Thursday, April 29, 2010

Day 3

[Day 1][Day 2][Day 3]

Day 3: I woke up at 9 in the morning, and (as would become our morning routine) went to Moulin de Rosa to get breakfast. We bought a single baguette, which I held as we walked back to the apartment. It made me feel ever so Parisian. We broke our bread at the apartment and ate it with the fruit and jam that we had picked up at Monoprix, as well as the butter and Nutella that we found in our apartment.

After breakfast we jumped onto the bus and went to the Louvre.

I'm really astounded by I.M. Pei's glass pyramid. The space beneath it was all illuminated by the natural light let in by the pyramid- making it infinitely more open and airy. I'm starting to think that I really like architecture a lot.

We entered in the Denon wing, where we flashed our fancy museum passes and went right in to seeing the art. We walked up a staircase and through a room filled with Roman antiquities until we were faced with another staircase, which we knew to hold the Winged Victory at the top. (My Grandpa still talks about the angel at the top of the big staircase sometimes, so I knew where it was.) We walked up and found ourselves face to face (I suppose that I shouldn't say face, as she doesn't really have one) with the Winged Victory of Samonthrace.

The Victory stands on the prow of a ship. The angle from which you see the statue in the picture above is the direction that you're supposed to look at it- not head on. The other half of the body lacks the fine details present in this side, leading many people (including the author of the guide book that I read) to believe that the Victory was intended to be seen at an angle. After seeing the Winged Victory we walked through some of the Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities section.

The Venus de Milo was crowded. Impressive, but very, very, very, crowded. Trying to take pictures normally ended up with a group of people in the corners. Still, really impressive.

Walked back through some of the Roman Antiquities and into the Italian Sculpture room in the Sculpture section. I think that I might have gone to heaven. Really, truly, it might have happened.

Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss - Antonio Canova

Dying Slaves - Michelangelo

Le Cardinal de Richelieu - Bernini

mystery statue!

We made a loop somewhere and found ourselves in the Apollo Gallery- home to some of the Crown Jewels. After this time, we left the Louvre and walked to Ile-St.-Louis. We passed through the Marche aux fleurs again. (Can I just take a moment to say that it was beautiful? it was beautiful. Not large- but perfect nonetheless.)

The wind started to pick up as we walked from Ile-de-la-Cite to Ile-St.-Louis, and it was drizzling by the time we reached a place to eat. We ate lunch at a place called Cafe Med, where the waitress sung along with classic American pop/rock on the radio and smiled at me when we made eye contact. After lunch we walked to Berthillon to enjoy a delicious ice cream cone.

After eating ice cream and walking around Ile-St.-Louis, we walked back to Ile-de-la-Cite. The wind and the rain were picking up, so we went inside of Notre Dame. It wasn't crowded when we entered, but it seemed to be that there were many people doing the same as us: seeking shelter. (from the rain, and from other things.) I'm not religious- and the fact that there were people around me feeling the warmth of some divine light made me shiver with cold and a strange type of loneliness.

We walked through the cathedral for a while, taking in all of the spectacular stained glass and arches and columns. The back half of the cathedral was closed in preparation for evening mass, so we didn't get a good view of the rose windows. When the rain had let up we walked over to the Cite metro stop where we boarded a train and went back to the Louvre.

Again we entered through the Denon wing, but this time we went straight to the first floor, largely resuming where we had left off. We walked though the Italian paintings of the 13th-15th centuries, and I must say that I apologize for having been entirely too thrilled by my surroundings. But, again, can you really blame me? I'm me, and I'm an art nerd. Had the museum guards been watching me with a more critical eye, I may have been told off for salivating too much. Art is cool! (please don't judge me too harshly.)

Leonardo di Vinci
Baccus/Saint Jean-Baptiste, La Vierge aux Rochers, Saint Jean-Baptiste

Of course, we saw the Mona Lisa.
Through a swarm. And a six foot protective bubble. And five inches of glass.

Still, I saw her, and I smiled back at her, but I don't think that she really noticed because she was too busy concerning herself with the fact that she was absolutely adored.

