Monday, July 29, 2013

The Invasion, Part 3: More Versailles

So last night I accidentally dropped my engagement ring in the toilet WHILE IT WAS FLUSHING and miraculously it didn't get sucked down into the pipes.  (Also great luck:  it was at the tail end of the flush, so the water was clean, or at least as clean as toilet water can get.)  I was quite relieved to recover it safely (and then I washed it and my hand off quite thoroughly).  This morning, I took my doggos out for their morning walk and I found 10 pounds on the ground and no one around to claim it, so it's mine now.  I think it's gonna be a good week.

I'm back with more Versailles pictures, this time from the Invaders' cameras.  I've got photos from the A-Team and Devlin and Laura, but for some reason I can't find Mom's pics from Versailles...we've got a bajillion pictures from the Invasion and some of the memory cards got a bit mixed up, so I'm sure they're in the middle of a giant folder of pictures and I just didn't see them on my quick scan through.  But anyway, the Invaders got some pictures of different things than we did so here ya go.  I can't remember which pictures belong to whom but I suppose it doesn't matter : )  These are in absolutely no order whatsoever.

The gilded front gates of Versailles.

This was the hallway with the statues between the opera house and the chapel; how do you like that floor?

Oh, see, better pic of the interior of the opera house than I got.

This was after our "private" tour and even with all these people, this was one of the least crowded rooms.

Quite the crush in the Hall of Mirrors.  It reminded me of being in the Vatican on free admission day.

I don't know where in Versailles this was, but I like it.

Not actually at Versailles but I liked the picture.  This was when we were at the Musee de l'Armee on the first day.

Gorgeous fireplace screen back at Versailles.

Devlin asked if I'd want a library like this, and the answer is...kind of.  I'd like open-front bookshelves all along the walls, floor to ceiling (though I think perhaps the top shelf would be reserved for displaying objets d'art instead of books.  And some squishy comfy chairs.  The chairs would go in the middle of the room, obviously, not on the top shelves of the bookcases.

This little contraption was in the billiard room and it was so the ladies could sit on it or else stand on it to see what was happening in the game.  Those giant court dresses had ridiculously large skirts so I'm not sure how much sitting you could do in one of those.

Back to the opera house!  Here's the stage.

And the ceiling.

I like this photo since you can see the curve of the room.  Tres elegant.

And here's a painting from the War Room.  "You can't fight in here, this is the War Room!"  <--my br="" dr.="" favorite="" from="" i="" it="" know="" movie="" ok="" only="" quote="" s="" so="" strangelove="" that="" the="">

More painting from the War Room.  I think there's a Peace Room too, since they signed the Treaty of Versailles to end WWI here somewhere...though maybe they did do that in the War Room since the Treaty of Versailles was more or less the opening salvo of WWII.

Cool pic of the garden.  Lee and I went to explore the gardens with Devlin and Laura after lunch, but that will have to wait until next time.  Ta-ta for now, peeps!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Invasion, Part 2: Versailles

Well, looks like the first Invasion post didn't exactly set the blogosphere on fire...perhaps it needed more butts.  Anyway, on our second full day in Paris, we got up kinda early and took the train out to Versailles, which looks like it should be King Midas' summer home.

Hmm, I thought I brightened up the photos that needed it but apparently I missed a couple.

Versailles started out as a small hunting lodge, until Louis XIV a.k.a. the Sun King came along and decided to turn it into a palace to put the Louvre to shame.  And then by the time Louis XVI's reign came around, the people had had enough of the lavish lifestyle of the royals and nobles and they all lost their heads.

Front courtyard.  You know you have a lot of gold when even the outside of the building is gilded.

So Laura set up a tour for us where we got to see a bunch of the State Apartments and the opera house that normal ticket-holders don't get to see, and it was only like 4 euro more than the regular ticket *and* we had a guide, so that was a pretty sweet deal.

Our guide talked about how expensive it was to have the oak paneling carved--just the carving itself took ages--and then it was gilded later.  Super expensive.

Another fireplace ornamental thingie, I seem to have taken pictures of several different ones.

This clock was commissioned by or else just bought by Louis XV, the king in between the Sun King and Marie-Antoinette, who kind of gets lost in the shuffle between those two.  Our guide seemed to have a bit of a soft spot for old Louis XV.

Anyway, this clock was really quite something; it only has to be wound once every six weeks and it tells not only the time but the phases of the moon and all kinds of other astrological information, and all its calculations will be accurate for somewhere around 10,000 years.

More carving and gilding.

I forget which Louis owned this desk, but it was a special commission and only he had the key to open the top of it.

After the Revolution, the king's device was taken off the side of the desk and replaced with that cameo.  You'd think the revolutionaries would have just destroyed the whole thing, but really much of Versailles escaped relatively unscathed.  Y'know, except for the people who lived there.

This was one of the rooms which belonged to the old maid daughter of one of the Louis, I can't remember which one, but it was used as a music room.

Versailles:  where no ceiling goes ungilded.

Musical motif from one of the wall panels.

I kind of really like those dining room chairs.  And I think the guide said that was some of the original dishware from Louis XVI's time period.

Oh, the opera house.  It was amazing.  Unfortunately most of my pics didn't turn out but I think that some of the Invaders got some pretty decent shots, so I'll have to dig those out later.  The opera house isn't tiny, but it looks even bigger than it is thanks to the trompe l'oeuil effect of having mirrors set just behind chandelier halves so they reflect the light and make it look like the room goes further back than it does.  It also has this mechanical floor so you can use the room as a performance hall, or raise the floor and turn it into a ballroom.  It wasn't used much back in the day because it was so expensive just to illuminate it, but today it's in pretty regular use for various performances, which is nice.

