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I've been posting so much crap that I had to break the trip down into another page. But think of it this way: Victor Hugo serialized Les Misérables. Get the connection?

Me neither.

We now hurtle uncontrollably toward the conclusion of the trip. Got insurance?

 

DAY 12: The Big-Ass Palace
June 10

It's 1:00am as I start this day's posting, and I had a weird emotional evening, but dammit, I'm gonna do it! Only one more day in Paris, so only one more day to lose sleep. Well, technically, I will lose sleep on Saturday, too, but I get to sleep all the way home!

 
Room with a Nothing

Here is the view I woke up to. My tiny room faces a tiny "courtyard." Quite European, but still quite bizarre in my book. I could shimmy down this thing like the cast of The Matrix if I had to escape somehow. PUN TIME: My name in the world of The Matrix would be Cocoa Pop, and as I shimmy down the courtyard walls, my cohorts would cry, "Shimmy! Shimmy, Cocoa Pop!"

 

Puns aside, imagine waking up to this instead! The last kings of France did, before they were killed for having views like this in the first place. Instead of having to shimmy, they could saunter. Or even get someone to saunter for them.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Versailles Room View
 
The Front of Versailles

 
Today was Versailles day. Richard and I even got up early! A metro and a train later, here we were. And it was frighteningly opulent.

I've seen Versailles before, during my high school trip, but I just don't recall being so blown away by the size of this place. And really, it's the size of the grounds and the gardens that's more mind-boggling.

 
Le Tick Le Tock

On the guided tour of the King's apartments, I was drawn to this clock. It was taller than me, and had a glass globe on the top with a small model of the planets inside that moved through mechanical means. I guess Louis the somethingth (I missed which one) did not believe the clockmaker had the skill to get the movements of the planets right, so he sent the clock to his scientists. They confirmed it was accurate, all the way down to Pluto and the Oort Cloud! Amazing for the time period, really.

These little gold heads were on each side of the windows on the top floor of one section of... Oh, hell, there were a lot of them. They were small and intricate, and there just to help in holding back the curtains in days of old.

A Heafty Piercing
I See Renovation

Unfortunately, the Hall of Mirrors, the most famous part of the palace, was being renovated. Like Space Mountain. Unlike Space Mountain, a small portion was left open for viewing.

I'm glad they did not leave a portion of Space Mountain open for riding on Tuesday. Yes, I am.

 

Sorry to mar this picture with an ugly Wingding (and a stupid facial expression), but it is important that you take a look, if you can, at the very far end of the Grand Canal. Where the finger's pointing. We will come back to this in a moment...

Red Right Hand
 
Iceberg, Tip

Voilá les jardins of the Château (though it really is a palace, it's called the Château for quaintness). None of the fountains were on today (SUCKS!), but the vast grounds from here are stunning. (You can only see a small portion of them here.)

Remember to keep an eye on the very end of the Grand Canal toward the top left.

 

So we walked tons through the Château. Then we walked through the gardens. We strolled down tree-lined streets...

Trees Less Traveled
 
Paths Less Traveled

...on meandering paths through the woods...

 

...across wide, overgrown avenues, and finally reached the end of...

Grass Less Traveles
 
A Man, A Plan, A Canal, Versailles!

 
...the Grand Canal!

As you can see, I've marred this picture, too, with a finger pointing to the approximate window I was looking out of before. The straight-line distance between the Château and the end of the Grand Canal is almost 2 miles. Walking distance, about 2.2, because the Canal has a cross shape. You can't just go from one end to the other, you have also go around the sides. It is insanely massive. Our walking distance was maybe 2.4 miles, since we wandered around.

These pictures do not do the scale any justice at all, and these numbers don't help much, either. You truly have to see this place to believe it. Think, too, about how it was built, long ago, using manual labor. Ain't no pyramid, but damn, is it impressive.

We next walked another 2 miles through more long, double-tree-row-lined avenues and through outlying sections on our way to the Queen's Hamlet.

 
It's a World of Servitude

Isn't it cute? The Queen (I of course forget which, but it may have been Marie Antoinette) had this little town built and populated so she could walk and live among "her people." I think I have that right. Ken?

 

The buildings are smaller than they should have been. Small like Disneyland small, but of higher quality. There were gardens and little bridges and goats and pigs... Really, it was the Queen's very own, private theme park. Serfland.

 

Et bien sûr, what would a trip to the hamlet be without a swan sighting?

How Hideous!
 

