Thursday, October 13, 2016

Best Things I've Tried in Paris, France! Part 2

This was our tour guide Jonathan inside the Louvre with my sister, sister in law and friend. So many people inside!
Now the next place that I would recommend you to go to is the Louvre Museum! As a museum known for having the ever so famous Mona Lisa painting, there are far more amazing places inside that are just some of the most beautiful artworks that I have ever seen in my life! We had a tour guide there named Jonathan from Paris, and we had reserved the tour months before going to Paris in order to avoid the long line! Anyway, when we first arrived at the museum, we were in shock at how big the museum was inside! This was an underground museum, and to see all those incredible works of art all stored in that place was so overwhelming! Prior to entering the Louvre, I suggest you order your tickets online instead of falling in line to purchase them because the line will be VERY long. You can save so much time by purchasing online and just showing it at the entrance area instead.

Holy crap. Even their roofs are decorated in such an incredible way! This artworks are made with love!
We first started our tour with this guide from France named Jonathan. I swear, the French accent was sticking with us and it was so infectious and romantic! He was giving us a description of each of the artworks that were the most prized ones. One of the first statues we saw was the Venus De Milo statue. Venus being known as the goddess of beauty in Greek mythology was place in the center of an area in the museum with the attention place onto her. Very elegant and intense in beauty!  Now of course Paris is the most visited city in the world and of course with that, you will encounter many people inside the Louvre who will want to get a picture just like yours. So don't be surprised if many seem rude or insensitive if they want to get a picture of the place with no one around.
Ahh the Venus De Milo statue in all its beautiful glory! Elegance and beauty is what this and all of the Louvre has!
Now when you get to the area going to the Mona Lisa, there are tons of artworks that are far more amazing than the well-known painting! Artworks that are not like any other artworks I have seen in my life! They were all difficult to figure out the theme in it, so that's why Jonathan was there to help us out! Each painting had an important message to it such as those belonging to Biblical verses or messages regarding life, love and happiness. It was really too subtle for us to figure out! Thank goodness Jonathan gets it because it was really difficult for us to capture the message of the artworks other than the fact that they look so realistic and intricate!
Far too many tourists in Paris, especially with this one painting! It's closely guarded so could not determine if it was the real one! Still, I'm happy I got to see it!
Now we get to the ever so famous Mona Lisa! Wow what a priceless moment to see the painting for real! It was not as impactful as I thought it would be though! Good luck getting a private and personal shot with the painting because there will be tourists and security everywhere around the area. The actual size of the Mona Lisa is actually not so big, but seeing it for real was finally an achievement that I can say I did! But there was more in store for me at this grand museum! I got to see several paintings that looked so perfect, I could swear it was a real photograph! What amazed me was the type of paint that they used to make it. Jonathan explained that back then, painters would grind pig organs in order to turn it into a paste to make paint for artists to use! Shocking, but efficient I guess. What shocked me even more was the time and effort the artists in Paris put into creating the artworks! Painting on the rooftops of places so high is not easy I bet. So the best thing to do is to admire them!
This was one of the paintings that made use of pigs organs in order to create! It looked so real to the point that it looked like a photograph!
As we got deeper into the museum, I was in complete surprise to find out that we were on our way to visit the exact replica of the house of Napoleon Bonaparte! I cannot emphasize enough just how grand this place is! The museum speaks of class, royalty, and artistry all in one priceless place! It still wanders in my mind even until today: how in the world did those people reach those roofs to create artworks that fantastic and grand?! Really the works there were just beyond amazing. It was unreal! And getting to know and understand some of the stories and themes behind those paintings seemed so difficult. Most artists these days create abstract art, and seems like as if not much effort was put into creating it. However, these paintings literally scream a persons heart and soul in them! So much details, color and intricate works and textures put into a masterpiece! 
Can you just imagine yourself standing there and seeing it in all its glory?! Really something you cannot put a price on so you must visit this museum while in Paris!
You could spend all day at the museum if you really wanted to! It's a treat for the eyes. Not everybody was as lucky enough to experience as I have, so if it is given to you, just take it! Now the next parts of the museum we wanted to go to was the exact replica mansion of Napoleon Bonaparte. The painting from above here is an event that occurred during Bonaparte's time. It features a woman bowing down before him, along with 5 other women on the far left. Jonathan pointed it out to me that there is another painting in Palace de Versailles that has those 5 women in this painting, but the only difference is that one of them is wearing a color pink dress instead of the color white. Just so many subtle details that Jonathan really helped us with. We appreciated the paintings and artworks even better because it all made sense! When we arrived at the mansion replica, we were amazed just how beautiful and grand it looked! 
Wow. That is a lot of gold color at this mansion! Everything is so well taken care of here that it's unbelievable!
