Tuesday, January 16, 2018

"Eiffel" in "Louvre" with Paris (Part 4): Eiffel Tower, Les Invalides, Cimetiere du Pere Lachaise

- Dec. 19, 2017, Tuesday.

- In my brief 4 days in Paris (see my first three days herehere, and here), my last day was the most exciting. Not only did I have the day to myself (as we decided out last day to be a wildcard day,) but it was also my planned photoshoot day. I hurriedly prepared myself, and rushed off to Trocadero Plaza (just outside Trocadero metro station) for my most-awaited Eiffel Tower photoshoot with my DIY (sort of) French/Napoleon-inspired costume. Place de Trocadero (and the gardens below) are located at the 16th arrondissement, just across the river from the Eiffel Tower which is at the 7th arrondissement.) This is one of the perfect places to have a photo with the Eiffel Tower. However, little did I know that it would be the foggiest day during my stay in Paris. I arrived there before sunrise (around 8am, and yes the sun still wasn't up because it was winter,) and even when the sun was out, the tip of the tower was barely seen.

- By the way, the name "Trocadero" sounds Spanish because it is Spanish! The place was named in honor of the Trocadero Island ("Traders' Island) that the French captured in the early 1800s. The park has two parts, one on the hill, and the other part (the gardens) at the bottom of the hill behind the park/plaza.

Where is the rest of the tower?? :O :O :O :O
This was around 9am, and it was still very foggy.
At the plaza on the hill.
- While waiting for the sky to hopefully clear up, I also noticed a lot of wedding prenuptial photoshoots being done. There were couples from Korea, Malaysia, Russia, USA, and other countries. I had to be shooed away from my prime spot quite a few times. Of course I obliged; who am I to be an obstacle to their love, right? Just as more people started to arrive, I realized that I could go down to the gardens, something tourists don't always know of, and I was able to have my spot to myself most of the time. I waited around 3-4 hours until the sky cleared up a bit; I was actually quite happy if even the silhouette of the tower's tip would be seen. You know, just to have some kind of complete image of the tower in the background. Thankfully, the park's fountains (that can spew A LOT of water) weren't turned on that day, or else my view would've been blocked!!

The gun-like things at the bottom are spouts for the fountain.
Just a bit of sun, this was around 9:30am.
Night or day, or Twilight. (That's the sun by the way.)
Featuring, agian, my foldable bicorne, the ribbon thing I made from construction paper, my regular coat , white shirt, and white pants, then my Korean boots, and a piece of red fabric I have lying around the house.
Close up. (See how hard it was to wait for the tower's tip to show.)
A Korean couple that I accidentally took a photo of. See how they love each other. I ain't go any o' that. -____-
Around 12 noon.
I bet this guy's cold. It was around 4 degrees that morning.
His glorious view everyday.
- After my triumphant shot, I rode the train to Invalides metro station to visit....well, the Invalides (Les Invalides.) This titanic structure (way bigger than I imagined,) was built in the 1700s to serve as a hospital and a retirement place for unwell/ill soldiers and war veterans. However, before going around the place, first visited the Saint Louis des Invalides Cathedral, and the Dome of Les Invalides behind the cathedral. The dome is a popular tourist spot because Napoleon Bonaparte is buried there (his tomb is MASSIVE.) (Reminder/warning: DO NOT THROW AWAY YOUR TICKET AFTER PURCHASING AT THE TICKET BOOTH. You will need to show your ticket in each gallery you go to, including the dome with Napoleon's tomb.)

Foggy foggy day. Boohoo.
The dome behind the cathedral.
Napoleon's tomb!! (The tomb is bigger than how it seems like in the photo.)
Dome's ceiling.
Napoleon (and his fascination for all-things-ancient-Roman.)

- I grabbed a quick late lunch at the cafeteria at the visitor's center after visiting Napoleon's tomb, then proceeded to see the galleries. My goodness, the galleries looked small, but some of the galleries seemed like mazes!! (I am not complaining, I just did not expect.) Apart from the tomb of Napoleon, the armory was my second favorite gallery. I sometimes fancy old-school weapons and military fashion.

