Saturday, March 17, 2012

Note: This is Thursdays blog entry, so still have yesterdays and today's to post. But I'm not sure if I'll have time to get them up tonight as it's already 10pm. Tonight is my last night in Paris before I head to Bruge, Belgium, at 11am tomorrow. So I'll probably write up the rest while on the train. You'll have to bear with me the next week, posts may be slow or non-existent as my travel pace quickens a bit. =) 

Fresh and bright eyed I felt energized enough to tackle the Louvre, so I caught the next metro right to the entrance round 10am

..and it's about here I realise I had forgotten to charge my camera and was on 1/4 battery...faaaantastic, couldn't have picked a better day..

Main courtyard with the Main Louvre entrance

Under the Glass Pyramid 
Back at the front of the Notre Dame (where that picture I took of the souls being weighed on the front of the church, 2 posts ago) Rick joked about the bad souls being chained up and led away on a 6 hour tour of the Louvre on a hot day. Now I understood his joke, it is incredibly hot in the foyer under the glass. Today was a very warm day (probably the hottest so far) but in the peak of summer it must be pretty awful. Tour groups were all standing around fanning themselves with their museum maps, as was I. 

It was wonderful to find out that the Louvre is free if you're under 26 and apart of the European Union. Wohoo!


Here she is!
Massive pieces of art work
Mother and Child, (Lilly and Harry Potter) -
James Potter - 2001
I have to be honest, after seeing so many pieces of art the past couple weeks, it's been quite hard to really appreciate the paintings. With some of the lesser known paintings that didn't have English translations, I had fun just making up the details...

Mordor - Frodo Baggins - Circa 1957

The sculptures are definitely impressive..
Venus de Milo - The original sculpture of Aphrodite 

Marly Horses (Kirst, I always think of you when I see a horse) 

Napolean III apartments 

View out over the Tuileries garden

After several, several hours in the Louvre I started making my way to the Eiffel tower. It was a bit further than I had thought.
Walking through the gardens

You don't really need a map to get yourself there though..

I sat down at the park and had a bite to eat and rested my eyes. I was disrupted by a young girl asking if I spoke English. But as I lifted my head I couldn't see momentarily as my eyes adjusted so I just said yes. Then a young gypsy girl came into focus...oh for goodness sake. She holds out a piece of paper trying to get me to hold it, but I just sat there reading. It was along the lines of "Dear ladies and gentleman, my name is (I can't remember) and I am from Bosnia, I live here with my brother and my father is Dead.." I just stopped reading and said 'No' then she made some sort of eating gesture but I shook my head and away she went.

Anyway, I qued up to get my ticket. The lift was broken so it was only the stairs, fine by me. Took about half an hour to buy my tickets, so wasn't to bad. 7NZD to go up to the second floor was pretty reasonable I thought.
Here's me, in a shirt. Yes it was still very very warm up there.

 I sat up there for hours just watching the sun set completely. Worth it. What an experience.

When you look around at night from up there, you see camera flashes going off from the ground every second. It's very cool

I think it looks nicer at night.
It was hard to pull myself away from such a sight, but my camera died shortly after this photo so I couldn't record the light show that happens, but never mind, I'm glad the battery lasted as long as it did.
Quite a way to finish off a great day.  

Friday, March 16, 2012

Yesterday I had tried to go to the Pantheon and when I arrived it said people under 26 that are residents of the European Union could get in for free as long as they had I.D, which I didn't have on me. So I decided to try again today with my British Passport.

The Pantheon - Dedicated to St. Genevieve 

Inside the Pantheon
A very grand interior, with the help of Rick, I could read up on the surrounding paintings and the sculptures. Most of the information is in French with some English translations dotted around.

Foucault pendulum
Leon Foucault, a french physicist designed this pendulum to demonstrate the rotation of the earth. As the pendulum swings, the earth rotates beneath it, and the one pictured tells the time (I think, well it was correct when I was there)
Dome where the Foucault pendulum hangs
The Crypt 
Victor Hugo's Tomb - Writer of Les Miserables and Hunchback of Notre Dame
I cant remember the name of this Church but had the organ playing and choir practicing so I sat and listened for a bit 
Grand Palace with it's glass ceiling
I'm not sure if you can get into the Grand Palace, I know there is a science museum at the back but I just wanted to see the ceiling. Anyway I walked around and gave up, ended up on the other side of the road at Petite Palace
Petite Palace 
 Which is an art gallery, also had a great French band recording/shooting/practicing in the main entrance
Inside Petite Palace
Nice Courtyards

I tried to run over to the Orsay Museum, as Rick said you could get in for free at exactly 5pm, but no such luck. So I just ate my sandwich and listen to this great pianist on the main steps.

Abbey of St Germain-Des-Pres
This is one of Paris' oldest churches, built in the 6th Century. Had a look around, again little/no English to read so felt a bit disconnected.

 I wandered round the St. Germain area, coming across more Churches and hundreds of boutique clothing shops. I didn't realise it was quite an upmarket area, I was busy looking for bargain bin clothing shops! No such luck. The scam artists are becoming quite ridiculous. For the 3rd time I  was approached to give to disabled babies again by a young gypsy girl. And on my way back up there must have been over a dozen men trying the bracelet trick, I had to almost run to get through a swarm of them as they asked, ''S'cuse me Sir!"
They're harmless, just annoying, so if you just don't acknowledge them they'll move on.

 Tomorrow I think the Louvre!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

(Tuesdays entry)

Decided after breakfast that I'd head over to see the Notre Dame. Nick has a Rick Steves guide book (which is actually probably your one Heather) for France which includes Paris so I was going to follow a walking path recommended by Rick. It started off..

Notre Dame 

Great Stain glass

Candles burning every few meters 

Inside Notre Dame
Rick had heaps of information about the history of Notre Dame, especially about the front facade of the church, where stories are played out in the sculptures.

End of the world, Demons and Angels weighing souls
The was also another one depicting the banishing of Adam and Eve from the garden wrapped around a pillar. Such minor details you'd usually overlook. Next stop was the deportation memorial...

Deportation Memorial for the 200,000 french sent to concentration camps
Found the Love locks on the Pont de l'Archeveche bridge
Notre Dame is on an Island on the Siene (this was shortly after being asked to donate to disabled babies..again!!)
Now I've got myself lost off the exact path but I still find a few sights Rick recommends..

Palais de Justice - former prison where Marie Antoinette was imprisoned before being executed  
It was hard to find my way around this place, so I may have missed some key spots, but St. Chapelle church was located in the same secured area, but was undergoing some restorations.

Luxembourg Gardens 
Luxembourg Gardens are so nice and relaxing, but very busy. There are metal chairs just dotted everywhere (including under the trees to the right and left where it extends quite a bit) that you could just carry round and place where you'd want it. Most people were just sitting relaxing, reading, painting, listening to music, or having a nap. It was like one giant resting garden. I sat on a bench amongst the other Parisians and ate my lunch before reclining and reading my map and guidebook in the sun.

After walking in the complete wrong direction for 20 minutes, I hopped on the nearest metro to the Holocaust Museum near Bastille.

Holocaust Museum - The crypt where ashes from the concentration camps are buried
I almost walked out of this place after about 10 minutes because I thought it was really small, but I had missed the main exhibition! 2 hours later the museum shut and I had to leave, fascinating stuff, but also very horrifying, quite graphic images.

July Column in Place de la Bastille

What's for dinner?! I don't know but I'm starting with Blue cheese and baguette! 

I know what you're thinking, is Alex getting any veges? Yes, my entire week in London was crammed full of vegetables and salads, so I'm enjoying a small binge.