I’d be happy never riding a bus again Friday, Jul 17 2009 

Thursday morning the 4 of us woke up semi-early to check out of the hostel on time. We didn’t stick around for breakfast because we decided we wanted our last meal in Ireland to be a traditional Irish breakfast. After walking around for a little bit we found a pub nearby that was still serving and sat down to enjoy some food before Sarah had to catch her bus to Dublin to catch her flight to London. The breakfast was huge and delicious! We all agreed that we’d made a good decision in choosing breakfast out over toast at the hostel.

After breakfast it was good-bye to Sarah as she headed off to catch her bus; she still has 2 weeks in Europe thanks to a cruise with her family. Personally I’m ready to go home. Jaclyn, Katie and I still had about an hour to kill before we had to catch our bus so we wandered around Galway one last time soaking  it all in. After one last visit to the Oscar Wilde statue and the tourism center so Jaclyn could grab one last souvenir we got on our bus. The bus from Galway to Dublin took about 3.5 hours total and I’m not ashamed to say I slept most of the way. I just put on The Beatles on my iPod and conked out. It was wonderful.

We got to the airport in plenty of time and actually made it through customs and security just fine (mainly because we didn’t have to go through customs). The flight was delayed about 20 minutes but overall it wasn’t bad. We found out in the air what the cause of the delay was–bad weather. Flying into Paris we got some bad turbulence, worse than anything I’ve ever experience, and could see the sky light up with the lightning from a summer thunderstorm. When we got off the plane we were a little shocked by the heat and humidity, we’d gotten pretty used to the cooler weather in Prague and Galway.

From the plane it was onto another bus, this one to take us actually into Paris. I think it’s pretty cool that now we’ve flown in/out of all three airports in Paris: Charles de Gaulle, Orly and Beauvais. That bus ride was the worst because the driver was a moron and kept going in circles. I swear it must have taken twice as long as needed to get to our destination and the rain had nothing to do with it. Luckily for us though the drop off point was really close to the Chalufour’s apartment so we just walked home.

Once we got home it was a speed round of re-packing and last minute preparations for leaving tomorrow. Our flight home leaves at 1 pm so we have to be on the Metro headed to CDG by 9. I’m actually pretty excited about going home, even though this summer has been incredible! I still don’t think it’s fully sank in that I spent my summer studying/traveling around Europe. It was a dream come true and I will never forget this summer!

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Paris was so sad to see us go she cried…again Tuesday, Jul 7 2009 

Tuesday Jaclyn got up to go in to IES to take her last final and I got around to go in to the final picnic they were providing.

Lunch was a blast, it was a great way for everyone to chat and discuss plans for the last night in Paris. Afterwards we all did a little bit of last minute shopping and then we headed home to do last minute packing. Katie came over with her suitcase because she’s leaving it at our apartent while we travel because her family is going on vacation too.

The grand plan of the night was to have a final picnic at the Eiffel Tower with everyone but the weather did not cooperate. It rained off and on all afternoon/night so we decided to go to a nearby fondue restaurant instead. It was the best decision yet! The food was delicious and we all had a blast! There were 8 of us there and it was amazing! I was the only one that had been to a fondue place before (thanks Tom & Deb) so I guess that made me the resident expert. I tried not to screw it up too hard.

After the fondue place, the gang headed to the Bastille to meet Meaghan, Emma and Harrison for one last hoorah. We all went back to the Indian restaurant we visited a few weeks ago and had one last round of drinks and chats together before saying good-byes. It was a little difficult, I’m not going to lie. It’s going to be so strange not to see the same people all day every day for the rest of the summer. At least I’ve got an extra week of travel with some of them to help soften the blow.

On that note, the rest of the updates are going to be few and far between, if they happe at all. Katie, Andres, Jaclyn, Sarah and I leave bright and early in the morning to head to Prague and after that it’s on to Ireland. I’m hoping we’ll have computers with internet at the hostels so I can update the blog but if not I promise to do retrograde posts when I get back to the States. Thanks for following along with me through Paris and I hope everyone enjoyed reading this as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it!

Finally finished with finals and then it was farewell to our fabulous family Monday, Jul 6 2009 

Okay, I’ll apologize right now for that ridiculous title, I just couldn’t help myself with the alliteration.

