Monday, July 6, 2009

Day Two

On our second day we woke up bright and early and thankfully, well rested. After a light breakfast of coffee and bread, we headed out for our first stop, the Rodin Museum.

On our way, we passed Napoleon's Tomb.

I think Rodin Museum is generally considered one of our favorites of the trip. The building itself was well planned, the collection was beautifully arranged and the grounds surrounding the museum were peaceful and well laid out. Everything about the museum said "Take your time."

Above, is the original Thinker. There are 36 other official copies of this guy - you can also see him at the Nelson Atkins Museum in Kansas City. Shalyn is doing her best glossy magazine pose.

The above sculpture was one of our favorites. So passionate!

Caroline and I posing in the gardens of the museum. We amused ourselves by taking silly photos with some of the sculptures, but this blog is not the place to showcase them...we're serious travelers...yeah, that's it...

We were starving by the time we were through with the gardens and were pleasantly surprised to find a darling outdoor cafe on the museum grounds to the right side of the building.

We ordered some wonderful french bread sandwiches, but who wants to look at that when fresh strawberry desserts are also on the table?!

All in all, it was a lovely visit to the Rodin Museum. Afterwards, we had our first encounter with the metro system. We all bought a carne of tickets (10 metro tickets that you can use anywhere) and were very lucky the first few times we used the train, because we forgot to confirm which platform we were supposed to use. It was sheer chance that we chose the right direction for the trains that first day!

The metro system was really, pretty easy to understand and navigate. As long as you have a good map showing all the stops, you are good to go. And this is coming from someone who has never really used public transit systems in her life.

We exited the metro station on the Champs Elysees. This is Elena just as we exited and were getting our bearings. Nothing special in the background, I just think she looks glamorous.

Now, I had watched any number of Paris centered travel shows over the course of the past year. They have always mentioned the Champs Elysees, and only one (my dear Samantha Brown) has actually had the nerve to say that it wasn't all that it was cracked up to be. Man, was she right. Crowded, loud and packed with all the shops you would find at your local mall (and some on Rodeo Drive) this street was not something to write home about.

Aren't the newspaper kiosks cute though?

We finally made it to our actual destination, the Arc de Triomphe. At first we were slightly confused about how we were going to reach it. The circle surrounding the Arc is filled with speeding cars and had me thinking of how poorly I played Frogger when I was a kid. I just had terrible instincts. Anyways, we quickly found an underground tunnel that takes you under the traffic and onto the Arc de Triomphe grounds. Thank goodness.

Did you know that you can actually go inside the Arc de Triomphe? It is, of course, another 10 or so flights of stairs up to the top, but it is totally worth the view!

This is the Champs Elysees from the top of the Arc de Triomphe. People, we walked that entire street.

I thought it was pretty neat that you could see Sacre Coeur cathedral from here, too! We planned to visit Montmarte the following day.

Man, who doesn't need protection from the pigeons. I thought they were kind of cute, but the rest of the girls hated them. Poor flying rats...
We stopped at a cafe on the Champs Elysees for 2nd lunch after the Arc de Triomphe. ha!

Caroline and Elena ordered this delicious looking pizza with eggs on it. Apparently, the French like to put eggs on a lot of things. Please see exhibit A, below, which was the "croc" that Elena ordered the day before for lunch. Interesting.

We then visited the Jardins des Tuileries in order to relax a bit before tackling the Louvre.

Above, Elena enjoys an afternoon ice cream cone. What I found interesting about the Tuileries gardens, was that there actually wasn't much grass. There are manicured trees and plenty of benches and chairs for sitting, but the ground is light colored dirt and pebbles. It's just different than how I was used to seeing parks. Tuileries was more about enjoying the architecture of the space, I think, than feeling close to nature.

Parisians, soaking up the sun. We passed this fountain on our way to the Louvre, which you can see in the backgroung of the picture below.

The Louvre. We had a plan, oh yes we did. Shalyn had spent some time prior to the trip choosing the top 10 works of art we needed to see when we visited. I've heard that it would take 6 days straight to see everything in the Louvre - we had about 3-4 hours. We decided to visit the museum at the end of the day, since we were hoping that the crowds would be considerably lessened.

Not so much. I enjoyed the Louvre for about an hour. I'm not going to trash talk the world's most preeminent muesum, but my goodness, no air conditioning, confusing maps and 35 canvases on the same wall can make for an overwhelimg experience.

Nevertheless, it was amazing seeing these two sculptures - Winged Victory of Samothrace (considered the crown jewel of the Louvre's collection - shout out to Shalyn for that info) and the Venus De Milo.

The museum was so massive and so convoluted that we got lost several times. Above, Elena took a photo of my wry smile as we entered a elevator only to leave it 10 seconds later when we figured out it would take us to the wrong place.

Above, the Mona Lisa. Much smaller that you'd expect and safley ensconced behind inches of plastic. The crowds around her were crazy. She was pretty neat, though.

After the Louvre, we walked again to the Tulieries gardens and sat down for a coffee, while Elena went to retrieve the scarves she had left at our lunch place. She returned triumphant!

We ended the evening at Tribeca, a brasserie on Rue Cler and had a late dinner. Or a regular dinner, I think, if you're a Parisian. It's strange how the sun staying out so much later affected our eating habits almost immediately. Elena and Shalyn had a cheese plate, Caroline a lamb salad and myself a cream pasta that came with pears - which of course, I picked out. After that, it was a short walk back to our hotel and on to sleep.


Sarah M. Anderson said...

Lucy! Have I mentioned recently that you look fabu? You do!

lucylucia said...

Oh, thank you Sally! You're making me blush!

Mama Nae said...

Oh - the Louvre!.... it did look crazy crowded but now I am seriously jealous!

lucylucia said...

Janae - I think I am posting on the Orsay Museum tomorrow - you will like that one much better! I know we did!

Shay said...

Awesome selections, ma amie. Go digital cameras, go! FYI, though: a croc has teeth, a croque has ham. ;)

lucylucia said...

haaaaaaaa! Shalyn, I swear I remember the menus actually saying crocs for the sandwiches! too funny. I'll leave it like that in this post otherwise your comment won't make sense.

Julia said...

What a great post! I loved all the photo's you chose. I cna still smell the flowres. I remember years ago ordering a pizza and there was a fried egg in the center! I was 16 at the time and had a hard time not laughing about it in the cafe...all my friends thought it was hysterical as well. Six 16 yrs old girls made a great deal of noise!

Just a Plane Ride Away said...

Another lovely post! Did your feet hurt after a day of walking in sandals?

I feel the same about all big shopping areas (Oxford street too), but I am not a big shopper. I'd rather see the sites.

And that is so true about the late days--Den Haag is in the same time zone as Paris. In June, we had daylight until 11 PM. We weren't going to sleep until after midnight! Bad for poor Mr. DJ who still had to get up early for work.

And yes, the Louvre is so huge. I think one should have an espresso shot or a nice, big cappuccino before visiting it!

lucylucia said...

JAPRA - My feet were toast. They hurt the most on our third day and by the end of the fourth day they began to recover.

It was the same in France. 11 pm isn't so terribly late, but it was just surreal to be having dinner at 9 pm.