That Asshole Heinrich Schliemann

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A golden mask found by Schliemann that he named “The Mask of Agamemnon” which he did not, in fact, find on Agamemnon. >eyeroll<

Where is Troy located? That’ll be a question most people might be asking themselves mid-binge of Netflix’s new HBO inspired show Troy: Fall of a City. And while I just recently complained to NonWashable on our podcast about the prevalence of historical dramas desperately trying to be the next Game of Thrones despite a wealth of interesting material beyond boobs in HD, I’m willing to give this one a watch (5 minutes in and it already featured stirrups but oh what the hell). But, before I do, I’ll be raising my fist and cursing the name Heinrich Schliemann to the Gods. Because if you were wondering where you could find the historical and ancient city of Troy featured in The Illiad today, the answer is you can’t. Heinrich Schliemann destroyed most of the main site.

Who was this dogfaced [1] rich dude who is famous for helping found scientific archaeology and also foolhardily inspiring the “oh my god for the love of all that is holy do not do this” guide to digging up relics and excavating sites?

Born a pastor’s son in 1822, Heinrich Schliemann grew up incredibly poor. But what his family lacked for in wealth they made up for in notoriety, for when Heinrich was a young boy, his father was publicly accused of adultery. Presumably, in no less the same fashion of shame and ridicule as the Scarlet Letter (but probably without the emblem ‘A’). Not soon after, Heinrich’s mother passed away when he was only 9 years old forcing his father to send him off to live with his uncle. It’s somewhere here where Heinrich’s love for Homer began. [2]

Heinrich Schliemann

The problem is, nobody can really be sure. There is a clear divide among scholars on whether or not Heinrich Schliemann is a “pathological liar”, a fraud, or even worthy of our contempt in the first place. Did he falsify his findings and over exaggerate his passion for Homeric epics to fit his narrative? Or was he a product of his time, still spear-heading an infantile science and ushering in the wave of Bronze Age Archaeological interest? [3] Whether or not it’s true that Heinrich confessed to his father at the age of 7 of harboring a dream to uncover the heroes of the Trojan Wars and prove their validity, we can absolutely be sure that he was, at one time or another, obsessed with all things Greek. 

Heinrich Schliemann’s rag to riches story is so wild and fitting, most have rightly wondered how much of it was embellished for dramatic effect like he was some kind of swashbuckling Casanova. After his father wasn’t done being a piece of work and was accused of embezzling church funds, Heinrich was forced to go to vocational school without the prospect of an education at University. Pulling up his bootstraps, he apprenticed at a grocery at 14 years-old where apparently he heard a drunk miller reciting Homeric verse which incited his passions (Okay, which is it, Heinrich?). [2After this he ended up on a merchant ship somehow and happened to be shipwrecked, survived it and hitched up in Holland shuffling through random jobs before managing to get into imports/exports. Then, of course, he became involved with the California Gold Rush, because why not. Rolling in the gold dust, he took himself to Russia where he struck even more gold selling indigo and then explosives to the Russian military during the Crimean War like some glorified Tony Stark. By the age of 36, he was a polyglot and so incredibly rich he could retire for the rest of his life in Avenger’s tower. (By modern estimates, at the time of his death, Schliemann would have been worth around 72 million dollars) [3]

But happy, he wasn’t. At this point, he had become disenchanted with his life in business and even more so with his wife. Writing to his father, he called out the “lies and deception” of the business world and spoke of wanting to travel to Greece where “Philogy and archaeology will provide me with plenty of useful labor for a long time.” As if in the throes of a mid-life crisis, he dove headfirst into Grecian life like a prepubescent boy discovering anime for the first time. He went to Paris to study archaeology and focused on studying everything he could about Ancient Greece, including teaching himself the language. Having dealt with plenty of Greeks during his numerous business dealings, he harassed everyone he knew that could provide him on any study materials they could possibly possess so that he could absorb everything he could about Ancient Greece going so far as to refer to the octopus shaped country as his ‘fatherland’. [2]

Thoroughly fed up with his Russian wife too, he committed residency fraud in the United States so that he could get a divorce and then immediately ran off to Athens to find the first young Greek woman he could get to respond to a newspaper advert and marry him, who was only a paltry 30 years his junior. He had two kids named Andromache and Agamemnon and baptized them using a copy of The Illiad just in case anyone doubted his dedication to being a Graecophile fetishist.

