I'm drinking B-grade coffee, the weather is acting like it wants to be like France but it won't commit, and I've lost most of my ability to speak French easily.
I can still speak French, but it's painful, and hard, and I'm only really comfortable speaking French with a few people (i.e. my friends from the trip).
I decided to take yesterday off because I was tired. Blogging every day is tiring. But here we go again. Starting my second week in France!
Every first Sunday of the month, France is the best country to live in. (Almost) every museum is free for the day. Really. I think everyone on the trip took advantage of it. It was great.
Ariel, Clint, Madison, Ian, and I all decided to go to the Louvre. Now, because everyone knows about the free admission, we knew we'd have to get there early. The Louvre opens at 9 A.M. and all of us planned to be there by 8 A.M. You can probably see where this is going by now.
By now we've all pretty much got the whole Metro thing down. I'm not fond of it, but I appreciate the fact that it's an affordable, convenient way to get around the city. I leave my apartment and start walking to the Metro. I'm running a few minutes behind, but it shouldn't be a big deal. Halfway to the metro, I get a phone call.
It's Ariel and Madison. They're on their way to the Louvre too. Now, in using the Metro, you always plan out how you're going to get there before you ever get on the train. We got really good at it by the end of the month. However, no matter how well you plan, there will always be hiccups.
The Metro station that we had planned to exit off of, also known as the "Tourist Line" (at least to us) because it has most of the big tourist attractions on it, is closed. Seriously. Madison and Ariel had to do a huge loop-around route because there was no easy way to get to the stop we wanted. I had to quickly figure out how I was going to get there too. (Okay, Ariel basically told me what to do, because she's awesome like that.) Meanwhile, Clint and Ian had planned on getting at the Louvre super early (like 7-7:30 ish) and they had to redirect their route too. We had all planned on meeting in the Metro station, but since we were going to be running really late (at least 30 minutes), we decided just to find each other in line.
When I finally get to the Louvre, dazed, confused, really unsure of where I was going, and I was freaking out. Because the line to get into the Louvre, at 8:30 when I arrived, was ridiculous.
This is only half of the line at that point. It would quadruple in size by the time we were let in.
Fun fact: I also kept peeking outside, looking at the line once we got in. It never shrank. It just kept growing.
Luckily, I find Clint and Ian, and we hang out until Ariel and Madison show up. Clint and Ian showed up at 8:20, and still had pretty fantastic places in line. I figured it would take us at least 30 minutes to get inside, which was much better than what I had been picturing. I knew if we showed up at 9, when it opened, we would probably standing in line for at least an hour, if not two.
We hung out, spoke to those around us, and planned out what we wanted to see. I was jumping up and down with excitement.
More of the line, snaking around.
Ariel, myself, and Madison, waiting to get in.
The line moved incredibly fast, once the doors opened. We were in within 15 minutes. I couldn't stop taking pictures.
We got in through the glass pyramid. It was cool. There were escalators and cool elevators.
The main lobby. It was HUGE.
We decided to go to the Mona Lisa first. We thought that now would be a good time, since it wasn't too crowded yet. So we all headed off, with a huge mob of people, to find her. We also got lost on our way to find her. With the huge mob. It was confusing. Someone thought it was funny to turn one of the signs that points to her in the wrong direction, but no worries. We still succeeded.
On your way to the Mona Lisa, you pass Winged Victory. And she's beautiful. I had chills just from walking-trying-very-hard-not-to-run by her. We all swore we would come back to see visit her.
I knew that the Mona Lisa was small. I knew that most people are disappointed when they see her the first time, because they think she's going to be so much bigger, more impressive. I was hoping I wasn't going to be disappointed, either.
The Mona Lisa is a beautiful piece of art work. They have barriers up around her glass encasement, so you can't get too close. I wasn't disappointed, but I felt a lot like I did when I saw the EIffel Tower for the firs time. I just didn't get it. Yes, Da Vinci was a genius. I was already amazed by him when we saw his house. But I also think there are plenty of other pieces of artwork in the Louvre that deserve more attention. I felt terrible for every other piece of artwork in the room, that was just as beautiful as the Mona Lisa (or La Jaconde, in French), but wasn't getting any of the attention.
There were a lot of people trying to see her, and it wasn't even 9:30 yet.
The Louvre, like all museums, has a program/map of sorts. Each wing has been divided up, with five or six pieces of its most famous/popular art displayed, so you can walk straight to it. The Mona Lisa is on it. And the giant mural that stands directly opposite of the Mona Lisa is there too.
You're just going to have to deal with the fact that most of my pictures are blurry. That's what happens when you're like me and have shaky hands (seriously, I can never hold them steady. I don't know how I was ever going to be a surgeon) and we're not allowed to use flash.
Clint and Ian, standing in the room with the Mona Lisa
We all decided that this was the real Goblet of Fire. It was in the hallway, outside the Mona Lisa.
We decided to split up, since we all wanted to see different things. We had plans to meet up around 11 for lunch. Ian and I walked off to the Egyptian, Greek, and Roman stuff. I don't know where everyone else went.
Ian was fantastic to walk around with. He was always gracious when I asked him to take my picture, took even more pictures that I did (which is saying something) and he never complained. And, to make it even better, he was just as fascinated with the Egyptian stuff as I was.