Monday morning I got up with Jaclyn and fixed a quick breakfast before heading to IES to start my finals. They went about as expected, Contemporary France was vague and more difficult than it needed to be and Impressionism was a breeze. I literally was just given 4 pages to talk about the art of Monet as much as I wanted. Hooray for easy finals!

After the tests, Jaclyn, Katie, Harrison, Andres, Emma, Meaghan and I headed to Andres’ (and everyone else’s) favorite gelatto place to celebrate being done (or close to done for the grammar kids) with classes and tests. This time we went big and got way too much ice cream bu tit was worth it. I’m really going to miss that stuff!

Once we could move again, most of us headed to St. Michel because a few still wanted to do some souvenir shopping. Harrison finally found a few things he’d been wanting and Jaclyn found the grammar book she’d been looking for. I guess that made it a successful trip. From there I left Jaclyn, Harrison and Andres to study while I came home to start packing…

I really hate packing and this was especially difficult. Because we’re traveling extra and leaving our big bags behind I couldn’t exactly pack my big suitcase because I’ll have other things to go in there and I still have to buy a bottle of wine or two to bring home too. Overall it’s a nightmare and was the bane of my existance for a couple of hours.

Luckily, it was soon time for dinner and that was a great distraction. This was our last family dinner and it was so sad! Mme. Chalufour made us quiche again, I think she knows that’s our favorite. After dinner we got some recipies from Mme. and just sat and chatted with the family while watching some TV. It was a really relaxed night but I’m going to miss them. M. Chalufour kept inviting us back anytime we want to come and they both told us to recommend them as a host family to any other MU students we know that come on an IES program. I’ll definitely recommend them to anyone! Being with this family made my stay here so much easier, they’ve been so friendly and welcoming that I felt right at home. Hopefully I’ll come back to Paris and visit them again someday.

Darn schoolwork, you’re ruining my last weekend in Paris! Monday, Jul 6 2009 

Sunday was the most boring day I’ve spent since arriving over here. I did nothing all day but sit on the family’s patio and study for my final exams. I have both on the same day, Monday, and because we’ve been having so much fun lately I haven’t been studying. Annabelle teased me for being so studious. The highlight of the day was when Vlad fixed the internet so Jaclyn and I could finally have contact with people back in the States. We were starting to worry because once we leave for our extra travels on Wednesday morning we won’t have our computers and will definitely be off the grid. That being said I’m going to go take said exams now and I will let you know how that turns out.

It was the 4th of July, we had to find fireworks somewhere! Monday, Jul 6 2009 

Saturday morning the plan was to leave Paris bright and early to go to Versailles…things didn’t exactly work out as planned. To get to Versailles it’s necessary to take the RER, my least favorite form of transportation in all of Paris. Jaclyn and I had so many problems but we finally got on the right train headed in the right direction and got to the next station to meet Katie. Andres was already there and Harrison was on his way. After a few more switches, including a bus to another train to our feet, we made it to Versailles.

Just walking up the street to the castle is breathtaking. The entire place seems to glow like the sun, which is exactly what Louis IVX wanted. The man was very, very conceited but it’s okay because he had a gorgeous house! We went inside and were even more blown away. I’ve been thinking about this for a couple days now and the only word I can come up with to describe the palace and all the rooms is opulent. Everything is gilded or covered in perfect silk or velvet. The Hall of Mirrors was just stunning, Every surface in that room glistened and glittered and blinded you a little bit. Everywhere I turned I was seeing crystal and gold and magnificent paintings. Well done Louis.

The chateau gates.

The chateau gates.

The front of the chateau.

The front of the chateau.

The organ in the royal chapel, it's 3 stories high!

The organ in the royal chapel, it's 3 stories high!

The Hall of Mirrors. One of the most stunning sights I've seen in all of France.

The Hall of Mirrors. One of the most stunning sights I've seen in all of France.

George Washington and LaFayette in a painting commemorating a battle of our Revolution in a room dedicated to great French military victories. It was neat to see GW on the 4th.

George Washington and LaFayette in a painting commemorating a battle of our Revolution in a room dedicated to great French military victories. It was neat to see GW on the 4th.

