October 21, 2010

Student Blog by Kacey Parks: Paris

 Kacey at Notre Dame
Day 2:
We woke up and decided to go on the free walking tour of Paris. We met in the lobby with a group of twenty or so other students/people near our age and had a meet with our tour guide. His name was Hally (hal-ee) and he was from Canada. He helped us onto the metro as a group, which we had already become pros at doing and we went to the archangel of Saint Michael’s fountain and waited for the tour to get started.
    We walked everywhere, our group stayed with Halley and he showed us Notre Dame, the river, a cursed place where these knights unjustly died, a bridge of faces, we had a brief 2,000 year history of Paris, we saw the outside of the Louvre, the beginning of the Champs Elysees, the obelisk again, After that we continued on and saw the Eiffel tower, and then ended in the Big and Little Palaces.
    We then set off on a journey to go to see the inside of Notre Dame. It was a short metro ride away. It was very dark inside and you would think that when you visit the site where the Hunchback story was set there would be a little more too it. Something I learned about touring is that the famous places aren’t always the best or most beautiful places to see. Sometimes it baffles you to realize why anyone would consider the site you are at the “must see” place of the city. However, the Cathedral was still grand and I wanted to go up to the top but you had to have exact change and only twenty people could go up every ten minutes and there were at least a hundred in line. So I opted to not go and will probably have to return to Paris at least one more time in my life.
    Later set about to go to the famous little white church on the hill that overlooks Paris. This was near the Moulin Rouge and we climbed many stairs to see the city. It is quite a big city Paris and it was nice to see it from afar. This was also the hill were the movie Amelie was filmed which I had happened to see this summer so it was kinda nice to have watched it before going there. We ate at Quik Stop fast food restaurant and had a European burger, which wasn’t too bad, and actual French French fries. Haha.

Paris is a city of the night, it can be dreary during the day if the sun isn’t shining but at night things seem so much more romantic and looking out over the city I had one of those “your up on the Eiffel tower at night” moments it was spectacular. I spent a half hour or so going up there and then went back down where the others were waiting for me. I really enjoyed my experience. 
The following day, we awoke once again to find ourselves in the Saint Christopher’s Youth hostel in Paris. It’s interesting to wake up and find yourself in the City of love. However today was the day we were to depart, that meant gathering our bed sheets and packing our backpacks that would be permanently attached to our backs throughout the entire day. That is a stress in itself as my backpack often is stuff to the brim and sits uncomfortably on my shoulders. Yet we persisted onwards and found ourselves checking out and walking up the road, with a quick stop into a pastierre, which means bakery in French. I bought a croissant for breakfast and a pain de chocolate which is basically a chocolate croissant along with an interesting green glazed cake which turned out to be a sort of strawberry shortcake, not quite as good as I have had in the past but it was still quite good for being French.
    We had also brought Diego, a friend we met at the hostel, because he wanted to see the Louvre with us. As we popped out from the underground metro and after walking a short distance we entered into the Louvre and saw the glass pyramid dome that encased the entrance to the museum. I felt for a moment that I might see Nicholas Cage wandering about or a thief trying to scale through the glass pyramid in search of the Holy Grail (for those of you who have seen the Di Vinci Code.) We had to wait about a half hour to get through security but finally we made it.
    Long story short, the Louvre is huge and the Mona Lisa is small. Since we are young we always consider the Mona Lisa to be a huge amazing portrait. Yet it is just an average size average looking women in a frame, behind bulletproof glass. I have just never seen the appeal to the Mona Lisa; I know that there are books, theories, and studies of the concept behind the masterpiece, which tell us about the genius behind Di Vinci. Yet I was unimpressed, this entire experience has shown me that there are greater more aesthetically pleasing works of art then the famous ones. Yet through all that there is still something to be said when gazing at the Mona Lisa, the fact that I was standing there looking at something that is awe inspiring to so many was a bit surreal.
    There were many other works of art in the museum, including the headless angle, and the armless Greek statue, which is so famous. (Remember in Hercules how Hercules throws a discus and knocks off her arms?) I thought that was cool to see. We walked about seeing the various time periods and artwork, and after about two and a half hours we all agreed it was time to go. I am not a museum person so it was quite a stretch for me to even be in a museum for more then an hour, so I thought I did a fairly decent job of giving the Louvre an overview.
       We boarded our last metro and headed to the Ryan Air bus stop that would take us to our third airplane ride, after Barcelon and Paris - Ciampino Rome. We had about an hour to spare however, and went to a small restaurant and ordered Crème Burlee; We quite enjoyed our Crème Burlee and it was fun sliding our spoons on the top of the custard and listening to the melted sugar top crackle. I had never had crème Burlee before and was very pleased by my first experience.

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