Climbing Things

It’s been a busy week.  Tonight will be my third consecutive night staying up inadviseably (fakeword alert!) late on a school night and my first night of saying goodbye to a near and dear friend that I’ve made in Georgia.  Anyone who’s read more than my posts about France is probably pretty familiar with the characters of my blog.  Marissa Needles is one of my favorite characters and closest friends that I’ve made here in Georgia–to be honest, the closest.  Tonight she leaves for America and there’s a chance I shan’t be seeing her for a long time.

It’s getting to be that time of year and next weekend is many people’s final weekend.  Though Marissa is nearest, dearest, and first to leave, that doesn’t mean it’ll be any easier saying goodbye to the dozens I’ve met and grown close to during the past four months.  Lots of people chose to sign a six-month contract and will not, therefore, be returning in January.  To paraphrase Dorothy “I thing I’m going to miss [those of you who have a One Way Ticket] most of all.”  I don’t give a damn about the rest of y’all 😉  (<– First Raughley Goes to Georgia smiley, folks!)

But we’re not here to mope and reminisce just yet (no, no. That comes later), we’re hear to read about my adventures in Georgia in France!  When I left off, my intrepid family was braving the perils of modern art at Versailles.  We were brave enough and made it out alive.

Returning to the city, there was some sort of kerfuffle at one of the trainstations that meant we had to get off, walk to the next station, and then get back on.  It was a bummer, but not too bad.  Our destination could wait.

That night we were heading to the Louvre to see some of the art!  Unsubstantiated sources claim that the Louvre is the most visited museum in the world with almost 400,000 works of art contained within.  All I know is that it’s free for people 25 and under after six pm on Friday nights!

Though Myles and I wanted Sandwiches beneath the pyramid, Becca wanted to get started on the museum.  She headed off and Myles and I entered the museum a few minutes later.

There's a big lobby with a few cafes and shops under the glass pyramids that grace the Louvre's courtyard. Tasty sandwiches, but expensive as all get out!

Myles and I had about two hours to see the entire Louvre.  Borrowing a strategy from my good friend Haven Leeming, we decided to make a few surgical strikes deep into the Louvre.  (Once when at the Chicago Institute of Art [Too sleepy {see first paragraph} to look it up] we ran through it seeing only the major works.  It was awesome.)

Naturally, the first place we dashed to was to see the Mona Lisa.  Everyone always tells me that “The Mona Lisa is so disappointing!  You think it’s this big famous painting, but in reality it’s tiny and you can’t even get close enough to see it properly!”  I don’t know what the Hell they’re talking about.  I was not at all disappointed by it!

The Mona Lisa
I am disappointed, however, by the crispness and clarity of those gray hairs as compared to the blurred image of the painting in the background.

We turned and left the room, unsure of where to head next.  Walking around, we soon discovered Winged Victory–a rather famous ancient sculpture of a Valkyrie-like woman with no arms or head (unintentional amputations, to be sure).  If I knew it better, I’d tell you lots more about her.  Sorry!

Good thing she can fly!

Moving right along we headed into, and proceeded to get lost in, the Egyptian section of the Louvre.  I recognized and photographed many of the statues and works that I recognized thanks to good old Mr. Day and Dr. Stone!  Isis Enthroned, Large Ramses, A Sphinx, a Sarcophagus, all sorts of good things!

This man looks like an Egyptian Jeff Zimmer.
She's got the sun or moon or something on top of her head!
I think it's empty. Probably out chasing Peter Cushing or something.
This statue is called "Giant Ramses," I believe. Awesome name.
Wait a second...Marissa and I did this!
This was lurking in a little underpass. Cracking! (I just let my fingers do the walking and they wrote "Cracking!" I'm really tired.)

As we wandered from the Sphinx through a section showing off the medieval basement of the Louvre we stumbled upon an exhibit of avante garde Russian art.  It had some rather abstract paintings and some iconoclastic figurines of odd-couples.

This was the main painting/title of the exhibit!
This one is "Neo-Nazi Girl and Hassidic Boy." Back right is "Police Woman and Arab Boy" with the policewoman baring her breasts to an amorous Arab boy. Imagine those on your grandmother's mantlepiece!

We continued our blitz of the Louvre (Far less dramatic than Germany’s blitzkrieg of France seventy years ago) and discovered the Venus de Milo and many other spectacular works!

Ms. De Milo herself. No relation to Nelson Demille, novelist.
Lend me your ears! 'Tis I, Athena!
This is a statue of a baby strangling a goose. For some reason it reminds me of a few people. Notably, Lauren Nelson.
The River of Babylon!

