Thursday, December 23, 2010

April in Paris (10th and 11th)

Saturday, April 10th

Rise and shine! We charted out the day with the key museums to hit (becky was our key seeker of legit must-see places. Stopped at the bakery down the street, picking up some fresh pastries (I got enough for breakfast and lunch). We started at the Orsay museum, with all the impressionists and some abstract/cubism...I don’t really know. But it ROCKED. Degas, monet, van gogh!!! *AH!* screams and giggles** loved seeing it in real life! I mean, replicas are legit, but there is a beautiful enchantment to seeing the original that the artist painted onto the canvas.

Emerged somewhat not glazed, but sat on the steps in the sunshine for a little before walking down by the river to go to the Orangeree (sp??) okay the downstairs was very cool, with a continuation of specifically impressionists. But the absolutely fantastic part was going into the room with Claude Monet’s Water Lilies. There were two rooms, with a canvas on each wall that stretched across each side, a few feet off the floor, and above our heads. Each painting showed the water lilies at a different time of day. Sunrise, sunset (with the colors from the sky reflecting in the paint streaks) we sat on the benches in the center and me (slouching a little) sitting in the center scooching around to see each side. From the middle, instead of up close… the water took on a whole different appearance. and the depicted reflection showed so much more. Not like shapes, but more than just the blending and smearing of color. I was completely enchanted J the little tiny pictures and reprints just aren’t going to capture me the same way ever again. Next, we meandered over to the Rodin museum!!!!!!!!!!! The sculptor who carved the famous Kiss, among many other forms..girls caught in the ocean waves, lovers forever reaching into each others arms. It was abstract and real at the same time. I was so happy we went, and spent the whole time absorbed in the shapes and motion captured in the stone.

Much needed lunch break…I had some sort of barley, or bulgar wheat in a cream sauce with (very raw) salmon pieces. Delicious. Nutritious. culture momentous! haha

LAST MUSEUM was the Clooney museum…with medieval everything. We were rather glazed as we wandered around. Note-able highlight, the statues of apostles and such that once decorated the front of Notre Dame were in there! Other statue pieces….We got startled by warning alarms for hopping up on the platform and posing with our smiling faces where the bodies ended at the neck. Jill and I searched in a somewhat meandering manner (less purposefully then the norm for us) for the Unicorn Tapestries. We walked into a low lighted room, where the walls were hung with 6 or 7 beautiful, vivid tapestries that featured a noblewoman and a unicorn. In each hanging the unicorn was holding a musical instrument or something that indicated the use of one of the senses. It was interesting how every image and its position indicated a part of the meaning. The last tapestry, featured on the wall behind the doors going in, had an additional ethos (emotion?) sort of sense…and it was described in a complicated way the sense a woman has about whom she chooses to love..with symbols of empowerment of her free will. ( Maybe? Perhaps I have it confused…) anyways it was very interesting and Jill and I joined Becky, plopping down on the bench by the entrance triumphantly!

While meandering towards the metro stop, we came across a guitarist with a an amp setup and singing into a microphone, with his back to a bakery and restaurant wall and a growing crowd in a semi circle in front of him. Becky loved the song playing, so we stopped…and quickly got caught up with the rest of the crowd, humming and toe tapping along. The guy (luckily) spoke in multiple languages…mostly English (*phewf*) and had a pleasant smile and nice tone of his voice. I pretended that he wasn’t just playing to the crowd and really was a nice fellow. He sang a lot of songs we knew, some English and a few French favorites too J (from Hotel California, to la vie en rose) It was cool seeing the faces on the crowd, and singing along at some parts. An older guy jumped into the middle and totally pulled out these sweet Michael Jackson meets chris brown type moves. We snagged a CD and grabbed a picture of us girls with the multi-lingual performing cutie-pa-tuttie.