After exiting the room that the Mona Lisa was kept in, I found myself facing La Belle Jardiniere by Raphael. I think that my gasp might have been audible. (that's a little bit embarrassing, so I'm trusting that's going to stay between you and me.) (Because the internet is a great place to keep secrets.)

After getting my fill of Italian paintings (that's a laugh. Like that would ever happen at all. Let's try that again:) After I realized how limited my time was, I decided that I would have to save the rest of the hall for my next trip to Paris, and continued to the Large Format French paintings.

Oedipe explique l'enigme du sphinx, La Grande Odalisque

Pygmalion et Galatee (detail)
Anne-Louis Girodet-Trioson

One of my favorite paintings. :D My mom loves the movie My Fair Lady, so I'm no stranger to the story of Pygmalion. Still, this picture is absolutely wonderful and fantastic. Don't look at her. Please don't look at her. Ignore the fact that she is naked, and just look at Pygmalion. He's positively perfect. See that look of awe? The way that he is tentatively reaching out to confirm her reality(or possibly grope her)? Love is good. This picture is good.

I'm not really sure how much I like or dislike David. I'm leaning (at the moment) to strongly adore him, but that might only be due to the fact that I watched the Simon Schama's Power of Art episode about him. Other paintings that I saw the Coronation of Napoleon, the Oath of the Horatii, the Intervention of the Sabine Women, and The Lictors Bring to Brutus the Bodies of His Sons, all of which were immense and fantastic.

Remember this video: ?

At 1:15 starts the piece Death of Marat, by Jacques-Louis David. That's another reason why I'm liking David at this moment. And when Marat opens his eyes three seconds later? I swoon.

Raft of the Medusa

1:05 in 70 million, if you were curious.

Liberty Leading the People

2:05 in 70 million.

(I hope that you understand that the video for 70 million is my second favorite music video of all time. I am an art geek and it thrills me. I'mma let you finish, but Bob Dylan had my favorite music video of all time with Subterranean Homesick Blues.)

After seeing much of the Large format paintings, we went to the ground floor and entered the Richelieu wing, where Hammurabi's Code was. (An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.) We also walked into the Palace of Sargon II.

This smile will never stop being hilarious to me.

From the Palace we went up to the second floor into the German, Flemish, and Dutch Painting section. There were a large number of vanitas, and I felt ever so clever for knowing why there were soap bubbles and wilting flowers and other symbolic things like that adorning the tabletops. We walked through the Reubens room rather quickly, I think, and went to see The Lacemaker by Vermeer. After seeing The Lacemaker, I walked up to one of the guards and clumsily asked them in French for directions. They were really nice, and I think that they might have felt bad for me because I was so apologetic, and gave me good directions to get to our last destination for the night: Poussin.

My camera had died at this point, so I don't have anything to show you, but I will tell you that Et In Arcadia Ego (Even in Arcadia I Exist) is just as great as it looked in Art History class.

Left the Louvre as it was getting late, and took the train back to the Monoprix where we bought eggs for dinner. (I also picked up two packages of Kinder Eggs because they are really wonderful and I don't eat them enough.) We picked up a bottle of wine for my aunt and cousin and I picked up a bottle of Orangina. (The advertisements for which that I saw in the metro seem to always include scantily clad animals. Don't ask, because I don't know how to answer.)

At the apartment we scrambled our eggs and ate them and fell asleep.

Things to Know:

Allow yourself plenty of time to see things if you're going to the Louvre. If your trip is going to be long enough, try to make several visits. Know what you're going to do before you get there, and don't waste time looking at things that you don't absolutely adore.

in the event that you're ever in Paris and you're hungry:

Cafe Med: 77 rue Saint Louis-en-l'ile, 75004 Paris. Phone number: 01 43 29 73 17

Berthillon: 29-31 rue saint Louis-en-l'ile, 75004 Paris. Phone number: 01 43 54 31 61

[Day 1][Day 2][Day 3]

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

and now for something completely different

I interrupt what I would have regularly posted here to bring you this:

A question from the latest in math review packets. Math teachers must have very unique palates.

