And the Paris blogging, it continues. Apologies if you don’t care about my holiday, but I want everyone to know how civilized and cultured I am.
So, yes, Day One was all about the Eiffel Tower and Day Two was Notre Dame, the Pantheon and Shakespeare & Co. Day Three was another geeky one, particularly if you’re into museums and red light districts.
Some people are geeks for prostitutes, right? Maybe geek isn’t the right word…
Anyway, we started with a ridiculously early morning (6:50am, to be precise, although I had been awake from 3am because of all the excitement, so I don’t think it really counts as an early morning. More like a super late night), and got to the Louvre before it even opened. The freakin’ Louvre. It is amazingly awesome to look at, the former palace is beautiful and the pyramids are iconic…although I’m not really sure whether or not I like them. It’s like the Eiffel Tower. You’re told it’s beautiful and you’ve seen it so much that you think you like it, but you don’t really know because, well, it’s Paris and it’s magical. That made more sense in my head.
First up, obligatory bee-line to the Mona Lisa, before the room gets swamped with Asian tourists and you can’t actually see anything. It’s nice to look at, but again you don’t know if you like it, or if it’s the Mona Lisa, so you just think you do. Italian Renaissance paintings aren’t really my thing (and there are really a whole lot of them), but the sheer scale of some of them are astounding. I couldn’t paint something like that with a lifetime to spare, and some of these artists were churning them out like Mills & Boons novels.
I mean, what’s a Mills & Boons novel? Urm, anyway.
After Mona Lisa admiring, we made the executive decision that our morning would be best spent focusing on the Ancient Greek, Roman and Egyptian sections. You see, if you briefly glanced at everything in the Louvre, it would still take you 100 days (that’s like, four months, without a break), so you really do need a game plan. Game plan in hand, we got lost among the statues (Venus de Milo!), pottery, mummies, armour and oh, oh everything. It was history nerd heaven. The first room we were in took us an hour (it was about gladiators, the bestest and most gory part of ancient history), so we sort of made a little shove on for the rest of it to be out for lunch and off to our next adventure.
After pretending to be Tom Holland for a little while, we made the slog to Montmartre – where the French Can Can was born, and, perhaps, best known for being the area the Moulin Rouge is in. It’s a strange little place, I can tell you that much. It’s all sex shops and sleaze, and not in the nice fun way like Amsterdam. It feels dirty and dodgy and sort of icky.
Until you make the GIANT climb to the highest part of the city and see the Sacre Coeur, that is. It is a hike to get to, but it is worth every leg cramp and sob…the view is unbelievable.
The church itself is worth going in for a look, too. There was next to no queue when we got there right in the middle of the day – although you aren’t allowed to take any pictures inside, and you’re meant to maintain absolute silence while you’re walking around. I guess the guy who stands and shouts ‘NO PICTURES’ at people has a different set of rules, mind you. Ruins the moment a tad. It’s not as grand or ornamental as Notre Dame or the Pantheon, but again, the scale is astounded. And there are real life nuns, which totally adds to the experience.
Once you are out of the church, sit for a bit, and just look out. There are so many places to stand and look at Paris from a great height, but this view is a whole other thing. It’s just incredible. So pretty and crazy romantic. This area of Montmartre feels less tacky than the sex shop street, even when you take all the many, many souvenir shops into account. It’s quaint and lovely, and exactly how your brain pictures Paris when it’s left to its own devices. Cobbles and all.
Hard to think it was a whole week ago, I truly believe I left my head there, because I can’t quite get back into the swing of things back home! Maybe I should stop eating pain au chocolat and drinking Orangina, to be fair…
So, you know that song? Yeah, that one. Apparently, it has started some sort of strange nationwide craze for charity shops and bargain findings; a craze that I fully approve of. While every other retail store in Northern Ireland is closing (Lisburn have lost Dorothy Perkins, Evans, NV and The Sony Centre this month), it seems we will always have our thrift stores.
And Primark. We will always have Primark.
I thought, for this ON TIME (woo!) Sunday Review, I would tell you about my recent jaunt up the Lisburn Road. My logic in visiting this weird inbetween-Belfast-and-Lisburn-land was centered around the fact that very few of the shops around there seem to be shutting down, and it’s pretty damn fancy, so fancy people and students alike probably donate to the charity shops around there. And there’s a Starbucks, that was a massive factor, I won’t lie.
