Louvre, Paris

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Don't forget that the Louvre was a palace long before it was a museum. The place is stunning. While I was impressed with the art, the building held most of my attention.
Don’t forget that the Louvre was a palace long before it was a museum. The place is stunning. While I was impressed with the art, the building held most of my attention.

What can I say about this amazing place that hasn’t already been said? I only had four hours–that’s my art attention span–but you could spend a lifetime. This important museum is best visited in small bites over several days. If only I’d had several days. Maybe next time…..

While I like how these pyramids let in light below, they just don't fit, IMHO.
While I like how these pyramids let in the light below, they just don’t fit, IMHO.

Louve, July 2015, 3

The Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel is technically at the edge of the Tuileries park, just beside the Louvre.
The Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel is technically at the edge of the Tuileries park, just beside the Louvre.
Jesus turns water into wine. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wedding_at_Cana
Jesus turns water into wine. The Wedding at Cana.
Grande Odalisque, also known as Une Odalisque or La Grande Odalisque. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grande_Odalisque
Grande Odalisque, also known as Une Odalisque or La Grande Odalisque.
Napoleon crowns his queen. The Pope just gets to look on.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Coronation_of_Napoleon
Napoleon crowns his queen. The Pope just gets to look on.  The Coronation of Napoleon.
Surprisingly, this important statue was on a stairway landing--and the crowds blocked access. I've seen photos of the Winged Victory of Samothrace for decades, but never realized it is placed atop a huge stone "boat."  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winged_Victory_of_Samothrace
Surprisingly, this important statue was on a stairway landing–and the crowds blocked access. I’ve seen photos of the Winged Victory of Samothrace for decades, but never realized it is placed atop a huge stone “boat.”
This most impressive hall didn't need any more art. My neck hurt just from looking up all the time and I'm sure I missed several paintings and statues. But the crown jewels at the end were a nice addition.
This most impressive hall didn’t need any more art. My neck hurt just from looking up all the time and I’m sure I missed several paintings and statues. But the crown jewels at the end were a nice addition.

Louve, Paris, July 2015, 32

This is just a detail of one small section of ceiling.
This is just a detail of one small section of ceiling.
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Venus de Milo
Now that's evil.
Now that’s evil.
The Caryatid Hall is impressive without all the additional art. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caryatid
The Caryatid Hall is impressive without all the additional art.

Louvre, Paris, July 2015, 26

I could spend hours just looking at the ceilings.
I could spend hours just looking at the ceilings.
Did I mention that the Louvre is crowded? On the far wall is the Mona Lisa. Good luck getting close.
Did I mention that the Louvre is crowded? On the far wall is the Mona Lisa. Good luck getting close.
This could be an amazing painting, but I simply never got close enough to it to be able to give a personal opinion. And it's behind so much protection that you can't look at it closely, anyway.
This could be an amazing painting, but I simply never got close enough to it to be able to give a personal opinion. And it’s behind so much protection that you can’t look at it closely, anyway.
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Flame of Liberty, Paris

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I’ve been working a lot of hours. Now that Ramazan is over, new classes are starting and we are suddenly short on teachers. I’ve been schedule 40 teaching hours a week–not counting prep time or office hours. All I’ve done is work and sleep. So it’s taking a bit to post my Paris photos.  

This is the Flame of Liberty (Flamme de la Liberté), located along the Seine, near the northern end of the Pont de l’Alma, on the Place de l’Alma.  It’s a full sized, gold-leaf replica of the flame from the Statue of Liberty in the New York Harbor, a gift from France. This torch was a gift to the city of Paris in 1989 by the International Herald Tribune.

The flame has became an unofficial memorial for Diana, Princess of Wales after her 1997 death in the tunnel just below.  It’s become a tourist attraction for her and probably most people think the torch was put up in her honor. 

Lady Di's Torch, Paris, July 2015, 7

You'll find locks like this everywhere along the Seine, but especially on bridges. Lovers lock them and throw the key into the water, signifying their unbreakable love.
You’ll find locks like this everywhere along the Seine, but especially on bridges. Lovers lock them and throw the key into the water, signifying their unbreakable love.

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Notre Dame

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That's the back of fellow teacher Shelley. I think she was my good luck charm on this trip!
That’s the back of fellow teacher Shelley. I think she was my good luck charm on this trip!