We walked another 2 miles or so back toward the Château, partially taking side streets outside the grounds toward the train station. That was another mile, to be sure. Total for today, not counting arrival and in-palace tours: 7.5 miles! All estimated, of course, using a small map and the finest dental floss and chewing gum.

On the train and metro, it only took an hour to get back to our hotel, but it seemed like forever. I was so tired! Nevertheless, Richard and I went out for din-din, and while not a Dinner on the Town, it was quite nice and relaxing. And now my emotions are settled, and I am ready to friggin' go to sleep.

Oh, BTW, posted yesterday's stuff after Versailles in a tiny and unkempt internet and telephone call place. Easy. But on the way back to the hotel, I discovered the brasserie just next to the hotel has WiFi! Imagine! I can't get the signal in my room, but I can tomorrow morning during breakfast. Oh, ouiiiiii!

 

Tiny EUs

 

DAY 13: Wearin' Out My Shoes
June 11

I have literally worn out my shoes on this trip. Yes, sometime yesterday, while walking the trillion and three miles around Versailles, I noticed my shoes are coming apart. While this normally would annoy me, I can think of no better place to finish off a good pair of shoes than Paris!

 
Boulevard de Richard Leon Market

This morning, a market, like a mushroom, had sprouted in the night on the street outside our hotel. It was like the farmer's markets in L.A., but there were also booths for cleaning products, African masks, fans and dehumidifiers, underwear, and, probably, King Louis XVI's head.

 

The morning found Richard and I taking a boat tour on the Seine, another thing I've always wanted to do. The sky was gorgeous again, so I got another picture of a statue against the clouds. I have an ouevre! (This is a pont—bridge—but I can't remember which one right now.)

Versailles Room View
 
On the left is your mother.

The tour included an informational but cheesy narration, accessed through these spiffy stainless steel handsets.

 

This is the Musée d'Orsay. It used to be a railway station, thus the huge clocks. It was turned into a museum in the '80s. If you want to see more from this interesting place, keep reading.

Orsay Museum from the Seine
 
Notre Dame from the Seine

Once again, Notre Dame, this time from down low and on the outside. Isn't that a sports phrase? I'm trying to be clever, because Notre Dame so needs the help.

 

The boat dock was right by the Eiffel Tower, so today we had time to go to the top. It was cool, like being on a big, tall pogo stick that doesn't bounce or move except maybe a little swaying, and being on it with thousands of people. You get the idea.

An American Above Paris
 
Panorama from the Eiffel Tower

CLICK THE TALL PIC TO GO
TO A LARGER VIEW!

(204KB)
 
 

Eiffel Tower Shadow

 
Simply no words can describe the view. Except Joel's: "Stunning."

Après la Tour, we went to la Musée d'Orsay. This is the former railroad station with the huge clocks. NOW just look at it! What a pig sty. Honestly.

Orsay Main Area Thing
 
Orsay Clock View

This is the view from one of the clocks. That's the Louvre in the distance.

 

There was a great cut-away model of l'Opéra, but also cool was this huge model of l'Opéra and its neighborhood. You could walk right over it! The detail was "stunning."

L'Opera and Surroundings Under Glass
 
Orsay Can You See?

Another view from inside the Orsay. This picture size is tiny, but you can still make out the Sacré Coeur on the horizon. (Notice the use of my not-at-all-cliché new oeuvre of sculpture and clouds. Wish it was a horse.)

 

Remember my excitement at seeing Harry Potter's "Nighthawks" at the Tate Modern? Well, this—

What? What did I say? I did? No, I did not. Really? Go on! I did not! I did not say that! Why would I say that? Did I? No way. I said "Edward Hopper." That's what I said. I did? I did not. Okay, okay. Fine. But I don't remember saying that.

Anyway, the HOPPER was great, and I especially treasure having seen it. The Orsay, however, is a yummy basket of classics from many of the French masters, plus some who were not French but must have, like the lucky chocolate bar, fallen into the peanut butter that was the art scene in France.

I know this will boost the load time of this page even more, but I have to show you some of the amazing artwork I finally got to see in person. The page size will widen somewhat for this section. To wit:

 
Millet's Des Glaneuses Monet's Coquelicots

Jean-François Millet
"Des Glaneuses" (1857)

Claude Monet
"Coquelicots" (1873)

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Renoir's Bal du Moulin de la Galette Van Gogh's La Cahmbre de Van Gogh a Arles

Pierre-Auguste Renoir
"Bal du Moulin de la Galette" (1876)

Vincent van Gogh
"La Chambre de Van Gogh à Arles" (1889)

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Van Gogh's Self Portrait Degas' Ballet or l'Etoile

Vincent van Gogh
"Self Portrait" (1889)

Edgar Degas
"Ballet" or "l'Étoile" (1876–1877)

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Seurat's Cirque Toulouse-Lautrec's Femme de Profil

Georges Seurat
"Cirque" (Detail) (1890–1891)

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
"Femme de Profile (Madame Lucy)" (1896)

 

This is just a sampling. There was too much to see, and the museum closed on us. I'll just have to come back! (It was also nice to be allowed to take flashless pictures of the art, unlike other museums lately that don't allow pictures at all.)

