Monday, December 12, 2011

PARIS--The End of the Questionable Past-Expiration-Date Leftovers

HEY friends, family, and frequent fliers! I've got so much to tell you that maybe I just won't.

(Gosh that was liberating)

Well let's get going on the Leftovers, and then we can get to the Restovers, before we get to the Bereftovers. And that comes right before complete denial. Which is generally never far away from my blog. 
Which I've renamed, for your information, Will's in Hyères, Unless You Have Heard from a Credible Source. 

PARIS! The city that never dies, in terms of topics for Will to try to recount. It was that great. 

Where did I leave off? Oh yes, LA GREVE. (Just a side note, now the teachers at my host brother's school are all on strike. Go figure. And today the was a strike at the cafeteria, and I didn't bring a lunch and so I never ate anything. Consequently I was dead for my 4 o'clock French Lit. Class...) 
So anyways, I was told we were out of luck to go to the Musée D'Orsay because of the strike. 

But we all know that that sign is kept up there at all times just to keep away French, English and Spanish tourists.  

So the day after the Louvre we went to the Grande Galerie de l'Evolution at the Museum of Natural History. And my first thought was: goshback where I come from evolution is still a disputed fact!  I mean, really. We're still seeing images like this:
...then what can you expect of the museums?
Well, this I suppose...

Oh Kentucky. Whatever shall we do with you?
Yet in France they're sensible enough to devote a whole huge beautiful museum to evolution. 
I especially liked the very clear and scientific exhibits on the genetics behind evolution. I could tell they were all funded by the same socialist liberal government that wants to destroy all of our freedoms and faiths. 
Anyway, here's the Grande Galerie de l'Evolution:
It awesome. It changes colors. It reminds me of an opera house. Except filled with dead animals. Mr. Fohloff's heaven? I think so. It was like if a taxidermy shop that never sold anything grew to five floors and was payed for by the state. Impressionnant. So basically a zoo where they don't need to buy animal feed. A dead zoo. Yeah, I guess it was that.

Shout out to my girl Electra. I found you're cousin:

I know you don't care about me, but you'll always be number three to me! And you don't look any more friendly inert.  
Also I was incredibly struck by this little guy. Something just spoke to be from his pea-sized head and "oh, like, whatever" paws:
And mom (sorry rest of the world) :  It's your guy! I found your guy! The French version!
That last picture came from the hall of extinct animals. Whoo, it was rough. It is this giant hall with really intense low-light glass displays full of lions and tigers and hares, oh my. All extinct now, or on the brink of extinction. One tiger was labeled as a species that had been extinct since the mid 1800s. I looked at the description box, and whadya know: "Added to the collection in 1858." Hmmmm. Makes you wonder. It all seems a little weird to walk through a species graveyard like a wax museum, where the most people can remark is "Oh that's a shame. This one was even cute."  Oh well. So it goes. 

We also went to a kids exhibits all about spiders. But I really don't have a whole lot to say about that except: kids being loud and obnoxious. There you go. 

But I did find a dinosaur all the same! But no Jesus riding it:
Oh and to continue with the theme of american omnipresence, can you spot the McDo? They're everywhere! And everyone here thinks I'm crazy because I don't like McDonald's. They think its amazing. But in France all the McDonald's are super clean and have touchscreen ordering stations and sell macarons and fancy coffee and stuff. Not at all the same kind of disgusting. They don't believe me when I say that in the US its all gross and dirty. Well, I guess there are some fancy McDo's maybe in California, but I have never seen one. However, I will note that I get the same headache when I walk into French McDo's. So the radioactive ingredients I guess haven't changed... 

Alright, so then after the museum we went on the Bateaux Mouches, otherwise known as loud tourists screaming on big floating barges on the Seine river. I tried and failed to take pictures; my new digital camera is not super well performing in the dark. But I did take a video of all the Asian tourists screaming each time we passed under a bridge. (Note: there are about 40 bridges)

video


So then the next day we found out that the Musée D'Orsay was reopening, so we got up super early to stand in the line for a few hours. And walking towards the museum I saw these two army types patrolling with giant AK-47s or something. Man it was sureal. I didn't take a picture because they probably would have taken me for a spy dressed as a tourist and brought me in for questioning. Or shot me. I'm not sure how the French justice system works. Anyway they looked something like this: 


Apparently somebody got away with taking a picture. But they were probably deported right after posting it on the web...