Armed with a spry Greek wife with knowledge of the culture and a PhD awarded in absentia over a submission that he has since been accused of cribbing from another author’s work, he was set to start digging. [4]

He came into archaeology in an intuitive rush, in a mid-life crisis, and the scholarship, reasoning, and excavation technique all had to be developed later. – Easton [3]

But where? Heinrich Schliemann is falsely attributed to having discovered the historical site of Troy but despite his claim, it’s patently untrue. The archaeological site where Heinrich spent the majority of his career, Hisarlik, was already tested by Frank Calvert, a colleague of Schliemann’s who advised him to start digging there. Prior to that, Hisarlik was noted as a potential archaeological site by Richard Pococke in 1740 and then Franz Kauffer in 1793. It was Edward Daniel Clarke in 1801 who first identified it as Classical Ilium based on found coins and inscriptions, and then Charles Maclaren claimed it to be Homer’s Troy. Heinrich wasn’t even the first one to dig there, that would be John Brunton which was then followed by Frank Calvert who was unfortunate enough not to gain wide funding from the British Museum to excavate even further, passing along his knowledge to Heinrich Schliemann and thereby losing his place in the popular culture’s imagination as a hero of Archaeology. So, no, Schliemann did NOT discover Troy. He was, however, the first to excavate it on such a wide scale. [3]

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Schliemann’s wife Sophia, photographed wearing some of ‘Priam’s Treasure’. Schliemann had claimed she was present upon discovery of the treasure and helped dig it out of the trenches but later admitted she was in Athens at the time.

And, excavate he did, using winches, crowbars, battering rams, and freaking dynamite. Plowing his way through the soil, he assumed that his Troy would be at the bottom, and so, ironically, crushed right through the real layer of historical Troy that would have featured in The Iliad. It was in those early layers of Troy where he found Priam’s Treasure. Or didn’t, according to some scholars who ascertain that he planted the treasure in order to validate his find of Homer’s Troy. [5] Either way, the treasure haul has since been dated 1,000 years before the events of The Iliad, so it certainly didn’t belong to Priam. But naming things after Iliad things was Schliemann’s jam, and just to confuse everyone he “found” (or maybe didn’t, there are scholars who say this was a fake too) [7] a golden funerary mask at Mycenae that he claimed to belong to Agamemnon even though he found no other evidence to suggest it belonged to him, you know, a corpse sometimes helping with that. The golden mask, again, was dated to 300 years prior to the Trojan War. But that’s the trouble with Schliemann.

What he wanted was to uncover the Homeric world, to know whether it existed, whether the Trojan War happened. But here also is a weakness. He was not very good at separating fact from interpretation. It is a recurrent problem in Schilemann. The burnt citadel of Troy II was Troy; the gate was the Scaean Gate; the building inside the gate was Priam’s palace, and the treasure was Priam’s Treasure. – Easton [3] But he was wrong. So wrong.

And maybe that’s why some scholarship has yet to forgive him. Obviously, radiocarbon dating had yet to exist, and neither did topographical 3D imagery. The field of Archaeology, if you can even definitively call it that at this time, was rudimentary. And despite his faults in excavating, his gold-seeking motives, or his questionable education in the discipline, Schliemann did help pioneer the science of archaeology by surrounding himself with a specialist team of photographers, surveyors, anthropologists, botanists, ancient historians, etc. [3] So where do we draw the line?

Heinrich Schliemann made Archaeology fashionable. He wrote of his experiences and findings like he was a travel blogger and he had the world’s attention, he was a rockstar. [6] He also smuggled treasures out of Turkey and dug regardless of denied permit by the Ottoman government. [3] Schliemann ushered in popular interest in Bronze Age Archaeology, sparking a new wave of excavation among the Aegean. He also inspired Arthur Evans in the excavations of the Minoan civilization, which though groundbreaking, was not without its problems–namely, the commissioned and reconstructive paintings of the actual ruins in order to make them “pop”.

