Thursday, July 21, 2011

New York City November of 2005

I know, it's not Europe or very European looking, but I thought it'd be nice to go American for a day. In November of 2005, I went on a weekend trip to NYC with my mom, grandma and one of my grandma's friends.

We stayed at the Crowne Plaza right on Times Square:

We went to a Broadway show (Mama and I saw "Mamma Mia" while Grandma and her friend went to "The Lion King" - I wanted to see a 'real' Broadway show), an All American Rejects concert and the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall:

We also went sight seeing:

St Patrick's Cathedral.

Grand Central Station. I love trains.

The New York Public Library. Which just happened to be having an exhibit on illuminated manuscripts, which thrilled me to pieces.

Ellis Island, which would have been more interesting if I actually HAD any ancestors that came through Ellis Island.

And as an MTV kid, I had to take a picture of the MTV studios on Times Square:

I would really love to go back one day. Since we were only there for a short time, I didn't get to do half the things I'd like to do -- fabric shopping in the Garment District, visit any of the museums -- and of course I'd love to go to Broadway again.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Paris - Cimetière du Père Lachaise

I've been to Pere Lachaise twice -- with my mother on trip number two to Paris and on my own on trip number three. My mom and I had a blast getting lost and attempting to find graves. And leaving flowers on Oscar Wilde's grave. I also have a fantastic memento of the trip -- a greyscale oil painting my mother did for me with the only color found in the flowers on Wilde's grave.

The second trip to the cemetery was also fun. On my last day in Paris, I packed up my things (I'd gone to Paris for a week with just my backpack and my purse!), and hopped on the metro to make my pilgrimage to Oscar's grave.

I took the metro right to the Pere Lachaise stop. I love the remaining Art Nouveau metro signs that you can still see around the city.

I saw several famous resting sites:

Sarah Bernhardt's grave. She was a French stage and early film actress. She was good friends with Oscar Wilde and he wrote her a play -- Salome, which was forbidden from being performed as being too scandalous. (I've read it. It's quite good.)

The grave (or at least where they are believed to be buried) of the famous French lovers Abelard and Heloise. They had a love affair and married in secret, a marriage that Heloise later denied in order to protect his career and she entered a convent at Abelard's urging. Her uncle had Abelard castrated and Heloise was forced to become a nun. Abelard became a monk, a lecturer and at one point a hermit while Heloise became an abbess. After his death, she cared for his remains until she died and was laid to rest beside him. Heloise herself was a brilliant scholar and spoke several languages.

And of course, the main reason most Americans visit Cimetière du Père Lachaise -- Jim Morrison's grave. There's a little fence in front of the grave so all admirers can do is toss flowers over.

Colette's grave. She was a novelist and performer, best known for her novel "Gigi". She was controversial throughout her career and many if not all of her books were considered scandalous. She also flaunted her lesbian affairs, and had heterosexual affairs as well. When she died in 1954, she was the first woman in France to receive a state funeral.

And finally, the reason I visited the cemetery --

Me in front of Oscar Wilde's grave, taken by a nice fellow tourist when they saw me attempting to get myself and the grave in a photo. If I'm in Paris, I have to visit his grave. I have a small, slight, little obsession with him. I mean I've just read all his plays, and his novel, and some of his poems and some of his stories and taken a class on him in college and wrote a senior research paper on him in high school and read biographies of him....Okay, maybe I'm more than a little obsessed...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Paris: the Louvre

On my first trip to Paris, the Louvre was closed on the only free day we had. We visited Versailles instead.

On my second trip, we visited the Louvre and I explored on my own while my relatives saw the typical tourist works that I wasn't all that interested in. I went straight for the Neoclassical works.

On my third trip (where the following pictures are from), I saw some of what I wanted to see and some of what my traveling companion wanted to see. I think it worked out well.

When one enters the modern Louvre, its through a large glass pyramid.

The ceilings of the old royal palace are amazing:

We visited the 'Big Three' as I like to call them - Winged Victory, Venus de Milo and Mona Lisa:

Winged Victory which reminds me of a scene from one of my favorite movies, Funny Face with Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire.

Venus de Milo.

I'm a huge fan of Neoclassical sculpture, so we had to visit that gallery:

The Three Graces.

A statue of Psyche (one of my favorites from Greek mythology).

I don't remember what this was called but I'm guessing its Athena / Minerva from the helmet...

This was in the atrium sculpture area. My father is a Leo so I couldn't resist taking my picture with a lion statue.

My traveling companion was Iranian American so we had to visit the Middle Eastern areas, especially those from Persia.

Assyrian Bull.

The history of the Louvre fascinates me so we traveled down to the medieval foundations:

And visited the Ancient Egyptian section, another of my favorite time periods:

And now for my two favorite pieces of artwork in the Louvre:

Cupid and Psyche by Antonio Canova.


The Turkish Bath by Ingres. By the way, they have an entire room full of Ingres paintings. I was in heaven.

