04 July 2008

day 5: montmarte et opéra garnier

Mood: Adventurous (Also not as sinus-y in case you were wondering)

Finally: Montmarte! We gathered at 9AM outside of Monaco house (our dormitory building).
Took the tram for then hopped onto the 14 (I think) to the stop Place de Clichy. We met our tour guide, whose name I have absolutely just blanked on (even though I made a mental note of it this morning so I could write it down later...), in front of the Moulin Rouge. The tour was amazingly informative. Last time I was at Montmarte, we just stuck to the steps of Sacre Coeur, ate, watched the sunset, then watched the street performers. I knew that Montmarte was the center of the bohemian life back in its artistic heyday home to (at one time or another) Lautrec, Renoir, Picasso, and Van Gogh... I just never never knew exactly where they used to live. I confined my last visit to the steps and the shops at the top of the hill with the best view.

This time around, with our tour guide, we were able to see a great number of places I would never have spotted if a seasoned guide hadn't pointed things out. Let's see if I can't give you an abridged virtual version guide of Montmarte...

Moulin Rouge

The Cafe from Amelie

Van Gogh's apartment

My attempt (short arms and all) to capture a glimpse of the view that inspired Van Gogh.

The Wall of "I Love Yous" -- and our tour guide!

The Market from Amelie

The Man in the Wall | Jonah and his cracker and Professor Herbst

People taking pictures of St. Denis statue

Meet the MMW 4 Summer 2008 Global Seminars Group! (Or at least most of us)
The tour guide is telling us about the vineyards you see on the top of the picture.

A nice view mid-way through the tour.

A garden where the artists used to paint?

The lovely Sacre Coeur. Or at least part of it. I wish I had a wide angle lens for this type of thing!

After the tour we split up into groups for free time. The group I was with decided to tour the inside of the Sacre Coeur (which I also have never been inside). It was very...grand inside. The "ring of light" that the dome makes (as viewed from indoors) really reminds me of the Hagia Sophia (and makes me wish I could see it!). Afterwards we walked around, looking for food, looking at the shops. I got a nutella banana crepe and I must say I was a little underwhelmed for the 4€ I had to fork over for it. The Latin District creperies are more generous with their toppings...

We kept wandering down the hill, backtracking through tour guide's route. I also enjoyed the tour for another reason: it allowed me to become more familiar with Montmarte as an entire area and not just Sacre Coeur. I feel more familiar with it and have developed a more detailed cognitive map. Hopefully if I go back / return again I'll kind of know my way around!

Artists and cafes of Montmarte

After that we kept walking down and ended up going to the Montmarte Cemetery that was quite eerie. We didn't actually walk through all the tombs, but apparently Edgar Degas and Emilie Zora are buried there. (Or at least Zora before he was upgraded to the Pantheon.) We then walked along the street that the Moulin Rouge is on--yes, the one strewn with sex shops and advertisements for peep shows. It all seemed rather benign despite their tacky neon lights and ...explicit choice of words. (I guess because I've walked through the Red Light District Before.) Also, one certainly gets a different impression of the area when strolling through it at 3 PM in the afternoon.

Anyway walking down most of the strip, we decided to see the old Opera house (Opéra Garnier, Palais Garnier, all the same). So we hopped on the metro (I am still not over how damn cool the metro is...I love it! I love good public transportation!!) and made our way there. It's really just a pretty building so we walked around it and then decided to head back because we were just so tired. All in a day, eh?

I'm not sure what I'm going to do with my entire day of free time tomorrow but I hope it involves me just wandering around the city. I really want to just hop on the tram or the metro and just ride randomly then pop up to see where I am. I should also check WikiTravel for some recommendations... I think I'm going to try to go the Orange Museum with Vicky and possibly the Eiffel Tour with her too because she's never been there before. Until next time ...

Bon nuit!

P.S. I'm going to have to get another shot of Sacre Coeur by late afternoon light and another one by evening because we didn't stay long enough this time...

