Europe, North America · 399 Days · 145 Moments · July 2017

Donna and Kenneth’s journi to France

1 September 2018

Well our journey home has begun and it is hard to realize that these last 2 weeks now becomes simply a glorious memory... Our great French Adventure will be engraved in our minds and hearts indelibly and we will savor each and every moment of it with great enchantment. Every amazing piece of art, a landscape of architectural wonder, cuisine and wines like no other, many amazing new friendships and the opportunity to share this incredible experience together. So we are about 2 hours from Indianapolis and the realty of home, work and routines. Until the next big adventure, au revoir to all!

31 August 2018

And so the evening has settled down to a mild roar, our tummies are overflowing with one last amazing culinary indulgence, delicious wine harvested to perfection, dessert so decadent that even the pastry chef feels ashamed, bags all but locked up and Mr. Hobson has already settled in for his last French sleep. So we bid adieu from the land of excess; art, theatre, dance, history, architecture and romance. Where the mantra seems to be; “If a little is good, then a lot has to be better” or “ Go big or don’t bother”.... Au revoir my friends and family, until tomorrow!
We are sad to say we are beginning the end of our last evening in Paris and in France. It has been an amazing adventure and we cannot wait to return for a reunion at sometime in the future. We wish to thank everyone who has helped us make this journey so incredibly amazing, from the staff at every hotel we so luxuriously stayed, to every service professional who so eloquently took care of us on all of our shopping excursions, patisseries, restaurants, transportation, brasseries and tours. Every moment has been so memorable, we cannot even begin to pick a “top 10”.... And to our families and friends who supported this trip for both of us, in order to be able to make the journey and keep the home fires steady and the shoppe and farm in tact. So, as we begin our last evening in the land of love, romance, beauty and absolute “awe” au revoir until our next entry... Viva la France 🇫🇷
Well Mr. Hobson presented me with yet one more incredible surprise yesterday, an amazing trip to Monaco and Monti Carlo. And just when we thought it could not get any better.... this is truly a principality of the rich and famous. Population: 38,000 Governmental Debt: -0- Millionaire Density: globally #1 Albeit this is truly a playground where a Mercedes is for the low class... anyway enjoy, we certainly did....

30 August 2018

Caroline & Stephanie’s compounds, honestly it’s all quite laid back, though they do have body guards, it is not like secret service in our home land.
The Grimaldi family is still in very plain sight and reside daily in Monaco. Princess Grace remains memorialized throughout the principality. Prince Albert II and his family retain living quarters in the castle, while both Princess Stephanie and Princess Caroline and their families prefer their own private homes within the residential garden area. Prince Rainer and Princess Graces home remains a gathering place for their children and respective heirs.

29 August 2018

As our time came to an end in Nice we took one last opportunity to appreciate a peek at this amazing and exotically rich city. The history is a blaze with a wealth of architecture, intrigue of sculptures & mosaics, military and artistic facts, mergers of countries and people’s, the fragrance of flora & spices filling the air that would tantalize any and every pallet with a wanting desire for more! Yes it was tugging at our best judgement to remain, as it would be quite easy to make this place your home. Enjoy our tour as mastered to us by The nicest young man, Nagee, that we just happened to make acquaintances with while on our initial walk-through of the city center that morning. He hails from Libya and has been living in France for three years… Eloquent English and extremely knowledgeable, he is an industrial design student in Lyon and works for the bicycle tour group on his breaks from universitie, as well as a message courier for the businesses here. Russian Orthodox Cathedral
And then there is just the heart of the city, the people and the peace and tranquil sound of the morning sea!
What a better environment to go to school in than a building so rich with history you just need to enter the doors. It is a boarding school for all of the children who live outside of the city limits of Nice. It is actually far larger than the photograph emulates, however we were only on the front side of the building. It actually takes up over 10 city blocks including an internal courtyard for the students safety and enjoyment.
And floating homes also known as the land of yachets!
And then there was Normandy, June 6, 1944, the largest amphibious invasion in the history of the world. Over 17,000 Americans were killed in this conflict, aka; Operation Overlord. This is a memorial in the honor of the many soldiers who died in this battle. We also had the most humble honor of experiencing a parade of many US World War II vehicles, machines and equipment, including a Sherman tank with hundreds of remaining soldiers and families of the same as they honored their loved ones on the anniversary of the successful end of the campaign on August 25, 1944. And the most exciting news, through an amazing contact we made while here and a little research effort, we were able to successfully locate the burial site of Kenneth’s great uncle who was one of the thousands of soldiers who died in the Normandie invasion. Second Lieutenant, USARMY, Robert D Brook
And art, including the private home and studio of one of the great masters, Matisse!
The oldest church in the city and the path to the castle high above it all!
And then there was music!
City center park, created when they rerouted the river under the city to enlarge and improve the roadway system through the city. The river water from below is what is propelled through the piercings in the pavement for visitors enjoyment and beauty. And the pathway to the morning marketplace!
Flower and produce market, open 6 days a week from 7 AM to 12 PM
Government buildings and consulates that have stood the test of time and battles dating back to the French Revolution!
Oh and I forgot the best part, I found some rock candy in Mr. Hobson’s pocket🎉🎈💍

