Friday, April 30, 2010

Passy and Pictures

I figured I'd just tell this blog entry in pictures, because I might be too tired to write in complete sentences. Besides, I've apparently promised pictures and forgotten to put them up. So, here goes nothing.
This is my sifted flour for the chocolate drop cake

The oh so dangerous baking soda

The giant hunk of butter

The evil mixer

Paola helping out

The finished product!!

Emma arrives and discovers her newfound love of macarons

In a mirror in the hall of mirrors

The fountains!

Sacre Coeur at night

What's that thing again?

As Emma would say: "POMPIDOU!!!" It's so ugly...

The waterfall at Buttes Chaumont. I said it looked just like Niagara Falls, and Justine said I had a good imagination!

Passy! It's so pretty - Benjamin Franklin used to live there. It also used to be separate from Paris. Sort of like another city.

The view of the Eiffel Tower from Passy


The Bir-Hakeim bridge

Balzac's desk!

Balzac's adorable little house in Passy

More Passy - isn't it just beautiful?

I think my pictures got out of order, because I'm pretty sure this one is from Versailles

Les Invalides

They finally put the pendulum back up in the Panthéon!!

A little strip of land in the middle of the Seine at Passy called the Allée des Cygnes or The Swan Walkway

Anyway, it was just a nice, relaxing day that also included teaching English and getting Mexican food (which, according to Paola, was not authentic) with Alexandra and Paola. Now, I'm going to bed. I hope these pictures will suffice for now - Emma took really good ones, but I don't have her camera and she said she won't be able to upload them to facebook while she's in Europe, so my lousy photography skills will have to do. 

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Emma est partie, donc j'ai dormi !

This morning, I slept really well and didn't wake up until I got a text from Emma saying she made it to Spain. Thank goodness! Then, I went back to bed and woke up to another text from Alexandra asking if I was awake and why I wasn't on the computer. She wanted to give me back my flute, so I hurried and met her in front of Notre-Dame to get it. I feel so much more complete now that I have it back. I got a Lebanese sandwich and baklava, then went home to relax a little bit before meeting Eileen (have I mentioned her? I must have - she's my German friend!) to watch Wicked, How I Met Your Mother, and go out.

While we were watching the third episode of How I Met Your Mother (really funny!), Alexandra texted me and said that she and Paola were at the theater for Le Roi Lion and that we could buy student tickets for next Wednesday's performance if I got there right away, so...guess who gets to see Le Roi Lion a 10th time. It's funny, because I had said I was never going to see it again. Then, I see it twice in two weeks...I'm a liar, I guess.

I went back to Eileen's place (she's right - it is smaller than some of the tombs at Pere Lachaise) and we went to this one bar she likes that give free mussels and fries if you order a drink on Thursday's (I got a kir!) and then to a Canadian bar where I got poutine! It's nice to have real Canadian food again immediately following my Breakfast in America from last night. It's like I never even left Buffalo. But now, I'm going to bed so I can sleep in tomorrow too!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Chillin' with the cold

This morning, we all woke up early to go to the catacombs. By we, I mean Emma, Paola, and me. We wandered around underneath Paris for about an hour (guess what, Emma liked touching the bones too...), then headed over to the Saint-Michel area to get Berthillon ice cream (which Emma didn't go crazy for - fin, I just don't understand), Café Procope to get crepes flambées and coffee, and then Père Lachaise to meet Alexandra (we saw Abelard and Heloise, Proust, Oscar Wilde - Emma kissed his grave, Chopin, a cute cat that actually wasn't dead, and Jim Morrison). Finally, we headed over to see the church behind the Panthéon, stopped by l'ENS to see the Cour aux Ernests, and then got some macarons at Pierre Hermé (like the Duffs of macarons - The Anchor Bar or Ladurée invented them, but Pierre Hermé perfected them). Finally, the four of us (Alexandra, Paola, Emma and me) met Jerome at Breakfast in America to get Emma her first American food in 8 months. I  hadn't realized how much I had missed Dr. Pepper. It tasted so good! The whole conversation was in three languages - I spoke French with Jerome, Jerome spoke Spanish with Emma and Paola, and of course everyone was speaking English too. Sadly, I'm the one who has to translate everything, so running on so little sleep, I wasn't doing as well as I could have. But, it was fun. A challenge. Finally, we met Pierre and his friends at the Eiffel Tower and guess what I did - I translated some more! You know what French students do at night? They sit in a circle in front of the Eiffel Tower, drinking wine, and reading/talking. Seriously, why don't they just do that during the day?

