Tag Archives: darth vader

European Vacation – Paris, France

After visiting Bruges, Belgium, we boarded a train to Kortrijk, Belgium as the first leg our day’s journey to Paris. Going to Paris was the motivation behind the whole trip – to visit our friends Jessica and Andrew in Paris. There transportation strikes happening in Belgium, but we checked in the morning and the trains were still running.

The train ride gave a little more time for some Papers, Please, but our luck ran out when we got to Kortrijk. By this time, the strike caught up with us, and trains were no longer running out of Kortrijk. And because we already used part of our tickets, we couldn’t get refunds. We ended up taking a taxi from Kortrijk, Belgium to Lille, France. Once in France, we took a train to Paris. We were late, but we got there!

I’m guessing we went to our AirBNB first, but I honestly don’t remember that. I just remember heading to Frame Brasserie where Jessica was waiting for us. Andrew was in the kitchen, preparing awesome food. For my friends who don’t know, the two of them used to live near me in California, but Andrew accepted a head chef position at Frame Brasserie, a restaurant in Paris inside the Pullman Paris Hotel.

Here’s Chef Andrew hard at work in the kitchen!

Here’s one of the dishes he prepared – foie gras on banana bread. I didn’t know those flavors would go well together, but it was amazing!

I don’t remember what each course was, but I know that I was impressed with all of it. So good!

After dinner, we went upstairs to a little balcony where we were able to watch the light show on the Eiffel Tower. It was pretty breathtaking. I wasn’t expecting to be as amazed at the Eiffel Tower as I was. It was beautiful.

Andrew gave us a little tour of the rooftop garden as well, including the chicken coop. The chickens were sleeping.

Jessica walked us back to our AirBNB, and we stopped to admire the Eiffel Tower more on the way.

Only gem and I were interested in Disneyland Park Paris, so we spent the day there.

We stopped for breakfast in Main Street, U.S.A. where I got a croque monsieur. (That’s not normally found on traditional Main Streets in the States, but I’ll forgive them. This little bird wanted some too and took a piece right out of my hand. Disney magic!

After eating, we went straight to Discoveryland, which is like Anaheim’s Tomorrowland. Instead of being purely futuristic, it’s themed after historical French figures’ visions of the future, making it retro and steampunk. It was awesome.

We rode Space Mountain Mission 2, Disneyland Paris’ Space Mountain, twice in a row. It had a great steampunk feel to it and was one of my favorite rides there. The wait was seriously just a few minutes. Yes, it was a weekday, but I don’t think we ever needed to wait longer than 15 minutes. I think the one-day, two-park ticket was only about $50 (US), which is nuts. I guess Disneyland Paris isn’t as popular as the original.

Next we went on a walk-through attraction called Les Mystères du Nautilus based on Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Apparently there was a similar attraction in our Disneyland in the 1950’s.

After a submarine, it was time to hop in some cars for Autopia. I’m completely uninterested in the Anaheim Autopia but enjoyed the Paris Autopia!

When we heard that Buzz needed our help, we rushed to Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast to defeat the Evil Emperor Zurg!

gem even found a planet with her name in it – Gemkurnz!

After finishing with Discoveryland, we went to explore Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.

I like this photo of gem and the castle despite the people in the background.

The castle had many stained glass windows. I prefer the one of Maleficent, one of my favorite Disney characters.

There’s a little balcony area on top that you can explore too!

It’s a Small World’s tribute to America started with the old west. I really enjoyed seeing this.

It also included the New York skyline, the Statue of Liberty, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Hollywood sign (among other things).

For lunch, we stopped at Cafe Hyperion. I believe this was the Dark Vador burger. I couldn’t resist it. That’s also how I learned that Darth Vader is Dark Vador in French.

After riding Pirates of the Caribbean, we rode Indiana Jones et le Temple du Péril. Unlike its California counterpart, this is more of a traditional rollercoaster. It’s also the first Disney rollercoaster to feature an inversion! While I enjoy our more story-driven rollercoaster, this was an awesome ride!

Frozen had a little section in the park with a photo-op and some sort of performance. We didn’t stay for the performance, but we did get our photo taken before we had to rush to the second park, which we didn’t realize was closing soon.

Walt Disney Studios is Disneyland Paris’ second park, and it’s based on a movie studio.

There were a number of neat things to see in the park, especially walking through the Toy Story section that was built to a scale as if you were a toy.

The park had an excellent rollercoaster based on Finding Nemo – Crush’s Coaster. Two seats face one direction and two face the other direction, leading to awesome drops in which you’re falling backwards!

