Monday, November 24, 2008

Paris: The Fun Continues

Let's backtrack a little. I just realized that I completely and totally forgot that we went to the Pantheon on Wednesday so I didn't write about it, and that is not acceptable. So I'm going to insert it real quick here. We actually went to the Pantheon in between the Sainte-Chapelle and Rue Mouffetard. It's basically another church with cool architecture, which is why we were supposed to see it for humanities. It was really interesting to go to because almost everything in there has to do with the revolution. The crypt of the church is massive, and there were all sorts of famous people buried there. One random fun person there is Madame Curie. Now you know.

Ok, I feel much better now. I believe that we left off on

Thursday-- This was our hard core museum day. We decided to sleep in (we didn't leave until 9:30! Whooo!) before heading out to our first stop at the Musee de Rodin. I had a lot of fun at the Rodin, for a reason that will soon be revealed. The museum was pretty much all sculptures by Rodin, so that was pretty cool because it was different from other places. It was also cool because some of the art was inside this old hotel/house thing, but some of it was just outside in the garden too. It was in the garden where the real excitement occurred. It all happened because I realized that I had seen these statues before, when I was visiting Tara at Stanford in the summer. And we had fun taking pictures with them there, so I got really excited when I realized they had the same ones at the Rodin and made Tracy and Megan recreate the pictures I took with Tara. I was very happy. So that was pretty much the highlight of that museum.

Our next stop was at the Dome Church, also known as the Hotel des Invalides, which is where Napoleon was buried. Megan is a history major, so it was pretty much required that we go there. I didn't mind at all. French history is actually pretty fascinating. My poli sci class last semester was all about comparing the French Revolution to the American Revolution, and it was incredibly interesting. So the Dome Church was pretty cool, and it was really close to the Rodin so we were walking past it anyways.

From there we walked across the Seine to the Orangery. Going along with the French Revolution tract, the area right next to the Orangery is where the guillotine was. The Orangery in contrast was a very wonderful place though; my favorite museum of the whole trip. I think that one of the reasons that I liked it so much is because it was nice and small. Sure, the Louvre has amazing pictures. However, it is incredibly intimidating because it's so huge. I don't know that you could ever have the time to adequately appreciate all of the works there. The Orangery on the other hand is much more intimate. I think the real reason that it was my favorite though was because of the two waterlily rooms. These two rooms held massive paintings of waterlilies by Monet. I'd heard about them before, and I was always wondering what the big deal about some pictures about waterlilies was. I'll just say that you can't understand it until you're actually there. First off, the rooms were designed perfectly to hold the paintings. As soon as you walk in it just feels right. There's a big oval bench in the middle so you can sit and look at whatever part of the painting most interests you. I think I could have spent forever in that room just thinking. You really can't appreciate impressionist paintings until you see them in person. I've seen reprints of the waterlilies, and I always thought that they looked really boring and couldn't understand why people liked them so much at all. But once you can see a Monet in person everything changes. I'd have to say that the impressionist paintings are my favorite of all the styles we've learned about. So go fly to Paris now and go to the museums there so you can like the impressionists too.

Once we were done with the Orangery (where we ran into Professor Benfell and his family for the second time that day) we went for a stroll across the park to return to the Louvre for round two. On our way there we decided to stop for some delicious crepes. That really enhanced my experience. I got one with powdered sugar though, and I proceeded to get the sugar all over both myself and Megan. I thought it was funny; I'm sure that we looked really presentable for the Louvre.

In the Louvre we decided to get right down to business and systematically went through every room that held paintings on our humanities worksheet. I definitely think it was a good thing to have some guidance as to what to look at. There was a ton of stuff we were supposed to see though, like David, Poussin, Gericault, Caravaggio, Rembrandt... I think that my favorite painting there was Liberty Leading the People by Delacroix. You'd most likely recognize it because it's the cover of Coldplay's new album Viva la Vida. Some of the girls brought their iPods with them and sat in front of it while they listened to the song. I much preferred the original meaning of the painting though, which was again was about the revolution. It's amazing. So next time you see the CD pay more attention to the picture on it. Two of my other favorites were The Oath of the Horatii by David and The Raft of Medusa by Gericault, in case you were wondering. The paintings were all so massive. I couldn't imagine actually painting something that big. So we enjoyed ourselves looking at everything. Unfortunately one of the wings we were supposed to see was closed though ( the one we tried to see the night before of course) so we didn't get to see everything. By that point I think I was almost numb to incredible artwork though so it might not have been the worst thing. I guess I'll just have to go back now...
Ok, so this doesn't really relate to anything but I just wanted to mention that there was a Starbucks inside the Louvre. Any doubt that they're trying to take over the world has now fled.

