Wednesday, July 19, 2006

France vacation - Part II

We'll always queue for this!! Eiffel Tower b night by JM (my BIL)

This post was suppose to be published ages ago but as usual things pop. That's life isn't it? So much more colourful with things "popping up" once in a while (or all the time for some)...

Anyways back to the topic, we didn't only had our vacation at this Centre Park but we went castle and museum visiting as well. First off we went to this newly opened museum in Paris on a Sunday (25/07). Its located on a quay called quay Branly along the Seine river in Paris. Now on this particular Sunday it was raining cats and dogs, so we decided to go to a museum since everything is closed on Sunday (shops I mean) and also to take advantage of a free entrance to this museum (since its newly open to the public).

Look at the line in front of us!!

Then behind us....

As soon as we got to the place there's about 100 or 200 meters long of queue in front of us. So we though, "ok lets wait. May be it won't take us long to get in". But boy how wrong we were!! It took 3 hours waiting in line in rainy and windy condition to get in!! Then on top of that, we've got a typical middle aged French woman behind us talking and criticising non-stop, pushing us and the others with her umbrella (thus making EVERYONE around her wet. Remember, the reason for an umbrella is to keep us a little dry?!, for 3 hours!!! So much as hubby (who's a very patient man) turn back and start giving her a piece of his mind.... But did the lady stop? NO!! So in the end, after having wait in line for almost 2 hours and 45 mins, the guards at the entrance decide to let 40 visitors each 30 mins (since its almost closing time in 2 hours). The reason being so that everyone gets a chance to go in. And when asked why do we have to wait so long? The answer; we have to get the people inside the museum to exit before letting more people in, and btw we can't chase them out. So what happens when they decide this? Remember this silly lady behind us? She starts pushing the people in front (yes us!) hard so that she'll get in as well!! What nerve!! I think the guards didn't let her in since she's the cause of the pushing and rushing everyone. Now I thought we older we are the wiser we get. From this scene we learned that this is not the case on a very typical "kiasu" middle age French women!

Finanlly got in! On the museum grounds...

So back to the museum. Its quite special as they have a showcase of different tribal from different continents, traditional man made structures/costumes/musical instruments/jewelry etc, which is pretty interesting. These artifacts mainly comes from tiny islands on the 7 oceans. But still I find it interesting to not find our Malaysian "orang asli" or hill tribes mentioned/showcased, while tribes from the Indonesia and Vietnam region was mentioned time and time again.... Ya-lah, must promote Malaysia also got tribes-mar to mat salleh! Otherwise we won't be labeled as "Malaysia truly Asia"-lah right? hehehehe...

The fairy tale like Chateau Chambord...

Ok, ok, back to topic. So the castles we went to was in a "department" called Loire-et-Cher. This place is reputed as the country of castles. Well to me, France is a country of castles and not only in 1 particular region! Anyways, we went to Chateau Chambord on 29/07. It was set on the channel and surrounded by a protected forest. In ancient times, this place was a hunting ground for royalty, and it still is until today, minus the royals. Today the entire estate belongs to the state government and they practice controlled hunting organised by the state. On all other times, the forest is guarded by mounted patrol officers and no unauthorised persons are allowed in.

The double spiral staircase

The palace was built on a wood based foundation just like in Venice. The foundation has to be covered in water so that the top part won't topple!! According to the guide (we took a boat guided tour, which took us a few km from the palace ground), the wood will not rot if its submerged in water, which by the way is provided by the channel. And they say Venice is sinking.... The amazing thing about this place is that, there's a "special" staircase design and built (not sure by whom) where if 2 person were to go up or down the stairs, they will not cross each other! The whole area was designed and expanded based on a Greek cross. Ancient times believes, who are we to argue but to be amazed with the architecture they have left with us today? Its still hard to believe that people in the past could built such amazing, creative and beautiful structures with their bare hands and simple mechanics.

The much smaller Chateau Cheverny by Kim (my BIL)

The rich interior of the chateau....

The Chateau Cheverny, the second place we went was also a hunting chateau but a smaller one, reputed to be one of the most well furnished interiors and there's still people (the descendents) living there! Its said to have a stored the Mona Lisa and many other valuable objects of art in the orangery warehouse during WW2 situated on its grounds. Unlike the palace grounds of the UK or Versailles, this place has simple garden with a very big lawn! It feels like we're on a golf course rather than a garden actually. But of course, this is just a palace for hunting, thus has to be very minimal since the owners isn't living there half the time. Since dogs were used for hunting, there's still a number of English Foxhound found at the kennel not far from the main building.

These are real life foxound dogs!
All in all, I can say that this trip we've taken is a cultural awareness trip as a family. I've never seen soo many old paintings, tapestries, armours,"short" royal bedrooms/beds (ancient people are kinda short. Just look at thier beds!), costumes etc in 1 week! But nevertheless its been an enriching experience even with long queues, bickerings, bad and really sunny weather. Although the next time, we'll just walk away from a very long queue. Unless of course if its to the Eiffel Tower!

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