 
Renoir et Moi

I can't help throwing this picture in. "Sure, Steve. Suck up more of my precious bandwidth. I might as well go take a bath while this damn site downloads."

 

The museum closed, Richard and I went back to the hotel (did I mention my towels all smell like cigarette smoke? Ugh!) and then out for our last dinner in Paris. It was a fine one, but not as relaxing as normal. Bad service. Ah, well.

So this is it. My last posting from the road. I'll post one final one for Day 14 once I'm home, but this is it. I will save my tears for the last posting.

Let me just leave you with one more picture. You may have heard of little tile pictures being placed up around the world that replicate a single alien from Space Invaders, the classic arcade game. Short story shorter, these things have been showing up everywhere. There's one near me on the 405 overpass on Wilshire of an alien over a bomb from Kaboom. Earlier this week, driving under an overpass on a road next to the Seine, I saw one depicting one of the alien ships on the top row of the game.

Walking back from the internet place today before dinner, I spotted another one right near the hotel. This is a more loosely-interpreted alien, but it's one of the series for sure. This was in the driveway of a car repair place. In Paris. Think about this exciting world phenomenon while I go to bed.

 
Little Tile Space Invader

 

Tiny EUs

 

DAY 14: I'm a-Leaving on un Avion avec les Jets
June 12
Futuristic Snoozy

For a souvenir of how tired I am, see this picture of me sliding slowly along a '70s futuristic conveyor belt in a futuristicly cottage-cheese (large curd) splattered tube at Charles de Gaulle, and note how at the time I could make no witty comments about how un-futuristic it all was. Boy, that is tired!

 

Can't get much "live"r than this. Here I iz in the United first class lounge at Charles de Gaulle, working on this very update. Why, it's almost as interesting as Reagan's funeral.

Charles de Gaulle First Class Lounge
 

There was an 8½-hour flight from Paris to Chicago, then a disastrously long transfer process from one plane to another before a 4½-hour flight to L.A. Cripes. That's all I can say. Cripes.

 
Awww! Plane puppy!

The flight from Chicago to L.A. was enriched by the presence of a cute sheepdog puppy in the seat in front of me. A dog in first class. Hmm. I didn't get one. Maybe the stewardess forgot.

 

Now, I'm home. But I'm too tired to write any witty or entertaining conclusion, so I'll save that for tomorrow. Matt did surprise me by meeting me at my apartment when I drove up. That was not expected! (Duh. It's a surprise.) I'm so glad he was here. But he's gone now, so I'll toss this onto the server and go to sleep. À bientôt!

 

Tiny EUs

 

CONCLUSION: Love Sucks

After visiting Paris, that's the conclusion I've drawn? Yes, that's the conclusion I've drawn. But not because of my trip! No, in spite of my trip, actually. In spite of spending two weeks away, love sucks. If you're not missed after two weeks, you're not gonna be missed in the long run. [ADDENDUM: I was going to take this out today, since I'm feeling more positive, but have decided it was part of the experience, and so it's legitimate and valid to leave in.]

However, I have been enriched. Traveling is such a great experience, even if part of it is for work, that I'm sad for those who never do it. There was a quote in the hotel in London that said: "The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page." St. Augustine said this, I guess, and he spoke truly.

There is so much history in Europe that to return to L.A. makes me realize what a baby this town is. I'm not saying I don't enjoy living here still, but just that its patina of importance covers a city that is too new, too self-aggrandizing to be truly rich. It may reach that point some day, but we've got a long way to go. If it was exciting for me to see the basement of the Chinese Theater, you can imagine what it was like walking through the catacombs of Paris. I can't wait to explore more of the world.

Thanks to everyone who read these pages! I started it as a sort of fun challenge, and it became an important part of the trip. It's nice to have a scrapbook of the voyage ready immediately upon my return, because I know I'd never have created such a site after the fact. Maybe I can do this again when I go to Bentonville or Paramus!

—Steve

 

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Let's Hobble Back to the Library The Ranting Wren

Trip: May 30 to June 12, 2004
Last Page Update: June 13, 2004