Sunday, April 29, 2012

My Last Few Days in Paris

April has been a crazy month...filled with "see you laters" and preparation for the next chapter in our lives.  Although our future plans are still a bit up in the air, it seems that Dustin will be transferred to a city in North America starting at the beginning of July.  With baby Smith scheduled to make an appearance around the same time, we felt it was best to move me to Indiana so that I would not get stranded in Paris with a newborn all by myself.  My doctor in Paris said the latest she would let me fly was mid-April.  So, we booked my plane ticket home on April 17th. 

I am staying with my parents, while Dustin is still living it up in Paris.  I told him he should be miserable without me :), but he is in Ireland as I type this, and has several other trips planned before he comes to join me in mid-June. 

I spent my last week in Paris seeing friends, eating my favorite foods, and doing a few last-minute touristy things.  It was an emotional week for me.  Not only was I preparing to say goodbye to my hubby for a few months, but I was also saying goodbye to a city that truly changed me for the better over the last two years.

Yes, I did my fair share of complaining about Paris.  Parisians smell bad, they leave dog poop all over the sidewalks, they rarely smile, and they make everything more difficult than it needs to be.  But living in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, where I don't really speak the language, taught me so much about myself.  I learned to look at the world in a new way.  I even learned to like Parisians (they really aren't so bad!) and their way of doing things.  Dustin and I became so much closer, as many of the things we were going through could only be understood by each other.  During our time in Paris, we traveled all over Europe.  We met people from every corner of the globe.  And we learned we would be adding a new member to our family. 

Yes, the last two years have been a special time.  I will always look back on these years as some of the best in my life.  I'm so glad we took the plunge and moved our lives across the Atlantic.  I wish everyone could have a similar experience. 

With all of those thoughts swirling in my head, I tried to really live it up my last week (well, as much as a pregnant lady can!). 

Waiting at a bus stop on one of my last days.  I will miss this view!

 I have taken this picture a gazillion times, but I just couldn't resist.

I'm not sure how I am going to survive without Ladurée macarons...

On our last Friday night together in Paris, Dustin and I went to the top of the Montparnasse Tower.  The view was absolutely stunning!  After the tower, we ate dinner at our favorite Italian restaurant. 

We stayed up until 1:00 am to see the "special" sparkling of the Eiffel Tower.  The gold lights go off, and all that you see are the white sparkling lights.  I've only stayed awake to see it a couple of times!

On our last Saturday, we went up to Montmartre to pick out some artwork.  We bought three small paintings of monuments in Paris.

On my last Sunday, we went to lunch after church with Megan and then stopped for pastries!

 My last bump picture in front of the Eiffel Tower - at 28 weeks.

On my very last night, Dustin and I took a walk around our neighborhood (while I fought off tears).  I stopped at my favorite crepe place for a Nutella crepe.  

Gosh, I miss this guy.  :(

When the morning of April 17th arrived, I said goodbye to our cute little apartment and Dustin and I grabbed a cab to the airport.  Although we knew we were making the right decision by sending me home, it was a tough morning.  I cried through the cab ride (while simultaneously holding on for dear life).  And then I cried even harder waving at Dustin as I passed through to the secure side of the airport. 

But I know that it's not goodbye forever - not to Dustin and not to Paris.  I'll be back.  And when I do get the chance to go back, I can't wait to stroll the streets of my old neighborhood, grab a coffee in a café, and just watch the city in action. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Parisians on a Sunny Day

The weather as of late hasn't been much to write home about.  Lots of rain, cloudy skies, and a chill in the air.  Most people stick to inside entertainment, and only go out in order to travel to and from work.  But when we happen to have a break in the nasty weather, the Parisians come out in droves.

A couple of weekends ago, we were blessed with sunny skies and temps in the 70s.  Dustin and I set out to take advantage of the sunny day, and ended up exploring a surprisingly beautiful park:  Parc des Buttes Chaumont.  We quickly discovered that we were not the only people in the city to have this idea!

View from the top!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Musée d'Orsay

The first Sunday of every month is Free Museum Day in Paris.  Dustin and I took advantage of the first Sunday in March and headed to Museé d'Orsay, not too far from our apartment.  The museum is in an old train station that was built at the end of the 1800s.  Eventually, modern trains became longer, and the station could no longer be used.  It was turned into a museum in 1986 and it is home to French art from 1848-1915. 

