Just some pictures of our favorite statues from London and Paris…

After looking through our pictures, we realized that the posts about our trek through London and Paris could be completely overtaken by photos of random statues that we saw and snapped a photo of.  So instead of bombarding the photo journals, here is a post dedicated to Gargoyles, Lions, and all the other random statues we love…

(Select a link to travel throughout page. Clicking on a thumbnail image will open the image’s group in a larger format on a new page.)

 

 

London

Area around Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, and Westminster Bridge:


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Area around Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, and Kensington Gardens:


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Area around Tower Bridge, Fleet Street, and Tower of London:


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Area around St. Paul’s Cathedral and The Monument:


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Area around Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, and St. Pancras:


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Paris

Area around Sacrè-Cœur:


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Area around the Arc de Triomphe:


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Area around the Eiffel Tower:


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Area around Notre-Dame:


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Area around Hôtel de Ville, Palais Garnier, and Saint-Jacques Tower:


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Area around the Louvre:


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Area around Pont Alexandre III:


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Area around Versailles:


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Tower Tour – 5/18/16

Bologna is known as La Rossa (The Red One) for its overall red hue, La Grassa (The Fat One) for its wealth of delicious food, and La Dotta (The Learned One) for its university – founded in 1088;  but we also found a new name today…The Turreted One.  (Although it could also easily be known as The Porta One or The Portici One.)

As for The Turreted One…


 

There is some debate about the number of towers that could have been spotted in the skyline of Bologna during its long history.  Originally the number was thought to be around 200, but this number has recently been reduced to somewhere between 80 and 100 since the first number was based on records that might have been duplicates with differing names representing the same towers.  Although one theory that supports 200 says that the count included waves of towers that appeared throughout history (meaning not 200 all at once).  200 towers in Bologna would have certainly been a sight to see, but it’s difficult to imagine them overwhelming the city all at once.  Most of the remaining towers were built in the 12th century and the ruins of the third outer city walls were built in the 13th and 14th centuries, meaning all of the towers would likely be built within the first or second city walls (i.e. – they would be crammed together in a tight space).  Although, as you’ll see in the photos, that doesn’t necessarily prove the 200 tower theory false.  Still, 200 towers would be an amazing sight, but 80 to 100 would still be impressive.  Regardless of which number is accurate, there are only about 20 left standing today.  Many have been destroyed by fires, lightning, or just natural collapse, but several have also been systematically taken down to make way for modern day progress.  Some of the towers have also been hidden within other newer structures.  For instance, we saw the Conoscenti Tower much earlier in our Bologna stay since it is now a part of the Museo Civico Medioevale.  Here is a photo of the tower from our visit to the museum on September 27, 2015.

Tower #1: Conoscenti Tower

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There are other towers that you cannot miss, like Le Due Torri, which stand as the icon symbol of the city, but other towers are hidden in plain sight.  This might seem impossible due to the size of some of the towers, but you have to remember this city is covered in roughly 24 miles of porticoes…so looking up isn’t really possible sometimes.

Anyway…on to the tour…

Bologna Welcome offers a pamphlet which “guides” you on a tour of 12 towers within a short walk.  I put “guide” in parentheses because the pamphlet is really poorly labeled, but it got us in the general area…most of the time.  However, their website is extremely helpful and will be where I get most of the history embedded into each tower’s section.  Unless otherwise cited, all the quotes in this blog come from Bologna Welcome.

So, in honor of our final week in Bologna, and in the spirit of our Porta Day and Portico Walk, we decided to take the Tower Tour.  It’s still surprising to find beautiful portions of the city that we’ve never seen.  The tower tour…


Our first stop is the Torresotto di San Vitale.  This archway is extremely close to our apartment, and we pass it nearly everyday.  It is not a true tower (torresotto translates to under tower), but rather a fortified gateway of the second wall built around Bologna.