They had a bunch of statues in the hallway outside the opera house, and you know how I like to take pictures of statues.

I think this is the chapel?

And check out that ceiling.  As Dad mentioned on the day, wouldn't it be something else to have a wedding in there.  I'm sure it would cost a boatload.

Anyway, the opera house was pretty much the end of the special part of the tour, so we joined the hordes to see the other State Apartments.  And hey look, it's my parental units.

This cool little dude is to hold the curtain tie-backs.  I don't even remember what room we were in.

Hi, I'm Bravely!  (My parents will get it, it's okay if you don't.)

This painting was in the Salon de Venus, I don't know why but I liked this bit of it.  Not too long after this we went to the Galerie des Glaces, and Devlin and I were both kind of wishing that was the Hall of Ice Cream because it was toasty with all those gabillions of people.  But instead it was the Hall of Mirrors.  (I was always taught "miroir" for mirror in French and "glace" for ice cream, but according to the Internet "glace" can also mean mirror.  So English doesn't have a corner on the market for linguistic confusion.)

I'd love to see the Hall of Mirrors when it isn't slam-packed full of people.  It's quite amazing.  Perhaps I should have bought a book on Versailles while we were there so I could tell you more about what we saw, but too late now.

I think this was where the king's official "go to bed" ceremony was held.  The kings used to get in bed in front of a bunch of nobles, and there was a waking up ceremony too, though the king didn't actually sleep in this bed, it was all for show.  As if that wasn't intrusive and weird enough, the queens of France had to give birth with an audience watching.  Heck to the no, man.

You remember the golden cherub butts in the Hall of Mirrors, right?

And here's Medusa's head which was on the breastplate of some beefy warrior sculpture.

So that was pretty much it for the interior of Versailles.  More pics to come soon...sooner if you leave me a comment or five : D

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Invasion, Part 1

Ok, so Mom voted for Invasion pictures which is funny since she was there.  Alexis (HI ALEXIS!) voted for Ely Cathedral pics, which are part of the Invasion pictures, so they'll be forthcoming.  I think I'll just go through our pictures first and then cherry-pick the best ones from the other three cameras at the end because it would make my brain hurt too much to try to get all the photos from everyone's cameras into one long chain for a blog post.

For now, PARIS.  In case I hadn't mentioned this before, the Invasion consisted of my parental units, my brother Adam and his wife Adrienne (the A-Team), and their besties Devlin and Laura.  For the Paris part of the Invasion, we got an apartment rather than hotel rooms, which was quite lovely except for the part where it was up five flights of stairs (no elevator) and it only had one toilet.

Here's Lee and Mom relaxin' in the living area.

Devlin, Adrienne and Dad in the kitchen.

This dude was on the grate in the fireplace.

The apartment had three bedrooms and then a loft; this dresser was right next to the ladder up to the loft.  I took one pic of the decorations on the top of it and then had to OCD the Paris letters so they were evenly spaced and took another pic :)

This little dude was sitting in one of the windows.

Some of the windows looked out onto a courtyard in the middle of the building; it had a net over the top to keep birds out.

These dudes (everyone's a dude) were at the top of the stairs after you get in the door to the apartment.

View out the front windows:  cranes!  'Cause they're all over Europe when we want to take pretty pictures.

So we all arrived in Paris on 1 July, and the next day was Mom's birthday and the thing she wanted to do most was go to the catacombs.

When Lee and I went last May, we actually walked around the square where the entrance is three times before we figured out where we were supposed to go, and then we bought tickets and immediately started down to the catacombs.  This time though, we waited in line for THREE HOURS to get in--so, don't try to hit up the catacombs on a Tuesday when the Louvre and other major museums are closed, because that's when everyone ELSE is there.  Duuude.

I did take pictures inside the catacombs, but I think that Blogger either ate my post last time I did that or else took it down because it was pictures of actual human remains.  So let me just say that there are a LOT of bones in the catacombs.  You have to walk for a bit before you get to the actual ossuary, and when Mom finally got to the bones, she almost hollered "Oh wow they're on both sides!"  Really, the number of bones does rather boggle the mind.

So after the catacombs, we headed on over toward Notre Dame.

Saw this on the way to Notre Dame.  Not sure what it's there for, but I kinda liked it, so here's a closer up shot:

Since I pretty much can't take pictures straight to save my life, I'm gonna make a virtue out of necessity and take pictures at artful angles.

This year is Notre Dame's 850th anniversary.  Everything in America is a baby in comparison history-wise.

Lee and I sat on the bleachers out front of the cathedral while the Invaders went inside, and this dude in the aviator suit was entertaining people.  He'd kinda mess with people as they walked by and he'd make up grandiose titles for people like, "Ladies and gentlemen, the King of Formosa!" and sometimes he'd walk behind people and do an exaggerated imitation of how they walked.  Then one kid managed to get behind him and do the same thing to him without him noticing at first.

Look, it's the A-Team!  And a rare Adam smile.  I think he was allergic to France.

Here's Laura too...this was out front of Invalides I think?

Because here's Invalides and the Musee de l'Armee and I don't know how to make the computer do the proper accents anymore (not sure if it would work on Blogger *or* on a Mac, much less when blogging on a Mac, but I used to know the keyboard shortcuts to do accents in Word).

I was tired of carrying the camera so Lee took this one.

Most of the museum exhibits were closed when we got there (Rick Steves, you lied to us) so we didn't stay long--basically went to the cafe for a potty break and to buy some drinks.

And I'm jealous 'cause Lee took this shot.  He thinks it's funny that I get jealous when he takes great pictures and it is, because all the pictures are ours together, but I want to take great pictures too.

L'Arc de Triomphe and Lee took portraits of all the Invaders.

So there's the start of the Invasion pictures!  Tootles, peeps.