Friday, September 7, 2012

Friday Art & History Feature - Europe travel diary - Part I

For the next couple of weeks, instead of focusing on a particular artist or historical place/event, I thought I'd do a bit of a diary from my trip to Europe last month.

My husband was scheduled to teach karate seminars in Poland. He's been doing it for many years but haven't gone in the last few. I've never gone with him, so this year we combined our vacation with the karate event. Since I also always dreamed of going to Paris, we did four days there on the way to Poland.

Now, before I continue, you have to understand something about me - when I was growing up in Russia, I grew up on french classic literature. From Charles Perot's fairy tales read to me by my mom when I was little, to swallowing whole adventures by Alexandre Dumas Sr. (Three Musketeers, Queen Margot, Count de Monte Kristo) and poetic works (prose and poetry) of Victor Hugo when I could read on my own. From the short stories of Guy de Maupassant, which fascinated me with their details of life in Paris of the time (and adult romance, of course) to the then shocking Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert. And of course, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the timeless classic that was as interesting to me as a child as it is to me as an adult, touching in its simplicity and full of life and adventure.

So, as you can see, French literature played a huge role in my childhood development. Of course, from reading these books, I got fascinated with the French history itself and I have never stopped being fascinated by it. I also remember reading biographies of Alexandre Dumas and Victor Hugo and being swept away by how amazing and eternally fascinating they were, and how much I wanted to be like them - a writer. After immersing myself into Hugo's poetry and re-writing it into my notebook, I even tried my own hand in writing poems. Alas, I'm definitely better at writing prose.

I also wanted to study French so I could read some of these works in the original language. Unfortunately, all I could manage, for various reason, was two semester in college plus some self-study. The dream still remains though.

And finally, I got to see Paris this summer! The places that were on my list of "must see!" were the Louvre, Versailles Palace and Gardens, Notre Dame de Paris, Champs-Elysee, Musee Rodin (one of my favorite artists/sculptors), and Basilica Saint Denis, where many of the French royalty is buried, going back to the 400s BC and all the way to Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. I saw all of the above, and more. The Pantheon held an amazing surprise for me. I knew that some of the great minds of France were buried there, including Victor Hugo, Voltaire and Jean Jacques Rousseau. What I didn't know was that, right next to Victor Hugo, was the Alexandre Dumas!

In all, it was a wonderful trip and I hope to return there and see even more. I also hope that the next time I go, I can speak better French.
I came back inspired to write more and better - how can you not be inspired by this city of lights and history?

Here are a few pictures from the Paris part of our trip.
At Versailles
In front of Versailles palace with hubby
In front of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette tomb statues at Basilica Saint Denis

In front of Antoine De Saint Exupery memorial at the Pantheon
Mauseleums of Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas at the Pantheon
In front of Psyche and Cupid at the Louvre
Louvre at night
Notre Dame de Paris

Next week, in part II of the diary, our trip to Poland, including visits to two concentration camps.


  1. That's fantastic that you had the chance to visit a place that has touched you so deeply. By the pictures it looks like an amazing place rich with history. I can hardly wait to hear more about your trip!

    1. Heather, it was a dream come true (well, one of them ;) and I'm so happy I got the chance to go there, too.


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