Sunday, January 22, 2006

Our Days in Paris

The TGV fast train took us back to Paris in the Wednesday afternoon. Both Chris and Julian came to the Grenoble train stop to bid our farewell. When we got to the Paris train station, our tour guide was already there waiting for us. She, a petite energetic French woman, led us to a bus that was waiting for us outside the station. From there we started our three hour bus tour of one to the greatest cities in the world. It took us to various important landmarks and some of them reminded me of my visit in 2000. I enjoyed the tour very much. It gave us a good overview of the city.

On Thursday while having breakfast Bob and I decided to go to the Musee d’Orsay, which had impressionist art works. It was a good complement to The Louvre which had classical arts prior to the impressionist era. In the elevator coming down, I bumped into Julian, a British student of French and Philosophy in a Scotland university who came to Paris for five days during his winter break. We met briefly during the breakfast. When he found out where we were going, he said he was going there, too. So I invited him to come along with us. He happily accepted.

The museum was really impressive. It was in an old train station, which was built for the 1924 Olympics. It was supposed to tear down after the games, but the French felt into with it. They filled a petition to keep it. Now it has been turned into the Musee d’Orsay. When compared to the Louvre, it was small. There were three levels of displays. It was possible to go through it in a day. It chroniclized the development of impression style arts from pre- to neo-impressionists. I like the post impressionists very much, in which more bold color and shape schemes were attempted.

In the afternoon, we decided to pay our respects to one of the greatest Frenchman. We went to Napoleon’s tomb and the Army Museum. The contributions of this great man, not only military but civic conducts, to France and the world were well documented. I’d like to read more about him and this part of history in the future.

In the evening, Bob and I went to a fancy French restaurant Lasserre along Champs-Elyses. Memo couldn’t join us due to a family obligation. Bob had been there before and had many interesting stories to tell. We ordered the testing menu which consisted of 7 courses while Bob offered to pay for a bottle of wine. The food was excellent, but this kind of restaurants was billed for their service. The waiters wore different uniforms to signify their duties. There was even an elevator operator. We sitting there didn’t have to do anything except for sending food to our mouths. The water and wine glasses were (almost) always full. It did take once 10 minutes to get Bob’s wine glass filled. So when the waiter came I said subtly “just about 10 minutes.” After that, I think he got the message. When the bill came, we just wanted to know how you were going to pay for yours, Dick?

On Friday, we went to see the Church of sacred hearts in the morning before did some shopping. Bob had a mission from his wife to buy a loaf of bread from this particular bakery shop. It did not take us long to find it. Bob bought a loaf of 2kg round bread to bring home. Then we were on mission to find a chocolate shop recommended by his wife. But the address did not make any sense so we decided to give up on that. We had a dinner cruise to go to at 6pm.

The dinner cruise was great. We saw the Eiffel Tower lit up brightly and the Status of Liberty. We also saw Notre Dome, the Louvre and different buildings along the Sein River. For dinner, all but two had lobster. The wine bottles came and went. There seemed to have unlimited supply of wine. For this reason, a couple of students went a little over the board. At one point an on board violinist played tango song. Under Bob’s urge, I went to ask Nicole to dance. I was amazed by her ability to fellow for she had never learnt how to tango. While we were dancing, an old couple also joined us and started to dance. Near end of the cruise, Memo requested the violinist to play La Compasita. Here Nicole and I went to the dance floor again. She was doing even better than the last. After playing the song, the violin player told me that he was to play waltz and asked us to continue. With the music, Nicole and I swirled around the floor. I did not know how she did it. For sure she had never danced Viennese waltz before. But she was able to follow me most of the time. After dancing, she was really excited and wanted to do something when back to Salisbury. Since she already did some recruiting, there seemed to be enough of interests to set up a club at SU. I was very happy for the possibility as well.


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