Hi everyone –
Thanks SO much for all of your support for Across the Veil!!! It spent all weekend in the top 100 Fantasy anthology stories on Amazon!!! I’m elated that people are enjoying the story… Hopefully I can get the word out about the book as reviews start to pop up around the web.
In the meantime… *drum roll* I finally finished my European travel blog!!! YAY!!!
I hope you enjoy the pictures, diaries and videos…
It was a wonderful trip!
Travel Blog Part Deux
Day Four – (2-9-11)
Today we toured the monastery at Mt. Saint Michel. It started being built in 700AD and was completed in its current state in 1300. I took tons of pictures because I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it justice with just words. Here are a few…
A couple of highlights… The monastery is built at the top of an island, so the trek up was a rough climb, followed by hundreds of stairs… Yow! The village surrounding the cathedral was all cobblestones and little shops and restaurants that looked like Fantasyland, only real. Yes I loved it! 🙂
I even got a picture of a hidden Mickey inside the cathedral!
The best moment of Mt. Saint Michel was when the guide took us to the oldest chapel inside. It’s over 1,000 years old and they allowed the choir to sing there.
Hearing their voices echo in the ancient walls was stunning. My Mom cried and hugged Reno. It’s incredible that he’s getting the opportunity to sing in so many sacred places. I don’t know if he understands how special it is now, but when he’s older he’ll be able to say he sang in places very few other voices have shared. (Sorry the lighting is non-existent, but they sound beautiful! 🙂 )
For dinner we were in Tours, France and were treated to a cave restaurant. We had even more salty meats. I don’t know that I’ve ever retained this much water before! LOL The restaurant was run by a husband and wife. They were excellent hosts! After dinner they opened their dance floor and deejayed. The choir got their groove on to YMCA and a few other 80’s dance tracks complete with a disco ball and rave lights! They had a blast, and Reno even got in the center of the circle to dance freestyle!
I’m still having major issues trying to get my netbook to charge up using the lame-o electricity here… I keep hoping it’ll be better at the next hotel. We’re heading to Paris tomorrow so hopefully that’ll be much better… *fingers crossed*
Day Five – (2-10-11)
Today we were treated to a tour of the Chateau de Chenonceau in the Loire Valley of France. It was like a pocket castle or a King’s summer time share! It was beautiful, but not huge. It also had a gorgeous garden, but since we came in winter, most of the trees were bare and there were no flowers.
There was a real hedge labyrinth there but we didn’t have time for me to go through it. I was bummed about that.. So I’ll have to go back someday, maybe in Fall while the leaves are changing? Or spring when the flowers bloom?
The Chateau had a very interesting history, and I took tons of pictures.
We got back on the bus and this leg of the trip, the kids rehearsed with Ms. Nelson for over an hour, cleaning up a few spots where the harmonies were getting shaky. The kids are really dedicated to making the music the best it can be. It was cool to see… 🙂
Our next stop was in Chartres where they sang in the Cathedral of Chartres. The cathedral was stunning!!! They were in the middle of cleaning and restoring it, so parts of the cathedral were almost black while the other parts were back to the very light, almost white limestone color, sometime right next to each other so you could really see the difference…
The stained glass there was very similar to the patterns at Notre Dame. The choir sang beautifully, and then we were back on the bus to head to Paris.
After a long ride, we finally saw the Eiffel Tower in the distance, and the bus erupted in cheers! 🙂
We had dinner in downtown Paris. The kids thought they were eating chicken, but it was really duck. The meat was MUCH redder than chicken and the drumstick bones were way too long to be chicken. I did eat some… It was stringy and gamey, but the potatoes and the sauce were really good!
Our hotel room was very hot and we had to leave the window open for any kind of ventilation. We also had pretty lame electricity, but I was getting used to that at this point. Tomorrow they sing in Notre Dame!!!! Can’t wait…
Day Six – (2-11-11)
Today the choir performed inside of Notre Dame!!! The cathedral was awe-inspiring, and they were great to the kids. They unroped the front altar so the kids could perform on the steps and then roped off the sides of the steps over to the pews so that tourists couldn’t walk right in front of the choir while they performed. The lights came up and they announced the performance.
