lundi 7 mars 2016

London is for Lovers

Your favorite dead beat scumbag blogger is back~

Initially, I planned to write about France from an outsider's perspective. The events in this part of our journey take place only two weeks after the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris. You may recall that I had just been there a few weeks prior-- six weeks, to be exact. What I did not mention was that due to my major, I had elected to take a French History course and completed it in the weeks leading into this trip. I was excited to revisit my favorite city and examine it with fresh eyes. This time, even though I knew dimanche was trash, I was able to see why. Then, of course, before I got around to writing about my experiences in Paris pre and post- Hebdo, the unthinkable happened. November 13th, I sat in stunned silence along with the rest of the world. I don't really want to get into that now because a) I don't even know where to begin, b) I have too much to say and c) I'm trying to keep it light here. Maybe some other time, perhaps in a book or something... so back to our regularly scheduled program.

Before I ever really conceived of visiting France, the only French I knew aside from bonjour, non, and merci was a mélange of cuss words and how to ask for a threesome. Although totally useful (should the occasion present itself), I wanted to expand my vocabulary and gain the ability to express myself a little better en français. So it began. I was always majorly into French culture, but I really set my mind to learn the language before I visited. Now, 500 visits later, I am worlds away from where I began and though I still struggle with the language at times (I'm looking at you, subjonctif), there is no better place than Paris to put my language skills to the test. Fuck yeah! Or shall I say-- BAISE OUAIS!

Let me backtrack a bit-- after yet another night of running through the streets of London, Salisbury and I were enjoying ourselves to the absolute fullest. Our departure loomed over us like a typical London cloud and we hated the thought of leaving. We celebrated our last night in LDN eavesdropping at the pub, indulging in 5 hour dinners, and visiting our fav detective, Sherlock Holmes, at 221B like the dweebs we truly are. I was really glad to see that she was having a great time in the city-- we hadn't even left yet and we were already making plans to return! The next morning, I realized my phone was dead and did not want to charge. Uh oh. I was happy in the haze of a drunken hour (word to Morrissey) but I was totally les mis now.



I had an entire week in Paris ahead of me and needed my phone, so I was in distress. I did not know if my phone was actually dead or if it was just the charger that decided to betray me. Salisbury and I headed out to the nearest Apple store-- which, unsurprisingly, was not very close at all. I'm the kind of person who will wait until things literally do not work anymore to replace them; this is why I walked into that majestic looking store with an ancient iPhone 4s. Really, this was a beautiful building. The ghoulish creature who was greeting everyone stared at me like a spaceship had just landed in the store and said she really doubted they still had a charger for those. Who the hell asked you?! I mean, I know I asked you, but whatever... bugger off. 

not the apple store

We walked past her and headed upstairs to wherever the Apple nerds who diagnose iPhones dwell. A handsome dude immediately came over to help (I love London!) and laughed when he saw my phone (I hate London.). I'm sure he detected my gauche American accent as soon as I opened my mouth to explain the situation-- it's like I completely lost my ability to speak. I was so flustered. He took my phone away and we walked over to charge it under a table, but before he could plug it in and check for signs of life, he turned to me and said: "You do know we have more power here, right?"-- fuck you and your good looks, Mr. Darcy! I wasn't expecting that level of sass from the man I was already planning to marry, so I rolled my eyes and told him that YES, DUH... I had been in London for a zillion years already and had no problems until now. He asked me how long I was going to be in town and I told him I was going to Paris like, now. After realizing it was just my Judas of a charger and not my actual phone that was the problem, he advised me to hold off on a new charger until I got to Paris "because the plugs are different there" (no shit!). We climbed out from under the table and he told me to wait a sec. He came back a few moments later with a brand new cord and took my old one to (presumably) throw it in a bucket of holy water. He was so sweet! I didn't even know what to do, so I just stood there willing myself to stop blushing. One of his coworkers happened to see this exchange and teased "Oh, I guess we are giving cords away now!". I was so embarrassed. Salisbury was loving every moment of this and chided me for not getting his number. I mean, come on though... What was I supposed to do? I was already leaving! So that's my story of the love that almost was. May this charger forever bind us together, my off brand Colin Firth of the Covent Garden Apple store. 