Love the details. Who says you can't defend the state and be fashionable at the same time. -____-
I've always wondered how heavy these armors are.
Courtyard (you can see the tip of the dome at the back.)
Military fashion.
Would like to have a robe/cape like this to assert A U T H O R I T Y. Lol.
That bicorn is higher than the sky. 
Canons and more canons.
- From Les Invalides, I took the metro - and it was a long journey - to Pere Lachaise metro station. This metro station is right next to my final destination, Cimetiere du Pere Lachaise. "Cimetiere" is a French for "cemetery." Although a cemetery isn't on people's usual itinerary, this cemetery is quite special: a lot of famous people are buried there. Because of this, there are cemetery tours and individual visitors who want to visit some of these famous dead people. The cemetery was opened in the early 1800s and was named after a priest named Francois de la Chaise. Apart from the famous people, the tombs and mausoleums were designed in very decorative and ornate ways, so it is a rather....interesting place to visit. Take note that the cemetery is on a hill, so there are some parts where you need to climb a few stairs to get to the tomb you wish to see.
Georges Bizet, the composer of the opera "Carmen." Heard of "Habanera," "Toreador," or the opening theme of Carmen? If you aren't familiar with these, I am 95% sure that you have heard of at least one of these in your life and just didn't know the title. These three are some of the most popular songs from Carmen.

The chapel and the crematorium.
- To be honest, the moment I stepped inside the cemetery I wanted to go out because of the creepy feeling - not to mention the noisy crows that kept coming and going (have you ever heard of a crow's "hwak hwak hwak" call??), adding to the jeepers creepers of the cemetery. Also, the cemetery was quite organized so it wasn't easy to get lost. Of course, a handy cemetery map and a little planning will do wonders, as some graves are quite hard to find. Although I wanted to look for more graves (boy, that's something I never thought I'd say??) I just limited to my top three must-visit graves, especially since the sun sets quite early in the winter, and the cemetery didn't seem to have lights.

For my doctor friends: Christian Hahnemann, the father of homeopathy.
Actually, homeopathy is a field that deals with alternative medicine (and is considered a pseudoscience.)
Pierre Bourdieu, sociologist. HUHU. IF IT WEREN'T FOR YOUR CONCEPTS I WOULDN'T HAVE GOTTEN MY M.A. DEGREE. :(( :(( :(( :((

- The cemetery still accepts new burials, but the person should have been a resident of Paris, or the person died in Paris. Some of the bodies were cremated, or placed in a family mausoleum, which allows the cemetery to have enough room for more burials.

Suddenly saw this. It's the Hugo family memorial. 
See Victor Hugo's name? Well, sadly, he's not buried here, but in the Pantheon in Paris.
Dear Chopin, if it weren't for you, I wouldn't have known how much my fat fingers could twist and turn on the piano. (Sometimes more than I wanted them to.)
- After visiting Chopin's grave I hurriedly found my way out of the cemetery, passing by a few more crows and cemetery-tourists. A few centuries inside the long train ride later, I found my way back to our hotel for an early early dinner. By this time I got half-tired of European food, so I did the unthinkable: eat Chinese food in France. It was also this time that I realized that Asian food really is food for the heart no matter how good European cuisines are (and of course I speak only for myself - being an Asian lost in Europe and all. Heehee.)

- My family and I had an early rest that night in preparation for the second leg of our European Christmas trip: Italy!! (Please don't forget to read Part 1 here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here. More installments coming soon!!)

"Eiffel" in "Louvre" with Paris (Part 3): The Louvre, Notre Dame Cathedral, Sainte Chapelle, and more!!

- Dec. 18, 2017, Monday.

- Our first two days in Paris (click for Part 1 here and Part 2 here) though jam-packed, I felt they were still generally teasers to the wonders of what people call the "City of Love and Romance." As with the past two days, we started our day in Paris still without the sun rising. The temperature in Paris during our trip, by the way, was somewhere around 4 to 7 degrees.

- On our third day - as usual, before sunrise - we rode the train to Louvre metro station (1st arrondissement) to visit none other than the world-renowned Louvre Museum (Musee du Louvre.) Today, the Louvre is known as the museum that houses Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa, among other famous artworks. However, the building where the museum is in right now was once a palace that was first built in the 12th century. The palace had a series of expansions in the next centuries until it was decided to turn the palace into a museum in the 1700s after the Palace of Versailles was made into the main palace (click here to see my trip to the Palace of Versailles.)

