Monday, May 17, 2010

Paris - Day 5

We woke up this Friday morning before 8 am again with the intent on getting moving to see the sites early on in the day to avoid crowds. After looking at our hand map of the Paris streets we figured it would be an easy stroll to the Louvre. We took the tube up to Notre Dame and would walk the rest of the way. Somehow, we got turned around at Notre Dame and ended up heading away and on the wrong side of the river of the Louvre. We finally figured out our mistake and got headed back in the right direction. What seemed like a few blocks walk, turned out to be quite a hike (note to self: Paris maps are deceptive). To add to our frustration, neither of us had eaten breakfast yet, and my cranky partner was making that verbal. 

We finally arrived at the Louvre, and despite all the guidebook saying that going first thing in the morning is the best time to avoid crowds, it was a zoo!! It proved to be difficult to get a great photo of the area. We really wanted to get some evening photos with the pyramid lit up as well, but we just couldn't stay around that late. 

And what trip would be complete without the notorious point and shoot shot of the pyramid. 

Whoops, missed the pyramid a bit. 

We took the historical entrance through the pyramid and down into the bottom of the Louvre. It was unbelievably busy! We had been thinking about buying a museum pass to allow us access to other museums in hopes of saving money, but ended up working out how little it would save us and then we'd be forced to rush through attractions to get our money worth. We bought our tickets and then found a place to sit and get a bit of breakfast before the hungry monster reared his ugly head. Our plan of actions was thus decided among a chocolate muffin, waffle, and coffee: hit the big ticket items first to avoid the mid-day chaos (as if it wasn't already crazy) and then wonder around other areas. From the lower ground floor (-1, or as we say basement) we headed towards the Denon wing and up to the 1st floor (2nd floor for us). After walking down a long hallway you stand at the bottom of a wide marble staircase which leads up to a breathtaking sculpture and something I was very excited to see. The Winged Victory of Samothrace. 

This headless and armless Greek Goddess Nike (Victory) has extraordinary detail in her clinging drapery (note the belly button) and is believed to be honoring a sea battle. 

As you continue past the goddess and head down the great hall, you enter the Italian paintings sections, which ultimately leads to the worlds most famous painting; Mona Lisa. The room that houses the Mona Lisa is quite large for such a small work of art. After fighting the crowds (and I mean that literally) I was able to get within 15 ft of the large glass display with a nearby guard to snap a poor photo with glass reflection. Sorry. 

To say I've seen it is cool, but honestly I'm not sure I'd fight to see it again. But for the sake of all you brave souls willing to read this, I knew I had to do it. 

We wandered around the halls observing paintings that we know little about since everything was in French and I've never taken an art class in my life. I was fascinated by the sheer size of the paintings and the amazing detail and colors involved. My favorite part of the museum had to be the Greek/Roman antiquities, including wonderful sculptures of the gods. Here is a few select photos I took. 

Aphrodite, known as Venus de Milo

Athena, goddess of wisdom and strength.

Hermaphorodite Sleeping (Hermes + Aphrodite)

Capital from the Apadana, Palace of Darius I. These capitals composed of 6 rows of 6 columns  to hold the ceiling of a vast chamber called the "Apadana". 

After being their only 2.5 hours, we needed a break and a sanity break from the throngs of crowds with screaming school kids. We decided to leave the Louvre for a break and take the metro (feet burning at this point) up the Champ-Elysees to see the Arc de Triomphe. Of course, like many attractions we have visited in Paris, some construction is underway and obstructs a unobstructed view. 

At least the construction screens are painted to look like the wall!

From here, we slowly walked down the Champ-Elysees back towards the Louvre. We stopped at Starbucks for a latte, stopped at Sephora and witnessed all the employees having a dance off to Michael Jackson's Save the World, and checked out the Grand and Petit Palais.  We made it back to Louvre around 4:30 pm, just before it started to rain. I snapped a few more photos of the area around then Louvre. 

We went back inside hoping this would have lightened up in the density of people....nope! We went back to the smaller sections including Napoleon's apartments, where there was very few people. We were debating whether to go back to the Greek section and look at things again since we rushed earlier with the crowds, but our feet would have no such involvement in continued torture. So we said good-bye to the gigantic palace called the Louvre and headed to St. Germain area again for some dinner. This area of town has an abundance of ethnic eateries, so we ventured to try some greek Gyros. 

What's better than a pita, gyro meat, yogurt sauce, and french fries!!

He he. He always gets the photos of the first bite!

And to finish off the night, crepes of course!!

I tried Crepe Nutella banana! Delish!

Our day was over with at this point, as walking any further would have continue to eat away at our already blistered feet. I guess the benefit of the walking, we haven't gained any weight from the crepes!

And a sneak peak for Day 6:

1 comment:

Cindy said...

it has always been my dream to go to paris. it looks like you are having the trip of my dreams!! lol. beautiful photos and that nutella banana crepe looks fabulous....