Anyway, to the point. I had money burning a hole in my pocket, I Googled tips and tricks for thrifting (because I Google hints and tips for everything, like the sad little lady I am) and I had a bag for life. No 5p charge for me, not at all. Over the space of four hours and, like, twelve charity shops, I bought….*drum roll*…two books. Two books. I wanted bags and bags of marvellous, cheap and miraculous wonders, but no, it was not to be.
The second book was an encyclopedia of treasures from Ancient Rome; obviously highly essential. I had to spell check encyclopedia like, ten times there. That’s humiliating for an English graduate.
I think my expectations were too high. I won’t even pretend to be some sort of involved fashionista, because I dress like a hobo (or, if I make an effort, a fourteen year old goth), but I was sort of expecting to see, I don’t know, something? A battered old AC/DC t-shirt? Denim stuff? Anything that didn’t smell like moths?
I did see an £8 wedding dress, but I didn’t want to get it because, well. I’m not that mental. Or Miss. Havisham.
I digress, as I so frequently do, but the Lisburn Road has always been a favourite of mine. I would’ve liked to live there at some point during my student life, but I ran out of money and had to live with my parents for the majority of my undergraduate career. It’s a nice area to stroll around, plenty of food and coffee and bars and interesting shops (including that one that sells the giant expensive poofy formal dresses, and Arcadia, with all it’s joyful American candy) and before you know it, bam, you’re in Belfast. With more shops, and more bars.
I did have a point to make, but it’s completely gone. Go for a dander up the Lisburn Road. If you find something amazing in a charity shop, send me a picture, so I can be jealous and cling to my two bargain books.
I already had a rant about the airport and covered the Eiffel Tower in day one – you can go read that here, if you like.
While I had a plan for the weekend in mind before we set off, day two (Saturday) was meant to be a day of wandering and discovering. And oh, it was. I am not a healthy, sporty or fit person, but I think we might have walked about 5 miles. First thing in the morning I hopped out of bed (also something I don’t usually do, at home it’s more of a roll-and-splat motion), and we made a beeline for the Seine. If you are headed to Paris in the future, you really, really have to start your trip with a boat tour. It’s insanely beautiful, very informative and gives you an idea of where everything is in comparison to everything else.
We went with Bateaux Parisian, because it wasn’t raining and we could sit outside and take fifty million pictures.
After our very lovely boat trip, we WALKED from the Eiffel Tower to Notre Dame, via a whole bunch of bridges and museums and gardens and landmarks. Paris really does need to be done on foot, we would’ve missed so much if I had been more me-like and refused to walk. Notre Dame is spectacular, of course, but they’ve built a viewing platform-thingy for the 850th anniversary (yes! 850 years! That is one OLD, OLD building), which was packed, ruined the view from the ground and looked downright cheap and tacky. Especially when you put it beside on of the most recognizable cathedrals in the world.
RIGHT. On to the real geekery. First up, after getting into Notre Dame and being silent and respectful, we got a little bit lost. Which would’ve been fun, if my legs weren’t about to drop off and if we weren’t literally going in circles. We did stumble across the world’s fanciest toilet, but I don’t think that’s really a feature of the city…
Eventually we found the Pantheon, one of the big tourist attractions that nobody seems to really go to. Except for the French. Good news is, if you are between 18 and 25 and from the EU, you get in for free! Same goes for the Louvre and the Arc De Triomphe. It pays to be from Northern Ireland. Sometimes.
This one time.
I highly recommend a visit to the Pantheon though, it’s really amazing. They have a wonderful exhibition on how the church building is actually crumbling and falling down, which was both interesting and terrifying. Maybe bring a hard hat? The real sights are underneath the church/mausoleum part (it’s changed purpose so many times, thanks to all those revolutions), where there are crypts where the French government bury citizens of note. Of which there are many! Voltaire, Rousseau, Marie and Pierre Curie, Victor Hugo, Alexander Dumas, Louis Braille…the list goes on and on. Humbling to visit and fascinating to look at (all the info. panels are in French, by the by, so you might want to get a book or an audio guide if you really want to know what’s going on).
After we went and visited some famous dead people (ah Paris, the city of love), we got lost a little bit more, but again, in the pursuit of something marvellous. If you have been to France/Paris and you are of a geeky persuasion, you really must’ve gone to Album.
Album is sort of like Forbidden Planet. Except, bigger. And better. With newer stock and older stock and displays that nearly put Disneyland to shame. It’s just…wow. They have an English section as well, so if you aren’t fluent in a foreign language (I got by okay, I’d like to point out), you won’t be completely lost.
PICTURES. ALL THE PICTURES.