Heinrich Schliemann was a champion of Greek historicity and, decidedly, not–initiating and funding the removal of a Frankish Medieval tower because it simply wasn’t ‘Classical’ enough. And it seems, this same tension exists in scholarship as well. Was he a pioneer or a pathological monster?

SCHLIEMANN-GRAVE

Siiiigh. Heinrich Schliemann’s grave site…

So which legacy of Schliemann do we go with? The douchebag who lied and swindled his way to an obsession in hunting treasure without a thought to rigid scientific integrity in weighing his claims against evidence? The guy who made it all up as he went and blasted his way through a valid archaeological site with the chutzpah to do it without even a modicum of discipline? OR do we praise him for his rigid documentation of flora, pottery, and fieldwork and his diligence in watching over his own dig site all hours of the day? The guy who, technically, didn’t know any better but was able to make some headway with his unlimited funds and helped to foster an environment where Archaeology was seen as a legitimate and necessary field of interest?

All I know is, given the disposable income, I find myself wondering how much of Schliemann I’d be if given the opportunity. A young kid with a lifelong dream of digging in the dirt trying to find History Heroes? At least, I can say, I wouldn’t have used dynamite.

But perhaps Heinrich Schliemann was simply all of us.

And we are all assholes.

Fact Check it, Yo!

[1] “Dogfaced” was a delightful insult Homer used often in The Illiad, and, I’m sure, he’d approve of referring to Schliemann as such. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25000142

[2] TURNER, D. (1990). HEINRICH Schliemann: THE MAN BEHIND THE MASKS. Archaeology, 43(6), 36-42. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/41765885

[3] Easton, D. F. “Heinrich Schliemann: Hero or Fraud?The Classical World, vol. 91, no. 5, 1998, pp. 335–343. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/4352102.

[4] Traill, David A. “Schliemann’s Mendacity: A Question of Methodology.” Anatolian Studies, vol. 36, 1986, pp. 91–98. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/3642828.

[5Traill, David A. “’Priam’s Treasure’: Clearly a Composite.Anatolian Studies, vol. 50, 2000, pp. 17–35. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/3643012.

[6Maurer, K. (2009). Archaeology as Spectacle: Heinrich Schliemann’s Media of Excavation. German Studies Review,32(2), 303-317. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/40574802

[7Arentzen, W. (2001). An Early Examination of the ‘Mask of Agamemnon‘. L’Antiquité Classique, 70, 189-192. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/41660776

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Paris Day 5-6: Disneyland in Paris

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I’ve been to Disney World in Orlando more times than I can remember. I’m assuming it’s at least in the double digits, so to say I’m familiar with the park is probably an understatement. Disneyland Paris is something else, however, and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the park was not a mirror image of its predecessors.

Opening in April of 1992, the park is still celebrating it’s 25th anniversary this year though it’s now officially crossed the 26 year mark. But we’re also celebrating other significant milestones with this park visit. The first time my mother ever got the chance to experience a Disney Park, it was with my grandmother, which was also her first visit too. It was on this trip that my mother became obsessed with Disney and Mickey Mouse, passing along her love to me as well. So, for the first time, we were both visiting a Disney park for the first time together, neither of us having been to Disneyland Paris before.

And the park is certainly unique! Not only does it have exclusive rides, but even the classic staples found at all Disney Parks are different–and we were even able to enjoy experiences that no longer exist at older parks. One of these was Captain Jack’s restaurant (though of different name back then), which is a sit-down restaurant inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride which is seen from the boats going through. My mother explained that she went to this restaurant with my grandmother too, so we made sure to check it out as well. The food was amazing but I’m pretty sure I’ve never felt as full in my entire life.

We rode Pirates of the Caribbean 3 times in the course of our visit, it being one of our all time favorites from Disney Parks. Though the dialogue spoken in the ride was French, the Pirate’s Life song was sung in English so it was both familiar and fun. It also wasn’t a copy of the original, there were a few added features like a Barbossa who, under moonlight, dazzled in cursed skeletal glory. Different odds and ends like poor kitties floating on crates, a captain’s quarters, and of course the view of Captain Jack’s Restaurant made it a unique treat despite the many times I’ve been on the ride in Disney World. We also saw the new addition of a Pirate Red-Head, which has since changed over from the original wench auction.

