Saturday, August 29, 2009

Louvre... Soft as an Easy Chair

The day we visited the Louvre Museum, or the Great Louvre, or Musée du Louvre, or the Grand Louvre or however you watchamacallit, my cousins Kathy and Stephen had just flown in from San Francisco, California and Chicago, Illinois respectively. It was obvious that both were thoroughly exhausted, but we had to step up the plate and get our tour going or else risk ruining our itinerary. As soon as we dropped off their luggage at the hotel, we took the first train going to the most visited museum in the world -- The Louvre (say lewv).

Louvre Pyramid

Clarice, Me, Kathy. Entering the famous Louvre Pyramid that is also the museum's entrance.


As I've mentioned, the pyramid is not just a pyramid -- it's the museum's main visitor entrance and it's where the security checks take place. After security, we are led down a flight of stairs where we find ourselves amongst a swarm of tourists inside a big sun-drenched hallway. The hallway is sort of like an ante room that branches out to the different sections of the museum. And it is where you line up to buy tickets. A ticket costs 9 euros (~630 pesos). The ticket allows you to enter the permanent collections including Egyptian Antiquities, Greek and Roman Antiquities, Sculptures and Paintings. Occasionally, there are so-called temporary collections found in the Hall Napoleon that will set you back 11 euros, or 14 euros for a combined ticket that gives access to the permanent collection as well.

Before we left for Europe, our aunt cautioned us that touring the entire museum is no laughing matter. Her advice was for us to view only the key aspects of the Louvre such as the Mona Lisa and the Winged Victory, among others. I'm gung ho when it comes to walking for hours, but seeing how tired my baby cousins are, we'll have to surge on with my aunt's suggestion.

We entered the Denon (du-know) Wing where we were met by a bunch of pre-classical Greek statues.

Greek Statues


Truly, a field day for porn aficionados and pedophiles.

Greek Statues


One thing I appreciated were the crudely composed signs that aided us in finding some of the important pieces of the museum:

Winged Victory


The Winged Victory of Samothrace, third century B.C. marble sculpture of the Greek goddess Nike.


Winged Victory

Side view of the Winged Victory


Venus de Milo

From afar, the Venus de Milo.


Venus de Milo

Venus de Milo, up close. Sculpted between 130 and 100 B.C. by Alexandros of Antioch. Depicts the Greek goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite, or Venus to the Romans.


Grand Gallery of the Louvre

The Grand Gallery where the works of Leonardo Da Vinci, Raffaello Santi, Michaelangelo, Botticelli, Louis David and Eugene Delacroix are on display.


Leonidas at Thermopylae by Louis David

Leonidas at Thermopylae by Louis David. I just had to make a joke out of this one, right?


Parting from One's Beloved by Girodet-Trioson

Parting from One's Beloved by Girodet-Trioson


Self-portrait with a friend by Raffaello Santi

Self-portrait with a friend by Raffaello Santi


Liberty leading the People by Eugene Delacroix

Liberty leading the People by Eugene Delacroix. Now does this look awfully familiar to you? (This painting's my favorite BTW)


Viva La Vida

That's because Coldplay used it as the cover of their Viva La Vida CD!


Portrait of a Young Man by Giovanni Bellini


Portrait of a Young Man by Giovanni Bellini. Kinda reminds me of a canine friend of ours.


Portrait of a Young Man by Giovanni Bellini


Cheeky.


Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci


The Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci. I call it the Mona Buzzkill. We were only allowed to stand 12 feet from the painting! And what's up with the glass panel and the green light?


Mona Lisa

My sentiments exactly.


Wait, that's it? I wanted to post only the highlights of the museum tour without creating a super boring long post. Despite Mona Buzzkill I did enjoy seeing the Mona Lisa and these other masterpieces in the flesh (so to speak). Definitely an awesome cultural experience!!

Saint-Germain-des-Pres

We all but crashed on our beds once we got back to our hotel. At around 10pm we ate dinner at Saint-Germain-des-Pres (san-zhermawn-de-prey), a nightspot bustling with open-air cafes and bistros. It reminded me a lot of Malate in Manila, only French. And if you know Jean-Paul Sartre, he used to have his coffee here.

Asian Poses

Cousins

Cousins

Next stop: Versailles!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Financial Independence?

HSBC Platinum Credit Card

Today, I cut up my extension credit card and will start afresh by using a credit card tied to my name. Although I have been faithful in paying my credit card bills, albeit vicariously via my mom, it's high time I act like adult and handle my finances independently.

My money comes from different sources, a few on paper checks and the bulk is wired to my bank accounts in the Canary Islands. Kidding. Last week, I visited my bank (HSBC) to pay my VERY FIRST credit card bill. How quick and painless it was. With a few keystrokes and a magic wand, the bank lady (who happens to be my cousin lol) wrote off P20,000 from my bank account and voila... we're done. I'm like, "That's it?" Apparently. As I drove off I thought to myself, I could do this! But I dread the day when I look at my next bill once my mobile and web hosting expenses are consolidated to this one card. My cellphone bill last month alone reached P13,000 while I was in the US and Europe!! It's different when I'm the one looking at the grim reality of my spending habits. No wonder my mom freaks out every time! Lol! If this new epiphany of mine is going to make me curb my spending, I'm totally fine with that!

BUT.. you see, I've made it a point to travel out of the country at least once a year. What better way to enjoy your money but to travel, right? So far this year, I outdid myself, multiplied by four! I visited four countries. That's right, F-O-U-R -- Singapore, France, Italy and the United States. The headline is, I'm traveling next month to Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia. Guess who went berserk when I told her and implored me to back out? :P I can't back out of this one coz the plane tickets and hotel bookings are already paid up. My friends and I plan to spend our first night bungee jumping at Clarke Quay in Singapore :D Coincidentally, the night we arrive (September 27), is the third and final night of the F1 racing event. I heard the Backstreet Boys are performing. Hmmm, nah. If it were Miley Cyrus it would be a different story. LOL

I know some of you are looking forward to what happened inside the Louvre. Definitely watch out for that post tomorrow.

