Today, the day started with the conference part of why we are here. Each of the representatives from EF spoke, and the other experienced group leader and I both spoke.
That lasted until about 2:00 or so. We gave all of the teachers a break, and then we met back in the lobby. Joel, our tour director, spent a few minutes going over basic French. After that, we left for the heart of Paris.
We took the RER into town and then the metro over to the Palais Royale station. Though we could have walked through the station and into the Louvre through the underground, Joel once again demonstrated his flair for the dramatic by taking us upstairs. We met above ground between the Palais Royal (the boyhood home of Louis XXIV) and the backside of the Louvre. After setting us up, he led the way through to the interior courtyard.
Once there, we were once again greeted with the juxtaposition that is so characteristic of Paris these days… a strange combination of the old and the new. On one hand, you have the magnificent architecture of the Louvre, but placed right smack dab in the middle of the horseshoe shaped building is the once-controversial glass pyramid.
The Louvre is the largest art museum in the world, and it is impossible to take it all in. I knew that my time there was limited, so I joined a group that was determined to see a couple of things. We made our way over to the Mona Lisa first. I am glad to say that I have seen it, but like many things in life that have been hyped, I was somewhat underwhelmed. Frankly, I was more moved by Michelangelo’s works at the Sistine Chapel. (Perhaps at least partially because Michelangelo demonstrated a bloody wicked sense of humor by having a snake bite da Cesena on his naughty bits!)
We then made our way over to the Venus de Milo, which should actually be called Aphrodite. The statue was amazing, particularly considering that it is over 2000 years old. The only thing that was disconcerting was that the foot that is visible under the draping cloth seems rather disproportionally large. You guys that come back with me in March will have to check it out and see what you think.
After that, the group that I was with wanted to go to the Hard Rock to get some t-shirts. I was all about that originally, but what supposed to be just a shirt run ended up being a dinner excursion. Frankly, I would have preferred to have gone to a local place rather than eat an overpriced American hamburger, but what the heck. The teachers I was with enjoyed it, and they seemed to appreciate my willingness to take the leadership. I would have enjoyed hanging out with some of the younger teachers, but it simply wasn’t meant to be.
We had planned to go to a jazz club in the latin quarter, but we spent so much time waiting on dinner that it wasn’t possible. Instead, we wandered around the surrounding neighborhood for an hour and a half or so. We strolled through some of the back alleys and arcades and really enjoyed the sites. As it got closer to 9:00, we made our way to the metro.
Though many of the younger teachers were getting together at the Gare St. Paul (gare = metro station), the ones I was accompanying wanted to return to the hotel. I rode with them part of the way, and then we parted ways. They came back, and I went to St. Paul’s.
There, I connected with the younger portion and the EF staff and we went to the Auld Alliance, a Scottish pub. I made my obligatory appearance, smoozed for a few as I enjoyed a pint, and then excused myself. Three of the others joined me, and we made our way back to Val de Fonetenay.
I came up here to the room, called home, and then logged in. Thanks to the joys of a Mac, I video-conferenced with my girls, blew them kisses, and told them goodnight.
And now, I say goodnight to you. Bon nuit!