adventures, architecture, art, museums, Travel

The Louvre

the actual Louvre, in real life

OK, we’re back in Paris. My first stop, after dropping my stuff off at the hotel, was the Louvre Museum. I’ve wanted to go there for years, and a museum seemed like the perfect place to start my vacation. Not too stressful, lots of art, maybe a little meal. Nothing too crazy. Meanwhile the place is 8 miles long, I had no map and I was late to pick up my audioguide. They were nice and gave me one anyway? But for the life of me I could not figure it out. So I just walked around, headphones around my neck, completely lost. I don’t think was the only one, a lot of people were wandering around with the headphones off.

After getting lost in the Egyptian section, then finding myself in the basement viewing the medieval stones that are the museum’s foundation, I finally found my way to the painting galleries. The walls are filled with landscapes and religious iconography. There are small canvasses tiled on walls and paintings so large that they fully occupy walls that are longer than my studio apartment. It is an onslaught of artistic endeavor. I tried to find the Mona Lisa, but I got turned around and found a hall of Objets d’Art and from there I somehow found Napoleon Bonaparte’s apartments.

the sumptuously appointed Napoleon appartement

Red velvet and gold everywhere. Crystal chandeliers, and paintings of cherubs on the ceiling. It’s garish and unbelievably tacky, but also sumptuous, luxurious and outlandishly royal. What’s wild is now understanding what was in my mom’s head when she decorated. A lot of people are copying this oplulent style unconsciously. I remember going to the homes of relatives and seeing elements of this and now here it was in front of me. The whole thing made me sad about my lack of pillars and corniches and gilded flourishes. Don’t get me started about the dining room.

I got there at about 4pm and they close at six, so it was a sprint. Next time I’m downloading a map and prepping before I get there, but for a first time I feel good with how much I saw. It definitely lived up to the hype. It was also the first time that I used my Nikon dslr since I bought it two years ago, and I got some lovely images. It was my first time going to the little Maxim’s shop in the lower level and my first cannelle. My first day in Paris and I ended up sitting on a bench with the sun beaming down on me just being grateful for being there.

just hanging out and bathing in the French sunshine

Next week we go to the flea market.

activities, architecture, exercise, food, free, health, new york, plants, rides, street fair, Summer, walking

The Meetup Adventure: in which we go to #SummerStreets2015 and ride Slide the City

So, I got tired of going to museums and started a meetup group of my own:

ss1With the idea that if you don’t see what you want, then start it yourself. My first proposition to my group was a trip to Summer Streets 2015, a NYC street fair that stretches from 72nd Street all the way to the waterfront Downtown.

I got one RSVP- and they didn’t show up.

ss2Granted? it was kind of early. But you only see New York at it’s best when it’s early, lol!! No one around to bother you and you can actually see how the place is laid out.

ss3How awesome is this? Early morning in Central Park, no screaming hordes- just light and stillness.

ss4And ducks.

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I kind of took my time walking through the park and over to Park Avenue. The good thing about no one showing was that I could go at my own pace and make my own decisions.

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I was dressed for a special occasion, too. But you’ll see what that was later in the post. Basic was better that day, believe me.

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Back to Summer Streets. There was supposed to be free one hour bike rental at 58th Street, but I found out that you had to bring the bike right back to 58th, and my plan was to make it all the way to downtown.

I set off on foot amidst walkers, joggers, bikers and rollerbladers. One amazing this was getting to walk over a bridge that only cars have access to. It takes you up over 42nd and Grand Central Station.

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This is a view I have never seen. Normally, I’d be standing far below looking up at cars whizzing by on this bridge. Thanks to Summer Streets, I was seeing this sculpture closeup without worrying about getting plowed down by a taxicab.

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The next rest stop was all about food. Whole Foods had set up a block long street fair with people just hurling samples at you every few feet. How much do you love Perky Jerky guy? You could literally walk up and pluck samples off of his body. I feared for his life at one point- I mean, he was wearing MEAT.

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I also got a sweet little potted plant, a pansy. New York Botanical Garden was on hand, patiently putting tiny plants in biodegradable containers for anyone who asked to take home. That’s love.

After getting as many food samples as I could I headed over to the 2nd of my missions (since that bike rental thing was a bust):ss91

My second mission was to obtain a free bike helmet from New York’s Department of Transportation. It wouldn’t be easy. It took stamina. It took being polite to this lady who acted all friendly just so I’d hold her place in line. It took ONE HOUR AND SIXTEEN MINUTES of waiting in line, and I technically missed the time for my special event, and then the lady who fitted my helmet was a _itch- but I did not give up, nor did I leave empty handed…ss92Cuz that’s how we roll at SEB. never give up, and never leave without your promised goodies.

Now it was time for my third and last mission…ss96

SLIDE THE CITY

ss93I cheated and took the train from 23rd down to Chambers Street. I was on pins and needles the whole way, hoping that my tickets were still usable.

ss94 While I was at VitaCoco Beach, I met Ben Franklin, who just happened to be chilling and looking for a place to fly his kite, and then (of course) grabbed up a free VitaCoco lemonade and a free VitaCoco inner tube. As you can see, they hydrated New York City with VitaCoco.ss95

I managed to find the Slide the City line, then find out where the line actually started, then found out where to register to even get on the line. As luck would have it, they weren’t looking at what time the ticket was for, just if you had one. Having gone to many fashion week events I knew to have my ticket up on my phone screen ready for viewing.

Behold…

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is this not EVERYTHING???? Ok, yeah- some people live for Chanel, but this? was EVERYTHING!!!!!

And I had tickets. It only took me two hours. I heard it took other people 12 hours. At this point, it didn’t matter- I was there, in front of it and I had the golden ticket. ss98

I almost cried when I saw this sign- I had a knapsack on! I forgot to read the faq’s!! Luckily, A lady with a kid let me hold her bag and then when they were done she held mine. You have no idea how much of a leap of faith it is to let some stranger hold your bag in New York. But if that was the only thing standing between me and and a 650 foot water slide? Oh well.

I took a chance.

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I told you, basic was best. After I finally got into the enclosure, they gave me an inner tube to ride on and sent me up the stairs. I could feel excitement in the pit of my stomach getting bigger and bigger the closer I got to the top. I got the middle lane.

Once you get up there, they tell you how to position yourself, and you sit staring at the huge expanse of plastic that’s supposed to hold you up, and in my case staring at the venerable court buildings of Foley Square which had probably never witnessed a massive water slide in front of them. Once they say go, you push off and it’s sublime. Exhilarating. And, yeah- two horribly overused words- life affirming.

I slid down a big ass ramp in New York and lived. It was the best moment ever.

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 Also the moment I unpacked my knapsack and I had all this swag. Not bad.