Day 2 in London

I woke up early on Friday morning and prepared myself to go to the V&A museum. I had a quick breakfast of toast and bland orange juice in the hostel kitchen and then hopped on the tube. I arrived, like a nerdy art student, at the museum early. A small group of us waited until they opened the doors at 10am. I have been waiting to go to this museum ever since I took the History of Craft and Design at NSCAD and it was well worth the wait. I had this dream that began at the V&A museum a couple nights after, and I imagined that the guards on the other side of those big metal museum doors were waiting for 10AM to open the doors for me to a song and dance about crafts through history… further proof of my dorkdum.

I wandered through the museum for a couple of hours. I think my absolute favourite part about the entire place is that it looks unfinished, despite being finished. There is something about the big halls and rooms that give the impression that someone is going to add something. I think I like this because it holds onto the idea that history continues and will continue to be documented and put into museums, and no matter how crazy the decorative arts get, the V&A will have space to house the proof, good or bad.

When I was done wandering through the museum I stopped in their enormous café area for breakfast. The café is a new part of the museum but the room with tables and chairs is a melting pot of lavishly decorated walls with modern balloon like light fixtures. I sat with my hot chocolate in one hand and a book in the other, reading and looking up ever so often to take in the magnificence of the space.

After my visit at the museum I wandered up the street, heading for nowhere in particular. To my surprise I ended up smack dab in front of Harrods, the giant ancient department store that sells anything and everything. I had not actually made plans to go to Harrods but figured since I was outside, that it was clearly meant to be. At the front door stood a doorman/security guard/potential member of the high-class fashion police, and my plaid shirt and little loafers weren’t cutting it: I felt underdressed. Nevertheless he let me pass and I sauntered into the foyer, and through a large shiny room of outrageously priced leather handbags being cared for by the eternally smiley well dressed staff. I tiptoed through the bags, men’s whose its and what’s its, and perfume departments only stopping to snag a bright piece of pink ribbon spritzed with lovely smelling perfume to use as a bookmark later. I ended up in the food hall next to a teacart that had such beautiful tins, all black and gold and arranged in the shape of a pyramid. In the next room was a gelato and sweets shop where kids were all asking their parents for this and that, and every parents was replying, ‘only one honey, pick just one.’ I thought to myself, how cruel! Just one, how could they possible choose just one?! I left without buying anything, apart from a can of tea, which I will only look at. I wandered up and down the stairs of Harrods admiring the strange architecture that in some places reminded me of an Egyptian exhibit at the ROM back in Toronto, until I found an exit back onto the street. I thought over and over about how crazy it was that a store like this had this almost magical quality to it. It made me feel like a child on Christmas day, and when leaving I half expected to see a fresh dust of snow on the pavement outside. All my morals about our world being overly materialistic disappeared like a balloon in the wind and it felt nice.

When I came back to Earth, I found the nearest tube station and hopped on, this time with a plan. I went back to Piccadilly Circus to search out a cheap ticket to a Broadway show. Despite my efforts to see Sister Act with Whoopie Goldberg, the only tickets available that weren’t out of my price range, were for Grease, and I was super excited, after all Grease IS the word. The show wasn’t until 5:30 so with the little pocket of time that I had, I hopped back on the tube and went to see Abbey Road, the famous Beatles crossing and recording studio. I have already told you a bit about this and further down on the blog you can see the shots of me actually walking on the crossing.

After Abbey Road, I rushed back up to the theatre and found my seat in the highest farthest back row that I think has ever existed in a theatre. From there I sat wide-eyed and sang along quietly, despite my childish excitement, through the entire show. I thought back to all those wonderful evenings that Sarah and I rehearsed and performed Grease songs for our mothers on the front porch of my house. I always had to be Danny because I had short hair and a pleather jacket that I had begged my mum for from Winners when I started public school. The day wound down quickly and after doing so much, I headed back to the hostel to relax and prepare for the next day, where a free tour and new friends were on the horizon.

Day 1 in London

I stepped off the train into London’s St Pancras station at about noon. Luck was on my side as I read the confirmation for my hostel booking, only to find out that I was already at the right station, and it was only a ten-minute walk.  I followed the directions given to me by the hostel only to get myself lost and then was forced to use my innate sense of direction to find my way sans map. Finally, up the street, just past the Travelodge like it said in the directions, I saw the big old courthouse right on the corner. My hostel was called The Clink and its in an old courthouse, a courthouse that I later learned was where Charles Dickens worked as a clerk in his early days and where the Clash made an appearance for breaking some law back in the 80s. Regardless, the building was neat, and the actual courtroom itself had been turned into a sort of Internet computer room.  When I phoned home the following day I sat on the witness bench to make my call on Skype.

