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Vive le Yeti

December 22, 2006

My time here in France is now drawing to a close; I can’t say that I am completely saddened by this thought, either. It has been fun. I have enjoyed going to the museums and monuments, and learning how to better to use my camera. But this trip, unlike the last, it seems that many more things have gone wrong—little things that we could never seem to completely take in stride. And of course the big set-back: Mom injuring her foot.

Wednesday was a good example of the time we’ve been having. On Wednesday we took some trains out to Auvers, an important town to many impressionists including Vincent Van Gogh. In order to seem less negative, I’ll begin with the bad parts of the day and then move on to the good. Our train out of Chessy Gare was running slow, and we got into Paris later than we were supposed to, causing us to miss our train out to Pontoise; so we had to wait around for the next one. Because we were late getting to Pontoise, we had to wait around again for the train that took us back in the direction from whence we came to Auvers. Dad had carefully planned our train ride the night before, discovered it was all covered by our Paris Visite passes, and all of his plans were then undone because the A was late getting in to Paris. When we arrived we headed over to the inn where Van Gogh died to have some lunch, only to discover that it was closed for the holidays until February. The way home was more of the same: the trains leaving Auvers run fairly frequently… but not until after 4:00 pm. So we had to wait around in the cold for that train. By the time we got back to Paris it was rush hour, so the metro was packed—this was mainly a problem because Mom’s foot was hurting and we couldn’t get a seat on the train for a little while.

But, lest you think the whole day was awful, let me say that Auvers is really quite cool. We had the best meal we’ve had the entire trip at the Café de la Paix—a silver lining to the closure of the inn. After a nice leisurely lunch we went out and started walking around town—the plan was to follow the path of this walk in a book of Mom’s, which didn’t end up happening, but we had a nice walk anyway. Our first stop was l’eglise d’Auvers—the subject of one of my favorite Van Gogh paintings. The last time we were in Paris we saw the painting at Musée d’Orsay, where I fell in love with it. Here is my rather impotent attempt at recreating at least the framing of Van Gogh’s painting with my little Canon SD300:

After l’eglise d’Auvers we wandered up to the cemetery where Vincent and Theo Van Gogh are buried. I like cemeteries, probably because Mom used to take me to play in the cemetery as a child, but now I find that the sensibilities instilled in me by society—not “Society”, that malicious entity that to every teenager seems to do nothing except oppress them, but rather “society” in the sense that I did not grow up alone in a cave—I’m somewhat self-conscious in a cemetery if I’m not visiting someone I knew personally. I soon realized, however, that, were I dead and buried, I would have no problem with strangers examining my grave. Then we just wandered around the country side—beautiful country side, by the way, no wonder the impressionists liked it there—until Mom’s foot started hurting. Then the aforementioned adventures in travel began.

Today, having taken yesterday to relax and not really do much, we went back into Paris to Centre Pompidou for the Hergé exhibit. Hergé, for those of you who don’t know, was the creator of Tintin. The exhibit was quite cool, and as a bonus: free. They had up many sketches, drawings, and other falderal created in the process of putting together the comic, they had some doodles of Hergé’s, and bits and pieces of the comics themselves. Against one wall they had lined up chronologically the covers of Le Petit XXeme Siécle—the magazine in which Tintin was printed. It was kinda cool how much of the story you could glean from the sequence of covers. I even discovered a pop-up Christmas card that Hergé had done. Unfortunately, I saw signs that I took to mean that photography wasn’t allowed. I’m not sure if it only meant no flash, or no photography all together, but having been scolded at Picasso for taking pictures I shouldn’t have, I decided to play it safe. I did take a few of the non-original artwork that Pompidou had put up to accompany the exhibit, but nothing of Hergé’s work on display.

And oh yeah: Vive le Yeti!

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