Flowers in Germany

Om om Everyone,

Since I last posted I took the major step of moving to Bad Meinberg, Germany to live at Yoga Vidya Ashram. So far it has been wonderful, but I’ve been super busy trying to learn everything and deal with the paperwork and things on this end. I took a few minutes the other day to take some photos of the beautiful flowers around the area. Enjoy!

bleeding heart blue bonnet 1 blue bonnet 2 buttercup leaf magenta 2 magenta moss orange pansy blossom pansy pink purple rhododendron 1 rhododendron 2 white

Leftover Trip Photos

So now I have posted all the major events from our trip to Germany and Paris. Here are a few photos that are interesting but didn’t make it into the other posts.

1 film crew frankfurt

When we were shopping in Frankfurt we stopped to rest on one of the little brick hills around the trees. Right next to us a film crew set up and started filming what looked to be a commercial. It was interesting and we watched them for awhile.

2 solar panels BM

At the Yoga Vidya center in Bad Meinberg they have lots of flat rooftops. They are taking advantage of this and slowly putting solar panels on their roofs. They have some solar panels already and are adding to them. We got to watch their progress day by day from our balcony. This is as far as they got when we left.

2.5 dancers on seine

When we got to Paris the first night we took a boat ride on the Seine. When we floated past the University of Paris there were all these little quays, or whatever you call them, and people were dancing. We noticed in general lots of people hang out along the Seine at night.

3 pont alexandre III

Pont Alexandre III.

4 guy at notre dame

When we went to Notre Dame we had to wait in a slow moving line. It eventually paid off because the tour of the towers is much less crowded. While we waited there was this guy in a mask who would go up behind unsuspecting tourists and put his arm around them and when they turned to see who it was, it was quite a shock. Most people were good sports about it and it was hilarious.

5 boulangerie

Fancy dessert at the Boulangerie.

6 boulangerie

Another view.

7 no smoking ashtray

We had a no smoking room at our hotel in Paris. They informed us of this with a notice in an ashtray.

10 sandra hotel window

Here’s Sandra looking out the window of our hotel room. You can see a bit of the courtyard. I wondered how old the original structure of the hotel was, and how many times it had been redecorated inside.

8 ducks at eiffel tower

When we went to the Eiffel Tower there was a nice park that started right near the base. Along the path there was this mother duck with eight ducklings. For some reason the two pigeons you see at the edges of the photo kept attacking one or another of her babies. And then she would counter-attack. No one could figure out what it was all about but she did have a number of tourists verbally cheering her on as she defended her babies.

11 security for bastille day

On Bastille day they shut down many streets for quite some distance around the Champs-Élysées. This picture is taken at the corner of the Rue de Rivoli where the ferris wheel and the Louvre and the Jardin de Tuileries all come together. If you watch the Tour de France it’s the same corner where the riders come out from underneath the tunnel and turn left onto the Rue de Rivoli. Anyway, we had just eaten breakfast (croissant!) at that little cafè on the corner where we watched these policemen patrolling the shut down Rue de Rivoli. Seriously, that street is normally insane with traffic and there was not a single car except for a few official vehicles.  They also shut down some of the metro lines that day so we had to walk across the Seine to get a train to the Rodin museum.

9 gold statue by rue de rivoli

At that same corner is this statue, which you may recognize from Tour de France coverage.

12 butterfly at rodin museum

Butterfly on the path at the Rodin museum.

12.5 ohlala

This souvenir shop near the Louvre stole my web design business’ name. haha.

13 train to frankfurt

Somehow on our train ride from Paris to Frankfurt we got seats in this booth. There was a sliding door to shut out the noise and the seats were much more spacious than the normal seats. The train ride only took 4 hours and was quite nice.

I may have a few more photos to post at some future point when Sandra loads her pictures on her computer, otherwise this is the last post from our trip.

Le Musée du Louvre

The Louvre. Is. Really. Spectacular.

Altogether the Louvre holds about 35,000 works of art, and has more than 645,000 square feet of exhibition space. We were there almost 4 hours, maybe saw 1,000 works of art, or less, and while we saw a lot we feel like we barely touched the surface. I think it is the most amazing building I have ever been in, and it is certainly, by far, the most amazing museum. It is hard to do justice to it with just a few pictures.

When it was first built, the Louvre was a palace, then it was a war headquarters, next it was a college-type place for art students, and now it is a museum.

2 arch

As you get closer to the main courtyard of the Louvre there is this arch, very similar to the Arc de Triomphe but smaller. When Napolean lived in the Louvre there was a statue of a horse on top which he could see from his bedroom window. Now it has been replaced by the statue shown.