03 July 2008

day 4: islamic world, musée des arts asiatiques, lebanese food

Mood: Even Less Sinus-y!

I slept relatively well last night, but probably at my roommate's expense. There was a period of intense nose blowing in the middle of the night... Sorry, Rucha. :( Today in class we covered the Islamic World (which by the way, I did all the reading for, thanks very much.) I find our classes (since they've only been three hours) tolerable with the breaks that we get and even enjoyable with the site pairings. More importantly, the last lecture is still fresh in my mind (at least for MMW) and that makes connecting cultural interactions easier, more logical.

Afterwards, I made a baguette-brie-salami sandwich for lunch and finished up some more readings. At 1PM we assembled to travel by metro to Musée National des Arts-Guimet. There aren't really words for this so here are some pictures and some captions! I actually had a great time (despite being tired from post-lunch lethargy) and the fact that I am not usually enthralled by Asian art as I am usually forced to see it in the form of many, many vases. And/or horse statues.

A few notes: I particularly enjoyed the different statues of Buddha. It was interesting to see the continuity and the differences between cultures whether they were geographically close or not. I particularly enjoyed the statues of Buddha from Afghanistan where he is depicted with a charming little mustache. :) I also found the Chinese landscape paintings (even though I didn't really pay attention to most of the dates because most of them looked like they were from the Qing time) intriguing. Probably because I took a class on the history of the People's Republic of China and how vastly different the propagandistic art of that time differed from the centuries of pro-landscape precedent. Anyway there are a lot of really neat photos that I had to leave out but they're in my photo album so please feel free to check those out if you're curious. :)


Photobucketshiva the lord of dance

brahmaangry shiva holding head

nice shiva!Photobucket

And, just because I like this picture: A shot of the window and clouds from the fifth floor of the museum. I like it because it could almost be the backdrop to a René Magritte painting. :)

Next on our agenda was a quick visit to Buddhist Pantheon which was conveniently closed. Here's the picture we got of it. (By the way, that's Christine in the picture, laughing at our luck.) And yes, that's the Buddhist Pantheon behind the bars. And two cautionary signs.


So we trekked to the Arc de Triomphe (very close by) and arranged to meet in 90 minutes. The group I was with walked down the Champs-Élysées all the way to the Obelisk. (Stopped by at the Grand Palace to take a break first.)

Slightly obscured by the seats set up for Tour de France (maybe?!)

After we all met up again we walked to our restaurant--Lebanese food! The pictures tell it all.

The first course: dips (with pita bread)

Second course: Chicken in pita!


Dessert: Assorted pastries

Tomorrow: MONTMARTE! Prepare yourselves for some (hopefully) stunning sunset and Sacré-Cœur by late afternoon and evening shots!

P.S. Thanks so much for your comments! I was pleasantly surprised to see multiple notifications (more than zero hehe) in my e-mail. :) I'm glad I asked for comments because I had no idea anyone besides friends and family were reading. Also, Mollie, yes I have met Jonah! He is such a sweetheart and has already started practicing his French--very impressive, hehe.

02 July 2008

day 3

Mood: Less Sinus-y

Woke up dreadfully sinus-y at 6:30 A.M. but the sinuses have cleared up gradually since then thanks to two of Rucha's allergy pills and (later, around 4pm) an Allegra. Hopefully I'll make it through the night without too much congestion but we'll see...Breakfast was good, predictable.

Our schedule for today was just class and a French lesson from Christine (Our coordinator). We managed to make it through the class today (in which we covered the Song Dynasty & the Mongols; the feature presentation of tomorrow's excursion) but after class I trekked, with a group of people, to the larger supermarket (Champion) to stock up on some food. I got some salami, some fruits (deux peches et deux poires) as well as a little snack. (Cheese covered crackers?) I was so tempted to buy Nutella but I knew I should restrain myself... Anyway we got back and I prepared lunch (a classic! brie + baguette + salami = yum.) After that, I decided it'd be a good idea to take a 30 minute siesta...it turned into a 2 hour nap. (That means I missed Christine's lesson. Also I didn't pick up my €2.) I was woken up by Zak who said he was about to explore the right bank and I decided to tag along (If I hadn't I'm sure I would have kept sleeping!)