That is all. Carry on.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Day 2

[Day 1][Day 2][Day 3]

Day 2:
I woke up at half past 8, and walked down the street to the boulangerie-patisserie "Moulin de Rosa". I bought a pain chocolat and returned to the apartment. My aunt and cousin made some coffee while I boiled water and brewed a cup of Tick-Tock rooibos tea (the package for which was left in the apartment by whoever had rented it last.)

(see what I did there? I added two photos together that were taken at different angles, resulting in the bizarre little image that you see above.)

After breakfast we left to go on a Paris Greeter tour that my cousin had arranged. The tour guides are all Parisians who volunteer to lead groups of six (or less) around the city for several hours, giving history lessons and recommendations all the while.We met our guide at the exit to the station Cite on Ile de la Cite. His name was Christian, and he was kind enough to speak French very slowly so that my cousin and I could understand what he was saying. A very nice Parisian woman named Danielle also joined us on the tour.

The tour took us first through the Marche aux Fleurs, which was absolutely beautiful and wonderful. (I really like flowers, what can I say?) We walked around the area of Ile de la Cite, and our guide took us to see the touristy places. We didn't go inside, as waiting in line would have limited the amount that we could have seen on the tour. We stopped at Notre Dame, passing Sainte-Chappelle while getting there. At the left entrance to Notre Dame the guide pointed out some interesting statues.

The picture on the left is the left side of the left portal, known as the Portal of the Virgin. The headless man is Saint Denis, who was beheaded for his beliefs on the hill of Montmartre in 250 A.D. After his head was cut off, he picked it up, dusted it off, and went on his merry way. He walked for six miles, and then died. His burial place was turned into a church, in which most kings from the 10th to 18th centuries are buried.

The center picture shows Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, as Eve takes the fateful first bite of the apple. But wait! What's that? Or rather, who is that? You know, that half snake half woman curling up the apple tree? That, my dear friends, is Lilith. The guide explained that she was the first woman created alongside Adam. Eve was created from the rib of Adam, yet woman had already been created in an earlier passage of Genesis. That woman, supposedly, was Lilith.
Don't really know how much of what he said was true (and how much was lost in translation). I don't really know all that much about Genesis save for what we learned in school during freshman English class. My cousin took an art history class sometime during college and she mentioned that she had also heard the story of Lilith. She's not very uncommon sight in art, apparently. Just look for the animagus stuck in the middle of her transformation.

The picture to the right shows the right side of the Portal of the Virgin. Our guide had very little to say about this side, so, I have very little to say to you.

The statues over the entrancesrepresent the Kings of Israel, and during the revolution the statues were beheaded. The ones currently adorning Notre Dame are replicas, and the ones that were beheaded are sitting in the Musee de Cluny.

I was thrilled that Disney did such a good job of creating Notre Dame in their movie 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame'. I have (very regrettably) yet to read Notre-Dame de Paris by Victor Hugo, which is the novel that the movie is adapted from.

Check out that statue that Esmeralda is talking to at the beginning of the song. Now look at the picture. Above the Kings of Israel, sandwiched between those two angels. Oh yes. Who was giddy with excitement when I saw that? That's right. Me.

After Notre Dame we walked across a bridge and into the Latin Quarter. We walked around and received buckets of information about the architecture of Paris. (Architecture is fascinating, and Parisian architecture is beautiful. What more could one ask for?) We walked down Haussmann boulevards and the tiny winding side streets that he had left untouched.

(French house numbers, a lamp in a courtyard, and an adorable shop that we passed that went by the name of Terre de Sienne.)

Nearly three hours later, we collapsed into a cafe where we concluded our tour. Our guide and the other woman with us joined us for a drink, and I (being the crazy wild teenager that I am) ordered a large cup of hot chocolate.

My aunt pulled out a box of macaroons that she had bought earlier and we ate them with much gusto. We got some more restaurant recommendations, and when the last drops of coffee and, in my case, hot chocolate, had been drained, our guide and the other woman on our tour left to go their separate ways.

At this point, the woman who had been sitting at the table next to ours leaned over and began talking to us in New York accented English, mentioning that she had heard us talking about the Marais (the area where our apartment was), and commenting that she owned an apartment in that area. Surprised, we started to talk some more, and we discovered that our apartments were around the corner from each other.

