Laurel Highlands – Pennsylvania

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We hadn’t initially planned to visit the Laurel Highlands, but we found ourselves in need of an area to stay for two nights that was between Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Shenandoah National Park. The Laurel Highlands region of Pennsylvania was the perfect spot. We stayed at the Quill Haven Bed and Breakfast in Somerset.  We highly recommend staying there — both for comfort and the good location…and the wonderful breakfast — if you ever find yourself in need of a place to stay in the area.

Our day in Somerset County was jam-packed and wonderful. We started our day with a self-made-tour of three covered bridges.  It is worth noting that the first bridge featured, Barronvale Bridge, is the longest covered bridge in Somerset County.  It is also worth noting that you can drive over the last bridge, Lower Humbert Bridge; we took advantage of the opportunity to drive over it, and I photographed Bryan’s car in the bridge.

 Barronvale Bridge


Barronvale Bridge

Barronvale Bridge

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Château de Chaumont – Part 2

The is the second post in my series of posts about Chateau de Chaumont.  The first post focused on the outside of the chateau, and this post features photographs from the stables.

The stables at Chateau de Chaumont were designed by Paul-Ernest Sanson and were built in 1877.  At the time, they were the most modern stables in all of Europe; to me, they even looked modern for today’s standards — they were also beautiful.  The stables were divided into multiple sections — there were stalls for “half-blood” horses (carriage horses), saddle horses (full-blood horses), and ponies.  There was also a small, indoor riding arena where horses could be worked on lunge lines.  The Chateau de Chaumont website has a ton of information on the stables.

This is what the stables look like from the outside, as you approach them from the chateau.

The round “thing” to the right of the photograph below is the indoor arena.

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Château de Chaumont – Part 1

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After we finished up at Château de Chenonceau, we headed over to Château de Chaumont.  At Château de Chaumont, we bought tickets for both the chateau and the International Garden Festival (which is adjacent to the chateau).

Château de Chaumont is located in Chaumont-sur-Loire, a small commune in France’s Loire Valley.  According to Wikipedia, the chateau was founded in the 10th century by Odo I, Count of Blois.  In 1560, the chateau was acquired by Catherine de Medici.  When her husband, Henry II died, Catherine made her husband’s mistress, Diane de Portiers, give her Chateau de Chenonceau in exchange Chateau de Chaumont.  In 1840 the French Ministry of Culture classified Chaumont as a historical monument.  Marie-Charlotte Say purchased the chateau in 1875.  She restored the chateau and planted gardens, and her husband commissioned the stables.  The donated Chateau de Chaumont to the French government in 1938.

I’m planning on creating several posts with photographs from Chateau de Chaumont.  This post will feature photographs from the outside of the chateau.  A second post will feature photographs of the chateau’s beautiful stables.  A third post will feature photographs from the International Garden Festival (that one may actually require two posts).

The buildings that we passed as we made our way to the chateau were lovely!  This building, covered in beautiful, red and white roses, caught my eye.

The grounds around the chateau were beautifully landscaped.  I was particularly excited to see these entirely white foxglove.  I planted one foxglove in my garden a few years ago, and it did well that year, but it never came back.

The photograph below was taken just outside of the chateau — you can see part of the chateau on the left-side of the picture.

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Musée d’Orsay – The Building

Musée d’Orsay is housed in Gare d’Orsay, an old train station (and hotel) that served as the terminus for the Paris-Orleans Railway.  Gare d’Orsay was the first electrified rail terminal in the world and opened just in time for the 1900 World Fair (Exposition Universelle).  By 1939 the station’s platforms were too short to accommodate the the longer trains now used for long-distance travel; however, it was still used for some suburban trains.  The hotel closed in 1973; the building was reopened in December 1986 as a museum, Musée d’Orsay.  The building is beautiful, and after learning it’s story, I’m so happy that the French government decided to give it new life.

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The Louvre Palace

While most posts about The Louvre are probably about the art (like my Mona Lisa post and Sculptures & Statues post), I decided that The Louvre Palace is pretty enough to deserve its very own post.  The Louvre Museum is housed in The Louvre Palace.  The palace is 652,300 square feet and holds nearly 35,000 artifacts.  The museum is the most visited museum in the world.

