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!
I really must have mentioned this brilliant little shop before, but I figured that I should devote a whole blog to it’s wonders, because it truly is a treasure trove.
The Corium sells handmade, locally sourced nick-nacks and whosits, and recently opened an online store (so if you’re stuck indoors because of, for example, snow, you can still shop ’til you drop). If you are out and about braving the weather, you can visit the shop in Belfast, just around the corner from Forbidden Planet and Urban Outfitters, right opposite Alley Cat.
Anyway, I’ve been browsing their online store – here are a few of my very favourite things.
Mushroom salt & pepper shakers
These are adorable, are they not? Anyone who buys them and does not immediately draw little faces on them so that they look like Mario mushrooms is no friend of mine.
Only £5.50, too! Bargain, especially if you compare with the extortionate prices for similar products in a certain nearby hipster-factory.
Lego Boba Fett necklace
Have you ever seen anything that is such a perfect balance of kick-ass and adorable? No, you have not. Look at his little hands! There are a few necklaces in this style – and £8 is a steal for something like this. Mind you, they do have a Jar Jar Binks necklace, which is of course the ugliest, most inappropriate thing I’ve ever seen, you should only buy it if you plan to melt it.
I am not a Jar Jar fan, could you guess?
Plucked from the sale section of The Corium’s website, these freakin’ adorable little key-ring people are in short supply. At £3.99, it’s no wonder. I would like one, please. He could keep my little string-person-Spiderman key-ring company.
I like that his slightly wonky eyes make it look like he’s glaring at you. Realism.
I find it a tad bizarre that Belfast is proud of the Titanic. Yes, it’s cool that it was made here, but there are some very quiet rumours that the ship didn’t actually do very well once it was out on the big blue wet thing.
Still, it pulls in the tourists, so I suppose it can only be a good thing. And the witty t-shirt (£9.99, by the by), has a point…
Next time you are in Belfast, it is well worth hunting this tiny little cave of magical thing-a-ma-bobs. Be prepared to spend a small fortune though, you won’t be able to resist. You can find The Corium on Facebook, here.
You can find me on Facebook, here.
I’m not sure when it happened, but sometime in the recent past, ‘geek’ became a trend. I am not about to go on a rant about how this is disgraceful and how I hate that people are wearing Batman t-shirts when they probably don’t know a thing about him (I do hate it, by the way, but that’s a whole different thing). Instead, I thought I would take a more positive look at this trend, and how it affects ‘us’.
‘Us’ being the geeks who got bullied in school for our strange ways and lack of fashion sense, of course.
Where before, we were mocked and poked for liking superheroes more than real people, for playing Xbox more than dating and for understanding the meaning of the word ‘cosplay’, now we are highly desirable, fashionable figures of wisdom, and everyone is dying to know what we thought of Avengers Assemble and The Dark Knight Rises.
Oh! How the times have changed! Northern Ireland is usually so gloomy and stuck in it’s ways (see, for example, any thing on the news about the country, ever), that I had resigned myself to the fact that I would forever be considered ‘odd’. That I would bump into people from school, and they would walk away whispering about how I haven’t changed a bit, and isn’t that a shame?
Instead! Suddenly my Captain America t-shirt is the most admired thing in my wardrobe, my comic book collection actually played a huge part in getting me a boyfriend and my job as a history geek makes me ten times more interesting.
I’m not sure entirely where I’m going with this rant, but surely, I’m not the only one to notice this? It’s sort of a great thing – people are getting into comic books and video games in a way that they never have before, especially women, because these things now carry more of an air of normality and acceptability. Video games are now part of social events (my house has weekly Halo nights, it’s about as much socializing as we actually do), Halloween is now an opportunity to whip out your cowl (rather than yer baps, yeo), and geeky girls are not recognised as being a wonderful, hot commodity (rather than a rare, skittish, basement-dwelling creature).
I love this. I know it’s just a trend, and it will all be over soon, but in the meantime, I am content to bask in the adoration that my huge knowledge of Batman has earned me, and to take advantage of the geeky t-shirts and pyjamas popping up all over the high street.
I have decided, in my infinite wisdom, that my blog needs to be more…regular. Steady. Organised. You may have noticed, I sort of blog and write and rant as the need takes me. Sometimes, this results in no blogs for a week, and sometimes, it results in three blogs a day.
