We went to see Disney Paris the first weekend that they had started decorating for Christmas, and it was just as magical as when the US Disney parks are decorated. One major difference we noted was that in Paris, it was all Christmas, whereas in the US, there are a few decorations for Hanukkah also.
We recently went back to Paris for a quick weekend trip, because when we were there for the marathon, there were a few things we didn't get to do, so this was our chance to make good on those. One of the things I really wanted to do was to see Notre Dame Cathedral. I'm not really sure why, because it's not as if I wildly love gothic architecture, and I haven't even read the book, Hunchback of Notre Dame, but to me, the cathedral is one of the first things I picture when I think of Paris.
We had so much fun visiting with Hadley in London that we decided to meet up again, this time for a long weekend starting at Disneyland Paris. This photo, yeah, it was taken by Hadley bravely giving her phone to a six-year old to take our photo. Things to note: the six year old knew how to use the iPhone to take a photo (she was six, and plenty of adults would have no clue) and she composed the photo very well!
If you do as much train travel across Europe as I have in the last few months, you will have your fair share of running for the train stories. It's a given. I had two that weren't my fault, but in both cases, I made my train. I have now had, though, my first experience of a train just plain being cancelled.
To start with, here is what train travel should look like. This is an altered photo of Greg next to high speed trains. Since I didn't quickly find a photo filter that makes my picture look like an Impressionist painting, I went with this. In case you can't tell, train travel is supposed to be minimal time to wait at the station, you quickly and efficiently board, and then a smooth ride; bonus points if you are on a bullet train and it goes roughly 140 mph, so you get to your destination quickly, sometimes with wifi and food and drinks aboard.
Everything we heard about Prague was true: lots of history, amazing varied architecture, some great churches, and there will be pictures of all that on a soon to come post, but the weekend we were in town happened to be the weekend of the Prague Folklore Days. It is basically a festival for folk groups from all across Europe, plus some Middle East and one Canadian group, to gather to do whatever they wish: some played music, some danced, and all were in their traditional attire. The complete ensemble participant list with summaries of each group can be found here. The festival had a stage for those who wanted to perform, but we literally stumbled upon them gathering to process in a parade through the streets of old Prague, which as someone who loves a good parade, I was enthralled. Below are some of the photos, and where I know, I have identified what region or country the group was from.
Guys tuning their old school bag pipes (I don't actually know what they are called but they sounded like bag pipes) before the parade. It's much more interesting than say, guys tooting their own horns; I promise, that is the only bad pun for today.
Our gift to Nico for arranging for us to stay with his family was a quintessential Munich beer stein. He humored us and actually drank beer out of it at dinner. Lesson learned: the lid gets in the way.
We had a lovely barbecue dinner at Nico's house, where for any concerned folks, the two year old did not actually drink a drop of wine. He smelled an empty bottle for about half a second. Nothing to call French child services over. Just enough for a silly photo.
We spent the weekend with Nico, his wife Thuy, their children Olivia and Sebastien, and stayed at Nico's parents' house. The village and region were literally like walking into a children's fairy tale drawing. The region is known mainly for their wine, which we got to taste at Nico's uncle's winery. Apparently the region has many small producers that are almost all family operations, but they produce some amazing white wines.
They are known for Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewurtztraminer, etc, and all that we had was incredible! We may have purchased a case of wine, and now be facing the dilemma of how do we safely get them home to the US without breaking.
Two bits! Or when at Disneyland, a smidge more than two bits. Smidge, of course, being the exact, technical amount it cost. In all honesty, I don't remember exactly what it cost, but I do remember thinking that it was fairly reasonably priced. In case anyone else is thinking about doing this, go ask on your first day, because when we first went, Domenico was booked, and we scheduled for the following day. Apparently far more frequently, guys just get the shave, not the haircut also.
Sign by the Big Thunder Mountain exit
Overall, as big Disney fans, it was lots of fun for us to go to Disneyland Paris and see the differences between the US parks, and this, since it is our first international Disney property that we have visited. Nonetheless though, whatever differences there were, the overall feeling was very similar to the Disney parks in the US, which was nice for us, because it gave us a feeling of being back home, even though we obviously don't live at a Disney theme park. For background info, in Paris, there are two parks: the main Disneyland Park and a Walt Disney Studios Park, which is similar to the what I still call MGM Studios park (but since that partnership ended is now just called Disney Studios park) in Florida.
Warning, there are a lot of photos (21 to be exact) and my commentary, so it may take a moment to load and read. You may want to go get a cup of coffee or tea, just not from this guy.