Construction of The Louvre Palace began in 1202, though it was renovated throughout the years, including the controversial addition if the infamous pyramid (completed in 1989).  How the Louvre was named is unclear, though some think it is a form of “leouar,” a Latin-Saxon word for castle.  The Louvre served as the seat of power in France until Louis XIV moved to Versailles.  It continued to be used as a formal seat of government until 1789, at which point it became a museum.  Following the 1870 renovation, Napoleon Bonaparte III became the first ruler to live in The Louvre since Louis XIV.  You can visit Napoleon’s apartments at The Louvre.

Looking back, I wish I had taken more photographs of the buildings, but it was hard to remember to pay attention to the building when you’re surrounded by so many beautiful works of art.  In addition to the photographs in this post, I also took some nighttime photographs of The Louvre.

We ate lunch on a terrace overlooking the area enclosed by The Louvre Palace.  It definitely offered a neat perspective of the buildings, and I enjoyed getting to see the statues up close.

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Monochrome Monday – Brussels, Belgium

In addition to “wildlife Wednesday” posts (my first one featured pronghorns), I’m also planning to make “monochrome Monday” posts which will feature my favorite black and white photographs (thanks to the suggestion of a fellow Redditor).

During our first trip to Brussels we stayed at the Novotel Brussels Centre Tour Noire.  The location is decent, and it’s more reasonably priced than other hotels in Brussels — we’d stay there again in a heartbeat.  The hotel was adjacent to the Church of St. Catherine (Sint-Katelijnekerk), and we had a great view of the church from our hotel room window.  The Ferris wheel that is visible in the background was part of the Brussels Christmas Market.  We were able to ride the Ferris wheel a couple of days later.  Though the Brussels Christmas Market can’t compete with German Christmas Markets, we did enjoy ourselves — especially the ice skating, crepes, and Ferris wheel!

In my opinion, this makes a good black and white photograph because there are both black and white objects in the photo, as well as different shades of gray between black and white.  The lack of color gives both the church and the Ferris wheel an eerie feeling that just isn’t there with the colored version of the photograph.

Eglise de Sainte CatherineSint-Katelijnekerk & Ferris Wheel – Brussels, Belgium
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Eglise de Sainte CatherineSint-Katelijnekerk & Ferris Wheel – Brussels, Belgium
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The Eiffel Tower

I haven’t been doing  a very good job of posting regularly to my blog but did want to go ahead and get at least one more post out before 2016.  The Eiffel Tower is definitely a site to behold!  The Eiffel Tower was built for the 1889 World’s Fair; it was not supposed to be a permanent structure.  It was supposed to be demolished in 1909 but was turned into a radio tower and was saved.  It took 300 workers, 18,038 pieces of wrought iron and 2.5 million rivets to build the Eiffel Tower.  When the Eiffel Tower was built, it passed the Washington Monument as the tallest man-made structure.  At 1,063 feet tall, it was the tallest man-made structure until 1930 when the Chrysler Building was built.  During WWII, when Hitler visited Paris, the French cut the lift cables on the Eiffel Tower so that Hitler would have to climb the steps if he wanted to reach the top.  The Eiffel Tower Wikipedia article is worth reading.  The History Channel website also has a good article on the Eiffel Tower.

The first glimpse that I got of the Eiffel Tower as we were walking through the city was magical — it made being in Paris finally feel REAL.  It was neat to walk around the city and be able to see the Eiffel Tower peaking in and out between buildings.

We chose not to go up into the Eiffel Tower while we were in Paris for two reasons — the lines were very long (and our time was limited), and you can’t see the Eiffel Tower if you’re in it.  In order to make the best use of our time we chose to only “see the city from up high” from one place, and that was the towers at Notre Dame, which offered a great view of the Eiffel Tower.  If we had time to go up into another building/structure, we would have gone up into the Montparnasse Tower.

During our short stay in Paris we were able to see the Eiffel Tower against many backgrounds (stormy skies, sunset, night) and from many different perspectives.  Here are some of my favorite Eiffel Tower photographs.

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