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The park worlds are all different too! There is Frontierland (not set-up the same as Disney World at all), Adventureland which is broken up by an Adventure Isle which contains a pirate ship, Skull Rock, and a maze of dark tunnel caves which is a whole lot of fun put would have probably given my parents a heart-attack if my brother and I played in them as kids. Fantasyland which includes enough exclusive features to set it apart, and Discoveryland which replaces Tomorrowland as the sci-fi otherword but with more of a steampunk flair in aesthetic. There is also a second park called Walt Disney Studios which takes the place of Hollywood Studios at Disney World which includes Tower of Terror and one of my old favorites, Animation Studio which has since been turned into a Star Wars outpost in Disney World.

And, of course, the Disney castle is different–instead of Cinderella, the castle in the middle belongs to Sleeping Beauty and upstairs there is an entire stained glass gallery featuring her story. Also, underneath the castle in a dark cave lives the dragon…

As for the rides that can’t be found at Disney World? We tried them all! Ratatouille being the most well-known, we hit up that one first especially since the lines for it are ridiculously long. And though it was fun, I can’t suggest that an hour wait is worth it. It was certainly a pleasant ride, but we were good with one go. You ride on a mouse mobile chasing around in Gusteau’s restaurant but the ride relies mostly on motion with the action happening on screen and the mouse car moving in place along in response. There are some fun moments where you do move through the kitchen and pleasant smells like citrus are injected into the air. Another exclusive ride that left us a bit wanting was Indiana Jones and The Temple of Peril. It’s a short mine cart roller coaster that hooks and loops around a cool looking temple ruin, but it mostly jostles you around and both my mother and I repeatedly had our heads pinging back and forth against our headrest so we left the ride feeling a bit disoriented and woozy. The ride also lacks the magic of integrating you into the world of Indiana Jones which other Disney rides are pretty good about doing, nothing during the ride had anything to do with the whipped crusader aside from name alone which was a shame. It could have been a roller coaster from anywhere.

One of my favorites was Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain, which was a refurbishment of Space Mountain, a similar thing having happened to the ride at Disneyland California too. Space Mountain, in my experience at Disney World, isn’t a ride that had aged well. Half the time it’s broken down and the other half it’s rickety and rough, throwing you around in an un-enjoyable experience that’s hardly even dark enough anymore, the blackness of space impossible when the roller coaster tracks are visible. So I was excited to see how Hyperspace Mountain improved upon the formula and I was not disappointed. IT WAS COOL! First thing it does is launch you so fast it straps you back and you momentarily loose your breath as your body tries to adjust to the velocity, and once you’re finally able to breathe again, you’re being thrown around in the dark with flashing lasers and dogfights between X-Wings and Tie Fighters, it’s honestly a treat.

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Surprisingly, in a country that prides itself on food, Disneyland Paris didn’t have much variety in options. I remember when I was a kid, the food wasn’t that impressive at Disney World either, but over the years they’ve really strengthened their culinary prowess and now you can’t turn a corner without a stall having its own unique dish to salivate and throw down $20 for (I’m exaggerating but also it’s kinda on the mark) If you’re curious to see what Disney World has going on in the food world, I suggest following Disneyfoodblog but be prepared to pack your bags and book your tickets. At Disneyland Paris, every single stall either had popcorn and ice cream or sugared crepes and a hot dog. Don’t get me wrong, these hot dogs are something else. They’re giant doggies nestled in a baguette and I could probably eat one every day but you just want some options, you know?

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And maybe this is simply because of the culture in Europe. We saw signs telling people that picnicking within the park was not permitted and we were wondering, was that seriously a thing? Evidently. Most of the visitors at Disneyland Paris brought in school sized backpacks full of food that they’d consume in line for a ride. There was one guy chowing down a bowl of noodles before getting on Hyperspace mountain and I have to wonder if he had an iron gut.

