When I left you off I was buying candy in the metro on the way home. I didn't end up eating that candy, not just yet. In fact, I saved it up until we were on the bus ride home two days later! Impressive, I know. Compared to my recent efforts in self control it really was though…
So, we got home around 10:30-11:00 and pretty much went straight to bed. Except that I stayed up to talk to people on Facebook…Isa insisted that I wasn't bothering them by being on the computer, and you know how the French are about insisting…I didn't argue.
That night we slept a lot better I think. I remember that I woke up a few times during the night, due to unfamiliar surroundings and unfamiliar beds and that sort of the thing, but it was bliss in light of how horribly we slept the first night.
The only thing we had scheduled for the day was the Cirque d'Alexis Gruss, and that wasn't until 2 or 3. We had heard during our tour on the Seine that there was an exhibition of video games playing in the Grand Palais, and although that didn't really tempt Isa, Anouk and I were pretty interested (I was actually really excited), so we woke up a little late, took our time with breakfast, and walked out once again into a rainy Wednesday morning. Consequently, the number of pictures I took during those grey days is equally as depressing.
Upon entering the enormous palace-turned-exhibition hall we learned that the exhibition wasn't on video games, but rather games in general. You could have cut my disappointment with a chainsaw. Maybe that's a little dramatic. It's true that I was disappointed, mostly because I'm a nerd, but I was still intrigued by the concept of an art exhibit based on the development and progression of toys throughout the centuries, so we bought tickets and walked through anyway.
As was the unfortunate case in the Sacré Coeur, photographs were once again forbidden, and it's hard to take a discrete picture with an SLR camera so I walked out with nothing but my memories to paint the picture of what I saw…I would literally paint it but I'm horrible with a pen and paper so I'll just write.
Basically you walk in you and are completely surrounded by toys from as far back as 400 years ago. Everything from wooden dolls and puzzles to stone action figures and toy farms. Then you walk 20 feet further into the exhibit and you're looking teddy bears, robots, and more action figures. There was one whole room dedicated to girls' toys from everywhere and from every decade. We're talking the first Barbies, porcelain dolls, and cabbage patch kids among Bratz, My Little Pony, and Pretty Pretty Princess collections.
There was always a direction of progression throughout the ages as you went from left to right or vice versa. Side note: have you ever heard someone pronounce "vice versa" "vicee versey"? It's SO annoying…
After the room of girls' toys you walk up the stairs and now you're amongst the realm of men. That's right - toy cars, more robots and action figures, marbles, and FINALLY video games! It wasn't a very big deal, actually. Maybe five games were set up to show the whole progression of video games in the last couple decades. Enough to make you go, woah. People (meaning I) actually played that back then…but not enough to make you go, woah. NOW I get what made Pokémon so popular! or NOW I understand why they've been making Mario games for 30 years! NOW I see how Halo revolutionized the entire FPS genre! That all takes at least…15 years of gaming experience.
Anyway, all gaming aside it was a pretty cool walk through. It's not often I go through art exhibits at the Grand Palais in Paris…
We left with much bigger expectations in our hearts as our metro pulled us closer to the highlight of the day: Le Cirque d'Alexis Gruss! Yes, Le Cirque Du Soleil was there too but Isabelle decided that since that was an international mix of artists it would be cooler to see a more local, French circus, which is very cool and impressive all the same. Before ducking into the classic circus tent we sat outside underneath a small awning by a lake and ate a sandwich while it rained. We were eating sandwiches for the majority of the time we spent in Paris, now that I think about it.
Eventually we made it underneath the typical circus shelter, about 45 minutes before the show was due to start. After finding our seats (which were in the second row from the front) umm…nothing happened. We just sat there and waited for the show to start haha.
And what a show it was! I would've recorded bits of it but A) we were pretty sure it wasn't allowed, and B) I was too busy being wowed by the circus freaks, I mean performers. They did all sorts of things. They started by doing a bunch of different tricks with horses. The horses would come in and run around in a circle and the carney brothers would run and jump and flip and twirl onto them and stand up and do more flips and jumps and stuff while the horses were still running. Then two or three more guys would join the one already on the horse. It was really impressive!
The only thing is that after about 23 seconds after the first horse entered the scene my allergy senses started tingling. By that I mean my whole chest felt blocked up and I sneezed about every minute until half time. Or whenever it was that we took a 20 minute bathroom break. Even after the horses left and they moved on the bigger and better things, whatever they kicked up stayed in my system for the rest of the day. Well, for the rest of the week I guess. I did stop sneezing after the shooed the horses out, but I was still snuffling the rest of the show.
Other things I saw :
An elephant. I don't think I've ever been so close to one, and it was one of the coolest things I've ever seen. They had it trained to sit, give high fives, stand on it's hind feet and pick someone up with its trunk and wave him around.
A guy juggling several plates while balancing by himself from the top of a 20 foot ladder. Also, as he climbing up the ladder he would spin around it and even did a backward roll over the top rung like it was nothing.
Extreme pole dancing. A guy and girl climbed up this huge pole and would slide down and stop themselves right before hitting the ground and just were crazy in every sense of the word. I almost said every sense of the mot (word in French), ah!
Two girls dancing around, unattached in an open sphere suspended probably 50 feet in the air. This show was not for the light hearted!
In the finale, everybody came out and was either juggling pins, twirling giant metal squares around themselves, riding a horse, or something else very circusy. It was wicked cool, but I wish I could've taken some videos or pictures. Like just about everything else I've done thus far, I guess you'll just have to come and see it for yourself!
