From Los Angeles, CaliforniaLikes cats, the internet, Ancient Egypt, and the sound of tree frogsat work at school at play à paris at large
1 June 2012 - 2 June 2012
I left Los Angeles at 7:30 am and was determined to not sleep on the first leg to Charlotte. I was mostly successful, with the help of After Dark and an n+1.
CDG airport is sort of like the line to Splash Mountain at Disneyland. There is a long people-mover with speakers on the walls that whisper phrases in French to you as you are slowly shifted along the path.
Past customs, there are escalators a lot like the Beverly Center. You can see them from the baggage claim. I found this all very funny.
The airport is surrounded by countryside. The French countryside!
On the drive to my apartment, I saw the Eiffel Tower and the Seine.
I also saw this place and at first thought it said "OOHOO." Really that's just European time for you.
Je suis arrivée.
I put my luggage down, and went out to find some breakfast.
J'ai mangé un chocolat chaud et un pain au chocolat.
I saw a puppy near a "pharmacie." Parisian pharmacies look a lot like something else...
Then I went back chez moi and got unpacked.
After, I went to the nearby market (n.b. they don't have bags at grocery stores here--luckily I had my Feed Mill tote bag) and bought some stuff for the next few days. Dinner consisted of fingerling potatoes with creme fraiche, caviar (which was only a couple euro!), and two soft-boiled eggs. Muscato may have been involved.
3 June 2012
Today it was sort of rainy. I made myself breakfast (overeasy eggs in brown butter with home fries, mayonnaise, and dijon on the side). One thing I've learned very quickly is that even the generic store-brand dairy products here are incredible. The store-brand creme fraiche and the mayonnaise I bought are easily the best I've ever had.
Received an unexpected call from a family-friend-by-proxy right before I was going to venture to the Marais for some falafel dinner. I ended up making dinner plans with them and taking my first journey on the metro!
The metro stop for the restaurant was pretty much on the most idyllic street ever in the deuxieme arrondisement. I'm still not sure that I wasn't on a movie set.
There was some interesting grafitti too.
After dinner--probably the best thai food I have ever had and some amazing company--we went to a friend's apartment and had tea. He's a dj so I oogled the view and the MPC equally.
4 June 2012
Today I had my class orientation. I signed up for quite a few excursions, including a wine tasting, a french cooking class, and trips to Giverny and Reims. I made myself some tea upon arriving at Reid Hall, and found the sugar to be packaged like so. I won't comment further.
After taking a nap and buying some groceries, I went for my second trip on the metro. Parisian trains have seats that can be pulled up in case more standing room is necessary. Also there was this rabbit.
I met up with the friend from the previous night--along with some new people--for dinner. The trip brought me to the 9eme arrondisement, where I found
S P A C E I N V A D E R.
It doesn't get dark here until around 11 pm.
The drive back home was pretty, though blurry.
5 June 2012
Today I went on a tour through central Paris. We walked around quite a few major tourist destinations and learned a little about the history of certain monuments. We also got free ice cream. We walked past this small bit of street art along the way to our first stop (+1).
Our first official stop was Le Jardin du Luxembourg.
The Pantheon: home of some cool dead people.
There was some political art along the way. I giggled.
And then we got some famous Berthillon ice cream. I got chocolat noir et vanille.
We sat by the Seine for a little bit.
Gatsby... what Gatsby?
We passed by the fountain of St. Michel.
Then we stopped--our final stop--at l'Hôtel de Ville, the administrative center of Paris, where the French Open was playing on a big screen outside. It was raining but the French did not care!
6 June 2012
Today was my first day of class! The professor is hilarious and also very clear, so I'm excited for the upcoming month I'll have with him. After class I went to lunch with some friends, and then returned to my apartment for an afternoon nap.
It was a lazy afternoon.
Luckily, I woke up in time to see the sunset from my window.
I made myself a dinner of couscous, spiced chicken, spinach, and tomato, before doing my homework.
7 June 2012
After class, I decided to walk through Montparnasse. But the rain had other ideas for my day.
I ended up stopping at the patisserie that I ate breakfast at my first day in Paris. I snacked on an apricot and cherry tart while waiting for the rain to stop.
It didn't stop.
After heading home for a nap, I woke up to find that the sky had completely cleared!