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A few other stray observations…

Both parks are small, which is no surprise since the internet is pretty up front about warning visitors of this. Walt Disney Studios takes less than an hour to walk all around with no stops, so if you’re planning a visit, get the multi-pass.

France being France was eager to let us know what they were responsible for inventing which was pretty funny. Declarations were featured in a few of their rides like ‘the French invented animation!’, ‘the French invented special effects!’, ‘the French invented shooting films on location!’. It was honestly endearing.

It’s a Small World WAS sung in French!

There was a severe lack of adult beverages which is the opposite problem at Disney World. Do Europeans not need to be drowning in booze in order to get through a day spent with their kids?

Both days the Aladdin signing autographs was white as hell.

Do Europeans get the same sense of wonder and awe with our history and aesthetic as we do theirs? Frontierland is an ode to the American West, do their minds tick and whirl with imaginings of Cowboys and Native Americans?

Some guy accidentally sneezed on my mother and she reflexively said “Bless you!” to him which cued a fervently concerned discussion in German where the wife was pretty sure my mother meant something along the lines of gesundheit rather than the other probable two worded phrase she might have fired off instead.

Other treats, a pineapple dole whip float. It’s not the same as the swirl featured in Disney World but it did the job. And the beignets are delicious!

All in all, I’m super glad we checked out Disneyland Paris. As lifelong Disney fans, it was really cool to experience Disney in a different way and I’ll always remember it fondly as that crazy time we went to visit Mickey Mouse in Paris. Now I’ll need to visit Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Tokyo too!

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Paris Day 4: Life is Laissez-faire

Today is our last day in the city of Paris before we move on to see if Pirates of the Caribbean is sung in French. Since we wore out the soles of our shoes yesterday with all our walking, we thought we’d take it a bit easy today since we’ll be hitting the pavement hard in Disneyland. In the morning, we took a walk a few blocks down to visit a bakery and stop into a cafe for a quick breakfast.

I don’t know what it is about their ham, but every dish I’ve had with it featured is beyond amazing. It basically melts in your mouth and the flavor from the juices makes me feel like declaring France the king of the pig over Italy which just feels sacrilegious to me. As we were sitting outside on the patio, we must have looked like locals who knew what the hell we were doing because a group of fellow tourists came up to us trying to speak French, asking us for directions. We were so proud of ourselves, especially since they were looking for help in getting to the Opera Granier which we knew intimately at this point, as our hotel is located within walking distance. We told them the way and felt like proud Parisians for a minute. Not shortly after, however, my mother was back to spreading the good word of Minnesota “oop!” which does a much more satisfactory job than “excusez-moi” when accidentally running into people, if you ask me.

Since we are so close, we decided to try and see if our tourist friends made it safely from our directions and decided to tour the Opera Granier ourselves!

Named after it’s grand architect Charles Garnier, the Opera House was completed in 1875, after an assassination attempt on Emperor Napoleon III prompted a desire for a new opera location since the old one was getting a bit dangerous. Hilariously, however, France was a republic again by the time the Opera Garnier was completed. Napoleon III was super dead and unable to attend the opening, but thanks anyway!

And, of course, the Opera Garnier is known for another famous spectre, the Phantom! The novel by Gaston Leroux, The Phantom of the Opéra, is inspired by tales and events that occurred at the Opera, one in particular being the accident in which a patron was killed after a chandelier had become dislodged, crashing through the auditorium. Gaston was an investigative journalist and claimed the story as factual in the opening chapter of the novel, but unfortunately it’s mostly a work of fiction.

I think if I was sitting in the seats directly below this, I’d probably keep looking up every 5 seconds just to make sure I wasn’t about to become a ghost myself.

Standing inside the Opera Garnier is nothing short of astonishing. I probably spent 20 minutes just soaking up the gold in this room with my mouth hanging open. Despite the looks, however, it’s not as expensive as it might seem. Though some things like the fireplace and a few statues are genuinely fully gilded with gold leaf, a majority of this room was oil painted and created to give the effect of gilding.

I don’t know about you, but this works just as well for me!