I held my breath as the kids entered in their blue choir robes. I was so proud of Reno. When they opened their mouths to sing, the cathedral went silent and their voices filled the space. Notre Dame was the largest cathedral they performed in, and this was the first time I noticed they struggled to make enough sound.
After the second song they hit their stride, and when they sang O Lord Please Hear My Prayer, I cried. They had a beautiful blend like angels. I know most of the kids have no grasp of what a special opportunity it was to sing there, but in years to come I think they’ll treasure this day more. Even Mike got teary-eyed.
More pictures of Notre Dame…
After Notre Dame we took a city tour before the kids performed again at St. Magdalene’s Church. This church didn’t look like a cathedral from the outside, and had no stained-glass windows inside, but it was probably the best sound the choir had the entire trip. About 200 people came to her them sing for their final performance of the trip.
We had dinner at the Hard Rock in Paris. It was so exciting to get Coke with ice cubes in it!!! (I almost took a picture of my glass I was so desperate for icy drinks by then! LOL) I’m definitely learning to appreciate the little things we have back home! LOL I got some souvenirs along with my new Hard Rock Paris glass to add to my collection! Fun!
Then we headed to the Louvre for a nighttime tour! I guess I had no concept of how huge this museum is! It used to be a castle, so the building itself is part of the museum. During our 90 minute tour we only scratched the surface of the Louvre. I wish I had more time there. I did get to stand in front of the Mona Lisa, and the statue of Venus De Milo! (Of course in my head I kept hearing Homer Simpson groaning about “Gummy De Milo”… So mature! LOL)
The exit signs in Europe were so cute! Little running men everywhere… So Brennon, Reno and Grandma Ally all struck up the running exit man pose… 😀 (Is it obvious that we weren’t mature enough for The Louvre? 🙂 Life’s too short not to have fun, right? LOL)
We missed entire wings of sculptures and works of art, so if I ever make it back I’d love to spend an entire day there…
Tomorrow we head to Versailles and the Eiffel Tower!
Day Seven – (2-12-11)
Today is our last full day in Paris. I’m already planning my next trip in my head. Ken will be with me and we can spend more time at some of the places without our break-neck pace of the tour. It would be great to see Paris in the fall when the leaves are changing…
We visited the Eiffel Tower first, and I was surprised to find out I really loved going up to the top! I was dreading it being scared of heights, but once we got up there to view was so amazing that I wasn’t afraid. We found the spots the kids sang, and the different monuments we’d visited. I could have stayed up there a little longer…
Our next stop was Versailles. Like the Louvre, I apparently had no clue how big Versilles really was. I knew it was a castle, but it’s so much more than that! Miles of gardens and fountains and lakes… We took a tour of the main public rooms of the castle, but again there was much more to see. We probably could’ve spent two days there to explore everything. Even in winter, it was so beautiful. Like a trip back in time. I wish Ken had been with me to see it. Although I only saw a small portion, so someday when we come back we could see the rest together! 🙂
For dinner we went up to the top of a mountain to a little section of Paris known as Montemarde. It had a glorious view and the square at the top was full of artists and really cool little shops and restaurants. Me and my kids I was chaperoning met a Russian portrait artist. And dinner featured a live cabaret singer who led us in a sing-a-long of Let it Be… It was a great way to end the trip…
When we flew home we flew all the way from Paris to Dallas TX!!! Yow!!! It was an 11 hour plane ride! *boggle* But it felt SO great to be back home! 🙂
We were ready to be home… Reno is now officially a traveling man with his passport stamped from Brussells and Paris and Dallas! 🙂 (They stamped us when we came back to the US too! LOL)
The most amazing part of this picture of Napoleon’s Veteran Hospital is the sky! The tour guides we had in Paris begged us not to take the sun back with us to San Diego! LOL We had unheard of weather while we were in Paris! So lucky! 😀 Here’s the Veteran’s hospital courtyard… You know Napoleon wanted to shoe the bird off of the statue! LOL
This is the organ at the back on the cathedral. See the TINY person at the bottom of the picture? The organist was there rehearsing when we went inside… SO cool to get to hear her practicing! Amazing!
It was a really fun, once-in-a-lifetime trip!!!
Reno and I were REALLY lucky my Mom and her husband, Mike, made it possible for us to go…