Friday, April 13, 2012

Vivaldi in Saint Chapelle….

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

Our day had a slow beginning as we were waiting for a plumber to appear to fix the leak in the water heater in the bathroom…all arranged via the Internet with our landlord who is temporarily in New York City. He was to arrive between 9 and 10 am. I woke Jim up at eight so that we could be dressed and have eaten breakfast before he arrived. It’s a good thing that Jim has a delightful book, “A Year In The Merde”, that Nicolas and Maeliss gave to him last Saturday. He’s having trouble putting it down. So he read at the window waiting for the plumber. By 11 am we were having our doubts…we called the Landlord’s mother (who is in the country with her family) just to see if she’d heard from the plumber….no answer…just a French message…I left and English message and we continued to wait. I decided to go check the Internet connection at McDonalds again…we’d pretty much given up…while Jim waited at the window and read his book.

Success at McDonalds…I finally succeeded in connecting to the Internet using their free wifi! I sent one message and then came back to the apartment. Still no plumber…I called “mama” again and left another message. (We heard from mama later in the day…they were at the pool when I was calling and didn’t find the messages until later….I missed her call and didn’t find it until about 8:30 pm….when I called her back and we conversed hesitatingly in my broken French and her broken English….confirming what we’d learned earlier that a new plumber was hired and he would definitely be here between 9 and 10 am on Friday.)

So as you know…the plumber never arrived….we sent an email to the Landlord in New York and finally headed out for the day about 1:30 pm. We’d eaten the rest of the cheese from Nicolas and Maeliss along with some bread for our lunch before leaving.

Our first quest was over by the …OH…THE PLUMBERS (TWO OF THEM) JUST ARRIVED AND IT IS 9:30 AM!!!!!!

Continuing our story…we walked over towards the Eiffel Tower, across the Champs du Mar, to 19 avenue Rapp to find the Art Nouveau apartment house built in 1901 by Jules Lavirotte. It is very reminiscent of the Gaudi buildings in Barcelona, Spain. Extremely ornate and beautiful in it’s very special way…it is organic in that the building seems to breathe…per Jim. Interestingly, the people walking under the building were busy taking photos of the Eiffel Tower which could be seen to the east of the building; never turning to look up to see the magnificent building they were walking pass.

From there we walked south towards the UNESCO Building; we passed a restaurant with toasters on each of the tables…definitely a first for anywhere in the world! Their specialty was canard and it was difficult for Jim to keep walking!

We continued on in the bright sunshine…oh did I forget to mention…the SUN IS SHINING today but we do have umbrellas with us. Soon we reached the Ecole Militaire and walked the long block past that to Avenue Suffren that took us another several blocks to the UNESCO World Headquarters. This time we had an appointment and an English Tour. Our group was large as they added a group from Finland; but our guide was wonderful….a California born and educated girl who came to Paris for her advanced studies and stayed.

There are over two thousand pieces of art that have been donated to UNESCO since its conception in 1945 in Paris. It was conceived to fix the problem of so many of the teachers from around the world who were killed in the war. Today we saw a select few of those donations. In the garden donated by Japan we viewed the Nagasaki Angel and in another section we had a large cylinder used for meditation. In the exact center of this your ears felt like they had headphones on…very strange. We sat in the seats where the delegates meet and then viewed the wall with one of the largest painting that Picasso probable did. Most of the artists donated their work…he required them to purchase the work and then he donated it? Also…when it was finished he realized the wall they’d given to him for his work was partially blocked by a mezzanine and he refused to sign the painting!

Outside we viewed the large globe....another gift...the empty flag poles that only fly flags when they are in session. Then two gifts from America: a sculpture by Henry Moore and another metal sculpture by Calder. Our forty-five minutes was well spent. We were also allowed to go up the elevators to the seventh floor to see the views. As we went out the exit we saw a group of French students…all girls with straw hats…couldn’t resist a quick snapshot from the corner!

Walked back to the apartment and fixed our dinner before leaving again at 6 pm for the Metro and a quick ride to the I’sle de la Cite for our concert at Saint Chapelle. We had to stand in the long line for security but once in we were directed up the steps in the Hall of Justice. Our time in line went fast as we met a group of four women from the USA who were celebrating their last night in Paris with the concert. Once up the steps we were directed down a series of halls and arrived on the same level as the upstairs in the chapel; bypassing the very small staircase from the lower portions of the church that we’d always gone up. When we left we walked down the broad steps that one sees behind the gold tipped gates…another first.

The concert was sold out…all the seats were full by the time the program started at 7:30 pm. Jim had sprung for the middle seats at 30 euros apiece; so we had excellent seats. The front of the chapel…around the altar…is now restored and the scaffolding is all along the north wall. There were six musicians and although it was cold in the chapel…the music was delightful. We had two pieces and then the full concerto of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons ….Vivaldi is also known as ”The Red Priest”.

By 8:30 pm we were walking down the beautiful stairs towards the Metro and the trip back to our apartment…it was still daylight; but we were ready to call it a day. Tucked in bed by 10:30 pm as we had another early morning call for the plumber!

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