_MG_6801 - Bologna - Torresotto di San Vitale - (5-18-16)


Tower #2:  Azzoguidi Tower

Located on Via Altabella.  The street name means ‘tall beauty’ and “owes its name to the Azzoguidi tower, the only tower standing perfectly vertical.  It is “an example of the typical medieval bolognese towers: square-shaped base, ten rows of plaster parallelepipeds, an ancient pointed arch door on the ground floor and a little opening leading to the nearby flat.”

 

_MG_6812 - Bologna - Azzoguidi Tower - (5-18-16)

The tower is currently approximately 200 ft tall.  ‘Approximately’ because it was altered in the 1500s and its façade seems to have been designed to counterbalance a taller building.

 

_MG_6815 - Bologna - Azzoguidi Tower - (5-18-16)


Tower #3:  Prendiparte Tower

The Prendiparte Tower, also known as Coronata Tower (crowned one) because of the crown-shaped façade near the top, stands just shy of 200 ft (~197 ft).  The Bologna Welcome website claims that this is the second tallest tower remaining in the city, only behind the Asinelli tower; however, I’m not sure about this because the Azzoguidi Tower (seen above) is taller.  I’m wondering if the height listed doesn’t take into consideration the fact that it is leaning.  Maybe if this tower were completely vertical (like the Azzoguidi) it would be taller that 197 ft.

_MG_6816 - Bologna - Prendiparte Tower - (5-18-16)

This tower was built as a means of defense, but has been used as many things since.  In 1751 it was “used it as the Archbishop’s prison for crimes against religion.  At the end of the 18th century, when the tower was seized by Napoleon’s troops, the first three floors of the tower were turned into a house.  The most recent changes may be traced back to that period, when some big windows were built so to create a better place to live (as seen in the photo below).  Now it is used as a guest house for events.”

_MG_6831 - Bologna - Prendiparte Tower - (5-18-16)


Tower #4:  Guidozagni Tower 

This tower stands at a diminutive 65.5 feet.  “It is the only surviving tower of the four once owned by the Guidozagni family, a member of a noble family that took part in two Crusades (1094 and 1291).”

_MG_6828 - Bologna - Guidozagni Tower - (5-18-16)

In the photo below the Prendiparte Tower is in the background on the left while the Guidozagni Tower is on the right.  “This sight really allows you to imagine how the tower-crowded Medieval Bologna must have looked,” and it is one of the images that help support the 200 towers theory discussed above.

_MG_6830 - Bologna - Guidozagni Tower - (5-18-16)


Although not specifically considered to be one of the “Towers of Bologna,” the bell tower of Cattedrale Metropolitana di San Pietro is the second tallest tower in the town at almost 230 feet.

_MG_6844 - Bologna - Cattedrale Metropolitana di San Pietro - (5-18-16)

San Pietro’s bell tower is, in fact, two towers in one.  This first was built in the 10th century and then a second was built around it in the 13th century.

_MG_6833 - Bologna - Cattedrale Metropolitana di San Pietro - (5-18-16)


Tower #5:  Scappi Tower

Okay, back to “official” towers.  The Scappi Tower is almost 128 feet tall.

_MG_6837 - Bologna - Scappi Tower - (5-18-16)

The base to this tower is not accessible (by us anyway) and is surrounded by la Coroncina, one of Bologna’s oldest shopping centers.

_MG_6838 - Bologna - Scappi Tower - (5-18-16)


Tower #6:  Arengo Tower

This tower stands 154 feet tall in “the Voltone del Palazzo del Podestà and is sustained by four corner pilasters.  It was commissioned not by a noble family, but by the Municipality (in 1252) in order for it to house the bells used to assemble the citizens.”

_MG_6846 - Bologna - Arengo Tower - (5-18-16)

“In 1200, when the tower was built, it was just a little raised part. Later it was transformed into a real tower, after experiencing some renovation works including base consolidation, strengthening, and renovation.”