FINALLY. IT'S YOU. (The pyramids, by the way, were added in the late 1800s.)
Tito of Paris.
Details, details.
Good morning Mr. Sun!!
Inside the big pyramid (it's the museum entrance by the way.)
On the way to see the Mona Lisa!!
- We arrived at the museum just an hour before opening. Fortunately, we were able to book our 9am ticket beforehand, so we were able to directly go to the museum entrance queue. Of course, the main reason for going there early is to see the Mona Lisa with as little crowd as possible. Thankfully, there are helpful signs/arrows that point to the gallery where the Mona Lisa was. As it was a former palace, the museum was huge, and it was still easy to gest lost even with a map. I finally found the Mona Lisa, took some snaps, and gazed at the medium-sized portrait for a few minutes. The fine layers of color, I think, are more apparent when seen in person, even with the glass frame. By the way, the Mona Lisa is in the Denon wing of the museum. Once you go down the basement, go to the right side (or you know, it's always a good idea to run to the nearest information booth, also at the basement level, and ask for more specific directions.) Just a reminder, DO NOT THROW AWAY YOUR TICKET AFTER ENTERING. Sometimes, other galleries will need to see and scan your ticket again, so don't lost it!!

There you are!!
See the crowd?? This is considered a very small crowd (and it was actually easy to wiggle my way around the people.) If you go there in the middle of the day....GOOD LUCK!!
Mandatory photo with the painting. There was a barricade so we couldn't go very near the painting.
- After seeing the Mona Lisa, I went around the museum to make my way to the Richelieu wing to see the second most important thing that I wanted to see in the Louvre: the original code of Hammurabi slab. I was able to see a replica of it at the National Museum of Natural History (click here to see) in New York and at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., but I've always wanted to see this particular slab of stone in the Louvre. This slab, or more formally, "stele," contains the laws of the Babylonians and was written by the Babylonian king Hammurabi. One of its laws is "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth." The Code of Hammurabi is currently in the Near Eastern Antiquities gallery.

When a student nags me for bonus points.
Flags of France.
Winged Victory of Samothrace., probably from 2nd century BCE!! It's one of my favorite sculptures ever!!
View from the window.
One of my favorite halls in the museum!! It had full of royal treasures!!
I want the crown.
Aphrodite of Milos, from around 1st century BCE!!.
There was a ton of Egyptian art too.
When I read subpar essays/papers submitted to me by my students.
French sculptures; on the way to the Near-Eastern Antiquities gallery.
Ceres, I think.
As a history teacher, it is always an ecstatic experience to see something you teach in class face to face.
- We went around a bit more until we decided to have lunch. It was impossible to go around the museum in a day (unless if you're like me who can absorb/process information at an incredible speed,) and I hope I'll get to go back to Paris again some day.

I am in love with ancient Mesopotamian art.
Don't miss the inverted pyramid at the mall underneath the museum!! (Yes, the tips of the two pyramids aren't aligned.)
Facing the Garden of Tuileries. (See the Eiffel Tower at the back??)
- We had lunch at the mall underneath the museum, and made our way to "Ile de la Cite," probably the most famous island along the Seine River. The island is shared between the 1st and 4th arrondissements. On the way, we passed by Pont des Arts, which used to be the bridge where people attach love locks. Now, the locks were relocated, and the bridge does not have railings anymore where people can attach locks.

Seine River.
Some love locks.
This is where the love locks were relocated.
I am blinded.

- Upon arriving on the small island, we first visited Sainte Chapelle (Holy Chapel,) which is an often-ignored Gothic church (compared to the more famous ones like the nearby Notre Dame) beside the Hall of Justice. This 13th-century chapel is one of the nicest and most colorful churches I've seen in Paris because of all its stained glass windows and brocade-like wall and ceiling colors.

Doesn't look much from the outside.
Interior of the "lobby" of the church.
The actual chapel is at the second floor.
Look at all those colorful windows!!

