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Lost in Louvre

I, of course, have been warned. My marvellous Paris Encounter guide book has warned me about the immensity of Louvre and how long I am going to queue if I enter via the famous Pyramid. And so I left my petit hotel and took Metro ala French, early in the day. After few confusing interchanges for this map-blind traveler, I made it to Palais Royal- Musee de Louvre, Metro direct stop to enter Louvre (via a huge hall where they still keep the old wall intact). So, no I didn’t join the long dragon-y line above and you should not too. Better to spend the precious time inside. Also for museum buff, I advise you to buy Paris Museum Pass which allow you to visit 60 museums and monuments all over Paris (for 2, 4 or 6 consecutive days). It also comes with the privilege of strutting via “VIP” entrance and avoid hoi polloi queue. For another tips to spend less in Louvre and you happened to be under 26 years old (except if you are caught in museum shop’s buying frenzy), is to visit on every Friday evening since it is free from 6 to 10 p.m.

Louvre is not a museum. It is what people use to describe it, to explain the vastness of it. But I don’t think it is the right words to describe the experiences when you are in it. It is the Mecca for art, architecture and civilization aficionado. A pilgrimage for me. The Holy Land of Civilization. However there are some obstacles in my way. One, I am direction blind. I would never be able to tell apart which is is west or which is east. You can put a life-size map in front of me and still I will be lost. And I’m in Louvre (I am still amazed that I successfully went through it alive),one of the largest museum in the world.

Two, is the mob. Horribly buzzing, crazily blitzing and suffocatingly gathered in one huge annoying group that takes up the whole place kind of mob. I literally had to poke and push to be able to see the masterpieces. Most of them are herded sleep walkingly by their guide (usually attired in bright blinding color and armed with flags and whistle) from one masterpiece to another, nodding their head harmoniously when the cheerful guide explained to them about certain sculpture. The same guide (smile tatooed permanently) also works as instant photographer for the group since a lot of people apparently want to have their picture taken beside Venus de Milo with the same pose (Winston Churchill’s “V” fingers and huge grin). Quite a spectacle for this sapimalas who loves to watch people in secret.

Considering I have only few hours in Louvre (too many museums, too little time), I had to make a careful selection of which exhibitions I would visit. Sculptures, Egyptian art and paintings is a must. So I started to make my way through the sculptures section. Etruscan, Greek and Roman sculptures are scattered everywhere. I saw beauty in every nook and cranny. Even the ceiling was a feast for the eyes.

The sculptural celebrity was also the most crowded (and it haven’t even reached noon!) such as Venus de Milo whose unarmed yet still beautiful, Winged Victory whose headless and actually could just become obscure but somehow managed to becomes popular (a dramatic position on top of the staircase and perfectly angled skylight also helps).
I don’t have a personal favorite but I was very drawn to this sculpture of Psyche and Cupid. Erotic, beautiful and hit me with a strong impression of love, lust. Suddenly my head was singing “All you need is love” by The Beatles and this sculpture really does give a symbolism of love. Pure, profound and as if you will die if you are not rescued by love, of love. I saw few artists standing close to those sculptures and draw sketches of the details. A pulsating vein in one arm and the naked six packed torso of unknown male statue with curiously small you-know-what. I wonder about this. A room full of naked male statues, supposedly symbolizing the male masculinity and yet, none of those muscularly marble statues have a more fitting ‘size does matter’ fixture. Perhaps size and masculinity doesn’t necessarily goes hand in hand centuries ago. Hmm.

As for the paintings, all I could say is it was a blur of colors. I would love to tell you a smart sentences with a sharp views and knowledging remarks but to tell you the truth, I was lost. Too many of good things is bad for you. I remember some paintings far more than the others in that visual war between masterpieces. Madonna of the Rocks (damn you, Dan Brown), Rubens, Rembrandts and those famous Renaissance masters. It was too much for this poor brain and two eyes. I wouldn’t mind to have extra pair of eyes at that moment. So I was walking in daze with mouth hanging open all the way through many galleries.

Suddenly in front of me was The Painting. The Monalisa. And it was a seriously dissapointing appearance. I knew it would be small and but I didn’ think it would be that small or that protected. It seems silly to protect such a petit painting with such a great security (and to understand why someone wanted to throw acid into Monalisa’s face is beyond me). From all Da Vinci’s masterpieces, why it has to be this smirking woman that becomes really popular? Personally, I think Monalisa is overrated. There, I say it. Feel free to comment. This is the closest distance I got to Monalisa (No wonder you keep smirking, Signora!):
I continued to the next level, Flemish paintings and impressionist, my favorite. They had a good collection but I was trying to keep my apetite for Musee d’Orsay and so only spent half an hour in there. Oh and I almost forget to tell you about this group. Apart from tourists who had to come to Louvre for the same reason they must go to Eiffel Tower, there is also a new group of visitor. I present to you *with drum roll* The Da Vinci Code Group. Beside the obvious people frenzy with anything Dan Brown, Monalisa, Opus Dei and Mary Magdalene; Louvre also gain benefits from Monsieur Brown portrayal. So now, using the moment, Louvre created a special tour for those ‘code crackers’. I was walking pass one group when I heard a guide in French accent said loudly, “So this is the spot where Jacques Saunière was murdered…”. At that point I really had to giggle. Just couldn’t help it.

After asking two nice museum staff (they can speak English! Ces’t magnifique!) about the way out (at this point I just couldn't bring myself to take a look at the crumpled map in my hand), I managed to find my way out to the garden I once saw in a book (Louvre: Masterpieces of I.M.Pei). I didn’t even remember to take a peek in the museum shop. I was that tired. So I went out to the famous Pyramid and found a seat on the fountain. I found faces similar to mine. Dazed and exhausted.

Total hours spent in Louvre: 4 hours 25 minutes. Unforgettable. Now is the time for food. Cheap food.

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