Thursday, February 9, 2012

Americans in Paris.

S and I went to The City of Lights to look at Christmas lights, and you know, to celebrate Christmas. I think it may have been the only way that being away from family for the second year in a row was (somewhat) bearable. It was a lovely city, and one of my favorite Europe cities. Perhaps because it reminded me so much of New York, in every good way possible. It also had delicious pastries on every corner. While there we most definitely lived on croissants, crepes, baguettes, pan de chocolates, and cheese--all kinds of delicious cheese. Fortunately while there we also walked a lot, so I felt good about it.

One of those walks has been mentioned previously. It celebrated the completion of my 40 page Kierkegaard paper, and was to the Eiffel Tower and back. We got there after it had closed, so ended up going a second time. I wanted to take the stairs up, to have the experience and to see the city. It was amazing to me how different the famous tower looked up close, compared to far away, and compared again to pictures, videos, and other representations I have seen of it. Up close it is not that pretty, except for the lights. Or it is pretty, just not in ways I expected. It is made from a course metal. Spencer told me the French didn't like it very much at first, and wanted desperately to take it down after its entrance into the world for the World Fair. Now I can't even imagine Paris without it. I am sure many feel that way. Someone exercised good wisdom in persuading the Parisians to let it stay.

We also got to visit a few museums. I wanted to see the Louvre because I (and everyone else in the city) wanted to see da Vinci's famous painting. It was nice, but smaller than I imagined. Winged Victory--a very commanding/inspiring headless statue with wings--was more impressive. I also didn't know that the Louvre only housed old paintings. I was expecting to see Monet's, Picasso's, Van Gogh's, etcetera. Sadly for me, I was in the wrong place. I think my favorite thing about the Louvre was not a single work within the structure, but the structure itself. It really is a beautiful building, as so many in that part of the world are. Still, Spencer and I loved the Pompidou Center more. This may not have been too surprising, because we received a very strong recommendation, naming it a favorite in the whole of Paris. It is also housed in a cool structure, though cool for completely different reasons. The purpose of the Pompidou's structure is to have all of the things on the outside of a building that normally go inside, but distract from the meaning of the building--things like air ducts, electrical ducts, and water lines. The art inside was also better. Or at least better to me, and to my interests. Architect Spencer liked the Pompidou more because he modeled a building after it, is friends with the individual who designed the restaurant on the top floor, and finds it one of the best contemporary art museums in the world.

More Paris highlights include visiting that particular restaurant designing friend, who has also done some other cool things in the city and country like design a hip, bright green fashion school on the Seine River and a sunny orange building in Lyon. He was very nice, works with his wife, and has a little daughter. Somehow I really liked that he had a family and was similarly down to earth. For whatever reason I don't picture most architects like that. Afterward we got to meet up with our best European friends: Katherine and Eric. They had been traveling around Spain and had a 4-5 hour stop in Paris on their way back to Vienna. It was nice to spend Christmas Eve Eve with them. In Spencer's words, they made our Vienna/Europe experience 100 times better. That night we also enjoyed Paris' many (English and non-English) bookstores, and watched The Artist, which film I whole heartedly recommend. Christmas day we slept in, opened stockings, ate pez and other good treats, before going to another friends for dinner. We met her in Utah this past summer, and she is very kind. Her family: equally so.

The last one was taken in Vienna, but you get the idea.


IngridLola said...

so glad you loved the pompidou! :)

Lia said...

I love Paris. First trip I ever took alone. But I'm sad you didn't go to the Musee D'Orsay. It has what you were looking for.

Rachel Hunt said...

Ingrid: thank you again for your wonderful recommendations!

Lia: I love Paris too, and am likewise sad I didn't make it to Musee D'Orsay. Spencer (and my mom) told me afterward that that is the museum that holds my heart art. We wanted to go on our last day, but ran our of time. I missed a few other places I really wanted to go, so I guess it just means I have to go back!