I love the Louvre and hope that I can return one day.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Quebec City - one of North America's oldest cities

One of my favorite trips was to Quebec in May 2009. To celebrate my graduation from law school, my mother and grandmother took me to Quebec for a week. We visited Quebec City and Montreal. What follows is a few pictures of Quebec City, ones that show the immense age and how European the city feels. The combination of the spoken French around me and the tiny streets lined with old building made me feel like I was in France aka heaven.

We stayed in Vieux-Quebec (Old Quebec), which is still surrounded by city walls. In fact, Quebec City is the only walled city north of Mexico.

Porte St. Louis, one of the two main gates through the city walls. You can walk along the top of the walls, which I wanted to do but ran out of time.

This gate is located within the Citadelle, the fortress of Quebec City that houses the only fully Francophone regiment in the Canadian military. It is also part of the city's fortifications. This gate is the only original, unaltered gate in the city walls.

The town is separated into two - the Basse Ville (Lower Town): the port wedged between the water and the cliffs; and the Haute Ville (Upper Town) high on the Cap Diamante, where we stayed. The Basse Ville is the older section of town and one of the first I explored. Its accessible via lots of stairs or a funicular. I chose the stairs.

First up, Place Royale, the birthplace of French America. It's a pretty little French style square dominated by a stone church.

Notre-Dame-des-Victoires, the oldest stone church in Quebec. Located in the Basse Ville (Lower Town), it was started in 1687 and finished in 1723. The church has had several names and received its current nomenclature in 1711 after bad weather sunk a British fleet. The British bombardment before the Battle of the Plains of Abraham destroyed much of the church in September of 1759 but a complete restoration was undertaken and finished in 1816.

Rue du Petit-Champlain, the oldest street in North America and part of the Petit Champlain neighborhood which is oldest commercial district in North America.

Photo from Wikipedia. These are the Breakneck Stairs, the oldest stairs in Quebec City. I don't remember seeing them while I was there, but the age of the staircase is fascinating -- they were constructed in 1635.

Back up in the Haute Ville, I explored some more...

Maison Kent. This house was built in 1648 and so may very well be Quebec's oldest building. This is where France signed its capitulation to the British and its named after Queen Victoria's father, the duke of Kent because he lived here for a few years in the late 18th century before he wed her mother. Supposedly, he lived at Maison Kent with his true love, as the marriage was arranged. Today, Maison Kent is the home of the French consulate general, which explains why there's a French flag flying out front.

I adore Quebec City. The architecture and age of everything surrounding you is amazing. The spoken French thrills me. I want to go back so I can visit museums I missed on the first trip as well as walk the city walls.

And finally, the UNESCO monument located outside the Chateau Frontenac, designating Quebec City as a World Heritage Site - the only such site in North America.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Paris: Notre Dame

Cathedrale de Notre Dame. Paris, France. June 2007.

The Story:

I've been to Paris on three separate occasions: First in 1999 with my grandmother and a church group. Second in 2002 when I was studying abroad in Luxembourg and my grandmother, mother and aunt visiting me during my vacation. And finally in 2007 when I was studying abroad for the second time and once more chose Paris for my vacation.

On the first trip, we took a tour of the cathedral. On the second, we visited and on the third, I chose to climb the towers since I'd never done it before. These photos are from that third trip.

I enjoy taking interesting shots of landmarks. Here, I was trying to capture the immense size of the cathedral's towers. Notre Dame, Paris, June 2007.

As mentioned above, I decided to climb the towers - a task that involved standing in line (I grabbed a sandwich before I got in line, I believe it was ham, cheese and butter on a baguette from a street vendor. And it was delicious!), lots of small steep winding stairs and fantastic views of the cathedral and the city:

The square in front of Notre Dame from one of the towers. Originally, only that center defined area was open and a road, the rest was buildings. If you look closely, you can see steps at the back of the square. Those lead down to the Archaeological Crypt, a museum that explores the history of the city, from the original tribes onward. Notre Dame, Paris, June 2007.

This is a shot looking down from the towers at he flying buttresses supporting the massive walls of the cathedral. Notre Dame, Paris, June 2007.

My feet on Point Zero. It is considered the official center of the city. Distances between Paris and other French cities are measured from this point. However, I visited it because of its Dan Brown fame. Paris June 2007.

I also took a walk around the city at night with a couple of classmates. Here's a shot of the cathedral all lit up for the night:

Paris, June 2007

Sunday, July 10, 2011


I know, its ridiculous for me to have yet ANOTHER blog (this makes number five!) but I thought it would just be fun to post my travel pictures somewhere and talk about a few of my favorite places.

I love Europe. I love European culture. France, Luxembourg and Belgium are my favorites. I speak okay French (but I read it better), I know a little Russian, a little German, a little Spanish and a tiny bit of Luxembourgish. Including how to say "I speak a little Luxembourgish" which sounds enough like German that it really confuses my mom and thus amuses me. I'd love to live in Europe. And I shop like a European -- I go to the grocery store almost everyday. Oh and I look French enough that I can walk around and as long as I don't talk, no one knows I'm American which is always a bonus.

Basically, this is going to be photos of my travels, mainly in Europe and a smattering of my Europe obsession.