Thursday, October 28, 2010

Dag Paris, Hallo Amsterdam!

I will be out of country this weekend and escaping yet another slew of strikes in Paris to go to Amsterdam until Monday. This is the first week I've felt a bit homesick because I enjoy Halloween and all the crazy costumes, over-the-top decorations, and leftover 75% candy bins at CVS it brings every October.  Today in Paris, the weather is abnormally warm for this time of year. I also went to the Peter III Bridge--pretty spectacular, so much so that it made me not miss the States anymore.

Nevertheless, I am very excited for my trip to Amsterdam--it is rumored to be cheaper than Paris and have great stores, architecture, art museums and of course, night life. So far, my friends and I are planning on hopefully going to the Heinekein Museum, Anne Frank House and the Van Gough Museum. Never thought those three places would be put in a sentence together, let alone be in the same vicinity.

Great song called "Amsterdam" by Peter, Bjorn and John

....and for Halloween(even though it has nothing to do with the holiday): Spooky by Classics IV

Bon week-end tout le monde!!!!


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Mediterranean Lovestruck Shades of Blue

Greetings from sunny albeit cold Paris! I just came back from the Cote d'Azur, or famously known as the French Riviera.  My roommates and I had planned this weekend getaway back during the first week of September--little did we all know it was exactly what the three of us all needed.

To give everybody an idea of what France and Paris has been like for two months...the whole country has been protesting due to Sarkozy's "brash" decision to move the retirement age from 60 to 62.  The metros in Paris are more crowded, smell worse and are delayed more than they already are.  Shop windows have been shattered, tear gas has been thrown and bystander Americans have been warned. If you don't believe me, check out the front page of the or tune in to ABC's World News Tonight.

Essentially, Parisians and Frenchies alike are protesting almost every week and its affecting transportation and my patience immensly.

Fed up with the whole stiffled morale in France, Heather, Lindsey and I jetted off to Charles de Gaulle for a hour flight to Nice.  We were greeted with blue skies, Mediterranean climate and people smiling(Parisiens, like New Yorkers and myself, do not smile often).  After a 15 minute bus ride to a nearby stop, we were picked up in a van by a dreadlock-sporting, Bob Marley tri-colored cap wearing guy from Manchester, England of all places.  The hostel we checked into(yes Mom and Dad, your daughter stayed in a hostel) is rated one of the top 5 hostels in the world--it's called the Villa Saint Exupery.  I stayed in a 12 person room including Heather and Lindsey.

After checking into our hostel, we headed down to walk around the city of Nice.  I could not believe how much Nice reminded me of Italy's prized Amalfi Coast.  Most of the buildings were brightly colored, like those found in the sun drenched piazza's in the various Italian cities and towns I traveled to last January.

The first place my roommates and I went to was Cours Saleya, which is the largest fruit and flower market in all of France. If I can appreciate one thing and one thing only from the European lifestyle, it is the abudance of markets it has.  Nothing is more enjoyable then walking around a martket on a lazy day looking at the local produce and products the vendors have to offer.

From the market, we made our way to the beach.  The beaches in Nice, are unlike every beach I've ever seen or been to because instead of sand, it has gray rocks.  Four hours later of sun tanning sans sunblock(whoops), we went back to the hostel to check out happy hour. When my roommates and I saw 1 euro beers and cocktails for under 5 euro we were sold.

We settled down in the large dining area(which was basically transformed into a lounge), we scouted out a group of 5 or so people.  Turns out they were Australian and were willing to play the drinking game Heather, Lindsey and I wanted to play.  It was a great night and a good end to the first day in Nice.

Day Two of our French Riviera vacation was a repeat of the day before: wake up, walk around town, tan for 4+ hours, shower, dinner and hang out downstairs at our hostel.  This second night we met another group of Australians--they were two childhood friends who decided to travel around Europe for 3 months.  They were so friendly and very easy to relate to--my roommates and I are trying to get the two of them to visit us in Paris soon.