4 courtyard traditional

Here is a typical view of the main courtyard of the Louvre. You can see the pyramid quite clearly. There was always this big debate about people thinking the pyramid was ugly and didn’t fit in with the Louvre. But having seen it with my own eyes I kind of like it. And in relation to the total size of the Louvre it is really quite small…

3 courtyard med-far

… because the farther away you get …

1 courtyard medium

… the smaller the pyramid seems, until…

1.2 louvre far

…it virtually disappears in relation to the hugeness of the Louvre.

inside pyramid

It’s kind of cool from the inside looking out as well.

They say the three most important works of art to see in the Louvre are the Wings of Samothrace, the Mona Lisa, and the Venus de Milo.

6 wings of samothrace

Here is the Wings of Samothrace. Actually the goddess Nike.

6.5 wings of samothrace

Of all the art we saw, this was my favorite by far.

7 mona lisa

Mona Lisa.
I have to say, with all due respect to Da Vinci, who I like a lot, this painting is totally lame. To see it, just follow the river of people going in that direction, then stand 10 deep behind the people waiting to get to the front. Then the actual painting is covered by glass, you can’t get closer than about 30 feet, and it’s nearly impossible to take any sort of decent picture of it. But on the other hand, if you go there you have to see it… 🙂

15 venus de milo

Venus de Milo.
She was found on the Greek island Melos, hence the name. However, there is a question about whether she is Aphrodite, goddess of love (known to the Romans as Venus), or Amphitrite, the sea goddess who was venerated on the island. The reason they don’t know for sure is because she has no arms or hands which would hold the attributes which would definitively determine who she is. She stands in a hallway and while there are tons of people around you can get a 360 degree view of her which is cool.

8 hallway, diana and nicole

Here is Nicole standing in one of the big galleries. The distance behind her to the end of the gallery is about half the total length of the room. The statue is Diana.

9 david and goliath front

This pair of paintings shows David and Goliath from this side, then you walk around to the back…

11 david and goliath back

…and it shows David and Goliath from the other side. By Ricciarelli.

12 awesome ceiling

This is a totally amazing ceiling in one of the rooms.

13 coronation of napolean

There was a gallery of large French paintings. Some of them were as big as the side of my house I think. I liked this one, the Coronation of Napolean, where he crowns Josephine queen. It takes place in Notre Dame and to the very right of the picture you can see the altar statue from Notre Dame.

14 coronation of napolean

Here is a close-up of the middle. The lady sitting in the upper left corner is supposed to be Napolean’s mom. I guess she did not like Josephine but she got a big spot in the painting anyway. There is another copy of this painting at Versailles.

16 medieval moat

So we got tired of paintings after awhile and we walked through this life size medieval moat.

17 egyptian

Then we went to see some Egyptian stuff. I think these are Sekhmet.

18 egyptian

More Egyptian.

Then we got lost. Eventually we made our way through some Etruscan galleries, and the Dutch paintings to see Vermeer.

19 marly horses

At the end we went out through the Richelieu wing where they have a mini-pyramid and underneath it a beautiful courtyard full of more sculpture. This is one of the Marly horses.

We really enjoyed our day at the Louvre. I think sculpture is the most amazing because they have to leave the stone that comes toward you in space, carve out the stone that goes away from you, and make the whole thing work in three dimensions.

Place de la Concorde, Champs-Elysées, Arc de Triomphe

Place de la Concorde

The Place de la Concorde is between the Jardin de Tuileries and the Champs-Elysées. The whole time we were there they had trucks, barricades, port-a-potties and I think also a grand-stand set up around the Place. I think this was for Bastille Day, and then it was left up for the Tour de France. We never could get as close as we wanted to or find an unobstructed view. Here are the few pictures I did get.

1 pdlc

Here is the approximately 3300 year old egyptian obelisk from Luxor. You can see the Arc de Triomphe in the background, which is much farther away than it looks in this picture.

2 pdlc top

Closeup of the gold top of the obelisk and the heiroglyphics.

4 pdlc streetpost

They have these ornate street posts all around – Eiffel Tower in the background – again much farther away than it looks here.

5 pdlc fountain

This is the famous fountain at the Place de la Concorde. You can see behind the trucks and port-a-potties, etc.

6 pdlc fountain close

Close-up of the fountain.

Champs-Elysées

We walked along the Champs-Elysées several times. Some people are not impressed saying it is just a street, and while this is true, it is a pretty grand street. It is lined with fancy apartments, shops and places to eat, but it had a nice feel to it and we liked walking along there.

2 ce s&n streetpost

Sandra and Nicole by a Champs-Elysées street post.

1 ce cobblestones

The famous cobblestones. They are actually quite rough. It must be something for the Tour de France riders when they have to bike over this.

3 ce lunch

We ate lunch at this fabulous pizza place along the Champs. It ties for my favorite lifetime meal. One thing you can say about Paris, every single place we ate the food was fantastic. Even at the touristy spots they never compromise on the taste or quality of the food.