There is even a sad Salieri who lives here, which I stopped giggling long enough to snap a photo of. He DID NOT kill Mozart, but R.I.P. Milos Forman.

After the Opera, we walked some more, taking in the sights and sounds of Paris. We passed a shop with sizzling hens, produce stalls, and got plenty a whiff from the flower shops lining the streets. Though it wasn’t night yet and we had no interest in seeing the can-can dancers, we waved to the Moulin Rouge anyway.

Plenty tired now from all of our walking, we kicked up our feet outside on a cafe patio so I could read my Shakespeare & Company copy of Hunchback of Notre Dame and my mother could people watch. Also, had myself a real flat white rather than the Starbucks knockoff I’m used to and a tasty savory croissant with tomato, ham, & cheese!

Though Paris is beautiful in the rain, we spent it indoors at a restaurant enjoying our last meal in town. Managed to knock off a few French cuisine staples too!

Beef bourgignoun!

Creme brûlée!

And the prettiest cappuccino I’ve ever seen!

Thanks for the love, Paris! You’ve been swell to a couple of bumpkins with a flimsy grasp of the language, and we’ve been nothing but smiles since we’ve got here! We’re in perfect moods to take to Disneyland and my mom is frothing at the mouth to get her hands on a Mickey Mouse sugar cookie. Au revoir!

Paris Day 3: Versailles, The Louvre, & Food. Oh My!

I forgot to mention a few notes from yesterday in my haste to get into bed! We learned about the unofficial memorial to Princess Diana while touring, it’s a golden torch that hangs out above the tunnel where the fatal crash occurred. So when we took our ride to our dinner cruise later, we were in cryptic shock when we realized we were traveling through the same tunnel. It does feel a bit eery! On our dinner cruise, I was given the privilege of tasting the wine for the table because I apparently said ‘bonjour!’ well enough in greeting that the waiter got confused and thought I was French, so take that mother! Also, the Luxor Obelisk I took a picture of in my last post also happens to be displayed in the same spot Marie Antoinette and King Louis XVI were executed on the guillotine during the French Revolution. This last tidbit brings me to the start of our adventure this morning!

Like I had mentioned earlier, the Chateau de Versailles was one of my favorite things I had seen on my previous trip and I was excited for my mother to see it. I made her watch Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette film back home in preparation which, while not entirely perfect in historical accuracy, makes for a beautiful movie which I love regardless and the film was even shot on location! We arrived at Versailles early morning so we could get in before it got too crowded.

Opulent, yet faint with age, Versailles is still the pearl of France. Where once the extravagance behind its doors were regarded as gratuitously frivolous and enraged the populous into a rebellious frenzy, it now exists as a shell of itself–most of the inner furnishing lost, after it had all been removed following the revolution. Yet, you can still get a sense of the characters who once walked these halls–from the Sun King’s love of hunting proudly displayed in reverence to Artemis to what fun must have been had in the billiards room, it’s impossible to escape the shadow of greatness.

One of the things I did not get to see last time were the extensive gardens. We rented a cart to drive out back to see the Grand & Petit Trianon, and got to drive through the gardens all afternoon. It was a beautiful mid-60’s sunny day in Spring with a light breeze carrying with it a hint of moisture blowing off from the canal. So, perfect, basically. Within the Petit Trianon was the classic portrait of Marie Antoinette, who while alive, hated the lifestyle at Versailles. Kindred introverts, Marie would hide away from the court at Versailles in favor of residing at the Trianon or her cottage home created to emulate a simpler, quieter country life.

I have written about Marie a few times on this blog, if you want a taste of a bit of her sass you can read here or if you are curious to know what her famous last words might have been before being executed, check it out here.

Before leaving the gardens, we had to check out a fountain show too!

Now, onto some food! For breakfast at Versailles, we stopped into Angelina’s where I was determined to capture a video of the hot chocolate pouring into my cup because I’m cruel like that.

Then, after burning off all that chocolate walking around the gardens, we split a fresh club sandwich and replenished our supply of sugar with a Nutella banana crepe, all served within the gardens itself!