Here are a few of my favorite things I saw. Cue picture montage. Disclaimer: I took an obscene amount of photos this day. I won't, however, post very many of them. If you want to see all of them sometime when I have my computer, just ask. I don't want to bore everyone with a hundred pictures of sarcophagi when I'm the only one that cares.
I'm so artistic.
Papyrus scrolls! Ahhh!
The Venus de Milo. Had a big crowd, though not as big as La Jaconde
One of my favorite statues. I've always adored Artemis/Diana.
Ian and I spent the whole morning in the Egyptian, Greek, and Roman stuff. It was fantastic. We met up for lunch, then continued for the rest of the day. Ariel and I walked around, along with some other people. We decided to go look at some paintings.
One of my favorites. True story: When Ariel and I saw this, we both thought it was a depiction of Mordor (as in the volcanic mountain in Lord of the Rings), not Hell, as it's called. Yes, we're nerds. Get over it.
What the galleries looked like. (Mostly.)
Fun fact: I know how terrible my memory is, so whenever I found a painting I liked, I took a picture of it, and a picture of its sign, so I could go back and look it up later.
One of my favorites. I didn't have too many pictures that I really loved, but this was one of them. It's a Lorrain. Never heard of him before that day, but I have since fallen in love with his paintings. I have several pictures of them.
The only Monet (that I could find) in the Louvre. I was a little disappointed, but Ariel and I had plans to visit the d'Orsay later that week, so I tried not to be too upset.
This one is actually out of order. I sat and stared at it for at least 15 minutes after I saw the Mona Lisa, while I was waiting for Ariel to get out of the bathroom. 9:30 in the morning, and the line for the bathroom was ridiculous. I couldn't believe it. Also, the more I looked at this painting, the more I liked it. Even though it's of a battle/war scene, I couldn't help but find it peaceful.**
When I saw this painting, I had a very surreal moment. Well, I had been working up to that moment all day. Most of the paintings that I had seen and recognized, I knew because I had seen them in class. I had seen them in textbooks, online, on powerpoints, etc. I knew what they looked like. But to stand in front of those paintings is a completely different experience. This painting is of Dido, the Queen of Carthage, who kills herself after Aeneas leaves her in Virgils Aeneid. I had seen this painting in class, Freshman year, and it still stuck with me. I also had the same feeling after seeing a painting of Ophelia, from Hamlet. It was a very weird feeling.
I prefer landscapes to portraits, just because I don't care about paintings of people I don't know, but Ariel loves them, so we spent a good hour or two looking at portraits. Obviously, I didn't take any pictures of them. I did decide that I love Dutch painters to French ones because the French like to make their people look like cherubs. Which I find disturbing.
We also lost Ariel around this time. It was funny. The Louvre is a maze. Because they have so much artwork (and most of it isn't even on display), they had to create more wallspace. So when you walk down one hallway, there are really three separate hallways. There's the big central hallway that you enter through, and then there is one hallway, on either side of the main hallway. You can weave in and out of these hallways, but really, it's nearly impossible to see everything.
Because we all walk at different speeds, and I don't care for portraits, I was walking a little big faster, weaving in and out of the hallways. I got to the end, and turned around, expecting to see Ariel close behind. When I didn't see her, I went looking for her. No luck. I ran into Donovan, who was walking with us, and we both looked for her. We looked for a good ten minutes before giving up. I texted her, said where we were going, and we continued on our way. Eventually she found us, though it was an interesting adventure.
By this time, we had been in the Louvre for forever. We were all tired, but we decided to go back and see the Winged Victory. She's beautiful, magnificent, and the most rewarding out of the Big Three.
I now have a miniature statue of her, sitting in my room at home.
By the time we left, we had been in the Louvre for nine hours. Yeah, you read that right. NINE. We were exhausted. But it was totally worth it. The funniest part was that while we had all seen what we wanted to see, we had only seen about half of everything displayed. We made plans to go back again, during one of their Late Night specials, but we never did. (The Louvre, and some other museums too, are open late one night a week, with discounted prices.) We always preferred to hang out at a cafe/bar instead. I don't regret not going back, but I do think I'll go again, when I find myself in Paris again.
When you leave, you walk past the upside down pyramid. Unfortunately, I didn't get a single good picture of the thing. Stupid tourists. Someone decided to star the trend of doing a leaning-tower-of-pisa-like pose, and it caught on. People liked to pretend like they were holding up the thing all by themselves. I was upset. At least little kids are cute and didn't block everything.
I couldn't stop thinking about the Da Vinci Code when we walked through here.
The Louvre was amazing. Though I definitely hit my artwork-culture-saturation-point for the year in that one day. As wonderful as it is, I think it would be better to do it in spurts, so you can appreciate everything completely. There's too much to take in. By the end of the day, I was just walking past most of the paintings, not really paying attention to them. But that's okay. We got in free. :)
The next day was the Fourth of July. It was a good day. You shall learn how we almost got arrested on that day, next time.
*Can you be homesick for somewhere that's not really your home? I've always considered France as someplace I just lived for five weeks, not my actual home. Weird.
**That should tell you something about me.