When we were there, what was going on my mind was this: why couldn't we get that beauty to exist in Philippines? Is it because of lack of money or funds? Lack of heart and passion? What? Because this type of beauty is deserved to be seen and appreciated by all who want to see it! But I guess it's just different priorities and culture. If you're in Paris, the Louvre and this museum should not be missed! I still have memories and yearning to be walking the streets of Paris and seeing so much beauty everywhere along with delicious food and amazing weather. Really, if you have the chance to go here, go take every chance you get to experience things that you would not normally find at home! Everything I experienced here was worth it!
I think I am doing just fine with my life. I am learning, growing and exploring while I am still young!
The next day, we were planning to meet our tour guide for Palace de Versailles. But unfortunately, we could not make it due to several misunderstandings. We were told that we were supposed to meet the tour guide at the train station in Paris to go to Versailles, but the original plan was to meet the tour guide AT the site of the Palace de Versailles! And also while we were frustrated with this, it was only then we realized that public bathrooms are not popular in train station of Paris as well as in the outside. So here we are asking directions and help from the most random places such as the bank! Thank goodness that we got to experience really nice people from the bank who could speak English and help us with directions, AS WELL AS use their toilets! On a side note, while we were experiencing this complication, a random Pinoy guy approached us and started to sell Chicharon to us the moment my sisters, friends and I started speaking in Tagalog! Really surprising that wherever you go, you will always see a Filipino in this world!
Take life one step a time. What a difference a year makes! I think the memories I got here were some of the best in my life!
So that day, we decided to head back to the shopping district area, which my sisters loved to do, to go explore more and see more bags out there! I fell in love with the appearances and sounds of the French language even more! I just got to appreciate the beauty that surrounded me as well as the fresh air and atmosphere. I didn't care that I missed a tour. What I cared more about was that I was experiencing a culture different from mine! I decided to meet one of my friends that I had met through Instagram in Paris. Let's call him MD. Or at least someone, whom I thought would be my friend! My sister had plans that night to meet with one of her French and South African friends she met on a student exchange program back in Taiwan so my sister in law and friend tagged along with her that night. I decided to meet my friend first and then meet them up later that night. She sent me the name of the restaurant and address of the place, and then off I went to walk from Les Bon Marchées area to the area of the Louvre Museum!
Not everyone gets to go to Paris and experience what we had. I feel thankful just to be able to be around the area we were at!
It was definitely scary to be walking on my own in a city where I had limited knowledge of the language as well as a city known for having gypsies and pickpockets everywhere. But surprisingly, no one really approached me or even attempted to steal something from me! I guess having a tough look or a confident walk helps! Anyway, I waited for a couple of minutes for MD to arrive, and when he did, I was shocked that I finally saw this person that I had just met from Instagram. Much to my surprise, in France's culture, regardless of what gender or sexual orientation you are, kissing cheek to cheek is a very common and standard thing to do in Paris. The French call it "Bisous Bisous" or "Beso Beso" in Spanish and Filipino, or just plain Kiss Kiss in English! I found that to be so affectionate since in most Asian cultures, only hugging or bowing is allowed. I am more of a hug and kiss kind of person! Anyway, MD and I had spoken a lot online and gotten to know each other. I thought that there was this click or connection that I would receive from him, but when I met him in person, there was just none of it. We spoke for 30 minutes or less, after him making me walk far since it was more convenient for him to meet his next friend up for dinner.
Try to be like this Nutella Crepe: no fuss, no frills, and nothing complicated. Just pure happiness and pleasure!
He seemed uninterested with me, as if I was something not worth his time and effort. My heart felt heavy. Weeping since I thought that there would be this connection with MD, but apparently not. He even said to me to not any picture taken of us, and that if I did, I should not tag him. (We eventually stopped talking after that.) Normally, people think that Paris is a city of romance where people look for love and then receive it. But in my case, I tried to look for it, but sadly, got none of it. Hay, c'est la vie. Anyway, the last thing that MD did for me, which I thought was at least the most decent thing he could do as a friend, was to help me find the next place I had to go to for dinner with my sisters. The address was spelled as 9 Rue Drouot (I DARE YOU TO PRONOUNCE THAT.) at this restaurant named G's. We both gave each other our last "Bisous Bisous" and then off I went on my own. Heavy heart, on my own, lonely. Yearning for love and acceptance. Don't we all?
This photo does not do justice to what I saw there in person! It was so grand, so amazing and so incredible. It must be seen and felt to fully experience and appreciate it!
