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Relaxing at the Denver airport Admirals Club. We upgraded to business class for this trip using my eVIPs, which made the flights a lot more pleasant.
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These "next generation business class" seats were just introduced by American Airlines to its 767-300 aircraft in 2007. I have to say, these "lie-almost-flat" seats are pretty darn comfortable!
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The Bose noise-cancelling headphones are an effective sleep aid
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High-tech seat controls
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On a TGV train to Nancy
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Place Stanislas, the central square of Nancy
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Arc de Triomphe in Nancy. Not to be confused with a far more impressive one in Paris
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An ornate fountain in one of the corners of Place Stanislas
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The kitchen area of our studio in Nancy
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Examining our tickets on a train from Nancy to Epernay
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Morning view from our room at the Le Clos Raymi hotel in Epernay. The weather stayed foggy for most of the day, which only added to the experience.
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Place de la Republique, a circular square (talk about an oxymoron!) near the center of Epernay
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Bad English on a menu. Slaberring with stallot, anyone?
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The Notre Dame church in Epernay. Again, not to be confused with Note Dame de Paris.
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Close-up of the Notre Dame. Check out the gargoyles!
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Lots of moss over the door
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Closeup of the tower
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The front of Notre Dame
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Place Mendes, a square in front of the Notre Dame
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Leaving the Notre Dame in the fog
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Typical Epernay street
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On Avenue de Champagne, looking back at Place de la Republique
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Hotel de Ville (not a hotel - it's the Epernay town hall)
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Statue of Dom Perignon, a monk credited with the invention of champagne, at Moet & Chandon
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This bottle of Dom Perignon will set you back 310 euro...
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...but if you really want to live large, you can go for this one at 6,000 euro. The carrying case comes at no extra charge :)
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The tasting room at Moet & Chandon. I don't think we were supposed to be there unescorted, but we snuck in anyway
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There is a long list of dignitaries on the wall who visited this room over the years and were presumably given free bottles of the finest champagne. The list includes Napoleon Bonaparte and Nikita Khrushchev
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The waiting room at Moet & Chandon
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Perrier & Jouet champagne house
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The courtyard of one of the champagne houses
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Some champagne houses had impressive gardens in the back that appeared to be open to the public... at least we hoped so!
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A very cool spider web! Note how the size of the water spherules is larger at web intersections.
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A gazebo in one of the gardens, shrouded in fog. Alexi remarked "this whole place is so Kate Walker-ish!" (referring to the computer game "Syberia")
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Looking back towards the entrance
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The whole place felt very old
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Attempts at artistry
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Closeup of the dew, which covered everything
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A large friendly dog "guarding" one of the champagne houses. Alexi: "this is what happens when a St. Bernard mates with a cow." :)
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The tower of Champagne de Castellane, shrowded in fog. Scroll down a few to see the same shot about an hour later after the fog suddenly lifted.
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Pretty house. Not sure what it is.
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Welcome to Epernay!
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At the outskirts of Epernay, looking down at the vineyards
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Down by the river. Love the color of the water!
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Note that the fog suddenly disappeared
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Another shot of the Champagne de Castellane tower, this time without the fog
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Touring the champagne cellars. There is light at the end of this tunnel!
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Massive amounts of champagne. This is one rack of many thousands.
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This giant barrel of port was a gift from Napoleon Bonaparte to Moet & Chandon
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Interesting sculptures were hidden away in various niches
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Corridors stretching out to infinity. We were told that there are 44 km (27 mi) of champagne cellars underneath Epernay
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Back at the Moet & Chandon tasting room, we finally get to taste some champagne!
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First glass of many to come
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Champagne tasting at Mercier. We really liked their stuff and bought two bottles.
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The tower of champagne
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Champagne "tasting" at Champagne de Castellane" This was at least my fifth glass, I think :)
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Parting shot of the Champagne de Castellane tower at sunset.
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Laying cobblestones the old-school way on Avenue de Champagne
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Le Clos Raymi, our hotel in Epernay
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Relaxing in our room at the Sofitel Porte de Sevres hotel in Paris
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My one and only photo in the Louvre. I had little desire to join the camera-clicking hordes there.