Next, we said goodbye to the Rubens and headed to St. Pancras station to catch our train to Paris. I wanted Salisbury to take a photo running into the wall at Platform 9 3/4 because we are shameless tourists. We had a bit of trouble finding it, so we asked an employee if he knew where it was. He gave us a blank stare and then his face lit up and said "Harry Potter?" YES! After some brief directions, we made our way over. We agreed that it would have been hilarious if he had told us it didn't exist. What a missed opportunity.



As we waited for our train, I was so happy to see a Eurostar ad by one of my favorite illustrators, Jean Jullien. It is interesting to note that he actually garnered a little more fame for his Peace for Paris illustration following the November attacks. 



Chocolate frog in hand, we boarded our train. Fuck, I am so childish. 



Hey, what can I say? I go all in for the things I love. I am surprisingly unabashed about my corny behavior. The muggle struggle is so real. For those of you who are wondering, I got an Ollivander card. You didn't expect him to stick around all day, did you?! 

...Same goes for me. On our next entry, we will finally get to Paris. GARGOYLES! DISNEYLAND! LES SOLDES! All of that and more when I publish the next round of posts... à bientôt!

jeudi 3 mars 2016

In Photos: The Harry Potter Experience

Here are odds and ends that did not make it into my original entry about the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London.This was a wonderful way to spend a few hours away from the city. Even if you are not a fan of the franchise, I would advise anyone with even the remotest interest in movies to go and check it out.
 
 

dimanche 31 janvier 2016

After All This Time: The Harry Potter Tour

Ello again, it's your girl Undesirable No. 1 aka Izzy Potter. Where were we? Ahh yes...

Back at the Rubens, we woke to the sound of glorious raindrops beating against our window. I was happy that all of the London clichés were coming true. We made our way to the bus terminal to take our tour of the Harry Potter movie sets... or shall I say we headed to Platform 9 3/4 to catch the Hogwarts Express? A little background: Even though I have been a lifelong book worm, when Pottermania swept America I was way too cool for a wizard kid with a dumb lightning bolt on his head. Like, how weird did you have to be to want to walk around in a robe and wand combo?! What the hell was a Voldemort? Dumbledore's Army? Quidditch? Bruh, WHAT? Over time, I got very familiar with the plot because I am a pop culture sponge, but I didn't actually read the books or watch the movies until I was in my 20s. Once I did (at the behest of my little sister, no less) it was over. I loved it all! I was hooked as soon as I saw the madness that popped off at 4 Privet Drive.


As a writer (can I call myself that?), I have to give my girl JK Rowling some serious props for crafting such a wonderful universe. I don't want to imagine a world without my husband Sirius Black (aka Commissioner Gordon aka Dracula), my sidepiece Viktor Krum (just kidding, I just love his coat), and last but certainly not least--the real star of this series-- Severus Snape (RIP Rickman). There are also some really wonderful villains! Can we all agree that Dudley is trash? Wendy is a day one Potter fan, so this was a tour we were both looking forward to. However, you do not have to be a super fan of the movies to enjoy this tour. Have you ever seen those videos where people cry at concerts? I never understood it til this tour. 



I'm sure the Wizarding World at Universal is amazing, but this was something else entirely. There is something to be said about seeing the actual props and sets used in the films as opposed to mere recreations. There is so much that goes into making a movie of this scale and they really did an amazing job. I am so glad they did not destroy these sets/costumes, cause it was one of the highlights of our trip for sure. While we waited in line, a familiar sight:


Harry's room! I can't believe the Dursley's did Yung Harry the gawd like this. It was soooo small! I mean, duh, right? I didn't realize just how tiny it was until I saw it in real life. This was only the beginning of what would be an unexpectedly awesome day. I am even willing to overlook that they gave me a damn mandrake ticket. Ugh!!! *Avada Kedavra*