Nap time probably, but nope! We were now off to hit up the Louvre so we could say hi to Mona Lisa and get my fix of other historical people I really dig.

My answer whenever someone asks that question, “Who would you invite to dinner, living or dead?” That’d be my boy Marcus Aurelius!

And then there is his son Commodus, who is my favorite asshole. I wrote about this douche on my blog before which you can read about here!

More Joan of Arc ❤

And this handsome devil Antinous, thought to be one of the most beautiful people in the classical world, not unlike the male version of Helen. I wrote about him too and the ridiculous ending to his story here.

And, of course, the smile known around the world.

Last but not least, I ate a really fantastic burger and America should really get on this Ramen bun thing, I’m just Seine-in’.

Paris Day 2: Can I Get Some Salt?

Woke up feeling like I hadn’t just conquered a transatlantic flight and was ready to roll out (and drown myself in coffee too but that’s a normal feeling despite the circumstances). We found a little cafe near our hotel that was open early for breakfast, most creperies and places we had our eye on weren’t open until later in the morning. Behold the lightest most satisfying breakfast for only 12 euro!

Magnifico! I could get this for breakfast every day, it was the perfect meal to wake up to. Afterwards, we hopped on a tour bus to help us navigate around Paris and first stop for us was Norte Dame!

The cathedral has such an extensive history, I’m not sure if I could really sum it up here with any integrity. Suffice it to say, it felt extremely powerful to stand within it. Right away you get a whiff of incense and a shiver down your spine upon entering, and the feeling of being minuscule enfolds as you stare at the colorful stained glass and how much space exists above you.

I was surprised to see a spot venerating Joan of Arc and a place to light a candle offering for her, I knew she was canonized but did not know I would necessarily find her here. She was, of course, executed after a sham of a hearing which you can find a copy of in transcript here. Felt special to make a small connection with a historical hero of mine. My mother also lit an offering candle for my grandma and grandpa who must be super proud of her right now and were probably also amused when she accidentally used profanity within these holy walls. I’m never going to let her forget it either.

We also investigated the treasure room where they had papal artifacts, chalices, and other relics on display. Even caught a glimpse of the holy hand grenade! Jokes aside, I could probably put up a fun post on this site about the madhouse of insanity that went into the holy relic racket, but for now I’ll just leave a cool picture and let you all know I saw a couple of saintly femurs.

While we were browsing, the bells went off while we were standing within the walls of Norte Dame. I’ll let that sentence sink in. Mass also started while we were there and we even went up for communion because why not go for the full experience!?

We continued along our tour and took in more sites from Paris, getting down some ideas for what we’d like to try and do for our free day on Saturday!

This is the obelisk given to France by an Ottoman king, we were told in thanks to the work of French Archaeology in recovering the Rosetta Stone and deciphering Ancient Egyptian. This obelisk is from the Luxor temple and tells of praise for Ramesses II the Great.

We had a riverboat cruise to catch! What better way to spend a night with your mother other than going on a romantic dinner cruise along the Seine?

Yeah, I don’t know either. There was another touring mother and daughter next to us having dinner and I almost got to witness a homicide when she asked our waiter for salt after tasting her chicken. Tomorrow we have plans to see the palace of Versailles and the Louvre!

Paris Day 1: From Jet Lag With Love

I have not slept in over 24 hours. Save for a small catnap while crammed into the middle seat of the plane with The Mummy in my ear to help drown out that hellacious Iceland wind turbulence. But, oddly, I don’t feel as dead to the world as I should be.

We arrived in Paris in the afternoon, sleep-deprived and a little bewildered by the drive to the main bank we’d be staying in. Last time, I wasn’t able to experience the ride from the airport to Paris, which showed a side of the city not often considered when dreaming about planning a romantic getaway under the dazzling lights of the Eiffel Tower. There were refugee pockets panhandling along the main road and makeshift tent communities and homes made from wire fences. People were strolling amongst the cars in the middle of the road begging for change not unlike India, and there were stretches of the highway where garbage was piled up to look reminiscent of the airport scene in The Fifth Element. Perhaps Luc Besson was making a cultural reference I had yet to experience.