So last week, I finally made it to Paris. Yeah, those who know me are surprised that it was my first visit. I’ve probably been to 30 countries in my life, but not France.

OK, technically, I’ve been to France a few times, jf you count Charles de Gaulle Airport. I don’t.

The reason I’ve put it off so long is simple: All of my worst travel stories involved a rude Frenchman, Charles de Gaulle Airport or AirFrance. Some of them involve all three. There’s the time it took 27 hours to fly from Dublin to Atlanta on AirFrance–and 11 of the hours were spent sitting on the tarmac. There’s the time in the security line in Charles de Gaulle when security confiscated my money belt–with a credit card and $120 in it. They refused to return it. There was no one to complain to. Security officers are gods. Or devils. Another time, I was pulled out of line for a “special” security search. They have you spread your arm out, so it’s hard to react quickly, but before I knew it, the officer had put her hand down the front of my pants and into my underwear. I couldn’t stop myself from striking her in the face. I’m surprised I got to leave the airport, but she didn’t even flinch. Probably it happens to her all the time.

So I’ve avoided France. But I decided to give it a try. Luckily, Shelley, another teacher here in Istanbul, agreed to go, too. It’s a lovely city. And as long as the French are not in line with you (or work for security or AirFrance) they seem to be good people.

One of the highlights was Notre Dame. Enjoy!

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Notre Dame, Paris, July 2015, 33

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An evening stroll in Avcilar, Istanbul

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Avcilar, Istanbul, July 2015, 2I live in Istanbul, but far from the city center. I’m in a municipality called Avcilar (pronounced Av jeel lar). I’ve been in this apartment right at a month and try to walk in the neighborhood for exercise and to explore. Today was a warm one, but this evening, shortly before dusk, a cool breeze blew in from the balcony and I just had to get outside and enjoy it. It was just before Iftar–the feast that breaks the day of fasting during Ramazan (Ramadan). I had no plan, but my feet took me to the central street of Avcilar, maybe a mile away from my apartment. I found a street fair/bazaar going on. Because everyone can eat and drink at sundown, the place was packed and probably will be for several hours. I’m not sure if some version of this occurs every evening or just during Ramazan. Guess I’ll find out.

I have a class to teach in the morning, so I didn’t stay long. But I’m shocked at how people seem to stay up most of the night during this holy month of fasting. Children playing loudly woke me up for the umpteenth time at 3am today. These kids can’t be even 12, so I doubt they are fasting, though their parents probably are. It’s a different world.

Avcilar, Istanbul, July 2015, 6 Avcilar, Istanbul, July 2015, 5 Avcilar, Istanbul, July 2015, 4 Avcilar, Istanbul, July 2015, 3 Avcilar, Istanbul, July 2015, 1

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Happy Birthday, Dilek

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Doesn't she look like she's a 1920's movie star in her hat?
Doesn’t she look like she’s a 1920’s movie star in her hat?

Trudy and I had the honor of taking Dilek out for cheesecake and tea for her birthday. Isn’t she lovely?

This is officially my favorite photo of Trudy.
This is officially my favorite photo of Trudy.
Yes, I always take pictures of the food, which may be why the photo of me wasn't so attractive (and will not be shared). I had the tiramisu in front. They had cheesecake.
Yes, I always take pictures of the food, which may be why the photo of me wasn’t so attractive (and will not be shared). I had the tiramisu in front. They had cheesecake.

 

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Tea and Sea

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Trudy and Dilek
Trudy and Dilek

OK, technically we were sitting by lake Gol, but it’s open to the sea and holds brackish water. This is one of the lovely things about Istanbul: you can always stop for tea to enjoy the breeze and chat with friends. And the cay (tea) was just 2TL per tulip shaped glass (about 75 cents American). The view was free.

Isn't the view lovely? That's Istanbul in the distance.
Isn’t the view lovely? That’s Istanbul in the distance.
The cafe doesn't look like much: just comfy outdoor couches under canopies. The kitchen is across the street so the poor wait staff much constantly cross a busy road.
The cafe doesn’t look like much: just comfy outdoor couches under canopies. But what more do you need? The kitchen is across the street, so the poor wait staff must constantly cross a busy road.
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