As beautiful as the interior of the chateau was, the grounds were even better. The shear expanse of the fountains, the hedges, the trees, the flowers, the sculptures and a million other things was almost too much to wrap my head around. I’ve never felt that my eyes/camera were so inadequate in all my life. Everything looked big and expansive from the windows of the chateau but it was even more so once we were in them ourselves, every little row of hedges had secret paths between them, it would be so easy to get lost there but no one would mind. You could spend a lifetime in those gardens and not be able to soak in all their majesty, and yes, majesty is the only way to describe these gardens. Wow.

The view from the chateau.

The view from the chateau.

Giant lawn with pond behind.

Giant lawn with pond behind.

The chateau with a tiny portion of the gardens in front, only 3 fountains are shown out of dozens.

The chateau with a tiny portion of the gardens in front, only 3 fountains are shown out of dozens.

The huge Neptune fountain in the center of the garden.

The huge Neptune fountain in the center of the garden.

One of many semi-secret, narrow pathways.

One of many semi-secret, narrow pathways.

The gardens closed at 5:15 but we didn’t leave the city. We went and got some dinner, which was very good. The best part was dessert, as usual, because it was just amusing. Jaclyn and Katie ordered a Nutella crepe to share and I got my own and when they came we had to make them ourselves. By “make them ourselves” I mean we spread the Nutella out ourselves and trust me they didn’t skimp. It was delicious.

After dinner we went back to the gardens because every Saturday night from June to September they have a fireworks show! I didn’t think it was possible but the gardens were even prettier at night! Everything was lit up and glowing and classical music was playing from speakers hidden in the trees and bushes, it was magical. Seeing everything glowing and hearing the music made it so easy to imagine the grandeur of the place back in the 18th century. Even with 2,000 other people there it didn’t matter. We were in our own little world of wonder and amazement. When the fireworks started we all got very happy. They were so incredible, filling the sky with the grand fountains below and the rest of the grounds behind. It was the best possible way to spend the 4th of July outside the States.

The sunset was perfect!

The sunset was perfect!

The flames were timed to the crescendos of the classical music that was playing.

The flames were timed to the crescendos of the classical music that was playing.

I didn't have a tripod so all of these are a bit full of movement but I tried my best.

I didn't have a tripod so all of these are a bit full of movement but I tried my best.

Fireworks over the fountains and the flames on the lawn.

Fireworks over the fountains and the flames on the lawn.

It was a beautiful night, enough said.

It was a beautiful night, enough said.

At the beginning of the day I was a little homesick because the 4th is always so special at home, with both sides of the family having big celebrations and my surrogate family having a huge party, I was really missing that. All said and done I of course still missed that but the day at Versailles was the best cure for that. We all decided that it made up for whatever we were missing at home.

Wow, that’s in a museum? Thanks for making me feel old… Monday, Jul 6 2009 

Friday morning Jaclyn and I both woke up early and set off to see a few last things we wanted to catch before leaving Paris. It was exciting and sad at the same time. Jaclyn headed off to a park her History of Paris teacher told her about and I headed to Le Musee des Arts et Matiers, a technology museum.

Right when I got off the Metro I knew it was going to be awesome. The Metro station is decorated like The Nautilus from Jules Vernes’ “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” complete with copper walls, porthole windows and wooden deck seats for waiting. I loved it.

The museum was really cool too. It divided technology into 7 different types: communication (my favorite), construction, energy, scientific instruments, materials, mechanical engineering and transport. All the ares were so cool. The scientific instruments were especially cool because it was a bunch of the old marine time clocks and devices for measuring distance at sea and such. It’s amazing that the people back then could figure out such complicated mathematical things and that they made them so beautiful. Every clock or astroglobe or even set of surgical instruments was beautiful as well as functional, when was the last time you looked at a Texas Instruments calculator and thought, “man is that machine pretty!”?

Scientific instruments also included the realm of computers and how they were created and have advanced over time. It made me feel a little old to see an Apple II computer, complete with 4.5 inch floppy disk, on display as ancient technology. It also made me realize just how easy we have it today. Everything is handed to us on a megabit encrusted plate.

