Friday, December 30, 2011

Day 3 ... We Louvre'd It

We walked for 10 straight hours. (It rained for the last three)

Our Target: The Louvre

Our Mission: To meet our Undercover Guide ... Jessica ... who will meet us at the Arc du Carrousel at precisely 2:30PM to take us behind the scenes at The Louvre for a look at the "Hidden Masterpieces".

10:00 AM: We start at our hotel eating one of our four free breakfasts. Well ... I say free ... they are actually included in the "special" price of the room. I think it's like 3 million francs or about $10.59. Kidding ... more like $3 million and 10 francs. (What do I know? They use euros anyway. The exchange rate is better for Americans this week ... I think we get an additional $.30 on the dollar so Debbie felt like a diamond encrusted Rolex watch for only $15,000 was a good deal today. She only looked at it, I think.)

11:00AM: We begin our journey walking toward the Opera House (a place that Debbie heard was a must see). Along the way, we check out the architectural work on the buildings. Some were stately, like the front of our hotel, The Intercontinental ... Others had naked people dancing and balancing in odd places over the doorways or old guys with ugly noses.

12:00PM: We reached the Opera House area and noticed a very strange thing.

Every other person we pass is smoking. I mean men, women, children (yes ... I swear there were a few twelve year olds sucking on a couple of cigarettes).

We had "snacks" along the way in the Brasseries. (okay, here's an idea ... so what about opening a Hooters and call it a Hooters "Brassiere"?)

Little known fact: Tipping is ALWAYS part of the bill. Each month, the owners split the service tax among the servers. So ... additional tipping is always  appreciated but not expected.

By the way ... motorbikes are everywhere. To be a citizen of Paris, I imagine you must be able to ride a motorbike on the street, the sidewalk, hit pedestrians and be able to stop in the middle of crosswalks ... forcing people to walk around you.  

We stopped in numerous Parisian boutiques (that's French for reeeeallllly expensive stuff that passes for clothing you spray on your body or jewelry that sits in display cases right on the street with price tags from $100,000 and up).

Sales tax in Paris ... 20%.

Stick with American products (the Parisians do!)

2:18PM: We arrive at the Louvre glass pyramid entrance in plenty of time to look for the meeting place that we will join up with our tour guide Jessica.

I make good use of the time ... taking important pictures of statues and buildings.

I also pretend to be Gulliver and squeeeeeze one of the horses on a pedestal.

Debbie pretends that she is by herself and quickly reads email messages on her phone. I know she must be extremely embarrassed because the last thing she wants to do is use international roaming and pay an additional .50 a minute. I have heard her international roaming lecture repeatedly over the last few days.

2:30PM: Debbie buys a crepe at the nearby crepe stand as I spot and approach our meeting spot ...

... The Arc du Carrousel!

Jessica is waiting for us (I recognize her from her tour photo that was given to us at the hotel desk).

Ahhh ... and she is American ... a student from Michigan living in Paris and working on her thesis. I actually can understand her!

She tells us the history of The Louvre and some of the deep dark secrets. Now, you probably want me to tell you the secrets ... don't you?

Well I cannot.

We signed a confidentiality agreement prohibiting the deep dark secrets from ever leaving the confines of the Louvre ... you have to take the tour yourself ...

That's not true ... actually, the real truth is I can't remember most of the details.

But ... Jessica was truly a magnificent guide. The behind the scenes look at Rubens, Rembrandt and the old guys that did all the Crucifixion paintings were very interesting.

Speaking of the Crucifixion paintings ... one of them I remember well.

It was one of the early ones in the 1300s ... actually it was done with dry ink on silk. The detail was incredible.

The "painting" depicted the events of Jesus's arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Judas Iscariot, the betrayer, arrived with a “multitude” of soldiers, high priests, Pharisees, and servants to arrest Jesus. Judas identified Him by the prearranged signal of a kiss which he gave to Jesus. Trying to protect Jesus, Peter took a sword and attacked a man named Malthus, the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Jesus rebuked Peter and miraculously healed the man’s ear.

"You'll notice that the soldiers are depicted as very mean and very ugly." Jessica reported.

"Yeah ... why so mean and ugly?" I asked.

"They were Jews and unfortunately ... not well liked in those days."

Debbie patted me on the back and a bolt of lightning and crack of thunder sounded outside. 

After that ... it rained for 40 days and 40 nights.

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