Friday, June 22, 2012

The watch incident or The Mona Lisa & Quiche

Ever have one of those trips and you wonder why you are on it with who you are on it with? Well, this was one of those trips. Let's just say — don't ever go on a trip out of "obligation" and know that sometimes your worst nightmares about what can happen, can happen. I shall just call this the "watch incident." Omissions have been purposefully made in these blogs, to, well, make this a positive adventure overall.

Another grey day - wondering if it will rain by the end of the day, as it typically has. A bit of a late start, and made breakfast just before the breakfast server closed up the breakfast room for us.

We walked over to Ian & Sue's hotel. My Mom had thoughts of doing a tour of the Opera, but that was in the middle of the afternoon at 2:00. We found out that you can do self guided tours of the Opera, and I suggested that, so that we could do that on our own, on Thursday or Friday. The Louvre was going to be our focus this morning.

Ian, Sue and I were to walk down and meet my Mom in front of I.M. Pei's Pyramid at the Louvre at a designated time. By now, constant walking everyday, and being on her feet, having taken their toll on my Mom's swollen feet. Struggling to find shoes she could wear, comfortably, seemed to be the order of each morning, so opted to cab to places, and save her walking for the inside of the Louvre.

Again, we walked down towards La Place Concorde, through the Tuileries Gardens towards the Louvre. It was the perfect temperature for a stroll. Unlike Monday, when the odd person was sitting outside, today, we saw couples, families, friends and tourists enjoying the seating in the gardens.

This lovely flower stand was beside La Madeleine.

Ian, ahead of me, walking through the Tuileries gardens.

A lovely day for a break.

Looking back to the Arc de Triomphe and
the Obelisque in Place de la Concorde.

The Eiffel Tower in the distance.

I loved these ladies,
as they seemingly walked above the shrubbery.

 There were massive queues outside the pyramid. Massive, but actually moving quickly. My Mom had amused herself for an hour, shoe shopping, and met us in the queue. It looked like a scene out of The DaVinci Code, going down into the depths of the museum. We passed our bags through security and made our way into another queue to purchase tickets. It was very warm now under the pyramid, but we were determined to make our way to see the Mona Lisa. Today my Mom's feet were very swollen and her arthritic knee was really bothering her. We took it slowly up the grand staircase, pass "Winged Victory" through the corridor into where the Mona Lisa was surrounded by her admirers. I  didn't even bother getting anywhere near the Mona Lisa - but enjoyed her impish smile from afar, after all, this wasn't our first meeting. It was a mob scene, truly. Cameras up in the air by dozens of people, just randomly snapping.

Winged Victory straight ahead,
with my Mom walking up on the right.

My Mom & Sue taking a break in an alcove
that overlooked one of the museum's work rooms.

Paint the Mona Lisa, and they will come.

Camera everywhere.

Sue and my Mom noting another painting in the same salon
as Mona's. No crowds here.

We meandered through the large format French paintings from the nineteenth century,  and made our way to a restaurant area at the end of a corridor. It was a lovely little location looking out onto the balcony of this grand former palace and up the Tuileries gardens. Quiche all around. We then walked down to see the "Venus de Milo" along with other Greek antiquities. I'm always reminded of my high school art history classes when I come to a museum such as the Louvre. We had your "must knows", "should knows" and  "could knows". Amazingly the dates and titles of so much of the artwork is so ingrained in me, that I was walking by pieces and naming and dating them in my head.

Quiche all around.

Napoleon wanted to leave his mark, as much as he could.

The gallery stores beneath the museum were an eclectic mix of cheap and friendly Eiffel Tower replicas to gorgeous artbooks, from Alessi-like designed kitchen pieces and Mona Lisa Rubik's Cubes. Alas, no floaty pen with Mona in it for me. Now that's an idea they could capitalize on.

At this point my Mom taxied back to the hotel to put her feet up while, Ian Sue and I continued walking along the Seine towards Notre Dame. We crossed over the Point de Carrousel on the south side of the Louvre, and walked the left bank until we approached Notre Dame, crossing Petit Rue de la Cité onto the island. I could imagine the hunchback of Notre Dame clinging to the bell tower. We enjoyed a lovely moment in the area in front of the church, soaking up the sun. The rain had held off to this point, but dark clouds were quickly approaching, and the temperature was dropping. Ian and Sue continued to walk into the left bank towards La Sorbonne & planned on having dinner there, while I cabbed it back to the hotel to check in on my Mom and to see if she was ready for dinner.

Thousands of locks attached to this bridge,
by couples pledging their undying love will be locked here forever.

By now we were starting to feel peckish and decided to go for pizza at the end of our block, at Pompei ristorante Italiano - Pizzeria. The skies had now opened up, and the downpour began. This was no longer a drizzle. We waited for the rain to subside somewhat and then trekked down the street.

I had a wonderful Margharetta pizza that tasted like my Italian friends Moms used to make.

Then — the watch incident — which I'm sure will go down in family history with infamy. It was a loud moment. Deadly silent. Shouts. Accusations. Crescendo. Silence. Enough said.

Tomorrow is another day, with two more days left in Paris. Ian and Sue leave tomorrow evening and we wanted a relaxing day, not rushing anywhere. Paris will stand out to me for many reasons, but I never thought this would be one of them, the watch incident. Alas, you never know where life leads.

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