28 August 2018

And then dusk began to settle in as the day came to a closing ember and we enjoyed yet another delicious gastronomic dinner. I think it goes without saying we are both on diet reality watch as soon as the wheels hit the tarmac in Indy...
I cannot quite decide which is more adorable, washing his clothes or being a sun god 🇫🇷☀️
It was an emotionally tough day yesterday and an even tougher evening. And as the amazing sun set in Cannes, one of the most beautiful and luxurious places in the entire world, we both had heavy hearts and a sadness that finally carried us to sleep, allowing us to escape a day of distress and disbelief of little man Sam! But as it would happen, the morning horizon pushed a glorious new day, full of sun and beauty and hope and life upon us. It provided us the strength to embrace reality and the grace to trust in everything that happens has a undeniable reason behind it. So with that said our day began with a train excursion from Cannes to Nice and OMG the magnificence of the place takes your breath away! Enjoy🇫🇷🌺🕶☀️🍷
We just arrived in paradise also known as “Nice”... I think it’s an understatement if we were to say we have a room with a view!!!!

27 August 2018

Hello to all, I must apology in advance as my message is short this evening and has little to do with our excursion today through the wine country of Provence. Though it was quite beautiful and full of a rich history, the days events were overshadowed by a great sadness for the loss of my dear sweet Sam. For those of you that know me well, know that he has been my constant companion for more than 12 years, since he was 8 weeks old. He filled my life with such joy and happiness and I cannot imagine him not being at my side, as I face each day ever again. My heart is broken to have been so far away from him when he needed me most and I pray that Time will heal my emptiness. I love my Sammie, the most macho man I know.
3 wineries, 1 medieval 12th century castle and 1 amazing guide!!! Enjoy, d&k
And then there was the French countryside, amazing panoramic landscape views and a visual artistry second to none... Viva la France 🇫🇷

26 August 2018

Emmersing ourselves into the local culture and catching some sun, sand and surf was the order of the day!

25 August 2018

And there is our room, it is an amazing little boutique hotel looking over the square that juts out in every direction toward the Mediterranean Sea! An adorable balcony that provides an amazing view of life and activities below, but an amazing fragrance and view of flowers and vegitation that wraps you in a blanket of tropical beauty!
Well it is not hard to see that this is truly the land of the rich and famous. The streets are lined with shops and boutiques of every famous designer, even the boat shoes are red bottoms and speaking of boats, it would be hard to pick which one might be your own personal dream ship!!!! From tall mast schooners, to truly yachts of every style and persuasion, even the dingy’s are decked out in full glory. However at the end of it all, it is a place full of vibrancy, beauty and activity like no other. And it is a flurry of people enjoying every imaginable luxury that life might have to offer. It is easy to see why this place is the location of the Cannes Music festival, which they are getting ready for in October. The facility is magnificent and I can only imagine the flood of guests that will invade this tiny cavern of the French coast! Enjoy the scenery, we did!
On the Bullet train heading to Cannes, the Farm Boy is loving the view he feels at home.... an amazingly smooth ride!
So until later, we are signing off for now and will connect later from Cannes🇫🇷🌺🕶🍷 Have an amazing day to all, au revoir
Good morning again to all, getting our day started here early, as today we are heading to the south of France for the next few days and we don’t want to miss the train, I don’t think it will wait! Yesterday was full of melancholy fun as we simply were lazy tourists taking in random sights, sleeping in, eating delicious pastries, drinking way too much cafe au lait and espresso and shopping and shopping. Gathered many lovely things for our kiddos at home and a few for ourselves. We then capped it off with more deliciousness at Les deaux Maggot, all still savoring on our tongues this morning! We did receive a challenging call from home, so asking for healing wishes for my dear baby boy Sam. It appears some of the rigors of aging, along with the trauma of anxiety separation is taking a toll. He is in the good hands of his Doctor, thanks to the efforts and insight of uncle Jeffrey and care from his niece KoKo, thank you both for your watchful and discerning eyes and efforts.

