Thursday, July 31, 2014

Running, Louvre, and Lunchtime

This morning, I got up a little earlier and took a run down to, and along the, Seine River. Turns out that the hotel is only a block or two away from the river. It's an industrial section of the river, which is not exactly the most scenic, but it was still pretty awesome. There is something about the sun rising over the Seine, with the Eiffel Tower in the background, that was pretty awesome. It was an easy run - only two miles - but well worth it.





















Breakfast was significantly better than yesterday. Turns out that the tour group that wound up swiping most of our food was actually not supposed to have gotten the hot breakfast that we received - they were only supposed to have the cold stuff, fruit and croissants and stuff. The hotel more than made up for it, though: they gave us our own dining room and stepped up the food a bit.

Today, we are on our way to the Louvre, then to the Luxembourg Gardens for our performance. Molly and I will depart from the tour group for a little while to meet up with Molly's aunt, who has lived in Paris for 30 years. She comes to visit the states once or twice per year, but we have never (obviously) had a chance to visit her in her native environment, if you will.

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The Louvre is, in a word, freaking amazing. The treasures that are contained there truly have no equal: statues that are thousands of years old, paintings five hundred years old and more. The building is enormous: take the biggest (within the normal Paris height restrictions), longest building you've ever seen: then multiply it by a lot. It's that big. It extends into the ground several stories, and the rooms are huge, roomy, well-lit, and full of art.

You know the general highlights, I hope: intact portions of the original walls of the first Paris; the Venus de Milo; the Victory at Samothrace; the Mona Lisa, and huge numbers of other major works. The Louvre was the original fortress that held the French royalty and was the seat of power until the late 17th century. After the French Revolution, it became a full-time art gallery.

We had a tour guide, name Kiko, who took us around to see some of the highlights. Hermaphrodite (with a nice butt, and I'm not going to post the "Crying Game" other side:









Artemisia the Hunter:









Venus selfie:






Victory selfie:









Mona Lisa selfie:






Paintings room:






Mona Lisa was a real fiasco. That is the most visited exhibit, and there is a crush of people who are trying to get a picture of the painting. The most vicious, as our guide has told us, are June Chinese tourists. Apparently, elbowing people out of huge way and pushing past is the custom over in China, and no offense is necessarily meant by it. It's just the culture. We, as Americans, would never push somebody without expecting them to punch us. So, it makes for an interesting cultural dynamic.

I managed to work my way to the front and took my picture, and Donna was following in my wake. I'm big - really big - and New York rude, so I'm a good person to follow if you want to get through a crowd. So, Donna - who was limping along with her cane - was about to get shoved and possibly knocked cover by a young man, one of the aforementioned tourists. I got in his way and **pushed** to clear room for her.

"C'mon, man," he said. My response: "Lady with the cane wins, fella."

The crowds were huge, as you would expect. Except for this one area, they tended to be quite accommodating. People were very considerate about pictures.

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After the tour, we had lunch at the food court, and Molly and I had a wonderful middle eastern dish.

We walked around for an hour or so, and we saw one of the royal palaces outside. A street artist was drawing a picture of some Disney characters in the plaza. Excuse the plumber's crack, but this is an awesome picture:






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