The Overnight Flight to Paris

As you may have guessed, I have returned from Paris! It was a great two weeks of exploring. I thought I would quickly post some photo highlights from my first day. I took an overnight flight from NYC direct to Charles de Gaulle, which seems like a great idea, right? That way you don’t lose a day. You do, however, lose a night of sleep, which definitely hit me about 3 pm when I found I was falling asleep standing up. However, there is luckily an abundance of tiny, strong coffees in Paris and I made it through to a decent hour.

I also forgot what a nightmare those Paris subways can be with luggage! How in the world did I manage with my giant suitcase when I went to study abroad and later moved there? I was younger then… well, not by much actually, but I guess memory is doing a good job of erasing the boring, unpleasant parts. Anyway, I did make it to the apartment I was renting with a couple of friends and we then went for some exploration by foot. We started near Pere Lachaise Cemetery and made it quite far, all the way to the Jardin du Luxembourg, with much wandering in between. Here are some photo highlights:

I’m not sure how I never noticed this before, but all over Paris are these water fountains with drinkable water that were installed back when such necessities were scarce.

This appeared to be an even older drinking fountain. Although now it’s just a seating alcove, I suppose.

Place de la Bastille looked lovely. I gave a pretty incoherent impromptu talk to my friend on the taking of the Bastille here that was when I was breaching into jet lag exhaustion. I’m sure it got the point across…

I happened upon some Victor Hugo street art! (The photograph at the top of this post is by another awesome street artist, Fred le Chevalier.) This Hugo stencil was quite near the Victor Hugo Museum in the Place des Vosges, so of course we stopped inside to see the old Hugo residence with his questionable decor choices. (In one room, a carpet is on the ceiling for some reason.)

Walking in the Marais we also saw a pretty brazen space invader. He’s not even trying to hide!

I feel like this craze for putting locks on bridges is really getting out of control. This bridge is now more locks than bridge. Some people even put whole bike locks on the structure, which had then been covered with more locks by later visitors. Out of control!

This space invader, however, seemed ready to unlock all those locks!

I happened to be walking on this bridge later in my visit and stopped to check my map. An older French woman came up to me and demanded: “Did you do all this?” and gestured to the locks. I said no…

Our extensive walk ended at the Jardin du Luxembourg, where kids were pushing sailboats in the fountain with sticks.

I know I’ve been slow blogging here, but I have been writing. If you want some immediate Paris adventures, check out these posts for Hyperallergic and Atlas Obscura:

Le Corbusier’s Villa la Roche

The Paris carnival arts museum (Musée des Arts Forains)

The Balloonists of Pere Lachaise Cemetery

The Museum of Everything

Fred le Chevalier’s Parisian street art

Arno Kramer at the Musée de la Chasse 

Eileen Gray at the Pompoidou

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Off to a Paris Adventure!

Tomorrow I’m flying out to Paris for a two week adventure! I haven’t been to France since I moved back to the United States in 2009, so I am eager to explore. (Although a bit worried about how rusty my French has gotten!) While I’ve over there, I’m hoping to write some stories for both Hyperallergic and Atlas Obscura, so check in there for updates and expect many photos on my return!

Creatures That Caught My Eye at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

While New York is an epic and fabulous place, it’s good to get out every once in a while, so recently I took a weekend trip to Washington, DC to visit friends and explore. I hadn’t been since I was quite young, so it all felt new, although with some vague memories in the background. One of the best things about DC is that you can visit all the Smithsonian museums for free, so of course I had to visit the Natural History Museum. Here are some creatures that caught my eye, including this elephant in the rotunda, which when it was installed in 1959 was the largest taxidermy animal displayed in any museum. Its eyes are hand blown glass.

I think I’ve gotten a little spoiled with natural history museums, having visited so many beautiful locations with 19th century dioramas, but there were some interesting displays here, even if they lacked something in aesthetics.

I don’t think it quite counts as creature, but this deep sea exploration device certainly had a lot of personality.

Here is a life-size model of a North Atlantic whale. It was installed in 2003 and replaced an early 1900s model of a Blue Whale, which unfortunately seems to have fallen apart and had to be “discarded.” Oh, what I would give to happen upon that in some junkyard…

But even better than a whale model is a real coelacanth  the fish once thought extinct that is now known to still dwell in our oceans. It’s displayed here with a baby coelacanth.

This is a Triplewart Seadevil, a deep sea angler fish, preserved in a jar. It has a rather tough name for a small, squishy fish, but it’s what it was called when people found them floating in the ocean and were totally baffled by their strange shapes.

The Smithsonian has many impressive squid to be seen, including multiple giant squid, such as the above and another held in a 1,500 gallon tank.

Here is another squid, much smaller.

And here is a fossil of a squid, from the Jurassic Period.

I just made it to this room with a mammoth and Irish Elk when the museum announced it was closing…

And that meant the end of my visit! I did have time to see the highlights like the Hope Diamond and Dom Pedro Aquamarine, and other objects not photographed here. As always, I love going into an unfamiliar museum and losing myself in the collections. Of course, this was not my only Smithsonian stop in DC, so watch here for more!

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