My boys of the summer. One is 16 the other like, 10. One quite busy saving the wizarding world, the other quite busy inventing candy with Johnny Depp.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: one of the most insane movies I’ve ever enjoyed. I was telling my brother; not crazy like Fellini, crazy like taking Roald Dahl, Tim Burton, and Johnny Depp, mixing them all together and making a children’s movie out of it. Throw in some identical oompa-loompas, Christopher Lee, tooth paste caps, and dentistry, and you’ve got a classic! Many have called it creepy, and they’re totally right.
The Half-Blood Prince: great. Best one since Prisoner of Azkaban, I think. I’ll say no more, I’m not a spoiler! Don’t worry, my t-shirt that says NERD really big is already ordered and in the mail. At least I didn’t dress up like my favorite character and camp out for 19 hours at our local Borders. Now, that’s nerdy. I just calmly walked into my store of choice and picked it up. I didn’t even have to shove any elderly people or small children to get my copy. “Out of the way, kid. That one’s mine!” Then, victoriously clutching my book crying: “Yes!!! I love you Harry! Gryffindor Rules!” before running out of the store, forgetting to pay in my excitement. Then, jump in the car, dab my eyes, and attempt to get my first glimpse of chapter 1 while driving. (Really, that didn’t happen. But, driving while reading is dangerous!) I can see the pandemonium that could generate at one of those midnight parties.
I received a letter the other day stating that I had wrongfully written throughout the test booklet. I broke the rules. They even sent me a copy of them, just in case I forgot…again. So, as a result of my illiteracy, I get to write a letter stating why I was so ignorant and blithely ignored the rules. Until the investigation of this ‘irregularity’ is over, my results will stay in testing purgatory.
I mean, seriously! This is ridiculous! I don’t really want to be part of an organization with such idiotic rules. Becoming an ‘I’ used to mean a lot to me. Now it just means beating the registry. I’m moving to England where things are logical (except for the whole driving on the left thing). A place where they would say: “Oh, you crossed out wrong answer choices to make it easier to chose the correct one? Well done you!”
Let’s see…I left off with a tall tower. Our next day in Paris we started at the Orsay, an impressionist museum. We saw some great Monets, Van Goghs and Whistlers Mother. In the afternoon we visited Versailles. I found this place to be…excessive. Although, I can get behind the idea of having yourself painted more beautiful and fit than you really are. We returned to the city and went to Sacré Cœur. This beautiful church was built in the 1800s although you wouldn’t believe it. It looks more like a modern mosque from the outside, and has beautiful ‘modern’ mosaics inside. We strolled through this area for a few hours, got a crêpe (yum!) and people watched, a classis Parisian pastime.
The next day we tackled the largest museum in the world, the Louvre. We spent the morning seeking out the ‘big three,’ the Mona Lisa, Vénus de Milo and Winged Victory. All relatively easy to spot, in an otherwise extremely complicated and frustrating building. I would recommend bringing a guide as if you were on safari, because I’m sure there are people that have been trapped in the Louvre for years and can’t find their way out. We spent the second half of they day enjoying funereal sculpture, Napoleon III apartments, and European paintings.
Our last day was a free one. We decided to start by going to the catacombs. Talk about creepy! 100+ stairs to get down, 80+ to get back up and a 1.7 km total walk in between. About half of the length is the “Empire of the Dead.” 6-8 feet deep, and about 5 feet tall on either side of you; bones. Nothing but bones. In the layer closest to the walkway, the bones are laid in different designs of skulls, tibias, and femurs. It is truly unbelievable. When we emerged unscathed we went to the Père Lachaise Cemetery. Here we saw the graves of Chopin and Jim Morrison. (what a dichotomy!)
The next day we returned home on an airline which we happily discovered includes wine! This made the journey even more pleasant.
So, there you have it. Whether you wanted it or not. Wait. Are you asleep?! I’m done now, so you can go about your business.
Let’s see…I left off with some old stones. We took our free day in London to go to the National Gallery, fantastic, again. We also stopped at the Natural History Museum. This is a beautiful museum. One of our tour guides said that if she were queen she would live at this museum (keeping most of the stuffed animals) and wear the crown jewels at all times, all of them, even in the bath…especially in the bath.
The next day we drove to Canterbury and enjoyed their beautiful cathedral and charming town. We took a ferry over to France, then drove 4 hours to Paris. It was about now that I realized I don’t speak any French and it had been a long time since I’d been in a truly foreign country.
Our first day we had a bus tour of Paris. We got our first proper view of the Eiffel Tower which bigger than I imagined, but I’ll get to that later. We stopped at Notre Dame for about 10 minutes. A laughable amount of time; we didn’t even get to meet Quasimodo! Then we hung out in the opera district for a while (nice if you love shopping).
Paris day two was the best on of the whole trip for me. We started by driving out to Giverny, Monet’s house for the last 30 years of his life. This is where the lily pond is that inspired many of his paintings. Absolutely fabulous gardens. I could have stayed for days enjoying nature. We returned to the city and went to the Latin Quarter (named for the scholarly people who used to speak Latin here). We had lunch in front on Notre Dame, and then re-visited it. I bought some prints on the street, and we visited the Pantheon. Here, Voltaire, Victor Hugo, and the Curies are buried. After dinner we went to the Eiffel Tower. There are three levels to the tower. Getting up to the second one was not too traumatic for me. My parents and I ‘climatized’ for a few minutes before committing ourselves to going to the top. I classify that elevator ride as one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. A two minute ride to the top that seems to go on forever, and it’s hard to distract yourself in an elevator that is glass on all sides. Once we got up there, I was okay, and it was totally worth it. Fantastic views of the city abound, and we got there just in time to catch the sunset.
Upon our return to the hotel that night, we were officially le tired.