While we were inside Disneyland Park, we were wondering where the statue of Walt and Mickey was and just assumed they didn’t use it in Paris. We were wrong! It’s in Walt Disney Studios!

My notes also mention salsa, rock, and line dancing in Disney Village, which is like Paris’ Downtown Disney. I don’t remember that. Did we do it? Did we just see it?

I wanted to stop for a photo with the magic broom on the way out.

And we got one of gem as well!

Next it was back to Disneyland Park to talk to ticketing about our tickets. We had purchased tickets online in advance, which means we had printouts and not physical tickets. She was hoping for physical tickets as souvenirs. At first they said they couldn’t do it, but when gem got sad, the man got creative. He printed out one of each ticket variation and voided them before giving them to her. How nice of him!

Back inside Disneyland Park, I took a photo of gem with the greeter at Phantom Manor, which is their version of the Haunted Mansion. How spooky and cool! We actually went through Phantom Manor twice.

gem also had an encounter with Abu, who ran up to her and surprised her!

We did some shopping while in the park too. I picked up some gifts for people, but there was one gift that was just too big – a blue Buzz Lightyear figure. I have no idea why he was blue, but I wanted it for Henley. Eventually, I knew I had a solution. I purchased a big Disneyland Paris duffel bag and the toy. Now I could definitely bring it home!

We ended our Disney evening with a fireworks and light show. It seemed like a combination of Disneyland fireworks and a show like Fantasmic or World of Color. There were fireworks, but there were also plenty of lasers and projects. It was awesome!

When the park closed, we walked through Disney Village to the train, where we waited at least an hour or so for the train to leave. We were really packed in there. Then it was hard to find our way home because of construction causing street closures. We eventually found a McDonald’s with Wi-Fi that allowed us to contact Antonio and Anela. We had a key to get into the apartment, but we forgot the code to the front gate! I told Antonio what time I thought we’d be back, but we ended up taking much longer. This could have been problematic, because without Wi-Fi, my phone wouldn’t work. Luckily he happened to see my message way late – just when we got to the gate. Great timing 🙂

The next day we headed to the Eiffel Tower. The base was much bigger than I expected.

Here’s a shot looking up through the tower.

Unfortunately, we could only reach the second story that day because the rest was closed.

That didn’t stop us from enjoying the view anyways.

After we came back down from the Eiffel Tower, we met Anela, Andrew, and Jessica at the FRAME Truck where we purchased some tasty tacos. Jessica did a lot of planning for us so we could squeeze as much in as we can. Her help was invaluable!

gem looks quite thug. I don’t know what she was doing here, but it’s great.

They also brought us these delicious macarons!

After lunch, it was time to jump in front of the Eiffel Tower! Here’s Antonio, Anela, me, and gem.

And here’s Jessica, Anela, me, and Andrew. Andrew looks a little derpy.

Lots of people seem to lounge near the Eiffel Tower.

Either Jessica or Andrew took this photo of the four of us.

Here’s all six of us in front of the Eiffel Tower!

What do you do after appreciating the Eiffel Tower? Explore some creepy catacombs, of course. We played some Heads Up on our phones and variations of charades while waiting in line, but then it was time to enter.

The descent! Jessica looks too happy.

gem looks scary in the catacombs.

Jessica, don’t be mean! Don’t worry; she didn’t touch.

Lots and lots of bones.

After emerging once more, Andrew took us to She’s Cake. They use She’s cakes at Frame Brasserie.

We split a few different delicious desserts.

After eating, we visited the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris at Montmarte, which was beautiful.

Even the drinking fountains are beautiful in Paris!

When it was time for dinner, we stopped at Le Consulat.

We shared an order of escargot, which tasted very similar to typical shellfish. I enjoyed it a lot!

I did, however, have to figure out how to eat it.

After dinner, we walked past the Moulin Rouge.

We finished our day with a visit to L’arc de Triomphe.

The next day, we visited the Eiffel Tower so we could climb all the way.

It was a foggy day, but I had fun.

Here I am enjoying that view, but I felt I needed a closer look.

That’s much better!

Just look at that amazing view! Okay, the view was nothing but fog, but it was still cool.

I forget if it was this day or the previous Eiffel Tower visit, but we talked to some of the soldiers at the base. Side note, it’s still very weird to me to see soldiers with huge guns just walking around. Anyways, we asked for Anela to get a photo with them. Their reaction was strange. Some seemed to say no, some to say yes, and one walked away. After a moment, I realized what was happening. They were smoking when they weren’t allowed to be smoking. Some of them put out their cigarettes and one just walked out of view of the camera. We got our photo!