Off to the Eiffel tower!! We got there just as the sun had set and hopped in line. I hadn’t planned on going to the very top, though everyone else wanted to. I contemplated not, then considered the fact that I am IN PARIS. For goodness sakes, why should I pass up going to the point?!?! So I joined the line, munching on my fresh pear snagged from a fruit stand. Then dug the crackers out of my purse and dipped into the brie cheese I had bought (in a little wooden box.) More lines, and smushed elevators, we went up and up, watching the city shrink, and the metal beams crisscrossing in front of our eyes. We were greeted by a chilly blast of wind, but we rushed to the side..absorbing our aerial view of the city ( through the chickenwire type barrier.) We split the Lindt dark chocolate Crème Brule bar I had picked up..a treat to celebrate! We tried to take pictures, but most just so Jill and me, cheek to cheek with big grins from ear to ear…and some sort of sparkly background behind. Going to the side, we peered between the gaps of wire to see the city unobstructed before us. The river snaked off to the side, framed in lights. We spotted Sacre Cour, Notre Dame, the arch du triumph..each claiming their distinct part of the skyline. Lights were trained on them; making their peaks, edges,and gapping arches become architectural pieces of art. The buildings are witnesses of history that remain as a reminder, and perhaps continue to contentedly watch Paris.

Have you ever heard the stereotypical comment “and the city lay before them like a glittering blanket”. It is commonly used for a reason... because that’s what the city looked like, with the winking little pinpoints amidst the grey and black carpet.

Descending once again, I watched those beams flashing in front of my eyes and considered the architecture. Pappy would have loved seeing how it was built (originally intended to be a temporary structure to be dismantled) and I was kind of oblivious to what I was looking at (engineering wise), but appreciative anyways. It was easy to be enchanted.

Sunday, April 11th

Last day in Paris!

We initiated by loading up our bags nice and heavy since we wouldn’t be returning to the hotel room. We made our morning stop at the Patisserie …getting enough for breakfast, lunch and snack! Oh, and I got a little strawberry fruit tart too. It was everything a girl could hope for deliciousness wise. flakey bread, creamy filling, ripe berries, and little flakes of chocolate in others too.

First stop was Sacre Coeur. We hoofed it up the stairs that crusted the hill to reach the onion shaped domed church. Rather new, but set atop a hill with a flair of Middle Eastern style. Then we circled around Montmarte (following Ricky Steves) I enjoyed this walk because it went through residential areas, quiet streets, musicians (strings and brass). Let us see the shops (though mostly closed for Sunday). We got to see places like Picassos studio, along with so and so apartment. They were just houses…blended right in with the rest of the numbers on the street, but housed these minds/artists who somehow made a difference in our culture. One of the busiest streets had those open markets and everything. For lunch, I convinced everyone to chip in a few euros for a big basket of strawberries (fresh from the countryside) Possibly the best strawberries of my life. (could have been the location though).

Boarded on the metro at Moulin Rouge (interesting street. Sex shops that managed to be in English, selling, showing, advertising. Oh could I rant).

And we jumped in line to go up the bell tower of Notre Dame. yet another tight, . winding staircase to clamber up! Some of the stones were polished smooth from the many footsteps. The first landing had us wait for the maximum number of people allowed to continue up the next set of stairs. We emerged at the level at the top of the church, on the narrow bridge between the two towers that was bordered by gargoyles in various gruesome stances. I itched to be sitting next to victor hugo as he imagined Quasimodo in the bell towers. Instead of squeezed up the last stretch of stairs on the very top of the bell tower. And took in my last look of Paris displayed before me. (oh, and Jill and I unwrapped our Eclaires that had been snagged earlier from a pretty shop with all sorts of sweet delights. )

On our way to the bus stop that would take us to the airport, we paused at the Eiffel Tower. We had realized that we hadn’t actually visited it at all in the daylight! I think I liked it better at night….but it was still lovely in the daylight’s frank lighting. Wandered around that grassy strip that was reserved in front of it…then made it to the bus stop. (plenty early) There was a minor panic when we were informed there were no buses running to the airport….luckily only temporarily. (so unless you had an immediate flight…things were fine). Waiting on the bus. Waiting for the check in for EasyJet to open. Waiting through security. Waiting to board. (time managing: Not to worry! I tackled some of my final paper that had been slightly neglected that weekend. )

Short flight had us back in Rome. Hopped on the bus heading to termini (forget schedules..the only schedule followed is how to fill the bus the most after a late flight’s arrival.

Hustled through termini (and by this I mean sprint through the station and across the bus lot) in hopes of catching the last 90 (to the convent) for the night. Alas…it had already left (missed by just a few minutes) . However, we did manage to figure out the night bus (n##) schedule! And succeeded in navigating the varied route to make it safely “Home in Rome”.