Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Being in Paris
April 23rd is St. Jordi day, the Catalan version of St Valentine’s day and of course the Saints day of the Patron of Catalunya, St. Jordi, is characterised by the giving of roses and books. This special day also marks international book day, inspired by the deaths of writers Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare. So why not celebrate this day of love in one of the most romantic cities in the world?
My oldest and dearest friend, Hannah spent a year abroad going to school in Amsterdam. So when she decided to go back to visit friends this year, we made the journey to an approximate mid-way point.
I thought I'd for sure miss my flight or catch the wrong train to the airport or something drastic. But I didn't! I met up with Hannah in Gare du Nord. It was great to see a familiar face again! Finally! Tralala!
Our first sunny afternoon spent in the 11th Arrondissement (where our little hotel was) was lovely. We saw the big traffic centre around Bastille and the gardens hidden in the trendy streets of Marais. Lots of beautiful people. Kind of unfair. Great galleries and amazing fashion. Then we made it up to the bar where "Those Dancing days" were playing. A super cute band of girls our age from Sweden. THEY WERE BITCHIN'! The drummer's dimples were deceiving. She was the most bad ass. The girl on keyboards was gorgeous and the others were too cool for school as well. Good times. Hannah and I made the discovery that the hipster headband is universal and, sorry to say, but it's here to stay.
Then we spent the rest of the evening bar hopping and getting "fooked." (or as far as our euros would take us... so, not far at all).
Most of the next day was spent looking for the Catacombs. We stumbled across the Jardin du Plantes (?) it was lovely. A bird shat in my hair (gross, yet far less runny than the variety a bird had decorated my shoe with the day before). After 2 hours of wandering and starting to ache (my feet are a mess after walking so much), we found it!!! An experience not to be missed! Hannah finally got to see it (She has been to Paris almost 4 times and everytime she came to the Catacombs, they were closed.)
We then met up with my friend Thibault at the Pompidou for the Alexander Calder exhibit. Great to see him again! And the Calder show was fantastic! My favorite part of the show was his Cirque du Calder. There were all his little creations of wire animals and little contraptions... It's hard to find words to describe his genius. Some of the things he made reminds me of what my grandfather Ian would have made...
Then Hannah and I inhaled a couple of crepes and met up with her darling french friend, Cecille. She is what you may imagine the typical Parisian girl might look like (short brown hair, naturally beautiful face and effortlessly cool). She met up with us near a canal and we drank wine at the edge of the water, near a big movie theatre and talked about tv and all sorts of things. It was a very unique experience. I'd love to meet Cecille again some day.
Still up for more, Hannah and I (with tongues the shade of blue from the red wine) made our way to the Seine near the Place de la Concorde (Obelisque). High off of the sight of the Eifel Tower and all the exquisite architecture in that area, we danced and ate more crepe. Then met up with Thibault again and his friends at their version of a picnic. Picnicing is very trendy in Paris now according to Thibault. It was fun. But we weren't drunk enough and the walking from the earlier part of the day was getting to us. Done with trying to understand what young, drunk, french bourgois were trying to say, Hannah and I made our way home. I can't elaborate on what exactly went down because it may hurt the future of Thibault's friends' political careers.
After eating some delicious pastries (I think we are allowed to indulge since we were there for only a few days), Hannah and I began our short film, "I Kill in Purple" a short Godardian homage. It will be amazing. We shot a few scenes at the huge cemetary with Edith Piaf and Oscar Wilde's graves. I always like to start my day with something light, like a graveyard or catacomb.
On a whim, we decided to take a bus to Montmatre. It was a mistake. The bus took us way to the edge of cracktown, Paris-style! But after a few minor panic attacks we found the right roads that lead us uphill to the Sacre Coeur, some authentic flea markets and the Amelie diner! (Cafe des Deux Moulins). The real thing is pink and seafoam with supposed original art deco moldings. It was cute but FULL of tourists and Amelie pictures and things to make sure we knew that it was shot in the film. haha. sigh*
The rest of the evening was spent loosing it in our hotel room. The lack of sleep and overdose on sugar made us mad! We finished the close-up shots and dramatic murder scen in 60's style costume. Then we found a very nice restaurant in our neighbourhood to have our slightly expensive treat of a dinner. It was FAB! I ordered duck for the first time, glazed with honey around a collection of melt-in-your-mouth veggies. The wine was a bit sweet, but we didn't care. The chocolate fondue for dessert was almost too much though. Feeling very full, happy and then slightly ill we stumbled back to our bed in the hotel.
I spent the next 2 days alone, since Hannah took her train back. I managed to see all the typical touristy things... the Louvre (spent 3 hours there, sketching and getting lost in my own little world), walked along the Champs-Elysées (way too busy and not as glamorous as I thought), discovered the little puppet theatre, LE THÉÂTRE GUIGNOL! The one with the little violent puppets! And while trying to find something else, I stumbled across this mall/cineplex on rue François Truffaut! It had the most amazing library for film, I've ever seen! So many things written about film! there was a section for borrowing movies too...
Ok, this blog is getting long.
Saw the Eifel tower again :) came back to the hotel and went to this Pizzaria down the street and got a margarita pizza for 6 euro and took it to my room and read David Sedaris. Great day.
Then I got to see the Jardins du Luxembourg and see the Sorbonne and walked to the Notre Dame and then back to the shopping area near my hotel. The hat store there was heaven. The hats were something out of a Fellini film, all with their own personality and reason to be taken home with me. :) But I resisted.
It was an amazing time in the city of love.
- Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain
- No, I didn't come to Barcelona because of THAT movie. (although it did fuel my obsession with this city, slightly). First time living away from home, away from Canada... Thinking it's gonna be an adventure. I want to share my ups and downs with you during my European get away, so enjoy. :)