Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Can't I Be On Vacation Forever?

I'm back from my wonderful weekend in Paris and I already wish I were back there on vacation. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to be back in Soissons, and especially to have my beautiful; comfy; warm couette (duvet) again, but it also means that it's the end of vacation. Not only vacation from school but from the aforementioned medical problems I've been having, which I now have to deal with again. It's like this cloud of dread over everything.

But, let me tell you how wonderful Paris was! Unfortunately I can't upload any photos yet because I won't be able to use my laptop and wifi until Friday when I am at the Inscription, but they will come. Let me say first of all that I took art history in high school, really enjoyed it, and am a nerd about looking at art, I just love it. Okay. I got in on Friday and spent the afternoon at the Musee Rodin. It was incredible to see all of those famous pieces in person! The Thinker is actually not even half as big as I thought it would be, but it was still quite impressive, and of course most amazing was just seeing it in person. The museum is small so it's definitely doable in a few hours, and you can spend time looking at everything as long as you want without feeling pressured to move on so you can see it all. For dinner I wandered around the area by Quai d'Orsay for a little while, checking out menus, and chose a traditional French restaurant. The food was amazing, the best meal I had all weekend. For the entree (or as we say in America, hors d'oevre) I had a salad topped with a giant square of goat cheese baked in a layer of phyllo, and for the plat (main course) a duo of salmon and merlon (not sure what that is in English) in a creamy, herby sauce with spinach and potatoes. Wonderful.

Saturday I went to the Palais Garnier, the famous opera house where Phantom of the Opera is set. Yes, I love Phantom of the Opera. It was almost like a pilgrimage, and I did have to hum the music to myself sometimes. This building is so fabulous I can't even describe it. Totally opulent and over the top, everything is marble and gold and carved and beautiful. I had a guided tour, but unfortunately I got the timed wrong and had to go on the tour in French instead of English so I didn't understand everything, but I did get to see Box Number 5! I also went to the Galleries Lafayette. Massive department store doesn't even begin to describe the madness! It's so huge that it takes up multiple buildings. I am excited to go back and see it all lit up later in the winter. Dinner was at an Italian restaurant. I had a lovely salad with lots of parmesan, artichoke hearts, toamatoes, and other yummy veggies. Then I had a pasta with goat cheese, sundried tomatoes, and a lemony sauce. The sun dried tomatoes were a little salty but otherwise it was quite good.

Sunday was a sort of special anniversary for me and I wanted to spend it at the Louvre. Well, the Louvre was a complete madhouse because the first Sunday of every month museums are free admission, so the entire world and their relatives from Neptune were there. It was still amazing. Again, it's incredible to see pieces that you've studied in art class in person. I spent most of my time in the ancient Roman and Greek art rooms, and you could watch the evolution of the styles and see the differences between them..... really remarkable. Especially the vases. One day a person decided to decorate this very mundane household item. Why? What inspired someone to decorate it? I had a hurried tour of parts of the ancient NearEast section too on my way to see Hamurabi's code. The famous pieces that I saw were the Venus de Milo, Hamurabi's Code, Nike of Samothrace, and bien sur, the Mona Lisa. Venus de Milo was just incidental to my tour of the Greek galleries. Hamurabi's Code was actually smaller than I thought it would be. I had imagined a giant pillar but it's not even as tall as I am. It was still amazing to see. I had a hurried look at the earliest pieces of writing there too. Again, fascinating. The Nike of Samothrace was also incredible. The way her toga flows around her is so beautiful and so real, she looks the very image of exultation and victory. The only problem is that it was super crowded and difficult to get a good picture. It was the same case at the Mona Lisa. Surprisingly enough though, the Mona Lisa was the piece that impressed me the most. I had always thought "okay, it's a picture, it's famous, but there isn't that much special about it." I was so wrong! It is entirely different to see it in person than as a picture in a book. The colors are vivid, and she smiles her secret smile, and her eyes really do follow you everywhere you go. I really understand now why she is so famous. As I was looking at her I felt like we were sharing a secret. I'm not quite sure what that secret was, but even so it was a really special thing to see.

Okay, have got to run now, but I'll finish up my narration a little later.

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