I am so tired, but I'm afraid I might not get a good night's sleep tonight either. You see, Emma has a really early flight tomorrow and the bus she needs to take to Beauvais leaves Porte Maillot at 6:00am. Unfortunately, the métro doesn't start running until 5:30 and she'll never make it on time with its reduced morning schedule. I found a Noctilien (the night bus) route she could take, but she didn't have paper/pencil and decided she's just going to ask the hostel guy in the morning. Obviously, I have a feeling I'm going to get a phone call very early tomorrow morning. I also don't think I'm going to go to the Proust lecture - at least not tomorrow. It's not even an atelier about In Search of Lost Time - it's about Proust's notebooks and editions of them. Somehow, I don't think I'd get much out of these lectures since it's obviously assumed I've already read A la recherche and the notebooks and not only that, but studied all of them in depth. Then, this workshop proposes to analyse the principals of diplomatic transcription of these notebooks? Yes, I think that's what it's about, but I don't really understand what that means, and I'm also a little afraid of falling asleep in this lecture. Friday's lecture seems slightly more relevant to me, but even so, I'm not sure I would get much out of either of these lectures. I'm kind of feeling annoyed that it's just impossible to get the necessary education to understand l'ENS completely. How many depressing French novels do I have to read to be ready to research literary history or analyse the notebooks of the authors? 

And do you know how much stuff Victor Hugo wrote? I don't think the man was human - he was some sort of machine. It's not just the amount, because I'm sure that, if I were to continue this blog every day and elaborate a little more in addition to the rest of the stuff I write on a regular basis, I could duplicate his volume of work in a good sixty or seventy years. But it's rather the quality - his novels are researched and the story is always just secondary to the non-fictional or philosophical elements; his poetry is flawless. No wonder he was so stuck up! Why am I writing about Victor Hugo? Probably because of this awesome agenda. Obviously, I need to go to bed because I'm jumping from subject to subject even more than Proust does. I really need to get some sleep. Hopefully, Emma can find her way to Porte Maillot tomorrow morning at that ungodly hour by herself. If not, I might not recover from this week in time to enjoy the rest of my vacances. 

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

French people are depressing, but I sure have fun in Paris!

Today was a really, really good day. Even though I didn't have a second to breathe and kept using the excuse, "I'm sorry, I was up until 2:30 last night" (in French and English), I really enjoyed everything I did. Hopefully, tomorrow will be just as good, considering it's Emma's last day in Paris. At least I figured out the foolproof way for people to remember her name: "Emma comme Mme Bovary!" It's almost as catchy as "Natalie sans h."

So, this morning I woke up super early (for my flute lesson) and luckily decided to check my email before getting ready even though I figured I wouldn't have any emails since it had only been about five and a half hours since I had checked last. Well, I had an email from Justine. She decided that she didn't feel like going to school today (strange, huh? She doesn't want to go to school while she's on vacation?) and so she decided to change the plan at the absolute last second. Instead of meeting at ENS, she wanted to know if I wanted to meet at metro Porte des Lilas, which is where she lives, and take a walk around a part of Paris I probably hadn't seen before. I checked my handy dandy metro map on my iPod touch and noticed that Porte des Lilas was practically the dead end of ligne 11, all the way northeast of Paris. Worse, I've heard that the outskirts of Paris just aren't safe. So, suddenly, I think: "Hmm...I don't want to meet Justine in the ghetto." All while I should have been getting ready for my flute lesson, I emailed her back saying that I had to meet Alexandra and Emma at 4:00 at Hotel de Ville, so meeting at 2:00 might be cutting it a little close, but I could meet her tomorrow at ENS. Then, when I got up to start getting ready, she started sending me instant messages on gmail saying that the ligne 11 was fast enough and that I wouldn't have a problem. So, reluctantly, I typed back (with no accents because this computer is, in addition to being old and not working very well, is not French) sure.