I made myself a classically French dinner of poulet à la moutarde with sautéed spinach. I had some amazingly runny cheese on the side.
After dinner, I went out with a few friends to the area surrounding the Sorbonne. I got a chocolate crêpe with vanilla bean ice cream.
We visited one of the oldest English bookstores in Paris, Shakespeare and Co., where I picked up a French translation of a Graham Greene novel.
The metro station for our return trip was along the Seine. It was beautiful.
Back in my room, I could see the illuminated Eiffel Tower. Overall, a very pretty night.
8 June 2012
After class I decided to try my hand at something I had never made before: curry! I knew I had the basic supplies at home, but I stopped at the store for a few extra ingredients.
It was really, really, good. I ate it over spiced couscous.
The Louvre is free for people under 26 on Friday nights. A few friends and I decided to check it out.
The Louvre is easily one of the most beautiful structures (or things) I have seen.
I thought this one looked a little like zombie baby Jesus.
Afterwards, we met up with a bunch of other people from our program to see what we could find.
The Seine was lovely, per usual.
The night took us to a club, which was very European to say the least. This is what the ceiling looked like.
9 June 2012
Giverny, the country home of Claude Monet (and the inspiration for his famous water lily paintings), was the main event of the day. It's about a 1.5 hour trip from Paris through the French countryside, so I was able to nap along the way, waking up every once in a while to see some cows or horses.
The water looked like glass.
"You are neither the boots in the corner /
Nor the boat asleep in its boathouse."
Oh, hello. I look uncommonly small.
In the shop afterwards, I found a French "Where's Waldo?" book. Over here, he is known as "Charlie."
I was really craving something fried when I got home, so I made some fried chicken and homemade chips. It was just what I needed.
I also had a bunch of strawberries and apricots that needed to be eaten. Luckily, I have a pretty big sweet tooth. I don't have an oven in my apartment, but I improvised a stove-top crumble after poaching the fruit in white wine. Although ideally the "crust" would be baked, toasting it in a pan had about the same effect.
10 June 2012
Sunday Problem: It seems like everything in Paris is closed! Sunday Solution: Go to the Marais! The Marais is the Jewish Quarter (Quartier) in Paris, which means that it is guaranteed to have lots of really good (& open) food on Sunday. A friend and I met up at the St. Paul metro station to test the rumors that L'As du Falfel has the best falafel of all time.
I can't possibly express how good this falafel was. It was/is absolutely the best falafel I have ever had, and it maybe even makes the top 10 list of best things I have ever eaten. It's hard to tell the scale of the sandwich, but it's a testament to the deliciousness that I was able to eat the whole thing.
After walking around the Marais (which is pretty lovely), I headed to the area around Pigalle to attend a rehearsal for the popular French artist -M-. My musician friend here had invited me earlier in the day, and although I didn't know much about the music, I figured I might as well check it out. On the way, I saw this street art in the metro station. Or, at least, I think it's street art.
The walk to the club brought this graffiti as well: "look at the sky" can be seen all over Paris. -M- was fantastic; he's a great musician, as well as an incredibly fun performer. If you don't know his work, I highly recommend you give him a listen. I will definitely be importing his new album when it comes out in the fall.
I passed by this sign on my walk home. I have no idea what a Californian Massage is, but I can only expect the worst.
11 June 2012
Today was the day of my cooking class! After French class, I ventured to the home of an antiques dealer/cooking instructor. The bizarre knicknacks around the apartment were as exciting as the menu: feuilleté de chèvre aux épinards (spinach and goat cheese tart), poulet basquaise (basque chicken), et soufflé au citron (lemon soufflé).
Probably the best plate of all plates.
The food was delicious and surprisingly easy to make.
The apartment had a beautiful view of the pink sky. You can see La Basilique du Sacré Coeur de Montmartre in the distance.
Later in the evening, I went to Le Baron, a small club near the Eiffel Tower, to hear one of my favorite bands--Purity Ring--perform. The show was free, but the drinks were (unexpectedly) 15€. I really liked the set up of the club.
Purity Ring's setup was pretty cool too. The glowing orbs and the drum on the right would light up or change colors when they were hit, effectively giving the effect of playing light and sound. I think there was probably an arduino board involved.
Look at that MPD in action (it might take a while to load). I think it's a 32.