The communication exhibit was awesome too. I’ve never seen so many old printing presses in my life and I realize just how much I owe to those glorious machines. With the invention of the printing press came an entirely new lifestyle and way of seeing the world, education was spread to the masses and a whole new curiosity and desire for information was born, leading to journalism. Along with printing presses were typewriters. As much as I love my Mac and word-processing programs, I do miss playing around on my parents’ typewriter when I was little. I loved to sit down and type up crazy stories on neon colored paper, there was just something about the sound of the keys clicking and the paper sliding back and forth that was exciting.

The history of the camera was on display too, from the early Draguerrotype camera obscuras to the exciting world of digital SLRs. The Canon equivalent of my old 35mm film camera was on display too but that was cool, not aging.

Seeing all the construction, transport, engineering and energy exhibits really made me wish my friends in the engineering department and my brother-in-law could have been there. They would have loved seeing how machinery has changed over time to allow man to create better, more advanced buildings and vehicles. I found the exhibits interesting but I know they would have all gotten more out of it.

After my trip to the museum Jaclyn called me and I headed to the Luxembourg Gardens to meet her, Katie, Harrison and Andres. Harrison was bent on finding the smaller statue of the Statue of Liberty that we didn’t find the first time we went to the gardens to explore. I hopped on the Metro and then the RER and made it to the gardens. The first order of business was actually lunch, which I was fine with, and then the statue. It took us a while but we did find it and get the obligatory pictures. We were all very touched to see a young oak tree planted next to the statue with an explanatory plaque saying it was in honor of all the Americans killed in the 9/11 attacks.

Smaller Statue of Liberty in the Luxembourg Gardens.

Smaller Statue of Liberty in the Luxembourg Gardens.

On the way to the statue we went by the big fountain/relflecting pool in the middle of the gardens and this time it was full of little boats. There was a stand where you could rent a tiny sailboat and tons of little kids were playing with them. They were the most adorable thing ever and I really wanted to rent a boat but I settled with taking a bunch of pictures.

This little boat wanted to be a Mizzou boat, black and yellow with a big "M" in the middle!

This little boat wanted to be a Mizzou boat, black and yellow with a big "M" in the middle!

I just loved the bright colors!

I just loved the bright colors!

With the statue found and pictures taken, Harrison left to do some shopping before the rest of our evening plans. Katie was a good student and did some studying in the gardens while Andres and Jaclyn wanted to walk to a nearby historical site they had learned about in class. I felt like walking so I went with them but got distracted on the way by a small bookshop. I’m really glad I stopped though because I found the find of a lifetime in the bottom of a box of old books: a 1922, hand-illustrated, copy of “The Swiss Family Robinson” in French. That book was one of my favorites as a child and this copy is just incredible. The shop owner saw me looking at it for a long time and chatted with me and gave it to me for an incredible price. I’m pretty sure I ripped the guy off but o well, I got my book!

When we went back to the gardens to meet Katie we all set off across the gardens towards the Louvre to take advantage of the free Friday nights. Harrison met us at the museum, as did two other students, Anne and Nicole. This time we saw the Venus de Milo but that was about the most exciting thing. We looked for Vermeer’s “Girl with the Pearl Earring” for a long time before being told by a guard that it’s not in the Louvre, it’s in London, our bad.

The inverted pyramid, pretty cool!

The inverted pyramid, pretty cool!

Venus de Milo, she's big and impressive and totally worth seeing.

Venus de Milo, she's big and impressive and totally worth seeing.

By the time we finished with the Louvre we were all starving so we set off in search of a cheap meal. In case you couldn’t guess already we wound up going to the Latin Quarter…again. We got some good Greek food and had a good time chilling, literally, in some air conditioning. Finding a place with air conditioning is a monumental thing so we’re all super happy when it happens. Shortly after dinner Katie went home to study, Harrison left to call his parents and the rest of us went to a pub. Another girl from the program, Sara, met up with us on the way. It was nice to talk to a few new people and we all decided it was a little sad that we waited until the last weekend to start hanging out. But Sara at least is coming with Jaclyn, Katie, Andres and me on our extra travels after the program. After some laughs everyone finished their drinks and so ended our last Friday night in Paris.

