Sunday, September 14, 2008

Day 2: Le Art de Paris

Our train was scheduled to go out of Paris East Station that night. When we went to store our luggage there that morning we found out it would be much cheaper to put them in the lockers at the Paris North Station. Thankfully they were only one stop away from each other by metro. However, once our luggage was safely packed away, it was nearing 11:am, and due to metro maintenance we wouldn't have made it to Versailles (which was our planned destination of the day) until around noon at the earliest. So, we decided to nix the plan, since we wanted to see a few museums in the city as well, and wouldn't have made it back into Paris before 5:pm when those museums closed.
There are at least 2 main attractions that tourists visit while in Paris. One being the Eiffel Tower and the other the Louvre. I enjoy going to museums, and probably could have spent hours if not days wandering around the halls of the Louvre. But my feet were aching from the day before, and my backpack, which was filled with 2- 1.5 liter bottles (you can never have too much water, especially when grocery stores are few and far between), was not pleasant to carry. I ended up taking every advantage I could to sit down. Unfortunately, the museum hardly has any seating, and I found it less than enjoyable standing while looking at all the paintings. So, after an hour of wondering around we headed to the room containing the main attraction at the Louvre. I've never understood the world's fascination with the Mona Lisa. It's not particularly a painting like. But we went to see it, just to say we did. I was at least 50 feet away from the painting, behind the hundred or so people crowded around it. I held my camera above the many heads, zoomed in on the painting, and took a picture. Proof, to anyone who may care, that I've seen THE Mona Lisa. I personally enjoyed seeing the Winged Victory of Samothrace much more, and could have skipped the Mona Lisa all together if it weren't for it's fame factor.
As we left the Louvre we were both were ready to sit down, so we made our way over to the area of the Opera House. We were sure we'd be able to find a place to eat there and visit the Opera House right after lunch. But, like the previous day, we were unable to find a quaint cafe, so we once again found ourselves back in the Latin Quarter. Oddly enough though, we then decided to get something cheap and had a gyro in a restaurant that was anything but quaint. But our trip to the Latin Quarter was well worth it once we had the most delectable gelato... in the shape of a rose no less.

Instead of heading right back over to the Opera House, we went to the Museum d'Orsay. The afternoon was already winding down, and we wanted to see the French Impressionistic paintings before it was too late. It was great seeing Monet and Renoir... with a bit of Van Gogh thrown in the mix as well (since he lived in Paris for quite some time). -- I'd fill my house with their paintings if I was wealthy enough.-- I must say though, that my favorite part of the museum was the wonderful chairs they had set up in the middle of the rooms. There is nothing better than admiring paintings from a seated position. I could have stayed in that museum much longer than we did, but we were kicked out about an hour after we entered due to it being closing time. Upon exiting, we saw a rather mean mime, mimicking passers by on the road. So, of course we sat down on the steps leading up to the museum to watch.
Once we had our fill of watching innocent bystanders being made fun of, we hopped back on our friend the metro to check a few more things off our list before our train left. First stop was the Moulin Rouge. Quite disappointing if you ask me. Not nearly as glamorized as it was in the movie. So, after a photo op, we left (besides it cost over 85 Euros per person just to stick your head inside). Next stop was back to the Opera House. It's a beautiful building and quite stunning as you walk up the stairs from the metro to see it right in front of you. Unfortunately, due to the time, we were unable to tour the inside of the building. So we threw that on the list of things to do for the next time we visit the city. We wandered a round a bit more and didn't even bother finding a restaurant in a new area. We went right over to the Latin Quarter, since it never failed us before. We had fondue at a small cafe on a tiny street while men were singing and playing instruments as we ate.

Although the night was still young, it barely being 9:pm, we left after dinner to gather our luggage at the station since our train was scheduled to leave at a quarter to 11. That was quite the event. My suitcase got stuck in the turnstile at the metro. It's actually a turnstile plus glass doors that open for you, and close immediately after. My suitcase got trapped in the doors. After pulling and pulling while my mom was pushing, and trying in vain to open up the doors, a man walked over and stood right next to the door, thus activating it. Not only was my luggage released, but he got into the metro for free.

Once we arrived at the Paris East station, my mom had to run to the convenience store to get more water. That took much longer than we expected, but we made it over to the correct car on the train. My mom got on first and then doors started closing... luckily my suitcase was once again stuck between some sliding doors, otherwise I wouldn't have made it on. And that concluded the first momentary panic attack of our 3 week trip.

1 comment:

Joshua said...

Winged Victory is so much more impressive than the Mona Lisa. Sitting at the top of that staircase gives it such an imposing feel. Best thing in the entire Louvre.