Afterwards, I talked to Corin (the producer/drummer) about his setup. I noticed that he was triggering his clips from his iPhone with TouchOSC, a MIDI controller iOS app that I use too.
12 June 2012 - 14 June 2012
The past few days have mostly just been filled with classwork.
I live down the street from an elementary school. On my walk to class in the morning, I see all these little scooters locked up near the school gate.
Ricola makes a drink mix apparently. I'm a fan of throat-calming teas so I thought I'd try it. It tastes like a Ricola coughdrop but with sugar added; overall, OK.
You can buy ready-made blinis in the grocery stores here and once you warm them up, they're very good.
I made curry again, adding a few more vegetables this time. I might be part couscous by the time I go home.
After studying with a friend, I walked around Montparnasse a little bit. It was warmer than it has been recently, so I took a few pictures of illuminated signs in my neighborhood.
La Rotonde was incredibly popular with ex-pat "Lost Generation" writers. Hemingway, Stein, Fitzgerald, and Eliot were all known to frequent the place.
Le Dome, which is across the street from La Rotonde, and has some lovely twinkling lights outside, was also a hot-spot for ex-pat writers.
15 June 2012
After our first midterm, I decided to finally buy my first-fresh-Parisian baguette.
Along the way I found this guy. I don't know who he is (or who he belongs to) but I've seen him around the Montparnasse area.
It's amazing how good a simple sandwich can be.
Friday night means free young people night at the Louvre, so I returned with a few friends to check out the Medieval dungeons and the Ancient Egyptian (!) section.
This used to be part of the moat.
The Louvre was originally a fortress in the Middle Ages, before becoming the palace of Louis XIV. These small dungeon-like rooms are all that's left of its Medieval history. The ceiling of this space was only a few inches taller than I am.
On to the Egyptian art!
Kittens & Egypt. What more could I ask for?
I wish all of my cutlery was translucent and made of sea shells.
I was hoping I'd see a dodecahedron, but I guess they didn't play D&D circa 1300 B.C.E.
I thought this Apis was handsome.
This mummy seemed sad.
We also saw these bizarre baby fetishes that looked disfigured. I have no idea what they were used for, but they were from the Hellenistic period.
Sometimes the decoration of the Louvre itself distracts from the art.
It's especially distracting when you notice a fire-breathing dog on the ceiling.
Afterwards, we went to dinner and I had my first kir in Paris.
And my second a few hours later at a café.
16 June 2012
The day started pretty early, with a trip to Reims, in the Champagne area of France.
Reims is famous for its cathedral Notre-Dame de Reims, which was formerly the site of coronation for the French king. Joan of Arc (Jeanne d'Arc) was present here at the coronation of Charles VII.
Reims is also built upon the land where Clovis, the first King of the Franks to unite all the disparate Frankish tribes, was baptised.
These windows were designed by Chagall. The left panel features the sacrifice of Isaac; the right panel features Joan of Arc.
I decided to light a candle.
Then we moved on to visit the Pommery Estate, where Pommery Champagne is made in the damp, cool, caves underlying the property. This was easily one of the most bizarre experiences of my life.
At first, everything seemed pretty normal.
But then I walked around the lobby and found this...
Why was there a wall of phones? I have no idea.
We were then led through a set of large double-doors. These skull-speakers were placed on both sides of the doors, emitting low creaks as we walked by.
We walked down a set of stairs into the Pommery caves. It was very dark and, at this point, I was pretty sure I was in a live-action version of the Cask of Amontillado.
Then my camera did this...
For a little bit, normalcy resumed.
Suddenly, every corner brought a new piece of post-modern, slightly macabre, art. It felt like a ride, but without the actual ride part (the haunted mansion - the doombuggies = this). These skulls sang to us.
I'm still not sure what this is, but it made music.
Some of the art was pretty cool, like this space that you could stand inside.<
Or this table covered in water that formed patterns depending on various sounds/vibrations in the room.
I'm a sucker for neon lights.
The tour, perhaps appropriately, ended with this Bacchanalia relief covered in "wine."
Allons-y! To the champagne! We each were able to try two different varieties of Pommery champagne. It was very good.
After the long drive back to Paris, I made myself roasted potatoes with smoked salmon, creme fraiche, and caviar.
17 June 2012
A close friend of mine from school had arrived a few days before, so we met in the Marais for some Sunday falafel.