As soon as the doors opened to the Great Hall, I was overwhelmed with a strange emotion. What was this...feeling? All jokes aside, it was really cool to see the incredible detail throughout. It was staggering, I mean wow. I could not believe I was here. I am one of those creeps that watches all of the special features on DVDs and will re-watch a movie with the director's commentary without missing a beat. I am all about behind the scenes stuff. We chose a perfect time to visit, as the Great Hall was decked out in Christmas decorations and Hogwarts was covered in snow! What a time to be alive! It was ALL HERE: Gringotts Bank, the Hogwarts Bridge, even THE KNIGHT BUS. Mind your head! The Gringotts door is actually real, no CGI. I was floored. In case you are ready 2 judge, Wendy belongs to Haus Slytherin (aka MAISON SERPENTARD) and I, like Harry, belong to Slytherin but willed the sorting hat to toss me into Gryffindor. I'm demonic. Some useless trivia from me 2 u: in french, the sorting hat is called ~le choixpeau~ which is a play on the words choix ("choice") and chapeau ("hat"). You're welcome.

Word to the wise: book this ahead of time, as it was sold out for MONTHS in advance. Harry is still dominating out here. Did you know there is a chopped and screwed remix of the Harry Potter theme on the internet? It is perfect. Harry is even wearing a durag on the cover. ANYWAY... If you don't care about the national treasure that is Harry Potter, stay tuned cause on the next episode we will leave London and head to Paris. For those of y'all with good taste, here are a zillion pictures. You have been warned! 


samedi 9 janvier 2016

The British Snoozeum (and Other Places of Interest)

Woke up bright and early to the sound of horses galloping into Buckingham Palace. No, I'm not kidding. What a world! After having the most delicious breakfast imaginable, Salisbury and I headed out for some sightseeing. First stop: the British Museum!


The British Museum was established in 1753 aka when America didn't even exist. One of the most exciting things about hanging out in Europe is that there is history just about everywhere you look. It is so cool! Y'all know I'm all about it. The British Museum has the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts in the world outside of Cairo. It sucks that so much stuff was pillaged, but it is what it is. Salisbury is a huge fan of all things Egypt, so I knew we had to visit. I was especially stoked to see the Rosetta Stone. I love languages (I am fluent in all of them, like a true king) so I absolutely could not miss this. 


What a wonderful work of art. TY, Ptolemy! The Egyptian stuff was really amazing to see as well. Here are some pics:

my nü doorframe

MY FUTURE SARCOPHAGUS

heart eyes emoji

accurate

scarab gang

The Egyptian rooms were really great to explore. They had it all, man. Mummies, personal effects, scarabs, jewels, etc. I would have stolen it all if I wasn't afraid of being cursed. Speaking of smiting-- to my delight, Salisbury decided to eavesdrop on a bible tour. I'm a heathen and don't know anything about that kind of stuff, so I encouraged her to listen and explain it to me later. We made our way to the Greek rooms which were also really beautiful. Once I got a closer look, I got an attitude. Why do y'all have so much of the Parthenon here?! What was I supposed to see in Greece when I (eventually, maybe) went?* 

*I ended up in Greece 6 months later (go figure) and the answer is NOT MUCH.

 Observe:





who tf is climbing this?! y'all are so dumb.

Dionysus about 2 bless us w some delish wine

I am not sure if I mentioned it before, but I am not really into museums. I like to go and check them out, but after a while everything starts to blend together and I lose interest. Oh hey would you look at that, there is another 1000 year old vase... wish I cared. Salisbury and I started a game where we would find the most ridiculous things in the room and make up stories about the pieces. This would continue for the duration of our trip, much to the chagrin of our Eurobros. A small sample:


WHY
When you try to sass the centaur bro...

... and end up catching a FADE!


TEARS. Who sculpted these?!

Upon closer inspection of what appeared to be a normal chess set...

"GET ME OUT OF HERE!"

