Saturday, August 25, 2012

Paris Gives Me Museumittus

Paris, the city of lights. What’s not to love about a city chalk full of some of the most famous museums on Earth? Take the Louvre for example. An art junkie like me could spend a whole week walking the galleries and still not come up for air. Having taken my fair share of Art History classes in college, nothing is more rewarding than seeing an amazing work of art I studied up close and personal. To walk through a gallery of sculptures from ancient Rome and Egypt makes me appreciate how artists through out time have made their mark on the world. 

There is also no better place than a famous museum for people watching. Everyone arrives with certain expectations.  I love to eavesdrop on conversations.  It’s like writers gold.  

Here are a few snippets from my time roaming the Louvre.

Standing in the Roman sculpture gallery I heard two guys talking about one particularly impressive piece of art.

“I guess the Romans really worked out. This guy’s ripped.”

“Yeah, they were major warriors.”
“So what's the deal with the tiny dicks.” 

“Must have taken ancient steroids.”

While standing on the steps in front of The Winged Victory of Samothrace I overheard two British women talking about the famous sculpture.  

“Lovely draping in the gown.”

“Yes, quite well done.”

“The wings are so nicely executed. I can count the feathers.

Yes, quite remarkable.”     

“She looks formidable don’t you think?”

“Yes, quite the impressive bust line.”

My favorite was a guy I stood next while waiting in line waiting to see the Mona Lisa.  After taking fifteen minutes to finally get close to the painting the guy turned to me and said, “What the Hell? This painting is so damn famous but why is it so damn small?”

I wasn’t surprised by his reaction. When I studied the painting in Art History class I thought it must be at least four feet tall.  Didn’t help that the painting took up almost the entire surface of the projection screen. I couldn’t believe it when I read the paintings dimensions in my textbook—an unimpressive twenty-one by thirty inches. 

The guy strained to get a better view. “I can barely see the face. I just don’t get it.” 

I gave him a Mona Lisa smile. “Maybe da Vinci ran out of canvas.” 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Paris On My Mind

As much as I love writing about Japan, another country has been haunting me lately—France. And who can dream of France without thinking of the city of light.  I’ve been pining for Paris so badly lately I added the city to my current work-in-progress. When a place gets into my head I can’t seem to think of anything else. So I’ve decided to do a series of posts on what I love about Paris and the South of France. Of course I couldn’t write about any country without reliving some of my fish out of water moments. In Paris I had quite a few. But one moment always makes me smile. For once I wasn’t a fish out of water!


On a overcast day, I headed out of my quaint little hotel in the Latin Quarter to meet friends at a wonderful little restaurant near the Eiffel Tower. I love to walk everywhere so I made sure to dress like a native. I wore black jeans, a matching sweater, a fashionable raincoat and a nice scarf. A must in France. To top it off I wore a cute black wool hat. I didn’t want anyone to know I was American. At least until I opened my mouth and my high school French popped out.  

I strolled down the left bank of the Seine enjoying all the lovely old buildings and then turned down a side street that looked like a good short cut.

A woman walked up to me and said, “Excuse me. Do you know the way to the bus stop?”

I looked around to see if there was someone behind me. Doesn’t she know I’m not a native? Just in case I was deaf she asked me again. I racked my brain for the right words. “I’m sorry I don’t know the way. I’m not from here.”

She nodded and continued up the street. I had a spring in my step as I walked to the restaurant, the famous tower growing larger and larger like my smile. I’d fooled a Parisian!

I was just a few blocks from the restaurant when a man on a bicycle blocked my path. I wondered if he was an undercover cop and he’d seen me jaywalking. He gave me a faint smile. “Excuse me. I’m looking for Rue De Martinique. Do you know if it is just ahead? Or did I pass it?”     

I felt like I was on the TV show Punked and any minute a film crew would come out of hiding. How could I fool not one but two Parisians? Was it my determined walk or my clothes? “I’m sorry but I don’t know. I’m American.”

He tipped his hat. “You fooled me for a minute. But the scarf gave you away.”

I smiled. “What do you mean? I bought this from a chic store—Target.”