The Marais was pretty busy, but we found a nice alcove in which to sit and eat.
After eating, we decided to go to the Centre Pompidou--which houses the largest modern art museum in Europe--to see the closing Matisse exhibit. On the way, we passed by the Hôtel de Ville as well as the Saint-Jacques Tower.
The Centre Pompidou is a huge, industrial, building. The outdoor/enclosed escalators reminded me of the airport, which in turn reminded me of the Beverly Center.
The view from the special exhibitions floor of the Pompidou is pretty amazing. You can see the Eiffel Tower and Sacre Coeur. Unfortunately, I couldn't take pictures of the Matisse exhibit, but it was great. Matisse often painted the same subject over and over again, sometimes only days apart, or maybe months or years. Paintings with similar subjects were placed side-by-side, highlighting changes in style.
I was, however, able to take photos of the Gerhard Richter exhibit down the hall. He's my favorite contemporary painter (just look at that self-portrait).
If you look at the spaces where the white lines intersect, you'll start to see small gray boxes. Optics are weird.
I find the process he used for this piece very interesting. Hofstadter would probably have some fun with it.
Richter has worked with gray monochromes, glass, and mirrors throughout his career.
These stacked panes of glass form a mirror that essentially turns the viewer into a Richter painting--a blurred photograph.
This gray monochrome, painted on glass, had a similar effect.
"I pursue no objectives, no system, no tendency; I have no programme, no style, no concern. I like the indefinite, the boundless. I like continual uncertainty." Gerhard Richter
Outside of the exhibit, I flipped through some books and discovered a catalogue of work by Vija Celmins. I am in love with her starfields.
Surrealism for kids!
Before leaving, I checked out the contemporary section. This piece by El Anatsui was like a Klimt background turned into a blanket.
It's hard to describe, but this canvas projects forward towards the viewer.
This room, which was covered in felt, was oddly warm and very quiet.
This was my favorite piece in the permanent contemporary collection. Jan Mancuska was one of the most renown contemporary artists in the Czech Republic before he passed away in 2011. This piece, Oedipus, comprises three intersecting narratives that can be shifted and read in a variety of ways depending on the viewer's perspective.
Ed Ruscha always wins.
I took the metro home from Les Halles, the largest and busiest metro station in Europe. It's part of an underground (post-apocalyptic) mall complex. There are weird lights everywhere and police officers with guns. Sometimes when the windows on the train are open, it feels and smells exactly like the Matterhorn.
18 June 2012
After class, we all decided to try a few sweet shops that we had heard of: Pierre Hermé for pastries and macarons, and Henri Le Roux for caramels and chocolates. The trip was only a subway stop or two away, plus a short walk.
The first stop was Pierre Hermé, where I tried the croissant ispahan at the recommendation of a friend. The croissant ispahan has an almond and raspberry filling, as well as a rose and lychee glaze. It was absurdly delicious.
I also tried an assortment of macarons, including: jasmine tea, passion fruit and chocolate, rose, saffron, and pistachio. They were as yummy as they were beautiful.
I couldn't help myself from getting this "infinite vanilla" tart, with a ganache topping of white chocolate, marscarpone, mexican vanilla, madagascar vanilla, and tahitian vanilla. It tasted like the best cake/cookie dough you've ever had.
Now onto the caramels! At Henri Le Roux, I got an assorted bag of caramels. My favorite flavors were cassis and yuzu matcha.
Well-fed and happy, we headed to Notre Dame, where one of Yale's female acapella groups was singing. This fiat was along the way. I liked the color.
They sang for about an hour, and put on a great show. We all left the concert with their rendition of "I Can't Make You Love Me" stuck in our heads.
19 June 2012
It was fairly rainy all day.
So I stayed in and made myself some dinner. You can't go wrong with dijon and creme fraiche.
20 June 2012
It was a beautiful day so a few of us decided to check out the Place de la Concorde, a public square that houses an Egyptian obelisk originally from the Luxor Temple, as well as the former-home of the guillotine during the French Revolution.
Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were executed here.
The Place de la Concorde is also famous for its fountains.
Across the street is the Tuileries Garden.
The Musée de l'Orangerie is located in the west end of the garden. The Orangerie houses Monet's Water Lilies series, as well as the Walter-Guillaume collection of Impressionist art.