I had my lesson, during which Emma got some much needed sleep (lucky), then met Alexandra at the supermarket, dropped my flute off at her dorm (so I wouldn't have to carry it with me to the ghetto), and we met Emma at Luxembourg to go to the Pantheon. I just love that building! Afterward, we tried to get into the Eglise Saint-Etienne du mont, but it was closed for an hour and a half randomly in the middle of the day. It was on special hours because of the vacations. Instead, we got crepes by La Sorbonne and Emma left for a Dali museum at Montmartre (because I certainly wasn't going to drag her to the ghetto with me) and I got onto ligne 11 to meet Justine.

When I got to Porte des Lilas, I called Justine to find out where to go and she told me to head toward the McDonald's and she'd meet me there. There was lots of construction going on, but luckily, I got out the right exit and the McDonald's was right across the street. Then, she and I walked to this absolutely gorgeous park called Buttes Chaumont, which is in the 19th arrondissement. It was so cool - it was really hilly, grassy, with fake rocks everywhere, and a waterfall, and I really liked it. So, I guess it wasn't the ghetto after all. It might have just been a little out of the way. Justine also gave me a present - it's a 2002 planner, released for the bicentennial of Victor Hugo's birth and it has tons of quotes and information about him in it. It's really neat - I wish I had known as much French in 2002 as I know now - it would have been much more convenient. It's strange to think that, in 2002, I had only been taking French for a few months.

After two hours with Justine (she liked my cake, by the way and so did my flute teacher - Mme De La Taille told me to give some of it away because it's too good and she doesn't "want to get fat"), I made it back to Hotel de Ville to meet Alexandra and Emma for a photo exhibition about how Paris inspires dreams. I'll agree with that. Afterwards, we went to Le Marais to get some falafel and baklava, then Emma and I went to teach English. Tomorrow, we're going to have lunch with him at Breakfast in America. We got home, skyped a little, then went to a party with Pierre and his friends. It was the most bizarre thing ever - all American music, and the way French people dance is weird. At least it was better than that ENS party, but the way they danced was just spinning around over and over. It didn't look at all modern. I suppose it was amusing, though, and I kind of got used to spinning that much. Emma was just upset she hadn't worn a skirt.

So, overall, yesterday kind of seems like an epic fail after today. I mean, how can a picnic stand up against a flute lesson, the Pantheon, an awesome park with Justine, a Victor Hugo book, a photo exposition, falafel, and crazy dancing? And once again, here I am past two in the morning not asleep yet. Tomorrow morning, we're meeting at the catacombs at 10:00, so I really should go to bed now. Good night.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Extra Letters

It is a full time job having Emma here. I have no idea how to plan days and get her to see as much of Paris as possible. It's been my goal to forget the tourist parts of Paris and to live like a Parisian! Now, it's past 2:00 in the morning and I'm just starting the blog, so it will be brief. I will write a lot when Emma is gone and I'm finally able to sleep again.

Today, we hit the Louvre in the morning then met my friend Leonardo (he's from Peru, so Emma got to speak Spanish with him) for lunch by the Eiffel Tower. After that, we went to the Centre Georges Pompidou so Emma could use the fantastic hand dryers (not even kidding), got crepes, considered a boat tour (which failed), met Leonardo's French friend Marine and tried to go to a free concert (also failed), and ended up riding back on the metro giving Emma a lesson in French (pronouncing station names and then swear words...yes sir!!). Emma kept asking why there are so many letters that the French just drop and Marine said: "It's just cool." She kept telling Emma every time there was "au" in a word: "There's an O, but you can't see it!"

