The Glorious Cities, Part II

Paris 071 After my earlier post on London, Brussels and Amsterdam, we finished our tour of some of the world’s most glorious cities with visits to Vienna, Austria, and Paris France.  We’ve loved each of these great cities, but I have a special fondness in my heart for one in particular.  What’s your favorite?

Vienna 008 I’d always wanted to visit Vienna.  Few of my friends know it, but I grew up in Vienna.  Vienna, Virginia.  So I’ve had a long history of telling friends that I was going to Vienna on a trip, and having them say, “Oh, I love Vienna,” and then explaining, “Not that Vienna.”  But with a long association with Vienna, one of my life goals was to visit Vienna, Austria, and we spent an action-packed day there.

Vienna 067 To go through Vienna is to be immersed in its long history with the arts, especially great music.  Vienna has been the home of some of the greatest composers we’ve ever been blessed with — Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert, Liszt, and many others.  You can hardly walk a block or two in Vienna without a reminder of this rich cultural legacy.

Vienna 081 While in Vienna, we did a lot of walking, went to a few great museums, including a great Impressionist exhibit at the Albertina, and a fascinating tour through the Royal Palace, learning all about Emperor Franz Josef and his wife Elisabeth.  Vienna is a very walkable city, and we spent much of our time just strolling  through some sections with great architecture and beautiful parks.  We Vienna 013also took Vienna’s “…Hop on, …Hop off” bus tour of the city, which was a bit less than advertised.  We hopped on, then found ourselves waiting for fifteen minutes for one extra passenger to hop on ( :-( ), and crept through the traffic of Vienna on this bus.  Our walking tour definitely beat out this bus tour, but we did see a few extra sites.  And on our way out of town, we drove by OPEC’s European headquarters.  When we got to the airport, we could see the influence OPEC has, since a large number of flights from Vienna were running directly to Middle Eastern cities in oil-rich nations.

Paris 070 We then went to Paris.  Over dinner, we had a debate (on-going for our family) about Paris, and comparisons between Paris and other cities.  My opinion is that Paris is the world’s most beautiful city, bar none.  I’ve yet to persuade other family members, though, who all really like Paris,  but have other cities that are their favorites.  But after another stay in Paris, including a glorious early-morning walk that I took before others woke up, I remain as convinced as ever.  Paris is just exceptionally gorgeous.

Paris 005 We took in one of our favorite museums in the world, the Musee Marmottan Monet.   The museum exhibits many works of Money, along with a few other impressionists, including some great Renoirs.  It’s in a fabulous neighborhood of Paris in a beautiful ancient home, and a great way to see some of the world’s great works of art.  And, it was great preparation for our visit the next day to Monet’s country home in Giverny, home of the lily-pad ponds and flowers that were recurring themes in Monet’s works.

Paris 001 Our visit to Paris was just shortly before George W. Bush’s last visit to France as President of the U.S., and we stayed at a great hotel (Hotel de Crillon) right next to the U.S. Embassy (photo on left).  Security was tight everywhere, and the morning we left we had to hike a ways to get to a street with any taxis, since the  street in front of our hotel was close.  Sadly, we have found people all over the world, but especially in Europe, who are every bit as Paris 090negative about George W. as most Americans are.  He really has embarrassed and disgraced our country throughout the world, combining that deadly combination of arrogance with incompetence.  I suspect that our next visit to these great cities of Europe will be improved as the U.S. upgrades its Presidency.

Paris 192 On our way out of Paris (about an hour drive), we stopped at Monet’s house at Giverny, site of many of his famous paintings.  We walked through the gardens there, which were beautiful but very crowded.  And we spent a brief amount of time in the house Monet lived in there, which was non-descript.  There’s a small museum on the grounds, which had a great exhibit of called “Portrait Paris 010 of a Lady,” including some great Sargent’s.  We could only imagine what this area would have been like for Monet, when he was there by himself instead of with hundreds of tourists.  But it was great to see what inspired Monet to paint so many great works.  I’m not a big botanist, but the flowers of Giverny, and the grounds, were worth taking in.

We’d love to get your comments on the world’s most beautiful cities.  You’ve heard my vote — Paris!  But I didn’t carry the day even in my own family, so I’ll welcome hearing from others!!

One Response to “The Glorious Cities, Part II”

  1. Eric Mourlot Says:

    Well Ted, I of course, completely agree with you… As far as I am concerned, Paris is the most beautiful city in the world!
    I chose to live in NYC and would probably move to London if I had to go back to Europe, but that is for other and more pragmatic reasons. If not, we’d all be living in Bruges (another magnificient city).

    When it comes to pure beauty: Paris can’t be beat!

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