Friday, March 5, 2010

I didn't take a picture with Quasimodo...

Translation: It's expressively forbidden to write on the lead, on the walls, to ring the bells, to throw things from the towers, and to litter at all under penalty of a fine.

This morning, I decided I was going to wake up early and climb up Notre-Dame. Unfortunately, I didn't feel like getting out of bed when I woke up, so I ended up getting there around 10:30. I bought a crepe (nutella - yum!) and waited in line...for an hour...By the time I actually got to go inside, the very top level was closed for "security purposes" aka lunch break. It didn't really matter, though - the view was still incredible and I got to see the famous gargoyles and a big bell! I wonder which Marie it was (in the book/musical, Quasimodo named three bells "Les Maries" - La petite Marie, pour les enfants qu'on met en terre; la grande Marie, pour les marins qui partent en mer; et la grosse Marie, pour les amants qui se marient - The little Marie, for the children they bury; the big Marie, for the sailors who go off to sea; and the fat Marie, for lovers who marry). Anyway, it was freezing and windy, but definitely worth five euros. If only I were a European citizen - then it would have been free. But in any case, this is a great way for fat Americans to lose weight for only five euros a day! Just climb up Notre-Dame! The spiral staircase seemed never ending, more so on the way down than the way up, surprisingly enough. The lady in front of me had to keep stopping every five seconds on the way up, but it gave me a chance to take pictures of the stairs. I would have counted how many steps, but I don't do math with numbers anymore.

This gargoyle is very angry that Le Centre de Georges Pompidou is right behind him...

After the tour, I decided to visit the crypt underneath the courtyard in front of Notre-Dame. After dodging a few gypsies, I got there. I swear, one of these days I'm going to lose it and steal something from a gypsy just because they bug me! The crypt was only two euros and it had some interesting ruins of Lutèce (the name of the Roman city that used to be where Paris is now). But, it was very obvious that they really don't have much of an idea what kind of city Lutèce was. They've just uncovered some ruins and are making hypotheses. While it's very interesting to think about, I don't know if it was worth the two euros to watch their thirty minute documentary about all the stuff they wish they knew. At least the documentary was in French!

Tonight was the last night of George Steiner at l'ENS, and I think Wednesday was the best night. This time, he talked about Schopenhauer and philosophy much more than he talked about literature. So, since I have virtually no background in philosophy - at least, not at his level - and since I have yet to read Schopenhauer, this speech went over my head. He said the name of an author that sounded familiar, though. Iris Murdoch. Remind me to look her up - I feel like I've heard the name before. Maybe it's just because I know someone named Stephanie Murdock. Anyway, the worst part was that there was no reception, so I didn't get to talk to George Steiner. But, at least he answered his question from Monday: "Can music lie?" The answer, according to George Steiner, is that he's not sure: certainly, music can describe dishonest people and false situations, but overall, he thinks that music is a language that is naively incapable of lying.

After the talk, Lu and I went to the university restaurant for dinner. Who knew that the dinners there were so good? I had a salmon pizza! 2,90! It's cheap, it's good, and it's plenty of food. I love that French people don't expect college students to go broke. Except, of course, that after all the traveling I'm going to be doing, I'll definitely be broke by the end of these four and a half months.

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