Anyway, tomorrow is the test of how well I've taught Emma to survive in Paris. I have a flute lesson from 9:30 - 11:00, so Emma will have to survive until then. I'm sure she'll be able to. It's not that hard. Then, after that, I'm planning Pantheon, the church behind it, Luxembourg Gardens, then, dropping Emma off at a museum because I'm meeting Justine for lunch. She'll have to survive twice. Then, we're going to meet Alexandra for another museum, go to teach English (Jerome's thrilled - he gets two teachers for the price of one), then hang out with Pierre (we had a really really long conversation with him tonight). I'm ending the parentheses because I don't like them. In fact, I had no idea Pierre spoke English, or Mme De La Taille. We just have never spoken English. He really liked speaking English, but he thought we both talked really really fast. Everyone's been saying that. Apparently, Buffaloniennes talk fast.

I guess this entry wasn't brief. But now that it's 2:19, I'm going to bed so I can get up at 8:00 for my flute lesson.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Buffaloniennes in Paris

Today, Emma and I went to Versailles. I was hoping only to spend half a day there, but that dumb gigantic castle really does take a whole day. It takes longer when Emma wants to pose like every statue there for pictures. It was funny, but took a while. The gardens are open now and definitely worth the 6 euro admission (even though the castle is free for students). It's incredible to think that we're seeing all these fountains running at once, something Louis XIV never could have seen since there wasn't enough water pressure in all of France to run them at the same time. Basically, Emma got a Spanish audio guide and I got the French one, and we had a constant battle to see which language was better (a.k.a., which one finished each speech faster). Guess which one won - French! Even though you drop the pronouns in Spanish, apparently, the French are just more concise.

After Versailles, we got some Lebanese sandwiches (I had to) and ate in a pretty little park by Notre-Dame while waiting for Paola. Then, the three of us went to Sacre Coeur to see the view of Paris at twilight. We walked to Moulin Rouge just for the tourist picture, then headed to Bastille to get the best crepes (they put the most toppings). And, that was my day.

Oh, and Emma and I made full use of the McDonald's at Versailles to use their free wi-fi to call Allison Eck. It was a very Clarence-y day. I should probably explain my new word - Buffalonienne. I've been emailing Justine to decide on a time/place to meet for lunch, and I mentioned I had a friend here with me and wrote "Buffalonienne (??)", and Justine wrote back that she liked my new word and that she had just met a "baltimoréenne (??)". I had also asked if all the concours were several weeks long and she said that the concours wasn't several weeks long - that it was actually 14 months, and so she was getting a little sick of it now. I can't imagine why.  

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Results of a long, long day...

The chocolate drop cake was a success! The drop was a little strange - it's more like marble than a drop really, but it was pretty and it tasted great. After that, Paola and I went to buy macarons and I bought a bunch for Emma to give her when she got off the bus from Beauvais. She loved them. We went to the Eiffel Tower, got some fondue at Saint-Michel, I gave her my speech about Notre-Dame (okay, my professor's speech, but still...), then we went home. We had no idea how late it was - we were just talking and talking and talking. It was really interesting to see someone from Buffalo here, especially since Emma is as passionate about Spanish and studying abroad as I am about French. She loves Paris so far, and I've decided that tomorrow is a good day for Versailles and the Louvre since everything else will pretty much be closed. Gotta love Sunday's in Paris. But, now it's late and I should go to bed. Right as we were getting back to the metro trying to decide when we should meet tomorrow, we realized it was 12:30 and that the metros were going to stop running in half an hour! Luckily, Emma's hostel is right near the metro stop and we had already been there, so she got off ligne 10 and went right back to her hostel to sleep since she had an even longer day than I did and I went to the end of ligne 10 and caught the last RER C at 12:50. Now, I am more than ready to catch some Z's!

Chronicling Baking a Cake in France

I figured this would make an interesting blog post, especially since I might not have time to write one tonight since Emma should be coming (keep your fingers crossed that the dumb volcano in Iceland keeps its hole shut). 

It is currently 12:13. I am baking a chocolate drop cake in Europe. Unfortunately, finding all the ingredients wasn't enough. I need to find the conversions since they apparently don't use "cups," "teaspoons," and the rest of that here. They use grams, which are a unit of weight and not volume. I've been finding conversions on my laptop, which is now an instrumental part of cooking. How do Europeans bake anything??

