Second trip, many lessons learned, many inspirations gained
18.03.2011 - 20.03.2011 2 °C
It is hard to reverse first impressions. My first encounter with Paris four years ago left me with a lasting impression of gray skies and gloomy streets. Two weeks ago, my wanderlust and fascination with the French culture fueled my compulsive purchase of Eurostar tickets to Paris. I wanted to give it a second try and take advantage of the close proximity of London to Paris.
The trip, in Christine's words, " was everything, the good and the bad." I will begin with the good part.
1. La Musee d'Orsay - a pleasant and relaxing art museum with the largest collection of Impressionist Paintings by Monet, Manet, and Degas.
The open and relaxing ground floor of the museum, scattered artistically with sculptures and students with their sketching pads
My Favorite Statue in the museum
The ornate clock hanging above the entrance - a popular theme of many sketches by students around the museum
2. Les Jardins du Rodin - a lovely sculptures garden
The gardens were sprinkled with sculptures, but the museum (yellow house in the background) shows the magnitude of Rodin's prolificness with its thousands of sculptures in different forms and shapes.
The famous "Thinker"
Then Pensive Dancer
He was talented at capturing human passions and erotic feelings in alabaster stones
I wish I could do this
3. Basilique du Sacré Cœur - The Cathedral that crowns the Montmartre hill, claiming the title of the highest point in Paris
I remember the artists, portrait painters, stunt performers who clustered aroun this artsy and free-spirited district on my first trip. Although my school trip did not portray Paris in its most exciting facets, Montmartre left a sparkling imprint on my memory, calling me to visit again.
On my way to the Sacre Coeur, I discovered this desperate steel man trying hard to master the art of walking through walls.
The artists' yard
The immaculate facade, three domes fashioned after the Roman style of architecture
The Altar and the vaulting dome - I look this picture by putting my life on the line against the French laws (which are so rigorous that I find them unsympathetic. Unfortunately, I will encounter the brunt of their brutality later)
The intriguing details
The view of Paris from the top of Montmartre
The surrounding scenery of Sacré Cœur
3. The Louvre - my first blitz trip through this ginormous museum four years ago was only 2-hours short. This time, we spent a satisfactory three hours to absorb the massive amount of arts in this world-famous museum. One Tip: go after 6pm on Friday, students have free admissions.
Caesar: I command thee to appreciate art with eyes filled with admiration.
As delicate as the fabric around the beautiful dame
Venus de Millo
Derrick and the statue posing as Jane =)
The impression Egyptian collection
The Turkish Bath by Jean Dominique Ingres - A painting that I did a French presentation on a year ago, which now I had the chance to behold before me
Cherub: follow me
Me: lead me to the architectural center
4. La Défense - the modern commercial center on the Northwest border of Paris, which drew me to pay a quick visit on Saturday morning.
The modern parody of the triumphant arch - looks like trousers to me...
Cherry trees in the midst of concrete and steel
Wonder what this building is used for...hmmm!
The avant-garde twist of an arcade
Do you spot the arch of triumph in the distance?
5. The church that I stumbled into in the Latin Quarter, perhaps called Saint-Michel - instilled in me deep feeling of peacefulness
The rose windows
The Gothic Vaults
The Recess where contemplation was the natural occupation
6. Les Jardins du Luxemburg - garden that adorns the Parisien cityscape, which would be much prettier to visit in the summer
Grasses are green, trees are bare
Imagine all the branches green with lush foliage
Beautiful sculptures and statues dot the garden lands
7. Le Pantheon - the sacred burial ground of famous men
the imposing facade
The decorated ceilings
The towering and vaulting hallways
Victor Hugo finds his final resting place here
Louis Braille - the creator of the blind's language
8. Notre Dame Cathedral
View of the Seine river from one of the many bridges connecting the North and South shores
Candles of hopes
The Flamboyant Gothic style
While waiting to go up to the towers of Notre Dame, Derrick opened his magical box of divine-tasting macaroons
The Pensive Gargoyle - I like it so much. I bought a magnet in its shape to be put on my fridge at home.
We see Sacre Coeur from its religious counterpart
9. Late night dinner with Christine - exhausted after a whole day of travel, we had our midnight meal at a diner in the vicinity of our hostel, traditional American cheese burgers!
We were starving
Now moving onto the less fortunate aspects, a.k.a., lessons I learned along the trip
1. Always buy subway tickets in Paris and always keep the tickets until you leave the station
We got 40 Euros fines at the checkpoint station to Eiffel Tower. The French police were ruthless. Even if you bought a ticket and misplaced it, you would still be facing a stern-faced police telling you: "forty euros now or seventy euros later."
2. Missing our bus - we did not get on our overnight bus from London to Paris on Thursday evening, which led to buying a rush Eurostar ticket - overpriced at 4X the regular price...
The biggest lessons we learned on this trip are all transportation-related. Now, the nugget of wisdom we will carry with us for future travels is never missing our scheduled bus/train/flight and comply with all traffic laws.
Overall, the Paris trip was a mixed box of chocolates and licorice - some sweetness and some bitterness.