These photos were strictly against the rules, so I had to hide in a corner. The Water Lilies paintings are displayed in two oval-shaped rooms that are only illuminated by a skylight. The light is filtered through a screen, which gives the room a clean glow. Debussy plays quietly in the background.
It was nice to see some of Picasso's earlier works.
Edgar Allan Poe?
Helena Bonham Carter? (Soutine was nuts. Great, but nuts).
Now onto the d'Orsay, a modern art museum located in the former d'Orsay train station (Gare d'Orsay).
Staring at the Sun.
I want to live there.
21 June 2012
For lunch we went to the 13th arrondissement, where we found Chez Gladine's--a restaurant specializing in Basque dishes.
The 21st was also the Fête de la Musique, an annual all-day-and-night music festival that takes place throughout the world. It started in Paris in 1982.
The photos got a little bit blurry.
We checked out a few different bars and clubs, including one along the Seine, where we happened upon a group of Yalies that had just graduated!
22 June 2012 - 24 June 2012
It rained most of the weekend.
I went out for a little bit, and sat along the Seine.
I wasn't sure what to do with left-over mozzarella one night, so I tried making chicken madeira. Instead of asparagus, I sauteed some mushrooms in reduced balsamic vinegar.
Another night, I was really craving french toast. I stuffed brioche with a creme fraiche and strawberry mix. It hit the spot perfectly.
The sunsets here are so delicate.
25 June 2012 - 28 June 2012
I can't even begin to describe this chevre.
"Technology is the art of today."
I went to my first Parisian wine tasting. It was a pretty nice affair.
The bourgogne, a chardonnay from Burgundy, was probably the best.
Later that night, I went to a party with my musician friend where I met a few other Americans. This mural was being painted.
Bocci ball was also being played.
One afternoon, I decided to make some tom kha kai. It turned out better than I could have possibly expected, and was surprisingly easy to make. I would be ok with eating this always.
On another afternoon, the search for a lunch place brought with it some fun street art. I'm a sucker for a good skull.
Or Star Wars reference.
Or uninspiring phrase.
Lunch brought with it delicious desserts.
I have no idea what this is but it was on my camera and I thought it was pretty.
The night before my final exam, this ladybug wished me luck.
29 June 2012
The day started with a trip to a patisserie down the street.
This is called a "drops." It's unclear if it's singular or plural, but whatever it is, it is very good.
A close friend of mine from school invited me to see the new Gerhard Richter documentary with him. The movie was spoken almost entirely in German, but subtitled in French. I loved it. Seeing his process was fascinating and extraordinarily beautiful. This sticker was on the seat in front me. It says, "The boundaries are in your head."
After the movie, I checked out the modern floor of the Centre Pompidou.
This reminded me of someone.
This reminded me of someone else.
Yves Klein blue up close and personal.
This is a piece by Zoltan Kemeny. Anyone who has seen that episode of Gilmore Girls knows what's up.
The Centre Pompidou has quite a few pieces by Picasso.
30 June 2012
A few of us decided to take a day trip to Vaux-le-Vicomte, the renown chateau built by Nicolas Fouquet for Louis XIV.
At the train station, we found Haribo World Mix. It combines all the best gummies from around the world. This baby gummy tasted like a pina colada.
I would like a Palace of Chocolate please and thank you.
A screen projection of ye olden time people dancing made this room extra special.
1 July 2012
I met up with one of my best friends from school for a Sunday lunch in the Marais. We went to L'As du Falafel, per usual.
After lunch, we found an amazing bookstore at the Centre Culturel Suisse.
We also found some fun street art along the way.
The cake is definitely a lie.
It was also the day of the Pride Parade.
Mao was reppin' LA.
"Love is never dirty."
We stopped by the Carnavalet Museum, which is the museum of Paris. These are portraits of all the employees of the Carnavalet juxtaposed with their favorite pieces from the museum.
This ring contains Marie Antoinette's hair.
2 July 2012 - 4 July 2012
Waking up early to make breakfast is a simple pleasure.
I've seen a few posters throughout Paris that promote sexual/contraceptive rights. This one was in the metro station near my apartment. The way that political issues are framed in France seems to almost always relate to the rights of the collective. Whereas in the U.S. this type of issue is often related to individual liberty, in France it is seen as "our liberty."