Arc de Triomphe

The Arc de Triomphe is at the other end of the Champs-Elysées from the Place de la Concorde. It is definitely the highlight of the avenue. We were there twice, once to look and once more to go on top.

1 adt

Arc de Triomphe from across the round-about.

adt carving

Close-up of one of the carvings on the front.

5 adt flame

There was an eternal flame which I think is for the men who died in World War I. I don’t read French but going by the dates… The sun was setting behind as it was about 9pm when we went there to go up on top and take these pictures.

6 adt top level louvre

From the top of the Arc de Triomphe – close-up down the Champs-Elysées towards the Louvre. You can see the Place de la Concorde, the Jardin de Tuileries and the Louvre behind.

8 adt louvre top far

Same thing but not a close-up. Gives you a better idea how big everything is.

7 adt sacre coure

Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, “Basilica of the Sacred Heart”

9 adt eiffel

Eiffel Tower

10 adt stairs

Again with the stairs. I think only about 80 or 100 for the Arc de Triomphe and they let us take an elevator up and walk down so it was not so bad.

Picasso Museum

The Picasso Museum in Paris is full of the art that Picasso himself considered his best works. Not necessarily the art that is critically acclaimed.

I wanted to go because of all the famous artists, I understand Picasso the least. Some of his early pieces are ok, but his later works I really don’t like, and I thought, maybe if I could understand him better I would like it better.

The Museum is in the Le Marais district, which was full of narrow streets, cool shops and neat cafés. Unfortunately I was taking a break from picture taking and did not get any pictures of this. The following pictures from the museum were taken by Nicole. They did not really like our taking pictures within the museum so these were hard to get.

1 le chèvre the goat

The Goat, Le Chèvre

2 picasso's right hand

Cast of Picasso’s right hand

3 for the owman in a long dress

For the Woman in a Long Dress

4 head of a woman

Head of a Woman

5 matisse still life with oranges

Here’s one by Matisse – Still Life with Oranges

I was glad to have seen the museum.

Les Catacombes

The Paris Catacombs. A couple centuries ago some big cemetery started leaking into the Paris city center and so they got the idea to exhume all the bodies and move them to the catacombs.

0.5 lion in square

In the turnaround next to the catacombs is this cool statue. I don’t know what it is, but i thought it was nice. You can see the typical french style architecture in the buildings behind.

1 outside

Front entrance to the catacombs. They only let you go down in groups of 10 or 20 at a time.

2 carvings under ground

You have to walk quite a distance to get to the actual rooms of bones. There are some carvings along the way.

3 hallway

Lighted hallway. Most of the passageways were quite dark.

Estimates are there are 3 million bodies down there. In each room they mark when the bones were moved and where they came from.

4 hall of bones

Hall of bones. There were many, many hallways like this.

The walls of each hallway are all made of skulls and femurs stacked up and behind this, we presume, they dumped all the rest of the bones. So you walk for a long, long time through hallways of skulls and femurs.

5 pillar of bones

Pillar of bones.

It is macabre, but not as bad as you might think. In each room an effort was made to remember the souls of the dead, and the rooms were obviously stacked with reverence…

7 heart

Bones in decorative shapes, here is a heart.
There were lots of cross shapes too.

…but still…

There are myriads of passages going every which way. All along the path we walked there is a black mark on the ceiling, because there did not used to be lights down there and back when they had candles and torches it helped them find the way without getting lost.

6 mark on ceiling

This is not a very good picture but you can see the mark on the ceiling.

On the way out there is a bag check, because apparently theft of the bones is common.

Jardin des Tuileries

The Jardin de Tuileries was one of my favorite places to hang out and rest and people-watch while in Paris. It was built by Catherine de Médici in the 1500’s and redesigned a couple times since then.

1 toward louvre

At one end is the Louvre…

2 toward place de la concord

…and way at the other end is the Place de la Concorde. You can just barely see the egyptian obelisk at the end of the path in this picture. It’s a pretty big place.

3 grounds

The grounds are pretty and restful; art sculptures all over,

3.5 pools of water

and pools of water you can sit around.

4 lion 1

At the end by the Louvre were my favorite two sculptures. Here a lioness fights an alligator. A piece of the Louvre shows in the background.

5 lion 2

And on the other side of the path the lioness with a peacock and her cubs. The other end of the Louvre is in the background.

6 julius caesar

Here’s one of Julius Caesar that’s kind of nice.

7 good samaritan

And the Good Samaritan.

8 ferris wheel

The Rue de Rivoli runs all along the north side of the Jardin de Tuileries, and along that whole edge is a small amusement park, mostly for kids. There is a huge ferris wheel as part of the park.

9 ferris wheel

Another picture of the ferris wheel. One evening it was starting to cloud up and I liked the colors of the ferris wheel, the buildings and the sky.