My bunk was in a 14-bed dorm in the basement of The Clink, which was a bit dreary and painted a kind of awful Jungle green, making it seem a tad dungeon-esque. The area that my hostel was in didn’t have too much going on, apart from little restaurants and shops advertising English breakfasts for cheap and things like that. I was however about a 6 minute walk from the Tube or the Underground as they say here in London.

After I threw my stuff in the luggage room of the hostel and reorganized my bag I headed out into the rain.  It was that what I would now call ‘typically English rain” because its misty, damp and inescapable. Since I only had the afternoon and the evening I took the Tube to the Oxford Circus to do some research for my fashion blog (wink wink wink).  The shopping here is by far the best I have ever seen or experienced, if I can say that. I’m expecting a hand written letter from the Queen very soon, thanking me for single handedly holding up the English economy over the weekend.

After walking up and down Oxford Street battling crowds of eager shoppers I went back to the hostel to drop my bags and find out what to do next. That evening I took the Tube to Piccadilly Circus where I became so overwhelmed with all the signs for musicals and shows that I thought I might have actually died and gone to heaven. I wandered for a few hours taking it all in, until I realized that the Tube shuts at midnight. I hopped back on and road back to the hostel. I tiptoed into my dungeon bed and fell asleep.

All You Need Is LOVE!

Hello everyone!

I had such a jam packed day of fun in London and I am so tired. I love London and can’t get enough of it. I have many stories to tell you all but since I am so pooped I thought I would put together a little slide show of the Earth cam shots of me crossing Abbey Road (The famous Beatles crossing). It really was so cool, I felt inspired just walking across, even if you can’t tell because I am so tiny in the pictures. To think, so much creativity happened in that one house and on that street is astonishing. May you all be inspired to do something big!

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I’ll post with more stories soon! Take care and thanks for reading!!!

XO from London

Chugga Chugga chugga Chugga…

Oh I do love trains! I like how they sort of float across pastures, through towns and wind around corners and sometimes cliffs. I feel like I am in a giant mechanical centipede whipping across the worlds biggest bathtub. (Fortunately, there is no giant centipede killer.) I am slightly disappointed that my seat seems to be the only one that has a divide between two windows, leaving me with my head squished between the seat in front of me and the wall so that I can see out onto the landscape. There is nothing particularly special about the English landscape but I want to see it anyways.

I have many things planned for my almost 4 day trip in London. I am seeing a show at the Globe theatre on the 28th, I am going to peruse the V&A Museum, which I have been waiting to do since I took an art course at NSCAD a couple of years ago, see the major sights like the London eye, London Tower Big Ben and many more, an of course shop. I will keep you all updated on the cool things I see and do as I go. My first stop out of the train is the tube so that I can drop my little backpack at The Clink hostel where I am staying. It’s in an old courthouse so I am looking forward to seeing how neat it really is.

Thank you all for reading, I love you all! XO

England’s Dreaming (or is it me dreaming of England?)

I remember once telling my mum that I didn’t want to travel.  It was a cover-up.  What do I mean by cover-up you ask? I think when I was younger, the things I most wanted to do also scared me to death as well and so as a way of protecting myself, I made it clear that I never wanted to them.

I have a distinct memory of standing between my mum and the front door as she searched for the house keys in her purse. It was tight because the spring screen door was pushing in on us. I was running my fingers along the doorframe and chit chatting as per usual. I said to my mum “ When I start school, I am going to come home everyday and do my homework and practice really hard.”  I don’t remember my mum’s response but I’m sure it was a mixture of supportive “that’s wonderful!” with a suspicious tone of “we shall see,” because after all what child can say such silly things without ever having done two pages of math problems, or endless French verb conjugations?

Today, I see that strange snip it in my mind as my own mind protecting myself from failure at school, maybe subconsciously even at life. Truthfully though, we all grow up, we see that school or even life isn’t so scary, sometimes you fail most times you don’t.

I once said that I didn’t want to travel, but today I spend every day working out a new plan, a new strategy that can somehow get me to a new destination with a little cash in hand and time to experience new things.  I know that my family and friends are only a phone call away and always eager to chat with me when I need them so what reason do I have not to go and explore this vast world of ours?

In high school, I once, maybe 3 or 4 times actually, read this book called England’s Dreaming, the history of Punk culture and music in London in the 1960s and 1970s. I became completely obsessed with the idea of London, of what it was like, and I carried my book with me everywhere, re-reading underlined passages that I liked the sound of.  I had never been to the UK or even Europe but I knew I wanted to go.