Day Three was welcomed with some unpleasant news: our train had been cancelled to, of course, the protests/strike in France. On a whim, we tracked down the nearest AVIS, rented a car and started our trek from Nice to Paris. We stopped at Monaco and Monte Carlo to see the casino and of course, how wealthy the place is said to be.  A simple way to describe Monaco and Monte Carlo is pure luxury.  I have never seen so many yachts and $300,000+ cars in a condensed area.  Monaco was a picturesque detour, but I've realized that I prefer Nice and the laid back atmosphere it provides its visitors with.

After Monaco, we went from the sea side to the mountain side.  The famous road we were on for the majority of the trip is called Route Napoleon. The history behind this road is really's a link to give more information on it: Route Napoleon History.

The only way to describe this 14 hour ride, was an experience of a lifetime.  The landscapes I witnessed are too sublime to capture with words.  I was in a state of euphoria seeing the natural beauty of The Alps.  To futher one's visual attempt to picture my ride back, it is the same road, landscapes and towns that is on the Tour de France when the participants are climbing The Alps.  Interestingly enough, that part is not only the most aesthistetically pleasing section, it is also considered the most grueling part of the event.

At 2 a.m. I finally arrived back in my apartment here in Paris.  Exhausted, I looked at myself in the mirror and sighed with relief as I finally achieved my goal of getting a healthy tan from the greatest weekend getaway one could possibly have in the middle of a national strike.

Until next time...

French Riviera and The Alps

My weekend getaway to the French Riviera & a road trip through The Alps

Friday, October 1, 2010

Paris Fashion Week

And now for a 180 turn from my last post....

Paris Fashion Week Spring/Summer Collections for 2010 has kicked off!

Models,photographers and fashionistas alike have invaded the city. Here is a clip from The Devil Wears Prada showing Paris at night during Fashion Week. Enjoy! ---> The Devil in Prada goes to Paris

PS-I will be "camping out" near my favorite designers shows today and the rest of the week. Hopefully I will get to see the one and only Kate Moss (bonus points if I see Naomi Campbell), Daria Werbowy, and possibly Kanye West and Pharell.
This picture is plastered all over magazine stands this week. Famous Kate Moss picture by the great Peter Lindbergh.

Sans it.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Degas, Renoir, Boldini, oh my!

Yesterday I revisted my favorite museum of all time--Musee D'Orsay.  Once a train station, Musee D'Orsay is now a mecca for priceless works of art that come with a long rap sheet of famous artists--hence the title of this post.

The museum is also one of my fondest memories of my first visit to Paris when I was 16 visitng my sister abroad.  A large, glossy book about the museum is now nestled in the open cabinets in the living room of my house.

"Art is an abstraction, take it from nature while dreaming from it."
-Paul Gaugin, French Post-Impressionist artist

My appreciation for art museums has been a steady work of progress throughout my life so far. Oftentimes I would sit down at museums and rarely look at the art--this was when I was little and I was generally unappreciative of most things in my life. My art ephiphany started when my parents took me to see the John Singer Sargent exhibit at The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. My eyes came upon the great and scandalous "Madame X" and the whimsical "Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose." I thought it was magical--I have never seen a person convey such a beauty in a painting--and those colors...I was sold.

Fast forward some odd 12 years--I'm standing infront of Giovanni Boldini's "Madame Charles Max." I've found a new favorite painter. The painting is done is shades of pearl, light blue, grays and white--colors that come together to be ethereal and graceful.  I want to be this woman in this painting--or atleast have the dress.

Another painting that caught my eye was Charles Cottet's "Au pays de la mer." At first glance, I thought it was a painting of a funeral, but it is really a family at a dinner table dressed in the most dole colors. It is a heavy-hearted painting. Sadness is deeply rooted in the family--their shoulders are hunched and nobody makes contact with each other. Everybody is in their own world of misery--the only life in the photo is the food on the table that remains untouched.  The woman's face shows an individual who is alone and has been forgotten--"attention must be paid" to her expression(Arthur Miller reference for all you American lit fans). It is the polar opposite of Norman Rockwell's jovial depicition of the American family in "Freedom from want." 

As I was strolling in and out of the exhibits at the Musee D'Orsay, I questioned what type of art do I prefer. Sure I have my favorite artists and I like color(or in the previous painting--lack there of). I found myself spending more time on the solo portraits and paintings with a group of people. There is something about people's eyes that are so powerful. I believe they are the only true way to know how a person is feeling. This leads me to my next favorite painting--"Madame Jeantaud au miroir" by Degas.