So far, I have sifted the flour, the baking powder (levure), and the salt together. I am currently trying to figure out how many grams are in a cup of butter. They just have a huge hunk of butter here, and the package says it's 250 grams. WikiAnswers says there are 225 grams in a cup of butter. I don't like eyeballing things, but then again, that's what I did for the salt and baking powder. This cake is not going to work. I haven't even attempted to use the hot fudge instead of the chocolate syrup yet.

12:18 - I've hacked the giant chunk of butter into little pieces and am now searching for a plug for the mixer. It's a hand mixer and I really hope the beaters work right...when I get home, I am going to have a strong desire to cook just so I can get this right.

12:25 - the mixer laughed at me and stopped working. Too bad Mme De La Taille and Pierre both left a few minutes ago. Why won't it work?

12:30 - Nothing is working. I may have to give up, but that seems like a waste of a whole lot of butter (and possibly a mixer).

12:35 - Examining the mixer. It doesn't look bent out of place, the beaters come out like they're supposed to. I have absolutely no idea why it just won't turn on. Maybe it hates Americans?

12:40 - Out of desperation, I am now trying to cream the butter and the sugar with a spoon. Strangely enough, it doesn't seem to be working...

I'm giving up on the blog. Paola is coming and hopefully she can help me.

2:10 - The cake is now in the oven. The reason the mixer didn't work was because of the plug. It wasn't me and I guess it doesn't hold a grudge because I'm not French. Paola helped me with conversions and translations, "because she's the most amazing person ever" (that's what she told me to write) and also a hospitality major. The cake should be out before we leave for a Japanese tea ceremony down the road, and hopefully the drop works. I, for one, am just glad it's over. I will post a picture of the cake (if it looks nice). If not, too bad.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Le Roi Lion

I always told myself that I would never see The Lion King again after seeing it eight times in just a few years. It was never my favorite, and it just doesn't lend itself well to multiple viewings. In that sense, it's in a category with The Producers, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Spamalot (just kidding...that's never good, not even the first time), and other musicals like that which, after the first time, lose a lot of what makes them funny. The Lion King is really cool to see a first time, but after that, the costumes aren't as impressive, the story gets even more Disney (and subsequently less Hamelet), and the songs start to get on your nerves. But, I suppose that after maybe eight years, seeing it one more time and in French wasn't the worst idea I ever had. Actually, it was great! Tonight, I rediscovered my childhood, except it was translated into French! Le Roi Lion est un vrai spectacle!

The most interesting part of the whole thing was how identical it was. The translations were all almost word for word, really - "He Lives in You" was "Il vit en toi" and even the parts that weren't word for word didn't change much - "I Just Can't Wait to be King" was "Je veux super vite être roi" (I want to be king super fast!). Next, the actors were all identical! It makes me think that there's just a French counterpart for everything and everyone. Maybe David Sedaris is the American Proust, or Henry Adams the American Hugo. I wonder if there's a French me - maybe she was sitting in the audience, seeing Le Roi Lion for her 8th time and she's studying English so she can go see it in its original language. Wouldn't that be scary? Finally, the audience reaction was identical - they clapped so much, I thought that they thought that, just because "encore" is French meant that they'd get an encore if they cheered enough.

One more thing before I go to bed for tonight: just so you know, when you type in "le roi" into google, the first suggestion they give you is "le roi lion" and the second is "le roi soleil." I wonder what the significance of that is?


Last night, I was really tired for some reason and fell asleep at 11:00 without writing a blog. It was very refreshing. Anyway, yesterday, I went to the Monet museum with Paola (not sure if I've mentioned her - she's in Alexandra's program, born in Mexico, fluent in Spanish, studying in Spain next semester, and staying in Paris all summer) mostly because there was an exhibition on women painters in the time of Proust! This was just another example of how the art and exhibitions really aren't as interesting as the buildings in which they're found here. This old house was absolutely beautiful - with at least three salons. It was one of those great 19th century houses transformed into something else, but still with traces of what it used to be. Oh, and I saw Proust's handwriting! That was neat!

After that, we got lunch at a cute Parisian cafe, and even tried kir! Honestly, it wasn't that bad. I might have even liked it a little by the end. It came with fried potato slices - much more classy than Buffalo Wild Wings' potato wedges. And, since this cafe was also a bakery, we got free pastries for dessert after our chicken with Bearnaise sauce. The area is very chic.