We went to a market to get some lunch. This pastry was super good.

We also sampled some pink cheese. That doesn’t look like my hand though. Whose hand is that? Anela’s? Oh well.

I managed to purchase cherries in French! It was terrible French I’m sure, but a bit of Rosetta Stone helped. Here’s our haul that we ate in Jessica and Andrew’s apartment. Not shown was the McDonald’s that we bought as well, including the Le Croque McDo. How French! Man, I’m getting hungry.

Just look at this pastry! We stopped at Le Moulin de la Croix Nivert for tarte aux pommes et Paris Brest, two amazing desserts.

With full stomachs, we visited Notre-Dame.

Next we quickly saw the Fontaine Saint Michel.

By that time, we definitely some crepes, so we stopped at Creperie de Arts.

The best part of Creperie de Arts? Le chat! This cat was just chilling.

We also stopped at Amoroso Gelato because apparently we just can’t eat enough.

Of course we visited the Louvre, but we were unable to go inside. Due to the flooding happening in Paris at the time, they were moving all the works to higher floors in case the water got into the Louvre.

That didn’t stop us from having fun and goofing around!

Look at these two lovebirds. <3

Here’s a closer shot of the building.

Speaking of the flood, here’s a look at the water. You might not be able to tell just how much water there is from this photo.

I wouldn’t want to go sit on one of those benches.

Those are cars. The Seine rose so much, cars parked along the river were now under water.

May gem present to you… the Statue of Liberty!

Here’s a shot she took of me in front of it too!

According to the journal I kept, which was just a list of things we did, we also visited L’arc de triomphe du Carrousel, but I can’t find any photos of it. I can’t believe I wouldn’t take photos, so maybe I just got them mixed up. Oops.

Edit: I did just get them mixed up! I added a photo 🙂

For dinner, we went to Frame Brasserie a second time. On this visit, Andrew ate with us rather than being in the kitchen. He had his staff keep bringing us additional dishes until we were full. Amazing. As I’d expect, everything was so good. Here’s a collage of everything we managed to eat. Keep in mind there were six of us please :0

Look, FRAME has a foosball table! I don’t know who won, but I know we had fun – probably because gem and I were both terrible.

Sadly, this is where we said our goodbyes to Jessica and Andrew.

Before heading to our apartment for the final time, we walked around the Centre Georges Pompidou, which was near where we were staying.

It looks like it’s inside-out! It’s definitely an interesting piece of architecture.

While we didn’t go inside, we were able to appreciate it from here.

I’ll end this post with a final shot of the Eiffel Tower. The next morning we left our little apartment and traveled to the airport to fly to Rome. Thanks so much to Jessica and Andrew for spending time with us, showing us around Paris, sharing delicious food, and everything else. I wish I could see you regularly, but Paris is just a bit too far to visit for a weekend!

It’s a Ska World After all! The 4th Annual Ska Day at Disneyland

It's a Ska World After All

It’s a Ska World After All! Sunday was the 4th annual Ska Day at Disneyland! I’m pretty glad I found this flier at The Skatalites’ concert at Slidebar last week.

The festivities actually started Saturday night. There was a pre-party at Las Palomas Mexican Restaurant in Anaheim. I went with Edward and gem. I guess there was a call-out, because there was some staffing and service problems. It was fun anyways! I noticed that we were sitting next to members of the ska band Half Past Two!

It's a Ska World After All

There was a hat dance, musical chairs, dance competition thingy! Basically, there was a circle of people, and one person had to wear a hat. As music plays, the person wearing the hat has to dance across the circle and put the hat on someone else. If you’re wearing the hat when the music stops, you’re out, and it continues to another round. gem made it to the last round!

It's a Ska World After All

The person with whom she’s dancing in the photos was the guitar or bass player (I couldn’t see) for The Pocketeers I think!

It's a Ska World After All

She technically came in second, but they gave her a prize anyways. She got this sweet 45 of David Hillyard & The Rocksteady 7’s cover of “Evil” by Moondust Records. Pretty cool!

I found this article about it:

New Single: David Hillyard & The Rocksteady 7 “Evil” : Moondust Records.

