Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Popsicle or Pop Cycle?

It appears that winter has arrived in Wisconsin with a vengeance.  On Thanksgiving, Mr. R&R and I went for a 5 mile run - in shorts and we were complaining about how warm we were.  And this week the temperatures have plummeted.  I know I need to get off my butt and run, but I've been so cold all week that the mere thought of being outside was enough to convince me that I didn't need to work out and that I'd be so much happier curled up on the couch under a warm fuzzy blanket. 

Cold Weather = Wimp
Obviously that's not going to cut it.  I've already skipped the first two races of the Great Lakes Running Series due to a lack of training and I'd really rather not skip the third!  So tonight I compromised with myself.  Instead of going outside and becoming a human popsicle, I headed down to the basement armed with a killer workout from Frayed Laces and a new Spotify playlist that I like to call 'Pop Cycle'. 

Going into the workout I expected a challenge, but this exceeded all my expectations.  I got my booty handed to me.  By the time I was done, I was dripping sweat and seriously considered going outside in my cycling clothes to cool off!  I also learned that I suck at one-legged drills.  My pedal stroke seems to stall out at the top.  Any experienced cyclists have any advice on that?  I was also reminded that I need to do something about the cleat on my right shoe - it makes an awful clicking/rattling noise!

I figure if I keep plugging away at my bike speed and endurance throughout the winter, I'll be in a better place on the bike when duathlon season rolls around again.  Now if I could just get my act together regarding running!  On a positive note, it's supposed to warm up over the next couple of days, so hopefully I'll be able to get outside.  If not, it looks like I'm going to have to resign myself to running on the indoor track - which is just above the dreadmill on my list of places to run!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

A Whirlwind Weekend In Paris

Last Thursday night I boarded a plane in Chicago, fell asleep somewhere over eastern Canada and woke up about an hour before we touched down in Paris on Friday morning.  After clearing immigration and customs, I located the driver who would take me to Versailles - and Mr. R&R!  At first, the view out the window was nothing terribly special, but about 30 minutes later, as we emerged from a tunnel, my driver said, "Welcome to Versailles," and the view became something that I've dreamed about since I was about 12 years old: narrow cobblestone streets, tiny shops, apartments with flowers blooming in window boxes, and a big open air market.  Within minutes we arrived at the hotel and once again I found myself breathless as I looked up the Rue de Paris at Chateau Versailles.

After a quick shower, we set out to explore the area.

Mr. R&R and I stopped in a little cafe for lunch (quiche lorraine for me, duck confit for him) before strolling up the Rue de Paris to tour Chateau Versailles.

Approaching the Chateau

After concluding our tour, we returned to the hotel for a short nap, it was time. We boarded a train and a short time later we emerged from an underground station to one of the most spectacular sights I've ever seen.

We wandered around Paris drinking in the sights and sounds of the city, had dinner, and then discovered that the trains back to Versailles stopped running at 10:30pm - an hour earlier.  There's nothing like trying to bribe a cab driver in a language you only sort of remember! Eventually, we managed to find a driver to take us back and crashed hard.

On Saturday morning, we located a Starbucks (those tiny espressos just weren't going to cut it) and boarded another train into Paris to continue our adventure.  Since we had such a limited amount of time, we had to make some tough choices about which famous landmarks to visit.  Our first stop: The Louvre.  We knew that we didn't have time to truly tour the museum properly (an endeavor that could take days), so we opted for what we dubbed 'Louvre Light' - a quick peek at some of the museums most famous pieces.

Having a DaVinci Code moment

Winged Victory

A lady who needs no introduction 

Venus De Milo

Cupid & Psyche

 After the Louvre it was on to the Jardin des Tuileries, Rue de Rivoli, and Place de La Concorde.

We stopped in a cafe for lunch (croque monsieur and a perrier) before strolling along the Seine to the Quartier Latin - home of Notre Dame, Pont du St. Michel and The Sorbonne.

After a full day of sightseeing, we met up with one of Mr. R&R's colleagues for some wine, which turned into dinner, which turned into more wine/bar hopping and let's just say that my ability to take non-blurry photos decreased exponentially while my fluency in French increased - or so I'm told!

Street sign that amused me to no end.
Warm Chevre Salad (and where the photo/fluency issue really began)   
Halloween Weekend in the Sorbonne Bars
After convincing another cab driver to take us back to Versailles (it was after 1am at this point), I collapsed into bed swearing off wine for the rest of my natural life - or you know...until the next day!

Sunday morning required another Starbucks stop and then a stroll around Versailles where we stumbled upon a boulangerie/patisserie and possibly the tastiest best thing I ate in France: a sandwich au jambon.  It was the most simple sounding thing in the world, freshly baked baguette slathered with butter and a few slices of ham and cheese tucked inside and It. Was. Amazing. - and cheap!  I seriously can't stop thinking about that sandwich - and neither can Mr. R&R!

We enjoyed our coffee and sandwich on a park bench near Chateau Versailles while we soaked in the atmosphere and marveled at the fact that we were really here!

Once my hangover was under control, we returned to Paris for our final day in the City of Light.

We made our way up the Champs Elysees (which we both thought felt a bit like Times Square in New York) to the Arc De Triomphe.

Eventually we wandered back to Place de La Concorde and the Jardin des Tuileries, stopped at a little stand for a hot gauffre topped with Nutella, and eventually found ourselves sitting on a bench outside the Louvre, munching on a hot brie and chevre sandwich, and watching the sun set over Paris - the perfect ending to a perfect whirlwind of an adventure.