Travel Journey of the Week – The Louvre

The Louvre and pyramid. No tourists. It's Tuesday and the Louvre is closed

The Louvre and pyramid. No tourists. It’s Tuesday and the Louvre is closed

Liberated Travel’s weekly Travel journey is the Louvre, one of the world’s largest museums, in Paris.

I’ve been to the Louvre museum in Paris twice. The first time was during a school trip to Paris in 1977. We had a bus tour around the city and one of the stops was the Louvre. I don’t think we had a guided tour around the museum highlights but we did have our entrance paid and had an hour or so to have a quick look round it. I remember finding the Mona Lisa, She was hung at the time on a wall in a large gallery and I was so surprised to see that it was not a very big painting at all and that it was painted on wood, not canvas. The size of it is only about 11×17 or thereabouts.  Now, of course, it’s in a special viewing area of its own and is behind bulletproof glass. I don’t think it was back then but I may be wrong.

The other piece of art I always remember from that visit was the Winged Victory of Samothrace. She is a masthead from a ship, carved in stone and though head and armless, you can see that she’s facing the winds of the seven seas which  is blowing her robes backwards.

30 years later, I finally returned to Paris with my parter. We decided to go to the Louvre on the Wednesday late opening but looking back, we really should have done it first. It was at the end of a very long day, during which we’d gone up to Montmartre, visted the Basilica, took in the Dali museum, had lunch and walked many narrow streets, and had a quick look at the exterior of the Moulin Rouge before taking a bus back to the Louvre. I was exhausted with very sore feet even before we got to one of the world’s largest museums.

But we went anyway. It was late November and the queue under the pyramid entrance was not all that long at all. We got our little map and headed in to find the Mona Lisa and whatever else we could find. We did find the little maps confusing. When looking for particular galleries or the toilets, they were never where the map said they were. I was getting frustrated and tired. But we found the enigmatic Mona and got a chance to get to the front of the viewing area for a look and a photo.

Then we wandered a bit, saw the Venus de Milo. She had almost nobody around her. We got up close and had a good look but my partner quipped, “Well, that’s not a very good statue. It’s got no arms!” Very funny. I really wanted to find the Victory again, too, so I could get some good photos of it. We finally came upon it from one side and I was as struck by it this time as I was the first.

“This one’s even more rubbish! It’s got no head AND no arms!”

I had to laugh, only because I was so tired, I think! By this time, even though we’d barely seen anything other than those three things and one or two galleries of paintings, I had had enough. I really needed to sit down and I really needed a cold drink. We finally found a cafe near the entrance but for some reason we weren’t allowed to sit at the tables, so we bought some bottles of pop and found a bench. I was nearly in tears by this time, between the sore feet, the thirst, the frustration trying to find our way around.

But you know what? Once I had a rest and a drink, I got a little puff of a second wind. We had talked about getting an after dark boat cruise on the Seine. G. was willing to forgo it if i wanted to go back to the hotel for the night but no, I thought I would be ok, and besides, a boat cruise means you can sit down, right? Right. So we made our way across Pont Neuf and down to the quay to get tickets. The cruise was great, if a bit chilly and we walked back to the hotel under the moonlight, stopping in a Chinese restaurant on the way for a late meal. It was our last day in Paris and we made more than the most of it!

Quandaries

Here’s the quandary I’ve been tossing about in my head. We are planning to go to Paris from Manchester next spring. There are two ways of getting there and each has advantages and disadvantages. Cost wise and time wise, I don’t think they will be all that far part and both have some messing around and schlepping a big suitcase. We’re planning to do this on the second of the two weeks that I will be overseas and I will be leaving from London to come home at the end, that’s why I’ll have my full size suitcase. I am not capable of living for two weeks out of a rolling carry on size bag. It just won’t happen.

Method 1: Fly from Manchester to Paris, (early arrival at the airport). Go through customs and wait for baggage. Get to the RER train and into Paris, Gare du Nord (there should be elevators from the train to the concourse, right? Or escalators at least?) Taxi to the hotel because lugging a heavy case up stairs from the underground/Metro isn’t going to happen either.

Method 2: Take the train from Manchester to London Euston. Taxi to St. Pancras (I know it’s not too far but we’ll have that luggage to contend with which also leaves out trying to get underground tickets, dragging around on that and up into the train station. Taxi it is.) Get the Eurostart to Paris Gare du Nord and a taxi to the hotel.

Getting to London to Paris  will definitely be on the Eurostar.

The second way sounds like less messing but with both ways, there’s two legs of the journey, either plane to train or train to train, both ending in the same place. Time wise, probably the train to train will take longer, with each train journey a bit over 2 hours plus the time in between that you need to check in to the Eurostar terminal. Cost wise, hard to say. You can get fairly cheap advance tickets for the Manchester to London journey if you’re on top of things and the Eurostar can be fairly cheap too, with advance tickets.

Sometimes you can get good prices on the one way flights. But you have to be at the airport over an hour early, and then wait for your bags at the other end, hoping they arrive. Still, that way will probably take a little less time overall but then, the last time we flew to Paris, we were stuck waiting on the Manchester runway for over an hour and a half with a delay. Planes and trains both get cancelled but I think planes have more chance of delays. Can’t really use that as an excuse though.

Comfort wise, flying is cramped and crowded. The train in second class still has seats with not a lot of leg room but it’s perhaps a bit more comfortable. First class is nice if you can afford it! Perhaps lots of advance booking might get the Eurostar first class in an affordable range, not so sure about the British trains. I know I have signed up in the past for email notice for the cheap seats in second class when they are released but I can’t recall if they do the same for the first class seats.  I’m still kind of leaning to the train except that it will make the journey longer.

I get myself all in a tizzy over little details like this, long before I even need to think about it! My partner will just say he’s fine with whatever I decide.

The next tizzy will be choosing a hotel! That’s something for a whole other blog post!

Cee’s Fun Photo Challenge: Reflections and Shadows

Reflections and shadows are both really good subjects for photos. I’ve taken lots, more reflections than shadows but plenty of both. They’re just so interesting. Black and white is a good medium especially for shadows, the dark and the light contrasting. Cee’s challenge this week offers both so here’s a few of each.

Reflections first….

Camden on the canals, London

Roman Baths, Bath, England

Castel St’Angelo, Rome

Leeds Castle, England

And some shadows…

Wells Cathedral, England

Port Royal, Nova Scotia

Lantern on the wall. Bruges, Belgium

A Word a Week Challenge – Two

Sue’s challenge this week is “Two”.

It takes two, baby.
Two hearts beat as one.
Double your pleasure, double your fun.
Two for the price of one.
Two turtledoves…

Guarding the castle. Rosenborg Castle, Copenhagen

Guarding the Pope. Vatican City, Rome, Italy

Steve’s Guitar Shop. Montreal

Wells Cathedral, England

Pumpkin People. Kentville, Nova Scotia

Love in the London Zoo