This day has been so long that it very well could have been two days rolled into one. First, after having breakfast at the hotel, we took the metro to The Louvre and waited in line for tickets for thirty minutes. Now, thirty minutes may sound like a long time, but if you could only have seen how long that line was, you might say that thirty minutes is more like the speed of lightning. When we got to the end of the line, it looked as though we would be there for days, but luckily the line moved steadily.
My throat was a bit scratchy last night and this morning, so, I was worried that the security guard wouldn't allow me to keep my water bottle, but thankfully he did. Water is so expensive here in comparison to the U.S. that I probably would have tried to drink it all right then and there instead of throwing away over half a bottle of precious water. It really came in handy, too, especially when it came time for me to take my allergy medicine.
Originally we were all together as a group traveling through the different rooms of art from various countries and time periods, but somehow along the way to the Venus de Milo, we were in such a large crowd that I ended up losing my group. However, we had already set up a meeting time and place in the event that one of us wanted to go explore or somehow got separated from the group. Plus, I had a map of the whole museum so I wasn't really too worried. If this had been my first time in The Louvre, I might have been a bit more anxious and scared about being on my own in such a large place, but since I remembered walking The Louvre eight years ago, it wasn't nearly as intimidating. I saw Greek and Roman sculptures, tons of biblical art, and of course, the Mona Lisa. I actually took a video of the Mona Lisa to show just how crowded it really is in that place. Most other art rooms are easy to maneuver in and out of, but the famous art like Venus de Milo or Mona Lisa typically commands many onlookers.
After leaving The Louvre and grabbing a bite for lunch, we met up with our Brazilian buddies for an appointment with the Ministry of the Interior. The best way to describe this ministry would be to compare it to the U.S. Dept of Homeland Security. The Ministry of the Interior is responsible for national security, monitoring and controlling terrorism, addressing gang problems, and problems dealing with violence in schools. The most interesting part of the meeting for me was the tour through the old part of the building, which was once used by Nazis in WWII as a prison for those who resisted the Nazi movement. We toured an old holding cell in the building in which those prisoners who were not handcuffed wrote on the walls of the cell: names, dates, the names of loved ones, and religious writings. We weren't allowed to take pictures inside because of the fragile condition of the walls, but I do have a little brochure about it that I can take pictures of and post. It won't be near as moving as the actual thing, but it's better than nothing.
Another interesting piece of history that the Ministry showed us was the bottom of a wooden chair on which the German symbol of an eagle was printed. Interestingly though, when they showed it to us and asked us what we saw, I of course saw the eagle, but on the belly of the eagle was a swastika, the Nazi symbol. When I pointed that out, it was as if someone had sucked out all of the air in the room. I don't know if they genuinely didn't know it was there or if they were reacting to the use of the word swastika like characters in Harry Potter books would react to the mentioning of the name Lord Voldemort. After my first observation, one of the women said, no, don't you see the eagle that is symbolic of Germany? My answer was yes, but I was referring to the symbol that's within the belly of the eagle. There wasn't much discussion after that about the matter. I wasn't the only one to see the symbol, but I was the only one to point it out. Perhaps there is still some deep wounds in France regarding World War II...I didn't press the matter, but I did find this little encounter to be odd considering that it's been 60+ years since the end of the war and none of them were old enough to remember the war or to have been involved in it in some way.
After the end of our appointment with the Ministry of the Interior, we went on a boat tour through Paris. The boat tour was quite enjoyable until a brief pour of rain came down towards the end.
The weather has been quite beautiful in Europe so far on this trip. It was actually a tad chilly today, but being as hot-natured as I am, the slight chill felt so refreshing. We've mainly been dealing with weather in the 60s, 70s, and lower 80s. Overall, gorgeous weather, but I know that Georgia heat is going to bring me back to the reality of a hot, steamy summer in the South when I return on Friday evening.
Here's hoping that the heat wave in the southern U.S. is over before we return home.
Tomorrow's another full day. So, until my next update, good night all!