As we were heading back to the tourist-beaten-track, we stumbled across another store I’d been dying to see – Shakespeare & Company. An English bookstore opened in 1951, named after an even older English language bookshop (that closed during the Second World War), the place is pure, incredible chaos. There are books everywhere, each room leading on to another room, people crammed into every little space. Oh god, I really loved it. I want my house to look like that. So many books. Heavenly, it really was. The outside of the shop is just as lovely, with little benches and trees and tables of books. Everyone who works there seems to be American, which struck me as odd (HIRE ME?!), but at least you don’t have to try and ask for a specific book in broken French!
All in all, a brilliant day of wandering and finding and shopping and romance. And now, I am sitting in Northern Ireland, wishing so badly I could just go back and stay there forever.
Don’t worry though, days three, four and five are on their way!
So, you may or may not be aware that I am a girl. Of the female persuasion, if you will. Actually, that makes me sound like a lesbian, but I’m just trying to convey to you that I am a chick. Anyway, I can’t speak for all the other geeky lady folk out there, but from time to time, I do like to embrace my inner Barbie. I just like pink, is all. And glitter.
Only sometimes, mind you. Mostly, I like Batman and converse and cats.
With this in mind, here are some pink bits and bobs that I’ve seen around; don’t worry gentlemen, I’m sure you can pull off pink just as well as any lady. Smash the gender roles.
£4 in H&M! Such a bargain, and they still have them in the store in Belfast. They don’t appear to be on the website any more, but if you click the picture, there is an even cuter Iphone cover for under a fiver…it’s panda shaped! If, however, you are a crazy cat lady like myself, you can get something very similar on Amazon. I can personally recommend this one, because I went and ordered myself one when I needed cheering up recently. It has a little tail on the back, too! Bless.
Cute, yesyes? Spotted in H&M in Belfast (the Royal Avenue one, I think). I can’t remember the exact price, because it was a while ago and I was skint and didn’t want to look too closely, lest I get depressed.
Also, I’m not actually a fashion blogger, go look and find the price yourself. Leave me alone.
More Primark love now, in the form of Hello Kitty. The little slippers were £4, but when I went back after payday to buy a pair, they were nowhere to be found! Typical. The onesie is around £14, complete with Hello Kitty ears and bow.
I know I said earlier that this was a boy friendly blog…and I truly meant it. I would greatly like to see a picture of a man in that purple onesie. Not for any weird sexy reasons, just for a giggle. Honest.
Finally, another pink pick from Primark (Lisburn). I’m not entirely sure about this, because it doesn’t really make any sense, grammatically. I do so love a garment that lets everyone know that you’re smarter than them, though. It saves telling everyone you pass in the street, which is time consuming.
I think that’ll do nicely for girly moment, I am all pinked out. I might scrounge up the energy to do a ‘Feelin’ Blue’ for the male types out there…but only if you comment nice things.
My ego needs the boost.
Much to my horror, I didn’t get to watch Game Of Thrones on Monday night, I had to wait until Tuesday night. The reason being I was in Paris, and I suppose if there’s any reason to miss Game Of Thrones, that’s a pretty good one.
I had very mixed feelings about this episode – while some of the scenes were beautiful and moving and clever, some of them seemed (to me, at least)…rushed. This is not to say that I enjoyed it any less, but season two did this as well; some aspects of the story line are dragging, while others are tumbling all over the place at breakneck speed.
For example, the scene with Jon and Ygritte was brief and abrupt; I think they were aiming for cute and tender, but instead it was cheesy and strange. I can’t quite place my finger on what exactly it was about this that I didn’t like…perhaps they had been building it up so much, only to throw it all away with a game of tag and a quick cave tumble?
Argh. I’m annoyed I can’t find the words. Still. Rose Leslie is hot, so that’s okay.
I sound like a grumpy old critic, so I’ll go on to a scene I did like. Jamie and Brienne in the baths was extremely touching. Finally, finally Jamie Lannister seems like a half-decent human being – perhaps, away from the twisted brain of his manipulative sister, he is developing a conscience? We get the Kingslayer’s side of the story and for the first time, Ned Stark does not seem to be as straightforward as he seemed all along. George R. R. Martin writes real characters, each with their faults, failings and shades of grey.
Back to a scene I didn’t like. We’ll alternate, shall we? Jorah and Barristan’s little conversation may have been enlightening into each of their motives (Jorah all the while trying to ascertain whether or not Selmy knows his reasons for following Dany in the first place), but it was drawn out and I found myself more interested in what the queen was getting up to in the background as opposed to what her loyal men at arms were doing in the foreground. It was annoying, because she was blurry, so I couldn’t really tell.
