Not wasting much time in the morning, I ran over to the Louvre to start the day. I bought the 4 day museum pass upon arrival with the assumption that I would need every bit of that time to visit all the museums I hoped to see. After entering the creme de la creme of museums, I booked it to everyone’s favorite girl next door, the Mona Lisa, otherwise known as La Joconde in French. Even with all the hype, she still managed to deliver. I had been told about her slight frame before resting my eyes on her for the first time but I was still surprised to learn that her portrait is a mere 3 by 4 feet at best. (Quick side note: Asians take the most amusing pictures. First off, they do not smile for the camera, apparently due to the culture disapproval of showing one’s own teeth. Anyways, they produce, let’s just say, “unique” poses; they have the Eiffel Tower placed on their palms as if on a pedestal and the Louvre pyramid hanging by their fingertips. I have no idea where I am going with this but there it is for your amusement or disapproval.) The Louvre is extremely overwhelming but an absolute must when seeing Paris. I never thought I would have such a great appreciation for art but oftentimes I found myself staring intently at a painting wondering what the people in the scene were thinking and what story the artist was trying to tell with each stroke of his or her brush. To be honest, the museum was quite intimidating to walk through at first with far too much to see and ponder within one day’s visit. But in the limited time I had within its famed walls I got to Venus de Milo, The Wedding at Cana, Code of Hammurabi (the Babylonian law code from ancient Mesopotamia), Psyche Revived By the Kiss of Love, and Liberty Leading the People (the stunning masterpiece depicting the French Revolution). The next stop on the museum itinerary turned out to be Musee de l’Orangerie, which is home to Monet’s Water Lilies, known as Nympheas. At first glance, I had no idea what I was looking at and was thoroughly unimpressed and regretting wasting my time around this artwork. What the heck is the big hoopla about this impressionist art? Well I will tell you to look once more and you will get lost in the depth of the art. What puzzled me moments ago led me to that feeling as a kid when you are lying down on a grassy field looking up to the sky and imagining with all your childlike creativity what all those clouds may look like. From here, I made a mad dash to the Concierge and Sainte-Chapelle. The Concierge is where Marie Antoinette stayed in prison awaiting trial before her eventual beheading. Neighboring the Concierge, Sainte-Chapelle is a chapel home to the most biblical scenes I have ever heard of with astounding 1000 plus biblical scenes on its walls, columns, and, most frequently, its stained glass windows. Most amazing of all about this chapel is that it was originally built to house some of Christianity’s most beloved relics such as the Crown of Thorns, which is now held in the Cathedral of Notre Dame but only made public once a month. To try to make the most out of my first day with the pass, I attempted to get into the Pantheon before it closed. I literally sprinted into the subways and out believing I had a chance to make it there on time. Just when I felt that I had gotten comfortable navigating the city I became utterly lost. I finally got in front of the Pantheon but obviously too late to enter. Since I had time to kill before dinner I searched for the Holy Grail of my Paris leg of the trip: an elevated park that runs through the city. After getting confused looks from locals when asking for its whereabouts, I finally uncovered its mystical location. This park called Promenade Plantee is a former railway turned over into a walkway filled with uniquely dyed flowers and small trees all on a 3-mile stretch of land no more than 40 feet wide. Finding treasures like this which no other tourists would discover make a trip for me. Having realized I had seen mostly everything I wanted to visit, I had the aching feeling that I had drastically overpaid for the museum pass. As stupid as it may seem, I was getting anxious over that small matter of money. It is still a struggle but I am putting great effort into letting these worries go by the wayside because all that anguish and frustration is not worth it and can only make me go bonkers. To soothe the spirit and mind, I capped off the night by enjoying a mouthwatering and delectable gelato from Berthillon composed of fresh mango and strawberry. That gelato would settle anyone’s nerves! In the back of my mind, I feel like I am cheating on my long-distant lover Giolitti’s in Rome (home to the best gelato known to man!). (Final side note for the day: I can’t believe how few people are wearing shorts or khaki shorts, for that matter. I may look touristy but I’ll pass on jeans in blistering 85 to 90 degree heat.) Despite an all too enticing slumber awaiting me after a marathon day, I need to finally take that long ignored shower before I change my mind again, haha.
Day 7: So What Is So Special About These Museums?