Thursday, June 26, 2008

Day 136. Chrissy and Anna arrive

I am excited. My dear travel companion, Chrissy, is coming to join me for 3 days in Paris. I have the added bonus that Anna is also coming, as the first of the many trips she plans to take during her year off school. I went to Paris early to buy tickets for the Louvre, and then wandered along the Seine and through the streets waiting for their arrival at noon. Feeling that I was the advance reconnaissance I went to Montmartre and discovered the beautiful church of Sacre Cour, atop a small hill that offers a beautiful look of Paris.

So here they are, the perfect European tourists, ready to plunge into the world of the Louvre. Ah, the Louvre! What can I tell you that you don’t already know? It is a magnificent collection of art, and a half day is barely enough to scratch the surface. They have a large collection of statuary art from antiquity, which I believe should be returned to its places of origin (my soap box about the right of countries to host their own antiquities). Still, I confess that I stared in awe at the Nike of Samotrace, and at this puzzling statuette, where the artist managed to create in marble a transparent veil over the face of this woman. Wow, I never realized anyone could do this.

The collection of paintings is breathtaking, and in this instance I believe the museum is the best place for pieces that would otherwise be in personal collections. But there is only so many paintings you can take in one go, so I decided to concentrate on interesting faces, wondering what “spirit” was being represented by each of them. I found that children and old people have the most interesting expressions, and that the pretty women of the XV to XVIII centuries all look alike. The good news is that the Louvre allows photos without flash (not that anyone but me respects the no-flash rule); the bad news is that the light is poor for the highly varnished surface of most paintings, so the examples shown here are all slightly distorted because I had to take them at an angle to avoid reflections.

We took a brief break in between all this culture (very civilized of the French to have a small café in one of the terraces of the museum), but Chrissy kept us at it until 6 pm, at which point Anna was ready to revolt. After leaving the museum we went for a walk in Isle-de-la-Cite, stared in awe at Notre Dame, passed into Isle St. Louis, one of the most exclusive neighborhoods of Paris, and finally dragged ourselves back to Villemomble with the metro and regional train.

Samir had to work until late, so he was not at home, but he had left all sorts of food for us to prepare, which we did while listening to the match between Germany and Turkey, which Germany won in the last minute by 3 to 2. Cool, we get to see Germany play in the final when I am in Frankfurt next Sunday.

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