Friday, November 27, 2009

omg can't believe how long its been... I feel like I JUST went to the Loire... so much to say…
ok so I left off with the Loire
On Monday I went to l'Orangerie... remember how I said I went to Monet's gardens? Well this is where Monet's Water lily paintings are! So I think I really got to doubly appreciate the paintings... Also downstairs there is a post-impressionist wing with a wide range of paintings including Renoir, Picasso, Gauguin, etc. So beautiful. When you're upstairs looking at the Water lilies, the museum seems small. But it's not at all once you get downstairs! Took me quite a long time to see it all! And there’s also some remains of the foundation of a fortress that used to be there from the Middle Ages which I thought was really neat... you see things like that everywhere! Metro at Bastille, Cluny Museum, and Louvre Museum... stuff left from building centuries old! Incredible!
Tuesday I met with Monique at her apartment for a French chat... that went on for 2 hours! It was really nice, we talked about French history and I learned a little more about her, like how she used to be an actress and now she sings in a chorus, and she invited me to her Christmas concert! I hope I can go and it's not when I’m in Manchester for Christmas...
On the 3th I had my first girl scouts meeting with the girls... didn’t realize it would be from 10:30am-5pm! You don’t realize how seriously long that is until about 3pm and you want to just die or take a nap! First, you go to church (nice way to distract the kids til 12)... then we had lunch (I went to a bakery down the road and had eggs and chicken- funny because I asked for ham and cheese, but never the less it was amazing!), we play games like tick tack boum which is the French version of hot potato but with more running (really fun- my fav!)... One girl played guitar, sang American songs, all the little kids thought I was so cool for knowing all the words, and one girl was so cute and followed me around the whole afternoon. But did I mention that there are 27 girls and only 3 or 4 of us and by “us” I mean teenagers… it’s so exhausting!
Then my mom and Martha came! So now this is Mon Nov 9th, and I met them at their hotel and took them to near where I have my classes. Gave them a cool little tour of the Latin Quarter area- Cluny Museum (roman ruins), then the actual Latin Quarter which its fun narrow streets and restaurants, the Saint Michel Fountain, up Boulevard Saint Michel to the Pantheon, St-Etienne-du-Mont (a church with the oldest rood screen (?) in Europe and the oldest organ in Paris, but we couldn’t go inside b/c it was Monday and it was closed on Mondays), the Sorbonne (tourists normally can’t get in- guards are often very strict), the Luxembourg Gardens, and finally to the building where I have one of my classes and at the top there is a really beautiful terrace where you can see the Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur, and just a really beautiful panorama of Paris. Then I had to go to work, but after work I met them and we went to see La Boehme at the Opera Garnier which I thought was really cool. We bought tickets from scalpers (which is hilarious/stressingly difficult). The play was beautiful- singing was amazing and stage was incredible!
The next day we went to the Rodin Museum which was so fun! It has a really nice museum inside and a cool outdoor garden. It was very beautiful and calming. Then I had to run to work again.
The Next day we went to Chantilly. Chantilly is an hour or 2 outside of Paris where there is a cool chateau. The guy who built the chateau (Duc d’Orleans maybe?) thought that after he died he would be reincarnated as a horse, so he built these amazing stables that are like penthouse living for horses! The chateau was also really cool with gorgeous gardens and hundreds of works of art- so much art it was overwhelming! When we walked back to the train station we got to walk through this beautiful park with the leaves falling and everything- gorgeous!
The next day was Chartres- a huge, ancient cathedral, one of the oldest in Europe! First we walked through the cute town, and then to the art museum that’s there. I liked the museum because it had these cool masks from the revolution with descriptions of punishments such as “condemned to die 6 times” and the masks were of people who were killed. There were also suits of armor which I thought were really neat. Then we went to the cathedral and met Malcolm Miller, a Brit who has lived and breathed Chartres for the last 50 years or so. He gives tours 2x a day, and he was so interesting and really knew a lot. After we ate lunch in a cozy family-run restaurant across the street from the cathedral.
When we got back from Chartres we had a drink at Tour Montparnasse, where at the top is a beautiful panorama of Paris. You can see the Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur, Arc de Triumph… it was incredible! Then I had to run, because it was my friend’s birthday and we were doing something special… We went to a restaurant called Dans le Noir where you eat completely in the dark! You can’t see a thing! At first I really hated it: they make you walk through this completely dark room and you can’t see where you’re going and they lead you to your table but it’s scary because you keep thinking you’re going to bump into something or someone! Your waiter is blind, and I think this is supposed to bring about deaf awareness. They give everyone the same meals, and at the end you get to guess what you ate. I don’t remember well, but I didn’t really love it. One part was stuffed fig, and there was a salmon (that was super good- I wolfed that down!) and I think the dessert was good, but I’ve blocked out of my mind all the bad stuff (I left still feeling hungry lol). It was interesting to talk to your friends in the dark, since you couldn’t see them, I tended to imagine them anyway. We had fun, though it is definitely not something I would do again.
The next day we wanted to see Sacre Coeur. We walked up to Sacre Coeur and went in (I’ve never been inside) - it was really neat. Sacre Coeur is interesting because it has an odd mix off Roman and Byzantine Catholic architecture. It also has an amazing view when you stand in front of it by the steps. It was really beautiful inside and we started listening to a mass. Then we left and walked to a small church called St. Pierre which has a colorful past and was neat to look at. Then we were at the cool square where all these artists and restaurants are and we sat and had a coffee. Then we walked down the hill towards the metro. We saw another church, more modern, but I cant remember what it was called. Then walked down to the Moulin Rouge. Then we walked down, down, down to Gallery Lafayette. Inside there were really beautiful Christmas tree decorations, and it was nice to look at the expensive clothes. After that we went to my place for lunch. We stopped at the super market and bought some cheese and things. My room was too messy to eat in (oops!) so we ate in the kitchen. We got to Skype with Dad, Grandma, and Grandpa, which was good. Then I packed all my things b/c I was going to sleep at their place b/c tomorrow they were leaving and I was going to Bruges with a friend. We from there went to Notre Dame, which was cool b/c there was a choir singing and then a mass or something. After, we went to the Louvre because it’s open late on Fridays. We went to Napoleon III’s apartments which were really neat, and I know my mom and Martha loved it! It was beautifully decorated, so amazing- bedrooms, dining room, ball room, etc. All tucked neatly away into the Louvre! Then we saw a Watteau painting that I had done a project on, Winged Victory, Venus de Milo, and, of course, the Mona Lisa. It was so nice to get to go since I haven’t had the chance to go yet! Completely wiped, we went and had pizza and pasta at an Italian restaurant near mom & Martha’s hotel. Then we finally crashed at the hotel… and that was just 12 days! I’m now only up to Nov 14th! I'm 15 days behind! But I have to start writing a paper for French… maybe later I’ll take a break and press onward!