Eiffel Tower most disappointing

Aug 17th, 2007, 06:45 PM
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Come on, Anthony! Paris Hilton is famous because she's famous. The ML has a STORY! (And not incidentally is the creation of Leonardo da Vinci, not a publicist!)
tomassocroccante is offline  
Aug 17th, 2007, 07:10 PM
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Of course, some celebs do think they have a halo, aura, and a heavenly choir announcing their every move! I think that must be the function of the entourage.

Hilarious! Thanks for giving me a much needed laugh Tom!

I've just read the whole list, and I had to check the byline to make sure my dad didn't write the article, calling Stonehenge "a load of old rocks."

I think Brandenberg Gate is a more disappointing sight than the Leaning Tower of Pisa, even if it is surrounded by large shopping kiosks. I didn't think much of the Eiffel Tower until I got to Paris, and then I was awed and enamored.

Sure it's crowded, but it's not as expensive as the London Eye. You can at least spend as long as you wish at the Eiffel Tower once you're in the tower (and we apparently stayed longer than we thought).

Brandenberg Gate was just disappointing to me. I can't actually put my finger on why. Then again, I was there during the World Cup. I should go again and give it a second chance.

As for disappointing sights in the UK, I would have rearranged that list, with #1 being the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, tied with the London Eye. And I *love* fountains and heights!
mcnyc is offline  
Aug 17th, 2007, 07:17 PM
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>Brandenberg Gate was just disappointing to me. I can't actually put my finger on why.
Never considered the BrandenBurg gate an interesting tourist spot. How did it ever get on the "list" in the first place???
logos999 is offline  
Aug 17th, 2007, 07:32 PM
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Regarding the Eiffel Tower, I think there are two different issues -- seeing it or standing near or under it and riding to the top of it.

I still feel a sense of awe when I'm below it. The thing is HUGE and magnificent. But riding to the top? Big deal. You can see more from flying in on a plane, or going up the Montparnasse Tower.

Regarding the Mona Lisa, I still remember quite an argument here a couple years ago when someone suggested it could be a great copy and there's no way anyone would know. But one poster went on and on how she can tell. By looking at it (even through the glass) she can FEEL the power of the artist and actually see his talent in the brushstrokes and no one could ever copy that. It was one of the funniest bits of BS I've ever read here.
NeoPatrick is online now  
Aug 17th, 2007, 07:48 PM
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I rate Mona #1. The first time I saw her was here in Boston on tour. She was so small, behind glass, behind barracades and she looked like a guy in drag!
cigalechanta is offline  
Aug 17th, 2007, 08:16 PM
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The Eiffel Tower was better than I expected, the Mona Lisa, Times Square, the Statue of Liberty were pretty much what I expected. Two things that bothered me about Stonehenge were that we could not get closer to the rocks, and the presence of the nearby motorway hurt the ambience of the place. However these all pale in comparison to what I consider the biggest disappointment of all -- Plymouth Rock.
artvark is offline  
Aug 17th, 2007, 08:25 PM
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LOl, I remember my father taking me to see the rock. a frog is the only one comfortable landing on it
cigalechanta is offline  
Aug 17th, 2007, 09:58 PM
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Not a disappointment:

Stepping out of Union Station in Washington DC and seeing the Capitol dome in front of you.

Also in DC, the Vietnam War Veterans Memorial. If possible try to exerience it when there are fewer people around, but either way, authentic. And the Jefferson Memorial has a power something like the Pantheon in it's perfect form (not accidentally, of course). The Lincoln Memorial, also effective. My first time to DC I saw all of these after dark, and we were able to enter freely and read, and take it in.

Paintings that exceeded expectations: my first time in a MAJOR museum was the Art Institute of Chicago, for a REmbrandt tricentennial many years ago. The Rembrandts brought from all over were superb, naturally - and we had very close access. But the most memorable paintings to me were the many Monets - I had never paid much notice to impressionists (too pretty) but these were astonishing, and I know it's because they seemed like something I would never think to paint.

That trip was my first time turning a corner in a museum and "running into an old friend" - Grant Wood's "American Gothic", the Rembrandts, Seurat's giant Afternoon on La Grande Jatte ... we all know that feeling. The next time I remember it happening was my first visit to NYC. I had been to Radio City Music Hall, just for a movie, but I wanted to see it. It was 40 Carats, which was set in NYC. Half an hour after the film I turned a corner and saw a bookstore that had been a setting in the film - suddenly I was in a movie myself.

The most disappointing thing when traveling is dealing with disappointed travelers.
tomassocroccante is offline  
Aug 17th, 2007, 10:20 PM
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I think sometimes familiarity, or seeing too many photos of something, will bring disappointment when you see it in real life (for example, Mt. St. Michel wasn't that amazing for me since I already knew what it looked like).

From looking at a poster of the Mona Lisa, it's hard to tell what its real size is, so maybe people were expecting a huge painting. I was struck by details of the painting that I had never noticed before, and the fact that I was actually standing in front of the original work was pretty awe-inspiring for me.