And outside the museum on the curbside there were also guys selling roasting chestnuts. It was interesting the setup they had; a shopping cart with a tin can stove contraption and a burner with holes punctured in it. I saw the same thing all over Paris, in Montmartre and by the Eiffel tower too.                                                       So for the actual museum I don't have any pictures, because cameras are prohibited. But if I could've taken a picture I wouldn't have taken any famous paintings or anything. I would have captured the moment where my host brother was sitting, bored as can be, playing video games on his smart phone next to Rodin and Monet. That's the kind of ironic juxtaposition that'll be engraved in my brain forever though. I would title it, "My Generation."
However, I had my second Ben and Jerry's siting, and my first French Ben and Jerry's tasting. They were selling the little pints with the spoon including (love those!) at the museum cafe, and so we got some good old chocolate Macadamia. Apparently in Europe it's made in Belgium. Cool. I feel like Belgium is kind of the Vermont of Europe. It's the little state thing. Except in Belgium its the Southern half that speaks French.  
Anyway, the Musée D'Orsay was awesome awesome awesome, besides my host brother scoffing at all my favorite artists. I'm sure its not the first time someone has wanted to strangle someone in front of a Van Gogh. Hold on, I really shouldn't say that; violence is never the answer, especially when dealing with such expressive art. Van Gogh teaches us that you can jam all of that feeling into a painting, and if certain types of people don't understand it's beauty and power, well.... 
cut your ear off. 
And go on strike.

Alright so the last night before we left, we had a splendid dinner at the host aunt/uncle's house, along with they're daughter, a franco-germanic bilingual nephew (maybe? never fully understood how he was related), and his girlfriend, who lives in London. The nephew (?) was perfectly fluent in French, which was pretty impressive. But I couldn't feel too bad for myself and my average ability, after all he has a French mother... Anyway, it was quite the international dinner. The table looked like this in the beginning:

And then we all slept really well. And we headed off in the morning to catch our train back to the south. 


Episode Two of The Universe is Freaky
So of the two train stations in Paris, of all the parking garages in the train station, of the 5 floors of that parking garage, of all the elevators in the parking garage, of all the moments in the world, I got into the same elevator at the same time as this girl I know from my French lycée. The universe is freaky.

It gets better.

The TGV is literally 20 cars long, including two front end cars face to face attached right in the middle just to be stylish:


Anyway, Max and I walk the entire platform (we're in the last car, or first car as the train flies), get onto the second level of the train, walk to the back of the car and sit down in the second to last row. Then I turned around and a girl from my class was sitting behind me.The universe is freaky. That makes three times in one trip that I randomly bumped into people like that. Weird. Paris obviously attracts enough people to make coincidences happen frequently enough to seem freaky. (Tried to make that a pun in my head, but the spelling just doesn't work, sorry.)


Oh, and also, when we got back to Hyeres, it was about 85 degrees and sunny. We were way overdressed. But the joke was on the south, because apparently it had rained the whole time we were gone. Parisiens love it when it rains in the south. Kind of like how Vermonters love it when it snows an inch in Virginia and all life stops. 

Speaking of weather in the south, it is December 13th (whoa) and there are still mosquitoes. Dammit they follow me everywhere. 


Ah yes, and here's my one last wonderful edition of ironic juxtapositions, caught at 300 km/h going by one of the billions of hectares of vineyards in France: 
You know that wine has just got to be good. Who makes red, white, and rosé anymore, when you can make uranium? The next time I see glowing bottles of wine at the supermarket, I'll know where they came from. 


Oh yes, and one last picture. I made it myself, as part of a thank you note. 
(see first Paris blog for corresponding photo)

So there you have it! That's Paris! From the perspective of me, two months after the fact! 
Someday I'll blog about this week too. But I wouldn't expect that for a while. 
Take care. Happy holidays! Whichever ones you subscribe to! I'll be doing Noel chez Noel, which works out pretty well. In French, Santa Claus is called the "Père Noel", as in father Christmas. In my host family, the Père Noel is always around. If only my family name were "Hannukah." Goodness wouldn't that be fun. 
Oh and happy Festivus for the rest of us, as I think Seinfeld said. 

Affectionately, 
Will






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