Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Paris Day 3

Off we set on a shopping adventure wowing at the sites on the way! We explored the area around Hotel de vile. Grant bought a sun hat and I bought black sandals and a gorgeous white dress to wear for my birthday!  This place really is a mix of extremely cheap and extremely expensive! We bought an iced coffee each and it cost 11 euro which is about $22.00.  
Lunch at the Library Cafe 

Love the little floor hoist...

We had a delicious lunch at a gorgeous library cafe and meandered our way back to our hotel in time to shower and change and go out for dinner. We got a taxi across town and had dinner at a stunning French cafe where I dined on escargot for entree and frogs legs for main! YUM! All accompanied by delicious wine and finished off nicely with a creme brûlée! 

Snail sensation!  YUM

Frog legs... and frog bottoms....

The largest creme brûlée I have ever had the pleasure of feasting on.

Night tour of Paris

Are de Tiomphe at night

Eiffel Tower at Night

Illumination tour of Paris followed with an extensive tour of the city viewing all the sites lit up! STUNNING! My only disappointment was the lack of stops for photos - fabulous memories though! 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Day two in Paris

We woke late after a very restless night without the air conditioning on properly and headed down to breakfast! Off we set to get the bus to the bus to the Eiffel Tower for our tour at one o'clock. The closer we got the more obvious it was that our bus wasn't going to get there in time as it meandered around Paris, so we got off and walked along the Seine to the tour arriving in plenty of time. Sooooo glad we pre booked because it is well over 30 degrees and the queue is over 2 hours long....
Looking down at the queues....

Surreal views from the top

Not all that much space for a selfie around this ledge

Nuts and bolts... what an incredible structure

Up we want to level 2, then right to the top.... Sunning, stunning views! What a glorious city! We travelled back down to level two in the elevator then walked the steps down to level one and the ground. I am pleasantly surprised that I appear to have got over my fear of heights to a degree! I was not at all scared on the platform around the top of the tower. Stunning!!!! From the bottom of the tower we walked over to Champs élysées and stopped for a yummy lunch! 

Parisien food at a cafe on Champs élysées

Looking up at the arc de triomphe

Loads of photos at the Arc de Triomphe then finally found our way back stopping to buy sunblock, wine, beer and snacks... What a day!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Day one in Paris

We arrived at Charles de Gaulle airport at 7.05am and found our shuttle easily for our transfer to our hotel! We were unable to check in til 2pm so we left our bags and walked up to the Notredame Cathedral. Mass was on, and it felt very weird being a tourist in the middle of mass.

Notredame Cathedral

Inside the cathedral - bizarre that tourists visit while Mass is on!

Beautiful candles everywhere

We used our voucher to redeem our pass for the hop on hop off bus and we set off to tour Paris. Oh my goodness it is sooo hot!  I will never forget my first sighting of the Eiffel Tower... I keep pinching myself to make sure it is all real...
Stunning first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower

We hopped on the bus and travelled around! I absolutely loved travelling up Champs-Elysees and seeing the Arc de Triomphe! Stunning... 
Arc de Triomphe

Bridge over the river Seine

So much of my school learning is coming flying back. I especially remember the project we did and Shona promising me travel brochures then never delivering. What a very weird memory to retain for 35+ years... I simply can't believe the age and the height of all the buildings or the seeming total lack of lanes and road control, or speed restrictions.. Or lack of! We travelled the full green loop of the bus then hopped on the bus for the yellow loop, got off and walked up to Sacre Coeur!
Sacre Couer
What an absolute juxtaposition, the absolute beauty of the cathedral, the view and the hawkers and gypsies... Begging and trying to sell their wares. I was very shocked to find my bag totally unzipped when I got down from the cathedral. Very relieved nothing was missing and very surprised that neither Grant nor I was not aware of when It happened! We hopped back on the bus and eventually found our way back to our hotel after walking a distance with a lovely lady from Canada! We changed and went out for and Italian dinner... Funny for our first night in Paris but too exhausted to walk any further and sooo hungry... 40 hours since we left NZ - finally sleep....

