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As per my plan to  visit 10 new places in 10 days, I stopped by the Louvre today.Ok, I’ve been before, but that was 6 years ago, and it didn’t seem right to finish out a trip to Paris without at least a quick walk through its galleries. I made sure to go through some rooms I’d never been to before, though!! I’m not making a whole post on this adventure because I forgot my camera and there’s really not much to say that warrants a whole post….I would like to address a few things though. I’ve read a few reviews  saying the Louvre is not worth a visit, which strikes me as kind of odd. Of COURSE the Louvre is worth a visit! It’s one of the greatest museums in the world, and with good reason! However, if you have limited time and income (tickets can be expensive, especially for a family), it’s true, there are other museums you  might enjoy better. But, if you do want to go, plan your visit carefully so you get the most out of it. Most of the crowds head straight for the Mona Lisa, but to be honest, if you’re not interested in Italian Paintings, that’s really not the most interesting wing, and even though there are plenty of great artists represented, the Louvre rarely has my favorite paintings by those artists. Instead, today i headed for the other half of the Louvre, where I’d never been before, and it was great!! I strongly suggest future visitors to check it out. The Mesopotamian section has some really cool stuff (Hammurabi’s Code of Law, Fragments of Darius’s Palace, Babylonian Steles, and some incredible statues and reliefs from the Assyrian city of Khorsabad). There are also rooms of Medieval and Renaissance tapestries, stained glass, ceramics, coats of armor (more interesting than paintings), furniture, crown jewels, and the absolutely incredible Apartments of Napoleon that rivals Versailles in grandeur (in case you forgot this building was, in fact, originally a palace). Amazingly, nearly all the galleries I toured today were practically empty of tourists, telling me most people don’t venture past the Venus de Milo. No wonder people are so disappointed with the Louvre!! 

Aaaaand on to the original subject of this post. So I’d like to find a way to make this more interesting, but I’m not feeling very creative today so I’ll just jump right in with Christmas Vacation Part Two.  When I left off, we had just finished the first round of Christmas celebrations, and were just getting in the car for a quick journey north. We decided to head up to visit Liam’s grandmother in Bradford, Yorkshire and see some of his family. His sisters drove, and we sipped coffee and played 20 Questions for 3 hours up the highway.

We arrived, and were greeted almost immediately with tea and the biggest plates of fried chicken and potatoes with cabbage (Liam tells me it’s a traditional Irish dish called colcannon) I think I have ever seen. Time passed quickly until evening, when we set out for the Pantomime. Pantomime is, in the words of Wikipedia, “a form of musical comedy stage production, designed for families, developed in the United Kingdom and mostly performed during the Christmas and New Year season. Modern pantomime includes songs, slapstick comedy and dancing, employs gender-crossing actors, and combines topical humour with a story loosely based on a well-known fairy tale.It is a participatory form of theater, in which the audience is expected to sing along with certain parts of the music and shout out phrases to the performers.

In demonstration, I found a youtube video. Incidentally, this is a dress rehearsal of a performance at the same theatre I went to, and of the same fairy tale (just done a few years ago). The version I saw was actually quite different and didn’t have any of this in it, which is sad because it’s actually quite good!

Even though Pantomime isn’t the holiday tradition in the states as it is in England, the show struck me as being quite similar to the version of the Christmas Carol that is put on in Raleigh every year. Silly humor, singing and dancing, a few eyebrow-raising stunts, and the obligatory casting of men as the evil stepsisters…everyone got a good laugh and had a lot of fun 🙂

Girls and Grandma standing outside the theatre.

Girls and Grandma standing outside the theatre.

The next day, Liam and I decided to take a little excursion, so we hopped on the train to York. It was a relatively short ride through some beautiful countryside, or what would have been beautiful countryside if it wasn’t all underwater. The sheep were swimming. ((on a serious note, £600m of food such as wheat and potatoes was lost, and there was the worst apple crop in 15 years and a 75% drop in honey production…not just due to water on the ground, but because heavy rains meant the bugs and bees couldn’t come out of their hives to pollinate. Something you don’t really think about when you’re not a farmer.))

When we arrived, it looked like this.

When we arrived, it looked like this.

Luckily once you got away from the river you could see the sidewalks again. We met some of Liam’s family for lunch, and they were nice enough to show us around town a little bit. IMG_0763Thats the best picture I have of York. Unfortunately all the ones of me or liam in them turned out blurry, wet, windblown, or just miserable-looking, haha. To be fair though, it wasn’t really that bad of weather while we were there, and even in the rain, York is a stunningly beautiful town. As I remarked to Liam’s aunt, it looks exactly like what we Americans expect English towns to look like, down to the  crooked old tudor buildings, the cobblestone streets, candy shops and teahouses. It was perfect. I want to move there.

In front of York Cathedral.

In front of York Cathedral. Check out the hedgehog scarf.

We were short on time so we only got to do one museum, but it was fantastic so it’s ok. If you ever go to York, you must check out the Jorvik Viking Center. In an attempt to build a shopping mall in town, they accidentally stumbled on a ton of Viking artifacts, and rather than just  carry on with the mall, they made a viking museum. You get in little cars and ride through a recreated viking town with all the sights and sounds and smells you might have found if you were actually there, 1,000 years ago. It was just like Disney world, I loved it.

No photography allowed on the ride so this image I found on the internet will have to do….what a silly picture lol

We made our way back to London on New Years Eve, but by the time we got home we had lost all motivation to go back out again, massive fireworks or not. So, we stayed home and watched them on television like the rest of the world. lame.

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hedgehog responded to fireworks with his characteristic evil-eyed glare.

The rest of the week we spent relaxing, playing rockband and singing  karaoke for hours on end….

IMG_0782And visiting some Victorian dinosaurs in a park. IMG_0784

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they don’t appear very accurate.

So, I think that covers Christmas vacation!! But one final photo….

us in our santa hats. merry Christmas!

us in our santa hats. merry Christmas!

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