Sunday, 23 November 2008

Chapter Sixteen

"je ne parle pas francais".... translation: I do not speak french.  

Basically the story of my life this past week.  We took a little trip to Paris and I basked in the classy Parisian streets and saw all that Paris has to offer (well maybe not... but pretty close).  I did so much that I can barely even remember it all, so I am going to give the highlights. 

Eiffel Tower: 
The first place we went in Paris. Oh and it is amazing. It is grand and tall and sparkles on the hour.  We went up to the top at night and the view was amazing.  It is tall, really tall, Dad you wouldn't have liked it. Day or night the Eiffel Tower is so pretty, its odd such an industrial looking tower could be so romantic... maybe everything in Paris is just romantic. 

The Language Barrier:
The language barrier is called a barrier for a very good reason. You can't communicate. At all. So that made for an interesting week.  "Parlez-vous anglais?" (do you speak english) is my new favorite phrase... and so is merci... which came in handy when I took off after my camera. I had left it on the public bus... so it was basically a goner. Rather than behaving normally and assuming that it was gone and sulking for a week then buying a new one I took off after the bus.  I left Hillary and Becky and booked it. For those of you who are unaware running is kind of out of character for me, but I forgot my normal character and ran like the wind. By the time I was winded I got on the first 69 bus I saw.  I attempted to communicate to the driver in english/french/sign language (heavy on the sign language) that my camera was on the bus that was ahead. He was able to decipher that he should call ahead.  Miraculously the camera was found and I rode triumphantly to retrieve it.  I found Becky and Hillary, who thought I was mad (as the British like to say).  I have never loved a french bus driver more in my life, or my camera.  Anyways my that is my heroic story for the week... although it doesn't fit into the language barrier topic. Whatever.  

Oh my oh my. Forget the city of love  Paris is the city of art. We spent a whole day in art museums: the Louvre, the Musee d' Orsay, and Musee de l' Orangerie. Oh it was glorious.  We started the day at the Louvre and were there right when it opened. We saw the Mona Lisa which wasn't as cool from five feet away and shrouded under plated glass, but its all good.  We cruised through Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt, and all the highlights.  Which was still nothing. Apparently if you spend 30 seconds at every painting in the Louvre it would take you 3 months to finish it... not cool... if you only have a week. 

Next stop was the Musee d' Orsay.  It was so awesome and again filled with far too many priceless pieces of art.  Van Gogh, Degas, Monet, Manet, Renoir. Love it. 

My very favorite was the Musee de l' Orangerie.  Basically it was designed just to house Monet's giant paintings, "The Water Lilies."  There were these blank white circular rooms with these beautiful paintings on the walls. Oh is was lovely. Like heaven on earth... heaven better have Monet's "Water Lilies."

Beautiful Cathedrals:
Chartres Cathedral was our first stop. We got there kind of lateish so we didn't get to see the full lighted Cathedral but what I did see was still amazing.  The stained glass windows were so beautiful and straight from Medieval times.  We had this awesome tour that deciphered the meanings of the windows.  This is probably one of my favorites.  The building is so tall and so impressive, and just beautiful.
Notre Dame... very pretty. After Chartres it wasn't as impressive but it was still beautiful. I loved the rose window, and that it was on a little island. We pretended to be the huntchback of Notre Dame and basked in the building's greatness. I love the outside of the cathedrals.  The flying buttresses and the architecture of the building are probably my favorite parts.  

Saint Chappelle. This is my favorite. By far. I love love loved it. I had no idea what to expect from this one and I walked in and was astounded. All the walls in the room are covered in stained glass.  It is so beautiful. The glass illustrates from the beginning of the world to the end of the world.  I can't even say how beautiful it was, and the photo below does not nearly do it justice. 

Public Restrooms:
Really, really sketchy. Automatic closing doors... and homeless men... and I really have to go pee. Need I say more?

Creepy, not quite as creepy as the public restrooms, but pretty creepy. We strolled through a whole mile of walls filled with piled up human bones.  Kind of gross, but really awesome. I mean where else can I go see thousands of bones on a Thursday afternoon?  Maybe go visit Chopin's grave in a crazy graveyard... which is what we did next. 

Rick Steves:
He is our hero... everything we did came from Becky's Rick Steves Guidebook. We went on the walks that he had in the book and it was awesome. We saw windy Parisian streets, awesome old bookstores, Picasso and Renior's hangouts, Jewish nieghborhoods, etc. None of which we would have seen without good ol' Rick. 

French Food:
Ooh la la. I love french food. Crepes, baguettes, pastries, gourmet ice cream... mmm... delicious. I ate far too much of it, and yet I was still always wanting more. I mean you can never have too many sugar crepes right?

Au revoir Paris! As much as I enjoyed being with you, it's nice to be home.

I love that London is home. 


Natalia said...

lauren, you look so happy! I'm glad you're having a wonderful time.

PS that camera story made my day

Kelley said...

Lauren, I want to be you. Love this record of your adventures.