Sunday, May 25, 2008


After being back in Prague for about 48 hours, we headed to the airport to begin our next great adventure...Paris!  Upon arriving in Paris, we quickly learned that this is one of the biggest and craziest cities in the world (probably because we ended up at the central metro station on a Friday at rush hour...pure chaos).  Chaos aside, we were ready to see the city.After navigating the 14+ metro lines in the city, we got settled in to our hostel and decided to go to the Louvre for the evening.  We also were extremely lucky in Paris with free museums...the Louvre is free on Friday nights if you're under 26, and all of the museums in the city were free on Saturday night that weekend.  The Louvre was really big, but we were able to see the majority of it in a couple hours.  We definitely could have spent longer, but honestly, most of us were getting pretty tired of going to museums and churches.  
Of course we saw the Mona Lisa, but my favorite part of the museum was the sculpture garden.  They had so many interesting sculptures of people...all with different facial expressions and poses.  These two busts were pretty amusing--the one in the back with his shocked and disgusted face, and the one in the front with his tongue in his cheek.  
We began Saturday morning with a modern art museum, the Pompidou Center designed by Renzo Piano and Richard and Sue Rogers.  The most notable feature on the exterior is the escalator tube that runs along the length of the building.  The interior was also quite industrial, but it had really interesting suspended signage and some really awesome design.  
The sign outside of the museum said the entrance was free, but we missed the fine print that said that didn't take effect until 8:00 pm.  So, we didn't actually visit the entire museum, but we did spend quite some time in the modern design shop which was very similar to the types of products on display in the Danish Design Center.  There were so many innovative and classic product designs, furniture designs--I could have spent all day there.  Among my favorites was an amazing Moleskin sketchbook exhibit with famous architects', designers', artists', and photographers' sketchbooks from around the world.  I also loved the mini Vitra chairs (scale models of classic chair designs).  I've always wanted to collect them all, but with the cheapest one being over $100, I think I'll just have to keep dreaming for now.  I did, however, purchase this when I got back to Prague: a business card holder featuring some of the Eames' best chair designs.  Just a little inspiration and motivation so that maybe someday I can design something
 half as good as they did... 
After the Pompidou Center, we wandered around the rest of Paris and saw Notre Dame, the Conciergerie, Hotel de Ville, Les Halles, Place de la Concorde, the Champes Elysees, the Grand Palais, the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower, the Moulin Rouge, and the Sacre Coeur Basilica in between rainstorms and with a very mutilated umbrella.  All of the sights were cool, but the weather was less than desirable for sightseeing.  We ended our night back at the Eiffel Tower in hopes of going to the top, but they kept closing it due to the weather, so we decided to come back the next night. 
On Sunday we decided to begin our final day in Paris with some modern architecture, so we headed out to a major business district in Paris called La Defense.  Here, the main attraction is La Grande Arche, a 20th century version of the Arc de Triomphe, but instead of celebrating military victories, this arch is a monument to humanity and humanitarian ideals.  We decided not to go to the exhibition center at the top (reachable by the elevator suspended in the center of the arch) but instead just wandered around the area listening to the creepy art-music (or just weird noises) being blasted from gigantic speakers at the base of the arch.  There were some cool features underneath the arch, such as the tension structure which made some fun light patterns on the ground as well as the glass panel maze behind the elevators (see the rest of my pictures). 
We spent the rest of the afternoon moving slowly through some parts of the city we had not yet seen (and stumbled upon a street band made up of French students) before having dinner and going back to the Eiffel Tower.  This time, we were able to go all the way to the top, which was a little intimidating in a glass elevator.  Despite the super cold wind, we got to see some amazing night views of the city.  After seeing the Eiffel Tower one last time, we were able to say farewell to Paris, and I headed back to Prague early the next morning.  

It's been a nice change of pace being back in Prague and just getting to relax and really enjoy this city without feeling like I have to see it all in 3 days.  I've been doing a lot of exploring as well as finishing up my schoolwork, so there will be more to come on that later.

In the meantime, click here to see my pictures from Paris.  Happy Memorial Day!

No comments: