Thursday, March 25, 2010

Parisian Paradise - Part XIII: The Conciergerie & Les Invalides

While Brian and Whit left Paris the same day we did, their flight left bright and early, while we had a good part of the day to finalize our sightseeing before flying out that evening.

We decided that we should try to use our museum pass as efficiently as possible for our final day, to get the best bang for our buck. To do that, we thought we would start at Sainte Chapelle, a gothic chapel in the former royal palace of Paris. It looked rather drab from the outside, but rumor (and Rick Steeves) promised beauty within. Unfortunately, it was closed for some reason and wouldn't re-open until later in the day. Bummer.

So instead, we went next door to the Conciergerie, the former royal palace, which also served as a prison during the French Revolution. Many of the prisoners were held there while awaiting their trials and eventual beheadings - including Mary Antoinette. It was a little on the creepy side. We didn't get many pictures there, but we did snap a couple:

From there, we hopped on the metro to Les Invalides, which was a former hospital for aged and unwell soldiers, started in 1670 by Louis XIV. These days it houses the military museum, a pair of chapels (one constructed for the veterans and one for the royalty), and Napoleon's tomb (among other things).

On our way there, you'll never guess what we spotted:

That Eiffel Tower shows up in the craziest of places!

France's military museum was quite a bit more impressive than U.S. military museums, since you have history dating back so far that you get to see things like this:

But neither Deidra nor I were huge military buffs, and we had other things to see before catching our flight. So we didn't spend a ton of time here.

Instead, we walked through the the military museum to get to Napoleon's Tomb, which is basically the central point of the structure.

The gold dome that marked the tomb (and adjoining royal chapel) was a rather easy landmark to follow:

Once there, Napoleon greeted us all proud and blinged-out:

His inferiority complex must have continued after his death, because his tomb was enormous! Here is a view from above - surrounded by guardian angels:

And here is our unsuccessful attempt to get a non-blurry shot with us in it from ground-level:

On the way out, Deidra had to make sure to get a picture by this sign, because it reminded her of a part in the book Madeline:

Then we made one more stop before we caught our plane home, but you might have to wait another week or so before I get up the motivation to blog about that one.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Parisian Paradise - Part XII: Maraise Walk & Orangerie

After the Montmartre Walk, we took the metro to another part of town for another one of Rick Steeves' walks: the Maraise Walk. These walks were some of our favorite parts of Paris, since we actually walked through the streets and got to see a lot of Paris, rather than just metroing from famous landmark to famous landmark.

One of the great things about Paris was all of the courtyards, like the one where the LDS church was located. There were a few of these courtyards on this walk, including Hotel de Sully:

There was a nice piece of artwork there in which we all felt the need to frame ourselves:

We also saw the Place des Vosges, the first planned square in Paris. It was built by Henry IV in the early 1600s:

It includes a house where Victor Hugo once lived - though, of course, that was closed on the day we were there.

And, while we didn't get any pictures while we were there, the tour also included the Holocaust Memorial and Museum, or "Deportation Memorial" as it is often called. That was a very thought-provoking and humbling experience to walk through a timeline of what happened, particularly to French Jews, during the Holocaust. The final exhibit was a walkway that was filled from floor to ceiling on all of the walls with pictures of children were died and/or were never recovered as a result of the holocaust.

That evening, we parted ways with Whit and Brian, as Deidra and I wanted to maximize the use of our Museum Pass by going to the Orangerie Museum. This is one of the smaller art museums in Paris, which was a good thing, since we got there 45 minutes before closing.

The main draw of the Orangerie were the famous gigantic water lilies paintings by Claude Monet:

In fact, the room was built specifically for these paintings. Each painting was about 4 feet higher, and about 20 feet long.

There were also other rooms with a number of other artist, such as Matisse, Picasso and Renoir, but after being through so many museums, there wasn't anything else that caught our attention enough to photograph it.

2010 PhD Breakdown - part 2

Since my first post, the following has happened:

Purdue University - I made it through the phone interviews and have been offered admission into their PhD in Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management (OBHR)! This was my top choice since I started this process over a year ago.

Texas A&M - I am #1 on their waiting list and will most likely be offered admission, as their first crop of students offered admission will likely have at least one that declines admission (their PhD program admits more student than Purdue's).

Temple University - I was not offered admission into their PhD program. Which, frankly, didn't surprise me.

University of Alabama - I still have not heard either way from Alabama. This, frankly, does surprise me. I'm not diggin' their lack of communication.

Washington State University - I have contacted WSU and declined their offer of admission. I feel like Purdue's program is a better fit for me. It felt kind of good to be the one turning the school down, rather than vice versa.

So right now, I would say there's about a 75% chance that we will end up at Purdue, though we'll have to see what offers Texas A&M and Alabama make (if any).

Thursday, March 11, 2010

My Own Milton

In my place of employment, there is an employee that reminds me a bit of Milton from Office Space. While not quite as quiet as Milton, he doesn't talk much, has large, thick glasses and spends most of his time in a dark, cluttered office. We don't work closely together, but I do associate with him from time to time.

The great part is that he has absolutely no idea what my name is. Which makes it all the better every time I say "hi" to him when we pass each other in the hall. I usually greet him by name, and am always interested in his responses, which have included the following:

"Hey man!"
"Hey you!"
"How's it going?"
"Hey there, buddy!"
"Hi Matt!" (I can't be sure on this one - it might have been 'man')

I even had some work I needed from him, so I wrote him a note on a post-it and clearly printed my name at the bottom of the instructions. When he brought me the finished product, all I got was a "hey." So I'm still not sure he knows/remembers my name.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Parisian Paradise - Part XI: Sacre Coeur & Montmarte

Monday morning, we took the "metropolitan" out to Anvers:

And from there, we headed up a narrow uphill street filled with souvenir shops. After making our way up the street (and picking up some souvenirs on the way), we stop for a photo op before climbing the mountain of stairs up to Basilique du Sacre-Coeur, or Basilica of the Sacred Heart (not this Sacred Heart):

One we got up near the top, we took a breather to take in the view and the harp music (one of the few performers we saw out on the streets of Paris during our trip):

Then it was up even more stairs before we could get inside:

I tried to tell Deidra all about what Rick Steeves has to say about Sacre Coeur, but she just wanted take pictures and look cute:

Once inside, Deidra continued her undercover, covert (and therefore blurry) picture-taking of things we weren't supposed to take pictures of - like a big group on nuns in the middle of a worship service:

Sacre Coeur was very beautiful and ornate throughout. Here the ceiling artwork:

It's Christ and the Holy Ghost as a dove. God is hidden behind the pillars on the right of the picture. I believe Joan of Arc was also in the painting, under Christ. And there was a big statue of her as well. Those French really love her, which I guess is understandable, as she is a patron (matron?) saint of France.

After Sacre Coeur, we walked around Montmartre, which is the hill on which Sacre Coeur was built. But it has a number of other claims to fame. It was there place where a large number of painters lived and fraternized, including Picasso, Monet, Dali and Van Gogh.  There are still painters that gather along the square still today. But, be careful, they'll offer to sketch you for free, and then get mad if you don't want to purchase it when they are done.

Montmarte is also the setting of the opera La Boheme, along with the movie Moulin Rouge - which was based on the opera.

We saw the two last remaining "moulins" - or windmills, including this one:

We stopped at shops along our way, bought some art, postcards, toys and food (including our official french gallette, complete with a king tile in the middle).

And we finished our tour at the famous and infamous Moulin Rouge:

The tour continued down the Pigalle area, which is basically Paris's red light district, but we decided we could skip that part.