So I was eager to see the city center and hope, desperately, that I would not be adding Paris Syndrome onto my list of ails. Once we checked into our hotel, we hit the pavement immediately–a bit overwhelmed and disoriented by the busy streets and people fast walking by us. First things first, we wanted to try the famous hot chocolate at Angelina’s we had heard so much about! I was barely keeping it together at this point and we weren’t expecting the location recommended to us to be found in a humongous mecha of designer goods that had my wallet crying tears of neglect.

Galeries Lafayette

Angelina’s is tucked away in the back on the 1st floor of Galeries Lafayette, forcing you to navigate through a field of heavy perfumes and somehow manage not to immediately buy a whole box of macarons from Pierre Hermè. We were seated next to a table of older French ladies who seemed to be regulars, and they weren’t exactly pleased to see us. I didn’t think I was dressed too out of the ordinary, I deliberately packed outfits that would help me blend in, but my mother caught one of them giving me the once over in disgust, finding particular offense by my choice in Toms shoes. Yikes.

They seemed to be interested in everything we did and were both parts either annoyed or amused by us. They also kept watching us and we heard them declare to each other what our food order was as it came out to our table which was pretty wild. As a result, we tried not to be too ostentatious with our taking pictures of our food, but I still managed to snap a couple shots!

I can absolutely attest to the hot chocolate being amazing. It was sweeter and lighter than I was expecting–the famous version is a blend of three different chocolates from Africa, so I was prepared for all that chocolatey goodness to go down with a bitter bite! It was so smooth and sweet, I really didn’t even need the cream to help cut it. You’ve got to try this at least once in your life, especially if Nestle hot water mixed with powder is the only life you’ve known.

After we enjoyed our lunch, the magic of the hot chocolate coursing through my veins jolted me back awake and we spent some time pursuing the Parisian fashion available to us and repeatedly talked each other out of making any big purchases. Would be pretty sad to go for broke all in the first day, we still have Disneyland to get to after all!

But alas, we were still extremely exhausted and decided to do dinner a bit simpler. We found a bakery nearby our hotel and grabbed a baguette, butter, and brie to take back with us while we listened to the noises of the city outside our opened window. Might sound kinda lame, but I can assure you it feels like heaven right now. Besides, I am so ready to crawl into this comforter!

Histastrophe! in Paris

Paris Suitcase

What can I say, I’m a light packer.

Ah, Paris, “The City of Light”!

If you followed along with me on my last adventure, I briefly saw a bit of Paris while on a road trip through Europe to meet my Italian relatives in southern Italy’s Cosenza. Two years ago, I caught a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower in our car and was also fortunate enough to visit Chateau Versailles as well, which was one of my favorite memories from the trip.

Upon my return home, I realized I missed getting to experience Paris the most, even more so than Rome (Which, you guessed it, is a bit strange considering how much of my posts on this blog concern Roman history). I longed to walk among the gardens of Versailles again and this time wanted to stroll along the the Seine as well. I never got to taste the famous hot chocolate at Angelina’s or marvel at the treasures in the Louvre. And I just really really wanted to try an authentic macaron.

Well, this time, I’m planning to do just that! Accompanying me on this trip is my mother who has never traveled abroad before (I’m so excited for her and also secretly hoping she’ll catch the travel bug, I need to go to Rome again too!). Like before, I’ll be updating every day and detailing our adventures! And for my fellow history lovers, we’ve certainly got our eye on some cool spots! I’ll be showing her Versailles, and we have plans to visit the Louvre, Arch de Triomphe, the Latin Quarter, and maybe even Victor Hugo’s house. Unfortunately, we probably won’t be seeing The Catacombs which I suggested doing on Friday the 13th and was met with an uncharacteristic expletive from my mother which she’ll have to ask forgiveness for at Notre Dame. Also, because we’re both huge nerds, we’re spending a day or two in Disneyland Paris too.

So follow along on my blog to keep up with my adventures in Paris! When I return, it’s back to the usual update schedule. Next post will >shocker< not be about Ancient Rome.

Salut!

 

Also, just for fun, here is the anthem for this trip!