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Date: 11/25/12
Location: Hostel, Paris
Mood: Peaceful
Listening to: How loud my own dang typing is as I try to type quietly because someone is trying to sleep at 7pm :c

(NOTE: Pictures are currently linked, because I uploaded them to Facebook but don’t have the patience to re-upload them here, the Internet is very slow. I will replace them with imbedded pictures when I return to Prague but until then, just click on the numbers in brackets to see the pictures. They should be set to open in a new tab so you won’t lose your place.)

It’s surprisingly difficult to accept the fact that I live a life where I can just up and go to Paris for the weekend. The plane ticket was 90 Euros round trip (cheaper than Chicago-Nashville, unless you book way in advance) and I’ve been pretty budget-conscious this semester so there was a little wiggle room. Still, getting off the plane to <<Bienvenue a Paris>> was surreal in a way. My life is pretty awesome, guys. Thanks again to Mom and Dad, and Belmont University for making my study abroad possible.

My good friend Louisa, who I’ve known since elementary school, is currently an Au Pair about an hour south/west of Paris, so she was able to meet me for the weekend. It was great to see her again and awesome to be with someone who speaks fluent French- I took French in middle and high school, and one year in college, but I’ve lost a lot. Basically I can read at a pretty decent level, and understand most spoken stuff if they’re not talking TOO fast, but I’m relatively terrible at composing my own sentences. So I met up with Louisa at Gare du Nord and we headed to the hostel to drop things off, and then for our weekend of culture!

…Well, okay, we also saw Skyfall and Argo, in VO (version originelle) with French subtitles. Which was interesting in Argo, when people were talking in Farsi, and in the American version there would be English subtitles, we had to switch into French mode. I got the jist of it though. Of the two I recommend both, but I’m a Bond nerd, and Skyfall was amazing, so it gets my gold star.

But. Culture happened too! We spent a good couple of hours at Cimetière du Père-Lachaise.

[James Douglas Morrison]

This is Jim Morrison’s’ grave- unfortunately his fans have also covered the masoleum to the left in this picture with ‘Break on through to the other side’ and ‘Jim, you can light my fire’ graffiti, so it’s surrounded by a fence. Fans have also been a problem for Oscar Wilde’s memorial, where the tradition was to leave a lip print in red lipstick. Recently all the lipstick was washed off and a clear barrier was set up… but then there were problems with people climbing over the barrier (and possibly falling off the memorial?) so there’s now a fence 10 feet away from the barrier. Good thing I’m not a huge Wilde fan so I wasn’t too disappointed.

[Oscar Wilde]

While lost on our way out Louisa and I found our first of many awesome coincidences-  the grave of Gilbert Bécaud.

[Merci, Gilbert!]

As far as I can tell he’s basically the French Frank Sinatra, and in middle school we had to translate the lyrics of his rather comedic song, “L’orange.” It’s about a guy stealing an orange. Conveniently we had some clementines in my backpack so we got a random passerby to take a picture of us in front of Bécaud’s grave holding them… she looked at us like we were crazy, but it was an inside joke from middle school that just HAD to come to fruition. Get it? Fruit-ition? Well anyways that picture is on Louisa’s camera so hopefully I can post it later.

Here’s the next awesome coincidence:

[Man holding small man]

We were eating our clementines and noticed this statue: exactly what it says on the tin, a man holding a small man. “Hey, that looks cool,” so we took a picture of it. (We also took pictures of guys who resembled US Presidents, cool mustaches were all over that cemetery so there were a few gentlemen who resembled Roosevelt, Taft, etc.)

The next stop was the Musee Petit Palais, where we found some awesome manuscripts, some old greek ceramics and… oh hey, look at that.

[Man holding small man…in wax.]

Turns out Jean Carriès was a famous ceramicist and sculptor who also did stuff like this:

[Frog Rabbit. No honestly, this one is called “grenouille-lapin.”]

New favorite sculptor? I think so.

The next day we went to the Musee D’Orsay. Now, I’m not really a museum person or an art person, but I don’t think Louisa would have let me get away with spending a weekend in Paris without getting some culture. What did we see there? What DIDN’T we see there is a better question. If you’ve ever taken an art class ever, you’ve heard some of these names: Van Gogh, Monet, Manet, Renoir, Gauguin, Cezanne, Delacroix, Sisley…. my head was spinning after just a couple exhibitions. Know what’s cool? If you have a visa to any EU country for more than 90 days, you’re a “temporary resident,” so both Louisa and I got to see all this amazing, astonishing, jawdropping art for exactly $0. We made up for the lack of admission fee at the gift store, though… C’est la vie.

[Also I got a new hat.]

The hostel was surprisingly nice, especially for being one of the cheapest in Paris. Rather clean, rather safe and except for the girl who turned on the lights at 6:45 am and LEFT them on when she left the room, most of the people are respectful and nice. It’s a bit sad to be here by myself tonight, Louisa has class tomorrow but I don’t… maybe I’ll mosey down to the common room and try to make some new travel friends. I still have tomorrow morning in Paris so we’ll see if I find something else to add, but till later, À bientôt! My next CEA blog is due Tuesday, a video of the CEA office in Prague, and I still have to write Istanbul (haven’t forgotten!) but finals and projects are about to kick in, so I might not be posting here so often. Thanks for reading!

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