_MG_6848 - Bologna - Arengo Tower - (5-18-16)

Under the Palazzo del Podesta is a vault (Voltone del Podesta).  “It originally housed the city market and the benches of the notaries; later on, blasphemers were set on the pillory and hangings were performed under its arches.
A few centuries later, the vault acquired a religious significance when it was decorated with the terra cotta statues of the saints protecting the city of Bologna: San Petronio, San Francesco, San Domenico and San Procolo.
There is also an extraordinary acoustical effect (probably due to the curved shape of the vault): you and a friend of yours can stand in opposite corners under the arches, face the corner and speak or even whisper and hear each other loud and clearly.”

One of the whispering corners below the terra cotta statue…

_MG_6927 - Bologna - Arrengo Tower - (5-18-16)


Tower #7:  Accursi Tower

The Accursi Tower is also called the Clock Tower (for obvious reasons).  “The tower is built into the corner of a huge house (which included a school) owned by Accursio, but the tower wasn’t added to the house until after Accursio’s death.  In 1287, the stucture was bought by the growing Municipality of Bologna. On the façade of the building, a huge mechanical clock was added in 1444.

_MG_6849 - Bologna - Clock Tower - (5-18-16)

Between the addition of the clock (1444) and 1796 “there was a wooden structure on the tower where mechanically animated figures representing the Magi, a knight, and an angel carrying a trumpet glided to bow in front of the Madonna and Child to strike every hour of the day.”

_MG_6853 - Bologna - Clock Tower - (5-18-16)


Again, not an “official” tower, but still impressive.  The bell tower of Basilica di San Petronio is a little over 203 feet tall.  It was built between 1481 and 1495.

_MG_6857 - Bologna - Basilica di San Petronio - (5-18-16)

The bell tower contains four bells that are manually operated using the “Bologna Technique.” (There’s quite a bit about this technique on Wikipedia if you’re interested.)

_MG_6861 - Bologna - Basilica di San Petronio - (5-18-16)


Tower #8:  Catalani Tower

This tower-house is nearly 52.5 feet tall and was built in the first half of the 13th century.

_MG_6863 - Bologna - Catalani Tower - (5-18-16)

“The outer part of the tower is characterized by narrow windows and a door surmounted with a brick arch.”

_MG_6865 - Bologna - Catalani Tower - (5-18-16)


Tower #9:  Galluzzi Tower

This tower is 98.5 feet tall and was built in 1257 by the Galluzzi family.

_MG_6868 - Bologna - Galluzzi Tower - (5-18-16)

“The original entrance was on a floor about 33 feet above ground level, And the Galluzzi family used to enter it through a window located halfway up the tower, using mobile wooden bridges that stuck out from their houses.”

_MG_6869 - Bologna - Galluzzi Tower - (5-18-16)


Tower #10:  Carrari Tower

Though not on the Bologna Welcome Tower Tour pamphlet, it is listed on their website.  The tower is 72 feet tall and may have been a tower-house.  Immediately to the right of the tower in the photo below is the restaurant 7 Archi, where Brittany and I celebrated her birthday in September.

_MG_6872 - Bologna - Carrari Tower - (5-18-16)

And around the corner from the tower is another archway…

_MG_6870 - Bologna - Via De Foscherari - (5-18-16)


Tower #11:  Alberici Tower

The Alberici Tower stands 88.5 feet tall and has an open-air gallery on top.

_MG_6917 - Bologna - Alberici Tower - (5-18-16)

It also has one of the oldest shops in Bologna at its base.  The contract for the ground floor extension for the shop was done in 1273.

_MG_6875 - Bologna - Alberici Tower - (5-18-16)


Tower #12:  Lambertini Tower

Standing 82 feet tall, this tower shares the Palazzo Re Enzo and Palazzo del Podesta area with its taller brother, the Arengo Tower.  The tower-house was commissioned by one of the most important families in the city (the Lambertini family).  It was built in the first half of the 12th century and given to the Municipality in 1294.

_MG_6920 - Bologna - Lambertini Tower - (5-18-16)

The Lambertini Tower can be seen with the Arengo Tower (on the left) in the photo below.