Back to what happened. At this point it was absolutely necessary that we sit down and eat again. We never really get to stop walking, so dinner is fabulous. We stopped at a French Restaurant right along the Seine on the way to our next museum called La Fregate. I got this amazing almost spaghetti dish that had salmon on top of it. I know it sounds like a funny combination, but it totally worked. They also have the best bread at these French restaurants. I love bread. People in Europe always give us the weirdest looks when we order tap water though. They always seem to think that we misunderstood the question they asked. Even in London they can't seem to grasp the idea that we don't want any alcohol, and on top of that we don't even want bottled water. It's kind of funny to watch because every time they come back they keep asking us if we want something.

Once our feet and brains were sufficiently rested we moved along to the Musee d'Orsay, which ended up in a close second for favorite museums. The first thing we looked at was a temporary display that was really fascinating. Apparently Picasso was enamoured by the painting Luncheon on the Grass by Manet (note the A) so he just used the same idea from it over and over again. The whole couple rooms were full of all his different attempts at getting it the way he wanted. They had pulled the pieces from art galleries all over the world, and it was really interesting to see them all next to each other and next to the original Manet. I had no idea that he would try the same thing so many times. His last piece with the figures from the painting was cut out of cardboard and they made into concrete. Go figure.

The upstairs was probably my favorite part of the museum though, and seeing the art up there was totally worth climbing more stairs even though our feet were killing. Upstairs held more fabulous impressionist works, including paintings by Monet (my favorite), Renoir, Van Gogh, and many more. They're just so amazing to look at. I wish we had more time there, but we only had an hour and a half for the whole thing because we had to meet at the docks at 8 for...

... our group boat ride on the Seine. This was another one of our perks thanks to the good exchange rate. It was a lot of fun. The whole program got to go on this tour boat to see Paris from the water. It was absolutely gorgeous at night. We got to ride past all sorts of fun places like Notre Dame, all the museums we had just been to, the Latin Quarter, and the Eiffel Tower, which was where we had started. We took lots of pictures as you might have guessed. Once it was over we wandered around under the eiffel tower some more and down some random streets and ate more crepes because we wanted to. This time I had a chocolate and banana one. We also went on a quest for any kind of restroom because I had to go to the bathroom really bad, but we couldn't find one anywhere. Not cool.

Friday-- Although we had a thousand pictures of the Eiffel Tower and had walked around it a couple times we had never actually gone into it. We determined that this was a problem. So, after ditching our bags at the left luggage part of the train station we determined to go there. Also, it was Sabrina's 21st birthday so naturally we had to celebrate. At this point in case you're wondering our group consisted of me, Megan, Sabrina, Talyn, Kelsy, and Michele. We had either what can be seen as good or bad luck on the way to the Eiffel Tower when a monsoon hit. It was bad because by the time we got there we were completely soaked (umbrellas don't work), and when we got to the top we couldn't really see anything. But, it was also good because even if we couldn't see much from the top at least we were inside when most of the raining took place, and it didn't rain for the whole rest of the day while we were outside. We didn't get to actually go outside on the top though because it was so wet and windy. Up at the top it actually looked like it was snowing. And it was so windy that you could feel the tower moving underneath you, which is a little unnerving. Obviously the tower didn't fall over though, because I'm pretty sure that you would have heard about that on the evening news. It was really cool to see out the windows on top. It's SO high up. All of the massive buildings look tiny. You can't even really see people or cars. We got to go out on the platform of the second level and that was still incredibly high. Even from the first level the people were tiny. The first platform was actually pretty cool because they had almost a little mall area in there that was complete with a cinema (granted it was a film about the tower), a gift shop (of course), and a super sweet post office (that has a special postmark). I also found the bathrooms I had been looking for the night before. Apparently they keep them hidden away inside the Eiffel Tower where only people who pay can go.

By the time we exited the eiffel tower we had dried off a little and the sun had come out, so we were pretty happy. I really wanted to see the replica they have of the statue of liberty (on a much smaller scale) and it was only a few bridges from there so we decided to walk. At this point I would point out to any of you planning a trip to Paris that things are not actually as close as they appear from the top of the Eiffel Tower. I'm just putting that out there. So while it looked like it was really close, it was actually a decent walk, but I still though that it was worth it. Especially because on the way back we got to walk on this beautiful path on this island thing in the middle of the Seine. Actually seeing the statue wasn't anything monumental (lame joke, I know), but I still had a lot of fun checking it out up close. I have to admit that most of my desire to see it came from watching National Treasure 2 though.