Likewise, I found the Statue of Liberty to be very cool as the boat got closer and closer. The Eiffel Tower less so, maybe because I had already seen it at a distant so much in my week in Paris and only went up to it on the last day.

I found the Grand Canyon quite impressive as well.

As for the White House... you can't get anywhere close to it, of course it's disappointing.

blakejared is offline  
Aug 17th, 2007, 11:58 PM
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<<And did they expect the Mona Lisa to begin singing or something?>>

Sandi - this made me smile. Last year I got to visit the Louvre for the first time in 9 years and got to see the Mona Lisa (and many other works) again.

Shortly after returning home I got my hair cut. The young woman who cuts my hair is very good at it...but seems to have, shall we say, a limited range of cultural literacy (not that I'm all that sophisticated either!).

I talked about my trip and mentioned how nice it was seeing the Mona Lisa again. She asked, "So...is it a musical?"

I had to bite my lip to keep from laughing since she had scissors in her hand.


LeeParis is offline  
Aug 18th, 2007, 05:05 AM
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I love the Eiffel Tower, esp. from the Trocadero viewpoint. And of course, seeing it in person means I'm in Paris and I REALLY love that.

The only time I went up to the top was with a friend in October 2001, just a few weeks after the WTC bombing. Tourism had plummeted, we went up at sunset with absolutely no line at all, and watched Paris at night gradually sparkle into life. It was a great experience.

But to get a good view of Paris in peak season, I went over to the Parc Andre Citroen and took the hot air balloon up. The basket can hold about 30 people, but there were only about eight of us plus the "pilot", so it was peaceful and serene.

As for the ML, I'm glad I saw the painting in person because it is such a famous painting. But I've got no particular desire to see her again.
BTilke is offline  
Aug 18th, 2007, 05:16 AM
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I can understand the Brits being disappointed with the Eiffel Tower...after all, it can't be uprooted and sold to the US.
And as a ride, when you get to the top it doesn't even go around.
robjame is offline  
Aug 18th, 2007, 05:16 AM
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Oh, BTike, we wanted to do that tethered balloon at Citreon parc, but when we got there there roughly 12,000 little kids from school or "day camps" lined up for their turns. We figured it would be several hours, and the scream level was deafening.

It's funny how different we all are. Someone mentioned that getting to a place you've seen in pictures for years is disappointing. Funny, but those are the places that usually amaze me most. I grew up with an antique book called All Aboard for Europe, printed in the late 1800s. As a child I would spend hours looking at those pictures (detailed drawings, not photographs) and dream about them. When I was finally able to go, I'm still transported back to that book and my childhood dreams every time we visit one of those places. Mont St. Michel is one of those places, and when I first got there I was awed to be standing in this magical place. Years of seeing Neuschweinstein Castle is another of those things. I just had to go. Many say they were disappointed with it. Not me. How could I be -- I was suddenly THERE in that magical place I had seen in pictures so many times.
NeoPatrick is online now  
Aug 18th, 2007, 06:51 AM
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I think that some places are impressive in themselves, whether you've read about them or not; and other places are impressive mainly because you've read and heard about them so much in your lifetime. The Eiffel Tower is a bit of both, the Mona Lisa is mainly just the latter.

I do tell potential visitors, though, that there's a difference between seeing a pretty picture of the Eiffel Tower in a book and actually putting your hand on it. Likewise, having a Mona Lisa magnet on your refrigerator isn't quite the same as having the painting itself in front of you at the same distance.

What I find sobering is when you visit Van Gogh or Picasso paintings and you realize that the painting a foot in front of you is worth $32 million or so. Oddly enough, only the Mona Lisa is behind bulletproof glass; most other paintings of similar value or artistic merit are just hanging on walls. Proof of the fact that the vast majority of people are well behaved.
AnthonyGA is offline  
Aug 18th, 2007, 07:47 AM
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<<I grew up with an antique book called All Aboard for Europe, printed in the late 1800s. As a child I would spend hours looking at those pictures (detailed drawings, not photographs) and dream about them.>>

Patrick, reading that gives me a sort of Proustian moment - I didn't have your book, but we did have the encyclopedia, and I used to read it like it was a huge magazine (The World Book was heavily illustrated). Now I have a modest collection of books about places - some I've never been to, but more often my books are extensions of travels I've made. So I have a great bunch of Paris books, including "Paris In a Nutshell" (from between the wars, and with charming ink drawings), "Things Seen in Paris" (1926, with photos) and "So You're Going to Paris!" (1927, an American book illustrated with repros of artworks - it's a tour of Paris that never forgets history.)

Your story of a childhood book sums up the difference between going with curiosity, imagination and excitement for discovery - informed by a little learning, and going with a bag of misconceptions and a sandwich of "oh yeah?"

<<Oddly enough, only the Mona Lisa is behind bulletproof glass; most other paintings of similar value or artistic merit are just hanging on walls.>>

Anthony, you're so right about the difference between the "twice removed" experience of a place or thing through pictures and the reality of sharing space with it. Never mind the debasement of a work of art that comes from "turning it into" somthing like a refrigerator magnet. I'd like to hold a trial of all the museum directors who have made umbrellas out of Monets, neckties of Van Goghs and mugs plastered with Vermeers. Like pasta sauce commercials to the accompaniment of Puccini, these "things" are an insult to the creators of the original works - dealt (in the case of art trinkets) by the very people who are the custodians of our culture!

