2010 – Iki-shi, Nagasaki-ken, Japan, Earth

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12-24

SWANS!

Happy Christmas Eve, fools!  Today we started at Notting Hill (got a Peppermint Mocha at Starbucks.  Deliiiiicious!), wandered through a street of houses for ambassadors, strolled through Kensington Garden Park and played with a giant convex mirror.  But not finished!  Next stop: Buckingham Palace and St. James’ Park, finishing off at the House of Parliament and Westminster Abbey.  All fabulous.  Today I actually said “Wowza.”  And not even ironically.

The above photo is in St. James’ Park, right across from Buckingham Palace.  The birds are adorable if a little too comfortable around people (and the bread they sometimes bring).  But more fabulous is the building you can sort-of make out in the background.  Dozens of minaret-esque spires of varying levels.  Gorgeous.

12-23

Yeah.  It was cold.Spent a single day in Paris, and Nikki and I scooted over to London via the chunnel.  Despite the cool temperatures (it was actually quite fine during the daylight.  Said daylight lasted maybe four hours), we strolled to Trafalgar Square, ate some super good Chinese good, then (bad idea) visited the National Portrait Gallery.  Nikki and I are both super big fans of art and could have probably spent a full day wandering and reading (OMG, I can understand EVERYTHING here.  England = Genius!).  However, we booked it around 3:30 for more walking.  Did walk-bys of Big Ben and Parliament, the London Eye and a Christmas faire, Waterloo Station, and capped it all off with the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge (above).  By that time, I could barely feel my face (also: thighs.  Must remember to wear thermals).  But zoinks, it’s so interesting!  I love the contrast of the older gothic/marble/carefully carved architecture versus the clean lines and glass of modern buildings.

Also: I LOVE MY NEW LENS.  Seriously.  How did I live with a 50mm for so long?  Wide angle = wooooonderful.

12-22

Yeah.  Jaw totally dropped.After my Arrival Adventure, Nikki and I trekked to her house, dropped off the luggage, and promptly returned to the city.

Paris is amazing.  Fabulous.  Unlike any other city I’ve ever been to.  (Makes a great deal of sense, considering I have really only traveled abroad in Asia.)  Wherever you look, there are fantastic old buildings butting right up against each other, even though they were built at different times.  There’s history on every street.  Different languages dance through the air.  During Christmas, you can grab a cup of vin chaud (mulled wine) and a baguette sandwich.  The streets are relatively clean, and the architecture is fabulous.

We spent the afternoon at Notre Dame and walked from there to L’Arc de Triomphe, about two kilometers away.  This gorgeous stained glass is clearly Notre Dame.

Holy.  Crap.

I gotta say, things like Notre Dame totally make me understand why people are Christian.  There is something otherworldly about the atmosphere in the church, even though it’s filled to the brim with tourists, or the occasional flash that disturbs the low-light.  The ceiling towers in intricate arches overhead with carefully laid bricks adding to the decoration.  And then, of course, there are the windows.  Color in a grey world.  Totally fabulous.  At one point, I turned to Nikki and said, “You know how in books, people’s jaws drop when they’re shocked?  Yeah, my jaw?  It dropped.  And I can’t seem to keep it shut.”

Sometimes in tourism, reputations are well deserved.

12-21

I was quite nervous that someone would yell at me for taking this picture.I took Cathay Pacific to Paris, so my flight out of Fukuoka had a layover in Hong Kong.  Said layover was long.  Super long.  Nine hours long.  And my computer died about three hours in.  So I couldn’t crit, I couldn’t write.  And the food was expensive.

But don’t get me wrong: this is a really nice airport.  Easy to get around, clean, good architecture.  It’s just kinda boring to spend awhile there.  Makes me miss my kindle a lot.

Luckily!  My flight was neither delayed nor canceled despite the madness with European travel due to Epic Snow.  I arrived in Paris on time and exhausted.  But didn’t fall asleep for another twelve hours.  After having a fun adventure searching for my friend Nikki at the station.

12-20

Fukuoka PortAnother example of how terrible I am at taking photos with my iPhone.

The port at Fukuoka.  One of my last glimpses of Japan.

12-19

Yup.  My island is prettyful.Well.  This is my last picture of Iki for 2010 and this 365 project.  Kinda weird to think about.

TANK and I went to my favorite place on Iki, Aoshima, so she could practice picture taking on her shiny new camera while I just wanted to get out of my (newly cleaned!) house.  I rocked the lensbaby and found out one of the rods had broken!  But it still takes photos.

This is a small shrine atop a very small island just off the road. It’s adorable.  And super picturesque right next to the water.  You could also see the moon, but 50mm makes that hard to fit in.

In any case!  I am leaving Iki tomorrow, spending a night in Fukuoka, and then it’s off to Paris and London.  Huzzah!  But I think I shall miss Iki quite a lot.  Even if it is freezing.  (It will, in all likelihood, be much colder in France/England.  Hm.)

12-18

The power of eggs.As I prepare to leave for Paris, I’ve been trying to go through the remaining food in my fridge so I don’t waste much.  Then, on Saturday, I opened up the thing to make meself some eggs and noticed that I had ten eggs left.

TEN!

Now, unless I wanted to eat eggs for each meal for two days (hint: I didn’t), I realized there was only one way to solve this conundrum.  That being eggnog.  Went online, found this recipe (<–clickable!), busted out the hand-held blender and voila!  Delicious, slightly alcoholic holiday goodness.  It’s deeeelicious.  And I finally found a use for the whole cinnamon sticks and nutmeg that my mom sent me ages ago.