Skip to main content

not so down and out in paris and london


just returned from a proper (i.e., longer than a couple of days) vacation in paris, where i had never been and london, where i had visited but did not remember that well. yes, that's yours truly standing on a postcard-worthy little street in monmartre.

both cities are remarkable and not just a little overwhelming.

my first reaction paris, as well as i can recall it (not counting the reaction at the airport, which is really, really, underwhelming) was that i needed larger eyes. because, no matter how much i stretched, how high i raised my eyebrows, my eyes would never be large enough to take in all of the intricate detail of paris. geograhically small, it looks like every square inch of the place was designed with the sole aim of making the hearts of those not fortunate enough to live there flutter with joy and envy.

this sounds like a cliche. it is a cliche. the whole city is a beautiful, romantic, artistic, gastronomic cliche and every year, double the population of canada descends on the city to see what all the fuss is about.

and what is the fuss about? here's a few things that struck me.

1. the gothic spledour of the city's architecture, in particular its churches. i took so many shots of church facades, fountains and the like that i can barely remember which ones correspond to which location.

2. the omnipresence of cafes and cafe culture. every street is littered with them, spilling out onto the sidewalk, offering the opportunity to relax for a few minutes (or a few hours) and watch the effortlessly elegant (and painfully thin) multitudes wander by.

3. best bread in the world, bar none.

4. the world's most famous painting (you know, that one from the da vinci code) is pretty damn cool in person. i really wanted to see madonna of the rocks, which is still my favourite of his, but THE painting is just eerie when you see it in person.

london is awe-inspiring in a different way. everything about the city is on a massive scale and runs at a frenetic pace, at least until you get well outside the city core. i kept getting possessed with the insane urge to start running, because it seemed to be the only way to keep up. this can become exhausting, but also exilihirating. unlike paris, which is still largely in tact, large sections of london, are very modern, many of the older buildings having been destroyed in the blitz. some of the modern touches are eyesores, but some of them are fascinating (such as the building known in local parlance as "the gherkin" for reasons that are obvious once you see it).

some of the things i'll remember from london...

1. the whole thing about how bad london food is has been greatly exaggerated. pub food is fine, but london also has great food from the former colonies, particularly indian. i would like to call particular attention to preem's bengali restaurant on brick lane (corner of hanbury).

2. related to the above, discovering brick lane (centre of the city's bengali community) and the impressive whitechapel art gallery, was a surprise. these aren't places that are on a lot of tourist guides, so the only others travelers you're likely to run into are going to be either a) lost or b) jack the ripper afficionandoes.

3. the museums and galleries in the city overall take a back seat to no one. they are awesome and, best of all, they are free.

so nine days, three time changes, many walks, a lot of flight time and an assload of photos later, i am ready to sleep and sleep and sleep... i feel like i need a vacation.

Comments

dystonia ek said…
The Famous Walks(TM) go international!
You'll have to tell me all about it sometime.

as long as you're here, why not read more?

dj kali & mr. dna @ casa del popolo post-punk night

last night was a blast! a big thank you to dj tyg for letting us guest star on her monthly night, because we had a great time. my set was a little more reminiscent of the sets that i used to do at katacombes [i.e., less prone to strange meanderings than what you normally hear at the caustic lounge]. i actually invited someone to the night with the promise "don't worry, it'll be normal". which also gives you an idea of what to expect at the caustic lounge. behold my marketing genius.

mr. dna started off putting the "punk" into the night [which i think technically means i was responsible for the post, which doesn't sound quite so exciting]. i'd say that he definitely had the edge in the bouncy energy department.

many thanks to those who stopped in throughout the night to share in the tunes, the booze and the remarkably tasty nachos and a special thank you to the ska boss who stuck it out until the end of the night and gave our weary bones a ride home…

the war is over

i assumed that the live coverage of last weekend's "march for our lives" would be hard to watch, and in some ways, it was. however, i did not expect that it would feel so joyful and empowering as well. 
the idea that "joyful" can be used in the description of a rally around the subject of violence and death seems bizarre, and certainly many of the speeches were anything but. however, it was difficult not to watch things unfold on saturday and not have the feeling that there is a spirit of positive change. young people, younger than the much-discussed millennial demographic, are taking it to the powers that be and those powers be shakin' in their shoes.

it's hardly surprising that cheeto benito ran off to golf for the weekend rather than stay and face the music of arianna grande and common; after all, he spends every weekend on a taxpayer-funded golf holiday. nor is it surprising that congress's most vocal critics of gun reform apparently spent the …

mental health mondays :: the plane truth

here we go again. it's sad enough to hear that nearly a hundred and fifty people died at the hands of an individual unwisely entrusted with a a potential missile, but now we get to observe the media circling and waiting for confirmation that the man who may have murdered them had a mental illness. and what a grotesque spectacle it is, because it basically consists of nothing but ominous insinuations that this co-pilot was depressed and so he flew a plane into a mountain, without trying to provide any larger context about the disorder or the millions of people who suffer from it.

to be clear, i don't have a problem with his apparent record of depression being brought up as a possible explanation for what happened. it's possible that there is a link. but smashing a plane full of innocent people into a mountain is not the act of someone who is merely depressed. there is a whole other level of illness going on there and, with the information we have thus far, it seems disturbi…