24 August 2018

Good morning to all, just too darn tired last night to post my entries. I discovered myself repeating thoughts and dozing while I edited my photos, so everything just had to wait. I think the 6 hour time difference is still effecting our sleep 😴 Anyway, another fun filled and history packed day at The Louvre, there is no way to explain it, so I will dive right in; This building is currently about 700,000 sq. feet and contains about 380,000 objects and includes 35,000 permanent pieces of art. It is 5 stories tall and these measures do not include it in its entire massive structure, as not every floor is open or included in the exhibit areas. This also does not include the cobblestone courtyard/parade area or the formal gardens off of once was the grand guest salon for entertaining from what was the private quarters before the French Revolution. It began as a fortress to defend Paris and construction began in 1190 and was completed on the initial section of buildings in 1202.

23 August 2018

And then there was a pyramid! Designed by American Architect I.M. Pei and completed in 1989, it has become a landmark to the city and the entrance to the Louvre. It welcomes and traffics guests below the Louvre into the caverns of the structure and the catacombs, which navigates them trough what had been the moat and secret passage ways. Positioned as a centerpiece to the entrance, enveloped by the pyramid, is this amazing iconic gold sharded style sculpture. You may also recall it from the movie staring Tom Hanks, the DaVinci Code!
And then there was art, art, art and did I mention ART!
And royal jewels!
And royal family furniture!
And then there was tableware!
In 1589 the Louvre was converted into the private residence of the King and remained so through many expansions and generations until 1790 at which time the royal family abandoned it and fled to safety during the revolution. From that time until 1793 it was returned into a fort and defense quarters for the French army. At that time it was abandoned yet again and it was to become a museum in 1793 as it fortunately, though in great devastation, remained full of many historical properties, as well as many personal possessions of the royal families, to include furnishings and personal clothing items. It has certainly become a magnificent outgrowth to that effort to what it is today. We hope you will enjoy it as much as we did.

22 August 2018

And another delectable dining experience at one of the “swankiest” establishments in Paris; Lap’erouse ‘a Paris! Set at a lovely street corner, on the Seine, we were perched high above the crowd in a balcony window, able to view the world around us, yet not move an ounce of ourselves. From the first drop of wine, to the last crumb of the hazelnut Napoleon, our palettes were more than satisfied... I would venture to say Mr Hobson thinks French cooking is the “bomb”... You might take this Indiana Farm Boy off the farm,but his roots are still tact. He knows “Good Cookin”... Until tomorrow, au revoir! 🌺🇫🇷🗼
Today was nothing short of magnificent! “Every living person has their own pigeonhole in the filing cabinet of the imagination” And so the splendid glory of the “Garnier OPERA National de Paris” was born from the imagination of one man; the year was 1861, and at the request of Napoleon III, Charles Garnier accepted the challenge of designing and building this opulent, bedazzled and decadent gem, now considered one of the 3 most exquisite and beautiful theaters in the world. It was inaugurated on January 5, 1875 and this masterpiece immediately became the model for all bold, architectural Italian style theaters during the second empire. It is unquestionably both functional as well as flamboyant at the same time! Enjoy this magnificent and enduring jewel, as much as we did today!
And to top it all off, there was an amazing Pablo Picasso exhibit on display there today as well. It was a reflection of his bold and explicit work as it related to dance and music within his imagination and vision. Here are a few of those pieces!
Well just to preface yesterday’s activities I will just say there is no way to explain the magnitude of the Palace of Versailles other than it is beyond “Jaw dropping WOW”... the pictures, as you see speak for themselves. And I now believe everything we ever learned in history class about those “crazy French men”, especially Kings and rulers is completely true, if not even a tad understated! A quick foot note: this place of lavish decadence and splendor actually all began in “1602” as a little hunting lodge and camp, that the soon to be king, Louis XIV would visit with his father as a young man. His vision was to own such a place, which might then become his home; and “waw laa” there you have the much abbreviated story! Enjoy the view, we certainly did...