It is another powerful painting, but I think the message is incredible. The woman is dressed in fine garb and all made up but she sees an very distorted representation of herself. She refuses to even consider herself as beautiful and is blindsided by self-doubt. I think for many people this is a common personal belief--maybe even more so in today's society where apperances are oftentimes more valued than their substance of character.

From the morose to the mystical, the third painting I have chosen is "Solitude" by Thomas Alexander Harrison.  There is not a lot of variety of colors in the painting, dark navys and greens, almost borderline black; but the one spot of light in the painting is the wooden cream boat with the naked person standing up in it.  The other source of light is a natural one; a beam of light illuminates the paddle of the oar.  I think Harrison captured a private moment of somebody releasing themselves (maybe just momentarily) to nature.  The person is one with their surrounding, or really just one with nature--what a beautiful thing.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Have a great weekend everybody!

Bonjour tout le monde! I have not posted in awhile--I've been tres stresse(very busy/stressed). Tomorrow the weekend starts at 12:45 pm sharp aka after my architecture ends. I think the plan for the evening is to walk around, shop, eat...etc.

As most of you do not know..I went to Deauville and Trouville over the weekend. The two neighboring towns are in the Normany region of France--so they are beach towns. Deauville means "Watertown" since d'eau means water in French.  I have to post pictures--my mom informed me that my pictures that I said were working in the last post are not unavailable. I sincerely apologize..I have to fix it ASAP.

Mes colocataires(roommates) et moi
Naturally dressed in all black and high boots.

A little preview of Deauville.

Bon journee!(Have a good day)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Friday in the Palais

For the older set(and when I mean older, I mean anybody who listented to Chicago on the radio during that time), Saturday in the Park was a popular song for jazz/rock band Chicago before they turned Carnival Cruise on us all.

So what does Chicago have to do with this blog post? I thought the lyrics applied to my experience at the Jardin du Luxembourg this afternoon.

Friday in the palais, 
I think it was the Fourth of September
Friday in the palais,
I think it was the Fourth of September
People smoking, people laughing, 
A woman selling crepes
Singing French songs
Can you dig it (oui, I can) 
And I've been waiting such a long time
For Friday in the palais

The main building in Jardin du Luxembourg is Palais du Luxembourg--so palais replaced the "park" in this stanza for the song.


So about my afternoon....

Jardin du Luxembourg is magnificent in every single way--it is as if somebody put their paintbrush in the most brilliant colors and painted the wide array of flowers.  The Palais stands tall and grand with the French flag waving proudly in the calm wind. The terraces are sprinkled with olive green metal chairs perfect for lounging, sun bathing, etc.  There are also ivory colored statues dotted around the area with leafy side paths that provide shade.  Infront of the Palais there is a large circular fountain where kids tend to play around.  There is also a huge "quad" if you will--I guess its really a garden/grass type layout. It also has a few structures to provide the eye with a couple of focal points...but I have to admit it is hard to take ones eyes off of the brilliant flowers. I sat for about 40 minutes just watching the sun setting on the trees and the garden itself.  I was also people-watching(a Parisian artform) and saw young and elderly couples, kids and people my age just relaxing, talking or having a picnic. Everybody was taking advtange of the beyond perfect day in Paris that afternoon--it was the place to be.

Apres le jardin du Luxembourg, my roommates and I walked around the never-disappointing 6th arrondisement.  We grabbed dinner and saw a terrible live performance of Michael Jackson songs. We went passed the guy performing, and just my luck, he touches me on the shoulder as I walk past and starts singing to me. I sprinted away from him..literally. My roommates thought it was funny.  After the Michael Jackson impersonator tried to impersonate what Michael Jackson has been accussed of (well not to that extent) we got gelatto. I got the Strattiatella(butchered spelling)'s chocolate chip.


Here is the link to the photos because my post doesn't even begin to capture the beauty of Jardin du Luxembourg--->Pictures!!!! I recommend watching it in slideshow format--the pictures are bigger!

PS-Have fun with Earl! Only kidding.