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Published: August 8th 2007
I've got the whoooole world, in my hand!
It looks tiny here, but I had no idea how BIG the Eiffel tower is close up. It really is quite gigantic.
I have to say, the two major Parisien monuments really let me down today. The Louvre and the Eiffel Tower just really didn't come through. Let me explain.
We started our day off at the Louvre. After waiting in a pretty big line to get tickets and then fighting our way through crowded halls, we finally made it to the Mona Lisa. "Well, there it is." was pretty much Derek and my responses. It's not like we hadn't seen it a thousand and one times other places (including on EVERY imaginable peice of Louvre merchandise) and it really wasn't that different in person, especially since the combination of glass, rope, and crowd kept us from getting very close. It was nice to have seen it with my own eyes, however. After that, Derek and I split up to check out what we were both interested in. I had one thing on my mind: Monet and other Impressionist works. After over an hour of frustrating wandering around the confusing rooms and corridors of the Louvre, I still had not found anything of the sort and was at a complete loss as to what was going on. How could they not
Power of the chalice
Dan Brown, eat your heart out (this is from the Louvre, and that is a reference to the book "The DaVinci Code" if you were confused)
have any Monet? It just boggled my mind. As I was starting to have a confusiong/crowd/hunger induced breakdown I exited the museum before things got worse (5 days till Yukon solitude. 5 days till Yukon solitude). After a tasty gelato cone I was thinking more clearly and found a computer center where I could access the Louvre's website for free. It was there I discovered that all of the painting from about 1850 onwards had been transfered in the late 1980's to another museum, the Museum d'Orsey, and that THAT one had all the paintings I was longing to see. Noooooooo. It was such a huge disappointment for me. The Louvre mostly just held a ton of artifacts from genres we had seen quite a bit of in other specialist musuems around Europe. There were Greek statutes, similar to ones we'd already seen in Greece. There were 1700s paintings from Italy, similar to the ones we'd seen in Venice.... You get the idea. There *were* however some really cool ancient Egyptian relics, which I enjoyed seeing quite a bit. The mummies from Egypt's Roman era were super, super cool. And the apartments of Napolean III were pretty impressive, as well.
Now THAT'S one old man
A mummy, unwrapped, from the 3rd century AD. This was my favourite section of the whole Louvre. Sooo many cool mummies down here. It was awesome.
Derek enjoyed the whole thing a lot more than I did, so I guess I just had a hard time with the Impressionist disappointment. I was longing for some paintings with bright beautiful colour. Ooooh well. I *might* go to the Impressionist museum tomorrow, but it seems unlikely because Derek and I have a big day of shopping planned to top off our last day in Europe. Derek is researching malls online as we speak =)
After the Louvre we took the Metro to the Bastille. We had a transit day pass, so we were trying to use it to its full benefit. Upon getting there, however, we were having trouble picking out which building was the actual Bastille. After consulting some guidebooks, we realized that the Bastile was actually destroyed in the French Revolution. Uh, duh!!! Didn't we all act in Les Miserables in grade 12? Minus one in the intelligence department for us. Oh well.
Then it was off to the Eifle Tower! We'd been saving this for a slightly nicer day because we wanted to climb the steps and see the beautiful view, plus we wanted to have a good photoshoot in front of it,
The Classic View
Gotta have a token picture from Paris
and the sun was peaking through at odd intervals this day so we thought we'd bettter grab our chance while we had it. We took some fun pictures in front of the famous monument, but as we were getting ready to head to its base to begin the descent, we both realized that we had to go pee before starting the big climb (which was going to be 1200 steps, by the way). Easier said than done! We followed the signs to the public bathrooms, only to find that they lead down some stairs into the most disgusting hole I've ever seen. I don't know exactly what was down there because I turned away in repulsion before I could actually identify specifics, but I can tell you that even Derek wouldn't go down, so it must have been bad. Ewww. So, we set off down a street to try to find a McDonalds or something. Nothing could be found. It was Sunday, of course, which made things even worse because nothing is ever open on Sundays here. We walked soooo far, all the while getting more and more frantic. We tried to nip into the lobby of a Best Western,
How cute is this?
