Friday, May 30, 2008

Musing at Musee D'Orsay and L'Orangerie: Paris Part Trois

Our TomTom equipped taxi deposited us safely at Musee D'Orsay, located along the Seine. It is located in a beautiful old train station that is a work of art in itself. Because we had to conquer Paris in a few hours, we had planned our assault carefully, limiting ourselves to the sculptures on the first level and the Impressionist galleries on the fifth level. Still, there was time to look at some amazing artwork OUTSIDE the building!

Here are some views on the first level. If you look carefully you can spot Jim (carefully disguised in an unaccustomed suit coat.) This level is truly awe-inspiring - the original train station must have been absolutely gorgeous.

We meandered into the little side rooms and found even more to view....

Note that you can see the Seine in the picture on the right. Although it pained me to leave the first level (there was a gorgeous sculpture of a polar bear I wanted to gaze at) time was short so we headed up to see the Impressionists.

Le Tom Tom: The Agony and the Ecstasy of GPS Systems

Those who live with the famously flexible Haddens find out, in due course, that we are all (shall we say) directionally challenged. In past years, our only recourse in unfamiliar territory (short of desperately calling another of our number with access to MAPQUEST or wandering aimlessly 'neath the streets of Boston) was to rent a car with a GPS system (Neverlost.) Then came the advent of "personal" GPS systems. In gratitude for many Neverlost assisted car rentals, I (Louise) bought Alex a Tom Tom for her birthday, which was an immediate hit. Consumed with jealousy, I then asked for a Tom Tom for Christmas, which I happily received. However, the men in our lives seem to resist the charms of Tom Tom (resistance is futile, guys....) Jim Jim is convinced that Tom Tom tried to kill him by telling him to turn into oncoming traffic.

Knowing that we'd be out in the wilds of Burgundy this May, I ordered the Western Europe map set for my Tom Tom (now le Tom Tom) despite the poo-pooing of Jim Jim and others. Oh, and I downloaded a custom voice - Darth Vader. Just for fun. Le Tom Tom arrived in France before we did with the advance guard - and was immediately useful, PROVING that resistance is futile. Just to rub it in, we found every taxi in Paris also carries Le Tom Tom!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Springtime in Paris - Part Deux: In Which Jim, Louise and Alex walk Paris

Another interesting thing about Paris is that you don't see long lines of taxis idling away near the train stations - or anywhere for that matter. Our first task (after ridding ourselves of unnecessary baggage in the luggage lockers) was to find a taxi to take us to the Musee D'Orsay. It was easier said than done. We spied a taxi near a hotel near Gare de Lyon, but alas, it was taken. While Alex used her wiles to convince the concierge of the hotel to call us a taxi, Louise entertained herself by taking pictures of (a) a nearby hostel in honor of Ian's adventures in SA;

(b) the hotel restaurant menu featuring wine from Mendoza, Argentina (again in honor of Ian's adventures);

and (c) the back of the train station.

By this time Jim and Alex were thoroughly disgusted with me. However, Alex had prevailed and we were off to Musee D'Orsay.

Paris in the Springtime - Being the First Day of a Multi-day trip to France

On Thursday, May 15th, we took off from Logan Airport for Paris (I, Louise, was suitably tranquilized with sangria at Todd English's restaurant in the American terminal plus a "cocktail" of valium and dramamine.) No leg room? No problemo! Who would notice? Not me! Arrival at CDG at 6:30 am Paris time (pronounced saydayjay) was uneventful - the immigration officer could barely manage a stamp on the passport and our baggage seemed to merit no scrutiny. We met up with Alex (Louise's sister) and took the shuttle bus to Gare de Lyon, one of the Parisian train stations. I'm constantly amazed by the beauty of France's public places, particularly the Metropolitain (le Metro) and the train stations (Gares.) Not to mention the TGV (pronounced tayjayvay) trains themselves! It's hard not to contrast them to the T and Amtrak - which are very weak contenders.

CDG TGV station Entrance to le Metro in the Latin Quarter

We arrived at the Gare de Lyon and begun the search for luggage lockers (the plan was to store our luggage and engage on a whirlwind tour of musees before taking the TGV to Macon Loche in the afternoon.)
Armed with our pocket French dictionary, we wandered around fruitlessly, even braving the attempt of asking for directions from two very young soldiers armed with sub-machine guns (we were lucky they didn't shoot us for brutalizing their language so badly!) Eventually we found our way to a basement in the back of the very large building. Interestingly, we went through more security to drop our luggage in the train station than to enter the country!
Stay tuned for Gpops and Gmoms in the Musees, and their further adventures in Burgundy!