The Mona Lisa is such a prevalent icon, even the least art-educated probably has seen many reproductions and parodies. She's in New Yorker cartoons (and Warner Brothers cartoons), and has been satirized, lampooned and paid tribute by artists of every moment in the modern canon. Many books have been written about her. Naturally, after all that, she would remain a mystery!
tomassocroccante is offline  
Aug 18th, 2007, 08:03 AM
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Reading Gandhi's autobiography, I found an interesting section on Eiffel Tower. Consider reading this link:


I have never seen it (I might next summer) so I have no opinions but I still found the writing interesting.
Aug 18th, 2007, 08:16 AM
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Anthony, I got off track there and forgot to mention that ML had LONG been behind glass, as there were vandalizm issues going back at least to the early 20th century. I found this item (pbs website http://www.pbs.org/treasuresofthewor...n_monafrm.html ), about the man who stole the Mona Lisa in 1911:

<< Vincenzo Perugia had once worked at the Louvre. At the time, Louvre officials were more worried about vandalism than about theft. Crazed patrons had attacked famous works with razor blades and acid, so several of the museum's more prominent paintings, including the Mona Lisa, were selected to have special glass-covered viewing boxes made for them. (In fact, it was Perugia who had built the box for the Mona Lisa, the same box found discarded in the stairwell with his left thumbprint.) >>

The article says elsewhere that when a young painter arrived in the morning to work on a copy he was making, and found the painting gone, he told a guard, who assumed it was being photographed and did nothing. (The photographing of works of art was fairly new, and the Louvre had recently built a studio for the purpose.) Finally the irritate artist bribed the guard to find out where the painting was. It took that long for the word to get out!

So much of ML's fame is due to her history - such as this theft, when she didn't resurface for TWO YEARS and had been thought possibly destroyed and lost forever - that it's easy to forget what she represents in ART history: possibly the most "lifelike" portrait of all time when she was created, and employing so many of Leonardo's favored techniques and so much of his intelligence. She was indeed revolutionary.

The article at the link reports that his happened when the thief "returned" her to officials in Italy:
"For the next two months, the Mona Lisa enjoyed a triumphant tour through the major cities of her homeland, including Rome and Milan, where sixty thousand Italians crowded into the Brera museum for a last good-bye. "

So, along with the Pieta (attacked by a hammer) and other works seemingly randomly chosen for attack, Mona lives under glass. And I never mind when a great gallery (such as the Borghese in Rome) asks all bags to be checked before entry. When I stand inches from "Paolina Borghese" or "Apollo and Daphne", I, like you Anthony, am filled with wonder that a hand could reach out and change them forever - and filled occasionally with fear that I could do it myself! (of course, I HAVE been asked by guards to get my nose further away from a painting or two in my day ...) Anyway, it would indeed by a frightening thing to be present when one of those (thankfully infrequent) attacks takes place.

tomassocroccante is offline  
Aug 18th, 2007, 09:28 AM
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I agree with tomasscrocante..and also think that the harm produced on a painting like Mona Lisa will be much harder to heal (if it possible at all) than one made on a painting of the 20th century (like a Picasso). Sure both are important...but a 16 th century (which has been attacked previously) is much more delicate and difficult to restore.
kenderina is offline  
Aug 18th, 2007, 09:40 AM
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Comfy, THANK YOU for the Gandhi link! A charming recollection of Paris from a great man. Certainly part of the fame of the Eiffel Tower is that it has not only been photographed but written about by so many in the 120 or so years of its life.

"It was the toy of the Exhibition. So long as we are children we are attracted by toys, and the Tower was a good demonstration of the fact that we are all children attracted by trinkets. That may be claimed to be the purpose served by the Eiffel Tower. " Gandhi

In the piece about the Mona Lisa theft, by the way, there is a comment that the satirists of the day were saying, "What next? The Eiffel Tower?" The tower was to have been temporary, and dismantled in 1909 - two years before the Louvre crime. But obviously, by then it had been embraced as a symbol and beloved "toy" of Paris.

incidentally, the form of the tower is the result of Eiffel's engineering calculations to build to high and yet be safe from collapse due to wind, weight etc. The fact that it is also graceful is not purely incidental, but is secondary.
tomassocroccante is offline  
Aug 18th, 2007, 11:25 AM
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This is SO not to negate the Tower (I am sure it has great views, if nothing else) but part of the charm in travels is being able to relate with others about the common landmarks all of us visit (one could term it as the brag factor ) or even we visit repeatedly. Surely there are many such examples.

And something to be said about beauty being in the eyes of the beholder. I, for one, have never understood much of contemporary art In that, both I and my six year old boy are very much alike. May be proving at least part of the Gandhi theory (that it is not a trinket and a "kid" of my age doesn't get it)?

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