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Paris, France

Speed Rocks

timI hate to use such a silly expression, but there is no other way to describe the Thalys high speed train...

It hauls ass.

But what would you expect out of a train that makes the Brussels to Paris trip in a short 1:20 and whose operational speed reaches 300 kph (188 mph)?

I catch myself using the word "flight" instead of "ride", but "flight" is more fitting than a word that holds you to the ground.

The Thalys' tracks banked like a racecourse and tilted me hard around corners - sometimes with the same jerky motion of a roller coaster. I crested hills fast enough to feel the same fall in my stomach that I would get from zipping over a small rise too fast in my car. I passed highway traffic so quickly that it appeared to be standing still.

The effect reminded me of the last few minutes before landing... bank right, bank left, quick rise, quick fall, then small jerky movements followed by periods of smooth flight. All the while, your destination seems so close that the expectation of arrival never leaves the back of your mind. top

Modern Art

timI find myself increasingly bored by the realism of classical art. What is to be gained by painting a scene perfectly when these days, a photo would do a better job?

I like art that punches me in the gut, that makes me love, hate, feel joy, be afraid, or gives me a sense of wonder about the world I live in. I find that classical art falls down in this respect. Where is the emotion? Look an enormous battle scene and you won't see the anguish of real death on the painted faces, but the anguish of studio models holding their poses for 10 hours straight.

So with that said, the Museum of Modern Art in the Centre Georges Pompidou sent me straight to heaven. What a collection! Klee, Kandinsky, Picasso, Caldor, Chagall, Corbusier, Dali, Miro, Ernst, Matisse, Warhol, Man Ray, Brassai, and so many other wonderful lesser-knowns.

Finally, a collection with soul.

I floated through the museum, breathing inspiration and energy from the work around me. My mind was awash with creativity - ideas shooting at me from all directions while my hand struggled to keep notes. I felt at peace with the world and lost myself for the day, completely throwing away all the plans I'd made for the afternoon.

That is what real art is all about. top

Musty bones in the Paris Catacombes, a spooky subterranean maze of tunnels filled with thousands of exhumed bodies from nearby cemeteries in 1785. Musty bones in the Paris Catacombes, a spooky subterranean maze of tunnels filled with thousands of exhumed bodies from nearby cemeteries in 1785. A unique covered escalator rises up the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. The center houses one of the world's best collections of modern art. (Also known as Centre Beaubourg.) A unique covered escalator rises up the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. The center houses one of the world's best collections of modern art. (Also known as Centre Beaubourg.) A fantastic fresco and gilded ceiling in the Paris Louvre. The Arc de Triomphe at the end of the Champs-Elysees in Paris, finished in the 1830s, now the final resting place of the World War I Unknown Soldier. An evening shadow created by the 320-meter high Eiffel Tower (Tour Eiffel) falls over the Paris skyline. The Eiffel Tower (Tour Eiffel), built for the 1889 World's Fair, rises 320 meters high into the Parisian sky. Built between 1163 and 1345, the Gothic Notre Dame cathedral is one of the most famous Paris landmarks. Built between 1163 and 1345, the Gothic Notre Dame cathedral is one of the most famous Paris landmarks. The Pantheon of the Latin Quarter in Paris is the final resting place of Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Victor Hugo. The Pont Neuf crossing the Seine in nighttime Paris. Loius XIV stands guard out front of the Chateau de Versailles. Sun filters into the Royal Chapel of the Chateau de Versailles, build by Louis XIV in the middle of the 17th century. Artwork in the sculpted gardens of the Chateau de Versailles, built by Louis XIV in the middle of the 17th century. A painting-lined hall inside the Chateau de Versailles, built by Louis XIV in the middle of the 17th century. The Arc de Triomphe at the end of the Champs-Elysees in Paris, finished in the 1830s, now the final resting place of the World War I Unknown Soldier. Arches in the basement of the Conciergerie, a 14th century palace turned prison during the 1793 Reign of Terror. Arches in the basement of the Conciergerie, a 14th century palace turned prison during the 1793 Reign of Terror. Architect I.M. Pei's glass pyramid, a new addition to the Louvre Museum (Le Musée du Louvre), presents a striking contrast to the rest of the museum's classical look. Architect I.M. Pei's glass pyramid, a new addition to the Louvre Museum (Le Musée du Louvre), presents a striking contrast to the rest of the museum's classical look. Architect I.M. Pei's glass pyramid, a new addition to the Louvre Museum (Le Musée du Louvre),  presents a striking contrast to the rest of the museum's classical look. Architect I.M. Pei's glass pyramid, a new addition to the Louvre Museum (Le Musée du Louvre), presents a striking contrast to the rest of the museum's classical look. The classical style of Paris - wrought iron balconies, French doors, and Romanesque arches. The vaulted ceiling of Paris' Saint Eustache Cathedral, constructed between 1532 and 1640. The cathedral is the final resting place of Molière, Richelieu, and the Marquise de Pompadour.