It was great. :) We stopped at the stop Chatelet-Les Halles and walked through the H&M. (Which by the way was super hot, despite today's showers / cooler weather.) Everything is "Soldes!" 50% to 70% off! It was pretty exciting. We exited the H&M and walked along the streets and found our way to the Georges Pompidou Center (definitely my favorite modern building in Paris--I LOVE IT!)

We spotted lots of small shops along the way and lots of small eateries. As we continued to wander, we came upon the Notre Dame--with no scaffolding! Looking quite clean. Notre Dame is near the part of the Latin Quarter with the good Pita Grec so we stopped by to grab some dinner, but not before walking by the Palace of Justice and some other neat buildings. Sat on a bench to devour our lovely, tasty, sinfully delectable Pita Grec. (Avec the frites inside too! Yum...)

After that we walked back to Les Halles to do some shopping at H&M before hopping on the RER-B back to CiUP. Some pretty successful exploration. I haven't got a proper cognitive map of the Right Bank in my head yet, but I'm slowly filling in the holes. I'm confident I could navigate it, I just don't know how long it'd take, as I don't know all the smaller alley ways / routes. (They all look similar thus far, no matter how I try to spot the landmarks.) Anyway demain we are going to the Asian Museum so look forward to a post and possibly some pictures from there. I'm off to finish some reading. À bientôt!

P.S. I have several bug bites. They all are quite swollen. I'm not particularly alarmed because I've had much worse cases of being mosquito bait in Taiwan. All the same, they're still slightly painful.

P.P.S. Please note that I have a link to my complete photo album on the column to the right of the blog entries. Access does require a password so make sure you read that. (I won't hold you in suspense--it's bonjour.) Very creative, I know. :)

P.P.P.S. If you read or skim this at all, leave a comment or some feedback so I know I'm not just talking to myself! Thanks.

01 July 2008

day 2

Mood: Refreshed
First things first: Happy France-Assumes-EU-Rotating-Presidency Day. I missed the celebratory light show on the Eiffel Tower but I don't think I missed much. (I watched it on YouTube because I thought I had missed something spectacular.)

But anyway, all those naps I had yesterday didn't help me get over my jet lag. I woke up this morning at 5:30 A.M. and tossed and turned in bed trying to get back to sleep but eventually climbed out of bed at 6:00 A.M. I bummed around and dabbled in some reading until about 7:45 A.M. when I met up with some friends for some petit déjeuner. I grabbed un croissant, yaourt de fraise, un petit bouteille d'eau, et deux poires. Yum. After that we had orientation which consisted of some cultural tips from Christine and a "how to use the metro" lesson. We were issued our Residency Cards and proceeded to sit around until class time.

And then we had class. We covered St. Denis, St. Geneviève, and Clovis to kick off our ERC 103 course. The sites we visited this afternoon were the Panthéon (I hope whoever is reading this appreciates all the accents I'm taking care to insert via copy paste! hehe.) and the church Église Saint-Étienne du MontParis. The Panthéon had some great murals but mostly it was just an impressive building on its own with high ceilings and leaping domes. I was intrigued to see a Focault Pendulum, primarily because I had seen one a week ago at the San Diego Museum of Natural History and was eager to show off my knowledge. (Something I rarely get to do around the braniacs and Wiki-philes that I hang out with.) In any case, I'm not sure what the significance of the pendulum was, but I thought it was interesting.

Then, of course, there were the crypts.
I got a picture of Pierre & Marie Curie's tombs. I felt a little bit intrusive as I walked around the tombs, I have to admit, especially the empty ones... A tad eerie, despite the neat little museum piece descriptions for each significant French man (or woman, or sometimes not even technically French). We visited what was Clovis' tribute to St. Geneviève, an abbey dedicated to her.