21 August 2018

The paintings and frescos were layer upon layer of magnificence, most dating back to the 17th century and chronicled battles from years dating back as far as 332AD. The battle and war room alone, at probably 8000 sq ft contained 100’s of paintings of every French conflict along with a marble bust of every general and recognized officer that led each one.
And then there were gardens of unbelievable artistic beauty and undertaking. Overflowing with carved and manicured trees, shrubbery, pathways and low lying landscapes. Not an imagined or unimagined initiative left out! I can not even begin to guess at how many thousands of acres this compound consisted of. We did not even get to the queens quarters, Marie Antoinettes chateau on the property or the “Farm” chateau as it was referenced, nor the chateau filled with the gallery of sculptures and casts and the library. It would take several days, I believe to view all 700 rooms in the main house alone!
And capping off the day of course with another delicious dinner at Les deaux Magots, what a day and what an ending! Today the famous Garnier Paris Opera House and dinner at Laparouse! Until then, Au revoir 🇫🇷
And then there was the 8 mile walk home, yes you heard me correct.... call us crazy after a full day of hiking around Versailles, we just had not had enough exercise:))) really more about the opportunity for more sightseeing and there was plenty along the way!
Ok so if Versailles wasn’t enough for the day, our tour bus dropped us at one more breathtaking monument, the Arc de Triomphe. So we thought since already there we should take advantage... At 164’ tall it is nothing short of magnificent. Construction began in 1802 and was inaugurated in 1836, it was the vision and efforts of Napoleon Bonaparte to engineer this iconic marvel, which has become the second most visited monument in Paris. Guess what number one is 🗼 Anyway, enjoy!
Ok and then there was a barn, well their version anyway and let’s just say the horses were certainly not mistreated or left out in the cold and they all certainly traveled quite comfortably in the day, if not exquisitely!
And what would a day be without a fabulous ending to the day with a delicious dinner and wine, complete with what Mr. Hobson decided was so fantastic, he had to order a second serving.... “escargot” French style! Compliments of Les Deaux Palais and our delightful waiter Kevin, Bon Appetite 🍷🗼🇫🇷

20 August 2018

bonjour paris, famille et amis!🌺🇫🇷 Happy Monday, our day began quite early today, as we were meeting Ms. Catherine O’Hara, French photography curator extraordinaire! We thought how lovely it would be too actually have some professional photos done while we were here and “waa laa” Catherine was recommended to us as “the girl” to do it! It was nothing short of amazing as we completed a couple hours of shooting with her at various dramatically, beautiful locations. We then stopped for cafe and a quick bite before heading to change and return dockside on the seine for a delicious lunch cruise. This provided for an amazing view of the city of Paris from a completely different vantage point. We toured The base of the Eiffel tour. More amazing parks, chateaus, gardens and another lovely street scape as we worked our way back to the Abbaye for rest before the opera this evening. More to follow on that later. Until then au revoir🌺🇫🇷🗼