Some of my favorite artists have pieces in the Orsay - Monet, Manet, and Degas to name a few.  I especially love Renoir's Bal du Moulin de la Galette.  Unfortunately, you can't take pictures inside of the museum (except for overarching shots from specific lookout points).

If you ever find yourself in Paris, I definitely recommend spending some time in this fabulous museum.  Just getting to see the inside of the train station (without the art it contains!) is worth the price of a ticket.  And since the museum is much smaller than the Louvre, you can truly feel like you've done it justice without becoming extremely exhausted in the process. 

Our attempt at a self portrait outside of the museum...

I love the clock!

The view through the clocks at the top of the station is stunning!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

It's Been Entirely Too Long...

Wow. I can't believe nearly 3 months have passed since my last blog update. Starting NOW I am going to attempt to do a better job! I guess the first thing I need to do is catch everyone up on what has been going on with the Smiths.

  • On November 1, 2011, Dustin and I found out we are expecting our first child! The baby is due July 8th.  We were (and continue to be!!) very excited, but also a little nervous about navigating French healthcare. Fortunately, I have found an American doctor who is fantastic!
  • November and December were rough months. I was pretty sick and didn't feel like doing much of anything (hence the lack of blog postings!). But we were thankful that although I wasn't feeling well, the little one inside me was growing and progressing normally!
  • In December, we got to spend two weeks with our families in the states. We spent one week in Kentucky with Dustin's family, and one week with my family in Indiana. That's when we spilled the beans to our family about our exciting news!
  • In January, I started feeling a lot better, but I was still exhausted. We got our first really good picture of our little one.

So, that brings us to February. I was fortunate enough to get to spend two weeks with my family in Florida! It was so nice to be out of Paris, in the sun, and with people I love. Dustin even got to come for a few days!

Dustin hitting up the driving range (he was THRILLED that I took this picture!).

Me by the Caloosahatchee River at the Edison and Ford Estates in Ft. Myers.

Edison Estate

Wouldn't you love a view like this from your front porch?

The largest banyan tree in continental US - given to Edison by Firestone in 1925.

After we visited the Edison and Ford Estates, we drove to Sanibel Island and stayed on the beach for one night.  The view from our hotel balcony was incredible!

A nature preserve on Sanibel.

Alligator sighting!

After our little "babymoon", Dustin went back to Paris and I stayed in Florida for a few more days.  We passed our time shopping, eating, reading, etc.  It was super relaxing and just what the doctor ordered.

My awesome family.  Thanks for a great two weeks!!

Monday, December 12, 2011

One place I never imagined visiting...

I have a list in my head of places I would love to travel to, and we've had the amazing opportunity to check a lot of those places off the list in the last year and a half.  But there are some places that just aren't on my radar.  Places I have little to no background knowledge about, places where I'm not even sure exactly where they are on the map...they are places I don't imagine ever visiting.  Because of a trip Dustin had to take for work, we had the chance to travel to Budapest...definitely one of those cities that never had really entered my mind before. 

All I knew about Budapest prior to our visit was that it was in Hungary, and that it had been under communist rule.  And I had heard something about goulash...

Budapest (which is actually made up of two cities, Buda and Pest) really surprised me.  Until our visit, I had no idea that it is considered one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.

The Parliament Building on the river Danube

Megan came with us!

Statue of Ronald Reagan, symbolically walking against communism.

Inside the Parliament Building

Hungarian Crown Jewels

 Parliament at night!

On our last day, we visited the 2nd largest synagogue in the world (second to one in New York).  There was a touching museum to Jewish people living in Budapest during WWII. 

Inside of the synagogue.  We got to listen to their contemporary band practice!

On our last evening, Megan and I went to see Rigoletto in Budapest's famous Opera House.  Good thing we read up on the opera before going - it was sung obviously in Italian, but the subtitles were in Hungarian.  We had no hope of understanding!

Overall, it was an amazing experience to visit this part of Eastern Europe.  The people were friendly, the architecture was stunning, and the goulash was delicious!