It's now a church known as Église Saint-Étienne du Mont and sports the stone that was on her coffin and a few relevant relics. The neatest architectural aspect of the church was probably the spiral staircases, mostly because spiral staircases are nifty. I have to admit, I was starting to feel tired again after this...

After the planned event we had 90 minutes of free time. I was hanging out with Andy, Aria, Vicky, and Zak. We sort of wandered around at first, mostly in search of water and a place to rest from the hot hot heat. We walked through the Luxembourg garden and rested a bit on a park bench. (I fell asleep for a bit.)

Aria finally caved to his thirst and got a bottle of water. And then Zak caved to his hunger and we piled into the Metro to go one stop down on the RER-B to St Michel-Notre Dame to the eatery part of the Latin Quarter for some Shwarma. Yummmm... I didn't have any (I had some for Lunch.) Shwarma in a pita with some steamy hot french fries wrapped inside--couldn't ask for anything better! Except maybe a Cinnamon crepe which I indulged myself with. Then we stopped by a water fountain, filled up our water bottles, and returned back to the meeting point. We were three minutes late because, coming out of the metro, we made a right turn too early, then we tried to weave our wayarkthrough via a small alley and then ... well I was pretty perplexed but we got out eventually. Our big group then trekked back (yes back to the metro station our small group had just exited...hehe) and headed home.

After that I explored a park and the school campus with Zak. The Grand Lawn at Cité is quite grand indeed! There were so many people just sitting on the lawn having picnics, playing guitar, juggling, playing football (soccer to the Americans), and having a nice time. There's something wonderfully free about being able to wander in a city. Having a month long Metro pass is liberating. I'm a little tired for today but maybe tomorrow or some other free evening, I'm just going to ride the Tram. I wish I was staying here for a whole year so I could become completely immersed in the unique culture that is Paris. Even though I only have five weeks here (relative to spending a year abroad) I think I'm going to make the best of all the free time. I'm going to keep that little phrase book in my pocket and try to expand my meager, meager vocabulary.

On a separate, unrelated note: I'm excited to go to Montmarte!

30 June 2008

day one ... phew

Current Mood: Tired (=cranky!)

After several hours (I think 14 hours + of travel...) running (and sweating) around the CDG airport from ridiculous Terminal 1 to Terminal 2A in search of fellow study abroaders and then waiting for em, and then being hungry and waiting in a bus then getting preliminary information then moving in then getting tours around the area then rushing off to quickly admire the Eiffel Tower then enjoy a boat ride along the Seine (a good 1/3 of which I probably missed due to a spontaneous (and wonderfully refreshing) nap.)

Unfortunately none of this (including the other various naps I had while waiting for people, on the bus, etc. did nothing to cheer me up. We had dinner at a nice place called Cafe du (de?) Commerce and were served a nice (doable) cheese/egg/bacon quiche with a tiny serving of salad, a chicken leg drizzled in barbecue sauce paired with flat noodles, and a burnt flan sort of dessert. I would describe it as an Egg Custard without the pastry surrounding. Then we trekked to the Metro and then to a nice Tram ride and now.. I'm back. I've had a shower, I can relax (I still can't figure out how to work the internet via the Ethernet cable but all is well.) With a group as large as ours, it's rather cumbersome to ride the metro. There's a lot of trodding on feet, squeezing into overflowing metro cars, and flooding the sidewalk with our blob-ness.

I didn't take many pictures today because frankly, I was exhausted. I didn't feel like being super touristy (as tempted as I was to take pictures of my food.) And when I'm exhausted, I don't really know how to handle myself too well without snapping or coming off really really cold. Essentially, the 29 other people on this trip will probably remember me as a thin lipped girl with her arms folded over her chest looking exasperated. Hopefully I will do better tomorrow with a good night's sleep and change that! I intend on sleeping soon. Class begins at 9 AM so I hope to do some reading before I fall asleep tonight.

The walk back to our room.