Grey Worm is not an awful lot like what I expected him to be like, either. I thought…bigger? I don’t know, but I was all thrown off by the skinny young man that I only really got the gist of what he was saying.
I did like the Hound’s trial by combat, but given my strange crush on Berric Dondarrion, I am sure this is not unexpected. He coped awfully well when faced with a flaming sword, given how he has run screaming from tea-lights in the past, but alright, I’ll let it go. I continue to be a fan of Thoros, too. I approve of a man that drinks and brings people back from the dead. Like, Jesus. The Jesus of Westeros.
We got two new characters thrown at us this week, too. I do so love a new character. Selyse Baratheon is obviously a fully fledged nutter (she keeps her dead babies in jars and is thrilled that her husband is having a shadow-baby-making affair), and their daughter, Shireen, seems to spend all her time alone in a miserable little room, singing away to herself. I’m sure she has some wider role to play before the season is over, but in the meantime, she seems as mad as her mother.
“Oh, what’s that? You are in prison? I shall teach you to read, that will solve all your problems!”
I’m really just skimming the episode here, but I’ll finish with another scene I was not a fan of. Tywin telling Tyrion that he has to marry Sansa Stark in order to put an end to the Tyrell plot was not as moving as I thought it would be. Tyrion was outraged, yes, but they are bundling towards one particular aspect of the story line (if you have read the books, you are doubtlessly aware) with very little building of tension or atmosphere. The unraveling of this plot was far too fast and simple – serving only as a reminder that Littlefinger has many spies (and some mysterious personal motives that do not include Sansa’s well-being) and that Loras is still gay.
Good to know.
I am giving the real impression that I didn’t enjoy this episode at all – that is really not the case, I just enjoy dissecting things like this. I was entertained, appalled and amused at all the appropriate points, but, much like in the middle of the last season, I am beginning to think that ten episodes just isn’t enough time to give the story the complexities that make it so fantastic.
p.s. ROBB, NO!
Oh, I have so many blogs to write. My brain feels all busy and heavy and full of words. It should be full of more important things, like getting myself healthy (yes, I have been ill again, shock shock) or university work or learning to speak Italian.
Maybe not that last one. Anyway, I thought I would start this huge wave of blog-productivity with one about my holiday. From Friday until Tuesday, I was in Paris! And oh, it was amazing. So beautiful and wonderful and picturesque. Between my boyfriend and I, we took around five hundred pictures. Of each other, of buildings, of…everything. I loved it, I really did. I have been sulking like a child since we came home, because I would much rather be in Paris than Lisburn.
Rather than do one blog 2394728934729347289374 words long, I thought it made sense to split my Paris blogging into separate days. That way, I can go into more detail before I get bored and dander off to internet shop or cuddle my cat.
So, day one. Mostly full of airports and waiting, as day ones of holidays always tend to be. Belfast International Airport is not a bad airport, all things considered, but I have one piece of advice. Avoid The Lagan Bar, because it is ridiculously over-priced and bursting with stag and hen parties, who don’t really care that you are trying to have a conversation BECAUSE THEY JUST WANT TO SHOUT AT EACH OTHER. Instead, go and chill out in Fed & Watered – it looks much fancier, but a bottle of Corona will only sting you £3.50, instead of a freakin’ fiver. Rant over.
So, yes, on day one, we arrived in Paris. We stayed in Cambronne, about a ten minute walk away from the Eiffel Tower, with lots of little shops and restaurants around the place. I highly recommend it. Our hotel was TINY. Like, no floor space TINY, but very, very clean. I am not a picky person when it comes to hotels – the boyfriend wasn’t too thrilled with our hotel choice, but I thought it was nice. Cosy.
I am a silver linings sort of lady.
We arrived, dumped our stuff and made a bee line for the Eiffel Tower, expecting to queue for two hours or so. Joy of joys, we got there and there was literally zero queue. Straight to the top (very windy), lovely views, crazy romantic. I had been to Paris before and hadn’t bothered going up the tower (madness, I know), but it really is as incredible as people say it is. The funny thing is, the next morning when we walked past, the queue was ridiculous. Right around the bottom of the Eiffel Tower and out on the road. Take that, American coach tours, we are much smarter than you.
Have some pictures.
The park around the Eiffel Tower is pretty damn lovely as well, no one ever mentions that. Erm, that about sums up our first day though. We had dinner and went to bed, where I did not sleep. I did not sleep the whole time we were there, in case you were wondering. It’s strange though, the sleep deprivation has actually made me a productive hyper wonder-bug.
Day Two was much more interesting…I’ll get right on that, shall I?