There was a German exhibit going on and yall know how much ~ich liebe Deutschland~ so we went inside. One of the focuses of this exhibit was a great artist, truly a German schatz, Albrecht Dürer. WOW! There are no words. The detail in Dürer's work was absolutely astonishing (he clearly had no life). Just kidding! We love ü. We grabbed a quick coffee and headed out for some sightseeing. We visited Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, Trafalgar Square, and the National Gallery. The last time I was here, I nearly melted because it was so hot. This time, the cool temps made for a very enjoyable stroll. I was bummed that we had missed Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red by mere weeks, but I suppose I can't have it all. It would have been a sight, for sure. Anyway, the National Gallery occupies an entire floor in the condominium that is my heart because it has a Van Gogh room. I could literally spend hours in there-- I am obsessed with his paintings.


Stop calling me London Bridge, noob


Later that evening, we headed down to the GLORIOUS London Coliseum to catch the English National Ballet's Swan Lake. It was truly a magical experience. They put on such a wonderful performance! The sets and costumes were exquisite, the dancing was perfection, and the music was superb. Tchaikovsky is the man! I love Swan Lake so much. This performance nearly moved me to tears, like, way to be dramatic but I am so serious. I am used to the shortened version with 3 acts, but London was having none of it. This performance had about 5 thousand acts, so the entire thing stretched for what felt like 12 hours. Salisbury entertained me by explaining the difference between saying bravo and brava. I am such a hillbilly. All in all, it was a great way to spend the evening.





Of course, my life is the real life version of that scene in Cinderella where the clock has struck midnight and the wheels of the carriage have half-transformed and are now basically just pumpkin vines slapping the ground. In a ballet haze, we ran past the helpful man at the tube station holding the elevator open for us, stupidly deciding to take the stairs. NEVER AGAIN. The stairs seemed to go on forever, like one of those optical illusion paintings in a math class. It was then that I realized my mistake. I have avoided the stairs at this station for so long that it finally caught up to me when I wasn't paying attention. 

YES, READ THE SIGN. EQUIVALENT TO FIFTEEN FLOORS.


Don't cry for me, I'm already dead

On a positive note, I've always wondered what it would be like to have linguine for legs. Fuuuu. Back to the beautiful Ruben's for some much needed rest. Tomorrow we were headed to the Warner Brothers Studio Lot for the Harry Potter tour! 

ACCIO EXCITEMENT!!!

samedi 17 octobre 2015

Down and Out in London and Paris: A Tale of Two Salisburys

Hi! I'm back like season two. It's currently about 10000 degrees CELSIUS in the City of Angels, so it's hard to imagine that only 9 months ago I was about to lose my friend to hypothermia at Disneyland Paris. 9 months ago?! I am officially 6 countries/3 trips behind on the blog. I told y'all I was a deadbeat... but I (eventually) deliver.

I have planned a trip to Europe with way too many people to count but for whatever reason, the plans never really made it off the ground. Why did I continue doing this?! 1) Cause I'm dumb, but mostly 2) Cause I'm a creep. The thing is, I love picking people's brains. I want to know the who's, the what's, the why's of their lives. I wanted to see the world I love through the eyes of someone I care about. As much as I enjoy traveling alone, I always wondered what it would be like to get drunk and not be found floating down the Seine 3 days later. Before I knew it, plans were in motion once again. I invited my friend Wendy aka Salisbury along and I could not have asked for a better travel partner. We brainstormed for days on end to see where we'd go. Bali? Dublin? Cairo? All very awesome places to go. Aside from the trip to Cancun we had taken two months earlier, it was Wendy's first real trip abroad so we (okay, I) decided to take it easy. Being huge fans of Sherlock, Harry Potter, and James Bond, London was a no brainer. Lots of history, zero language problems, and pubs as far as the eye could see. The choice was clear. Eventually, we decided on splitting the trip between both London and Paris because I'm a total creep and couldn't bear to be so close to my favorite city without visiting. I had been through this before so I did not really believe it was actually happening until we boarded this plane full of muggles. 