I think the whole thing last about two and a half hours, and by the time we left it had already gotten dark out, even though it was still relatively early. You know how it is during the winter. Anyway, we had one more big sight to go see - Le Louvre!
Thankfully it wasn't closed like it was the first time I went with Baptiste, Elizabeth, Stephen and Justin nearly three years ago. Apparently Tuesday is National Close National Museums Day or something. It wasn't Tuesday, however, so we were able to make it inside! They were only open for another two hours though, and if you know anything about the Louvre it's that it takes at least a couple days to see just the main works there, and about three months to go through the tour of every piece using the audio tours they have.
Needless to say, we didn't see everything. I wanted to see above all the Mona Lisa, or La Joconde in French. (They call it that because the name of the woman, Lisa del Gherardini, married a rich silk merchant named Francesco del Giocondo, and they went to da Vinci to have a portrait made in celebration of the coming of their second son, and Joconde is the translation of Giocondo!)
There was also la Victoire, Venus de Milo, the whole Egyptian exhibit, among countless paintings and statues that we passed in order to get to the other works. I was obviously really impressed by all the different paintings and stuff, but unfortunately I didn't have time to stop and appreciate every one there so I grabbed a couple pictures and moved on.
We saw la Victoire first, and it was way cool. It looms above everybody and you can see it from pretty far away, which makes approaching it kind of eerie in a way, considering it's headless and armless and keeps getting bigger and bigger.
The Mona Lisa was the next stop, and to be completely honest, I wasn't even that impressed haha. There were a million people standing around taking pictures of it, but the bulletproof glass over the front of the portrait makes it hard to see and even harder to take a good picture of. In case you were wondering though, yes, her eyes do follow you!
There's a path that leads to the Egyptian exhibit where you pass by the old walls of the Louvre before it was remodeled. Did you know it used to be a castle? People LIVED there! You wouldn't believe it walking through because it's just so freakin big. I saw an artist's 3D rendition of what it would've looked like before it was knocked down, and it's incredible. It's got to be pretty accurate because he used an old painting of the Louvre to make the model, and you really start to feel small when you see stuff like that.
So we walked around the base of what used to be the Louvre castle, and eventually ended up in the Egyptian section of the enormous museum. I couldn't possibly write enough to justify the amount of pictures I took, so I think I'll just do a little gallery thing. Here goes!
I think my favorite part of the exhibit were the giant walls of hieroglyphics. You always see in the textbooks the different pictures and drawings they had, but to see and touch with your own eyes and hands is quite the experience. Also, the sarcophaguses and tombs were incredible. The details these people put into their final resting ground! I don't know, it was just awesome. I think I want to be buried in a sarcophagus. With giant Russian-doll styled Casey Garland's surrounding me. And my guts can be sorted out and placed in little clay dolls in the shape of my friends. Is that…weird…?
Anyway…I just need to finish this post. I've been writing it for like, five weeks now. We swung by the Venus statue on the way out. It was cool! I have such a lack of appreciation for art it kills me…I guess I just mean that I think I saw cooler statues that were all just lined up next to each other, and then here's Venus with her own little exhibit. I don't get it! Who decide's what portraits and sculptures are more important or valuable or famous?! Is that a stupid question…?
We left the Louvre just before they closed, and we were hungry and tired from walking around all day, so we went straight from there to the nearest restaurant. It was a nice little place called the Thermidor, and I can't remember what I ordered. Knowing Parisian restaurants, however, it was probably delicious.
That was the last significant thing we did in Paris. It was a fantastic adventure, and even the lack of sleep made for a good story. That night I managed to get a little more than we had been getting previously, even though we woke up relatively early to catch a bus to the Gare de Lyon station to catch our train to the Part-Dieu station that's actually in Lyon to catch a bus (where we finally ate that candy I bought in the metro) to Davézieux to catch a ride with Papi (Isa's dad) home.
Later that day I was hanging out with Alex when this girl walking through the neighborhood handed us this pamphlet for a free drink at a newish restaurant that had opened in Annonay called the Bombine, so that night we decided to check it out. We were the first and only customers for a while because we showed up a little early and they said they'd open early for us because I had volleyball practice later that night and if we didn't go until they opened I would've missed it. Lord knows I need as much physical activity as I can get apart from biking to my classes every Tuesday. Especially considering I don't bike into town anymore because I either have a ride from Alex or Thibaut and because Ashley moved to Valence so I have no one to visit there :(
The Bombine was excellent. Yet again, I don't have the slightest what I ordered. Often on the menu is some sort of poultry (although mostly duck), salmon, a chunk of meat, or another type of meat. After dinner Alex dropped me off at practice, and we said our joyeux Noëls and à la prochaines. Practice went pretty well I'm sure, and after I got back Isa and Anouk decided that we should open presents before I left for Bordeaux the next morning.
My present from them was the trip to Paris, so I wasn't expecting anything, but of course they got me a little box of recipes using Carambar (a really popular caramel), crème de marrons, fromage à tartiner, and other stuff. They're so nice!
I got them a blu-ray player and Anouk the blu-ray Star Wars saga to go with, because she's a big fan. She watched all six within the next two days I think haha. They were super appreciative and we shared some kisses on the cheeks (no hugging here - ever), but it might as well have been!
I went to bed that night with a heart too large for my chest. I was worried about not having the same Christmas Spirit here in France, but if there's anything I've learned from being here it's that people are generally all the same kind, generous, loving, people you will find anywhere else. I love that feeling. All the same, I couldn't wait to see Tiste and his family and friends, so I packed up that night and got ready for my eight hour train ride the following day.