Musée du Louvre

September 9, 2011 § 2 Comments

P1000301

One of the things you just have to do while in Paris is visit the Louvre Museum. Originally built as a fortress and palace for Phillip II hundreds of years ago, the Louvre has seen many changes, additions of wings, and the like, and now the Louvre is enormous and beautiful. Some say you could live in Paris for a month, visiting the Louvre regularly, and still not see everything in the museum.

P1000293
We managed to visit the outside of the Louvre the day before we set out to explore the inside. We took a stroll through Jardin des Tuileries, the park that leads up to the museum. It was a gorgeous day and the sunbathers were taking advantage of the reclining chairs by the fountain.

P1000295
It was surreal to walk and walk and see the enormous museum forming in the distance.

P1000297
A couple taking their wedding photos in front of the arch.

P1000300
Once we passed under this archway, we crossed a road that runs through the museum and arrived in front of the Louvre.

P1000308
People just seem to plant themselves in front of the Louvre, sitting on the sides of the fountains, and hang out for hours.

P1000303

P1000306

The next morning, we woke up early and arrived 10 minutes before the museum opened. There was already a massive line, but since we bought our tickets in advance online, we got to wait in the much shorter one.

P1000381
As soon as we were let in, everyone headed straight to the Grande Galerie. It’s by far the most popular and most crowded part of the museum, housing all the famous Italian and Renaissance paintings as well as the most famous painting in the world…

P1000382

P1000385

The Mona Lisa is kept behind temperature-controlled glass, a wooden barrier, and a rope to keep the crowds away from the barrier. It’s also much smaller than you’d think! Either way, I couldn’t believe I was actually looking at the original Mona Lisa.

P1000387

After getting to the front of the crowd and snapping some photos, we let everyone else have their turns and explored the rest of the gorgeous space.

P1000389

So many works of art! Some so big, I don’t understand how they were painted!

P1000390

P1000394

P1000395

So much religious imagery. I wish I could tell you the names and artists of all the paintings, but I I’d have to make them up.

P1000405

P1000408

So much detail in everything at the Louvre.

P1000413

P1000409
Nick beside paintings about the same size as a studio apartment in NYC.

P1000410

P1000424
Who doesn’t enjoy a cabinet full of mummified animals?

P1000422

And their former owner.

P1000429

P1000430

Venus de Milo

P1000433

We took a break in the cafeteria after putting in a few hours. It felt like Ikea.

P1000435

Then watched some more (by which I mean several hundred) people enter the museum down the stairs under the glass pyramid.

P1000436

We headed back to the Grande Galerie when we realized we forgot about Da Vinci’s other paintings.

P1000438

P1000437

He looks like he was a cool guy.

P1000444

This is what the Louvre originally looked like:

P1000440

Of course we had to find the inverse pyramid, because according to Dan Brown, the holy grail is buried underneath it. Apparently it’s also where you leave your kids to play while you visit the Starbucks and Apple Store in the museum.

P1000446

P1000448

We spent about 4 hours walking around the museum. We did not see all of it, but we were happy with what we saw. A word of advice for those who will visit Paris: don’t walk down the Eiffel Tower the night before you plan to walk around the Louvre for an entire day. Your legs won’t thank you ;)

Still more Paris to come!

The Eiffel Tower

September 8, 2011 § 3 Comments

P1000318

What better way to begin my coverage of Paris than with the Eiffel Tower?

Nick and I headed there the second night of our stay just before sunset. I couldn’t have thought of a more perfect time to view the whole city from above.

P1000315

There were huge lines at all four legs of the tower to purchase tickets to ride up. We picked the “Plier Est” or Eastern leg and waited the long long wait to buy our tickets and then to ride the elevator up.

We couldn’t go to the very top because it was too full already, but we rode to the 2e etage (or 2nd level) which was high enough for us!

P1000321
The view from the elevator going up

P1000328
P1000332
Looking North

P1000335
Looking down on Champs de Mars, the park beside the tower

P1000338

P1000340

P1000347
The Seine River

P1000348
The deck of the 2nd level was packed. I don’t know if sunset is just a very popular time to visit the tower, or if it’s always busy. I’m guessing the latter

P1000350
The restaurant inside the tower – apparently it’s very expensive and requires reservations months in advance!

P1000351
The people below us look like ants!

P1000353
The metal that makes up the tower looks beautiful and interesting at night, when it’s lit up by very strong spotlights.

What no one tells you when you go up the Eiffel Tower is that you have to walk back down! I didn’t get as dizzy as I thought I would, but my calves were aching for days afterwards.

