Thursday, June 27, 2013

Paris, Part Deux

Today was a long, yet simple, day.
We returned to the Louvre and this time actually went inside.











And we all know by now how much of a fan I am of da Vinci.

So naturally a visit to the Mona Lisa was in order.
However the crowd there was so large and the painting so small, that one was barely able to do more than squeeze to the front, snap a photo or two, then leave.
That took away fron the essence of the viewing somewhat, but at least I made it.



There were a few other famous pieces to visit as well.



I thought it would be interesting to do a study of people looking at the artworks.

But it looks like I had been beaten to it long ago.

Of course the building itself was just as must of an exhibit as the works on display.





Once we had finally had enough (but by no means had seen all that there was to see) and recovered with a late lunch, we stopped by the Moulin Rouge for a quick photo.

I think that I should be hired to take photos for postcards, don't you? Although my pictures are nowhere near fantastic, they're still better than the ones sold at the tourist stores. Oh well, I think that I'll try some of the local book stalls along the river tomorrow morning. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Paris, Part Un

Mom and I finally made it to Paris yesterday morning. We were a bit too exhausted to actually do anything however, as sleeper trains don't exactly live up to their name. So we stopped off at the flat of one of Mom's friends where we will be staying during our time in Paris, then took a bit of a walk along the edge of the River Seine.
Then the rest of the day was spent catching up on emails and sleep.
Today was considerably more productive.
It started with a quick photo op at the Louvre.



 We didn't actually go inside as we were saving that for tomorrow. Today was just a self guided sightseeing walking tour.
And next on our list was the Arc de Triomphe.


Walking around Paris is facinating because, similar to Venezia (though on a much, much larger scale), there is just a wealth of historical architecture, statues, and details everywhere.







Taking a break from our sightseeing escapade, we stopped for a quick lunch. This was followed by a trip to a bakery for my first macaron ever!

Then we were off again, now to Notre Dome (and I could not get the music from a certain Disney song out of my head).





Feeling rather spent, it was then back to the flat again to recharge with some more treats (tiramisu, flan, and coffee).
 

Then I went off to try my hand at some Paris shopping. Considering that I am not much of an avid shopper to begin with, stepping into the Ch√Ętelet Les Halls during Soldies (a giant sale that takes place over the entire city for one week twice a year) was rather overwhelming. 
Feeling rather dazed, I didn't actually buy anything. But I did keep in mind a few places that I may return to tomorrow now that I know what to expect.
Afterall, I can't say that I visited the fashion capitol of the world without buying something.

Because the Ch√Ętelet Les Halls was entirely underground, I left for a bit of fresh air and art gazing.




Why yes, those are original Dali sketches and a map of the world from 1740.

At some point I stumbled upon the Eiffel Tower. It was a bit smaller than I had expected.

Oh just kidding.



Monday, June 24, 2013

Venezia

Whenever I visit a new city, I judge it based on a very simple scale: If I don't want to visit again, if I do want to visit again, if I can ever see myself living there for an extended period of time. In the case of Venezia (Venice, for those of you back home) this scale may not be entirely fair. I know that I will never want to live here, but that does not mean that I do not love the city. The main, glaring problem is the number of tourists (I am choosing to ignore the obvious irony here), they drove me crazy after only a couple of days so I can't imagine what it would be like to live there.

Luckly I was able to wander away from the main tourist routes and appreciate the amazing historical beauty of the place. Of course, it should be no surprise that any city where the main form of transportation is by boat (even the busses) is going to be my kind of city.

I think that for Venezia, the photos will be able to speak for themselves:


























I loved how the city was simply a maze of canals and alleyways. I even attempted to get lost a couple of times but never once hit a dead end. And everywhere you looked there were hidden little details.










I was so content with simply walking around (practically surviving off of only gelato), that I didn't get involved in too many tourist activities. I did have to stop inside a Leonardo da Vinci exhibition which displayed some models of his mechanical designs.


And once I took a bus over to the island Lido, which was where the only public swimming beach was located. However, it seemed like everyone else in the entire country had the same idea.


Another time I was wandering around when I heard some activity in a nearby university courtyard. Imagine my surprise when I stuck my head in to discover this:

It was a public art display attempting to raise awareness for the oceanic garbage patches. As an oceanographer attempting to research the very same thing, I wanted to thank the artist for his work in the field. He was nowhere to be found however as he was off preparing for a presentation, and I believe that he only spoke Italian anyway. I did get a free tote bag however. Although I believe that it helped me blend in with the locals a little too well, for when I used it later in the day more than one person came up to me asking for directions in Italian.

The bus also went to the island of Murano, famous for its glassmaking artists.




Now what I am really excited for is a chance to return to Venezia during Carnivale. I mean look at these:





There were masks and costumes everywhere. Both the cheap tourist oriented ones, and the more elaborate handmade designs. I resisted buying one simply because I knew that if I did not have one, that would be all the more motivation to return for the celebrations someday.

I'm almost a bit sad to be leaving Venezia. I could honestly spend a couple more days simply wandering around the alleys and admiring the waterways. But next on the list is Paris, and that is certainly something to get excited about!

Farewell Italy, until next time, e gratzi.