Friday morning I got up early and headed towards the School of Oriental and African Studies. This school has a tremendous reputation and is part of the University of London system – just like Goldsmiths. I pondered studying Islamic or Cultural Studies here in the future. My appointment at SOAS was finished earlier than expected so I walked a few blocks to the British Museum. Beforehand, I made a point that I would not visit any British Museums. From looking at the websites for the Tate and the British Museum, I didn’t see anything on-line that sparked my interest. However, the British Museum was full of interesting history and artifacts. In my short amount of time, I went to the Africa and Egyptian section. Although Egypt is a part of Africa, it is always placed in history as if it is a place all its own – any place other than Africa. With regards to the Africa exhibition, I thought the museum did a great job of describing the artifacts as more than “masks” or “pots” and provided a historical, social, and religious context in which these items were used. The prize of the visit was seeing the actual Rosetta stone.
After leaving the British Museum, I headed for St. Pancreas station where I would catch the Eurostar train to Paris. When I got off the train, a familiar face was waiting for me – Jef. It was good seeing him and I was looking forward to sharing the weekend in France. We checked into our hotel in the Latin Quarters. The Latin Quarters is home to the main Sorbonne, Luxembourg Gardens, the Pantheon and many other things I didn’t get a chance to see. We ate at a café just outside of the hotel and went for a long walk. We cancelled our plans for reggae and turned in early.
May 1 i.e. May Day
Unfortunately for tourists, May 1 is a holiday in Europe. Thus, most of the museums were closed. Since the weather was moderate, Jef and I walked around various part of the city talking, shopping, and taking in the sites. We walked to the recommended Arc De Triumph, took a short walk down Avenue Champs Elyse. The walk down this avenue was short because not only was it too crowded with tourists, it was expensive. We eventually made our way to the Louvre where we snapped a few pictures and walked along the river where there were tons of open-air bookshops. Our walk ended in the bustling street of St. Germaine where we grabbed at bite to eat.
After resting at the hotel a bit, we headed back out to a little place called Le’Entropot for dinner and a concert. The website for Le’Entropot was in French, but I was able to tell that there was a jazz concert that night and it “seemed” nice. After eating a delicious dinner, we were really in for a treat, Valery Boston. She sang everything in French. I have no idea what she was saying, but I promise you that this was one of the best entertainers I have seen and Jef agreed as well. For 5 Euros we were treated to a show with a great band and a great songstress. Le’Entropot was similar to the World Café in Philadelphia – small and intimate, but hosts a variety of shows, films, lectures, etc.
Our last day in France – May 2
By this time, I have accepted that laboring over plans perhaps was not the best thing to do because plans can change. We did visit the Muse Quai Branley which is in the shadows of the Eiffel Tower. The museum is filled with artifacts from Asia, Africa, Americas, and the Oceana region. The museum is viewed more as an anthropological museum rather than an art museum (so I thought it would be interesting). However, the museum was very dark and I can say fairly disappointing. We didn’t spend too much time there at all. Fortunately, the museum was free.
After the museum was headed to the Eiffel Tower. The rain and the line really de-motivated us from going to the top. I’m afraid of heights anyway – so just as well. I may have had a heart attack if I went to the top. Afterwards, we made our way across the river to the Palace de Tokyo. It was weird. It seemed like some place where artists hang out, eat, study, etc. Eventually we made our way next door to the City Museum of Modern Art. At first, the museum seemed promising. It was free for the permanent exhibits. We were immediately introduced to Matisse’s La’dance which he did for the Barnes Foundation. Thereafter, there really wasn’t much of interest in this museum. After the museum, we headed to the train station where I would head back to London and Jef headed back to Belgium.