Thanks for tuning in!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I'll Shop the Volcom Belt With You

This afternoon, I took my secretary to the mall to buy a cheap cellphone for our baker. I paid P1450 for a Nokia 1202 and an added P60 for a Sun Cellular SIM card.

But that wasn't the highlight of my trip to the mall.

We detoured to the department store to search for belts. Since I only have two usable belts in my wardrobe, I thought I needed one more just to add more variety.

I checked out a rack of cool belts that carried well-known brands such as Volcom and Affliction. The Volcom belts were quite nice and kinda cheap too at P500 (~$10.25) each. Normally these would cost three times more if bought in stores or online. I got two white leather belts with red and black prints. Check em out:

Volcom Belt

White leather belt with red details


Volcom Belt

This one I liked better. It shall now be known as my Warrior Belt lol


* * * * *


My dad's in town and needs some cheering up. We're eating dinner tonight at this swanky Filipino resto downtown. Later!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Outside The Louvre

Photobucket

A day after Giverny, we visited the Louvre Museum to "scout" the area. We didn't go in but simply took pictures of the magnificent palace buildings and its surroundings.

Photobucket


Photobucket

The one thing I loved about France are the clouds. Yes, the clouds! They make my pictures look more dramatic. Couldn't say this about other places I've been to.


Photobucket

The famous "pyramid" in the middle of the courtyard (Cour Napoleon). Made of metal and glass, the structure was designed by a Japanese dude named Ieoh Ming Pei. It was commissioned to him by then President Francois Mitterand in 1984. The pyramid serves as the Louvre's main entrance.

Photobucket

A spectacular view of the pyramid amidst the Palace buildings.


As we roamed the gardens, we witnessed a barrage of army jets and planes flying above us. I thought it was the beginning of World War III lol

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

No, these aren't jets.


Photobucket

The douche in the bush.


Photobucket

The River Seine


Photobucket

Better view of the River Seine lol


Next post: We actually enter the Louvre. Hurray!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

My Trip to Giverny

Photobucket

Possibly one of the most beautiful places I've been to, Giverny (jee-va-nyee)is a town situated northwest of Paris, France. It is more famously known as Claude Monet's hometown. Claude Monet's that guy who did those paintings of flowers such as this one:

Photobucket

The man himself:
Photobucket

My cousin Clarice and I decided to visit Giverny on our second day in France. Our first day was spent going around the confines of the area where the Opera is located. Our hotel was rather run-of-the-mill, but was clean and habitable and had decent bathrooms. That was key. It wasn't like we were going to spend most of our time inside the hotel. So that was okay. Two more of our cousins, Kathy and Stephen, were following in two days. My Tita Nora booked us a bigger room when that time comes. Anyway I'll dish more on that in another blog post.

For the uninformed, Tita Nora's my dad's younger sister. And she also happens to be the coolest aunt in the world. She's been to France numerous times, and she was the mastermind of this trip. Tita Nora recommended us to go to Giverny. She said the place was wonderful. My cousin Tony said it was 'meh'. But we went anyway, and we didn't regret it one bit!

To continue... Mr. Monet drew most of his inspiration from his own backyard. It was hard NOT to take pictures while I was there. Every shot I took looked good enough to be a postcard!

Photobucket

This is a restricted pathway the cuts through his garden.


Photobucket

Random macro shot of a flower on the way to the garden.


Photobucket

I've never seen this much species of flowers in one garden! Don't ask me what kind of flower this is, coz there was no budget to print labels lol


Photobucket

See what I mean?


Photobucket

The weirdest flower I saw.

Photobucket

A lagoon that's part of the garden.


Photobucket

Random douchebag who asked for his picture to be taken.


Photobucket

The money shot. But the photo doesn't do it enough justice. Best to be there to see it for yourself!


Photobucket

This is the museum that used to be the Monet family's residence. No photography allowed zzz.


After touring the Monet garden we took the liberty to walk through the rest of the village. There was another garden that caught our attention.

Photobucket

Photobucket

The houses looked picture-perfect as well. Don't let their size deceive you. These go for half a million euros (34 million pesos) a pop lol. And they have Monet to thank for that.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

If you're a nature lover or photographer who can withstand long walks, I highly recommend Giverny. Here's how to get there:

From Paris, head out to Gare Saint Lazare (pronounced gahr-sun-la-zahr') and buy a ticket going to Vernon. There's a ticket counter on the right side of the station. If you want to avoid the line, have your credit card ready and try the yellow machines scattered in the area. There are also blue machines, but they don't serve your destination. If the yellow machines don't work (didn't for us), go back to the line. Say Vernon like ver-know' so the person at the ticket booth will understand you. If you wanna sound French-y say "Un billet de Vernon, s'il vous plait" (oon biyey du verknow, see voo pley)[one ticket to Vernon, please]. lol

You'll see several trains lined up in front of you. Check the ticket which train you're supposed to hop on.

It's about a 45 minute ride to Vernon. Once out of the train, follow where all the people are going, most likely they're searching for the bus going to Giverny. You will pass through a small ticket station. Don't hang out there, go straight through to find that bus. It costs 4 euros for a ticket, which you pay upon entering the bus. Note that the ticket is aller-retour (round trip). Be sure to keep it, as they'll ask for it when going back to Vernon.

Bon voyage!