I’m back in Paris with the usual jet lag and a sore throat to boot. It’s so beautiful today in Paris that I’d love to get out but I will probably have an emergency nap instead. Here are a few photos taken in the States while visiting.

The bluebonnets were in bloom in Texas so I went out into the countryside to have a look.

A nice lady there said, “Are you alone? Let me take a photo of you with the bluebonnets.”

Then, as I struggled to my feet she took about ten more.

I saw some beautiful cactus flowers in Arizona while visiting my Mom.

And I took a ton of photos of family. This is one of my grandsons, Micah, who dressed for charcoal fire. Made me laugh.

Another birthday. Gosh, they come fast. Anyway, when Maurice asked me what I wanted to do I picked lunch at the Grand Vefour, a Michelin stared restaurant that has been around since 1784 and where such people as Napoleon and Josephine and Colette dined. I have passed it many times when visited the Palais Royal grounds looking in at the ornate ceiling or drooling at the menu in the window. Another thing happened that made me want to eat there: the chef, Guy Martin, liked one of my photos (one taken near the restaurant) on Instagram. It was like a sign.

The entrance.

Isn’t that a great ceiling?

How a spoon was placed on the table. I liked the decorative back.

The spoon was for this very good soup, a sort of squash called potiron. It had a ginger under taste.

Really tasty duck.

About fifty cheeses to choose from.

I had my chocolate dessert served on a silver platter with a bouquet of flowers and a candle. Rather classy.

A view of the restaurant from up above. Such fabulous ambiance.

A nice place to have a birthday lunch.

Utrecht (Netherlands) has a really interesting food scene and we did some eating and drinking there.

My son took us down this tunnel to the canal to a place called Humphrey’s.

It used to be a storage facility for unloading boats from the canal. This place was huge and the rooms went on and on. They were all painted red full of red glass chandeliers.

This room had a little movie going on the wall.

Another room.

Here was another place we passed that evening.

We ended up at this bar which doesn’t look that unordinary but inside:

you find that it was once a church.

I took this photo from up above where the organ was.

I love the architecture seen in Amsterdam. We did a canal boat tour on a wonderful sunny day and saw many examples of it.

Just one of many. All of them have beam sticking out at the top with hooks so furniture and other heavy objects can be pulled up to windows. Most of the houses are very narrow as they were charged more taxes if they were wide so they built up and back with rooms going deep.

A shot of a line up of bridges. There are over 100 canals and 100 bridges in Amsterdam. Also, even though there are a lot of barriers, an average of one car a week ends up in the water.

Some more architecture. As you can see, there are bikes parked everywhere. There were a few cars parked too.

We took a tour through the red light district. There were women sitting or standing behind windows available for business even in the afternoon. I wanted a photo of one but just didn’t feel comfortable doing it and I think they wouldn’t have liked it anyway. Most of them looked young and attractive to me. I guess they closed the curtain if a man came in.

There were several “museums” about marijuana there. I know it’s supposed to be easy to buy and it’s legal. I saw some young people sitting around really stoned.

My son had some business in the Netherlands, a city called Utrecht in particular, which I had never heard of. We made a quick trip there by train for a visit and a little exploration.

Utrecht does’t have many canals like Amsterdam, just one big one which makes a circle through the city. It’s pretty far below the level of the streets.

A little reflection from the setting sun.

Here is a view from our hotel room where you can see just some of the many bicycles. There were very few cars in the city, just some buses and thousands of bikes. Utrecht is a university city with lots of young people. We could sit in the cafe on the ground floor and watch them zoom by on bikes especially around 8 AM, on the way to school or work. Some women had two kids either in a cart in front of them or one in back and one in front, or you would see a mother on her bike holding the shoulder of a child on his bike next to her. Even people holding hands. I really had to watch out on the streets so I didn’t get hit. The streets seemed devoted to people on bikes with special crossings for them at lights and lanes everywhere. At the train station there were thousands of bikes in two level parking metal frames. I didn’t see one person wearing a helmet.

The next day we went to Amsterdam by train which took about twenty minutes to go to the Van Gogh Museum which was really good. It was really interesting to see Van Gogh’s beginning paintings and how he progressed. So sad he died so young. No photos were allowed so this is from a poster, a self-portrait, of which he did many since he couldn’t afford to pay models.

There was also an exhibit of paintings and prints done of prostitutes in Paris, around the time of Toulouse Lautrec. There’s a whole history of that time in Paris. Most of the women, if not in houses, were on the streets dressing “normally”, becoming street walkers. Toulouse Lautrec made friends with them and did many drawings of them. Degas did many paintings mostly of ballet dancers many of whom did a little business on the side. Men could come into the Garnier and watch them during rehearsals. It was an interesting display. There were a few photos, etc., that were risqué as you might think. I was especially taken with this bed set in a red room. I couldn’t find information on it but I assume it must have been used by a courtesan, well known women who were highly paid.

Here are a few more photos from our fabulous week in Venice. We had such a great, relaxing time.

Huge, gorgeous painting by Titan of the assumption of Mary in the Frari Church. There was another one there by him too.

These were for sale in an interesting shop. They were used to show perspective buyers a dress in a miniature size. They were called “French Puppets”.

A dog dressed up for Carnival.

A very loud party was going on behind our apartment in a lighted courtyard. If you look closely you will see a guy on stilts outside the door. He was checking invitations-so I wasn’t able to sneak in and get a look.

The gorgeous ceiling of the Academia Museum.

A statue being renovated in a museum. I’m glad they let us watch.

An old painting showing Carnival in times past. You can see a really elaborate boat for royalty and people dressed in costume. I love seeing things like this showing life as it once was.

Just an iconic look at another canal and bridge in a part of Venice not visited much.

Next Page »