18 November 2005

Meet Amy, your Parisian tour guide

We enjoyed our first guests this week! Dave and Rebecca stayed with us on Wednesday evening before checking in to their hotel. (Rebecca is a fellow musicologist in Colin's program.) I have had an absolute ball showing them around and giving French culture tips! I was also amazed at how well I knew the city when we climbed up the Arch de Triomphe on Wednesday afternoon. I could point out all kinds of landmarks and answer most of Rebecca and Dave's questions! Simply amazing. I got a cute picture of them, as seen to the left. It's only too bad that it was a super-cloudy, cold afternoon.

Fortunately, the weather has been more cooperative since their arrival. It's pretty cold, but sunny and clear. Rebecca and Colin have been in the libraries for the past two days, which left Dave and I to do some exploration on our own. On Thursday, we climbed the tower at Notre Dame, which was nice for me because I was able to go to the very top this time. Plus, it was great to know exactly where to go. There were a bunch of Americans walking all around the spot where you're supposed to form a line, but they didn't understand what to do. So, Dave and I just walked up to the entrance like pros. (As soon as we walked up, there were several "oh's!" and a line quickly formed behind us.) Climbing the stairs was MUCH easier for me this time, which totally rocked. I still had to stop and rest, but mainly because I'm still recovering from a chest cold.

As luck would have it, we went into the main part of Notre Dame during a mass, so we got to hear the organ play. Since it provided interesting background music, I shot and added two videos of Notre Dame to my video website (the link is under Extras in the right-hand sidebar).

Another first for me was our visit to the Musée d'Orsay that afternoon. You can see a shot of the main floor to the right. It's SO beautiful! (And yes, it was a train station at one time. Doesn't it looks like the main hallway of one?)

Despite the fact that I know absolutely, positively nothing about art, I did learn a few things about my personal taste.

1. I really like impressionism, especially Claude Monet. However, I only like it in person because I like to see the layers and textures on the canvas. No photo or print can do his work justice - you just have to see it in person.

2. As it turns out, I do NOT like pointillism as I once thought I did. I do, however, like Georges Seurat very much. The other artists used bigger, sloppier dots than Seurat, which I think is cheating.

3. Auguste Rodin has every right to be one of the most famous sculptors in the world. I have seen a lot of sculpture since I arrived, and none of them hold a candle to what I've seen of Rodin's work. He is, quite simply, amazing. I can't wait to go to the Rodin museum.

Despite what you might expect from item #3, the picture to the left is not a work of Rodin's. It was done in 1880 by a guy named Jean Dampt. My English translation of the title is "St. John the Baptist as a child." The face is what really struck me enough to take a photo: it is such a pure, life-like rendition of a child's face. Plus, when you know who it is supposed to be, the boy takes on a bit of a glow. Maybe that's just my interpretation, but hey, isn't that what you're supposed to do when you're in an art museum?

Colin, Rebecca, and Dave toured the Palais Garnier today. I had planned to go, but as the saying goes, the mind was willing, but the flesh was weak. I'm still fighting the remnants of my chest cold, so two days of normal activity had wiped me out. Apparently, it's an amazing place and well worth the tour, so I'll have to go back myself some time. (Joe and Kate, if you're interested, we can go when you're here!)

Colin says that puppy caught my cold because he's hacking up a lung right now. Somehow, I doubt that we're lucky enough for him to be sick (i.e. he would want to sleep all the time, and thus be low-maintenance). Regardless, he was good company last night when I was trying to get warm, as you can see to the right!

In preparation for Thanksgiving, I ordered our turkey from an American grocery in the 7th. Wow, is it EXPENSIVE. On the bright side, this grocer also sells brownie mix, cake mix, frosting, and Dr. Pepper. (Yes, there are a few things that France hasn't caught on to yet.) Actually, now that I think about it, the entire store was packed solid with junk food (Doritos and the like). I guess you can tell where the priorities of American expats lie!!

And, last but not least, I had my first madeleine this evening.

I also had my second and third madeleine shortly thereafter. Mmmm, butter.

Madeleines are little cakes with a sweet taste. They have a bump in the middle of them that makes me think of an egg yolk in shape. All I can say is that the calories I burned off climbing stairs for the past two days are all back now.

In fact, I think I'll go have my fourth madeleine, now that I'm thinking about them again. Look, I've got to have something to wash down the nasty cough medicine that I'm about to imbibe!

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