P1000356
Happy to be on the ground again

P1000379
A pretty carousel across from the Eiffel Tower

P1000367
Just as we turned around and were about to conclude our visit to the tower, it lit up and started to sparkle! Then of course we had to stay and take many many more photos.

P1000371

P1000370

Although we had to deal with many pushy tourists from all over the world and one of the longest lines we faced all week, visiting the Eiffel Tower was definitely a highlight of our trip. How could I refuse the photo ops?

Stay tuned for much more Paris!

London

September 7, 2011 § 3 Comments

Nick and I spent a total of four days in London during our European vacation. We arrived at our gorgeous hotel, the Mayfair, late Thursday night, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

P1000136

Then we had a late dinner downstairs in the lounge and that did us in – we were ready for sleep by the time we were finished! I had sweet dreams of the chicken curry and Peroni I inhaled.

By the next morning, we were on London time. We set out to get lunch and walk around Piccadilly Circus and SoHo (yes, London has one too) and took in the sights.

P1000154

P1000138

P1000139

P1000157

We were rained on four or five separate times, and during a particularly heavy rainfall, we took shelter in a tea shop.

P1000162

Scones with cream and jam and assorted pastries – highly recommended!

Someone told us Michael Caine owned a restaurant just a few blocks from our hotel so naturally, we had to investigate, just incase he was hanging out there.

P1000165

(He wasn’t, but his artwork was.)

Saturday, we met Nick’s friend Stella who works for Roadrunner Records for brunch. I told her I wanted to go somewhere very British and she took us to a pub she frequented for some real English fare.

P1000169

We all got the vegetarian version of an English breakfast and Stella and I made sure to drink a pint with ours. When in Rome!

Of course after drinking a pint, I couldn’t walk around Islington for long without having to take a pee break. We found ourselves at a quaint spot called The Winchester. (Note: Stella tells me this may very well have been the place Edgar Wright named the pub after in Shaun of the Dead!)

P1000170

P1000173

This is what the backs of the chairs look like at the Winchester!

We took a bus back to our hotel from Islington instead of the tube, mostly because I wanted to ride a double decker bus, but also for the opportunity for an above ground tour of the city.

P1000190

P1000195

P1000201

P1000181

It amazed me how many people were on the street in Piccadilly Circus. It felt just like I was walking down Broadway in Noho/Soho in New York.

P1000203

Although I found it strangely difficult to find a restaurant with a good beer selection, I did find that Stella Artois tastes better in London, especially when paired with fish & chips.

P1000204

Next up – Paris!

Reading Festival

September 6, 2011 § 1 Comment

P1000206

I’m back home in Brooklyn after a wonderful 10-day vacation in Europe. I’m still getting used to being back in my regular time zone though – all I could do to stay awake until almost 9:00 last night was to edit my 400+ photos of our time in London and Paris. I’ve decided rather than bombard you with photos all at once, I would break it up a little by theme.

So let’s talk about the Reading Festival. If you’re anything like me, you have never been to a European music festival, but you’ve watched them on TV since you were 14. You’ve imagined what it would be like to camp out and spend three days straight in the mud, not worrying all that much about hygiene and seeing all the hottest bands of the year. I won’t even pretend that we camped out (we’re too old for that now), but we pulled on our rubber boots, saw a lot of people dressed as animals, and met some festival veterans, one of whom gave me a wristband that provided me with free prosecco all day. (Prosecco at a music festival! Unheard of.)

P1000229

P1000223

We saw Frank Turner play

P1000221

He had complete control over the crowd – they went crazy for him!

P1000222

P1000233

My Reading Festival outfit

P1000234

This guy’s Reading Festival outfit

P1000230

More interesting outfits

P1000236

P1000241

Death From Above 1979

P1000238

More wellies

We were also lucky enough to hear Frank Turner covering Nick’s favourite Queen song “Somebody To Love” and I managed to film some of it! As soon as I figure out how to take the video off of my camera, I’ll post that as well as a video of Frank dousing himself with Veuve Clicquot after the show.

More European coverage to come!

Paris, day 5

September 2, 2011 § Leave a comment

As our Paris vacation comes to a close, we have started to slow down. We have been all over the city on both sides of the Seine and have seen almost everything we wanted to, so we are now focusing on the vacation part of our trip and spending most of our time relaxing and eating.

I think Paris has finally convinced me that coffee is something worth drinking every day, or at the very least in the company of a delicious crepe!

Where Am I?

You are currently viewing the archives for September, 2011 at I want to go to there.