Saturday, October 2, 2010

France and more!

Hello friends and family!
Here I am. I bet you all thought I'd left the blogging world completely.
Not quite...
I got back from France exceptionally drained and not in the least bit enthused on the idea of having to write it all down. Plus the internet is just horrible.
I'm going to be lame and give the condensed version of the last week and a half.
We went to France for four days last week. We spent most of our time in Paris and stayed the last night in Amiens. It was honestly an amazing trip filled with all the beauty, art, romance, and tourism that Paris has to offer. Outside of Paris we went to a lot of Great War sites that still have trenches and potholes from all of the artillery left in the earth.
Day 1: Drove and drove. Took the ferry from Dover to France and took the coach from the coast into Paris. WWI sites along the way. That night we got our first crepes and took a scenic boat tour down the river through about a hundred bridges. It was really pretty and romantic, just like in the movies. Everything was lit up and people were making out all along the river's edge.
Day 2: Took the coach to Chartres Cathedral. This place is magnificent and a lot taller than I'd expected it to be. After we were taken to Versailles to see the gigantic castle of Marie Antoinette and Louis IV. Giant. Elaborate. Here's what I can say about Versailles: Think of Disneyland on a holiday. Now keep thinking of that image and add the smell of feet, BO, and cigarettes and you've got yourself Versailles. No need to elaborate on this experience. Back in Paris we ate dinner at a lovely Italian restaurant and then headed over to the Arch de Triumph. Had a beautiful view of the Eiffle tower and got to watch it sparkle on the hour.
Day 3: Crazy day. Started off early at Notre Dame and went to the top where we got to go through the big wooden frames to see the enormous bell and look out over the city. Next headed to Saint Chapelle to see the amazing stained glass in the midmorning light. Problem here was the towering wall they'd put up for construction blocking the section of stained glass that the light was hitting. Still, really pretty. We ate pizza for lunch and the headed to the Pantheon. Sarah and I stopped at a boutique so we didn't get much out of the Pantheon other than we moon walked on the slippery floors. Next stop: Musee de Orsay. Love this place. At this point our feet were aching pretty bad. My fav's: the Degas ballerinas were as close to perfection as I knew they'd be. Didn't like the more modern painting of a woman's vagina so much. After Orsay we went to L'Orangerie to see Monet's waterlilies. They covered three rooms of walls and they had tranquil music playing... felt like I was at Sego Lily day spa ready to get a massage. Finally went to dinner and then the Eiffle Tower. Bad news on both accounts. If you don't like bleu cheese... don't order anything in France that involves cheese. They put it on everything and it's not like American bleu cheese (which I also think is disgusting). It tastes like acid and cleaner and everything wrong all at once. Worst decision of my life. Also, we stood in line for 40 minutes just to be told they'd closed the top of the Eiffle tower. So, we just sat around at the bottom and watched it light up. Spent the rest of the night at the triangle outside the Louvre and then ate creme brulee at a corner cafe. Draining day. Too much great stuff to do in such a short amount of time.
Day 4: Went to the Louvre. I love the Louvre. I am not sure what everyone's beef with the Louvre is. Sure it's a monster. Sure we only got to see about two halls on one floor in three hours. But you know what... what I did see was incredible. And I'd go back to Paris just to spend a week in the Louvre. After the Louvre we went the Pompedeu which is a modern art gallery. This was my favorite place of our Paris time and my regret of the trip is that I only had over an hour to spend here. Saw Matisse and loads of other brilliant modern work. It made me really excited to go to the Tate Modern in London. Bussed out of Paris to Amiens stopping at some more war sites. In Amiens we took some time to walk the outside of the Cathedral and study its Gothic architecture. Got pizza and went to a local grocer to get our lunches for the next day. This was my favorite day of the trip.
Day 5: Went inside Amiens cathedral to see the head of John the Baptist before we had to leave to come home (yes, my home is London). On the way out of France we stopped at yet some more war sites. We put crosses on fallen soldiers graves. So many hundreds and thousands of white headstones, most of which don't even have names of soldiers. So many lost men in the war that they buried them with the title "soldier of the great war, known unto God." And many of the headstones were shared with two or three soldiers. It was a somber experience and I'm really starting to feel un-American about the whole history of it all. It just gets to me that we never really learned or even know about the Great War, and was such a catastrophic and unnecessary war that went on for years and killed hundreds of thousands of men.
Finally at home we were so glad to be back we ran full speed to the centre. I had a package from my mom and it was a great way end the trip.
I liked France a lot and I saw and learned so much. The language barrier was tough and the tourism routes were draining, but overall it was a good trip. So glad to be back in London though. London is home and my true love.

Other noteworthy things from the last week:
Went to the Merry Wives of Windsor at the Globe on Tuesday. Not as good as Henry IV but still brilliant. You really can't go wrong at the Globe and I don't think I'll ever look at a Shakespeare play the same way again. The next day we took a trip to Stratford Upon Avon where we got to see the house of Shakepeare's wife: Anne Hathoway, the house he was born in, the house he owned... etc. A lot of houses that looked pretty much the same. But it was all really fun and such a cute town. I would live there for sure. There was an amazing little shop that was full of potions and wizarding stuff and we bought some Butterbeer. Note: just because it's in Harry Potter doesn't mean it is going to be good. Butterbeer is gross. Went to Kew Gardens yesterday and their controlled climate greenhouses are incredible. It poured rain on us all day though which was slightly disappointing. Good week though. Ready for Conference and another fun week to come.

I'll be back with pictures! And now that the Paris trip is out of the way hopefully I can steer clear of these long posts from now on.

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