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Enjoying some tea at a cafe in Montmartre
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A cool little vineyard in Montmartre
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Typical Montmartre cobblestone streets
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More cute little side streets
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The touristy part of Montmartre
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Cobblestone alley with the dome of the Basilique du Sacre Coeur in the background
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Vin chaud -- hot wine -- is essential on a cold November evening
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The front of the Basilique du Sacre Coeur
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Nice view of Paris from the observation platform by Sacre Coeur
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Me in front of the Sacre Coeur
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Moonrise
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Rue du Cardinal Guibert, on the west side of Sacre Coeur
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View down Cite du Sacre Coeur
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Sacre Coeur lit up nicely in the evening
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View of Sacre Coeur from what I nicknamed "Rue du Tourist Ripoff"
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Steps going up to Sacre Coeur, featured in the movie "Amelie", among other things
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Sacre Coeur at night
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Dining at Chez Marie, an off-the-beaten path restaturant in Montmartre. Only 10 euro for a three course meal!
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A poster for a hilarious-sounding theater production on Boulevard de Clichy
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A street view in Pigalle, aka "pig alley," Paris' red-light district
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Didn't they make a movie about this or something? :)
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An old-fashioned sign for the Place de Clichy metro station. Check out the moon in the background.
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The palace of Versailles
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View of the Water Parterre from the palace
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Alexi on the tram. A bit touristy, but it allowed us to cover a lot of ground quickly
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Despite cold late November weather, these mushrooms seemed to be thriving
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The Temple of Love at Marie-Antoinette's Estate
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Statue of Cupid at the Temple of Love
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I know the Russian word for this plant, but not the English one. Can someone help me?
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The Belvedere, still at Marie-Antoinette's Estate. The whole Estate was just about deserted, which made for great wandering and reflection.
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One of many Sphinx statues at the Belvedere
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This plant sure is blooming out of season!
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The French Pavilion
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Looking at the Petit Trianon across the French Garden
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A very cool-looking tree
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One of the Entrances to the Estate
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The Queen's Hamlet
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The farm area of the Estate, which resembled a picturesque French village
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Can it get any more picturesque than this?
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One of the farmhouses
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This is a functioning vineyard in season, I'm guessing
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Is this bird to eat or to look upon?
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I expected to see many things at Versailles, but I have to admit that an ass wasn't on the list
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Trotting goats
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"Grove of the United States. Symbol of the Franco-American friendship. Dedicated October 22, 2001."
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Alexi in front of the Marlborough Tower
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The Grand Trianon
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The other side of the Grand Trianon
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Looking towards the Versailles palace from the Grand Canal
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The Apollo fountain
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Me with the "green carpet" and the palace in the backgound
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Alexi in front of the Latone Fountain
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Versailles palace at sunset
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A randon pretty building on the way to the RER station
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Back in Paris, a quick stop at Centre Pompidou
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Paris "Hotel de Ville" or City Hall
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The huge La Defense metro/RER/tram/bus station
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Futuristic views begin right outside the metro station
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The Grande Arche de la Defense, one of the most bizarre buildings ever! It's an almost-perfect cube with a side of 110 m (361 ft), and houses government offices in the side sections and an exhibition center in the roof section.
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The Arch, neighboring skyscrapers, and numerous giant pieces of modern art form a most impressive architectural ensamble
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The La Defense de Paris statue, built in 1883, contrasts sharply with the ultra-modern surroundings
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The reflecting pool, the statue, and the Arch in one shot
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Another impressive modern sculpture
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Check me out, I'm in the future! :) I was seriously waiting for flying cars and robots to appear.
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This one's pretty bizarre, in a phallic kind of way.
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Hard to see glass panels - a perfect trap for obsessive texters
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The long, empty "boardwalk to nowhere" on the other side of the Arch
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I guess this cemetery was here long before, and they just built the business district around it
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The temporary "Christmas Village" being erected in front the Arch. Far in the distance, Arc de Triomphe is visible.
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One of Sunday street markets in Paris
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Arc de Triomphe, in all its glory. Oh yeah, Alexi's there too. :)
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Grande Arche de la Defense as seen from Arc de Triomphe.
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Alexi in front of Jardin des Tuilleries, the ferris wheel, and the Eiffel tower
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Me with Place de la Concorde in the backgound
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Relaxing at Jardin des Tuilleries before tackling Musee de l'Orangerie
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Rue Mouffetard, one of the oldest streets in Paris.
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At the Chez Nicos creperie, which, according to the guidebook, the best crepes in Paris. It was pretty darn good.
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View of the Seine
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Views of Paris at sunset from Promenade Plantee
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Centre de Recherches Petrographiques et Geochimiques (CRPG) in Nancy, where I spent most of my time in France... working
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Looks like some idiot ran into the building
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The seminar I gave... fortunately for me, it didn't have to be in French!
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The ion microprobe I worked on
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Shopping for cheese in Nancy
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Only a total Star Trek geek like myself would stop to take a picture of a store named "Picard"
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One of Alexi's cheese purchases - it looked nasty, smelled worse, but tasted pretty good :)
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View from our window on our last evening in Nancy