While I was walking on my own after what MD had shown me, I got really confused and decided to go to a random shop and ask for help. Luckily, I was stuck at the Japan town area of Paris, and got to use my Japanese language skills for help with the lady at the counter! She told me to turn right and then go across. And then I got confused again, so I went to a pharmacy and asked in French where Rue Drouot was. The first thing the lady asked me in French was that if I could speak French and when I said "Un petit peu." (A little bit), she then asked me what about English, and then immediately,  she gave me specific directions to get to my destination! See? Never be afraid to ask for help! A little kindness goes a long way, and some of the languages you choose to learn can always be useful wherever you are! Anyway when I finally arrived in Rue Drouot, I still could not find the place so I asked a police officer walking around and showing people to throw their trash in the bin where the restaurant G's in Rue Drouot is: "Excusez-moi monsieur, où est Rue Drouot?" He replied back "Derrière. Derrière." I could not remember that word so I tried to think back to one of my tests in French class back in college. Here's me looking like an idiot in public trying to say left, right, front, behind in French to remember that word. So I was saying "Gauche, droite, ehhh crap I cannot remember! Uhhhh, droite? Derrière? BEHIND!" I finally remembered the word and then off I went and POOF! Finally found the restaurant! Really thankful I listened a lot in French class!
The French cuisine takes years to master. As someone who has been through culinary school, I cannot help but admire and respect the hard work they put into their creations!
Anyway, we had a lovely dinner with my sister's friends from France and South Africa that night! I did not realize that both my sister's friends were over 6 feet tall! We enjoyed that night and had gotten to try even more amazing French food. I saw them working in the kitchen and wow. I have to say that they are so hard working and really focus on so much detail despite being so busy there! That night, we got a night view of the Tour Eiffel and it was amazing to see how bright it was! Our Uber driver that night was kind enough to wait for us while taking pictures and even taught me more important French words to know like the correct directions and what not. He was amazed at how I could spell words in the French alphabet! Gone is the stereotype that the French are snobbish! Learn to admire and respect their culture as well as make little efforts to learn their language, and you'd be surprised as to how much they can be nice to you! They have been to me. =)
Moulin Rouge baby! It was early in the morning but I am happy to be seeing so many places!
The very next day, we woke up really early to ride an Uber again but to this place in Paris this time called Mont Martre. This place is known for so many things besides the site of the Moulin Rouge! One thing I noticed with my sisters was that they enjoyed having coffee early in the morning and wine for lunch and dinner! Well, when in Rome, oh wait! When in France, do as the French do! Hahaha! This place is where the well known Moulin Rouge is held! Be careful of this area though as I witnessed several gypsies and bums passing by. I even saw a family on the side by the Starbucks there sleeping on a mattress there with all the blankets and pillows! Thankful that nothing happened to me, but just be extra careful while in this district! After getting coffee, thank goodness our group tour guide finally arrived there! One thing that surprised me in Paris was that their fountains had potable and drinkable water in it, so I felt no need to buy water since I could just drink from there!
Wow this windmill looks so pretty! Mont Martre even has its own vineyard inside it! I love this place!
Our tour group was diverse as we were with plenty of Asian Americans and Australians as well as British people there. The pronunciation of Mont Martre is so difficult for us to pronounce that only the tour guide could say it correctly. When we started our tour, we got to witness several churches, deli shops and so many classic French designed houses. It felt like I was in Paris from the past! This area has its own vineyard, and is even the location of the best Baguette bread in all of Paris! The peaceful sounds of people walking on the roads made of stone made it almost calming for me since the weather was wonderful. Those little things can contribute so much to your mood while abroad! Really and truly, Mont Martre is a place that you should see if you like something peaceful and unique from the typical Metropolitan France! They have weekend markets here that sell raclette cheese sandwiches here that have cold cuts in it as well as seared foie gras that are so heavenly!
Palace de Versailles is so grand and spectacular that one visit is not enough! My sister on the right is trying to get through the crowds!
With all that morning tour, you'd think we were tired, but no! We still have Palace de Versailles to go to! This place requires you to ride a train to get there, which is no problem since it is foreigner friendly. We were seated next to two women from Spain, which gave me a chance to practice my Spanish! Shifting from Oui to Si is really tough, but with the right people you can learn any language you want! As we arrived at the station to Palace de Versailles, it was just a short walk from the train station to the actual palace. The moment we arrived in Palace de Versailles, we were so overwhelmed at just how grand the place was! I have never ever seen any place like it in my entire life! We don't have much parks in Manila that I could compare to that Palace, but wow was it amazing not only in size, but also in structure! It was like 10 TIMES the size of any park I have ever been to! I bet it takes so much effort to even just maintain the appearance of plants and gardens there! You can tell artworks and everything else are made with love! So thankful to Localers Paris for introducing us here!
Can you imagine the blood, sweat and tears that went through producing those artworks in the roof alone? Wow.
