The Natatorium

An emporium of oddities from around the world, complete with somewhat informative plaques that almost never match the item they are meant to be describing.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

I am Unfaithful.

I know I haven't been writing much. Heck, the last two entries were by my *mom.* There are several reasons why I haven't been keeping up. One of them, yes, is laziness. Another is that there is so much to tell that it's completely overwhelming. It's not the sort of thing you can tell someone in one breath. When I get home, it will be a slow unfolding, one story at a time, as they come up over coffee or drinks, over the course of months or years. Another reason is that there has been a lot of stuff going on here that I can't really talk about. Nothing dangerous, of course, just some social tensions. Hopefully, though, I've taken what steps I can to ease them, and we'll see how it goes. But 'nuff said on that.

Let's see, what did I do last? For the last week I've been in Italy; I just got back last night. I was in Venice for Monday and Tuesday and Rome Wednesday through Saturday. Before that, I was in Paris with Mom the preceding Friday and Saturday. Before that, Mom and I spent a week shopping, eating out, and exploring the city. We even went to see Wicked, and it was *amazing.* So much fun. I still have the songs in my head and I definitely want to see some more shows if I can.

Paris was beautiful. The first half of the first day we were there it rained, but that had a beauty all its own. Then the sun came out and the sky was brilliantly blue. The flowers and trees weren't even in bloom yet, so I can only imagine how gorgeous it will be when I go back in April. We saw all the main sights; Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Notre Dame, etc. We climbed to the top of Notre Dame and the Arc de Triomphe. The Notre Dame Bell Tower was *much* higher. The views were amazing from both points, but the romanticism and gothic appeal of Notre Dame definitely won me over. The gargoyles were so cool. As always, you can see the pictures on Flickr.

So anyway. The first day we went to the Luxembourg Gardens, walked around the Latin Quarter and saw the Pantheon and the Sorbonne (a famous university building). Then we went to Notre Dame and climbed the Bell Tower, then we crossed the Seine. We saw the Hôtel de Ville on the way to the Louvre, then spent about 2 hours in the Louvre. My favorite painting was "The Intervention of the Sabine Women" by David. It is of two armies coming to clash with a group of women standing between them, holding up their infants to try to stop the armies from slaughtering each other. One of the armies is comprised of the women's husbands and the other is of their kinsmen, so you can see why they were so insistent on preventing them from killing each other. It is absolutely glorious, and there is one woman in the center, in particular, with her arms outstretched between the armies, standing up and glowing with this fierce look on her face. It was amazing. I looked at it for a very long time. And now you can too! Here it is.

After that we walked through the Jardin des Tuileries all the way to the Place de la Concorde, but we were way too tired to attempt to walk down to the Arc de Triomphe by then so we went back to the hotel. We ate dinner at a cozy place in the Latin Quarter and then watched Sex and the City in french and went to bed.

The next day we saw the Rodin Museum, the Hôtel des Invalides, and the Eiffel Tower, as well as the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs Elysées. One thing I really noticed about Paris is that the French really do pay a LOT of attention to aestheticism *all* the time, even when laying out their city. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING lines up. For example, if you stand in front of the Louvre and look to the west, you look straight down the Jardin des Tuileries to the Place de la Concorde. The Obelisk in the center of Place de la Concorde lines up *exactly* with the Arc de Triomphe, which is down the perfectly straight Champs Elysées. That example is one of the main ones, but I found many others. For instance, in the Rodin museum, if you look at The Thinker straight on from the front, it lines up perfectly with the Eiffel Tower in the background, so that it looks like the Thinker has a radio tower sticking out of his head.

All the buildings were of gray-peach stone with blue roofs, there was building after building with gold guilding or ornamentation, statues and sculptures everywhere, well-ordered and geometrically laid out gardens. Everything was constructed to be pleasing to the eye.

Hopefully I will find the energy to write about Italy soon. Until then, gorge yourself of the photos. Or send me mail. I want mail. :)

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