Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Sunday, July 26, 2009
We ate at the "Old Mother in Law" restaraunt and enjoyed their complimentary blueberry muffins. Once our waiter found out we were attending the evening Ghost Tour, he regaled our table with ghost stories about the old restaraunt. Apparently, a boy closely resembling a Little Lord Fauntleroy who enjoys haunting the restaraunt because there is "always something going on".
Above, is a concerstone of a building contructed by the "Oddfellows". Supposedly, every building contructed by this organization that has been torn down has contained a body in the building.
Above is the only "orb" I was able to capture on the tour. This was the site of the St. Charles gallows...creeeeeeeepy....not really.
Caroline and I enjoy watching Paranormal State on A&E - so she was excited to carry around an EMF detector.
We, of course, never actually saw anything, nor did we expect to. The element that makes for a good ghost tour, then, is the storytelling ability of your tour guide. Our guide, I think, was more concerned about coming off as credible, than providing some good stories. So, while we had a good time I would recommend trying out some other tours in the area - like Alton, Illinois or Lemp Mansion - both of which we will be trying in the coming months. Regardless, it was a fun Saturday night!
Friday, July 24, 2009
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Leah, Elena and myself found ourselves within the rows of Lavender "harvesting" the stalks.
The only piece of advice the owners gave us before we left to pick Lavender was to look for the most "colorful" ones. I suppose that stands to reason, as the bloomier the stalks were the more fragrant they became.
I wish you all could have smelled that air.
Harvesting Lavender takes more time than you would think. Leah was determined to get as much as she could fit!
Afterwards, we poked around the small giftshop and spent waaaay more money on things Lavender than I thought would be possible.
All of that "harvesting" left us pretty hungry, so we treated ourselves to Lavender infused desserts. Pictured above, is all that is left of a Lavender/Lemon bar. I bought some Lavender buds to use in some baking - I think this will be fun to experiment with.
All in all is was a wonderful afternoon. The kind you get when old friends get together and there is no rush so everything is just easy, light and relaxing. Great idea Elena!
Monday, July 13, 2009
Our very last day in France we planned to leave the city and visit Chartres Cathedral, located in Chartres! We lugged our suitcases (and I mean lugged) to the Montparnasse station and hopped on the 8 am train to Chartres. It was a very pretty train ride and the small towns we passed by were ridiculously picture perfect. As in sweet little gardens, cottages with red tiles covered in ivy and charming farmhouses in the fields.
Once we arrived at Hotel Jehan De Beuce, we noticed that the hotel actually started on the second floor. Pictured above, you will see what we called "the coffin" - yep, that's my luggage. It was extremely heavy and I knew that there was no way I could carry that up to the hotel without messing myself up (think hot and sweaty). So, I offered my travel companions 10 euro to whoever carried my luggage upstairs. Shalyn, always on the lookout for a deal accepted - and may I add that it was quite the challenge for her!
Once in our rooms, we freshened up and explored the town a little bit. It was so nice to be in such a quiet place. After the fast pace of the last several days, it was heaven.
There's that ivy (above) that I love so much. I want my home to covered in it.
Chartres Cathedral is in the center part of the old town, so it is hard to miss. It is also gorgeous and boasts the finest complete collection of medieval stained glass in the world (during the bombings of WWII the townspeople removed the glass from the windows and stored it safely away in basements and such). It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is also considered the finest example of gothic architecture in all of France.
The Cathedral itself was marvelous and is actually larger than Notre Dame in Paris.
Chartres Cathedral was built to house this relic - reputed to be a tunic worn by Mary herself. It is called the Sancta Camisa. Above is the relic itself - carbon dating has established that the cloth is roughly 2,000 years old.
The house specialty was a veal plate. I've had veal before and enjoyed it and Shalyn also decided to go with this treat. The veal looked strange. I ate it and just kept looking at the meat wondering what it was. I mentioned that I thought we were eating intestines or something. Shalyn didn't bat an eyelash and replied that she had eaten tons of haggis when she was in Scotland. I kept eating my veal and then noticed that it actually resembled a cross section of a brain. And then I knew. We quickly looked over the menu again, and noticed that the Fete of Veal we ordered was actually Tete of Veal - which is, of course, brains. Below is Shalyn's initial reaction to finding out we were consuming baby cow brains.
This art show begins with Chartres Cathedral bathed in light and slowly progressing to images of its stained glass being projected on to the building. The whole show is about 8 minutes and is set to beautiful choral voices. It brought most of us to tears. I wish I could post the show from beginning to end, but my blog know-how ends at posting photos.
Chartres Cathedral was not the only building to enjoy such illumination. The town offered 24 other buildings in various locations. Below, Caroline poses while a series of flowers flow over her.
The photo above, is of St. Peirre church illuminated by a child's drawing. The photo below is the lovely St. Aignan we stumbled upon earlier in the day.
This was absolutely worth staying the night in Chartres.
About two days before we left on our trip, my appetite completely disappeared. Friends would ask me if I was excited and I would nod and say something about how it didn't really feel real and that I hoped everything would turn out okay. Not exactly the most enthusiastic response. I think I was so worried about something going wrong (what if we fought? what if someone steals our money? what if it's raining the whole time?) that I had completely stressed myself out. I don't think I could have asked for a better trip or to go with better friends. I am so so glad that I went and I wanted to thank the girls who went with me for creating a memory that will last the rest of my life. I love you!