Wednesday, May 19, 2010
We arrived in France tuesday evening. This was the first time on our trip that a driver was not scheduled to meet us. This of course required us to improvise and adapt a great deal. For me this sounded fun. For my very tired mother, this sounded miserable. We eventually compromised by taking a bus into the city and then taking a taxi the rest of the way. Not as fun as getting lost but it was effective.
Our tour began in earnest the next day at the grandest museum in the world, the Louvre. The Louvre is a 5 story complex that you could spend the better part of a week in (if you felt so inclined). After some initial wondering around, we decided to start with the big 3 there, the Venus de Milo, the Winged Victory of Samothrace and of course, the Mona Lisa, pictured below in order. (Note: it's fun to stand near the Mona Lisa and listen to tourists make comments like “You call that the Mona Lisa? Back home we got illustrated dish towels bigger than that!”)
At the end of the day mom wasn't feeling too great, so we took her home and then paid nocturnal visits to Paris's two best known landmarks. See if you can guess what they are. (hint: look below)
The next day we returned to these monuments, which you have no doubt identified as the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe, for a daytime viewing. We also paid a visit to the Luxembourg Palace near our hotel (the home of the French Senate). Lovely place and a nice warmup for what would come the following day.
Our final day in France began with a visit to the Chateau de Versailles, the most famous palace in Europe. Versailles began as a hunting lodge for the french kings but was transformed into a palace that was the envy of Europe by Louis the XIV. It was a great tour and it was made doubly enjoyable because we skipped the 2 hour line to get in. Thanks to some help from a cute Dutch girl, we learned that you could buy tickets at a cafe that was 3 minutes from the front gate. This we speedily did and walked straight in, laughing all the way :)
After Versailles we returned to our hotel to pack and prepare for our respective trips. Sadly this is where I parted ways from Mom and Dad. After a great two weeks, they headed home EARLY saturday morning. I would almost swear their suitcase was heavier when they left. But not with purchases or anything so pedestrian as that. I'm convinced it was full of memories.
However, this was not the end for me. The final leg of my journey took me to jolly old England...
PS. If you want a laugh, read the "travel guide" entry below (which I partially wrote and partially copied after my last France trip in 2003).
Travel Guide Information for France
As previously stated, driving in France is not advised because French drivers will if necessary "follow you right into the hotel lobby." This is not as bad as it sounds however because the maximum allowable car size in Europe is Go-Kart. These cars couldn't survive a head on collision with a squirrel. On the plus side, they can be parked in less time than it takes France to lose a war. Ha ha just kidding with our friends across the Atlantic. And speaking of France here is a quick travel guide to this snotty, I mean beautiful, country.
First of all, let's dispense with this absurd stereo-typical notion that the French are rude. The French are not rude. They just happen to hate you. But that is no reason to bypass this beautiful country, whose master chefs have a well-deserved worldwide reputation for trying to trick people into eating snails.
Attractions in Paris
One of the main attractions is of course the world-famous Eiffel Tower, which created a lot of controversy when it was erected in 1889 because the builder, Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, had presold it as a condominium. Another well-known Paris landmark is the Arc de Triomphe, a moving monument to the many brave men and women who have died trying to visit it, which we do not recommend because it's located in the middle of La Place de la Traffic Coming from All Directions at 114 Miles Per Hour. But you should definitely visit the Louvre, a world-famous art museum where you can view, at close range, the backs of thousands of other tourists trying to see the Mona Lisa, which actually was stolen in 1978, but the crowd is so dense that it doesn't matter. People come away convinced that they've seen it, similar to the way people in underdeveloped nations are always seeing the face of Jesus on the skins of yams. Also in the Louvre are various statues with pieces missing; visitors are welcome to patch these up.
A Good Conversation-Starter in France:
"I guess you guys really bit the big one in World War Two, huh?"