After trekking over the the statue we had our beautiful walk back to the main viewpoint of the Eiffel Tower so that we could get a special birthday picture of it and Sabrina. If you have a birthday in Paris I think it's pretty much required that you take a picture with it. From there we hopped back onto the Metro (did I mention that it's not as nice as the tube? Because I've completely lost track of what I have and haven't written about at this point) to go to the Christmas Fair! I've decided that I love Christmas fairs. It's so much fun to be in Paris and London around Christmas time. There are lights up along all of the streets and there's all sorts of festivities. It's so gorgeous and fun to see all of it. But if any of you think that Christmas comes early in the states think again, because they definitely started putting up lights several weeks before Halloween. But it's so cute and fun that I don't mind at all. I went shopping down Oxford street and there were all sorts of fun Christmas window displays and lights hanging everywhere. I just loved it. But I'm supposed to be writing about Paris right now so I had better go back to that. Anyways this Christmas fair went all up and down this one street (I'm awful with names, but it's famous) and ended with a sweet Ferris Wheel. The street was just lined with these adorable little ice chalets that had an assortment of little shops and food stands in them. I got a chocolate covered apple at one of them, a ring at another, and a heavenly waffle with whip cream and chocolate and bananas on it at yet another one. Just to illustrate how good the waffle was I ended up with chocolate and whip cream all over my knuckles and thumb and Megan got some in her hair. The whole set up of the street was just adorable. They even managed to import real snowmen for the occasion. There are similar fairs in London right now and I can't wait to go. In fact, maybe I'll do that tomorrow...

One of the last things that we decided it was absolutely necessary to do was shop, so we hit up the shopping center of the world because we could. Also, the fair was already pretty much on the same street. Luckily for us most of the stores in Paris would have the prices of the clothes displayed in the window listed outside so we had a decent idea of whether we could afford to walk into a store or not. Let me just say that they had some really nice stuff there. After roaming down the street and trying stuff on we still had some time left over in Paris so we decided to return to Rue Moefftard so that we could go back to the chocolate store that had been closed before. It was totally worth it, especially because we had time to go into more of the little stores this time and I found the perfect something that I had been searching for for Amber the whole Paris trip. So that was successful. And in the chocolate shop I decided to indulge myself and buy the bag of chocolate truffles. I couldn't not get French truffles in France, now could I? They taste like perfection, so it was thoroughly worth it. Oh, I forgot to mention that right before this on the same street I had bought an amazing slice of citrus tart. I also bought a whole thing of French bread on the street too (for dinner of course). So for those of you keeping track, yes that does mean that in the matter of a few hours I had downed a chocolate apple, banana chocolate and whip cream waffle, citrus tart, and loaf of bread. This is in addition to the chocolate cereal, hot chocolate, yogurt, and bread I had already consumed that morning. If I come back a little chubbier than I left you know why. But I think it's required to eat lots in France since it's so amazing. I didn't eat anything bad the whole trip.

Eventually we had to leave for the train station, but on the way to the metro we got distracted one more time and ended up in a outlet for Andre, which is a really nice shoe store. It was there that I made the impulse buy of another pair of high heels. They're pretty and fun to look at. Megan got a fabulous pair of heels as well. By the time we made it to the train station we were all loaded up with bags and I'm pretty sure that we looked a little ridiculous but we all felt very satisfied with ourselves. I had to stand guard off all of our stuff while they went through the security to get out bags back from the left luggage. Other people from the program just stared when they walked by. But it was a great conclusion to our trip. When we finally boarded the train to make our way back home we felt that we had done a really good job of experiencing Paris in the time we had. I know that I've probably left lots of little things out, but hopefully this is a good enough account of what we did. Actually it's probably longer than you would prefer... But we did so much it couldn't possibly be told in any less words.

Just to tie things up I'm going to make a short note about the Saturday after we got back. Basically I was still in the mood to spend money, so me and Annie hit up Portobello Market again. I bought so much stuff but it's ok because it was mostly presents. Here's a sample of the type of things I bought though: I got my self a super sweet thermos that is bright orange and has bright colored flowers on it. Oh yes. We spent all day there and it was great. I even got a new shirt for only two pounds. I'm sure going to miss Portobello...

Ok, I think that's it. I'm done. I appologize for all the spelling and grammar mistakes, but there is no way in heck I'm going to read through this and edit it. I never do actually. But I hope you had a fun time reading it! I've been working on it during every but of free time I've had in the past few days, mostly at the expense of my sleep. It's actually 1:15 in the morning right now. In case you can't tell I'm saying this to get your pity so that you will leave me a comment. Do it now. I love you all, but I haven't had any comments on the last three entries and that's just not nice. So do the right thing.

Have a great Thanksgiving and I miss you all!

I'll try and put the pictures up tomorrow. There's just a lot and the internet here isn't so great so it takes a long time. But now that they've taken so long you'll appreciate them more, right?

1 comment:

Amber said...

so I have been thinking, you come home in like three weeks! That is so soon! I am so excited to have you back! Not only will it be nice just to have you home but your coming home bearing gifts! I can't wait to see what you found for me in Paris :) love you, miss you. Don't be afraid to spend the money I gave you, actually embrace it with the few weeks you have left and go crazy haha