Once we landed, I decided to wing it cause I am an asshole who never plans things all the way through. After we got off the bus at Victoria station, my phone decided to play games. Oh? I had no internet, Wendy had too many bags, and --wait for it!-- it started fucking pouring. How were we supposed to find our way to our hotel? I knew it was close, like 0.2 miles close, but I am trash and have no sense of direction so we were in deep trouble. Luckily I remembered my CIA training, so after a little bit of walking up and down the streets, we finally found our home for the next few days. I really wanted Wendy to feel like we were in England, so we booked a stay at the flawless Rubens at the Palace (opposite Buckingham Palace!). Yeah, you read that right. I was neighbors with the Queen. Get on my level! Whenever I travel, I try to stay up as late as I possibly can in order to help my body adjust, so after tossing our bags in our room, we headed out to do a bit of sightseeing (and eating, duh). I was surprised to see that I still remembered my way around. Why couldn't that have kicked in earlier? Useless ass brain, for real.




EXCUSE MY FACE its not like I just got off a million hour flight or anything...

It felt so great to be back here! The weather was perfect, too. I really love when the air is super crisp following rain. I was surrounded by flawless architecture, gorgeous scenery, and best of all--- great company! I was so busy playing tour guide and pointing things out that I didn't even pay attention to the road. I guess this is the part where I tell y'all about how I almost got hit by a double decker bus. If it weren't for Wendy's cat-like reflexes, it would have been curtains for me. I mean, can you imagine a more cliché way to die?  How embarrassing. I was just really stoked to be back in LDN, bruv. Whatever.

Back at the Ruben's, we got settled in for the night. Words cannot begin to describe how amazing this hotel was! The staff, the food, the beds... lawd. Take me back. Top notch from top to bottom, no joke. I really need to know who the person in charge of decorating this place is, though. On one hand, I was totally stoked to have a Picasso Baby in the room:

oh, what a feeling!

.... but there were also horrifying cherubs on my headboard that I just knew were plotting to steal my soul while I slept.

y u do dis?

Having been up for what felt like 3 lifetimes, I was too tired to stay up (and fend off demons) so I accepted my fate and wished for the best.

So begins the story of my triumphant return to London and Paris... these poor cities never knew what hit them. 

lundi 7 septembre 2015

Pikachu's Postcards: Parthenon, Athens

My niece loves Pokemon and I said I'd take her Pikachu on my journeys, too. This is a series called Pikachu's Postcards and I will be posting random snaps periodically! Today we travel to Greece, where Pika loved exploring the Acropolis in thousand degree heat. 


dimanche 6 septembre 2015

Baraats & Goodbyes

On the way to dinner, we started to see lots of action up above the road. We drove right past a baraat! I was posted to the window like one of those little Garfields. If you are unfamiliar with this phenomenon, a baraat is an Indian wedding procession. The groom, dressed in white, rides a (white) horse to the wedding venue. In modern times, they don't have to ride a horse the entire way. They can ride a white car for a portion of the journey but still arrive on the horse (cause tradition, duh). He is accompanied by what I assume are friends and family plus a band. It was really exciting to see, especially cause I am a total creep for Indian weddings. We passed another baraat, this one bigger than the last. I was so excited. Well it goes without saying that the dinner was delicious as usual. Our tour guide, B, sat next to me just like he had the entire trip and literally forced me to taste all of the food offered. India was blessing my tastebuds so hard. The best was yet to come, though. 


samedi 29 août 2015

Last Stop: Agra Fort


So here we are. It's the end of the road, man. The Taj was everything I wanted it to be and more, but the best was yet to come. India is the gift that keeps on giving! It was my last day of sightseeing. On this day, we found ourselves at the Agra Fort. I'm going to keep it 100-- I had never heard of this place until we were en route. Side note: India has the best restaurant names. Eating Meeting? Eat Something? Bruh. Y'all kill me.









Back to my CRIMINAL lack of knowledge! The Agra Fort is extraordinarily impressive and beautiful. Part fortress and part palace, it has been described as a "walled city". With so many different buildings in the complex, that sounds about right. It is enormous. It has all the elegance, opulence, and majesty of an imperial palace. It is fucking amazing. Like almost everywhere else in India, you really do get an aura of a bygone era here. Words cannot do it justice. I totally felt like an old school explorer, like Indiana Jones. I love this architecture. I love India. Most importantly, I love that I was able to capture all these pics. Hey memory card, you the real MVP. Here are a few pics of the grounds: