June 3, 2011
invasion (invasion..same in English!)

The tourist season in Paris has officially begun!! I honestly heard more English on the metro today than I did French. And I’m not okay with it. I now understand why all the Parisians leave Paris during the summer. The metro was crowded with tourists who acted as though they’d never been on a metro before. Standing in all the wrong places; not moving when someone is trying to get off the train; asking for directions in loud, slow English, as if the French people they are speaking to are stupid. Sure, I’m used to tourists in Chicago, but the culture difference seemed to make it worse here. And as a Parisian for three months now, I feel like I am on the side of the French. I like to consider myself a good American, who keeps her mouth shut and makes it barely noticeable that she is American. But the tourists of tourist season are very different. It took away from the magic of the city and I just wanted to tell everyone to leave! Paris is my city..not their’s! And I don’t feel like sharing. 

Enough of my ranting!! Other than the very crowded metro, I had a very nice day in the city! My friend Armando got me up at the crack of dawn to go on a walking tour before we had to be at the Musee D’Orsay for our art history class at 11. This tour was about the military and very interesting! It took us through Les Invalides, the old military home built by Napoleon. His tomb is housed in the church there and we were able to see the backside of it! We also saw a beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower (there are a lot of those!) and the intersection where Princess Di had her fatal car crash, among many other things. It was a beautiful morning in Paris and a great time for a walking tour! 

Napoleon’s tomb is the very intricate thing behind the glass 

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The courtyard of Les Invalides 

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Good morning Paris!

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Unfortunately, we had to end our morning tour and head over to the Musee D’Orsay for a long afternoon of art history…five hours to be exact! Thankfully we are learning about a period that is interesting to me, post-impressionism. We got to see a lot of Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Cross. Before I came to Paris, this would have meant nothing to me, but I’m pretty proud to say that I know quite a bit now! Our professor treated us to drinks at a cafe after class which was nice. I ordered a chocolate milk shake, which doesn’t mean quite the same thing in France. Turns out a milk shake is literally shaken milk, flavored in whatever flavor you want. So it turns out to be chocolate milk with a foam layer on top. But it was still very refreshing! 

After class, I headed home. The clouds were coming in and it looked like rain. Plus, it had been a long day and I felt like a relaxing evening at home. I always feel guilty when I just stay in all night, especially when I’m down to just over a week left in Paris. But you need that every now and then. I promise to be very productive tomorrow! 

Speaking of tomorrow, I’m headed to Normandy in the evening to meet up with Gersende who has been out there for the weekend for a friend’s wedding. She invited me to meet up with her Saturday night for a BBQ at a friend’s house. Then we are going to spend Sunday with her mom and head back to Paris in the evening. I’m looking forward to spending some time with her since it has been a while! And to see her mom again who is a very precious lady! 

Also, yesterday when I was out for my run, I ran past the Bastille, as I usually do. For a while now there have been students gathering there by the Opera with signs, banners, flyers, and what not, protesting about something which is very common in France and Europe in general. It all seemed pretty small and harmless, but yesterday when I ran by there were about 40 policemen lined up shoulder to shoulder in the area where the students had been gathering, not allowing anyone in the area. I didn’t see the students anywhere, so they must have dispersed. But I thought it was interesting that such a small gathering attracted so many officers. I wish I knew what they had been protesting, but I never stopped to look. 

The same thing was going on in Barcelona when we were there, only bigger. There was a large gathering of students in the park right by our hostel, and it ended up turning violent, by the authorities that is. At one point in the weekend, the police showed up to break up the group and ended up shooting them with rubber bullets and water hoses. It sounded pretty crazy. Of course, that broke them up, but they came back stronger and bigger! Here are some pictures that I got while I was there.

The entrance to the park

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One of their many signs..it says “If you won’t let us dream, then we won’t let you sleep”

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A very fancy sleeping quarter in the group!

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I do know that in Barcelona, they were protesting because unemployment and underemployment are very high. They want jobs! Doesn’t sound too different from the US. But it’s just interesting to me how common protests are in Europe. We just don’t have that history in the States. It takes a pretty big cause for large masses of people to be out in the streets and that just doesn’t happen often. In Europe, a new protest is almost as common as the morning paper. Just makes you wonder why that is…

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