The last couple weeks here have zoomed by, with time being split between classes, monuments, museums and friends.
Hillary and I stopped by Notre Dame and it was splendid in all its glory, as expected. We also stopped by the Sacré Coeur to watch the sunrise and eat at a small café atop the hill. Needless to say, each arrondissement in Paris is well known for something, and being known for the Sacré Coeur is a saving grace for the 18th! Although, I must admit it might make the lines at the church shorter if the arrondissement was instead famed for its pick pockets, prostitutes and many strip clubs.
We spent another afternoon at the Paris aquarium (as a student in marine biology it’s my duty to appraise every aquarium I stumble across), where we were shocked at the “touch tank” rule: everything goes. There were young children everywhere reaching into the water, attempting to snatch up a coy fish; we stood there expecting a fish to come flying out of a child’s hands and land flopping on the floor, fortunately, the coy were a bit too slippery that day.
My final day in Paris I spent at the Musée de Musique, which was by far my favorite museum yet (this may explain my absurd number of photos of instruments). Interestingly, in addition to being known for his palace of gold, King Louis was also a patron of the arts and is responsible for many large advances in music. For instance, under his patronage, a young luthier reinvented the playing style to include strumming all of the strings at once rather than simply plucking strings individually, giving rise to what we know as modern day guitare playing. Additionally, his obsession with canaries and their songs lead to the invention of one of the first music boxes that would play simple songs, teaching the canary’s a repertoire of popular music for their owners amusement (and perhaps bragging rights). Violins were also furthered under Louis reign: he encouraged his bourgeoisie and high ranking officials to be well practiced in many dances, even providing dance teachers, who carried small “pochettes” (tiny violins that could be stowed in the pocket when instructing the dancers).
I depart tomorrow for the great state of Maine, where I shall remain for one semester before heading out to Madagascar. Expect the next post in the beginning of February.