Sunday, September 28, 2008

Louvre... Louver... Luvrey... Luuuuve... Lovray... something...

ORIGINAL POST: 27 May 2008

As I'm sure you can figure out from the title, I've recently been to the Louvre...

...and I spent quite some time there. That was Day 2 in Paris.

Mandy and Sarabeth - the two companions I had set out with from Athens - left early this morning and were at the Louvre before we even woke up. Mandy's brother joined up with them and they did their own thing from here. It would be many days before we would see them again.

But, alas, I did not find the Holy Grail that Dan Brown said was there...

...whoa, I think I might have spoiled the story.

And if you didn't understand that... go read The daVinci Code. But now you don't have to because I just spoiled it for you...

Alright, moving on. I'm starting to make very little sense.
Yep, its a museum. A really really huge museum. And in an attempt not to completely put you to scrolling through the pictures, I'll attempt to keep it interesting.

But seriously, it has quite a few rather major things that I just could not leave Europe without seeing. Some people find big museums like this a little insipid, but after you've spent months in the places these little artifacts came from, they start to gain a certain sentimental aspect to them.

Like the Venus de Milo, for instance:

Anyone who sat through the lowest level of Art Appreciation in high school or college has seen this little lady. I guess she could be the world's most famous naked person, but the Venus (or Aphrodite, as she was originally known to the Greeks) is one face that has been famous for a LONG time.

Speaking of long times, the Egyptian influence and artifacts follow you everywhere. If its a museum, it probably has something Egyptian in it.

Not that these really belonged to anyone notable, but they're still in exceptional condition - and since they're in Louvre, they will be in exceptional condition for many years to come.

And speaking of good condition:

You, my squatty friend, are one legendary little dude. This is one of the things the Cairo Museum wishes it still had in its possession. He's almost 5000 years old... yes, that means there's a good chance he was there BEFORE the pyramids!

Remember the sacred burial ground of Saqqara all the way back from my second day in Egypt? From here:

Well, the Seated Scribe was found there. Understand my connection to these places? You see this little dude in the Louvre and kinda sit and think, "Wow. I've been there."

Its truly unreal to think about.

Moving on...

Since the Louvre is in France, you can't get away without seeing some crown jewels and something glorifying the beauty of the country:

Can you go to Washington, D.C., without singing praises to the USA? Well... even in today's time! I'm sure if we had crown jewels (held within the gold sarcophagus in the lower right) we'd be flaunting them, too.

Then, if you've spent any time in Greece, you'll be well acquainted with the headless "Nike of Samothrace"...

...and if you pay attention to quite a few things in the world these days, too. She's copied dozens and dozens of times - but here is the original. A repaired copy stands in front of Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. And some say the original design for the Rolls Royce Spirit of Ecstasy had its roots here.

Whatever SOME say, I just think the Winged Victory of Samothrace is just really really exceptional.

One of my favorite statues from the Louvre - along with Michaelangelo's Dying Slave - is this one:

How cool is that lighting? Museums with infinite budgets can do things like that.

And of course, you can't go to the Louvre without seeing some daVinci masterworks. It had been a while since I got an elbow to the ear, so I felt like running the gauntlet and seeing the "Lady of the Louvre"... all her over-exaggerated glory, the Mona Lisa is in the middle of a huge mess of people in a room almost to itself. And who would blame them? For most people, this is where they make their beeline.

Why? The world may never know. But just to say, "I've seen the Mona Lisa" would be enough for the average tourist.

Well, one little disappointment came from the Babylonian room. Sure there was pieces of the REAL Ishtar Gate (remember, I saw a reconstruction in Berlin) and quite a few artifacts from Nebuchadnezzar's reign... but it took me a good 5 or 6 minutes to figure out the venerable Code of Hammurabi was nowhere to be found!

What the heck!?! The Code of Hammurabi... was... gone!

Okay, so there was no reason to sound the alarm. The Louvre was having an exhibit on Babylon. Some of my companions would not pay the extra 9Euro to go see it... but I'm of the opinion: "How much would it take to come BACK to the Louvre to see it - plane costs, train costs, hotel, another ticket. Yeah, 9Euro is definitely worth every cent.

I could not photograph inside the Babylon exhibit because some of the artifacts from the Ziggurat of Ur and the findings relating to the Ziggurat's relationship to the biblical Tower of Babel were yet unpublished.

No matter. I was there. I saw the real Code of Hammurabi. No photos and descriptions in an encyclopedia. I can see it in my memory.

Lets see. What else from the Louvre?

Oh, did you know the Louvre used to be a castle? Yeah, me neither... but here's the excavations done from beneath the modern building:

And it seemed like a high-security day. I never found out why.

Well, I guess that did it for the world's most famous Museum. This was still early in the day, though.

A day in Paris equals two or three in other places.

We hit the streets again.

It was a Sunday morning... the little markets were opening where they sell little creatures of all shapes and sizes. There were chinchillas, mice, and - of course - the birds.

Its not a stereotype at all! It really is there!

Then just around the corner was Notre Dame. I had walked by the previous day...

...but this time I had a little more time to get close...

...there are entire families of gargoyles! Not just one or two... entire flocks!

And inside really is impressive...

I don't really want to think about how many churches I've been inside during these past 4 months, but this one has a famous name... so, might as well go do the tourist thing and gawk.

I enjoy going a little "behind the scenes" and not taking the photo everyone else takes. Sure, the front of the altar... looks like almost every other altar in every other catholic church in the world. What does it look like from the back?


And I kinda caught somebody's flash! I guess some people can't read "NO FLASH" written in 18 languages. Its not really an enforced rule... it wasn't hard to catch a flash since they were going off EVERYWHERE.

Whatever... its not like a camera flash is going to cause the paint to degrade. Yep, that's what they'll say.

The stained glass is just absurd.

I don't really like that photo because the perspective messes with my head, but you get the idea...

Notre Dame. Pretty impressive.

Crowds are pretty huge there, though...

...but such is Paris. April in Paris, as it were. ;) (Shout out to all you jazzy people out there, w00t.)

The street performers were out in force...

...but such is Europe.

So I and my two remaining companions had a late lunch in a cafe in the Latin Quarter.

And so ended my stay in Paris.

This night our paths would take us separate ways. Melissa and Bethany met up with some of our other friends from Athens to stay in Paris one more night... whilst I took a little train ride...

...out to a nearby city that would become one of the highlights of my journeys abroad:

If you figure it out from that photo... you get a cookie. This was the view from my hostel window.

Keep up, my friends. The next day was one Monday I'll never forget.

~Noah D.

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