Sunday in Paris

I’ve been to Paris a few times, but I haven’t been able to attend the American Church, so Twyla and I headed over there. Our plan was to catch the Batobus, but we never found it. So we ended up walking the whole way.

The church was already in progress when we arrived. Parisian security being what it is, we had to have our bags searched before entering the sanctuary. We loved the service.

After the service, they had a coffee hour in the room next-door. Look at the little basket of coffee spoons! They’re just little mini spoons.

I was also amused to discover the fellowship hall doubled as a ballet studio.

After church we walked over to the Orangerie museum. The museum rooms were built specifically to hold Monet’s water lilies pictures. It was pretty amazing.

Next we joined a good part of the Parisian population at the Tulleries for a sit down.

We ended our evening with dinner close to the river and in our own neighborhood. And crepes!

Paris — Art and the Marais

One of the best things about staying at a bed and breakfast is well BREAKFAST! The French don’t do big breakfasts, they prefer a croissant and espresso. That’s fine with me. I’m a fan of pastry.

Our table included fruit, croissants, French bread, juice and three kinds of jam. Oh and French butter. It’s the best.

We woke to find our host ironing. Not surprising, the linens were antique and …ironed!

One of my goals this trip was to see some things I hadn’t seen so we started at the Orsay.

I’m not a huge art fan, but I was smitten with this place and the impressionist art.

Twyla gave me a mini lesson on Impressionism and Pointillism. Born to teach she is!

Museum cafes are the best and this one had two. Look at the light fixtures!

And a great clock.

Just outside d’Orsay we heard jazz music. And this woman, I’m thinking in her 80s, provided the dancing entertainment.

One of the best things about Paris is just wandering. We wandered into the Marais, the home of falafel. Both Twyla and I are indecisive about where to eat. I’m sure we could have looked all day, but hunger finally took over. We found a great place and I tried falafel for the first time. It was great!

It’s our goal to have coffee and dessert outside every day. Today I picked a meringue and Twyla selected a beautiful raspberry pistachio.

We ended our day taking a boat ride and seeing the Eiffel for the first time.

We ended up back in our room about 10 o’clock. We had walked 10 miles today! That deserved another round of gelato.

Turning 60 in Paris

Last year on my birthday, my friend Leah wished me 59 adventures for my 59th year. I’ve thought about that all year. What if instead of dreading turning 60 I could celebrate the year with 60 adventures? Would it be possible? Instead of being sad so many years were behind me could I embrace the year joyfully?

So when the opportunity arrived to turn 60 in Paris, I packed up and went.

My sister Twyla came along to celebrate with me!

We booked a Bed and Breakfast on Il de Louis just a block from Notre Dame. Carol welcomed us with coffee on a silver tray. She speaks my love language.

With less than an hour of sleep, but buoyed by coffee, we headed out to Paris. First stop, lunch.

Croque Monsier sandwich and Orangina eaten on the square in front of Notre Dame.

After a quick wander through the church we headed to the Marais for cloud cake. Seriously a chandelier in a pastry shop!

A sweet deserves coffee and what better place to enjoy it than the Seine?

We found a hidden garden inside the Hotel Dieu.

And headed over to the Luxembourg Garden for more!

I finally hit the Shakespeare bookstore … but no photos are allowed inside.

We enjoyed a lovely dinner eaten in the best way–outside.

We considered crepes to end the day, but gelato won out.

We wrapped our first day in Paris. I’ll take 59 more adventures!

The Rainforest

We left Lake Atitlan today but not without one last adventure.

We started the day with a garden breakfast. Plants and flowers were everywhere. And of course a dog or two as well.

Then we boarded a tuk tuk for the Nature Reserve. Our driver was a bit of a ham!

We had to travel up the volcano to get to the reserve. With three adults in the back, I was afraid we might have to push to get up the incline!

The Nature Reserve was a sugar cane plantation that has slowly been reclaimed as a rainforest.

There are plenty of brightly colored butterflies.

And flowers.

We hiked up to see the waterfalls.

To get there we had to cross multiple swinging bridges. I’m not the best on them! My travel partners had no fear.

Seeing the water rush below is less than peaceful.

Along the way we met some coatis. They are a monkey-like raccoon-like creature. If you look you can see the babies in the second picture.