So, now, on Sundays, I am going to review something. It can be anything. Something Northern Irish and touristy I have done during the week, a restaurant I could eat myself into a coma in, books, plays, songs, people, ANYTHING.
I thought I’d start with something I really, desperately and passionately care about, because this could all go downhill from here. At least I will have covered something that I truly believe really matters.
This week, my wonderful geeks, I am going to ramble about The New 52. Again. Shut up, it’s my blog, I can do as I please.
Yes. So. The New 52. I’m not going to explain the whole thing in detail again, because I’ve done that before, and because you can find that on the internet, but just to give you a vague idea if you are clueless – in 2011, DC rebooted fifty-two of their comic book titles, and it is glorious.
2011, you say?! That’s a long time ago, it’s too late for me to get into this!
Not at all, dear friends. You can find the start of a story arc and hop in there, or scour the internet/back issues in Forbidden Planet, and get yourself caught up. We’re on issue #15.
So far I’ve said a whole lot of nothing, so FOCUS. I will mainly talk about the issues I actually collect, because, well, I know most about them, and it seems the logical thing to do.
Actually, now that I look at that picture, it’s missing a few (this is just the most recent haul, it doesn’t actually cover a whole month…), but I digress. I am a huge Batman fan, as you should well know by now, so a lot of the titles I go for are The Bat-Family titles.
The latest Batgirl series is written by the one and only Gail Simone, who is right in Barbara Gordon’s head, and makes her the coolest chick with a cowl that has ever been committed to page. The series also has this amazing way of being really moving, which is an achievement in any comic book – they get so few pages to get the story across, after all.
While Batgirl manages to be cool, moving and all around awesome, the latest Bat-Family story arc has added another dimension to the reboot- the reappearance of the Joker is terrifying. More than terrifying. Unnerving, thrilling, painful. While some comic books, yes, even Batman, have in the past been predictable and formulaic, there is just no way of knowing where the Joker is going to go next.
His face is also held on with elastic bands and buckles – that’s pretty damn creepy, too.
Unfortunately, I’m not enjoying every title as much as I am enjoying Batman and Batgirl. Suicide Squad, featuring the fan favourite Harley Quinn, is just not grabbing me. It’s not a regular purchase for me, but the couple I have read just lack something. The art, on the other hand, cannot be faulted. Is this not one of the most amazing pictures of Harley and the Joker you have ever seen?
It’s just such a shame that I can’t get into it- I really wanted to. On the other hand, I have found myself drawn to something I never thought I would be. Batman and Robin is really quite great. If you didn’t know, the latest Robin is Damien Wayne (Batman’s son, with Talia Al Ghul).
I didn’t like Damien when he first popped up in my precious universe – I thought he was unrealistic, contrived and difficult to warm to. The reboot managed to change that, although I’m not entirely sure how. They gave him a dog? Maybe that’s it.
It also makes it more clear that everything Damien does, he does for his father. While before, he was killing and ‘didn’t understand why it was wrong’ (they have done this before – Cassandra Cain, Huntress…), now it is obvious that he loves Batman, and truly wants to do right by him.
Oh…look. I have gone on for much too long, and haven’t even really managed to make any points. I should’ve known this would happen. I’ll finish off on a slightly different, less Batman-centered note. While I haven’t read it myself, there is one title from the New 52 that is constantly being ranked as the greatest – check out Animal Man and let me know what you think?
Sorry for the rant. I’ll rein it in for next week, promise.
* You can get The New 52 from Forbidden Planet in Belfast, or order online. I trust Forbidden Planet more, personally.
** You can like me on Facebook. I would like that.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,000 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 3 years to get that many views.
Other potential blog titles included:
All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Geek.
All I Want For Christmas Is Geek.
Oh, Come, All You Geeky.
Titles Are Hard, Here Are My Presents.
I am walking, talking proof that Santa is real, and that he read my Christmas list. Also, my family and friends love me dearly, and encourage me in my geeky exploits.
Mr. Main Present was, of course, the new best trilogy ever made. Christopher Nolan’s beautiful, and complete, presence can now be found in my house. Batman marathons have already been had.
I also got a food processor, but nobody seems to be as interested in that as I am. All food in my house is now served in liquid form.