I should probably mention that I finally almost got all the ingredients to make a chocolate drop cake for the De La Taille's. Mme De La Taille wasn't kidding - it's impossible to find baking soda in supermarkets, which made me acknowledge that maybe they don't use it in their cooking. It's just hard to believe because we use it in everything in the US. Mme had to go to the pharmacy to get the baking soda. The only problem was that they didn't have chocolate syrup. I bought hot fudge and I hope it won't be too thick. Pierre's back too, by the way. He went on a trip with his religious group to Normandy where they stayed in an Abbey and talked about Islam being a dangerous religion. When I said I wanted to read the Koran, he didn't seem to like that idea, but said he'd lend me the book he had about how Islam is dangerous. I really do want to read the Koran, but I think finishing the Bible is important first since I know it's a major part of it. I also realize that, even if I read the Koran, Islamic people will never agree that I have because I won't have read it in the original language and that's most important for them, according to what I learned in my Occ Civ class, at least.

Anyway, here are pictures from the museum (not many). And, I'm going to update a few previous posts with pictures I've taken this week while being stranded in Paris.

Okay, so I lied. This isn't from the museum. This is from the metro. Mamma Mia! is coming here to replace Le Roi Lion (The Lion King) and it's starting in October and I'M NOT GOING TO GET TO SEE IT IN FRENCH!!!! But it says it's "Le mariage le plus show!" I need to see it! Also in October, Notre-Dame de Paris, the first French musical I memorized, will be having a few 10th anniversary performances with the original cast. Funny, usually, on Broadway, 10th anniversary performances happen when the show has been playing for 10 years, not when it's been 10 years since the show started...The point is - I obviously need to go to Paris in October...

This is Marcel Proust's handwriting. Yup, that's the handwriting of the guy who wrote three page sentences that aren't run-on. Be impressed! 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

La Bibliothèque Sainte Geneviève

This morning, I woke up and immediately spent an hour on hold to try to get a refund on my flights from Granada to Madrid and Madrid to Paris. After the hour on hold, I got an Irish guy who told me that there are no refunds if they don't cancel the flight, so I spent half an hour explaining that I can't fly back from Spain if they don't fly me there to begin with, and finally he agreed to make an exception and refund my money. Then, I decided to go get some Berthillon ice cream before meeting Alexandra to go to the Middle Ages museum (she got out of her internship early), but when I got onto the island, the Berthillon store was closed! So, now I'm stranded in Paris without any ice cream until next Wednesday! This isn't safe!

Obviously, I thought it would be a horrible day, but then Alexandra called me while I was on my way to meet her for the Middle Ages museum and said there was absolutely no line to climb to the very top of Notre-Dame. So, we did that first. It is a really interesting view, and at the very top, they have excerpts from Notre-Dame de Paris by Victor Hugo. The part where he describes what Paris looked like from the top of Notre-Dame back during the Middle Ages. It was a good introduction to the middle ages museum.

That's my favorite gargoyle and me, pensive, as usual. 

There's beautiful Paris! And me!

Where I would ultimately end up. The library is the little building that you can't even see to the left of the Pantheon in this picture. 

There's Notre-Dame from a beautiful little park that I love. There's a tree there that's basically been ripped in half, but they've preserved it for some reason. 

The flowers in the garden. 

At the Middle Ages museum at Cluny (in the Latin Quarter), there are also the Roman baths, one of the oldest sites in Paris (the oldest being the Arènes de Lutèce). The museum was interesting too, especially since I took the class on the middle ages last year at Hopkins. In fact, I'm glad that my Hopkins courses more than prepared me for my semester in France. This museum is filled with tapestries and statues, and the best part: it's free for histoire de l'art students, and that's me! I'm going to miss that little perk...

Old stained glass windows in the Cluny museum. 

Some of the heads of the kings that were cut off the facade of Notre-Dame during the French Revolution (1789). The people thought that they represented the kings of France, but they really represented the kings of the old testament. Oops...

Incredible Gothic pillar inside the Cluny museum. 