This picture is actually from the Modern Art Museum that we went to on Friday. There were many, many groups of tiny preschool-aged children getting guided tours of the museum. At first I wondered why on earth anyone would bring small children here, but they were SO into it! They loved it all. The tours weren't in English so I wasn't sure what was being said, but I think that the guides were just encouraging the kids to talk about what they saw in the paintings, and maybe how they made them feel or something. The kids were positively adorable. Derek and I watched them for ages--possibly longer than we stared at the art, in fact.
but it was too fancy so we aborted the plan. Then we finally came to an RER (an inner city railway) station and went down there, but there weren't any toilets there, either. I was ready to just get on the train and go to a different area of town to find a bathroom, but Derek convinced me to keep walking. At the next closest metro station they were supposed to have public bathrooms, but in a cruel Parisien joke, they were out of order! It gets worse. After a gruelling walk down a super posh street lined with the kinds of shops you only see on TV--you know, the ones that have as single rack of clothes with about 10 garmets total on them--we finally found a free standing, free, public washroom outhouse kind of thing (they're self cleaning, which is cool). Guess what? OUT OF ORDER! We were both getting frantic at this point. We spotted another one up ahead, but then I noticed something even better across the street: The Four Seasons Paris Hotel. SCORE! After dogding our way through the lobby and a piano bar and trying to look like we knew where we were going, we hit pay dirt. Not only were there toilettes, but they were beautiful and complete with amazing smelling soap and little soft towels to dry our hands with. Ahhhhh. Much better. Back to the tour.
The line up to buy tickets for the Eiffle Tour was amazingly big and had a wait time of over 45 minutes. We didn't really mind that, but after waiting for maybe 20 minutes or so, it became apparant to us that they weren't selling tickets for the stair climb, just for the elevator ascent. Why? I don't know. Possible it was too windy or something. But we weren't really interested in taking the elevator because it was absurdly expensive and seemed like cheating to us anyways, so we ditched and headed for the nearest metro station. The tower looked cool enough from the ground and we'd seen a good view of the city from Sacre Couer the day before.
Then we went to the Arch de Triumphe, which is the big arch monument in the middle of the GIANT roundabout that you've probably seen on TV. That roundabout is absolute maddness, but I must admit that the monument and the entire square were quite impressive. The French really do know how to make an commanding monument; I'll give them that. Vicky, our high school friend who we saw in Meribel, said that she'd driven around that roundabout and she was justifyably proud of the accomplishment! I couldn't imagine. I can't even handle 2 lane roundabouts.
I would like to take this opportunity to give a tip of the hat to the Paris people. From what I've seen, they really don't deserve their reputation for snobby rudeness. Pretty much everyone we've come in contact with has been really friendly and nice, and almost everyone speaks a good deal of English and isn't at all shy about using it. Maybe it's just because we always make a very ernest, though pathetic, attempt at communicating our requests in French first--I don't know. At any rate, we've really been enjoying ourselves. Maybe we've just been luckily. Phoebe told me some seriously terrible stories about her trip to Paris with Mo when we were in Maastricht. The things that people said to Mo, en francais, about her were just brutal, and some stupid guy practically beat her up and verbally harrassed her continually when they were skating. Yikes. Well, we've just been met with smiles and good nature! Thanks, Paris!
Well, I think that about sums it up. I've taken pretty much no pictures of Paris at all, so my offerings at this point are slim. Derek has lots more, though. I DID put up pictures of Juno Beach just now, so check out the previous entry to see them. I can't believe tomorrow will be the last time I see the sun go down in Europe. Wow. It really doesn't seem like that long ago that I was ridding myself of bed bugs in London...
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