26 June 2009

We both woke late, around 9:30 a.m. After all the movement this week, we needed some time to just slow down and collect ourselves. After a shower and a couple of Advil, we were ready to face the day.

We caught breakfast late in the morning at one of the little cafes on Rue Rivoli near our hotel. This one was not one of the better cafe's, but it was open. We walked down Rue Rivoli to the Tourism Office, where Jackie bought us a couple of tickets to the "Open Tour" bus and a Museum Pass.

We got on the bus and rode it around a bit. We got off the bus at Notre Dame cathedral. We took some shots of the front of the cathedral and watched the hundreds of people milling around the area and a group of elementary school girls chasing pigeons.

Eventually, we went inside the cathedral. Here was my first complaint about Paris and it's not about Parisians. Despite many signs around the cathedral, including large ones at the door, people continued to take photographs with their flashes turned on. It's interesting to note that every beautiful artifact in the cathedral also had a collection box in front of it for "donations". Jackie made her donations and got a couple of "get out of Hell free" tokens. I'm hoping she will let me have one of them.

We had a late lunch at a cafe near the cathedral and then got back on the Open Tour bus.

The Montparnasse Cemetery is a quiet and peaceful place. If it weren't for all the marble and granite place, it would be easy to mistake the place for a public park. Locals walked the quiet lanes through the cemetery, tourists rubbed the graves and took photos, and there appeared to be a Jewish burial going on. We found graves of Jean Paul Sartre and Porfirio Diaz among the hundreds of priests, nuns, and patriots. Jackie had thought about making some rubbings, but we didn't bring any tracing paper with us. From Montparnasse, we got back on the Open Tour bus and rode it back to the Louvre.

Got into the Louvre in the late afternoon. We headed into the hall with the Italian Renaissance painters. Found the Mona Lisa with about 50 people standing in front of it, taking flash photos!!! What the hell is wrong with people? Can't they read signs. I suppose part of the fault lies with the museum staff–there were 3 guards directly in front of the painting yet they never chastised anyone for taking flash photos. From the hall with the Italian paintings, we found the Egyptian artifacts, which I know my son would love to see. We also found the Mesopotamian artifacts of King Sargon, the Code of Hammurabi, and a bunch of very cool sculptures.

We left the Louvre and had a drink at one of the nearby cafes. In this cafe, I ordered a Picon beer, which was a medium brown dark beer that tasted wonderful. After we got home, I learned that Picon is a syrup in France that is added to Pilsner to make the drink that I got. Now, I'm going to have to find the stuff next time I'm in a civilized part of the country (not Oklahoma).

We had our dinner meal at the Cafe Ruc, which is not far from the Louvre. The meal was OK, but this was the first time that we've had a waiter in France hover over us like he was ready for us to leave his table so someone else could use it. What the hell? Are we in Chili's? We took our time anyway and I refrained from adding a few Euro on our way out the door.

A quick grab of my twitter feed on while in the cafe, we learned that Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson had died. One was expected, the other was not. Neither was a surprise.

Culture Shocker: I've been in France twice before, including Paris. Both times previously, I always managed to step in dog crap. I've watched the French with their dogs and I noticed that they don't curb them. This trip, however, not only did I not step in crap, I didn't really see that much laying around on the sidewalks. I wonder if there's been a deliberate effort to clean that crap up.

Tomorrow – Musee d'Orsay, Musee L'Orangerie, riding the Metro, Eiffel TowerIf you want to skip all the talk and see the pics, just browse over to my Photo site.