The Intensity of Visiting The Louvre for the First Time

Let's rewind time. January 2013.

Picture this.

I'm sound asleep one night when I get a strange phone call. from a German.

Let me be straight with you.

In my sleep, I totally hit "end call". *facepalm* It was 2 or 3 in the morning, and my first thought was "I don't want to pay fees."

I think.

It's hard to know what you are thinking when you are half-dead. ;)

Anyway, after pressing end-call, I groaned as I made a sudden realization: "was that …?" Grumpily, I take a second glance at my phone.

It was.


Still asleep (I think), I text a response "Are you ok?"

I can think of absolutely no other reason that I would be called so late at night. In the last 13 years of knowing this person, I've been the only one to ever instigate a 2am chat, and that was only ever online. Never a phone call.

And so I wait.

And wait and wait and wait.

What I will do if there really is a problem, I have no idea. Book an expensive flight to a place I've never been … to do what? Rescue a 6 foot+ giant from a criminal? *shrugs*

So when, like 20 hours later, I get a response, I am shocked! (It was more like 3 hours later, but, still, this German, in particular, is notoriously slow at responding.)

I had not gone back to sleep in the time since, choosing to edit an image and watch tv on my computer instead.

Anyway, in my 3 hours later text, I'm told the early-o-clock phone call was essentially a butt dial. Argh. But at least he's ok.

The chat continues for a bit (like 2 hours) until I'm informed, eventually, that he is now engaged. It only took him one butt dial and 5+ hours to tell me…

Now, let's fast forward a few months… July 2013.

I randomly text German guy about something random. My husband and I are on our way to north Georgia, and I'm bored. It's a two hour drive! So when I get a response, I'm totally up for chatting.

Unfortunately the conversation basically ends abruptly when the internet gets spotty.

Still, I had no reason to suspect anything weird. Our entire conversation had been about old cars, Lucky Charms cereal, and who knows what else. We may have talked about the wedding, but it wasn't anything specific, or at least I don't remember it being about anything specific.

And that's when the bomb is dropped.

He has invited us not only to his wedding, but also to explore Europe with him and his future wife for their honeymoon.

Here I was planning this small little one week trip where Justin and I go straight to Germany, see a wedding, a sight or two, then head back. How was I to know there was a whole tour of Europe being planned? All of a sudden, I had to think about asking for legit time off from work and finding flights at a good price. Could Justin and I afford to spend 3 weeks in Europe? Would I have a job when we got back?

Fast forward a few more months… to May 2014.

When we arrive to Germany, I'm basically freaked out, because I know my German language skills suck. Luckily, the wedding goes by fast and before I know it, we are on our way. We begin in Venice, then move on to Cinque Terre, Marseille, Provence, and Paris. It's a crazy whirlwind adventure. going by super fast and crazy slow at the same time.

And, of course, without knowing it, I'm doing all of the wrong things. I'm eating with just a fork, I'm walking around in flip flops, I'm failing at languages, I'm tripping over my own two feet. I'm nervous to the point of not being able to eat.

And then there is salami which is our lunch; I've never eaten salami and, up until this point, I've refused to touch it. What, exactly, is it? Which part of the animal would I be eating? I wonder. I don't eat sandwich meat at home, and, to a small extent, I think I could be a fruitarian. ;) Hesitating but hungry, I try it. Thankfully, salami reminds me of pepperoni, a flavor I like.

By the end of the trip, my feet are blistered and sore with cuts. I hold a disheveled appearance – the look of a weary traveler. Trying to impress … or at minimal, look like I know what I'm doing, has gotten old. Clearly I do not, and I just want to get to a point where I can feel like myself again.

Enter: the Louvre.

The largest museum in France featuring the one type of art I struggled to memorize in art history class, renaissance art. Argh! Could I pretend to enjoy it? Pretend to be happy and not in pain? Pretend to not be soooo tired?

Looking back, I'm not sure I was quite ready for the experience – for the intensity of it all, emotionally, mentally, or physically. And yet, here we were.


It has been almost two years, and writing this blog post is the first time, since then, that I have been able to actually look back on the experience with a bit of distance between me and the strong emotions of that day. I think the most interesting part is seeing how my photographs morph from wide angle views of the large museum rooms to close-ups of the art pieces, in which I make them "my own". Clearly, my frustration was giving way to something beautiful, something that I can look back on now and be proud of. I think, had my emotions, physical and mental energy, not been so entirely drained, my photographs would look like something else entirely. :)

Have you ever gotten to that point? where you are so tired and mentally drained that you essentially cut out "the noise" and focus on your real vision?

It's a really difficult position for me to find.

Check out the whole piece here.

Both photographing and visiting the Louvre are highly intense emotional, physical, and mental experiences. I don't recommend going when you are tired or overwhelmed like I did. Go when you have an abundance of free time and can just meander. Don't pick up a map. Visiting the Louvre is about discovery … not finding the Mona Lisa or spending exactly 1.5 hours there before moving on to the next tourist attraction.

I think, looking back, the Louvre should be a place where you go to breathe. People-watch. Look at all of the intricate details of a painting. Take a piece of paper and a pencil and try to draw one of the statues. Grab a bite to eat when you need a break. Take the Louvre in slowly. It is worth it.