_MG_6922 - Bologna - Arengo Tower and Lambertini Tower - (5-18-16)


Tower #13:  Ramponi Tower

This tower is directly across the street from the Lambertini Tower.  It also stands 82 feet tall.  Brittany and I had a bit of trouble locating this tower because it looks like none of the other towers.  In the photo below it is the white tower to the left of the San Pietro Bell Tower.  Apparently it was turned into a shop long ago.  (On the far right you can also barely see the Azzoguidi Tower.)

_MG_6921 - Bologna - Ramponi Tower and Cattedrale Metropolitana di San Pietro Belltower - (5-18-16)


Tower #14:  Lapi Tower

I’ve got no lie to tell about this one.  I actually took the photo below randomly.  I had no idea it was a tower.  I actually spent quite some time looking for this tower (since the guide book doesn’t really tell you where it is), and only realized that I had taken a photo of it after we got home.

The tower was originally nearly 100 feet tall, but was cut down to 60 feet during the Napoleonic period when it became part of the Municipal building wall.

_MG_6931 - Bologna - Lapi Tower - (5-18-16)

After realizing this was the tower, I went back and snapped another photo.

_MG_6947 - Bologna - Lapi Tower - (5-18-16)

The photo below shows the Lapi Tower in relation to the Clock Tower, which is in the background on the right.

_MG_6948 - Bologna - Lapi Tower - (5-18-16)


Tower #15:  Uguzzoni Tower

This 105 foot tall tower was very difficult to see…even though the Bologna Welcome website gives you step-by-step directions “in order to have the most striking view of the tower.”

_MG_6939 - Bologna - Uguzzoni Tower - (5-18-16)

I couldn’t get too much closer to the base because there was some type of construction going on there.

_MG_6942 - Bologna - Uguzzoni Tower - (5-18-16)


Tower #16:  Oseletti Tower

Honestly, we just stumbled into this tower.  I was looking at the building below it because it had some interesting reliefs and…bam…there it was.

_MG_6905 - Bologna - Palazzo Sanguinetti gia Aldini (Oseletti Tower) - (5-18-16)

Thanks to Virtual Tourist for this since I couldn’t find it on Bologna Welcome.  The tower “once rose to a grand height of 230 feet. It has since been reduced to 102 feet and incorporated into the construction of two palaces on Strada Maggiore: Casa Masetti (no. 36) and Palazzo Sanguinetti (no. 34, also the Museum of Music).

_MG_6906 - Bologna - Palazzo Sanguinetti gia Aldini (Oseletti Tower) - (5-18-16)


Tower #17:  Agresti Tower

Located in Piazza Galileo, this tower has had a tumultuous history.  Fire destroyed the buildings that surrounded it in 1641.  After that, it was partially deconstructed by removing its standard selenite base and it height was reduced to 65.5 feet.  It was also covered in Spanish plaster.  In 1945, the area was bombed during World War II, but the tower survived.

_MG_6932 - Bologna - Agresti Tower - (5-18-16)

It currently serves as one of Bologna’s Questure (police stations).

_MG_6933 - Bologna - Agresti Tower - (5-18-16)


Tower #18:  Bertolotti-Clarissimi Tower

This tower is not on the Bologna Welcome website or their pamphlet.  It is listed on the Wikipedia page title “Towers of Bologna,” and after a bit of searching I was able to find its Wikipedia page.  The page lists it as the Bertolotti Tower, and claims that the plaque listing it as the Clarissimi Tower is a mistake, so I guess leaving it as the Bertolotti-Clarissimi Tower was the best idea.

_MG_6959 - Bologna - Bertolotti-Clarissimi Tower - (5-18-16)

It is currently 52.5 feet tall, but that’s because its upper half was removed in the later half of the 15th century.  The top section was then transformed into a roof terrace.

_MG_6960 - Bologna - Bertolotti-Clarissimi Tower - (5-18-16)


Tower #19:  Ghisilieri Tower

Like the Bertolotti-Clarissimi Tower, this tower was not listed by Bologna Welcome, but was listed in the Towers of Bologna page.  On Wikimapia.com, I found out that this tower has been converted into the bell tower of the Church of San Gregorio and Siro.

