Friday, April 5, 2013

Day 2 in Paris, Le Louvre, 4/5/2013

I woke up early this morning, around 6:30am, this has been my habit since arriving in Europe almost a week ago.  I got dressed, went downstairs to the dining room for breakfast.  I had bread, with butter and various jams, French meals revolve around bread, breakfast included.  I had some hot Lipton tea with two cubes of sugar, a high carb way to start the day.

After breakfast, I went back to my room to get my jacket and things for my trip to the Louvre.  I went to the front desk at the hotel and asked the concierge how to get to the Louvre by bus.  I had the directions, I just needed to know where to catch the bus, the concierge told me where to go and I set out for the Louvre.

I caught bus #27 across from Les Gobelins Metro Station and confirmed with the driver it was going to the Louvre.  The driver told me the bus trip was 2 euro and handed me a transfer.  I found a place to stand and after a few stops got a seat near the front of the bus, I listened carefully to be sure I did not miss the stop for the Louvre.  We passed the Notre Dame Cathedral, I took note of its location so I would know how to find it later. We turned after Notre Dame and proceeded along a road next to the Seine River.

I knew we had arrived at the Louvre when I saw the pyramids marking the entrance to arguably the worlds most famous art museum.  I got out of the bus the wrong way, I went through the entrance at the front of the bus, I did not realize it was the wrong way until I ran into a woman boarding the bus, I said Pardon.  In the US you can exit at the front of the bus or use the rear exit, I did not realize it was different in France.

There were a lot of people outside the Louvre taking pictures, you could see the Eiffel Tower in the background.  I took a lot of pictures, asked people to take pictures of me and took a few pictures for others. I walked around the outside of the Louvre, some young people from Africa, I don't know which country, were selling Eiffel Tower souvenirs, the smallest were 1 Euro.

I walked to the other side of the Louvre and a Kenyan approached me with a "Free Zimbabwe" petition.  I told him I did not speak French, he said, I speak English and asked me where I was from.  I told him I was from the US and he told me he was from Kenya, land of Obama.  I signed the Kenyan's petition, I do not think my name was legible, he did not seem to care, I put my country and city, I listed Phoenix, Arizona.  I donated 1 Euro for the cause, hopefully it gets where it is supposed to go and is not a racket, I will never know.  Someday I may be standing in front of the Louvre with a petition asking people to support my cause, we'll see if that day comes.

I made my way back to the Louvre's main entrance, taking a few pictures along the way and a few pictures for other tourists.  I saw some French soldiers standing outside near the main entrance and asked to take a picture with them, they agreed and I posed for a picture with two of them, the third shot the picture for me.

I walked to the opposite end of the Louvre mainly to find an alternate entrance.  The guidebooks I have read recommended using the alternate entrances to the Louvre to avoid the lines at the front entrance with the pyramids, I did not find an alternate entrance until after I left the museum, the line at the main entrance was not too bad, I got to the museum relatively early this morning.

I entered the Louvre, went through the security check, and waited in another line to buy my 11 Euro ticket.  When I got in, I went immediately to the Mona Lisa, I took a few pictures along the way too.  There were several signs pointing the way to the Mona Lisa, it was not hard to find, I just had to read the signs and follow the crowd.  The Mona Lisa was smaller than I expected, I had seen it before on my junior high school trip, but I did not remember anything about it.  I got into the crowd in front of the Mona Lisa and slowly made my way to the front.  I took a few pictures and got someone to take a picture of me and the Mona Lisa.

After viewing the Mona Lisa I walked around the area and looked at some of the other paintings.  I then set out to find the Venus de Milo.  I asked a guide for directions, and headed in the direction he pointed me to.  It took me awhile to find my way to the Venus de Milo, I looked at the Greek and Roman sculptures on my way, and took more pictures.  There was a crowd at the Venus de Milo, no where near as many people as at the Mona Lisa but I still had to wait to get to the front to take a picture.  I am traveling alone, so again, I asked someone to take a picture of me and the Venus de Milo.

The Louvre is overwhelming, many floors, too much to see in one trip.  I decided to focus on looking at the Greek and Roman sculptures, the Egyptian Art and then the Islamic Art.  I spent about three hours walking around the Louvre, my camera's battery died when I was in the Islamic art section.  After I finished looking at the Islamic Art I was ready to leave the Louvre, I will come back again someday and see more of the museum.

After I left the Louvre I looked for my bus stop, I saw the bus coming from the direction I had arrived, I needed to find the bus going back towards my hotel. I checked near the Louvre, I figured the bus stop for the bus headed in the direction of my hotel would be on the opposite side of where the bus dropped me off, I was wrong.  I walked out of the Louvre area, across a bridge over the Seine river, down the street a little, I could not find a bus stop with bus #27.

I walked back towards the Louvre and walked in the opposite direction, away from the Louvre.  By that time it was after 1pm and I was getting hungry.  I decided to find the bus stop and then buy lunch to take back to the hotel with me.  I kept walking and finally found a bus stop for bus #27.  I went back to a take out cafe and bought a sandwich and raisin bread pastry. After I bought my lunch I went back to the bus stop, I almost got on the wrong bus, #69, I asked the bus driver and he told me I had the wrong bus.
My bus finally came and I was headed back to my hotel, we passed the Notre Dame Cathedral again.  I would have stopped but I wanted to charge my camera batteries first. We continued along Avenue de Goblins, I listened closely for each stop, I wanted to be sure I did not miss mine.  The bus stops are displayed electronically on the bus too, I did not have to rely on the announcement in heavily accented French.  Reading the names of the stops and listening to the French, I realized it was unlikely I would recognize my stop just waiting to hear the name read in French.

After several stops we arrived at my bus stop, I saw the name Les Gobelins come across the electronic sign before the stop was announced in French.  I pressed the stop button and said pardon a few times and exited the bus.  Riding public transportation in a foreign country where English is not spoken can be intimidating, but I did it in Japan where I could not read the language when I arrived, not nearly as difficult in French, a language that uses Roman letters like English.

In the afternoon I went shopping for new luggage at a mall up the street from my hotel.  I asked the concierge if there was anywhere I could by luggage and he pointed me in the direction and told me to walk up the street. I found the big shopping mall and looked for luggage, there was no department store like in the US, instead I found a small luggage shop.  I looked at the convertible backpacks and priced them, they were in the 120 to 160 Euro range, more than I wanted to pay, so I walked around the mall looking for another store, I did not find one.  I went back to the original luggage store, looked around some more and found an Airtex Paris convertible back pack for 79 Euros, perfect.  The Airtex back pack was probably cheaper because it was made in France, the more expensive bags were Eastpack and Quicksilver, both American brands.

 After I got my bag, I went to look for a place to add minutes to my cell phone.  I ended up buying a new SIM card for my phone, they told me ten minutes were included but when I tried to do a test call it did not work.  It's possible international cards are not included with the ten minutes that came with the SIM card, I'll check on it tomorrow. I did not do much this evening, I went to a French fast food restaurant for dinner and had an uneventful evening.

No comments:

Post a Comment