There was candlelight but I wouldn’t say it was romantic Thursday, Jul 2 2009 

Wednesday was about as uneventful as a day can get.

In Contemporary France stupidity abounded in a new, unbelievable way. One would think that 5 weeks in Paris living with a Parisian family and being taught by Parisian professors would help with pronunciation but no. These girls can’t even say basic words that are taught in any French I class. Seriously? Anyway the class was one of the most interesting ones yet, we discussed male/female relations and actually had a good discussion. So many things are different between France and the States. Here they’re very open about their relationships, especially in public. They aren’t ashamed and don’t feel that they need to hide it; which couldn’t be more different than the States. The stereotype of the French as being promiscious and very amourous isn’t true though, their STD rates and teen pregnancy rates are incredibly lower than those in the States. Go us.

After class Meaghan and Katie both went home because we were supposed to have a museum visit for our Impressionism class and they won tickets to the ballet so they wanted to change and get ready before the visit so they would have time to get to the ballet. I stuck around IES because I told Jaclyn I’d have lunch with her. While I was sitting in the lobby doing some studying for finals (yeah, they’re next week!) Jeanne, the IES director, came rushing through saying the visit for Impressionism was cancelled but we had class as usual. Super. I then started trying to get ahold of the other girls but didn’t have a whole lot of luck. Eventually I got Meaghan on the phone during lunch and then she was able to get Katie and we all made it to class just fine.

That afternoon I was flying solo. Katie and Meaghan had to get to their ballet and the other 3 had a visit with their class. It was so hot and miserable I decided to start by just going home to get rid of my bag. I ended up just sitting in front of my window at the apartment for awhile sketching from some of my photos from Giverny. There wasn’t enough time while we were there to sketch so I improvised. Just as I finished that sketch Jaclyn came home from her visit. We talked to Mme. and Colombe for a little bit; Colombe just got back from visiting her aunt in the countryside so she told us all about that and showed us her pictures. Then Jaclyn and I were going to go to the park together after running to Monoprix to get her something to keep her awake. By the time we made it to Monoprix though (literally just across the street) we were so hot and tired again we just decided to stay home until dinner. We did at least go out on the patio to work.

I sketched some more and made a study guide for Impressionism while Jaclyn started working on the 4 page research paper she had due for her History of Paris class. That paper has been a bear for all of them this week and Jaclyn was getting down to the wire. She decided she was going to pull an all-nighter and pull one she did. After dinner I worked on my computer in the apartment and she stayed outside. Around 11 I realized I’d never seen her come back through to go to her room. I went out on the patio and sure enough, she was sitting at the table still reading…by candlelight! M. Chalufour had brought her a candle to help see and Mme. gave her some orange juice. Our family is adorable but at that point I made the silly girl come inside. When I went to bed she was still typing away and she was already awake when I got up, craziness. At least she’ll be free by Thursday afternoon.

Dinner with the family was fun. We had a pretty simple meal because it was so hot but the conversations were fun as always. We talked with Annabelle about her studies and more with Colombe about her trip. M. Chalufour told us he saw a friend that is also hosting two IES students and M. said he got to brag about us. I guess the other two students don’t speak French with their family or to each other, they just basically don’t talk. M. Chalufour told them how hard we try and how good we are with it for the most part. It made us smile.

After dinner I made some calls home and that was nice. I also got my host family to basically call me a smart-alick too. Flore bought a new dress that needs a slip and she didn’t have one so Mme. was trying to make her one. The homemade ones were working so Mme. gave her an old one of hers that she could hem up. The slip was full-length while the dress went to Flore’s knees. Before it got hemmed, Flore was trying it on to make sure it worked under the dress, when she looked at me to see if it worked I told her it was dark enough but I thought it was a little too long. That got a chuckle out of both of them and some teasing for being so sarcastic. It was great. I can’t believe we have such little time left with them. I’m really going to miss that family but I’m excited to see mine again!

