Thursday, August 4, 2011

The End

I'm back stateside now, and I'm afraid I'm not even going to try and play catch up with all the things we did. Normandy was lovely, as was Strasbourg, but I spent so much of it in a Tylenol induced haze that I don't think what I can recall is really any good.

I'd like to thank anyone who was reading this and stuck with me through the 20 days I managed to post. I feel a bit sad that I didn't complete all of them, but circumstances being what they were, the blog wasn't at the top of my list (Hint, the Top was pretty much not dying while chasing after my professor).

Nonetheless, thank you, people of the internet, and happy travels.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Days 15, 16, 17 and 18: Sick Time Catch Up

I am only just beginning to recover from a brush up with something which may or may not have been the plague, which is why this post is going to be a whole bunch of days all mushed together.

Day 15 was Bastille Day in Paris, their 4th of July (or 5 de Julio for my Venezuelans out there). The original plan was to go early and get a stop by the parade. However, apparently there was no way we could ever be early enough, and by the time we got there things were already pretty full and uncomfortable. A couple of people stayed in line but 3 of us decided to go out an go hunting for some breakfast.

Luckily for us, the little cafe that we found also had a TV, that was playing the parade. So we got  alovely, warm, sitting down, hot chocolately view of the parade. But that wasn't the best thing we saw that day. Not even close.

The best thing we saw was this.

That's right. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. A whole day before it came out too. It was spectacular.  We followed that up with a viewing of the Harry Potter Musical and have a very very lovely free day.

Day 16, was not a free day, and the plague was still strong with this one, but we had to go off to a place called Blois, which is just rife with palaces. Apparently it was a ver popular vacation locale for the royalty back in the day, so they jsut built a TON of castles. It was quite lovely, but the best parts of the day had to be the boat race (My team won, despite me, not because of me) and the lovely farmer's market.

I honestly can't say much about Day 17 because I spent most of it in bed, just trying to fight off the plague monster.

And now today, Day 18 was a bit unique because we got to spend the day with Holocaust survivor, Joseph Weismann. He was a sweet old man, who fed us lots of delicious breads and cheeses and I'm pretty sure was having a great time getting half the class drunk on French wine. It was a little nerve-wracking because a friend of mine had written a speech for when we were going to present a medallion to him, but a) the medallion never came and b) it turns out I was supposed to translate and say the speech in french.

My Hero

With some help from the professor, we managed to get a workable translation, and in the end my presentation was well received, even thought I currently sound like I like to smoke 20 cigarettes a day and follow it up with a shot of sandpaper.

We leave for Normandy tomorrow, so posts may become exceedingly erratic, well... more so since the plague isn't quite gone yet, but I'm trying to ignore that.

Expecting a visit from this charming gent soon.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Days 13 and 14: Free Days

Day 13 was like this, but with more laundry.

Day 14 was like this but with more Tylenol.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Day 12: Free Day 2

After the crazy marathon which is Study Abroad Boot Camp, it's nice to be able to lean back and just relax for a while. Today, a few classmates and I decided to go to the giant underground mall, Les Halles. Not being much of a shopper I just ambled about, but the real highlight was when we all went and just sat in front of the Centre Pompidou and just watched the street performers for hours. We ended up seeing:

  • A group of girls playing chinese music on a violin and some instruments I couldn't recognize
  • A man playing one of those huge yodeling horns
  • A Unicycler
  • Tap Dancers
  • Capoeira Dancers
  • A man doing crystal juggling (yes, like in Labyrinth)
  • and Pigeons

OH And most importantly, MORE SPACE INVADERS

Whoops, not a Space Invader

There we are!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Day 11: Free Day

Yeah, that's pretty much what we did today. That and sleep. It was awesome.

Days 9 and 10: Museum Madness

The Paris Museum Pass has been on of the saving graces of this trip, pricewise. For a fraction of the cost it would take to visit the monuments individually, we've been able to just waltz in to most places. The only downside of this pass is that is has caused the most evil of 6 day marathons through Paris. See, the museum pass works with consecutive days, for 2, 4 or 6 days. We got the 6 day pass and the last 6 days have been utter madness.

Between Versailles and the Arc de Triumph we were already tired, but the last two days were the days that we actually ended up going to the MUSEUMS and despite the distinct lack of many stairs, the amount of walking was monumental.

We started with the Louvre, or at least, we wanted to start with the Louvre, but it turns out it was closed for the morning and would be opening later in the day, so we set to wandering around the gardens of the Tullierie, watching the statues and ending up at the Orangerie, a museum where they have a display of Monet's water lilies. Once again, the Museum Pass saves the day!
Gardens and Statues, oh yeah.
After that we went to the Musee du Quai Branly, or the museum that very few people have ever heard of. It concerns itself mostly with aboriginal art and is quite lovely, but I had to do a presentation on it, so I might be a bit biased.
Also found another Space Invader, which is yes!
After that we finally arrived at the Louvre, which was as expected, very large, very full and wall to wall old paintings. It was rather interesting since our professor was giving u explanations, but it turns out that we needed to pay extra for that. We almost got kicked out right after the end of our lecture.
Monsieur Sassy-hat wouldn't have kicked us out!
All this was one day. The NEXT day we went to the Musee D'Orsay and the Pompidou Center, completing our 2 day romp through art history. The day was generally more uneventful, with the Orsay being under construction, and neither museum allowing us to lecture inside. The professor had to run around and do the lecture 3 times in small groups.
But on the plus side, MORE SPACE INVADERS!
The Pompidou Center was nice, though it didn't have any Magrittes, which I  was hoping for. The view was great though and then afterwards we all sat outside and watched a mime for about an hour. A nice relaxing ending to a frantic week.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Day 8: War

As you walk around Paris you notice that there are a million and one monuments to war. Wars won, wars lost, people who died in wars, people who planned wars. There are statues and arches and streets named after people and dates and battles. Before the Napoleonic age and Napoleon's crushing defeat at Waterloo, France was considered a huge power. They waged war as if it were going out of style, and the whole city still seems to live in it, in a perpetual war memorial.

Of course you also have literal war memorials like the two monuments we saw today, Les Invalids, both Napoleon's resting place and a museum dedicated to warfare from the middle ages all the way up to WWII, and The Arc De Triumph, a monument dedicated to Napoleon and his victories.

But you meet the Parisian people, and so far, i haven't found any that seem particularly warfaring (well there was that one waiter, but he might have just been having a bad day), but do they realize that they're living surrounded by reminders of the war? Is this something that they carry around all the time, and I'm just late to the party?

Bust of Liberty from the Arc De Triumph.  Doesn't she just