My job allows me to visit a lot of Alaska on a yearly basis. I wanted to capture the trips in one location!

Visited 5 countries in 27 days; the numbers! (Mostly Spain and Paris)

20 days in Spain
4 days in Paris
A day each in Andorra, Portugal, and Gibraltar

Toured 5 palaces
Drove 4178 k’s or 2611 miles
According to the Fitbit we walked 137 miles
Toured 12 Cathedrals (and saw 1000’s of churches)
Explored 17 cities
Rode countless metro’s, busses, trains, and even 1 taxi ride
Toured 3 art museums
Took a boat ride on the Mediterranean
Toured a park (yes we paid to enter a city park)
Climbed to the top of 2 towers
Went to 1 flamenco show
Attended the ballet
11 hotels ( + stays with friends a few nights)
2 gigs of data: one in iphone one in iPad mini.
9 flights (Juneau, Seattle, San Francisco, Paris, Madrid, Paris, Houston, Seattle, Juneau)
Countless liters of sangria
3 pairs of Spanish shoes purchased

These numbers are pretty accurate
Hotels $700 (the nights in Paris Hilton were free with points)
Tours $400
Driving $1250 (car, tolls, gas, parking AND public transportation, Paris was $150 of this because we stayed out by airport)
Phone/data $30
Flight Paris to/from Madrid $500 (increased because we checked luggage)
Air mileage ticket from Juneau to Paris (free)

Other things we noticed!

It’s hot once you are in the subways!
Spanish language is VERY different from the language spoken in the Catalonia region,
There was NO country check in at Andorra or Portugal border but we had to show passports to enter Gibraltar,
Harry called intermission of the ballet “1/2 time” ,
Saw storks everywhere in southern Spain, also saw hawks, blue herons and several other unidentified birds,
Spaniards LOVE taking their children everywhere, there were 1000’s of baby strollers in all public areas regardless of how crowded it was; all children are also dressed to perfection! ,
There is no such thing as a Kleenex (tissue) or wash clothes in Spain,
Towels in most of our hotels were embroidered with the hotel names,
We enjoyed listening to Podcasts during the road trips,
and, we CAN spend 27 days together AND walk away smiling!



Bus 69, the Eiffel Tower, and Rue Cler.

Afternoon dec. 18, 2014

On your last visit to Paris we saw the Eiffel Tower in the evening only. We decided this year would be interesting to see it in the daylight so we headed there after the castle. After seeing you both in the daylight in the evening it’s stunning both times however I feel the evening is when it is at its romantic best. Starting at 5 o’clock every hour on the hour the tower lights up and twinkle which is just a surreal experience.

Since we were at the Eiffel Tower we decided to follow the advice of one of our tour books on the city bus 69 for a cheap tour of the city. According to the bus stop sign the bus was to come every 15 minutes however after waiting for 30 and rereading the sign it indicated it would not be there for another hour we decided to venture elsewhere.

We went exploring Rue Cler a quaint small community not far from the tower. We enjoyed walking up and down the streets and looking in the queen little shops. On our way back towards the Eiffel Tower we noticed a Nother bus stop with both 69 soon to arrive we opted to happen on. (We are still not sure why there was a delay earlier in the day, even locals were curious.) The bus ride ended up being a pretty positive experience however because it was late in the day the sun started to set by the time we got over to the Maris region of town the sun has gone down and Paris had turned into the city of lights.

We spent a little more time exploring that region of town before hopping on the metro back to the Eiffel tower where we were just in time to watch the 7 o’clock late twinkle. We opted to head over to Rue Cler for dinner and eventually walked back by the Eiffel Tower just in time to watch the 9 o’clock sparkles-it was a brilliant day all.






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Palace of Versailles in Paris

Dec. 18, 2014.

We were so excited when we bought all day train/bus passes to realize we could go all the way to The Palace of Versailles on the total opposite end of town from where we stayed. We awoke early and headed out arriving about 8 am knowing it did not open until 9, but wanting to avoid lines we’d read about. Let me assure you we were the first in line at 8;45, there were no lines for tickets in Dec!

Originally a cottage or hunting lodge this castle sits in what used to be the country for those living in Paris. Now the area is a suburb for people with money! It is easy to find the castle once you get off the train just go around the corner and head in the direction you are facing when you get off the train.

Louis XIV moved to the castle in the late 1600’s and began the elaborate decorations and expansion of the palace. That is of course until the beginning of the French Revolution when the family was forced out of the castle and back into France due in part to His arrogance and extravagance while many lived in poverty. During the Revolution much of the original furniture was auctioned off or pillaged by Parisians unhappy with the monarchy.

On the tour one of the most stunning room was the Hall of Mirrors. The chandeliers that line this room are stunning. The windows (mostly original glass) help make the room bright and airy. There were rooms/apartments for everyone, the king, his wife and their daughters. Another standout room was the Public Dining Room where common Parisians would come by nightly to watch the royals eat dinner. Such arrogance.

Another beautiful area of the castle are the gardens. Though they were dormant in Dec it is easy to imagine these gardens in the spring/summer. The fountains were off and the statues were all covered for winter. However, from reading posts it sounds like many of the fountains are off all summer as well.

We also ventured to Marie-Antoinette’s estate which is a (poorly signed) 1 mile walk from the castle through the gardens. It was worth the visit but almost a let down after the castle. NOTE: This does not open until noon!

All in all we spent about 4 hours exploring. Thankfully there were not as many tourists as in the summer months though there were many “tour groups” entering vs independent travelers like ourselves.








The Catacombs of Paris

Dec. 17, 2014-Day 1 in Paris, we were so jetlagged but decided to hit the ground running til we dropped. We decided to visit the Catacombs, which was interesting to say the least. 6 million people buried in the limestone caves under Paris.

A bit of how this came to be. For years Parisians buried the deceased near churches and along their neighborhoods. By the late 1700’s these burial areas were very large and growing. Parisians wanted more of the real estate to build homes houses not for burial grounds. King Louis XVI decided to investigate the abandoned underground limestone mines as an option for burial.

In 1776 Graveyards all around Paris were dug up and moved in mass to the abandoned mining area, now called the catacomb. Cemeteries were moved to this location for many years. To this day there is still a lot of space for burials however there are no large buildings in this area because the foundation is so unstable as the tunnels are right below the streets.

The visit left me a bit uneasy but it was intriguing though I’m glad we visited.








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