Pitying Mary and Jesus. I liked the expression on her face. It didn't seem bad enough to be from the Middle Ages at all!

The museum. Nice building, huh?

After that, Alexandra had to stop by the hospital, so I decided to head over to my library! It's my new favorite place in Paris. I walked in, but apparently my Sorbonne student card wasn't enough, so I registered and got my very own Bibliothèque Sainte Geneviève library card! It is beautiful! I love it!! Plus, it's permanent - with it came a bunch of rules, but I don't mind. In America, libraries are a peaceful place to study because there's absolutely no one there, but here, everyone has to wait in a long line to get in and then, they all follow the rules! It was so quiet, you could hear a pin drop. And the room I sat in is the most beautiful room ever - it's better than the BnF because it's from the 1600's and feels much more literary than a gigantic skyscraper. Here's a picture - I will be going back just about every day until I leave, but I'm afraid that taking a picture might be against one of the rules in the instruction manual they gave me, so I won't take my own picture.

They look studious, don't they?

Finally, I came home and found an email from Professor Neefs waiting for me! He said I can do a research project for French literature next year even though I'm not a major and that I can take his graduate level seminar! So, I suppose today was a good day after all! I'll put new Notre-Dame pictures up later - I don't feel like it tonight. 

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Le Procope

Today, instead of my incredible library and Middle Ages museum plans, Alexandra decided we should go to a science museum and I swear, that's it. I am never taking another one of her suggestions EVER AGAIN!! This museum and the exhibition we went to see were for little kids - not for college students. She had wanted to see an exposition on eating healthy, but after paying the 10 euro fee for that and got up to it, this thing was only a bunch of games meant for really young kids. I know French isn't our first language, but I do think we were beyond this. It was all so simplified, and the worst part: part of it was anti-American! There was a video which portrayed a Chicago businessman who sold farm products, but had never seen a farm. The farmers, they said, did all the work and he got all the money. Then, they moved on to people in Africa who worked hard but got all their cotton stolen by the Chicago businessman. But, thank goodness for Victoria - she's a hunger relief worker and flies to Africa to give the starving people food. It's no wonder French people have such a bad impression of Americans. Before they're old enough to deal with the large percentage of dumb American tourists who can't even recognize Notre-Dame from behind, they're being brainwashed at science museums. Anyway, the exhibition was a waste of time, and so was the IMAX movie we saw. Alexandra said this was supposed to be the biggest IMAX in Europe, but it just seemed like the Hayden Sphere to me. The movie was just a dubbed American one too, and I still don't understand why the people in Kansas spoke dubbed French but the Norwegians got French subtitles and their own language. When we got out of that, we still had one little movie we had paid an extra 3 euros for, but I was fed up and had to meet Alix in the Latin Quarter (oh yeah, did I mention that this stupid place was practically on the outskirts of Paris?), so I left and Alexandra stayed to watch "Take Me to the Moon" (yeah, I'm sure that was also worth what we paid for it...).

Alexandra discovering her inner child. Note that she raised the average age of people playing this game singlehandedly.

The biggest IMAX in Europe. 

This ugly museum...

I got to Odéon (métro stop) and met Alix. If I haven't mentioned her already on this blog, she's awesome! Her mom moved her here when she was in high school, she learned French, and became a French student. Then, her mom left and she just stayed to finish her French education. Now, she's a philosophy student at La Sorbonne and in my "What is Man?" class. But, when summer comes around, she goes back to Virginia. Oh, did I mention she's half Japanese and half Italian? She has an Italian passport because it's easier than getting a French visa. If you're an EU member, you don't need a visa to study in France. So, she's a dual citizen of the US and Italy, living and studying in France. What is cooler than that? Not much, that's what.

Cafe Procope. Founded in 1686. During the Revolution, it became the Cafe Zoppi and was the theater of historical events...

