Highlight: Climbing the steps of Notre Dame and taking some amazing pictures
Lowlight: Louvre Medieval exhibit. Down in the sub-basement they have excavated the ruins of a medieval castle that once stood where the Louvre is. But the exhibit involved lots of walking with not much to see and was really boring. Also, the Renaissance Gallery was closed, which was a bummer.
Fun Fact: Victor Hugo wrote the Hunchback of Notre Dame (and Les Miserables) which spurred the revitalization of the Notre Dame Cathedral. At the time it was in bad disrepair and was used to house livestock.
Money spent: €56
Ben Frustration Index(BFI): 0
Pairs of clean underwear left: 8
Book Page: 170
We woke up early this morning – around 7:30. Stuffed ourselves with the free hotel breakfast (an impressive spread of pastries, fruit, cereal, and meat). I leaned heavily on the fruit in an attempt to help regulate things (too much bread and not enough fiber…need I say more?). It doesn’t help that I’ve been dehydrated lately. But the more water I drink the more I need to desperately search out McDonald’s where they don’t charge for toilets.
The first stop today was the Louvre. We should up 20 minutes after it opened, went to the Metro entrance (the 2nd entrance most people are unaware of), and spent less than 5 minutes in line. I was almost disappointed because I brought my book to read. Just before we entered, Ben spotted someone who had TA’d one of our Engineering courses – thereby winning a 1 Euro bet we had going because I was convinced we wouldn’t see anyone from UW. Oh well.
Once in the Louvre, we followed the steady stream of people to the Mona Lisa (by far the biggest attraction). I was disappointed, but not because of the small size – I expected that so it was actually bigger than I thought it would be. I was disappointed because seeing it in person doesn’t make it any grander than seeing it in a book.
I enjoyed looking at the other paintings more. The Louvre is huge and contains art, sculptures, and even antiques. The building itself is amazing and in some rooms the ceilings are breathtaking and very Sistine Chapel-like. My favourite part was waling through the sculpture gardens. In general, I liked the sculptures more than the paintings – more dimensions to observe and it seems impossible to imagine someone actually sculpted it. The paintings are impressive, but there is a physical dimension to the sculptures that speaks to me.
After 3 hours at the Louvre, we bought lunch and ate in the Tuileries – a big formal garden near the Louvre. Afterward, we hiked down to Ile St. Michel and toured the Notre Dame Cathedral. The Cathedral was free to enter and very impressive. We paid 4.80 (student rate) to climb up the bell towers and pretend we were Quasimodo. We waited in line for over an hour for our chance to hunchback it up, but it was well worth the wait and money – and I finally got to read my book. The heights were scary (again it was crazy windy) but the view and photo-ops were priceless.
After Notre Dame we walked to the next island – Ile St. Louis – where Ben had Paris’s best ice cream and I ate Paris’s most mediocre muffin. Then Ben stepped in dog shit and I laughed and took some pictures. We then explored some Paris streets, including Place des Vosges. For dinner, we went to Gard D’Est, had sandwiches at a cafe with a view of the locals lined up at a Salvation Army soup kitchen, and met up with Arzu for wine and cheese at her place. Arzu is lots of fun and I’m glad she became friends with Ben in New York. Wine is so amazingly cheap here – even for really good Bordeaux. Even the bums on the street all walk around with bottles of it – probably cheaper than Windex.