My new French fashion shows off my albinoism Monday, Jun 29 2009 

So Monday I woke up and decided to wear a new shirt that I bought last week at the super sales here in Paris. The shirt is cute, I’m glad I bought it, however it just accents how pale I truly am. The neckline of said shirt is a little reminiscent of the 80’s and has a scooping neckline. Said neckline only managed to accentuate the fact that my chest and neck are much redder than the rest of my pasty white skin. Even just walking from the apartment to the Metro to the apartment to class etc. is enough to change the color of my skin about 3 shades. Awesome.

On a more fun note, I spent a really fun night at home with the family. Before dinner Flore and I were watching the news (as usual) and I learned that it was the 60th anniversary of the launching of the first French TV news station. In honor of such they had a behind-the-scenes special that showed the workings of the newsroom and followed a reporter and his crew for the day. I’m not stupid, I realize it was greatly sugar-coated for those in the world that don’t know what journalism really looks like but at the same time it was incredibly interesting. The footage of the original news station and how it operated was fascinating, from one of the first reports coming live from a hot air balloon to the first female news anchor, the development was really interesting to see. I’m pretty sure Flore was amused by my nerdy fascination with the world of journalism. Despite how difficult last semester was at The Missourian, I’m actually somewhat looking forward to getting back to school and being around like-minded people. Us journalists are a special breed.

Dinner was fun too. Colombe is off in Brittany at her aunt’s house, so it was just Mme., M., Flore and us Americans. It was a little funny because Mme. discussed how Colombe has a hard time sometimes because all her siblings are so much older, much like it was for me when I was younger. I think that’s why I get along so well with Colombe, we actually have a pretty similar place in the family. Flore laughed though because, as she put it, “when Colombe is away, Maman is on vaction!” I guess that is true when the youngest is out of the house. Maybe that’s why I went to so many summer camps as kid…

After dinner has been devoted to blogging, catching up on US news and preparing for the finals next week. O joy.

I’d say a stir was caused, but that’s just me Sunday, Jun 28 2009 

On Sunday I decided to carry out the plans I had intended for Saturday before my need for country won out. After getting up and getting around I headed to the Centre Pompidou.

The Centre Pompidou is named after former president Georges Pompidou and houses the National Gallery of Modern Art, along with several galleries for visiting exhibits, cinemas for independent films and several educational spaces for children. The building is very strange and futuristic looking, with most of the activity happening outside. The elevators and the escalators run up the outside of the building and several sculptural exhibits are on outdoor terraces. It’s said that President Pompidou once said “this is going to cause a stir” when he saw the plans for the building that was to be his namesake, I think he was right.

The ouside of the Centre Pompidou, the red are the escalators.

The ouside of the Centre Pompidou, the red are the escalators.

Inside was just as incredible as outside. While the sculptures in the water fountain were cool, I think the sculpture inside was better. I was incredibly lucky and got to see the visiting Alexander Caulder and Wassily Kandinsky exhibits!

The Sun Bird sculpture in the water fountain outside the musuem.

The Sun Bird sculpture in the water fountain outside the musuem.

Caulder has always fascinated me. His sculptures are so lithe and full of movement. His little wire contraptions always dance around in the most delicate way, it’s as though he had a second understanding of the natural environment around his art and could see how it was going to change from second to second, depending on the breeze from an old woman fanning herself or the gusts from a little kid running in circles around the stand. This exhibit also made me realize that the second half to his art is the shadows created by the works. In the silhouette created by each figure you could see a different piece. Hallowed out faces became fuller and expressions of anger and hate softened to almost smiles.

Caulder's "Fishbowl". His pieces are just so lighthearted and fun spirited. You can tell he enjoyed making his art and wanted his viewers to enjoy it too.

Caulder's "Fishbowl". His pieces are just so lighthearted and fun spirited. You can tell he enjoyed making his art and wanted his viewers to enjoy it too.

As much as I enjoyed the Caulder exhibit, the Kandinsky one was a little bit better. Kandinsky had a long career and was able to impact several different movements and periods in modern art. His art reflects the fear and uncertainty of central and eastern Europe during a time when war was always imminent and life as everyone knew it could change at any time. Even though he lived in a scary and depressing time, his art always appears to be optimistic, he painted images of life of joy and happiness. The man had a very strong faith and was an eternal optimist in my opinion and that shines through in every painting. His development over time was interesting to see too. He began with a very basic, elemental style and advanced to more complex and complicated compositions and movements and then went back to the basics. At one point he stopped mixing his colors and stopped using advanced shapes. He heralded the strength and simplicity of the primary colors of red, blue and yellow and the starkness and well-known comfort of the circle, the triangle and the square.

