30 June 2009

Salut from France!

We left Bordeaux this morning, and now we're on a southbound train, destination Barcelona. We enjoyed a fantastic week in the beautiful Loire Valley with some old friends of Britta's. The wedding was like none other that I have seen... a 48-hour party and so much fun. I'll say more about it when I'm not updating via Crackberry.

So. Barcelona for three days and then the south of France. Catch you on the flip side!

21 June 2009

Going to Paris. Be back soon.

All right y'all, Britta and I are hopping on a plane bright and freakin' early in the morning and heading to Paris.

From Paris we spend a week in the Loire Valley, then maybe Bordeaux, then three days in Barcelona, then the Riviera, and finally back to Paris. And then home... unless of course we find a more alluring prospect (Parisian male models or footy stars- hello Yoann Gourcuff!).

Maybe we'll blog from abroad. Maybe not. Oh the wonders of international service on my roomie's Crackberry, I cannot wait to experience you!

Au revoir!

17 June 2009

Paris in August! Can you imagine?

One of my favorite sculptures in the Louvre: 'Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss' by Antonio Canova

We arrived at the catacombs just half an hour after it opened, but the line was already wrapped around the block. We entertained ourselves by prepping for our upcoming Amsterdam excursion and watching three men lay cobblestones in the street. Our fellow queuers (No, it's not a word, I made it up. It means "one who queues") entertained themselves by pulling their lunches out of their bags and backpacks, ripping the food into pieces, and sprinkling it on the concrete for the pigeons. The pigeons billed and cooed and showed their appreciation by pooping on people's shoes.

Disgusting creatures.

Queue at the catacombs

It took a really long time, but finally we got to enter the Halls of the Dead.

A long time ago (late 18th century), the cemeteries of Paris were overflowing and contaminating the fair city through mass graves and improper burial. The medieval cemeteries were condemned and the millions of inhabitants were moved to underground caves and tunnels by night.

Entrée de l'ossuaire: "Stop! This is the Empire of the Dead."

As an anatomy student, I found it interesting that the skulls, femurs, tibias, and humeri (head, thigh, shin, arm) were stacked in patterns. Behind this virtual walls of bones were piled the collections of less-decorative skeletal parts, like phalanges and scapulae (fingers, toes, shoulder blades).

At the exit, a bored-looking security guard searched your bag to make sure you hadn't stashed anything you were not supposed to stash.

Graverobbers denied

Actually, it made me really mad that people tried to take bones away with them as souvenirs at all. Have some respect for the dead.

After we found ourselves back in the sunshine at the unassuming back door to the catacombs, Lark headed back home to run errands and sent me to the Louvre on my own.

Bet the Egyptians wish they'd thought of this!

Meet the cover of my Western Literature book: the Winged Victory. She's pretty cool.

Fought the waves of crazy tourists, saw La Giaconda, then spent the next two hours getting lost in the twists and turns and false stairwells of the Louvre (which was clearly never intended for museum purposes), but I did find the Code of Hammurabi, the bulls from Sargon's palace, and nifty things that weren't marked on the map of highlights. I like Dutch art the best. And I found it. But then I got lost in a courtyard full of statues and art students. I climbed up the wall and went to visit this pretty lady. She's my favorite.

Venus de Milo

Look at this ridiculous opulence. No wonder the peasants decided to revolt.

While I appreciated the immense amount of beauty and history in the Louvre, the big mistake was going alone. I got more frustrated by large groups of shoving, grabby tourists than I would have if I'd had company. Thus, I was never more excited to find this sign and its three languages of promise and hope.

So I went to the children's gift shop and played with toys by myself before leaving. Don't judge.

Lark and I went to dinner with her Parisian friend, Victor, who tried to make me order my own dinner at the restaurant. Suddenly overcome by shyness, I made him do it. He got us Kir apéritifs. I had lapin (rabbit), he had gizzards (which he made me try...not bad at all), and Lark had French onion soup. Victor ordered us a bottle of Muscadet to share ...at a ridiculous markup. I saw it in a grocery store for three Euros, but I guess that's Paris cuisine for you.

And then we broke the crust on the crème brûlée with our spoons.

On our walk home, we stopped at a little bar and Lark intorduced me to the most divine cocktail in the history of the world: the caipirinha. It's Brazilian, made with limes and cachaça (the Brazilian national liquor, made from sugar cane juice).

This concluded my last day in Paris. We headed to Belgium in the morning.