_MG_6949 - Bologna - SS Gregorio e Siro (Ghisilieri Tower) - (5-18-16)

There’s not much in the way of information about this tower, other than the fact that the Ghisilieri family were the owners.

_MG_6951 - Bologna - SS Gregorio e Siro (Ghisilieri Tower) - (5-18-16)


Tower #20:  Toschi Tower

Again, not listed by Bologna Welcome, but Wikipedia states that this tower is 85 feet tall and was probably commissioned by the Toschi family.  The tower has been incorporated into the surrounding buildings, so accessing it was impossible (at least for me).

_MG_6956 - Bologna - Toschi Tower - (5-18-16)

It is adjacent to Piazza Minghetti, which is full of beautiful trees…that made getting a picture difficult.

_MG_6957 - Bologna - Toschi Tower - (5-18-16)


Towers #21 & #22:  Asinelli Tower and Garisenda Tower (Le Due Torri)

And finally, the pièce de résistance…the cream of the crop…the awesomest of the awesomest…Asinelli Tower (the taller one) and Garisenda Tower (the leaning one).  Let’s begin with Asinelli.

Torre degli Asinelli was built between 1109 – 19 by the Asinelli family, and in the following century it was acquired by the Municipality of Bologna.  It is almost 319 feet high with a lean of 7 feet.  Fire has threatened to destroy the tower at least twice – once in 1185 (arson) and once in 1398.  The plinth is surrounded by a small ‘stronghold’ built in 1488 to house the guards.

Torre Garisenda “was built around the same period and is much smaller (154 feet) with a steeper lean (10.5 ft).”  According to Wikipedia, “initially Garisenda Tower was approximately 197 feet high, but had to be lowered in the 14th century due to a yielding of the ground which left it slanting and dangerous.”

_MG_6877 - Bologna - Le Due Torri - (5-18-16)

These two towers haven’t always been the “center” of town.  They were located at Porta Ravegnana (a door into the first wall around the city) meaning they were once near a gateway into town.  (Just for reference, the Torresotto di San Vitale shown earlier in this blog would have been from the second wall and the Portas from our Porta Day would have been the third, and final, wall.)

In 2001, the statue of St. Petronio, sculpted by Gabriele Brunelli in 1670, was placed back under the towers…after having been removed in 1871 for “traffic reasons.”

St. Petronio with Asinelli Tower…

_MG_6881 - Bologna - Le Due Torri - (5-18-16)

St. Petronio with Garisenda Tower…

_MG_6880 - Bologna - Le Due Torri - (5-18-16)

And St. Petronio with Le Due Torri

_MG_6882 - Bologna - Le Due Torri - (5-18-16)

Another interesting note about the two towers, specifically Garisenda Tower – it was cited several times by Dante Alighieri in the Divine Comedy and the Rime.  Some sources claim that Dante attended the University of Bologna, while others claim that he declined the offer to transfer to the university and just visited the city on multiple occasions.  However, his presence in the city, in whatever form that actually took, is undeniable.  Here are a couple of excerpts from the Divine Comedy and the Rime taken from Wikipedia

As when one sees the tower called Garisenda
from underneath its leaning side, and then a cloud
passes over and it seems to lean the more,
thus did Antaeus seem to my fixed gaze
as I watched him bend…
Divine Comedy, Inferno, XXXI, 136-140

Never can my eyes make amends to me –short
of going blind– for their great fault,
that they gazed at the Garisenda tower
with its fine view, and –confound them!–
missed her, the worthiest of those
who are talked about.
Rime, VIII


Towers seen from Piazza Maggiore:

(Left to Right) Scappi Tower (the flat, jutting rectangle to the right of the Italian flag), San Pietro’s bell tower (the pointy tower in the back), Arengo Tower (in the center), Asinelli Tower (the thin tower to the right)

_MG_6929b - Bologna - Towers - (5-18-16)

Paris – Day 14 & 15 – Disneyland Paris!!! & The End…

With Days 1-6 of Paris at our backs (as well as 7 days in London), we were running through a gamut of emotions – happy to have seen so many sights, ready to be “home,” sad to be leaving, excited about our final day and a half.  When we where initially discussing our trip to London and Paris, we spent some time making a list of things we really wanted to see and do.  Some of the key points on that list: Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, anything Doctor Who related, Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame, the Louvre, and one other place we both wanted to go…Disneyland.  Brittany and I are suckers for all things mouse, but this idea was about more than that.  It gave us an opportunity to kick back and relax without worrying about the history or heritage of this place or that.  Even though we both love learning about the places we visit, it was time for a bit of Disney magic.  (Plus, Disney offered us a little bit of home.)