Anyway, we went to Le Procope, the oldest restaurant in Paris founded in 1686 (to put it in perspective, that's before the United States existed!). It's on the same street as the old La Comédie Française and very famous writers/revolutionaries have frequented it including, but not limited to: Voltaire, Diderot, d'Alembert, Robespierre, Marat, etc. It felt so cool to sit there drinking hot chocolate and talking about our Sorbonne class. We were talking in English, but it was still interesting to sit in a place that's probably been visited by many a Sorbonne student and talk about philosophy and literature. The hot chocolate was great too - but it was 5,10. It was worth it, though, to spend three hours chatting in the most historic cafe in all of Paris.

And, that was my day. Tomorrow, even if Alexandra skips her internship, she can just come to the library and Middle Ages museum with me because I don't need to rediscover my inner child, and even if I did, I wouldn't want to pay 20 euros to do it.

Slight Technical Difficulties

Sorry I didn't write last night - my internet was only working for Skype for some reason, and I just ended up figuring out what was wrong this morning. My day yesterday was very nice, for me, but wouldn't make a good blog entry. I just had a nice stroll around the Latin Quarter, read some depressing French literature by the Panthéon, went into the Panthéon again, taught English...the usual. So, maybe I'll do something interesting today. I was thinking about going to La Bibliothèque Sainte Geneviève which is right next to the Panthéon (there's always a line to get in - I LOVE that French people like libraries!) and the Middle Ages museum/Roman baths, but Alexandra just informed me that she's skipping her internship today, and I doubt she wants to do that. So, I'll let you know the outcome.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Tout va mourir, mais Paris est vivant!

Today was eventful - probably not as eventful as it would have been in Madrid, but tant pis. And to summarize my!

First, we went to the catacombs. They're an underground tunnel filled with piles and piles of bones and creepy messages on the walls to scare you. It's dark, wet, and cold, and so deep that it's below the metro! This is my second time, and I suppose it was better this time since I understand French better. I actually took the time to read all the plaques on the walls and to take pictures of the ones where it was light enough since you aren't allowed to use a flash. Alexandra liked the piles of bones, and asked if she was allowed to touch them. The guards said sure, but then checked her bag on the way out. She's a necrophiliac, isn't she?

Stop: This is the empire of the dead

They made a heart out of skulls - isn't that cute?

Good thing they're religious when they take bodies out of cemeteries and stack the bones underground...

Where is death? Always future or passed. At least she is present when already she is no longer.

After the creepy catacombs, we went to La Sainte Chapelle since it was sunny. There's also a Consiergerie there, so we saw that first. It was where political prisoners were held for short periods of time during the Revolution of 1789, including Robespierre and Marie Antoinette. It's not very interesting since nothing there is original, and they're doing construction on Sainte Chapelle, so it was slightly less breathtaking, but it was still a good excursion. Oh, and did I mention this and the catacombs were free since I'm art history? Well, I'm not art history, but CUPA says I am, so Paris believes them.

Maximilien Robespierre spent his last moments in this place.
"I leave you my memoir. She will be dear to you and you will defend her."

The last king of France - with that nose, you can't be too surprised

The outside of the building

The windows in Sainte Chapelle

The pictures really don't do it justice

A rose window (not the Notre-Dame one, obviously)

After Sainte Chapelle, we wandered around Chatelet looking for something to eat. Alexandra has gotten annoyingly particular about what food she will and will not eat, and has recently developed an addiction to sushi, apparently. So, we got Japanese again. But, I didn't mind because there was dessert sushi on the menu! It was like in the Gilmore Girls episode when Rory didn't get to go to Asia, so Lorelai made Asia in their house for Rory. She had Sookie teach her how to roll her own sushi, and she invented dessert sushi, which she and Rory agreed would really be popular if anyone ever decided to market the idea. Well, my nutella and banana sushi really was interesting - there's rice in there too!

Finally, after my dessert sushi was done, we went to Le Jardin des Plantes and wandered around the menagerie which, unfortunately, was not free - it was 6 euros for students. 

Me in front of some pretty flowers that matched my shirt

A very organized, Cartesian garden

Buffon - he's probably an important French guy, but I can't remember what he did. 



A monkey!

And last but not least, Hedwig!

That's it for now. I am officially not going to be able to go to Spain, so I'm going to need to figure out what to do during my spring break stranded in Paris. Hopefully, I'll come up with some blog-worthy activities.