Last day of the trip. I wish I had added one more night’s stay in Paris. I can’t believe I added an additional 2 nights in London at the start of the tour, but apparently thought I could “conquer” Paris in only 2 days. On some level, it’s because I just assumed this would not be the last time we will be in Paris, so that’s alright I guess.

Today we went to the Louvre, and just like on the entire rest of this wonderful trip, except for the Vatican Museum, there were no lines. We were nervous that we wouldn’t be able to see most of it, because some guidebooks say that to see the Louvre properly you need to allocate 3 days. We decided that those guidebook writers must be freaking crazy. It takes one day, if you go very slowly. Unless you’re planning to write a treatise on some works of art in there, or something. But because of these guidebooks, we went through everything super fast, because, you know, if it’s going to take us 3 days and we only have 1 to spare, we’d better do it fast right?

Anyway, I enjoyed the Louvre much more than I thought I would, because I thought it would be full of paintings. I think paintings are OK, but I like sculptures a lot more, and the Louvre has some of the best in the world, such as the Nike of Samothrace:

Ever since I was a little kid (fourth grade I think?) I’ve thought this was the most spectacular sculpture in existence, and I always wanted to see it in person (bucket list item, accomplished). Schmoops preferred the Venus de Milo.

I don’t care what anyone says about the Venus de Milo, how it’s the epitome of feminine beauty and grace etc etc. When I look at that statue all I can think about is how utterly uncomfortable that pose looks, and that the poor model for it must have suffered permanent back problems.

After we finished the Denon and Sully wings of the Louvre we went across to the Richelieu wing. Halfway there I realized I had somehow moronically lost our tickets. So … that was the end of our visit to the Louvre. Whatever, apparently the Denon and Sully wings contain the highlights. I was incredibly beat up about my incompetence though. So after this we kind of wandered around wondering what to do before our 4PM eurostar train to London, and finally ended up in Saint Chappelle. I actually didn’t really want to go in, because I wanted to “save” it for a future visit to Paris during a sunny day, and it was very cloudy on this day. But there was nothing else to do. So we went and viewed the (reputably) most spectacular stained glass windows in Paris. 70% of them are from the 13th century, and the walls of the chapel are almost all glass, with barely any stone visible.

See what I mean? Practically nothing but stained glass windows, 360 degrees, almost floor to ceiling. We really must come back here on a future visit to Paris, and if it’s not sunny I will have Words for the resident sun god.

After this we went and found another Eric Kayser bakery to have lunch at again, because we had to get more of the genuine french bread they use for sandwiches. Again, they were delicious. As an afterthought, Schmoops used the rest of our euros to purchase a couple of pastries. This was the best decision of the entire trip because of this exquisite creation:

What is it? We don’t know. All Schmoops knows is that the sigh said something along the lines of “____ de la caramel”. IT IS THE MOST DELICIOUS PASTRY IN THE WORLD. It is a flaky pastry with strands of caramelized sugar somehow woven into it, and the bottom is completely caramelized. The taste of the caramelized sugar is hovers on the border between sweet and bitter. The texture is exquisite, it is a little bit like the crispy outer layers of a croissant throughout, yet not cracked or brittle or delicate, but tender … and has an incredibly rich, buttery flavor. You could probably enslave entire civilizations by letting them eat some of this, and then withholding it unless they swore fealty.

Schmoops was sad, because if it weren’t for the fact that I also lost a metro ticket when I lost our Louvre tickets, we would have had enough money to buy more of those. I was sad too. But it just means we’ll have to buy more of them next time! We headed back to our hotel to retrieve our luggage and headed to the eurostar. It was a pretty hellish bus – subway ride, but we got there. There were some people in our tour group who opted to go back to London via the arrangements made by the tour company, but that would have meant driving to Calais, taking the ferry, driving to London. Even if it was free, it just wasn’t worth the time (8 hours). We just spend 65 US dollars each on the eurostar tickets instead, and got there in 2.5 hours.

After we got to London we checked into another bed and breakfast in the St. Pancras area. This one was so much better than our first one, and it only cost 20 pounds more per night (84 pounds). We actually had enough space to put our luggage flat on the ground. So we went to Yem and Dreyll’s place and had Yem’s awesome homemade lasagna (definitely superior to the one overcooked undersauced overpasta’d we had in Rome) and played Tichu and had a nice time just like we always do.

And then the next day we embarked on our epic 16 hour long subway->plane->charter bus->public bus journey back to our apartment in Madison.