No geeky Christmas haul of mine would be complete with at least one Batman hardback, and boy oh boy, did my man deliver. Batman: Death By Design is absolutely beautiful. Before you even open the damn thing, the cover is just amazing, and the art…I’ll let it speak for itself, shall I?
Highly recommended. As comes my present from a very good geek girl friend (well, that’s a mouthful), who knows me too well, and shares my obsessive love of all things Westeros.
As you may well know, I am forever on a quest to make my house a real little geek nest…without making it look childish or cheap; so these mugs are a sexy god-send. I love them, I truly do.
The boyfriend was similarly well gifted by friends and family, and since we live together, I like to think what’s mine is mine, and what’s his is ours. So, yay. He and his friends decided to sort themselves a Secret Santa (adorable, I know), and he may have got the best present ever given to anyone, ever.
My brother and his lovely girlfriend (listen to the podcasts- they’re on there) added to my wonderful collection of geeky reference books and adorableness with these little gems –
The Batman encyclopedia is the only one I have written after the New 52 reboot, which is great. Except for that it renders all my other big reference books irrelevant (and there are many). Dammit.
AND. If you have not read Darth Vader and Son, you are really missing out- it’s the cutest thing ever.
As well as my wonderful geeky haul, I am a girl, so I got many smelly wonderful things and bakery gadgets. I was, and am, an extremely happy and spoiled bunny! If you got any of these marvellous goodies for Christmas, let me know!
And if not…it’s not too late to buy yourself a Christmas present.
First of all.
In light of all the things going on in Northern Ireland at the minute, I thought it would be sort of weird for me not to say something. Especially given my latest quest to keep things topical.
Also known as – the quest for ratings. That’s a South Park episode, so. Yeah. I stole those words.
Anyway, in a nutshell, a middle-of-the-road political party sided with the republican/nationalist vote, and it was decided that the Union Jack will now only fly over Belfast City Hall on a few designated days. There have been riots, death threats, violence and a mob mentality oh-so-typical to this country and it’s reputation.
The thing is, though, that the majority of the country aren’t really all that bothered. In fact, we’re embarrassed. Yeah, I personally think that we are a British country, and we should fly the Union Jack all the time, but when it comes down to it, it’s only a flag. For the sake of a flag, people are hurting each other, and the country, with their actions and their words.
I truly thought we were past this, Northern Ireland. I’m so embarrassed to be from here, and I’m disappointed that a DEMOCRATIC vote resulted in this situation.
Anyway. On to something more fun and geektastic. It’s been a while since I had a Game Of Thrones themed blog, given we are stuck between seasons two and three in this horrible limbo. Plus, Christmas is coming up, so…
GAME OF THRONES RELATED CHRISTMAS PRESENT IDEAS
(That’s not very catchy. Sorry).
First up, I had to share something I actually recently got as a birthday present, from a much beloved and darling friend. Suck up, ain’t I? These figures are VERY new, in fact, Forbidden Planet isn’t actually getting them into stock until February.
Luckily, you can get this and a few other Game Of Thrones POP! figures on the HBO shop now. I’m so ahead of the curve, huh? Click on the picture to be magically transported.
This Disney-style Mother Of Dragons t-shirt would, I am sure, be greatly appreciated by any Game Of Thrones fan this Christmas – have a wee scroll around Etsy, it comes in a variety of colours, shapes and sizes.
Next up, another little item I got myself recently, it was also a gift. From me, to me. That still counts.
This coffee table book, ‘Inside HBO’s Game Of Thrones’, is, out of anything on this very useful list, a must have for any fan. It’s funny, colourful, interesting and informative. And sexy, it’s definitely sexy.
I’ll let you in on a secret, too – the RRP is £24.99…you can get it in Tesco for £15! Bargain!
Finally, I am going to be a wonderful person, and publicize the amazing crafty work of a friend…
This bracelet is lovingly crafted by fellow fantasy geek Kyra, at her HearHoofBeatsThinkZebras jewellery business. She makes a whole bunch of fantastic Game Of Thrones bling – for ladies and gentlemen. You can find her on Etsy, or at St. George’s Market on Sundays from 10am to 3pm. In case you were wondering, this bracelet is a steal at £13.
So, there you go! Ideas galore. Hope these are useful, either for buying the special geek in your life, or for buying something special and geeky for yourself. Which you are perfectly entitled to do at this crazy, stressful time of year.
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