Paris Adventures – Day 12

This post took me days to write! I am still shocked at the amount of activities we did on this day. Let’s get right into it.

The Louvre

Paris Louvre Day

Some say you can spend a whole day or more at the Louvre. K and I did it leisurely in 4 hours thanks to Rick Steves. In Rick Steve’s Paris 2010 book, he walks you through the Louvre in a 2 hour tour, but we added on sites along the way which stretched the tour to 3-4 hours. Here are some highlights:

The inverted pyramid – This is actually outside the Louvre in the Carrousel du Louvre, the museum’s underground mall. You may recognize this from the end of the Da Vinci Code. Robert Langdon finds the Holy Grail under the pyramid next to the Virgin Records.

Paris Louvre Venus de Milo

Venus de Milo – This is one of the most famous sculptures from ancient Greece. It is believed to be of Aphrodite, but experts are still unsure. The fascination of this piece is that it’s history is mysterious. No one knows the artist, who it is depicted of, and what her arms may be doing in the sculpture.

Paris Louvre Winged Victory

Winged Victory – The Winged Victory is one of the most famed sculptures in the world. The sculpture of the Greek goddess, Nike of Samothrace, was constructed in 190 BC to honor a sea battle.

Paris Louvre Mona Lisa

Mona Lisa – No explanation here. It’s the Mona Lisa! It’s probably the most celebrated piece in the Louvre, and there’s no doubt judging by the crowd of people surrounding the painting. The size of the painting is much smaller than I expected and the colors were a dull as well. I wasn’t as excited as I thought I’d be, but it was still very cool to see it in person.

Paris Louvre Mummy

The Hall of Mummies – I actually don’t know if there’s a real name for this, but they have a room dedicated to mummies. So cool! I’m very fascinated with Egyptian history and I even have plans to travel to Egypt in the next year or two. In this room, they have several different mummy cases on display. At the end of the hall, they even have an actual Egyptian mummy enclosed in a glass case.

Paris Louvre Napoleon Apts

Napoleon’s III Apartments – In the Richelieu Wing at the Louvre, there are a several rooms on display where Napoleon III, the first president of the French Republic, used to live. This is not on Rick Steve’s itinerary, but I’m glad we added this in because it is the most different thing to see in this museum. With painted ceilings, crystal chandeliers, and decor of gold, marble, silk and velvet, it’s amazing to see these rooms in such good condition.

Lunch: Carrousel du Louvre

Paris Louvre Snack

The Louvre has a few cafes, but they can be expensive. We did take a break in the Louvre for an apple tart, a coke and a cafe au lait. That was a fun experience… sitting in the Louvre enjoying a snack. For lunch, I suggest walking over to the Carrousel du Louvre to their food court. K and I shared this Moroccan plate of couscous and chicken phyllo pastry. It wasn’t that great, but it was cheap.

Notre Dame Cathedral

Paris Notre Dame Exterior

We still had the afternoon, so we headed off to the Notre Dame. In case you haven’t seen the Hunchback at Notre Dame, this is a famous Gothic style church sitting on an island in the Seine River.

Point Zero

Paris Point Zero

In front of the cathedral is Point Zero, the official center of Paris. Distances from Paris to other cities are measured from here.

Sainte Chapelle

Paris Sainte Chapelle Stained Glass

Our last cathedral of the day was Sainte Chapelle, a French Gothic church made of 15 panels of stained glass depicting more than 1,100 scenes mostly from the Bible. The glass-work is so intricate, it would take months to actually look at every single panel. Unfortunately, the stained glass behind he altar was under construction, so I couldn’t get a photo of the entire interior. The Paris pass is not accepted here, so be prepared to pay around 8 euros to get in.

Dinner: Picnic in the hotel room

Paris Dinner Picnic

Hands down. This was our favorite meal throughout the entire trip. On our way back to the hotel from Sainte Chapelle, K and I stopped at a bakery and a meat and cheese shop to purchase a few items for dinner. We got 2 baguettes, a slice of paté and a round of chevre cheese, a soft and mild goat cheese. We took it back to our room and devoured everything. The paté isn’t the typical paté Americans are used to. This was more like a meatloaf consisting of pork, peas and carrots and other ingredients I couldn’t identify. Sounds scary, but it was delish. The combination of the creamy cheese and the salty paté with the crusty bread was to die for. This was the most fun I had during a meal on this entire trip.