After a delicious dinner which included a 17.70 euro beer for me (Holy Shit, I’ve done the math and that’s about 40 times what one could pay in Georgia.  Paris, you’re a fickle mistress.  Or just expensive.), we retired to prepare for another day of excitement on the streets of Paris.  My sister’s haircut was actually on this particular morning, not at the same time that Myles and I got ours cut, though I was willfully misleading about that in a previous post.  Sorry.  While she got her ‘do done, Myles and I explored our way to the Pantheon!  Heroes of France are buried there–heroes like Marie Curie, for example.  There’s also a working example of Foucault’s pendulum–a physics experiment that proves that the earth is round.

I didn't see a single God there. Much less, all of them! I got scammed!
Ohhh, there you are, God. I didn't see you peeking around the corner there!
First you have to hang a weight from a high point in order to best detatch it from the Earth, in a manner of speaking. Let's try, say, the inside of the Dome of the Pantheon!
Then, as the pendulum swings, its position along a circle will incrementally change. Here you can kind of see how it's already a bit off from 11 o'clock after just a minute or so. You have to imagine that it's the earth rotating while the pendulum swings constantly in the same vertical plane. Therefore, the Earth is round and spinning. A stalwart group has undertaken to disprove it, though. They're awesome.
This is a painting of Charlemagne getting crowned Holy Roman Emperor in the Pantheon. For the sticklers out there, the painting is in the Pantheon, not the coronation.
I just liked this statue. No story behind it as far as I'm concerned.

Now you would not at all be remiss for pointing out that after twenty photos and 1208 words I have yet to climb anything.  What gives?  I didn’t climb the Louvre.  I didn’t climb the Pantheon.  How is any of this relevant to “Climbing Things”?  It’s not.  It just precedes it, is all.  Pretty soon we’ll be climbing this:

It looms in the distance, but I always loved when it popped its head out to say "Bonjour!"

Not yet, though!  You have some more reading to do first!  (Unless you know how to scroll to the bottom and skip the interlude, that is.)  Fear not, other things will be climbed in the meantime.  But first, it’s time for a break from all that sight seeing!  Myles, what’s a good way to relax?

"I don't know, Raughley. But I have a good idea...."
Myles Clearly doesn't know what he's doing. B+ for Effort, though!

I like walking.  In fact, I prefer walking whenever I can get away with it!  I walked the length of St. Petersburg once and I spent a good chunk of my senior year walking Washington, DC.  I refused to buy a bicycle at Stanford due to my desire to walk (and my poverty) and I walk all around Tbilisi as much as possible.  That said, I will not refuse a boat ride.  I hate swimming, but I like boatrides.  That afternoon my mom treated us all to boat tickets to travel up and down the Seine from destination to destination.  It was fun and different!  Through the poop-streaked windows of the boat (bird poop! fear not!) we could see many of the famous sights of Paris and a lot of stunning river-side apartments.  I took photos of almost none of them because I was too busy enjoying out Roasted Chicken Potato Chips.  They really tasted like chicken


Okay, so I omitted the poop-stained photo from the boat. I think we were on foot by this point.

We got off the boat at the Champs Elysees (I really want to spell it right with accents and all, but my laptop keyboard won’t let me do that.  Wait….  Yeah, no.) and proceeded to walk through a Christmas fair en route (see that French I slipped in there?) to…

Yes, I stood in the middle of the street to take this photo. But fear not! The cars had a red light!

L’Arc de Triomphe was commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte to celebrate his military triomphe over all comers.  It wasn’t finished until something like thirty years later, after he’d already been beaten twice and exiled to death in the South Atlantic.  Not a pretty picture.  Nonetheless, it was eventually built as a testament to France’s military might (Take a moment to make some snide jokes about France’s military might in your head.) in the mid-19th century.  Later, after WWI, France was the first country to build a Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to represent all the unidentified dead of the Great War.  The tomb rests beneath the center of the arch.

This reminds me of the stairs in St. Isaac's Cathedral in St. Petersburg. Facebook stalk me and you'll find a sweet photo of the staircase!

The tunnel to the Arc had no power and so it was a very dark, 28 Weeks Later-esque trip underground to the circle.  Tickets in hand, we began our ascent.  It’s only something like 284 steps to the top–surprisingly tall–and there’s a resting spot 2/3 of the way up with a little gift shop and some information about the Arc!

Mom won't be happy I put this photo on the internet. But she was smiling a moment before the flash went off--pleased with her climbing of the stairs!
Be the Statue!
Mom wanted to kiss it.

After a short rest, we climbed the rest of the way to the top with no trouble!  When we got there we had quite the sight to behold!

