Thursday, November 8, 2007

AdSense

I think AdSense has a funny sense of advertising. I mean, obviously machines are not really going to search through the content of a website for substance when placing ads. But so far, I have seen these two particularly funny ads surface on this page:

Aluminum Duck Boat (which I actually clicked on myself... because what the hell is a duck boat?)

Cabela's Hunting and Outdoor Gear

I'm going to go out on a limb and say we may have a while before machines become self-aware. Or at least the AdSense machines. (If I am mysteriously electrocuted in the night, you all know why.) To their credit though, it's effective enough; I also saw tours of Versailles and other travel-related things.

I wonder if the fact that I mentioned those two ads will compound and make more hunting ads appear.

Anyway, I'm going on a travelling craze right now. I really want to see as much of Europe as I can, and I think I'm going to use my reading days to travel to the French Riviera instead of studying, since the plan to go during Toussaint fell through. I'd like to visit Marseille and then base myself in Nice, from which I can get to Antibes, Monaco, and a handful of other nearby towns. Surprisingly, Marseille doesn't get a mention in either France 2007 or Best of Europe 2005 by Rick Steves, even though it's the 2nd largest city in France. Plus, the pictures of it are absolutely gorgeous, so I'm not sure why it's omitted, but maybe I will find out.

I'm not sure if I'll be able to make it to Amsterdam after all, even though I really wanted to go. I may, however, make it to Venice for a day before visiting Hannah in Germany just before Christmas. We shall see. Given that I'm doing all this travelling, I really need to buckle down and spend this weekend and next finishing up exploring Paris. I have embarassingly not yet stepped foot in the Louvre, the Orsay Museum, or the Pompidou Center. That's unimaginable. And it's even free for me because of my art history class. For shame.

I am deeply grateful that travel limitations in Europe don't really exist anymore, but I'm also superficially upset because my passport will not be stamped for every country I go to.

I really will return to Madrid at some point; I promise.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Montmartre

On Friday, Hannah and I walked all around Montmartre, which is in the northern part of the city. For Amélie fans, this is where she lives and where most of the movie takes place. The café she works at in the film is real (and it's been pictured here before), and they have really good crême brûlée. Montmartre is located on a hill ("la butte") so be ready to hike a bit if you're there. There's a museum of eroticism, which I will not post pictures of since I don't know who reads this, but it's interesting. It's appropriately located in the red light district in the Pigalle neighborhood, which, like all such districts, is lined with strip clubs and sex shops. There are also a lot of bridal shops, which I find to be an odd combination. There's also a mosque in the area, and Hannah and I passed it just as prayer services were ending, or at least I assume so, because a lot of people were rolling up their prayer mats, which must have taken up the entire street from the looks of it. Anyway, here's pictures.

This is Le Chat Noir, which was an extremely well-known cabaret back in the day, but is now just a café.

See? Lots of wedding gowns.

This is a large cemetery in Montmartre. Like really big. And as you can see, ridiculously dense. Since Hannah is German, we went to check out the grave of Heinrich Heine.

This is Candide chilling out at le Café des Deux Moulins (or Amélie's café).

This is in the café, which looks pretty much the same as it does in the movie, except there's no tabac, so I guess there's no Georgette equivalent in real life.

For other pictures of Montmartre, see this post.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

View from the Arc de Triomphe

The last thing I did on Sunday was climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe. The Arc de Triomphe is pretty tall, so there's a lot of stairs. Actually, no. It's not "a lot" so much as it's "the perfect amount." It's enough of a workout that you feel accomplished when you get there, but not so much that it's actually straining. If that makes sense.

Anyway, the view from the top is phenomenal. Looking at pictures does not compare. In fact, that's generally true. Looking at pictures is more a way of remembering the actual sensation and event at the time, than it is about looking at the actual photograph. But in any case, looking at pictures is better than nothing at all, so here they are.

This is the tomb of the unknown soldier, located directly beneath the Arc. The round disc-shaped thing above the engraving has a flame that's lit every night. (It's lit in the photo, perhaps because it's a Sunday, but you can't really tell.)

Now imagine this, but all around you. There are, I think, 12 boulevards that go toward the Arc, which is why the metro stop is Charles de Gaulle - Etoile, étoile meaning "star."

Candide! His face has that weird round mark because his beak is pushed up against his eyes when he's in my purse. Also, as I'm sure you've noticed, the Eiffel Tower is in the background. In addition, the trees are prettier now that it's actual fall weather.

This is the big ferris wheel, which I think is relatively new to Paris, in front of the Louvre.

This is the Champs Elysées. There are a lot of expensive stores on this street. There are also lots of inexpensive ones, but not in this immediate area.

This is a view of Montmartre from the Arc. Actually, the view from Sacré Coeur is also spectacular.

This is a shot taken from not-quite-the-top of the main staircase, which itself is not-quite-the-top of the monument. Like I said, there's a lot.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Mid-Semester Snag

I've hit that point in the semester. The point where I just want to sleep for a week and be rid of school-related duties. It's not that I have a lot of work that I'm being buried under (although I have, of course, experienced that in the past); it's that I just don't care.

Anyway, enough with my complaining. I promised pictures from Sainte Chappelle and I will deliver.
This is the exterior (obviously). It's interesting though, because it is completely hidden from the street since it's surrounded by the Palais de Justice. You actually cannot tell that it exists from the sidewalk.

This is the interior of the first floor, where the non-rich people prayed. It's still pretty freaking nice though.

Here's a closer shot of one of the little alcoves that line the walls.

This figurine is in the altar on the lower floor. I'm not really sure what it is, or why there's crumbly bits on the floor. I keep typing fllor instead of floor. It's very bizarre.

This is the real attraction - the haute chappelle - where the rich people worshipped. Obviously, there is some scaffolding that is sort of killing the mood, but you can tell this church is much prettier than Notre Dame (or the gloomy stone house of death).

I'm not sure if you can really see, but each window is ridiculously intricate and colorful.

This is the rose window that faces the entrance of the church. I assume it faces east.

I fully acknowledge the poor quality of this post. But today, I just can't bring myself to care. (Which is to say, the rest of the posts will not be this crappy.)

Sunday, November 4, 2007

First Sunday

Today was the first Sunday of the month, which means that Versailles and a bunch of things in Paris are free. So this morning, a couple of friends and I took the regional train to Versailles. We figured that we would go to the furthest thing (la domaine de Marie Antoinette) and work our way back to the palace. This turned out to be a bad idea, as by the time we got to the palace, the line was ridiculously long. It was at least as long as the line for Superman at Six Flags when it first opened (although to the palace's credit, it was moving much faster). We walked around the gardens a lot though, and we saw Marie Antoinette's escape from the main palace (which was in itself an escape from Paris, as well as a genius political move for consolidation of power by Louis XIV). Here are some pictures.

This is a hamlet. I guess Marie Antoinette felt like roughing it on her fake farm every now and then. There were sheep, goats, roosters, and donkeys.

Candide is sitting on a rock that overlooks a lake that runs over a "grotte" where Marie Antoinette... hung out?

This is M-A's place. It's very pink (for marble).

This is M-A's backyard. It is vast.

This is the path we took to get from M-A's place to the real Versailles palace.

This is a path alongside a big lawn. (Also, this is an excellent caption.)

View of the palace from the back

View of everything else from behind the palace

When we got back, we went to Sainte Chappelle and then I went up to the top of the Arc de Triomphe (but the others were pooped), but I will post those pictures in the coming days, since they will be boring.