Smile Mona, Smile

Today was eventful. We had plans to go to the Louvre and intended on getting up early to go. But when you end up staying up to all hours of the night you end up needing a little bit of a sleep in.  We eventually got up and made our way there. During my Europe trip our tour leader Rich, had told us about the “secret entrance” to the Louvre which was around one side and through the flags. Jess and I tried for about half an hour to find it but couldn’t so we just went and tried to find tickets. We found a line for tickets but since we are students of an EU country (yay for exchange) we could get in free. This meant no need to prepurchase a ticket. We had to then line up with the rest of the world outside the Pyramids that you may have heard of. During our walk to the line, seeing as it was already 1pm, I was worried about how long the line would take, when we’d get in etc and Jess likes to stop to take photos. Which is great I’m all for it but the time lapse was making me nervous. She has said herself that she forgets time when she’s taking photos and admiring places. I knew we’d have a long wait in line so I thought then would be better than prior to lining up. She took offence to my hurriedness and we ended up in line hardly talking. Feeling the tension, I made a comment about her being grumpy. Instantly she got crankier and yelled, saying that she didn’t want to be around anyway (she has already seen bits of the Louvre last time she was here). I added the typical “Well go then!” retort, not actually thinking she would go. Say what you mean people say what you mean.  She left. She had promised me she wouldn’t leave me alone in Paris, and I said that as she walked away. She yelled back, “Learn to read a map then!”. I took quite offence to that because I damn well can read a map just last time I was here I was alone. I don’t want her around to look at maps I want someone to share experiences with because I have 3 months of experiences that nobody understands or knows about except my tour group. That is why. It quite upset me and I stood in the rest of the line for the next hour and a half crying. Sounds silly, but we keep having silly arguments and it really gets to me. I have no family over here, few friends, just her. We get on each others nerves but I dislike being hurt. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m emotional. Anyway. By the time I got through the security checks there was another line inside, 8 or so to be in fact, to line up and purchase tickets. As mine were free I still had to line up to get the ticket with my student card.

I’m in!! Finally I got through and asked the security personnel where the Mona Lisa was. Of course I had to see her! I love art, but I was also curious. Making my way through the hoards of people finally after twisting and turning my way through the Louvre, I found the Mona Lisa. Part of me wonders what all the fuss is really about. It’s exactly as you imagine, and because we’ve all seen the picture so many times in our lives it’s not a shock. It takes a bit to realise it’s the original but you would swear she’s a celebrity standing by the wall with how people gather and gawk and take photos of her like she’s still alive. Still, it was a sight to see and I got plenty of pictures. Rich had also told us in July to make sure we pay attention to the picture opposite as it is quite grand as well. Grand isn’t the word for it! It’s massive and quite wonderful. Colourful though not all that different to so many grand paintings I’ve seen. It was still wonderful.

From there, getting out of the crowds, I followed the signs to Venus de Milo, which is the also-famous sculpture of the lady with no arms; Google a picture of her too I’m sure you’d recognise her. It was interesting to see in person. Again crowds around this too but not like the Mona. I wandered a bit around the Louvre for the next hour or so seeing some Egyptian relics, Napoleon and other ancient artefacts. It was really nice. On my way out I grabbed a souvenir booklet as I always do, to really read more about the Louvre later on. There’s no way you could see everything. It takes something like an entire year to go through each and every exhibit they have to offer. It’s something crazy like that.

I walked out into the rain. Prior to entering the building the sun was shining and the weather was great. I made my way up the street parallel to the Louvre and visited many of the souvenir shops there. I didn’t know what I was looking for but I enjoyed looking anyway. I then walked up to the station wondering if I should make my way there, but then decided to keep walking. I made my way to the street bordering the Seine River and walked along it also visiting numerous shops along the way. I had seen some cheap prints of paintings and sketches over near Notre Dam, so I was heading that way. I found quite a few prior to that but still decided to keep walking. Didn’t think I would make it but I did end up. Along the way I bought two souvenir shirts, one for myself and Amy, earrings, painting and backpacks. Who knew I’d do so well and spend way too much money?! I kept walking and soon the odd scatterings of souvenir shops thinned down. I had also purchased a hot dog, which was just a hot dog sausage but it was inside a baguette! You’d be surprised at how great that is. With cheese. And my super duper packed ketchup that gives me proof as to why saving little sachets is awesome! Hahaha. I sat alongside the river (on the road, it’s high up) trying to soak in as much atmosphere as possible, despite the fact hot dogs aren’t very um, European.

I continued walking up the main street and ran into some pet shops. I despise pet shops themselves but the animals inside are just too gorgeous. Puppy mills are horrid, but the animals that come from them are still, well, animals. I went inside the first one (at the time I didn’t know there was more than one) and saw this darling little German Shepard pup. His ears were all floppy like baby Max’s were, and I was seriously wanting to take him home. I sat with him for a little bit through the glass, then took some sneaky photos and moved on. I ended up being lured into 4 more before the string of side-by-side petshops ended. It made me so sad I nearly cried leaving this little pup but he was 880 Euros! Crazy. I walked for another 20 minutes or so and ended up at Hotel de Ville.  At night time, this lavish building which is actually the parliament building, sparkles much like the Eiffel Tower does. Outside they have constructed an ice skating rink and it looks marvellous. I sat there watching the skaters for a while (I can’t skate) before as I was leaving noticed little stalls selling fairy floss. I went and ordered a large (uh oh) and waited. I asked the lady if she knew English, she said a little so I tried to explain that in English, it is “fairy floss”. She didn’t understand and had to call someone over who knew a little more, even he was confused by the name!  He understood what I was implying but didn’t understand how haha. In French it is barbe a papa which literally translates as “Papa’s Beard”.  At least it kind of makes sense!  It made me laugh and I walked away with a fairy floss stick that I swear was at least twice the size of my head. I have photos to prove it!

I made my way across the river now, towards Notre Dame. As I was crossing the bridge, (the roads are so busy around there) I heard a smoosh of metal. At the traffic lights some smart person had hit the person in front and shattered glass everywhere. Causing quite a spectacle I kept moving and heading the back way around Notre Dame to the shops. I wandered the souvenir shops there for a while and after a bit of deliberation picked some paintings. I also ended up with some discounted Paris shirts that will do well as presents for my cousins.  Deciding I was about to fall asleep walking, I made my way back to the Metro, St Michel Notre Dame, to make my way back to our apartment here near the Gare de L’est.

Arriving home safely, Jess still wasn’t. She had been in contact with her Mum though so it was alright and I was worried about the confrontation that lied ahead. I explained what happened to her Mum, she told me not to take it personally and that that’s just her personality sometimes. I heard the doorbell ring and made a dash for the bathroom, taking a nice long soak until I was ready to face Jess! HAhaha. When I did, I found a pair of Eiffel Tower earrings on my computer that she had bought for me as a present. Sometimes we just need a timeout from each other which is all good and well, I just wish she would say it instead of it ended up like this all the time. All is well now and we are packing our suitcases as we head home tomorrow – which is actually two days from this post! This all happened on the 2nd we leave on the 4th. The entry of the 3rd and earlier shall be integrated sometime… but probably from my room back in Leeds. Funny how it feels so much like home there now.

Paris you are wonderful, but it’s time for me to say bonsoir & au revoir.