It's a Ska World After All

On Sunday, we started the day by trying on some hats.It's a Ska World After All

Next we went on Space Mountain. We didn’t even realize it was already Ghost Galaxy!It's a Ska World After AllWe had lunch at the Hungry Bear Restaurant for the meet and greet. After we sat down, we noticed we were sitting next to some of the members of Half Past Two again. Cool coincidence or destiny? We chatted for a bit with out new friends and took this photo!It's a Ska World After All

While in line for Splash Mountain, we met two women from Sacramento here on vacation. We had fun talking to them, and then I got soaked on the ride. We also gave them our fast passes to Indiana Jones because we were running late for the group photo.

It's a Ska World After All

This is as good as a group photo as we were going to get, because we were a little late. Oh well.

It's a Ska World After All

Look how many security guards it takes to deal with ska fans! There were actually a few more here at one time. Let’s skip over the negative part of the day.

It's a Ska World After All

After the group photo, we all went on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad together! We had a rather large group. The plan was to ride It’s a Small World together as well, but gem and I decided to go on Indiana Jones instead.

It's a Ska World After All

This is not a good place to leave a diaper.

We also managed to go on some rides that didn’t involve photographs. For example, we had to go on Star Tours of course (twice!) as well as the Haunted Mansion to see its Nightmare Before Christmas version. We played a lot of Heads Up, a game gem introduced to me, on our phones while in line. It seemed to be a popular game with other people as well, and we even told others about it. There was a woman in line with us for the Haunted Mansion who downloaded it after we told her about it, and then we played with her and her son too!It's a Ska World After All

I also battled the Evil Empereror Zurg!It's a Ska World After All

Pew pew pew!

It's a Ska World After All

And another Toy Story shot.It's a Ska World After All

Before the concert, I just had to play some Fix It Felix Jr.It's a Ska World After All

While we were waiting for the show to begin, we saw that the latest It’s a Ska World SKAvenger Hunt goal was near us. We headed there and got there first, winning some Dulce Cookies by Melo! Oh my goodness, they were so amazing. We gave two to Remy, the host, for him and girlfriend as well as one to a woman who got there after us. Then I ate some more of them. They were really tasty!

It's a Ska World After All

Next it was time for the highlight of the evening, Suburban Legends! They’re so amazing. Their sound is great, their choreography is stunning, their ability to engage the audience is always superb, and their sets consist of covers and awesome originals.

It's a Ska World After All

There’s gem with the band!

Here’s a clip of them playing DuckTales. Very awesome.

I danced a lot, and boy was I exhausted. I even got to be a firework. The crowd all crouched down. They began to count to eight, using “cicero” to switch to a “Cell Block Tango” reference, and then went back to counting normally. When they reached eight, we all jumped up, threw our arms in the air, and yelled, “boom!” It was fun!

Also, you know how gang fights always involve singing, dancing, and hand snapping? Yeah, the audience split in two for one of those fights. Super rad.It's a Ska World After All

After the concert I wanted to try on this helmet even if I looked dumb.

It's a Ska World After All

After a break, The Suffragettes, an all-girl cover band, played at the Tomorrowland Terrace. They were pretty good, but they just didn’t do enough for us. We listened to a few songs before heading back to Main Street, U.S.A. We had some delicious ice cream before calling it a night.

It’s too bad that this was the fourth annual Ska Day at Disneyland and that I missed three of them. I’ll be going in the future!

The Star Wars

The Star Wars

I recently finished reading The Star Wars, the Dark Horse miniseries adapting the original script by George Lucas for Star Wars. There’s a lot to excite Star Wars fans – General Luke Skywalker is an old soldier and veteran of many battles. He sort of takes the place of Obi-wan Kenobi in many ways. Annikin Starkiller is the young Jedi, more like Luke from the movies although more brash. Antagonists include Darth Vader, which is simply the name of an Imperial general, and Prince Valorum, a Knight of the Sith.

As a Star Wars fan, I can understand how it could pique one’s interest, but in actuality, the story seems quite rough. This isn’t surprising given that it’s a comic adaptation of a rough draft of a screenplay, but it’s worth noting. In the movie trilogy, Ewoks fight back on the ground against the Imperials. Something a bit similar happens in the comics with technology-lacking natives, but it’s quite a bit more ridiculous. The relationship between the Jedi and Sith is also unclear. I suppose background on both organizations or beliefs are lacking, but come to think of it, I suppose it was the same in the original trilogy.

I don’t regret reading it, and I do think that fans of Star Wars might get a kick out of seeing a visual depiction of Lucas’ original plan, but that plan was changed for a reason.