We also saw spider monkeys swinging through the trees. And one waiting for snacks at the Restaurant.

Then we headed back to Guatemala City. We did see a few more animals there and Rob can never resist a good goat picture.

Boating on Lake Atitlan

The gardens at Lake Atitlan hotel are legendary. This morning before breakfast I spent an hour just wandering.

Everywhere I looked foliage and flowers.

And birds.

After breakfast we transferred our bags to another hotel. Sadly Hotel Atitlan only had room for us one night.

Hugo met us at the hotel and escorted us to the boat docks for a tour of the lake.

He didn’t speak any English–but he smiled at us a lot!

We visited three towns. In one town we stopped at the ceramic works. Amazing what they produce from such primitive tools.

Then at the market they dressed Maria in tradition Mayan dress.

They do this in hopes that you will buy the outfit. Maria didn’t think she’d wear it again so no sale. Most of the women here in small towns still wear these clothes.

Many of the tourist stalls are manned by young girls. I loved seeing them play a game of soccer in the street.

After the boat ride the hammock looked comfortable for a snooze! I had trouble staying in it but Rob figured it out.

Our hotel had a fussball table and ping pong table. We played both. Maria won even when she played one handed.

We ended the night with ice cream. Rob, who cannot say no to the children selling their wares, ended up including an extra in our order. After all, he figured, how many bracelets can we give away! Buying ice creams might be his modus operende.

Lake Atitlan

We said goodbye to Antigua early this morning…but not without our obligatory McDonald’s trip.

McDonald’s looks ordinary on the outside, but inside is amazing. Think gardens and waterfalls everywhere and you are on the right track.

And what of this entree?

And desserts. Why are we missing out?

After breakfast, where Rob humorously tried to order in Spanish and had the cashier in stitches, we boarded a shuttle for Lake Atitlan.

Driving is pure sport here. On a mountain road barely wide enough for the shuttle, there is a chicken bus coming in the opposite direction, a tuk tuk, a bike, a couple of people walking, and a Motorcycle that is convinced it can fit in between the truck and the shuttle. I asked how long the ride would be, and one of the passengers told me it would take between two and three hours depending on how fast the driver drove. Speed limits are optional.

The crazy drive ended (note the steep angle of that street) at Lake Atitlan. My favorite place in Guatemala. It is a paradise!

Just as we arrived the day of light rain and fog turned sunny!

Here we relaxed. We swam and wandered the botanical gardens. There are secret places all over the property to sit and view the flowers, birds, lake and volcanoes. I read a book and ordered orange juice with soda water (the orange juice is fresh squeezed here and amazing) on the deck.

When the rain started again we played games inside the restaurant. We taught Maria two new games and she won both.

Coffee!

We started our day with a lovely breakfast on the roof at (aptly named) Bella Vista Coffee. From the roof you can see three volcanoes. The omelettes, fruit and coffee put a smile on everyone’s face!

Next we took a taxi to the YWAM base. The director gave us a tour of their facility and shared about some of their ministries. Maria looked over the staff pictures on the wall and discovered she knew one of the young women from when she worked at Trout Lake Camp!

We had some time to kill before our coffee tour. We wandered around the town. Here we saw typical Guatemalan people and the gunman guarding the corn meal truck!

Our next stop was a coffee tour! We met the coffee farmer, his English-speaking nephew, and his son-in-law in a nearby town.

The farmer is part of a cooperative of 25 small-scale coffee farmers. We followed him up the mountain to his coffee acreage.

They showed us how coffee was planted and harvested.

We learned that coffee beans start out green and mature to red. The coffee beans are hand-picked. One green bean in the mix can ruin the flavor of 56 good beans.

Then we walked back down the mountain and he invited us into his home. He showed us how the coffee was shelled using a little bike machine.

Then we roasted the beans in a big pan over the fire. It’s tougher than it looks!

Finally the coffee was ground using a stone. I tried to do it but his wife was a lot better than I was!

We ended with a hot cup of coffee. And they gave us some bags to take home.

Frankly after all this I can say we don’t pay enough for coffee! Most of the workers are only paid $10 a day for their work.

We had a great time with their family. We felt like friends by the time we left!

After returning to Antigua, we went to Hector’s for dinner. It was a French place we had been to with Levi and he claimed it the best meal of his life. It did not disappoint.