Two Orleans

Unintentionally, we adventured to both New Orleans and Orleans this year. It should come as no surprise that the OG Orleans, in Paris, was far more dignified.


Paris: Museums

Everybody said “you gotta see the Louvre.” But I don’t do crowded lines at museums. What I wanted to see from Paris was not just contained inside of a gigantic building. So we did a little research and decided to amble through the gardens and surrounding areas of the Louvre when it was closed, on a Tuesday. What a great idea. The building itself is gigantic, and reminded us a bit of the Vatican, the way it’s shaped like a U with a giant courtyard. Without the huge crowd, we also enjoyed the grounds and outdoor sculptures. Did you know they keep a LIVE GOAT chained in the ditch line to, I don’t know, keep the grass mowed? We’ll likely check out the Louvre whenever we’re back in Paris, but we didn’t want to spend a whole day in one spot this time.

We did discover many people preferred the Musée d’Orsay, because the crowds were smaller and the old train building housing the works is cool. We agree on both counts. It was a nice walk from our apartment in Invalides to the museum, where we spent a couple hours enjoying the goods, and we were done by lunchtime. Perfectamundo.


Through our travels, we seek out different geographies, people, cultures, languages, customs, and histories. It’s how we learn about the world … what makes us different, but what also unites us in humanity. I was both thrilled and broken-hearted to see the world HQ of UNESCO … devoid of our US flag. So Mr. Sickles and I decided we would represent our great nation. Get out and see the world, y’all, and do it with pride and respect for the nation you’re visiting.

We added three new sites:


My favorite day trip from Paris was to the Palace and gardens of Versailles. Rather than jumping on the Metro, we grabbed an Uber from our apartment in Invalides because it was quicker and gave us a little more flexibility. I had vague knowledge of King Louis XIV’s pad before we got there … but I can tell you, having seen it firsthand, it’s no wonder the French Revolution occurred. I mean, damn. Life was good for French royalty. We purchased tickets online, which shaved off about three hours of queuing outside, downloaded the Palace app, and made a day of it.


Mr. Sickles and I celebrated our 25th anniversary in June, but had a busy summer. Last week we finally took ourselves to Paris to celebrate, and man, did we have a great time. Normally when we travel internationally, it’s The Sickles Three, with our son. Or, it’s work-related with my husband’s job. This time, however, it was just the OG two of us, which meant that while we still hiked our asses off, we took the time to smell the roses and share a bottle (or two) of rose along the way.

We opted to stay in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, otherwise known as Les Invalides. The Eiffel Tower is there, as is Napoleon’s resting place. Our apartment was right across the street from the Hotel National des Invalides, which played a big part in the French Revolution.  We were around the corner from the international HQ of UNESCO, a guiding force for our world travels (we added three new items to our UNESCO list!). We relaxed. We drank fine wine. We reconnected. We did it up big.

Travel days were Sunday, Oct. 6 through Friday, October 11. Over the course of six days, including two occupied by large swaths of airplane and airport time, we logged 53.5 miles and 123,831 steps. Our biggest day was on Wednesday when we walked from our apartment to Musee d’Orsay, then to Montmartre and back (15.6 miles and 35,531 steps) and our easiest day was traveling home on Friday when we headed back to North Carolina (4.7 miles and 11.017 steps). Here are some glimpses of getting there, our view from the door of our apartment, and the ever-present (in that area) Eiffel.

Perspectives: Florence

I was just going through some old photos for a project and ran across this one of my husband watching the action around the base of the Michelangelo’s original Renaissance marble statue, David, housed in the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence. The O.G. sculpture dates from the early 16th century and is seventeen feet tall. He was carved from single block of marble from the quarries in Carrara in Tuscany. We visited Italy in 2017.

Here are some interesting facts about David. Another cool thing you can see at the Accademia Gallery is the tenor viola made by Antonio Stradivari (my husband was more enamored by that than David).