Published: August 4th 2012August 1st 2012
Author's note: I tried to set the Paris blogs to Paris for the Region and it keeps defaulting to another region. Oh well.
Day 3 was all about the museums. We had to get a couple more must dos done. At times it felt like work, especially with the kids and their lack of total enthusiasm for a day of forced culture. But in the end, we are all better for having visited the Louvre and Musee d'Orsay. The title needs some explaining because I want you to be in on our joke. Emily was singing part of a song with lyrics that go "hey! must be the money!" She was exaggerating the pronunciation of money and it sounded enough like Monet that we were laughing hysterically at the fact that we were at Musee d' Orsay at the time and seeing none other than "the Monet!". That quickly became the day's blog title. We have been coming up with some great ones. Wait till you hear Day 4's. I Louvre you...
Mark has been to Europe (and Paris) the most out of our crew de 4. I come in second only because the kids are on their
first trip. I had not been to the Louvre before even though this was my third time to Paris. First trip was 17 years ago and we had a very quick stop in Paris on our way to Greece for our honeymoon. It may have been closed. The second trip, our 10 year anniversary, we did some other museums but as I recall we were too busy sitting in cafes. The Louvre is gigantic. I didn't realize quite how massive it was until we walked by it and around it on our first days and I kept saying "that whole thing is the Louvre?!" Because we had our passes, we didn't need to buy tickets and thanks to Mark's keen researching skills, we went in via the mall and skipped a more popular entrance (and longer entrance line). We were in and enjoyed our first attraction which was the interior of a castle. I saw smiles from our art critics and I think it was my favorite sight of that visit. Also spectacular was the building itself and the interior, which to me was as inspiring as the art on the walls. I kept stopping to look at the stairs,
the walls and the structure itself. Keep in mind we logged over 25,000 steps on this museum day and we all felt it. So as we trudged from room to room, floor to floor we had some grumblings from the tour group. Mark pushed us on and we saw the Mona Lisa (she looks bigger on TV as all celebrities tend to look) and we saw Venus de Milo, who I asked a guard for help locating and I said Vincent (she didn't even blink and pointed me to Venus). Vincent, Venus. I was tired. The last of the big 3 we saw was a statue called The Winged Victory. Thank goodness for Mark's dad. I know he is the source of many of Mark's historic facts and we all benefited from that Slaven history knowledge.
We did some more wandering and pointing out of all things cultural and then it was time to find food. We marched off in search of a bakery, found it but it ended up being a small outlet for a local chain and we got our food to go. We sat across the street and munched on sandwiches. We returned what seemed like
just a few minutes later to have a dessert course. A crazy chocolate chunk cookie that Mark and I shared (his piece was far bigger) and Nathan chose 2 Madeleine cookies ("oh! I love these" were his exact words) and Emily went with her by now default choice, the raspberry macaroon. Emily loved Paris more than I could even have imagined. I could devote an entire blog (and perhaps I will) to Emily and how she took on Paris. She owned the town. She fit right in. I'm sure you can tell by the pictures and her smiles that the city delivered on her high expectations for fine dining, great fashion and fun adventures. Nathan also enjoyed the city but we knew this was Emily's pick (she quite literally chose Paris when she told her friends she we going to Paris before we had even decided on our itinerary beyond Sweden!).
Break time was over and it was back to work. We walked back toward the apartment with the plan to stop at Musee d'Orsay on the way home. We made it there and were able to bypass the lines with our passes (yay again for those passes). We
didn't really get our money's worth in terms of museums visited but we certainly saved precious time avoiding a long line, We saw Degas, Monet, Toulouse Lautrec and I recalled all the places around the US I had seen exhibits of these artists, from Chicago to Houston to San Francisco. I had been to this museum before and even though it was 17 years ago, I remembered it. Mostly I remembered the outside patio Mark took us to. We sat on the same bench Mark and I had sat 17 years ago where I practiced ordering a large water in French over and over. It was SUCH a big deal at the time. I was so nervous. Ha! I laugh at the memory of timid Suzanne, first time out of the country and afraid to order a water. My, my have times changed. I credit China with many things and my sense of adventure and boldness can certainly be credited to that 2 year adventure of a lifetime. My perspective, my attitude and my general willingness to try anything once have all improved thanks to that time in my life. Of course, there have been many other factors that have
shaped me but I am certain that I use China as my baseline. If I can do that, and love that time as much as I did, I can find joy and humor anyplace.
Kids were beyond tired by now. It may not seem like we did a lot but we walked miles and miles throughout the day with stops here and there to look in shops and take pictures of interesting buildings and views. We went back home and that is where Nathan took his leave for the evening. He wanted to be home and on a couch and he's 13 so we let him.
Mark, Emily and I got a second (or third) wind and we went back out for more. Emily spied a sushi joint that looked just like the one we had near our apartment in Shanghai--with the conveyer belt going around and you can pick off what you want. We sat down and Emily had her fill of shrimp, a bit of tempura and lots of edamame. The woman next to me eventually spoke up and said we could also order off the menu. Turns out, she was American and lived half her
time in Paris, the rest in NYC. It gets better. She is a fashion trend spotter. Emily's eyes nearly popped out of her head when she heard that. I told the woman that Emily is a fashion trend setter. She complimented Emily on her outfit and her "use of color". Very nice woman. We got some local recommendations for what to do the following day. She suggested an area for shopping and also gave us some restaurant recommendations.
We had seen a ferris wheel and a mini carnival just across the river. There may have even been promises of a ride "later" made by me. Mark never makes such foolish promises. He sticks firmly to the use of "maybe" or "we'll see". I think I may have said "later" and that was practically a contract in Emily's mind. We went on the ferris wheel and while it was a tourist trap and crazy expensive, we loved it The views were amazing and worth every Euro. Emily's giggles and squeals also made it more fun. We were in line behind another American couple and he quickly shared that he was from Northern California and had worked as a cop in
Berkeley during the late 60s. Small world, since my parents were there (not being arrested) during that time. He also worked on the Patty Hearst case. I told him my parents went to Berkeley and he said the students were not the ones causing trouble back then. I was relieved (insert winking smiley here).
I tend to tense up when I hear 'Merican people nearby. We have seen plenty of stereotypical American behavior but we have also met many nice people from home. I am often too quick to judge when it comes to my fellow citizens. Some of the people we meet are as enthusiastic and excited as we are. If they are not, we quickly say goodbye. One nice man told us he had been robbed at a street-side cafe while eating lunch. Someone came up, laid out a bunch of stuff on his table, and while he was trying to wave them off, they scooped up his iphone and he was not aware until a bit later. Bummer. There are signs about pick pockets everywhere, but we have also put our cameras and phones on the table many times, so we appreciated the warning to be
more careful. Crepes
Emily and I rode another ride before heading out in search of street crepes. We had seen the stands all day but now that we were ready, we could not seem to find any. We asked at a restaurant and the waiter gave us directions back to an area where we could find crepes. It was a good 10 minute walk and we were ready to be done but we had to have that crepe. We found it after some wrong turns and some "let's just go home" talk by our youngest traveler but we found it and we ate our crepes with Nutella (Mark opted for crepe sucre which is the more classic, butter and white sugar).
Back to the apartment to finally call it a night. Nathan was still up, and we were all tucked in by 1am. I can't get over how late we have been staying up. Of course this is why it's been nearly impossible to get the kids up and out before 10 each day! But it's vacation. It's an adventure and we are having a great time.
There are more photos below