Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Probably Paris

After a few days in London Ezra and I took the Eurostar train to Paris. It was fast. Arriving in Paris took me out of my comfort zone. I couldn't understand what people were saying or read signs and I was unfamiliar with the public transportation system. It all worked out just fine and we rarely got lost and confused. Ezra and I aren't really that interested in art, but we still felt an obligation to go to the Louvre and see the Mona Lisa. I'd heard that it wasn't too excited, but felt compelled to see it anyway. We arrived at the Louvre a little after 6:00 and were delighted to see that there was no line. We walked around the main entrance for a few minutes and then found out that the exhibits closed at 6:00. I was disappointed, but not heartbroken. The only thing that bummed me out was that now my only opportunity to see the Mona Lisa would be by looking at the millions of recreations of it around the world.

We visited Versailles palace which was absolutely stunning. It was filled with art and is probably the most ornate building I've ever seen. My reaction to the first room I saw was, "WOW!" and the second room, "WOW!" and the third room, "Wow" and the fourth room, "wow..." and the fifth room, "This looks like all the other rooms." There is no denying that Versailles is incredibly spectacular, but it all kind of looks the same and it's difficult to be blown away by the same thing over and over again. I really enjoyed touring the palace, but I think I would have really loved it had I been an art lover or a lover of French history. However, I am neither of those things.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Laughable London

My teaching contract ended on January 26th and all of a sudden I had tons of free time and more money in the bank than I'd ever had before. Time+money=loads of fun. At the end of January I over heard my good acquaintance Ezra telling a friend that he wanted to go to Europe and was going to go by himself because he had no one to go with him. Not wanting to miss a chance for adventure I burst into the conversation that I wasn't a part of and said, "You wanna go to Europe? I wanna go! You going 'cause I'll go!" Ten days later I was in Europe. I didn't blog whilst in Europe so I'm going to blog about the amusing things that happened while I was on vacation. This is the first installment.

Our first stop was London. London had just had a huge snow storm the week before we arrived and was very, very cold. I had brought warm clothes with me, but I hadn't packed a hat or gloves. Neither had Ezra. We met up with Ezra's friend Heath and went to a 99 pence store to buy some. Ezra was eying a hat that didn't have a price tag and he said, "Hey Ben, ask the store clerk how much this costs." I grabbed the hat, walked up to the cash register and said, "How much does this hat cost?" The man at the cash register said "99 pence" very smugly and Ezra and Heath burst into laughter. I must admit that it didn't immediately dawn on me what had just happened. Then I realized that I had been tricked into asking how much something costs in a 99 pence store where everything is 99 pence. I reacted to this situation just as any normal person would -- by feeling stupid.

The following day we went to Greenwich park to have a look at the Prime Meridian. I took a picture standing over the Prime Meridian with one foot in the eastern hemisphere and another in the western hemisphere. I even jumped from one hemisphere to the other saying, "I'm in the western hemisphere; I'm in the eastern hemisphere." Being in one hemisphere and then another really isn't too terribly exciting. In fact, I think it's more exciting to be standing on carpet and then standing on linoleum, but for some reason doing that just doesn't warrant taking a picture.

To be continued...