Seine River Cruise

Paris Canal Tour Seine River

The night is still young! As if we hadn’t done enough already, K and I went back out to take a canal tour of the Seine River via the Bateaux Mouches cruise line. The cruise takes you on a hour long tour along the Seine from the Eiffel Tower to the Notre Dame. I suggest doing this at night since Paris is beautiful when it’s lit up. As soon as we took off, the Eiffel Tower began to twinkle as it did on our first night. Things couldn’t have been more perfect. The cruise comes with an audio tour that is translated in 10 different languages. I couldn’t really hear what the recording was saying, but it didn’t matter because I enjoyed being on the water. Best part is that this tour only costs 10 euros per person.

Paris Eiffel Tower Twinkle

From here, we trekked back home for a good night’s rest.

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We dilly Dali in Figueres – Day 9

Barcelona Figueres Dali Museum Lady

Our day trip from Barcelona consisted of Dali, Dali and more Dali. We took the slow train to Figueres (1.5 hours), where the only main attraction is the Dali Museum. Yes, it’s another art museum. But this isn’t like any kind of art, this is Surrealism. Fantasy.

Barcelona Figueres Creepy Sculpture

The few Dali sculptures in the courtyard in front of the museum gave us a taste of what’s inside the museum. Dali was clearly on drugs, but when he was asked the question, he answers, “I am the drug… take me.”

Barcelona Figueres Dali Museum Cadillac

The entrance of the museum leads to a round room with a 1941 Cadillac that rains on the inside when you insert a coin. For some reason, Dali created a lot of coin-operated art. Behind the car is a boat 50 feet in the air holding Dali’s partner, Gala, with tears made out of condoms hanging below.

Barcelona Figueres Dali Museum Abraham Lincoln

When we made our way up the ramp, we entered the theater with a huge painting of a half naked man with a cracked skill and doorway through his ribcage. To the left, there is a painting of a nude Gala overlooking a balcony. If you look through the coin-operated telescope, or just squint your eyes, you can see the face of Abraham Lincoln.

This is just a taste of what’s in this museum. You have to see it for yourself. Rick Steves even says that this is probably the most interesting museum in all of Europe.

Barcelona Figueres Meat Combo Lunch

Before we headed back to Barcelona, we stopped for a mediocre lunch at a cafe near the museum. I had a Spanish omelette with croquettes and a side salad, while K had the meat combo consisting of a 12 inch hot dog, a pork cutlet, a hamburger patty topped with fries.

Barcelona Tapa Tapa Artichokes

Back in Barcelona, we shopped a bit before we headed for a light dinner at Tapa Tapa on the Pasaig de Gracia. I had to have my patatas bravas and I wanted to try the fried artichokes. Second time in a row, I was not disappointed. The lightly salted artichokes were crispy and tender.

Barcelona Cocoa Sampaka Hot Chocolate

Barcelona Cocoa Sampaka Desserts

Now for the best part of the day. Dessert. Barcelona is said to have some of the best hot chocolate in the world. I did a little research online and found Cacao Sampaka in the Eixample district. When we walked into the restaurant, we were told that they would close in 10 minutes but we could come in for a quick drink. We got 2 cups of hot chocolate with some lady fingers and some kind of sugar pastry. As soon as we got our order, we were told we only had 2 minutes left. We chugged the hot chocolate and ate our desserts like no tomorrow, but we loved ever second of it. The chocolate was super thick, rich and creamy. It was like drinking a chocolate dipping sauce. I also tasted a hint of cinnamon and other spices. Before I left, I purchased a bag of the hot chocolate mix for my bro and sis-in-law as well as a box of chocolates for my parents. The hot chocolate mix was just as good as the one at the restaurant.

Soon after, we made our way back to our apartment in Barceloneta.

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