I found this lock funny.
Hall of Justice beside the church.
"Liberte, egalite, fraternite." - The national motto of France.
- A block away Sainte Chapelle is one of the world's most familiar church - the Notre Dame Cathedral of the 4th arrondissement. This medieval Gothic church was built in the 1100s, and finished in the 1300s (so that's around 200 years!!)

Orange will forever be my color. (Also, I can't remove my hat the whole day because the hat gave my hair a weird shape.)
If only we had more time, I would've wanted to see the flying buttress of the church's back. It's one of the first churches to use this kind of architecture.)

Gothic architecture will always be one of my favorites.
- When I saw the church, as with many people, I remembered The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and wondered if someone lived in the hidden rooms of the church (with friendly talking gargoyles; yes the Disney one stuck with me the most.) When I went inside, it was no less than spectacular.

It ain't exactly a Christmas village, but it looks nice to see a little quite village inside the church.
It was constructed in 1163.
Carvings everywhere.
- Although both Sainte Chapelle and the Notre Dame are close to the Cite metro station, we decided to walk north to see Paris' city hall, also known as Hotel de Ville. This building, originally built in the mid-1300s, was built in the neo-renaissance style; I sometimes call this style the "haunted house" style since a lot of haunted houses are drawn or depicted with this architectural style. Nevertheless, I find this style charming - as long as the building is not haunted.

I have a reasons why I call this architectural style the "haunted house" style.
Stil lcan't remove my beret because of my strangely-shaped hair....thanks to my beret.
- After having an afternoon snack in one of the restaurants nearby, we rode the train from Hotel de Ville metro station to Bastille metro station. This plaza used to be a prison, but was destroyed by civilians in the late 1700s as a protest against the government (today this charging is known as "Bastille Day.") The July Column that stands in the middle of the plaza/roundabout today was made in the 1800s in honor of the July Revolution of 1830, which is another protest against the government.

Too bad the column was being renovated.
- From there we walked around the area, still in the 4th arrondissement, and passed by Victor Hugo's old house in Place de Vosges (Maison Victor Hugo.) Since it was a Monday, the house/museum was not open. Well, it was just an additional thing in my itinerary, but I decided to pass by since it was on the way to the other places we'd like to see in the 4th arrondissement.

Maison Victor Hugo from the outside. He lived here for 16 years in the mid-1800s. Victor Hugo, a writer, was known for his works like The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Miserables.
- My family and I had an early dinner nearby, and proceeded to see Hotel de Sully. Be careful: there are two Hotel Sullys. The first one is an actual hotel (where people can check in and stay,) and this is NOT the Hotel Sully you want to see unless you are checking in at this hotel. The actual Hotel Sully is a few steps beside the first Hotel Sully. The real Hotel Sully was a private estate in the 1600s, and after a few centuries, became the home of the French government's Center for National Monuments. However, parts of the building are still accessible. Since we arrived quite late, we weren't able to go inside anymore. However, going there at night gave the estate a creepy feeling because of its general appearance and ambiance. I am not saying it is haunted, but it does remind me a lot of the house in the movie "Monster House." Despite this, I am very sure that it will have a "tamer" ambiance during the day, and from the photos and videos that I have seen prior to going to Paris, having the opportunity to go inside and see some of the rooms of this "mansion" is surely worth it.

This is the REAL Hotel de Sully.
Charming mansion.
Haunted house feels, but don't worry. It isn't as scary as it seems.
- We went back to our hotel after visiting Hotel de Sully by riding the metro at the Saint-Paul metro station. (The charming Saint Paul's church is just above the metro.) It was quite a long train ride to the 7th arrondissement, where our hotel was, but at least we were able to get some rest from walking a lot in the evening.

17th-century Eglise de Saint-Paul (and the metro station is just in front of it.)
- Back at the hotel, I had to prepare all my things for the day after. Since the day after was a wildcard day (i.e. a free day on our own, individually or otherwise, where we can go anywhere) the possibilities just seemed endless! Knowing me, of course, the most important thing of the day would be my most-awaited costumed photoshoot!! (More installments coming soon!! Don't forget to visit Part 1 here, Part 2 here, Part 4 here!!)