The above was taken at the New Years Eve dinner Nikki and I attended. Of course, in the morning we went a-sightseeing at Vaux le Vicomte, the chateau that inspired Louis XIV to not only arrest/kill his Chancellor at the time, but also change Versailles from a measly hunting lodge to the grand and decadent palace it is today. And as beautiful as Vaux is, the real event of the night was eating a typical french meal (including, as you may be able to tell above, foie gras) with a lovely and kind family that Nikki knows (not her au pair family). Not only did it include four DELICIOUS courses and lots and lots of fabulous cheese (mmm, cheese), but we had a bottle of wine with each course that was fantastic. The one above? An apertif (sweet/dessert) from 1990. Nearly as old as I am! You can’t see the electric bread warmer, but I totally want one of those, too. The conversation was occasionally stilted as it occurred in both French and English, but it was interested and flowing and mostly unawkward. And also, the couple’s children are adorable.
A fabulous way to ring in 2011. Makes me never want to leave Paris!
Returned to Paris! Decided to brave Montmartre and the tourist traps (literally!) due to the absolutely fabulous weather–which lasted until early afternoon, at which point it was overtaken by cloud cover. BUT. Before then we got to wander around Sacre Coeur (<–clickable) with beautiful weather LIKE THIS. The funniest thing about it was that there were hardly any other tourists wandering around behind the church. They went straight from the church to the art market behind (also fabulous). Took this photo from a cute little park and didn’t even have to worry about people’s heads ruining the photo.
Other visited spots: Galleries Lafayette, the Montmartre Cemetery, and the Moulin Rouge (outside only).
Last day in London. I wanted to go to King’s Cross because I’m such a crazy Harry Potter fan, but not only was it under heavy construction, but there totally isn’t a nice, easy brick wall that might potentially make up a Platform 9 3/4s. (I feel like I shouldn’t have been surprised.) However, it did connect to this lovely Underground. The British transportation system is really so quintessentially British. It’s totally fabulous. Mind the Gap indeed.
Nikki and I spent most of the afternoon wandering through the myriad of alleyways and shops that make up the Camden Market, a street-based market that started in the 70s and has gotten even greater and sprawling ever since. (Found a fabulous OWL WATCH NECKLACE that is very steampunk-y and something I’ve wanted ever since The Soozinater (<–clickable) showed me this Etsy site (<—clickable).) There were a lot of things I might have bought if I had an endless supply of money, but as I don’t, I only got the watch and something for my sissy.
We went to the British Museum.
So we only had about an hour-and-a-half because we spent so much time at the Camden Markets, but we did a quick breeze-through of some of the Egyptian, Grecian, and Assyrian exhibits, commenting ironically about the “benefits” of imperialism. Regardless! Everything was fascinating. The above photo is of a remade monument to nereids, greek goddesses and nymphs of the sea. The carving of the female statues purposely mimics soaked clothing, almost transparent. Really cool.
It all made me sad-faced that I don’t remember as much from my European history classes. From high school. ANYWAY. Nikki and I plan on going back tomorrow to see more. That cool, despite the hordes of tourists. (Have I mentioned that British museums are free? The British Museum is no exception.)
After a late-ish start in which I got to read more of my romance novel (huzzah!), we went off for a walk. As it’s Christmas (PS: Merry Christmas!), the tube and most shops were all closed. We walked around for hours. My chin went numb. Eventually we stumbled across a pub that was actually open and went in for some beers and defrosting. (I actually had a cider.) My first English pub! It was fabulous. The few other guests there were kind, and they had a pub cat. Seriously. A cat living in the pub. His name is Henry, and he is 14 years old.
Christmas is a time for taking it easy, apparently. And then eating some super delicious roasted ham. Mmmmmmm….
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.
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.