The climb was totally worth it. Here you can see Sacrecoeur in the distance!

People would think the best view in town is from the top of the Eiffel Tower.  They’d be almost right.  You can see just about everything from the top of the Eiffel Tower, but there’s one thing you can’t see and that makes all the difference.  The answer to the riddle:

It's really quite impressive. Yet at the same time it almost looks like a little toy tower over a model city.
It's more impressive than I was told!
You're jealous by now, right?

After many failed attempts, Myles and I even managed to take a self-portrait with the Eiffel Tower in the background.  Most of the previous versions show either us OR the Eiffel Tower.  Complete failure.

Yeah, Brothers in Paris--kickin' ass!

The top was pretty crowded with tourists–and understandably so!  With views like this, it’s no wonder that we ran in to the same group of tourists that we had seen at Versailles.

And this time they're looking even more stereotypical!
There was this little raised platform to get over the spikes for photos. Mom and Becca are standing in it now. A moment later we asked some British tourists to take our photo while the four of us stood in it. He took our photo, alright, but he didn't include the Eiffel Tower in it. Now riddle me this, why would we want a photo of us standing inside a metal semi-circle? Oh right, because the Eiffel Tower is behind us!!

We descended easily and with some speed, stopping only to use the bathroom.  After a short walk to the metro (like, really short) we hopped on a train that took us above-ground across the Seine to near where the Eiffel Tower is.  That’s right, Eiffel, we’re gonna climb your tower!

Get ready to get climbed!
By the time we arrived at the Eiffel Tower, it was dark out. The Tower itself, however, lights up at night making the whole area look all the nicer!
The Tower was slated for destruction twenty years after its completion, but its enterprising architect had a radio tower installed on the top (increasing its height!) which boosted its relevance as new radio-wave technologies came into vogue. Now I'm sure it has TV and Cellphone towers up there too. Hitler also wanted to blow up all of Paris, Tower included, but his onsite lackey balked at the last minute because it'd be pretty atrocious to level a city out of spite. Side note: Myles and I asked a British girl to take our photo with the Tower in the background. In true British form, she failed to take a photo. This time she didn't take any photo. I blame you, Tomas Fletcher.

Myles and I returned from taking the above photos to find my mom and sister in line for tickets to the top.  Mom had made friends with a pair of Cypriot graduate students who were visiting from London.  They were smart folks, studying math and econ, if I recall correctly, and kept us entertained through the line.  Becca had the good sense to step out of line briefly to buy a huge hot dog.  She was the only one who had something to eat at a reasonable time that night….

There are two ways to get to the top of the Eiffel Tower.  Firstly, you can take the stairs.  It’s cheaper, and better for you, but it was effing cold on this particular night.  None of us was terribly well-dressed for the frigid wind chill, but we managed alright.  The ride to the first level isn’t too long, I imagine the walk is a good deal longer.  (Duh.)

There's a restaurant on this level of the Eiffel Tower! And a gift shop!

The elevator takes sort of a diagonal route up the legs of the Tower then you get in line for another elevator which goes pretty vertically up to the tip top.  If this is getting more boring, it’s because I’m getting more bored of this post.  It’s almost over though!  Hang in there!  (Un)surprisingly I’m eager to get back to writing about Georgia.  Ugh.  Come on Paris, be over with already!  I worry that I’ll not be able to keep up with my writing until I get back to the States–at which point I’ll be a solid dozen posts behind, I’m afraid.  Speaking of Georgia, I wonder how far it is from the top of the Eiffel Tower to Tbilisi….

This is the old flag of Georgia. Nonetheless, it was comforting to know exactly how far I was from home. Oh yeah, they had distances to parts of the US as well....
Having seen the Eiffel Tower from the Arc de Triomphe, it seemed only fair to return the favor.

It was really freaking windy atop the Tower.  I had gloves and a jacket and my small leather cap with ear flaps.  The wind got right under most of that.  Luckily I had come prepared and was wearing the wind-breaking equivalent of a bullet-proof vest under my jacket.

What, what!! Windbreaker for the win!
Here you see the Seine beneath the feat of the Eiffel Tower. I rather like this one.
Back center you can see Notre Dame de Paris all lit up!
On our way down we were first in line to get in the Elevator. Then they made us go to a different elevator, placing us last in line. Then the elevator was too full and so we were first in line again. Luckily the cycle stopped there and we got on the third elevator down. Boring story, told boringly. It's a tired week! Woo!
He's playing a...Eu...phonium! Yes? Someone confirm that for me? A euphonium? We all gave him a little money. He played "When the Saints go Marching In". It was grand.

And Done!  Almost back to Georgia!



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