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Happiness Project

So here we are.... Flying over the top of Queensland bound for Singapore...
Years ago I got a book on Venice and I had always been torn between celebrating my 50th in Venice or Paris! Mid way through last year we got thinking and decided we'd visit both Paris and Italy.  
We have four days in Paris then a tour of Italy then a 4 day stopover in Singapore!
What am I looking forward to most?
I think it is the five fishing villages, although it could be Monet's garden or it could be my birthday celebration at 1-altitude...
Today at Christchurch airport I bought a book to read on the flight.., The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and I am only up to page 15 and I am loving it!
What a wonderful concept to want to be happier. I know that since our children were born I have always said I want them to be happy and safe.  Happiness is incredibly important to us as we journey through life. Current research quoted states that genetics accounts for about 50% of a person's happiness, life circumstances; age, gender, income, health etc count for 10 - 20% and the remainder is how we think and act.  That really is quite astounding.  We have a lot of control over how happy we are and how we react to life.   
What is happiness?
Aristotle claimed happiness is the chief good. If that is the case what can we do to ensure we make the most of our journey and be happy along the way... 
Here I am on a happy journey, discovering opportunities for greater happiness... Sounds like a dream....

Part of the project Gretchen started was defining her twelve commandments...  So I guess that is a great place for me to start! What is it that I ultimately believe in! That I hold a core to my way of being!

  1. Seize every moment and make the most of it.
  2. Love my family and spend as much time with them as I possibly can.
  3. Greet everyone - the world is full of people I am waiting to meet.
  4. Tell my story.
  5. Listen to the story of others.
  6. If I learn, teach; if I get, give!
  7. Find MAGIC in most everything!
  8. The most precious gift I have is time...

Phew... That was a mission!  Just when I thought I'd got through the intense abrasion workout, the next challenge is to share my secrets of adulthood! Things I believe to be true now that I am growing up!

  • Life may not always be fair, but it is very, very good!
  • Time spent with those you love is the most precious time...
  • FAIL is just first attempt in learning.
  • Making mistakes is crucial.... Learning from your mistakes even more so.
  • Every season is MAGICal.
  • We have incredible power to effect the happiness of others...
  • Telling the truth often hurts.
  • Giving to others is very good for my soul.
  • Working out is good for my body, my mind and my soul.
  • Seek and value advice.
  • Make sure you can see where you have been when you do the housework!
  • Sometimes the best option is to close the door. 
  • Act promptly sometimes... But know when to take your time.
  • Let the temperature decide what you wear.
  • Blow bubbles.
  • Jump in puddles.
  • Make snow angels.
  • Use every opportunity to leverage technology for connecting and celebrating.
  • Write notes and cards and send them.
  • Have the challenging conversations.
  • Obey the speed limit....
  • Park with excellence until you are excellent.
Well that will do for now... Remember this is just e beginning of my journey! No doubt I will have a very different list by the end of this journey, literally and metaphorically!

"Happiness is the meaning and purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence."  Aristotle

I wonder now if I chose this book because of what mum said to me a few weeks ago.  Se has been trying to get her head around my new role and understand what it is to be a facilitator.  She turned to me and said, "I think you're a facilitator of happiness.."  What a beautiful phrase indeed and one that brings a really fuzzy feeling to my head and my heart! 

Friday, July 5, 2013

One sleep til Paris...

One sleep til Paris... Can you tell how excited I am?  And I have to say this rainbow text is pure MAGIC!  Thank you to the very special person who shall remain nameless who shared this with me! 

Thursday, July 4, 2013


I really do love my job...
I just have to share a spot of MAGIC from my week! 
I arrived at a school and was working away with a staff member when one of the new entrants spotted me! He called out hey it's Mrs Blog! Well I've been called a lot of things in my time but this is a new one!  He then proceeded to share with me everything he thought was vitally important to add to the blog since he'd last seen me! How cool is that!   Suddenly the learners see their new blog as a vehicle for sharing their learning journeys with others.  They want to tell their story, they want to connect, they want to share, they want their voice to be heard.

As I reflect on this I think about the impact of my experiences with these learners.
At the start of e year when I took this role I knew that I would really miss the kids! I do miss the kids, but now I am getting into classes a lot more and I have a lot of time working alongside learners!  They never cease to amaze and inspire me!  

This week I also had the privilege of working with another group of learners who have a brand new blog.  They have recently had a number of snow days and one of the learners had the privilege to share his snow days via the blog and link back to an Otago Daily Times article about their adventures.  The layers in this kind of sharing are really amazing! What a wonderful vehicle the blog is...