By chance, a friend from school was spending a few days in Paris. We ate some delicious crepes in the Marais.
We also (finally) found some Mexican food. Tacos are very important.
On her last night in Paris, we took a nice walk on the Île Saint-Louis. It was a beautiful night.
As it was the eve of the 4th of July, the Hotel de Ville had put a few American flags on its facade.
The next day I took the little sister of one of my closest friends to dinner at a ramen place in the Tuileries Quarter. For dessert, we had speculoos ice cream (a flavor that can be described as cookie-butter, akin to nutella, but made with cookies).
5 July 2012 - 8 July 2012
A group of 7 of us took a weekend trip to Amsterdam. We left on the night bus on Thursday night and arrived very early on Friday morning.
If this ticket doesn't seem legitimate, then I don't know what is.
The tram symbol in Amsterdam reminded me of the Trystero symbol.
This sign actually says "Thurn and Taxis," so basically The Crying of Lot 49 is real.
Casual tram menagerie, complete with magical white horse.
By the time we got into Amsterdam proper it was about 7 or 8 am. We found an English breakfast place that was miraculously open, and enjoyed a meal before heading to the Van Gogh museum.
Outside of the museum, in a courtyard, there is a Van Gogh "painting," but made out of rocks.
I actually fell asleep standing up at one point. Fresh mint tea from the museum cafe was in order.
After settling in to the apartment where we were staying, I headed to the Pitch Music Festival with one of my friends. I was very lucky to see some of my favorite musicians (ask me about the time that Kode 9 dropped "Archangel" and I'll probably tear up).
The Weeknd played a pretty good set.
James Blake played a very good dj set.
The next day brought lots of exploring. Amsterdam can be a pretty city.
For breakfast/lunch, we ventured to the "Pancake Bakery." I had a savory pancake with bacon and cheese in it.
After walking through the Red Light District (which was interesting, and also in some ways, very sad), I happened to look to my left and find the place where Chet Baker, my favorite jazz musician, passed away.
& let it be easy.
We had a very pleasant dinner, by candlelight, of fondue.
9 July 2012 - 15 July 2012
I had a bunch of extra lemons, so I decided to try making a lemon curd (as well as some mint lemonade). It was difficult to get the timing correct, but it turned out pretty delicious.
A friend of mine came to stay with me. The next morning we walked through the Montparnasse Cemetery and found Sartre and de Beauvoir.
We also checked out the Palais de Tokyo, in the Chaillot Quarter, which houses some cool contemporary art.
There is apparently a large Filipino community in Israel.
"1%: I'm So Alone."
"A book for two people who are weak and tired, together in private."
The day or two later, we went to Pere Lachaise, one of the largest cemeteries in Paris.
"The Importance of Being 20."
Later that night, I noticed this Brian Cox reference at an Irish Pub near the Hotel de Ville. I freaked out a little bit because... well... Brian Cox.
The next day, somewhere near Bastille, we found a bridge with "love locks" on it. Couples place a lock on the bridge and throw the key into the river as a symbol of their love.
We also "promenaded" along the Paris-version of the Highline, La Coulée Verte. It was rainy, and not that impressive.
Soon it was Bastille Day in Paris! After attending a few parties during the day, we saw fireworks near the Eiffel Tower.
The night ended at a popular club.
The next day, we tried to get into the Catacombs, but it didn't exactly work out.
So instead, we headed to the remains of a human zoo (1907 Colonial Expo) at the edge of the Bois de Vincennes. This was one of the weirdest/eeriest things I have ever seen. In the early 1900s, the Jardin Tropical was built to house men and women from French colonies in Cambodia, Laos, the Congo, and elsewhere. They lived in the habitats provided and were kept, essentially, to entertain visitors to the site.
The "Indo Chine" pavillion.
Laos & Cambodia.
The "Congolese Habitat" was burned down in a fire some years ago. I haven't been able to find anything that identifies the source of the fire, but I would not be surprised if it was arson.
Overall, an incredibly disturbing, upsetting, and fascinating experience.
That night, I was really craving some sukiyaki, so after some googling, we found a nice place near the Louvre. It was delicious.
We walked around a little after dinner, and passed by a place called "Belle Epoque Dinner Spectacle." I'm still not sure what this is/was.
16 July 2012 - 19 July 2012
It was a slow few days.