What is your experience with art museums? Do you love them? Or hate them? Have you ever been to the Louvre? If so, is there anything you would recommend to a traveler planning to visit? If you haven't been, is there any particular art piece there that you want to see?


  1. The Louvre was on my list for Paris. We only had two days there and we devoted one good afternoon. Yes, it was important for me to see La Jaconde and to walk through the famous galleries. I also wanted to see some pieces from my archaeology class - Hammurabi's code. Unlike you, I was not wiped out when we visited. And my camera broke so I didn't need to take any pics! While I regret not seeing the Eiffel Tower up close or going to any Parisian markets or La Poilane Bakery, well, I hope I'll have another chance to spend time in Paris. That's how travel is, sometimes you can't do everything. Thanks for stopping by, and please feel free to include a link to your blog, even if it doesn't show up perfectly so it's easier to find. Aloha! Maui Jungalow

    1. It sounds like you based your trip to Paris around visiting the Louvre. While it sucks that you didn't get to see the Eiffel Tower up close or visit any of the Parisian markets or bakeries, I do think that when you go to a large city like Paris, you really have to nail down the most important things (to you) and go see them. If you don't, especially with only two days times, it can be easy to get lost and overwhelmed by all there is to see and do.

      Hopefully it didn't cost too much to get your camera fixed! I know you were probably really upset when that happened in the middle of your trip, but it probably helped you to enjoy the museum more fully than I did. You were forced to be "in the moment". (Although I might argue that my camera helped me to be in the moment and focused, but that's definitely not the case for everyone. And certainly isn't always the case for me.)

  2. Sounds like it was quite the trip. But at least it makes for a good story. And now you have a goal--go back and do it right.

    I've only ever been to art museums around here--the Norton Simon and the Getty.

    1. While I'd like to go back and "do it right" as you suggest, there are so many other places I want to see in Paris! I'm not sure I'll ever return. Then again, they say to never say never. :)

      What did you think of the Norton Simon and the Getty? Would you recommend them?

  3. That sounds really intense. We made a weekend trip to Paris from Germany last year, but we did not visit the Louvre. While I'm not the biggest fan of Paris, I do plan to return so we can spend more time at the Notre Dame and then also wander the Louvre. Thanks for linking up with us!

    1. I've been to Paris twice and still haven't given the Notre Dame the attention it deserves. With my husband being Catholic, you'd think I would have. :-/ One day it will get seen. I just don't know when.

      Do you have any intention of ever visiting the Louvre? What are some other places in France or otherwise that you would recommend I go to, if not Paris? I'd love to hear about new/different places I've never been that perhaps I should try out. :)

  4. OK, so "German Guy" was he an ex-boyfriend?
    Now, the Louvre... I am so impressed you even went there on your tight schedule! And I agree, you shouldn't visit when you're tired or otherwise not able to fully take it in.
    Can you believe how tiny Mona Lisa is? I was so disappointed! Since I'm tiny, too I had a hard time looking at her at all through the crowds!
    I don't consider myself being a "museum person", however I remember having liked visiting Musée d'Orsay and Centre Georges Pompidou - it's located opposite of "Les Halles" Shopping Mall, which certainly helped ;-)))

    1. No, not an ex. Just a friend.

      The Mona Lisa does look small on that BIG white wall. And there were so many people! My husband wanted me to take a picture, and I was just like "nope. Not fighting that crowd." :)

      Musée d'Orsay is next on my must-do list. After a visit to Giverny to see Monet's gardens, that is. Clearly there is still a lot left for me to do in France! (And Switzerland! :)) I just wish flights weren't so expensive! :(

  5. I loved the introduction. We didn't visit Louvre when we were in Paris. Partly because we were with our kids and they'd surely got bored. And partly because we're not great fans of art galleries ourselves. I've been to London's National Gallery, saw the famous Sunflowers and got thinking "what the fuss is all about". They were so tiny. I was a kid back then. Small exhibitions are fine, but huge galleries, not so much.

    1. Totally understandable. One of my favorite things to do in art galleries is to make fun of the art with my husband … or talk about what I'd do differently if the piece were my own. Not necessarily the most respectful thing to do, but sometimes it gets us thinking about the history of the piece. My husband can be really smart and often provides insight that makes me wonder where he got it from. :)

      I've never been to London, but I'm hoping to someday. Maybe you should try visiting an art gallery now that you are older? Perhaps your perspective will have changed? Then again, maybe not. Sometimes art is just art. :)

  6. I love the build up! That's quite some situation you got yourself into! I have been around the Louvre quite a few times, but never in. I don't like being around huge crowds of people at the best of times, and when I've been to Paris it's been on limited time so I've had to focus on what I really want to do. I love wandering through the courtyards, and then wandering straight to a bakery for an éclair! Ha!

    1. I know what you mean about it always being limited in time. Like I said in the post, visiting the Louvre wouldn't have been my first choice, but it ended up working out anyway. :)

      I still have yet to try an eclair in Paris. I tried one in the outskirts of Paris, but it was disappointing. :( I bought one last Christmas to try and it went bad before I got around to eating it. :( The problem is: there are too many options for good food there! I want to try everything! And then I'm not hungry for anything! :) It's a good thing I don't live there – I'd be so fat by now! (Except not since they understand portion sizing, but whatever.)


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