September 9, 2011 § 2 Comments
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
So many works of art! Some so big, I don’t understand how they were painted!
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.
So much detail in everything at the Louvre.
And their former owner.
Venus de Milo
We took a break in the cafeteria after putting in a few hours. It felt like Ikea.
Then watched some more (by which I mean several hundred) people enter the museum down the stairs under the glass pyramid.
We headed back to the Grande Galerie when we realized we forgot about Da Vinci’s other paintings.
He looks like he was a cool guy.
This is what the Louvre originally looked like:
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.
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!
September 8, 2011 § 3 Comments
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
We were rained on four or five separate times, and during a particularly heavy rainfall, we took shelter in a tea shop.
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.
(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.
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!)
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.
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.
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.
Next up – Paris!
September 6, 2011 § 1 Comment
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.)
We saw Frank Turner play
He had complete control over the crowd – they went crazy for him!
My Reading Festival outfit
This guy’s Reading Festival outfit
More interesting outfits
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!
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!