There are few things better than homemade beef hash.
Or fresh, warm, couscous.
20 July 2012 - 23 July 2012
I went for a weekend trip to Berlin, where I stayed with a friend in Neukölln. I would like to go back as soon as possible.
Berlin is such a pleasant city. It's definitely exciting and there is always something to do, but it somehow still maintains a sense of stillness.
The first day involved lots of city-exploring. Along a still-standing part of the Berlin Wall, various artists have painted murals. This area is known as the "East Side Gallery."
Someone was excited enough about the Sherlock S2 finale to make their own little addition.
Along the northern edge of the East Side Gallery is what can only be described as an African Beach Park. Yeah, I don't get it either.
On to the Prater Beer Garden, the oldest "beer garten" in Berlin!
It was a beautiful day at Schloss Charlottenburg--the largest palace in Berlin--which was once the home of the Hohenzollern family.
"Can you hear me now?"
Before going out (and meeting up with other friends), we stopped for some currywurst. Currywurst, which is basically just sausage with curry powder and ketchup, is one of Berlin's most popular fast foods. I am a big fan.
The next morning, we had potentially the most pleasant breakfast of all time.
A bit later we headed to the site of a (psuedo) abandoned theme park with some friends. A few rides had been restored and were open to the public.
While taking a tram tour, we passed by the remains of an old log ride.
Afterwards, we checked out the "badeschiff," which is basically a swimming pool in a river.
No visit to the badeschiff is complete without a game of gin rummy.
Here's a mathematical proof for why Berlin is the coolest.
That night we went to the album release party for Cooly G's "Playin Me" in Kruytzberg. Kode9 and Seraphina opened, followed by Cooly G, followed by an intense final four hour set by Kode9. At 6:58 AM, Kode9 dropped one of my favorite songs of all time. We left at 9 am, a little delirious and still marked with the club's maneki-neko stamps.
Later in the day, after much sleep, we headed to the Brandenburg Gate and the surrounding area.
The Holocaust Memorial in Berlin is very moving.
We walked around Museum Island for a little, and found this beautiful church.
And the TV tower near Alexanderplatz.
As the sun set, we walked through the old Tempelhof Airport (a former U.S. Military airfield from the Cold War). The Tempelhof Air Field, located in west Berlin, is now a huge public park.
A part of the park is filled with small, community gardens.
Near the park, there were quite a few tiny restaurants illuminated by candlelight. We picked one that looked good.
Mhm, homemade spaetzle.
Before returning to the airport, we had a lovely breakfast of various pastries along the canal. Berlin was perfect.
24 July 2012
Before class, I headed to "Au Petit Versailles," a boulangerie my sister frequented when she lived in the Marais.
I walked to the Place des Vosges, the oldest planned square in Paris, where I sat on the grass and ate my pastries. I had the most delicious apricot crumble and pain au chocolat with toasted almonds. I might say that the pain au chocolat was the best pastry I've had in Paris (it's at least tied with the croissant ispahan from Pierre Hermé).
25 July 2012
Every summer, a few sections of the Seine are turned into "beaches." It was a hot day, perfect for some studying in the sand.
After class (and our final exam), a few of us headed to the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature, a bizarre place filled with taxidermied animals and a few funny, self-aware, gags in the Marais. This is a pickled stuffed animal.
This little mouse was hiding in a corner.
This boar began to speak in a vague half-grunt, half-French language. His mouth moved too.
It's a whimsical and strange place. I highly recommend it.
Near the museum is the Marché des Enfants Rouges, an outdoor market that is very popular for lunch.
On the way back, we passed a couple of cute bars and cafés. The "Pink Flamingo" had a table set up in a car parked outside the restaurant.
We also passed by La Belle Hortense, a beautiful literary bar.
As the sun was setting, I couldn't resist stopping by Berthillon on the Île Saint-Louis. I got a single scoop of salted caramel ice cream, and sat along the Seine.
A nearby band was playing old jazz standards, including Chet Baker's "There Will Never Be Another You."
At the tip of the Île Saint-Louis is the memorial to the Jewish people deported from France in the Holocaust.
Adjacent to the memorial, there is a bridge covered in love locks. This bike lock was pretty heavy-duty.
"Two drifters out to see the world."
The light was perfect.
