The Carnivorous Plant FAQ Field Trip Report -

Southern Portugal in 2011

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I am fortunate enough to have married a woman who is interested in science and the natural world. However, this last winter, as she started to formulate a plan to visit her mum (living in Paris), I sensed danger. My concerns were verified when I listened to their skype conversation develop. They had both been trained as artists, and they gleefully planned visiting art gallery, after art gallery, after art gallery; church, after church, after church. Days, and days, and more days of art galleries and churches. And then, more art galleries and churches after that. Oh boy, just think of all the Christs I'd be seeing.

I knew my chances of surviving such an ordeal were small.

I thus began a subtle game of distraction and temptation. I beguiled Beth with comments about the interesting sights we might see if we ventured out of Paris even just a, oh, the surrounding countryside... or perhaps to bordering Spain and perhaps even Portugal beyond!

As I am insidious when I need to be, my plan worked! In time, the 3-week, Paris-only trip morphed into a 1-week Paris, 2-week Spain and Portugal trip. Hah! Hah hah! Hah!

Do not get me wrong. I enjoy a bit of time in churches and chapels, looking at Catholic wealth and endless Christs. But it does get old after a while.

We hit Paris running, and immediately visited the Louvre, where we saw lots of famous Christs. Then we walked past a few churches, and saw more Christs. The outrageous church portrayed above, is of course the Notre Dame de Paris. Often described as a beautiful tribute to Catholicism in the gothic mode, to me it looks like a brooding, evil, terrifying building worthy of any Lovecraft novel.

While in Paris, as a palate-cleanser, we visited the Muséum national d'histoire naturelle (Museum of Natural History), in particular its Galerie de paléontologie et d'anatomie comparée (Gallery of Paleontology and Comparative Anatomy) and the Grande Galerie de l'évolution (Grand Gallery of Evolution). What distinguished these displays were the overwhelming numbers of specimens.

While at the museum, we had the pleasure of lunching with Germinal Rouhan and Myriam Gaudeul, both staff scientists. I had the pleasure of contributing photographs to an exceedingly beautiful book that Germinal and Myriam recently created, called "L'herbier essentiel des plantes remarquables et surprenantes."

Germinal and Myriam were the kindest of hosts, and did not even mind when I foolishly blundered through the menu, apparently ordering things out of sequence, confusing the waiter, and generally making a hash of things.

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Revised: June 2011
©Barry Rice, 2005