Fall Break! (Paris)


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Europe
November 5th 2010
Published: November 7th 2010EDIT THIS ENTRY

So here’s blog two, fall break! First, I have to say that I never appreciated how frustrating a travel agent’s job must be. During the last two weeks before my trip, I literally spent all of my time studying, in class, or planning the trip. On the itinerary: Paris for four nights, Rome for five, Florence for one, a day in Bologna, then another night in Paris, then another day in Paris, and finally back to Strasbourg. Granted, with this itinerary, the travel burden was mostly self-inflicted, but although it was complicated, I managed to do quite well price-wise, mainly thanks to low cost flights and hostels. Anyways, after my few weeks as a self-employed travel agent, I had finally locked in almost all of the hostels, trains, planes, buses, night museum trips, and other miscellaneous things that demanded forethought. Finally, after writing until my hand fell off during my midterms, I got to start to reap the benefits of my planning by taking a first class TGV train to Paris (which was cheaper than any of the other fares for some unknown reason).

After traveling in style, I got into Paris around midnight, and met up with my friend Shane and his family, who I was staying with for the duration of my stay in Paris. I had already visited Paris with my family in 2006, so I was nervous that this visit would be redundant and boring, especially since Shane’s family had never visited Europe before, and was going to visit all of the same monuments I had already seen. This turned out to be a completely unfounded fear, however. Because they weren’t art-buffs, we just visited a small impressionist museum, Sacred Heart, and Notre Dame over the course of a few hours. Still, revisiting these monuments was a constant experience of rediscovery; When we re-entered Montmartre, or Notre Dame, I would be flooded with memories from the previous trip, all of the small details I had forgotten came back and I spent the time in perpetual déjà vu. Seeing Sacred Heart again, after learning about architecture and how to appreciate it, was an entirely different experience. This time, I understood that it was not just another church, but that that white dome was really a marvel of engineering and artistic expression that has few rivals in the world. That said, it was probably my third or fourth favorite church on the trip, which tells you how amazing Rome is!

Anyways, among other highlights, we had picnic in the gardens of Versailles, Shane’s mom drank a 7 euro bottle of coors light, we ate really really well, and on the final day, I visited the Pompidou Center, a modern art gallery. After seeing the works of Picasso, Braque, Kandinsky, and all of these other post 1900 artists, I have to admit that I just can’t like modern art. I honestly tried to engage with these artists, but when I see a painting of a bunch lines and circles, I just can’t see the point. Among my top pointless exhibits were a blank canvas displayed in its own room, a Picasso titled “the guitarist”, where the guitarist was literally indiscernible among the lines and squares, and a bumper car placed in its own room (must be dada…). Most of the time, I felt like modern art was an joke without a punchline; these were satirical pieces of art trying to break down conventions, but because they took themselves so seriously, it ended up seeming silly. What most bothered me about the modern art was that I don’t think most of it can be understood without the artist telling you what it is! After a while I made a game of looking at the art pieces and guessing their titles: I never even got close. That said, I must admit that even though I didn’t understand them, I found myself intrigued by these bizarre creations, with my favorite probably being “Suspension.” This beats the modern art they had on display at Versailles however, where we saw THIS . In short, Paris was fantastic, and even though my trip was largely redundant, it never felt that way.

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