The Louvre Recap

There are three main art museums in Paris: the Louvre, which houses “very old art” (the technical term), including some superfamous statues and the world’s most overrated painting; the Musee D’Orsay, which has “medium old” art, like impressionists; and the Pompidou Center, which has modern art and deserves a post of its own…let me just say that it was built as a work of modern art itself, so all the pipes and whatnot are on the outside. This defies typical building convention, and, surprise surprise, apparently it is difficult to maintain.

easter island head louvre

The Boyfriend and I hit up the Louvre on free day, which is the first Sunday of every month, and I expected it to be kind of a nightmare crowd-wise, but it was not. Here’s my supersecret tips to navigating the Louvre, especially if you have limited time:

1. Go on free day. Save that money! The crowds aren’t that bad!

architecture louvre pyramid

2. Start at the Place de la Concorde by the other end of the Tuileries. Even in January, it was nice to wander down through the gardens toward the museum.

But beware the pigeon man. Steer clear. No one needs 5000 birds surrounding them.

I just liked the old/new contrast in this gate.

I just liked the old/new contrast in this gate.

3. Spend the money you would have used on admission on food at the Paul food cart, outside by the arch. It’s so good. We had these apricot and creme anglaise pastries and my life will never be the same, and I had a coffee which I ordered in French so it ended up being something that translated to “white American,” which turns out means an Americano with milk. 

jardins de tuileries

4. After you finish your amazing French food, head off to the left. Do not go to the pyramid, however tempting it may be. Instead, go down the stairs that look like a subway stop and into the mall that’s underneath the museum.

Yep, it’s a little weird to have a mall underneath a museum, but convenient!

Pro tip: free wifi at the Apple store (and Starbucks…but really? Starbucks in Paris?).

Take your DaVinci code photos by the inverted pyramid and head inside through your newfound secret mall entrance, where you should immediately get a map. 

louvre pyramid

5. Do not plan to see everything. You are setting yourself up to fail. Instead, pick a couple of pieces or periods that you’d like to see and head there first, and that way everything else you encounter will be a nice bonus.

louvre statue

6. The Mona Lisa. Ahhhh.

It’s always crowded.

It’s always crowded by tall people taking innumerable photos at the very front.

It’s surprisingly small.

Instead, turn around and take in the pleasantly large painting on the wall behind you, which is my favorite in the whole Louvre. It depicts the Wedding at Cana, where Jesus did his first miracle.

This is the best shot I have of it, unfortunately.

This is the best shot I have of it, unfortunately.

7. Most of all, enjoy yourself! After the museum, it was getting dark outside so we had a nice sunset stroll along the Seine as we walked up to the Eiffel Tower. 

the seine at sunset

Gratuitous Eiffel Tower shot. You're welcome.

Gratuitous Eiffel Tower shot. You’re welcome.

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Glasgow Cathedral + Necropolis

The thing I love most while traveling (okay…besides food!) is finding great attractions that are also free. For someone living on the Tesco Metro three-pound meal deal, a free museum or tour can feel like a huge win.

Glasgow Cathedral and the adjacent necropolis both fit the bill.

glasgow cathedralI’ve wanted to go to Scotland for years, and ended up choosing Glasgow because it was a cheap city through which to book a split ticket–both the Boyfriend and I wanted to fly into somewhere else and depart from Paris. It was fittingly gloomy and rainy most of the time we were there, but I loved it anyway. See the piper on the steps of the 13th-century cathedral? How cool is that?!

inside glasgow cathedralThe inside of the cathedral is absolutely enormous. It is still an active worship space; there was even a list on a bulletin board of who was to bring coffee next Sunday. 

glasgow cathedral windowI later learned that clear glass instead of stained class was quite the fad for a time; it was simple and pretty, but more importantly it was easy to make and allowed more light into dark churches.

glasgow cathedral scotlandThere are two levels to the cathedral; make sure that you visit them both! The main nave is pretty, but the basement looks like Hogwarts!

It’s also called St. Mungo’s, which I thought was just the hospital in Harry Potter before I learned that he was an actual saint

glasgow necropolisOverlooking the cathedral is this GIGANTIC statue of John Knox. Of all people. The necropolis behind the cathedral is nice for a walk, even in the rain, despite the fact that it’s a graveyard. There are also great views of the city from the top of the hill. Enjoy a few more photographs below!