26 July 2012
I woke up early to (finally) get into the Catacombs. Even getting there a half-hour before it opened, the line was still about an hour and a half.
The entrance reads "Stop! This is the Empire of Death." Perfect.
Would anyone like a Cask of Amontillado?
The sheer mass of bones in the Catacombs is simultaneously astounding and unsettling. You are surrounded by hundreds of thousands of bones for about a mile.
After the catacombs, I headed to a slightly less macabre spot: the Rodin Museum.
I think I like Rodin's rendering of human backs the best.
The sunset that night was absurdly red.
Later in the evening, I decided to sit on the Champs de Mars to see the Eiffel Tower's light show. I was not the only person with this idea.
The Eiffel Tower really is awe-inspiring.
Across the river from the Eiffel Tower, there is a beautiful, old, carrousel that seems like it was taken straight of La Belle Epoque. I sat for a few minutes watching it go round and round.
27 July 2012
The day was awfully busy, filled with errands and last-minute visits to museums and parks.
While waiting for some laundry to finish drying, I took a walk to the Luxembourg Gardens. On the way I passed by the Fontaine de l'Observatoire.
The fountain is located right outside of the Jardin Marco Polo and the Jardin Robert Cavelier de La Salle. If you look closely, you can see that someone got a little creative with their use of red spray paint.
In the northeast corner of the Luxembourg Gardens is the Fontaine Medicis, a beautiful fountain kept in a grotto-like area. I think this might be one of my favorite spots in Paris.
On the walk back to the "laverie," I passed by the Pantheon in the distance. The last time I saw the building was while on a tour during my first week in Paris. It felt like things had really come full circle.
After putting my laundry in the dryer (I think laundry is one of the most expensive things in Paris, with 10 minutes in the dryer costing 1 euro), I headed to the Institut Pasteur, one of the premiere research institutions in France and the world.
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to take any photos of the interior of the Institut. Part of the Institut also used to be Louis Pasteur's home. I was, however, lucky enough to take a tour! All of his rooms, as well as his lab equipment, have been left as they were when he passed away. I even got to see his original samples of tartrate, which served as the basis for his discovery of stereochemistry, and some of his first samples of attenuated rabies virus. Pasteur is buried in the "crypt" of the Institut, a gorgeous tomb.
Overall, a very fascinating visit.
I happened to walk past the former home of Yves Klein on my way home.
A few friends and I soon headed to Angelina Tea Room, which is world renown for its hot chocolate (chocolat chaud) and its "Mont Blanc" dessert, which is a layer of meringue covered in whipped cream with a chesnut flavored soft shell. Both were delicious.
Outside of Angelina is apparently the oldest English bookstore on the continent.
Angelina is right by the Tuileries, where a large summer fair was still going.
My sister gave me the very generous gift of a fun outing in Paris. I decided to go to La Rotonde, which was immensely popular with the ex-pat Lost Generation writers, as well as a large number of French artists. From Hemingway, to Man Ray, to Modigliani, to de Beauvoir, La Rotonde was the place to be. In The Sun Also Rises Hemingway wrote: "No matter what cafe in Montparnasse you ask a taxi-driver to bring you to from the right bank of the river, they always take you to the Rotonde."
I started with the escargot, which were very good.
Followed by the oeufs en cocotte, which were poached eggs in a sauce with morel mushrooms and asparagus. This was easily one of the best things I ate in Paris.
Finally, I had my extremely belated first taste of Parisian foie gras. The fruit compotes that it was served with were incredible.
After dinner, we had a final kir at the Closerie de Lilas, another cafe that was once popular with the Lost Generation, especially Hemingway. It is also heavily featured in the "French in Action" videos used in Yale's french courses.
As it was our last night, a few of us headed to Sacre Coeur to see Paris one last time from the highest point in the city. On our walk through Montmarte, I saw these green orbs in a shop window and thought they were very pretty.
Sacre Coeur is beautiful at night.
We were treated to a fire-dance show for a few minutes. The crowd was pretty into it.
It's hard to get a good picture of the city because of all the lights.
But with a slightly longer exposure, you can get a pretty good shot. Standing at the top of the city, I already missed Paris.
28 July 2012
It was time to say "au revoir" to Paris, so I packed up my bags and cleaned my apartment and hopped on my plane home.to the beginning || week: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8