Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Paris together - The value of lingering - Day 2

Oh, man, I thought I had more of a start on this. OK, here goes.

On our second day in Paris, we hit the Louvre. We didn't do the whole thing. The ancient Persian stuff and the sculpture court, over to the Roman, Greek, and Etruscan stuff. Down to the foundations. Up to the 16th/ 17th century European paintings (where Cranach is, whichever century he's in). Finally, the Egyptians.

One word of recommendation - do not do the Egyptian stuff last! We couldn't find our way out and we were tired and at least I was getting very cranky. There was an exit sign at the foot of a staircase pointing up. Get to the top of the stairs and there's an exit sign, pointing down. Gah!

J and I enjoyed capturing a different perspective on things you may have seemed used to seeing. At the Venus de Milo, for example, I focused close up, J focused on the crowd.

In the Roman section, the ceilings are exquisite. I especially liked when the sculpted characters reach out at you. Chubby cherub arms and feet. Put a cozy pillow under there and gaze for hours....
We stopped at one point for a bite and a drink (the air was soooo dry there) at a cafe on a balcony overlooking the central courtyard and Pei's pyramid.

The cafe was run by Angelina - a swank cafe on the Rue de Rivoli. I started with a pamplemousse presse - fresh squeezed grapefruit juice that was soooo yummy. Then I got a dessert called simply "Fraises" or strawberries. It was a strawberry couli over custard with a bit of toasted brioche. Heaven!

After we finally escaped from the Egyptians, we left the Louvre and hit a carnival in the Tuileries gardens just in front of the museum. The Ferris wheel was big and gave us such awesome views of the city - nearly every landmark was in sight (with the exception being the Opera Bastille and it's crepe-y goodness). We had a blast posing & shooting pics, playing with zoom and Swampy and whatnot.

Walking to Place Vendome to see Napolean's column, we noticed something going on at the Westin. Multiple chics in Bo Peep style costumes - usually accompanied by stern looking guys - were about and made their way into the hotel. Hmmmmm.

Our next stop - crepes. I tell everyone who mentions Paris that I know where the best crepes are. And the dude is still there. They have a bit of crispiness but also a bit of thickness - enough to make them a heavenly carrier for your filling of choice - in my case almost always Nutella. J compared them to his earlier crepe from near Notre Dame and agreed. I melt thinking of them!

One thing that struck home that day was the value of lingering. In cafes, at meals, people watching, absorbing. Taking pleasure in the pause and soaking up whatever the city put in front of you during those moments. The small bites of food that accompanied these moments were so well done that they more than satisfied. Rather than hurrying to get to the next to-do or destination, to get out of where we were, we started to linger, to stay to absorb - and it was just as important to our vacation experience as the sights.

After crepes, we took a brief walk through a bit of the Marais to the Place des Vosges. The lawn was covered with people - singles, couples, families - in typical Parisian style and we sat on the fountain for a bit, enjoying where we were, watching some very chocolatey kids play in the dirt and water.

Next, we stopped at the Musee Carnavalet - a small, free museum that shows what the interior of the homes of the wealthy and royalty would have looked like around the time that Place des Vosges was built.

Dinner was at The Duchess restaurant in a passage near our hotel - the Passage des Panoramas. These are roofed alleyways lined with restaurants and small shops - miniature streets of sorts. The restaurants still put tables "outside" their doors in the limited space.
This was our first French meal. J had duck with lots of butter that he called the French equivalent of fried chicken. I had sole meuniere. We started, though, with some Kir for an aperitif - a blend of casis and bubbly hard cider. mmmmm And we ended with a shared glass of almond Cognac. We loved the people, the place, and the food.

We followed dinner with a little bit more people watching at the Cafe Zephyr. I was chilly in the evening air, so I ordered chocolat chaud. It came, melted chocolate at the bottom of a teacup and a small pitcher of steamed milk. J tasted the chocolate and melted - it was soooooo good. Not always, but quite often even the small things were just so lovely.

My notes for the day mention a puppy riding a suitcase. I vaguely remember seeing that, but it's
not that interesting.

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