(What strange coincidences!)

Because my cousin and I were close in age to her granddaughter (a high school senior who she had brought with her as an early graduation gift) she suggested that we meet up during our stay. We planned to get together that Thursday for dinner at the restaurant down the street from our apartments, which she raved about. She also suggested another restaurant that belonged to the owners of the restaurant that we had agreed to meet at, as it was also within a block of our apartment. We exchanged some contact information, and left to continue with our plans for the rest of the day.

From that cafe, we walked several blocks until we reached Saint Germain des Pres. I bought my first crepe from a sidewalk vendor and ate in the small park next to Saint Germain. In the center of the square a bust of Apollinaire served as a cozy roosting spot for pigeons.

After lunch we took the metro to Pere Lachaise Cemetery, getting off at the stop Gambetta. By getting off at Gambetta instead of Pere Lachaise, one is able to walk down through the Cemetery. This is easier. I like easy.

We bought a map of the cemetery for two euros from a florist near the entrance, and started in. Had I known at the time, I'd have saved my money and printed off a map from the internet. The one that we bought didn't have many of the names or locations on it that I had hoped to find, which resulted in us pulling out several guidebooks and gathering information that way. We looked very touristy and lost. I don't really like to do that. A light rain started as we walked to the grave of Oscar Wilde, and en route to that grave we saw the grave of the man for whom the street we were living on was named. Oscar Wilde's grave was covered in lipstick kisses and names grouped with plus signs within arrow impaled hearts.

The rain quickened and the raindrops fattened, so we fled the graveyard under the cover of flimsy collapsible umbrellas. We found refuge in a restaurant where my aunt and cousin shared an adult beverage, and I examined our map, putting boxes around names that I wanted to see and penning in the names that were inexplicably absent.

When we looked outside again, the rain had only become heavier. We took the metro to the BHV (the Bazar de l'Hotel de Ville) where we bought a plug adapter for the electrical converter for the laptop that my cousin brought. (The various plugs extended about six inches out of the wall.)

That night for dinner we went to Petit Marchee, the restaurant that was recommended to us by the woman we met in the cafe. The place was quiet when we arrived, but not empty, and couples and friends sat at tables carrying on soft conversations. The waitress that we had was very polite, and spoke English flawlessly (with a British accent!) and was kind enough to talk to the cooks (and even made a telephone call) when my Aunt inquired about a certain dish. Because the waitress wasn't sure what cut of meat it had been, she talked to the cooks, who also hadn't know, so they called up the person who they had bought it from, and she came back to the table that we were sitting at and told us all about it. She also recommended us a great dessert, and brought us many bottles of water. (I get thirsty.)

The food was delicious, and the dessert was delightful. (again, another chocolate cake, and a fruit tart.) A long while after entering the restaurant, we stumbled out, making sure to smile and wave to our waitress as we left. We walked the half block to our apartment, and I took a shower and went to bed.

Things to know:
Make sure that your umbrella is strong. Dollar store umbrellas are cheap and easy to get, but will fail to open properly when they are needed. This will result in you being wet and a little bit grumpy. Never be grumpy in Paris if you can avoid it.

Paris Greeter (Parisian d'un Jour):

in the event that you're in Paris and you're hungry:
Le Moulin de Rosa: 32, Rue de Turenne - 75003 Paris. Phone number: 01 42 78 07 31

Le petit Marchee: 9, rue de Bearn - 75003 Paris. Phone number: 01 42 72 06 67

[Day 1][Day 2][Day 3]

Monday, April 12, 2010

Take-off, and day one in Paris

[Day 1][Day 2][Day 3]

*remember what I said about the numbering of the days in my last post? yeah, that was a lie. Day one means day one.

Leaving home:

Sunday morning, I woke up and tried to eat a bagel for breakfast... only to end up cutting myself on the butter knife. (typical.) Scrambled around the house trying to collect addresses, then loaded baggage into the car and drove to the house of my Aunt and Uncle. I read Charlotte's Web while in the car, and my heart broke just a little bit when Charlotte dies. (my love of children's literature knows no bounds.)

