trip--Stephanie and Ben.
You can get an idea of the size of the arch by noticing the tiny little people at the base.
The obligatory "Paris cafe" picture.
The Eiffel Tower again, with the fall leaves.
A Laduree still life.
King Charlemagne at the end of a full day.