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Trip in Review: Travel Thursday

I feel as if I’ve barely been able to process my last trip! In case you missed it on Twitter and Instagram, here’s a rough rundown of what happened:

Old and new in Paris

Old and new in Paris

December 28: Get ready to leave. Boyfriend realizes he’s forgotten his passport. A seven-hour roadtrip later, he’s got it and we can head to New York (big shoutout to both of our dads for driving us around two states!). 

Glasgow Cathedral

Glasgow Cathedral

December 29: Aer Lingus calls to let us know that our evening flight is already delayed and would we like to switch? Leave on earlier flight. 

Sometime in the middle of the night: Layover in Dublin, after which we get on the smallest plane in Europe.

Sunset on the Seine

Sunset on the Seine

December 30: Explore Glasgow.

Along the waterfront in Glasgow

Along the waterfront in Glasgow

December 31: Boyfriend proposes at midnight on what locals call the “Squinty Bridge.” Happy New Year!!! :) 

A "love-lock" bridge in Paris.

A “love-lock” bridge in Paris.

January 1: Train from Scotland to England.

New Year's Eve in Glasgow

New Year’s Eve in Glasgow

January 2-3: London.

London Parliament

London Parliament

January 4-5: Paris with the Boyfriend.

An exhibit at the Pompidou Center, the modern art museum in Paris.

An exhibit at the Pompidou Center, the modern art museum in Paris.

January 6-12:  Class in theology in the City of Light. Theology + travel=basically my favorite things in the universe. 

Old and new...again in Paris.

Old and new…again in Paris.

Charlie Hebdo happens.

…and now I’m back in NEPA, enjoying the family and strong coffee for a little longer before I head back to NYC, work, and school. 


Linking up with Travel Tuesday + Treat Yo Self Thursday. 


Treasure Tromp
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Beyond the Barricade

I like that Europe is good at protests and generally assembling in public. I’m boarding my flight home to New York in ten minutes, so this will be quick, but wanted to share a few photos of the events in Paris yesterday. Enjoy!

(Click to enlarge)

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The news from Paris

This week, I’m in Paris.

As my mother pointed out, news seems to follow me, which I suppose is a good thing for my career. Besides all of the drama that unfolded during my semester in Rome (for a while there was no pope, president, prime minister or police chief!), the day that I got to England in 2013 Margaret Thatcher died, and my first year in NYC brought two hurricanes and the Occupy Wall Street movement. For the last few days, of course, all eyes have been on Paris.

je suis charlie

First, my experience. I am filtering everything through the cultural barrier (Parisians are much quieter than Americans–are they handling this uproar remarkably well, or merely showing their angst silently?) and the lack of an international data plan, meaning I can’t be glued to Twitter as I normally would.

On the day of the shooting, I was around Notre Dame with friends and didn’t even know what had happened until I returned to campus about an hour after the attack unfolded. The majority of the rest of the drama has been outside the city proper, and our campus is not particularly near the Charlie Hebdo office, so there hasn’t been a visible reaction except the extraordinarily high police presence. Bags are being searched on subways and at major attractions. Our road was closed briefly last night due to a suspicious package, which came to nothing.

St. John’s is located in the Vincentian headquarters in Paris (cool huh?) and has multiple gates, a courtyard and a 24/7 security guard in addition to all of the special measures they’ve taken because of the increased risk, so I am quite safe.

In a more general sense, this attack is horrific and I’m very impressed at the worldwide response–condemning terror, of course, but also speaking out in defense of freedom of speech and human dignity. #JeSuisCharlie was trending, and then the NYT had a very thoughtful piece (among many on the issue in general) about NOT being Charlie, and it’s all been very interesting to watch. 

I have a lot of thoughts floating around, on the freedom of the press in particular. Perhaps they’ll gel into something eventually. 

In the meantime, I wrote this post/little essay after the Newtown school shooting a few years ago, which coincidentally I watched unfold with a roommate who is also my roommate in Paris. (We’ve been talking about current events quite a bit.) I think it’s relevant anytime a major media event occurs, and I always try to remember this:

The “media” is not one gigantic, evil conglomerate scheming to brainwash the public, most especially at the site of a breaking tragedy. They are people like you and me, with partners and children and mortgages and crappy cars, people who drink cups upon cups of coffee to keep themselves going, people who work on tight deadlines and low incomes for the benefit of everyone.

nous sommes tous charlie

A city billboard near the former Bastille prison displays the We Are Charlie slogan, while a French flag flies at half-mast in the background.

I would love to hear any thoughts on the recent events in Paris. 



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