Monday, November 16, 2009

How a MAN opens wine

Leverage? I don't need no stinkin' leverage!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Tour Eiffel on Armistice Day

I'm fairly sure it's legally required for all American tourists to visit the Eiffel Tower if they ever find themselves in Paris for any duration of time. As a regular rule follower I felt compelled to obey, so on my day off because of Armistice Day (November 11th, more on this later) I paid the steel giant a visit. In addition to the goofy photos that everyone who has ever visited the Eiffel Tower has taken without fail, I attempted to take some pictures that were not in every Japanese tourist's album. I took the stairs up to the second floor (about half way up the height of the tower, where the four legs meet), but alas they required me to take an elevator to the very top. I had to dodge and pass many a wheezing tourist on the stairs, with many French tourists lighting a cigarette while doing so (they were probably perplexed why their lungs weren't working so well and needed the nicotine stimulation to ponder it).

Spotting the beast through the foliage for the first time.

Champ du Mars, the park attached to the Tower (formerly a military school with equestrian ground to train cavalry), from the first floor of the tower (halfway up the south pillar).

Champ du Mars from the second floor, where the four pillars meet in the center

Champ du Mars from the top of the tower. The haze is not smog (for a welcome change!), the top of the tower was actually in a cloud while I was up there.

The Grand Palais something or other across the Seine from the tower, one of many palaces in Paris with a very similar name, from the first floor.

Same Palais from the second floor.

I think you get the drill by now.

On this loevely fall day 9105 km was still too close.

That's right; I peed at the top of the Eiffel Tower. Sadly not off the Eiffel Tower, but I'm pretty sure I would have gone to jail for that.

The spire at the top from the top floor.

Yeah, you knew it was coming. Do I look nonplussed enough? I was really going for the nonplussed look.

Wednesday was also Armistice Day, the celebration of the end of WWI, or as I like to call it, the day the French celebrate their last military victory as well as their central role in causing WWII. The French people who heard me explain this to the Russians I work with didn't think that was funny. At all. The Russians have no idea what Armistice Day is, because apparently there was some more important thing going on in their national history in 1918 than the end of WWI, though I can't imagine what that would be.

The Etoile de Charles de Gaulle at the end of the Champs d'Elysees with giant French flag. The giant Tri-Color isn't usually there, that was just for Armistice Day. I should note that this arch was built to commemorate one of France's last major military victories, which was during the Napoleonic wars (maybe I'm a little to hard on the French? I mean, our last real slam dunk military victory was in 1945; perhapsI should take it a little easier on them? Nah...)

A scene from the Champs d'Elysees, one of many pretty streets in Paris and a fairly famous one. The Tour de France finished on this street every year, among other things.

Aww, maybe if they put their flags together people will forget that they've invaded each other numerous times! I have to admit, they do seem to get along pretty well these days considering.

A lovely fountain. Don't let the blue skies in these pictures fool you; this was the first reasonably sunny day I've had since being in Paris. I'm not complaining; I am absolutely loving the clouds and rain after being without it in SoCal for two years.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Ah, Paris!

Carie came to visit me in Paris this last weekend and we had a fantastic time. We saw the Notre Dame, made fun of art at the Louvre, and wandered through an over-the-top palace complete with beautiful gardens at Versailles. We also enjoyed lots of delicious French food in cute cafes and restaurants.

Day One: Notre Dame and the Louvre

Carie being her usual silly self on one of the many bridges on the Seine River. The spire in the background is the Notre Dame cathedral.

The front of the Notre Dame, which was an awe-inspiring place. I didn't take any pictures inside because the light was poor and it just seemed disrespectful somehow. It was certainly grand and breathtaking; a must if you visit Paris. I've seen many many cathedrals before, but this one still impressed.

Carie in the Louvre. Poor Carie injured her knees in 15k-run-sans-previous-training last weekend and it hurt to walk, especially up and down stairs. Standing and walking around a museum for hours was not what they needed, so we got a wheelchair from the museum and I pushed her through the museum. Sorry Jason, I know you were gunning for most doting boyfriend this weekend and it seems I stole your thunder.

The imperial apartments of Emperor Napoleon III in the Louvre gave us some interior decorating ideas for our new place once we move back to LA.

Carie reading the Code of Hammurabi in front of the original Code of Hammurabi, the first recorded written law. I didn't previously realize it was in the Louvre, but it was neat to finally see it.

The entrance of the Louvre by evening. Paris really is a very pretty city.

Day Two: Versailles

More interior decorating inspiration from the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles.

There was a neat hall of paintings of French military victories in Versailles, with battles from 600-1809 (to be fair, it was comissioned in 1830, though I can't imagine what victories they would add since then). This was one of Louis XV's victories somewhere. Note the skull and crossbones on the cavalryman on the left in the background; this one's for you, Jeannie.

Napoleon to the world: "Yo. Back atcha." From the same hall.

The statues in the Versailles garden were apparently too obscene to display publicly.

Carie and me in the Gazebo o' Love in Mary Antoinette's gardens. Louis got the war room, Mary got the nice pretty gardens.


Even cuter THATCHED-ROOF COTTAGE! with some sort of tower thingy in Mary Antoinette's estate. Apparently people actually live in these; we're trying to figure out how to get that gig.

The Versailles gardens and giant canal at sunset.

Versailles by night.