Friday, April 13, 2007

Vimy Ridge

Our tour was over, but our guide surprised us with an added stop at Vimy Ridge. If you don't know about Vimy Ridge, look it up! As Canadians, we should be really proud of the contribution we made to ending the First World War. Many people believe this victory by the Canadians was the turning point in the war.

Above is Daniel, hanging out by the Canadian Flag.

They have restored the trenches, so you can see the elaborate system that both the Germans and the Allies used during the battle.

The French were so grateful for the help, they gave Canada the land where the battle was won. Technically, we were all in Canada. For years, you could even have your passport stamped by the Canadians, but unfortunately this is no longer available. Although, all of the people working at the site are Canadians.

Above is the Canadian front line, and across the field you can see the German front line. They were so close, for so long.

It took me a while to clue in that the bumpy landscape was actually due to the non-stop bombs that were dropped in this area during the war. Some of the craters were so big and deep that it's hard to believe any bomb would be powerful enough to displace so much earth.

The huge Memorial commemorating the victory was under repair at the time we were there. But it has since been unveiled as part of the 90th anniversary.

Paris II

We had amazing weather throughout the entire trip. Paris was the only place it actually rained, and that was just in the morning. By the time we emerged from the Louvre, it was all blue skies again.

Here is the view down the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, the most expensive strip of property in Europe. At this point, we had a choice to make. Take a walk down the avenue, enjoying looking at the luxury shops and cafes, on our way to the Arc de Triomphe. Or head to the Disney Exhibit taking place at the Grand Palais.

We chose the Disney Exhibit. :) We had seen the Arch de Triomphe from the bus, and thought the Disney Exhibit would be more up our alley, and a little something different. And it was definitely a good choice! It was huge, and so inspiring. The artwork was incredible, and there were videos, models, toys, paintings, fairy tale books, model sheets, layouts, etc. It was so big, we had to rush through in the end to meet our bus. Fortunately for us, it is now in Montreal, so we will definitely be making a trip to see it again, and I encourage all you animators and Disney lovers out there to do the same!

It was a rush to get back to the pick up spot, but we took a second to take a photo at "the most romantic of all the Paris bridges".

For our final evening in Paris we went to Montmartre, and saw the famous Sacre Coeur Basilica. This area of Paris is definitely worth a visit. Known as the hang out for many famous artists including Dali, Picasso and Monet, it still retains the atmosphere of the historic art district.

After an amazing Parisian meal, we walked to Paris' red light district, and saw the Moulin Rouge. We opted out of the Cabaret trip, and instead explored more of the city.


When we arrived in Paris, we had escargot and champagne waiting for us at the Contiki Village. Then we took a night tour of the city. This is definitley the best way to be introduced to Paris! The city is brilliant at night, and especially the Eiffel Tower.

The following morning we went up the Tower. This is the view down. Perspective is a funny thing! It was really windy, so being at the top was less than pleasant. The whole thing was swaying quite a bit, and if you turned one corner it seemed likely you'd be blown clear off the platform! But the views were breathtaking.

Two days is really not enough to fully experience Paris. We decided to stick to the key points of interest, like Notre Dame Cathedral....

...and the Louvre. The place truly is massive, so we had some choices to make. We decided to see the three key pieces: Mona Lisa, Winged Victory & Venus de Milo. Then I chose the Italian Masters wing, to see more Michelangelo.

Here's me with Psyche and Cupid.

Introducing Max Xavier Thornhill!

Chris and Ang welcomed their second baby boy on April 10, 9:15am. Max Xavier weighted 8lbs, 10oz. All are happy and healthy!

The proud parents:

Happy Family!