Thursday, September 24, 2009

Day 5 - The Louvre, Luxembourg, Lasagna, and a Laid Back Boat Ride

Alright, Day 5 has come and gone, and for how it started, I think it may have been my most productive yet.  Before we get going, a little correction to the Day 1 post.  The shot of me at the Eiffel Tower where I say you can see Notre Dame was incorrect.  If we were in South Bend, Indiana I would have been right on the money, but since no one here plays the football that requires shoulder pads, the building is actually Invalides, which is home to the interred remains of Napolean.  I'll blame it on the jet lag.  

Also, I have no idea why this post looks so screwy.  If any of you wily veterans of blogging have some advice, I'd appreciate the help.  Thanks.  Moving on. . .

I think the time difference effect has kicked in, albeit a couple of days later than I figured it would.  I didn't go to sleep here until 4:30 AM local time (hence why my post from yesterday was up so early).  Anyway, because I went to bed so late, I slept in and didn't leave until close to 11 AM.

Weather was a little sketchy so I adjusted my schedule and did the Louvre in the morning instead of going to the Luxembourg Garden.  I was obviously a little tired so I was concerned about going to one of the biggest museums in the world a little fatigued but it turns out all went great.  I stayed 5 hours and saw a ton.

The Louvre is huge (I mean stupid huge).  It's longest dimension is over 700 meters long.  For all you track folks out there you know that's close to half a mile.  Imagine having to fill 700 meters with a bunch of urns and pictures of apples and statues that are missing an arm or something.  You could seriously walk through here for a month and I bet you could still see stuff you hadn't already run across.  Here are the highlights for me.

Ah, the lovely Venus de Milo (or more appropriately Aphrodite of Milos since she's a Greek chick).  There was mutual interest, but in the end we decided it was best to just stay friends.

Canova's Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss.  No witty shenanigans attempted here.  This was my favorite sculpture of the day though.

Just included this to show you what the Louvres' rooms looked like.  Honestly, they could just leave the whole thing empty and it would still be worth looking around just to see the structure.  Every room was different and every one was beautifully and intricately designed.

Me here with Winged Victory of Samothrace, or an easier way to remember, Nike of Samothrace.  This is one of the big dogs at the Louvre and the goddess of victory is where the shoe company derived it's name.

This is the Apollo Gallery.  I thought it surpassed anything I saw at Versailles.

Obligatory shot of the Mona Lisa.  Never been enthralled with her like some other folks but this is the first work of Da Vinci I've seen, so that was cool.

"NO, I'M SPARTACUS!!!" (No, seriously, this guy really is)

Me wearing the dunce cap supreme at the Louvre.  That whole thing behind me is half of the museum.  And the pyramid (I.M. Pei was the architect of the 1988 addition) is maybe a little out of place (depending on who you ask), but definitely adds another dimension.

So before it was this great museum, this used to be someone's house.  The following is Napolean III's apartment.  This room, The Grand Salon, is basically where he would host his Texas Hold 'Em tournaments. I was shocked at how close this resembled my living room.  However, we can obviously see how this one falls a little short relative to mine, due to it's lack of a ceiling fan.

This is for Meathead (who is actually a lawyer folks - 1-800-LAWYERS - He will save you money!).  This just goes to show that even 3000 years ago, "Chaising" was considered the pinnacle of fine living.

Last shot of the Louvre.  So I'm walking around and I get a glimpse of the junior varsity team here practicing in this auxiliary gym.  Turns out there are hundreds of these priceless statues just waiting for their chance to make it to the Big Show. I see an HBO documentary on the horizon. . .

After the Louvre, the skies cleared and we had a beautiful day. . . I mean perfect.  I've been exceptionally fortunate with the weather.  It has been 70-75 everyday I've been here during the day.  I decided to go see Paris' Catacombs exhibit which is basically a crypt that hold tens of thousands of former Parisians when the city had to dig up the old cemeteries to expand the city.  I failed to check out the times, however, and when I got there it had been closed for 30 minutes.  

All was not lost though, as I saw a Creperie, and proceeded to eat my first genuine French Crepe.  Tip of the day:  When ordering a crepe and selecting your ingredients to put in said pastry, "Coco" is not some chocolate substance, but rather, the French word for "coconut".  I ordered nutella and coco thinking I was getting some chocolate as well and got this white sprinkly stuff instead, which I took for powdered sugar.  I was two bites in before I realized what happened but I'm happy to report that it might have been the best mistake I've made on the trip so far.

This is my crepe (or what's left of it anyway).  Totally worth the extra insulin shot.

After that, I ended up heading to Luxembourg Garden which is this pristinely manicured spot in town where Parisians just go to hang out.

I don't know if these people have jobs or what, but there were literally hundreds of people in this place (which is good size, but not exactly Central Park) at five o'clock just sitting and staring at the grass and having a great time.  I don't know what they do for money, but I'm going to ask the next one I see.  Honestly, their lifestyle in general seems much more laid back than ours.  I'm sure there are pluses and minuses to both but I can see the appeal.  Here's a couple of shots.

Part of the Luxembourg Garden.  As you can see there are no fig trees or tomato plants to be found.  Just lots and lots of pretty.

After that I went to the Latin Quarter on the Left Bank, which is kinda like Greenwich Village in NYC.  Lots of food, lots of college kids, and lots of bohemian living in general.  This is where Hemingway and Sartre and all the intellectuals of the early 20th century would hang out and argue about the meaning of it all and what not.

The Latin Quarter.  Notice the narrow streets.  Most people think of Paris as big wide tree lined boulevards, but in Medieval times this is what it looked like.  The Cluny Museum, which displays Medieval works, is nearby.  No kidding, there was a different food stand or cafe or bakery every four feet on some streets.

I grabbed a bite to eat at a cafe in the area where I got a 3 course meal of Parisian Onion Soup (the only truly Parisian dish I'm told), Lasagna, and Creme Brule.  Not bad and the Onion Soup was really good.  For someone who typically doesn't like onions period, I was pleasantly surprised.

When that was done I decided to go on a little cruise down the Seine.  I hopped on a boat and for about an hour, I got to see all the sites of Paris from the river's perspective.  Great way to end the night.

The Pont Neuf Bridge which is the oldest in Paris. BTW, Pont Neuf translated to English mean "New Bridge"

So this is what Parisians do at night.  They grab a bottle of wine and they go sit by the Seine.  Reminded me of college when I'd go buy a Cherry Limeade Sonic Flurry and sit on the Cane River, which cut through Natchitoches.  Basically the same thing.

Unless plans change, I've decided to leave Paris Sunday instead of Monday, which I had previously planned on doing.  Don't know what I'll do with the extra day, but I'm working on it.

Tune in tomorrow: Same bat time, Same bat channel. . .