(If you enjoy reading about our Disneyland excursion, our final half day in Paris is included in this blog post as well.)


Day 7 – Paris (Chessy) – 4/13/2016

So…day 7…Disneyland Paris.  Really the only question was: “Will it rain or not?”  If you’ve read through our previous blog posts about this trip, you’ve seen that we were in a constant battle with the Weather Channel app about rain or sunshine.  And, sure enough, when we got up raring to go to the theme park, the app was calling for rain most of the day…it was also calling for cooler temperatures than it had been.  So we put on our sweatshirts (sweatshirts + Disneyland = weird), threw our umbrellas into a bag, and headed for Chessy, which is a suburb about 20 miles east of Paris and home of Disneyland Paris.

We got to the park just as the doors were opening, but we decided to forego the mad rush to the gates.  Instead we walked through Disney Village to get to the McDonalds, where we got breakfast and coffee.

It was indeed chilly, and I think we both initially regretted not wearing our coat, but if at some point it did get warm, neither of us wanted to lug those around.

Disneyland Paris is divided into 2 parks, Disneyland and Walt Disney Studios.  On the day we were there, Disneyland stayed open until 10PM and Walt Disney Studios was open until 7PM, so we went to the Studios Park first.  We walked around the park for a few minutes before deciding that we should just hop on a ride and get started, so we grabbed a Fast Pass for The Tower of Terror and then went to the Studio Tram Tour ride.

(Sorry, most of the pictures from our day in Disney are just going to be Brittany and I having fun, but that’s what this is all about.)

On the Studio Tram ride and ready to go…

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The Studio Tram Tour takes you “behind the scenes” of a movie set.  You get to see various props and sets from real and imagined films, and at two points you get to see some explosions…the warmth from the explosions was very nice.

During the tour we ran into this lady…hadn’t we already seen her somewhere before?

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FYI…if you sit on the left side of the tram during this ride you will get wet.  Who sat on the left?  Brittany.  As if she wasn’t cold enough already…

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We rode the Tower of Terror…which is a great way to really get the adrenaline flowing at 10 in the morning…and then headed for Ratatouille: The Adventure.  This ride was really fun.  You put on 3D glasses, sit in your coaster, and ride through sections of the movie as if you were the size of a rat.

Plus, the 3D glasses are really stylish…

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A Ratatouille fountain in front of the ride…

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It’s a little weird…some things at the Studios side of the park are really, really new (like the Ratatouille ride) while other things are kind of dated (like the Armageddon Special Effects area…I mean Armageddon came out in 1998, the year I graduated from high school, and my favorite actor from Armageddon (Michael Clarke Duncan) has been dead for almost 4 years).

It’s also very interesting to walk by a giant Buzz Lightyear and here him say “Welcome, Slinky Dog, Army Men, and RC have successfully completed their preparations.  Now it’s up to you.  You’re mission…explore and have fun.” in French.  Same goes for the Genie…with a different monologue of course..

We were passing  Crush’s Coaster (based on Finding Nemo) and thought it looked fun.  The ride was, the hour and a half we waited in life to ride it…not so much.  We were fully prepared to wait in some lines, but it was weird, none of the Fast Pass booths (other than Tower of Terror) were in operation.  That was pretty much our adventure in Walt Disney Studios Paris.  After that, we both decided that most of the iconic Disney things we wanted to see were in the other park.