I ate lunch at my cousin's house, and then we watched Amelie. I think that my Aunt was very impressed by my French when I explained what was going on at different parts of the movie (we were watching without subtitles). I wasn't sure how to tell her that I had watched the movie so many times that I had practically memorized the script. We left for the airport in the late afternoon, and got our bags checked very quickly and moved to the little sitting area to wait.

On the plane:
When we boarded the plane, we accidentally sat four rows ahead of our seats. (oops.) The plane was delayed an hour by a light drizzle, and I sat on the runway reading Hamlet. Takeoff! I love the feeling of leaving the ground. That swooping sensation in your stomach is how I imagine being in love feels like. Or maybe motion sickness. (is there really a difference between the two?) The plane passed quickly through the low hanging clouds, so that everything that I saw of the world beneath me was obstructed by the giant billowing gray shapes.

There were two half-Asian boys in the seats behind me that looked to be about my age, and I wanted to talk to them because the plane ride was going to be long and I was going to get bored and I shouldn't lie to myself, I really just wanted to talk to them because they were really rather attractive. I realized very quickly that the plane was not a model of my school, and that I couldn't expect instantaneous friendships to form because of shared/similar ethnic backgrounds. (LOL because this is how things work at school.)

Dinner was served at around nine o'clock, after which it began to grow dark. The change was quick, and nighttime was without stars. I managed to fall asleep leaning against the tray table three times, until I had the sense to lean against the window. Slept for an hour or so, until midnight US time, when I woke up for good. Was served breakfast in the next hour, during which I received something that was almost, but not entirely, completely unlike tea. (Dear airline: your tea tastes like hot leaf water. this is not what tea is supposed to taste like.) Got served breakfast, and watched the sunrise. The plane descended through candyfloss pink clouds at 2 AM US time, which was around 8AM Paris time.

In Paris:
Bought a 4-day museum pass for my cousin and aunt (I didn't require one, on account of being under the age of 18.) in the airport. Hailed a taxi, and went to the apartment. Spent some time in the apartment unpacking, and then left to explore! (I love exploring and adventuring. we did a little bit of both.) We bought our lunch at a bistro in the neighborhood that went by the name of "le Rempart", where I ate my first croque-madame. My aunt, having recently watched Amelie, likened our waiter to Nino Quincampoix. (He did share a slight resemblance if you were to squint and turn your head and maybe close your eyes.) She mentioned this to him, but, because she couldn't remember the name (I was too embarrassed to tell her) she only told him that he resembled the actor in Amelie. "Je suis Amelie Poulain!" (I am Amelie Poulain!) he joyously exclaimed.

From the bistro we went to the post office and bought a couple of stamps for my cousin to use on some postcards. We walked another block to the nearest train station, which was the Bastille, where we saw the July Column.

At the train station we inquired about the pros and cons of the Navigo pass and buying a carnet. For those who are curious, a Navigo pass is a metro pass, that allows unlimited access to public transportation during the week that you purchase it for. A carnet is a strip of ten tickets, considerably cheaper than a Navigo, and each ticket is good for one trip. (regardless of the number of connections that you make on the single trip, so long as you do not exit the metro.) We decided to buy a Navigo, which was one of the best things that we bought during our stay (perhaps passed only by the Museum Pass. That thing was ballin'. And you know it's good when I use the word ballin' to describe it.) Because the Navigo requires a photo, I got to climb into a photobooth and have my picture taken. (I felt like Amelie. Just, you know, without the gnome, the short haircut, or the enchantingly quirky love story.) I thus spent my first five euros.

We returned to the apartment so that my aunt and cousin could get their pictures (they both had spare passport pictures) and then went back to the station and bought the passes. We quickly made use of them, because we jumped onto the 69 bus. For whatever reason, that particular bus stopped at the Hotel de Ville stop, and we had to switch buses to another 69. The new bus drove past quite a few major sights, such as the Louvre, the Musee d'Orsay, and the Eiffel Tower. There was probably more things that it passed, but I fell asleep rather quickly. (WHOOPS.) I woke up (read: was woken) at the end of the line, which was right next to the Eiffel Tower.

