Friday, May 19, 2006

Search For The DaVinci Code Grail - Part 1

In a shameless attempt to capitalize on the publicity whirlwind surrounding the release of The DaVinci Code, I have dramatized the events surrounding my family vacation to France to mirror events in the book. At the time of our trip, DVC was just another poorly-written conspiracy-ridden thriller and not the phenomenon it would eventually become. I read the book after our trip and only then realized how many brushes we had with the cheesy potboiler. All links are to photos from my Flickr site that were taken during the trip. No stock photos or “borrowed” internet images are used. But judging from the fuzziness of the pictures, you would have figured that out.

DSC00808In December of 2003 I was given a secret message that I was to fly to Paris and search for the Holy Grail. I had no idea what I was looking for or where to find it, but that had never stopped me before. I assembled my crack team, which included My Wife and My Son and we flew on the custom Delta jet sent just for us and 400 hundred other people wanting to fly to Europe on Christmas Eve.

Day 1

We arrived Christmas morning and checked into our base of operations in the Seventh Arrondissement. Knowing that most things would be closed, we decided to use the day to reconnoiter. We went three blocks over to find that the Eiffel Tower was open. It gave a good overview of the entire area. We walked down from the middle level and I inspected the base for hidden compartments. Then we took a tourist bateau down the Seine and around Île de la Cité. Having gotten a good look at the terrain and obstacles we would face, we found an open bistro and prepared for the next day of heavy investigation.

Day 2

DSC00803We knew that on this search we could leave no museum untouched. We headed over to the Hotel des Invalides for Napoleons Tomb and the Army Museum. We breezed through the medieval armor to get to the main exhibit, the history of French participation in World War II. From the exhibit you would barely know they lost. But this was not getting us to the Grail.

Maybe the Grail was a sculpture. We checked the Rodin Museum for grails. A Thinker or two, some Burghers of Calais, the Gates of Hell, but no Grail. Musee d’Orsay was the next suspect sight. We flashed our Super Secret Museum Passes and walked right past the line of peons not on important missions. A thorough search revealed Whistler’s Mother, some Renoirs and lots of other Impressionists, but no religious artifacts. We dined there to refresh our energy and then moved on to our best shot: The Louvre.

DSC00822At the Louvre we knew we only had a short period of time and three checkpoints to clear. We had mapped out a plan of attack with the French military precision we had learned of earlier in the day. The first checkpoint was some painting an Italian guy called DaVinci had made. This Lisa lady (first name Mona) had to be a clue. Our spy cameras were not allowed in the gallery so all we could document was the sign to the Gallery.

This Mona lady may have known the code, but her sly smile said she wasn’t telling. Huge crowds gathered in front of her and we were only given a minute or two to survey the scene, but her eyes haunted us even more than the smile. We then rushed through two buildings and half the museum to get to our next clue. Venus De Milo should have helped us but she refused to give us a hand. In fact, she was completely unarmed. This left only Winged Victory, but that clue was stone cold as well.

DSC00832As we left through the lobby under the huge I. M. Pei pyramid we felt we were close to something important, but we couldn’t quite tell why. Maybe if we had read the dossier prepared by Dan Brown, we would have known.

Dusk was faling, so we used another line of logic. Grails hold liquids and perfumes are liquids. We went through the Tuileries Garden and Place de la Concorde then past the Obélisk de Luxor to the Champs Elysées and checked out the Sephora store. We found plenty of expensive liquids, but no Grail. Returning to our base by the Eiffel Tower, we set out to dine and rest for the night. Tomorrow we would have to widen the perimeter.

See Part 2 for a continuation of our heart-pounding adventure.


Michelle Pessoa said...

Visiting from Michele's. I think I've been to your site before, but it seems to have been redesigned.

I can't wait to see how this story turns out. ;)

Jeff and Charli Lee said...

I think I may be the only person on the planet who hasn't read the book. Will I be able to get away with only the movie version? I stand half a chance of making it to that.

yellojkt said...

I'm seeing the movie tonight. I suspect that the movie has all the action and a lot less of the pseudo-religious mumbo-jumbo. The reviews have not been kind so far, but then the book was hardly a critic's darling.

Your Mother said...

Wonderful photos! What is it you do for a living? I want to make more money so I can take foreign vacations like you do!

Wendy Boucher said...

I already think that you're a better writer than Dan Brown. Too bad you didn't think about writing The DaVinci Code first!

Impetua said...

Oh, leave poor rich famous Dan Brown alone. You're just jealous. :)

Unknown said...

Man, what a whirlwind tour of Paris. It took me 3 days just to get through the Louvre the last time I was there, and I missed plenty. The Musee d'Orsay is at least a full day, if not more. You must just whiz right by the art and not spend time digesting it. Me, I'm one of those annoying Museum goers that crys over paintings I see for the first time after looking at copies for years.

Here via Michele

Impetua said...

The idea of spending three solid days looking at paintings makes me die inside. I did manage about six hours once but that was at the Pushkin Museum in Moscow and it was chock full of big names: Renoir, Degas, Matisse, Klimt, Picasso, etc. Plus I was 23 and had really good shoes.

I say, hit the highlights and move on to the cafes, shopping and other sightseeing tasks before your brain is too full and your feet too sore.

Anonymous said...

Cool link for you, dearest 80's brother!. Be sure to check out on the lefthand side "What is an Easter Egg?" to give you the FAQ's. I heard about this on NPR today. Link to:

Your Curmudgeonly (sp?) friend, BEASLEY

yellojkt said...

I'm with impetua. We spent about three hours in Musee D'Orsay because we love Impressionists. The Louvre is just too large to comprehend. We saw some great art just wandering back and forth between the galleries we visited, but it's too much to comprehend in the time we had.

Plus we were traveling with a teenager. He was antsy enough as it was, without subjecting him to acres of Renaissance art.