The Mouse himself was waiting for us…

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And almost as soon as we got into the park we got our first glimpse of the castle…

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Euro Disney was the original name of this park, which opened in 1992, and combined with the Studios Park, the resorts, the shopping centers, and a golf course covers 4,800 acres. (Walt Disney Studios opened in 2002.)

We went to the park two weeks after Easter, but they still had their character-themed eggs on display.  Goofy…

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Mickey and Minnie…

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Pluto…

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Donald and Daisy…

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Chip and Dale…

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I’m not sure what was going on here…

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At the center of all things fairytale lies Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant (Sleeping Beauty’s Castle)…

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Brittany with a few topiary Aristocats in front of the castle…

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A really cool feature of Paris’s castle…an animated dragon lives underneath.  A picture of the Dragon’s Lair…

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We didn’t see any characters at meet and greet locations, but we randomly ran into Abu and Dale…

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The Pirate Galleon was closed, but we got a few pictures of it.  And it sure looks like Ariel is serving as the Jolly Roger’s figurehead.

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The absolute longest wait that we had in the Disneyland park was to ride the Disneyland Railroad…seriously…we have no idea why.  But the wait gave us an opportunity to enjoy the beautiful view with stunning Cherry Blossom trees.

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It also gave us a nice view of Alice’s Curious Labyrinth…

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After watching the parade from It’s A Small World (and then riding It’s A Small World) we took a back way to Discoveryland…where everything was closed…everything.  Well, that’s not quite true.  Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast, Orbitron, Autopia, The Mysteries of the Nautilus (which is not fun), and Space Mountain were open, but half the area was walled up and closed to renovate the Star Tours ride.

But we did manage to find an alien and space ranger…

Stitch…

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Buzz Lightyear…

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A Stitch as Yoda hat…awesome.  The price of said hat…not awesome…

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On a side note…see that nice Paris France hoodie I’m wearing in the photo above?  Well, there’s a story about me getting it.  I’d been looking for a Paris souvenir and thought a hoodie would be something both nice and functional.  We found Italia hoodies in Rome for €10…so I was looking for a similar deal.  Well that kind of deal doesn’t exist in Paris, not that we could find anyway.  We looked in every souvenir shop we passed trying to find something that was 1) good quality and 2) cheap…yeah I understand the conundrum.  Anyway, we found lots and lots and lots of I ♥ Paris sweatshirts, but that wasn’t exactly what I was looking for.  There were several places that had the Paris, France hoodie I eventually purchased, but they all wanted €40…way more than I was willing to pay.  Anyway, we finally found a shop just down the hill from the Sacré-Cœur that had them a bit cheaper, and we managed to haggle him down to €25…still more but at least doable.  Okay, that’s the backstory, here’s the real story.  We’re at the shop and the guy has agreed to €25, now it’s time to try on the hoodies to find a size.  Normally I wear a Large in t-shirts, but I always have to get X-Large in anything long sleeve because of my arm length.  Well this guy immediately goes to an XXL hoodie, and starts telling me how big of a guy I am.  I tried to say no and ask for the XL, but he insisted.  Turns out, he was right.  Now what makes this funny, to Brittany and I at least, is the amount of times this vendor insisted on telling me that I was a giant…he had to have said it 5 or 6 times.  My ego was taking a bit of a beating until the guy actually stood up to give us the hoodie…in ratio to this guy, I wasn’t a big guy, I was a huge guy.  So I felt a little better.  I just happened to be wearing my Italia hoodie when we made this purchase…it’s XXL too.  Apparently I’m fairly large compared to average Europeans.

Back to Disneyland…


We took a break from riding (as an adult you need a break after riding Space Mountain…a break and some Tylenol), and took some photos in front of the castle…

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After that we realized we hadn’t ridden Phantom Manor (Haunted Mansion), and we headed to Frontierland to check it out.  We also realized that we hadn’t been to Frontierland at all so far…what kind of Disney fans are we?

In Frontierland we found Woody and Jesse…

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But that was all we found there.  No joke, everything in Frontierland was closed (shops, restaurants, rides…everything)…including the Haunted Mansion.  The cast members around the ride said that it had been shut down a few days earlier and no one knew when it would reopen.  At least we got a picture…right?