If you're ever near the 69 line, I'd suggest taking it. You do get a quick view of lots of pretty things, and it doesn't cost the obscene amount that guided tours do. After walking under the Eiffel Tower, we walked to the nearest metro stop and went to the Arc de Triomphe. We looked at it for a short while from across the roundabout, and then started walking down the Champs-Elysees.

My cousin and I posed for a picture in front of the Haagen-Daaz store for my Grandpa (he always keeps several pints in his freezer... more if there is a sale at the store.), and took shelter in a cafe (L'Alsace Champs Elysees) when it started to rain. I ordered my first chocolat chaud, and was positively delighted by it.

When the rain let up a little bit, we walked to the nearest metro stop and navigated our way to a Monoprix, where we bought some fruit, wine, and jam. We hopped on another train back to Bastille and accidentally exited the station at Rue Fauborgue St. Antoine instead of Rue St. Antoine, which left us somewhat far from our apartment. We got stuck in a torrential downpour (complete with thunder and lightning!) for several minutes, and we ran to the apartment when it lessened. Changed into dry clothing at the apartment and walked around the neighborhood to find a place to eat dinner. Ate at "Bistrot de l'Oulette", where I had a delicious chocolate cake. (I like chocolate.)

The waiter was very nice (I'm starting to see a trend?) and he didn't charge us for a bottle of wine that we had bought. After paying we went back to the apartment. Because calling was free to any landline, I gave my mom a call at work. After that, I took a shower and collapsed into my bed and slept like a rock.

Things to know:
If you intend to go around Paris at all, I'd suggest a Navigo. It's entirely likely that you didn't read anything above, but if you had you may (or may not) notice that I took the train a lot. It helped to have a Navigo, because while they were three times more expensive than a carnet, they did function for a week. I would likely have gone through an entire carnet a day, so it really was a smart investment. It was also good to have because you could climb onto any train or bus at any time, even if you were only going a couple of blocks. If we had been using tickets, I'm sure that we would have felt pressured to walk the several blocks so to conserve tickets, but because of the constantly changing weather it was comforting to know that we had the option of taking the train.

If you've never been to Paris before, I'd suggest getting a museum pass. (again, if you're under 18, or if you're a member of the European Union and under the age of 25, you get in for free.) The passes begin working on the first day that you use them, so you can (like we did) decide not to activate them on the first day that you're there. While it may seem expensive (the price for the four day pass was almost 50 euros) it is definitely worth it. The pass gives you access to 60 museums and monuments, and you're allowed to skip lines at most of them. (Being able to skip the lines was flippin' sweet. I felt really cool.) You weren't pressured to stay at any museum for very long, because re-admittance was free. Being able to leave the museum, buy a decent lunch, and return to finish looking at all of the art is a great thing. Museum sandwiches are nasty. Even in Paris.

in the event that you're in Paris and you're hungry:
le Rempart: 15, rue Saint-Antoine - 75004 Paris. Phone number: 01 42 72 17 06

L'Alsace Champs Elysees: 39, av. des Champs Elysees - 75008 Paris - Phone number: 01 53 93 97 00

Bistrot de l'Oulette: 38, rue des Tournelles - 75004 Paris. Phone number: 01 42 71 43 33

[Day 1][Day 2][Day 3]

So I went to this wonderful little city called Paris...

I thought that I'd tell you about the MOST WONDERFUL VACATION EVER OH MY HOLY A;SKJFD;ASKLJFD IT WAS FANTASTIC in convenient one post per day I was there. And some pictures. Who am I trying to kid, I took 1423 pictures while I was there, and I intend to share some of them with you. Picture obese posts are ahead. Also look forward to considerably more information than you wanted.

The time change left me feeling rather wonky, so I'm not sure how to number days. (whoops!) I'm not really counting the first day (except for the fact that I am) so the post labeled "Day 1" is actually going to detail my second day.

I'm going to be writing and organizing these posts for the next couple of days, but know that they are looming on the horizon! :)