The main gallery wing was devoted to an interesting look at women in art during the modern movement. I was stunned to see just how suppressed and underrepresented women have been in the modern art era. For some reason I’ve always thought of the art world as being more open and accepting of women than other fields. Just so long as the creativity and desire to look deeper is there I thought that was enough for the art world. The numbers would disagree. A study was done of the art in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and it showed that less than 3% of the art is by a female artist, but nearly 84% of the nudes are women. I guess this just goes to show that, even in the art world, women are still just seen as a form in a lot of ways. Their beauty is heralded and renowned and praised, but that’s that, they are to be looked at and appreciated but not examined on a deeper level. Hopefully that’ll change soon.

The openness of the museum also allowed for an incredible view of the city. I almost think it’s the best view I’ve seen yet. From the top floor you can see the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, the Paris Balloon and a ton of other beautiful monuments. Despite being a little hazy today I could see for miles and just stopped to appreciate the beauty of teh city. Sometimes it still feels a bit surreal. It’s hard to believe I’ve been here nearly 5 weeks already and only have a few weeks left. It’s gone by so fast and it’s been amazing for every second of it.

Sacre Coeur as seen from Le Centre Pompidou

Sacre Coeur as seen from Le Centre Pompidou

The Paris balloon that goes up for 10 minute rides over the city. We almost went up for Katie's birthday but the weather didn't cooperate.

The Paris balloon that goes up for 10 minute rides over the city. We almost went up for Katie's birthday but the weather didn't cooperate.

The Eiffel Tower...again

The Eiffel Tower...again

You can take the girl out of the country but she’ll still find the woods Sunday, Jun 28 2009 

Saturday morning(-ish) I got up and surveyed my options for the day. I first decided to go wandering a bit in my neighborhood just to see what was around other than the Champs-Elysee. I found a couple of neat stores but of course, even off the Champs-Elysee, everything was ridiculously expensive and the people were insane. The sales are bringing out more crowds than usual and it was a beautiful day so everybody and their brother was out. I couldn’t take it any more so I went home.

When I got home I thought about my next move and in doing so I realized I needed to do laundry and charge my ipod. So while I plugged the little bugger in I did my laundry in the sink. That will never become fun and I look forward to getting back to the States to a washer that doesn’t completely beat up clothes and a dryer that’s…just a dryer so my stuff doesn’t have to hang in the kitchen/hallway to dry.

After I did my laundry I looked through the tour books for some nice, relaxing ideas of things to do. The Bois de Bologna caught my eye again. I’d been there before, before an Impressionism excursion and it was very pretty (remember, bois means woods) and it’s not that far from my apartment.

So I gathered up my camera, my sketch pad and pastels and one of my new books and set off. When I got there I immediately went on a path deep in the woods. It was marvelous! For the first time since being in Paris I was completely alone, I couldn’t hear any cars or metros or people. It was just the woods, with birds singing and the leaves rustling; I even saw a bunny rabbit! Already I could feel my mood getting better.

Eventually the path opened up and I was by the smaller of the two lakes that’s in the middle of the woods. I found a nice spot in the shade, complete with grass and a tree, and started my sketching/people watching.
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Watching people in boats will never get old. You can rent small rowboats and take them out on the lake and since it was such a pretty afternoon a lot of people were doing that. I saw lots of young couples, several families and lots of groups of just friends. The young families were the greatest. I saw one boat with a mother and two little girls, maybe 5 and 7, and the girls were attempting to row. They had no clue and kept hitting the shores and other boats and almost losing a ora a couple times. I saw them several times and finally on the last time their father had joined them and gotten the boat on a straight path.

I got in some nice sketching and some pictures and read a little of my new Shakespeare. At some point I even fell asleep. I really do love this city but sometimes I do still miss the country. There’s nothing better than taking a nap outside in the shade. I guess it really is just true that you don’t know how much you’ll miss something until you’re in a new environment.

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