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Things were starting to wind down by this point.  We headed back to the center of Fantasyland to get on a few of the more popular, but less thrilling, rides.  To honor our adopted Italian heritage we wanted to ride Pinocchio’s Fantastic Journey.

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But it was closed…

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So we hopped over to Snow White and the Seven Dwarves…

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And then onto Dumbo the Flying Elephant…

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Did I say less thrilling???  (Ha, this photo looks like Brittany is wearing a tiny Dumbo hat!)

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The joystick in our Dumbo (that raises and lowers the ride) wasn’t working really well.  We got stuck in the highest position for most of the ride.  Did i mention that I’m not a huge fan of heights?

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When Disney says the park closes at 10, what they really mean is that the rides start closing at 8 and by 9 they want everyone in front of the castle for the firework show that begins at 10.  Because of this we missed out on some of the Fantasyland rides close to the castle (Lancelot’s Carrousel, Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups, etc), but it gave us an opportunity to walk through the back hallway of the shops.  This area is actually kind of nice because there is information about the idea, construction, and transportation of the Statue of Liberty (which was a gift from the people of France to America in 1886).

And of course, no one knows how to close down a party like Disney.  This particular park’s show was the story of Peter Pan searching for his shadow through several other Disney movies.

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It was incredibly beautiful (and also odd…throughout the story Peter Pan spoke English and Wendy spoke French).

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We took a few videos, which are much more impressive, but I’m on the free version of WordPress…so no video uploads are allowed…however, we posted a clip of our video on youtube, which can be viewed here Disney Dreams.

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So Disneyland Paris was pretty spectacular.  It was odd that so many sections of the park were closed, but we enjoyed the parts that were open immensely.  And…it never rained!!!

And one last photo, just because we had such a good time…

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The Next Day…

Wow…15 days in London and Paris were finally coming to an end.  We saw all of the “must see” (Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey) and “have to” (Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Notre-Dame ) sights that we could, and even made time for a few extra excursions (Doctor Who Shop, Catacombs of Paris, Disneyland).  So with all of those things behind us, what did we do with our final day?  Nothing…absolutely nothing…


Day 8 – Paris – 4/14/2016

Well, nothing isn’t quite right, but it’s close.  We started off by packing, of course.  Our final day was only a partial day, and we had to be out of the apartment by 4PM.  So we packed, cleaned, and got everything in order.  Then we went and had brunch in front of Notre-Dame.

The day started out absolutely beautiful, so we decided to walk up and down the Seine River where the Parisian Riverside Bouquinistes were set up.  These used book shops are attached directly to the railing overlooking both sides of the river and have been selling in or around this position since the 16th century.  The Seine is thus described as ‘the only river in the world that runs between two bookshelves.’  (Wikipedia)  All are painted the same color green, and all sell used books along with magnets, prints, and other Parisian souvenirs.

We had a few postcards that we wanted to send so we went in search of the post office.  Along the way we found the Fontaine Saint-Michel which opened in 1860.

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We had already packed the camera, luckily Brittany’s phone takes exceptional photos.  Here’s a close up of one of the fountain’s “dragons”…

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And the Archangel Michael and the devil (originally the centerpiece was supposed to be of Napoleon)…

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After that we walked all the way down to the Louvre, which was a beautiful walk, and then headed back home.  All in all, it was a very nice, peaceful, relaxing day…it did eventually get cold and start raining, but that’s about it…that’s pretty much the end of our little adventure.  We got home safe and sound, and even stopped to get Chinese takeout before going to the apartment.  Not a real climactic ending, huh?  That’s okay though, a climactic ending would have involved plane troubles or lost luggage…I think I prefer a peaceful, nonchalant ending

So our trip finally came to an end.  We hope you’ve enjoyed “seeing” some of the sights that we visited.  As always, click Bologna if you’d like to see more photos of our overall stay in Italy, or London and Paris if you’d like to see our two week adventure in those cities.