19 August 2018

One last tidbit, we had the opportunity to experience electric lavatories… Yes, you heard me correctly, automatic doors on the street corner, allowing one person in and one person out each time and then washing, flushing, cleaning the sink, toilet and floor between each visitor! An amazing concept, however, it takes forever as you stand in line waiting for your emergency situation!!! They need about 10 on every street corner rather than one! Au revoir
As you may also notice, we were certainly in a very secure place, as it was heavily guarded, including that of soldiers packing M-16s over their shoulders. It certainly provided you the feeling of safety, however at the same time, concern for the many individuals possessing terrorist mentalities in today’s world. Regardless, we had another amazing day with lots of walking included, shops galore, and what has been suggested as “Mr. Hobson‘s favorite café and Street in Paris to date!!! Our day has ended again well, as we are enjoying an amazing bottle of French wine and “pickies” in our private garden patio. An amazing ending, to yet another amazingly, fabulous day! Tomorrow, Destiination Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre and the Bar Hakeim bridge and fountain. bonne nuit pour mes chers amis et famille🇫🇷🗼
Our day began fairly quiet, as we were still dealing with a bit of “jet lag” and we did not have a very early start to this days adventures. We decided to take advantage of a taxi today, due to the distance of travel and thank goodness we did., as it was a good 10 miles up hill. Destination; Montmartre and the village of Moulin Rouge and the Basilica of Sacré-Cœur Construction commenced in 1875 and was completed in 1924 and was consecrated in 1929. It is 272 feet tall and contains 300 steps in a narrow passage way to reach the top belfry, of which visitors can travel upwards to visit the dome viewing area. It is of the Eclectique Byzantine design and is still a functioning Catholic Church, managed by the order of the Benedictine nuns and Franciscan priests at this beautiful sanctuary. As you can see it possessed breathtaking views, both overlooking the city of Paris and the indulgent grandeur of this most amazing sacred place.
Oh and I forgot to tell you that FiFi got her first French beret👩🏻🕶🗼🇫🇷
It was pretty incredible and thank goodness we knew the format of mass. Otherwise all in French so we would have just followed what everyone else did:) we took communion and the precession was quite long but so glad we did. How often do you have the chance to receive the body of Christ at the Notre Dame cathedral in your life!
So until tomorrow, time to rest and we will see what the day unfolds under the weatherman’s promise of beautiful French skies! Au revoir! 🌺🇫🇷🍷🕶
The most moving experience of the day, was finding ourselves face first in the grasp of The Notre Dame Cathedral! As we breathed in its every stone of history we had the most humbling and reverent moment of time, as we entered her great walls and attended mass and basked in its glory for a brief moment with hundreds of other pilgrims paying homage to her great history! This massive and most medieval architectural wonder began construction in 1136AD under the reign of King Louis VII and took over 200 years to complete in 1345AD. We then found our way to one of the many delicious tucked away “Alley” Cafe’s for a delicious dinner of French wine, breads, cheeses and charcuterie meats. Of course we then founds ourselves wondering the streets of Paris, diligently seeking to find our way home.... after a few wrong turns, we were finally successful with the assistance of a couple Parisian locals and landed in our own little garden for a night cap of cafe au lait and fresh fruit....
Wakey, Wakey, breakfast of champions, time to rise and shine.... we have crossed the Atlantic and we are only one hour away from Paris, the city of romance and intrigue....can’t wait to see what the day has in store.✈️🗼🕶🍷🇫🇷

18 August 2018

A Perfect ending to an absolutely most perfect day…a concert of Antonio Vivaldi’s Four Seasons symphony music, performed at the spectacular; La Sainte Chapelle (Holy Chapel) The palace is the work of St. Louis, King of France designed in the mid 13th century is a monumental shrine worthy of housing Christs crown of thorns, purchased in the year 1239 for 135,000 pounds more than three times the cost of constructing Sainte Chapelle. The Palace began construction in the year 1226 and was completed in 1248 and remained the residence of the king of France until he relocated to the Louvre upon it’s completion. It is one of the most beautiful venues I’ve ever seen and filled with thousands of Stained glass mosaics. Tomorrow the palace and gardens of Versailles is calling our names, until then au revoir🇫🇷🌺
What an amazing first day, we let no rest grab our bodies as we promptly made our way to our amazing little boutique hotel, thank you Candace for this recommendation, it does not fall short in any category! We were promptly embraced with wonderful smiles, immediate attention to every detail and getting us settled out to their quaint and gorgeous private garden for a delicious cafe au lait, fresh croissants and sweet breads, with both amazing blooming flowers, as well as the most lovely foliage’s, trees and climbing vines as tall as the building itself. We then found our way to the Luxembourg Gardens, which absolutely took our breath away. The most amazing colors and pristine presence of groomed beauty, both in low lying landscapes, as well as that of massively designed hedges, ponds filled with lilies and miniature sail boats and massed out with visitors both sauntering the garden grounds, As well as many enjoying a lovely afternoon picnic among the trees.
Amazing Architecture and gardens
We have arrived safe and sound and already enjoying the beautiful gardens and delicious café au lait
Snug as a bug in his cocoon, tummy full, relaxed and ready to rest!
The journey begins as we embark on our adventure to Paris and the south of France. There is so much excitement in the air and in our hearts for these next two weeks we are giddy with anticipation! More each day as I chronicle each moment and experience along the way. Until tomorrow my family and friends, au revoir🇫🇷🍷👩🏻🧔🏻

30 July 2017

Forever with me