Monday, January 28, 2008

Be overwhelmmed in Paris

Paris, Paris! Finally I'm here!
Although the directions in the CDG airport is messy, although the subway stations are even more messy, this is Paris! Capital of Arts!

When you talk about France, most likely you first talk about Paris; When you talk about Paris, 50% of the chance you first talk about Arc de Triomphe. But few people know that there are actually several of them in Paris. The most famous one, of course, is the one named just "Arc de Triomphe", the other one is opposite to Louvre, named "Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel". These two guys are actually on the same "historic axial line" of Paris, together with many other famous and ancient buildings. In Chinese Fengshui, this might be referred as a symbol of the royal power upon the country.

The other half of icon of Paris is no other than Eiffel. It's not that exciting when you have seen too much of it from TV, movies, photos, paintings, etc.

The Obelisk at Concorde Square is actually from Egypt, again few people know this fact. This 3000-year-old piece now stands on a foreign land, even performs as a symbol of this foreign city, ironic.

Concord Square is actually a huge piece of art by itself. You could never see such a big square with so many delicate decorations anywhere else. Fountains, statues, and the beautiful buildings surrounding it, just don't ask French what's the usage of them. "Just for arts' sake," they will answer.

The Alexandre III Bridge is not famous for itself, but for the view of Les Invalides from this bridge. Another ironic thing in Paris.

I arrived at Les Invalides at twilnight, just the best time to appreciate its beauty, but the wrong time for a Napoleon fan, for it is closed earlier in winter time, hence I could not get in to see the coffin of this great man. This is also a reason for me to visit Paris again. But nevertheless the building itself is reflecting the golden shines in the sunset, extraordinary.

On the way to Sacre-Coeur at Montmatre, I found a weird church. It's not as big as other famous ones in Paris, but the weird thing is, the church just looks like that somebody cuts a Gothic church into half, and leaves the inner dome as the front door.

Sacre-Coeur just looks like the Taj Mahah in Paris. Thiw white beauty is definitely worthy for climbing the Montmarte all the way up. Its beauty is beathtaking!

After "Da Vinci Code", Louvre suddenly became the No. 1 place of interests in Paris. People are looking for the places appeared in that novel, like the Glass Pyramid, Mona Lisa, etc.

I really don't have enough time, so only visited some "recommended" items in this ocean of master pieces, like the statue of Diana, the Venus, Mona Lisa, etc. I even gave up the whole painting collection at level 3! I decided that I should definitely visit Louvre again, for at least two days!

The Palace of Justice that just besides the Sante-Chapelle actually locates the Department of Justice of France. But most tourists treated it as the backyard of Sante-Chapelle or another place of interest, and took a lot of picture here.

Notre-Dame is a very mysterious place in Paris, thanks to the Hunchback. There is actually a 422-step stairs to the top of one tower, but again I don't have enough time to try that. Another reason for another visit...

The sculptures at the entrance of Notre-Dame are very complicated, but some are very interesting, like this one shows a man holding his own head in hands. Is that John the Baptist?

The most significant point of the inner side of Notre-Dame is the color glasses. The biggest one of them was once taken away during the war, but French finally got it back.

Finally is the Gothic side of Notre-Dame. It's very hard to imagine that the other side to this typical Gothic view is a twin-tower gate.

(Full collection of photos taken in Paris in Jan 2008:

Monday, January 21, 2008

Osnabruck & Bremen in the rain

Winter is definitely not a good season for west Europe, especially Germany. Cold, heavy wind, and cloudy or even rainy. Someone says you could not see the sun duirng the whole winter here! At lease I have not seen Mr. Sunshine ever since I arrived, one week ago.
But weekend is weekend, after all. For the rest of the towns within 2 hours train ride from Luneburg, I picked Osnabruck and Bremen for this time.
Osnabruck is a small city near the border between Germany and Netherlands. As most of other German towns, the biggest buildings include the Dom (main church), several churches, and the City Hall (Rathaus). I like the St. Marien's Church most, because of the beautiful outlook, especially the Flying Buttress, a very typical characteristic of Gothic Architecture.

Bremen is a famous port in Germany, but the city itself is surprisingly small. Starting from the Bahnhof (Train Station), only 10 min walk will lead you to the old town centre. Another 30 min to one hour is more than enough to visit all the major places of interests and take enough photos. These places are just clustered together!

The windmill is a surprise. I did not find any last time in Amsterdam, but this one is for real, and it was actually moving in the heavy wind!

Roland is the protector of this city.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Woman, Warrior, Queen -- Elizabeth: Golden Age

It is supposed to be the sequel of the award-winning movie "Elizabeth" in 1998. But apparently they changed the scriptwriter, for the death of Queen Mary of Scottland is totally different from 1. Before I watched 2, I was quite curious about what else they wanna say about Queen Elizabeth I, after she already become the Virgin Queen. So I forgot one thing, Spanish Armade.

Actually now Armade almost becomes a delegated word for THAT Armade, the one defeated by Elizabeth. And that explains how excited I was when I reallized that this movie was about this famous battle. But later I became impatient by the tedious love story between the two Elizabeths and Walter. I could not see the "biggest fleet of the world" (forgive those people did not know Chinese fleet or Zheng He at that time) at all! Only several wooden toys floating on the water, and the cannons are even not compatible to Black Pearl, don't mention the Flying Dutchmen!
The producer of this movies seems to be very cautious not to offense the British Royal Navy, for the foundation of this navy is only slightly metaphored in this movie. But the truth is, the Royal Navy was originally built up upon some pirates fleets, with the permission from Queen Elizabeth I that all pirates that attack non-England ships would be treated as Royal Navy. Sir Walter said something actually very important to both parties of this contract -- "The more I robbed from him (Phillip, King of Spain), the better for you (Queen Elizabeth I)".
Cate is more and more Shakespear. I would rather prefer that she does not so "hard act". Other roles are just routine work, no surprise, nevertheless good or bad ones.
The costume is just like the subtitle of this movie -- shining. It will never surprise me that this movie will be nominated for this year's Best Costume Award. When Elizabeth shows off in that silver armor and riding a white horse, friend next to me could not help yelling "Joan of Arc!". Indeed, both are heroines to their native people.
The camera man has a strange fond of strange angles, through the vague reflection of a bronze mirror, from a small hole on the top, shadows of the people on the sails, etc. Why recently people like to play around with such abstract things?
For the music, again, I prefer Pirates of Carribean series.