This morning I woke up wrapped in a fluffy quilt in my shoebox sized Paris apartment, packed a backpack, rode the metro for 15 minutes to Gare du Nord and hopped on a train to London, England. I only planned this trip 6 days ago and the spontaneity of it all is the best part.

I am now on the train whizzing past fields, cows bunched together, secretly forecasting rain showers, as they do and little villages here and there on the way out of France. Moments ago, we zoomed into the Chunnel, the connection from France to England under water. My childish mind has always imagined the Chunnel to be like those glass walk through aquariums at Ripley’s believe it or not where you can see the aquatic life swimming around. I am sorry to report that its just a black tunnel that amplifies the whirring of the train engines for 20 minutes before it spits you out onto damp, mossy English soil. It’s okay; I’ll get over it. I am in England.

Thursday August 26, 2010

It occurred to me this morning that I have become out of touch with my blog. I started this blog to not only chronicle my journey around the globe over an undefined period of time, keep my friends and family updated but also for myself. I started writing because I enjoy writing, I love the feeling when you think up a phrase or an interesting comparison that takes an ordinary story and turns it into a sort of poetic log.

When I have a list of important things to do, and procrastination sets in, as it always inevitably does, I sometimes troll back to the beginning of my blog, when I lived back in Halifax. My ideas and goals are similar but my blog has grown and changed, as have I, or at least I imagine I have changed. At first, I wanted to give readers places to go, things to do, ways to spice up their lives, just like I was trying to do with mine, and today I am chronicling my own story, so that perhaps those who are thinking of doing the same kind of trip or journey can take comfort in knowing that someone else is making it happen someplace. I also like to think that my friends who don’t travel, who are homebodies by nature, who find ultimate content in being in the place they grew up surrounded by the familiar smells and sounds they have also had, can travel with me through my words and get to know the world from their own doorstep.

When I say that I feel out of touch, I mean that recently I have been writing little blurbs and quick posts about things I have been doing, more as a means to update friends and family, and less of a chronicle or journal. My new goal is to tell more stories.  I will never forget a couple of years ago when I met my favourite author for the first time, Ivan E. Coyote back in Halifax. His specialty is story telling and he is a spectacular storyteller both in person and on paper. He tells stories to keep history alive and I guess in effect to create history itself.

I will always post quick shorts and updates because I like to keep everyone updated but I am going to make an effort to fill the voids in between with stories, because after all who doesn’t love a good story?

One day I’ll Fly Away!

So I finally had a good full day off where I could once again roam the streets of Paris. I headed up to Pigalle station to see the famous Moulin Rouge, because like any fan of the epic musical movie, I had to see it in person. It was almost impossible to get a picture without a tour bus in front but I tried my hardest. I also plan on spending the ridiculous amount of money on seeing a show because the burlesque thing is big and back and I must see it live. I am also preparing myself for my next guilty pleasure, the Christina Aguilera movie called Burlesque, where she wants to make it as a Burlesque star in this day and age… I know, what a plausible a plot!

Regardless, I really loved the area where it was as there were so many music shops and cafes, but it was also riddled with sex shops and those creepy 1 euro cinemas that show porn at any time of day and have the most ridiculous, granted creative, window displays.

I really wanted to go up and see the old cathedral, Sacre Coeur but didn’t have time as I had many things to do on my precious day off, but I will certainly visit it soon. I saw it from a distance and have made it a priority on my must do touristy things list.

On my walk to find a music shop that sold ukuleles, because I need to practice so I can hone my craft whilst I am out of Canada, I took a few snaps of the winding Parisian streets that I love so much.

I have so many things going on right now, hence my decreased postings, but I promise I will try my best to update more often. Next week I finish my job at the youth hostel and have planned a little three day extravaganza in London. So really, I am just going to London for three days so that I can feel like I had a vacation this summer. I am planning several hours at the V&A museum, which I have been waiting to see ever since I took a history of craft class at NSCAD and of course plenty of other sight seeing and shopping events.

I am also so excited that my wonderful Mumsy is coming to Paris mid September! I am planning a 10 days of wonderful things for us to do. I will be starting my new job at the Canadian Embassy on the 1st of September which I am super excited about, but of course will plan oodles of things around my days for Mumsy and I to do. I can’t wait to have a fresh start with London and then my new job! Paris is wonderful and things are looking up!

I will be in touch soon!


PS I am sending a very happy birthday to my dear friends Andrew and Adam! I miss you both!