We first started our tour outside with the tour guide introducing herself. Before entering the palace, you are required to leave your bags in the locker area where they will watch it over for you and give you a slip to claim later. She will also give you a walky talky with headphones that can be used to hear the voice of the tour guide amidst the crowds. This place has so much to look forward to! Apart from artworks, the design of the beds and the chandeliers, the golden gates and fountains are such a sight! My sight expanded to a full 360 degrees just because of this place! My phone had hundreds of pictures just from this place alone! Chandeliers shining so bright in the roof, artworks and paintings coming alive to me. I just felt like I was part of history witnessing these incredible things inside this enormous palace. If you think that it couldn't get any better, wait until you see the outside of this place! It's grand, amazing and fabulous! It was one of the most beautiful gardens I had ever been to!
Look behind and you will realize just how huge and grand the garden of Palace de Versailles is! What a sight!
Walk around the places here. Breathe. Appreciate it because not everybody will get the chance to see and admire this incredible work of art. Truly, this place is a gift for the world to see. I love the silence and peacefulness along with fresh air that Versailles gives to me. That type of environment is something I almost never experience in Philippines, so if you do get the chance to go here, don't take it for granted. Take it slow, walk, breathe, and just let this Palace entice you with everything it has to offer. It can be overwhelming, but this place had so much to give to you! My sisters couldn't help but appreciate the beautiful things they have here. With so much negativity in life, I really couldn't help but just be happy because being there felt so wonderful to me. It made me realize that not everything in life is bad and that despite those tough times, there are amazing things to look forward to!
Raclette Cheese Baguette sandwich with cold cuts like proscuitto in it. The best sandwich I have ever had in Paris!
France has so much to offer to you. No wonder it is one of the most visited countries in the world! The next time I come back to explore here, I want to see more of the outer parts of Paris just because I feel like there are hidden gems inside each place such as in Toulouse or Strasbourg. So much culture, history and incredibly beautiful people with an attractive language, it will make you want to keep coming back to see more. After we walked for several hours at this Palace, we decided to get souvenirs from just outside the palace. Low and behold, we found the cheapest keychains and souvenirs from our trip at just 3 Euros! Most gift shops offered 5 Euros and up in Paris, so we got as much as we could for souvenirs! As we were on our train ride back to Paris, we talked about just how lucky we were to witness something as beautiful as that Palace. I don't think we will ever forget that.
It really was a beautiful day that day. Had so much to see and explore there. It was one of the winning moments of my trip.
When we arrived in Paris, we did last minute shopping wherever and stopped by Carrefour supermarket. In this place, you are in charge of putting your stuff in the plastic or paper bag yourself, with plastic having extra charge. It really is an independent life here. I also love how efficient they are in France, with unsold food going to charities. Really thoughtful of them. My sisters really love shopping so thankfully, Paris had so much to offer to us there! Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Bottega, and so much more. If you are into fashion, welcome to fashion heaven here! The strip of Champs Elysées alone with have you getting down on your knees due to the options of bags and dresses there! I swear the very next day after having breakfast at Ladurée (Try their chocolate pistachio croissants!), my sisters went into their shopping addiction again and went into Chanel to see which bag they want for several hours! I am not a fan of Macarons due to making them a lot at work before, but I personally prefer the taste and texture of Macarons from Les Bon Marchée over that of Ladurée. But if you want to experience the nice pastry shop, be my guest! They have fantastic desserts apart from Macarons!
Quaint appearances of houses like this are so meaningful to me. Having plants around it makes it feel so fresh and positive!
We were supposed to do another tour the next day with pastry, but missed it due to misunderstanding and being unable to find the place. But it did not matter as we already got to see so much and explore new places, along with meeting incredible people like our hotel staff, several uber drivers (Most could not speak English, so know some basic French!) and our tour guides like Fernanda, Corey Frye, and Kate Robinson. Despite not being able to speak much French, as long as you respect and make an effort, they really will appreciate you and try their best to help you out. As we end our trip here, we finally got tired of having cheese and bread for the duration of the Paris trip, so we decided to go get some Asian food near our hotel. HAHAHA! And then just do some last minute walking around the place. I love walking around new places. You get to appreciate just how different they are from what you're used to in your city, but you get to love them just as much or even more!
I miss incredible pastries like these! Using high quality ingredients really makes them taste absolutely so perfect! Chocolate Mousse and Strawberry Millefeuille were just perfection to me!
As we prepared our stuff for the next place we will go to in Europe, which is Barcelona, Spain, I am reminded at just how lucky I am each day to be alive. I got to see already so much in this world for someone my age. People can only dream about being at a place as beautiful and grand as Paris. Maybe this is my destiny: to explore this great, big world around us and learn from it, as well as make an impact with the lives of the locals there. I am glad that I realized I loved to travel and explore because it has brought me so much more happiness than I can imagine, and memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life. I hope to inspire the wanderlust inside other people and help them break out of their shells! This life is so short. So if there is something you really want to do or if there's a place you really want to see, just go for it! I have been doing that gradually, one step at a time. Everything has been worth it!
I miss seeing buildings like this everyday. Something just so different from what I am used to. Thank you for that Paris!

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