Archive for the ‘london’ Category

An American in Paris II Oct 30-Nov 3rd

November 1, 2009

Here I am in Paris, in the city of lights, surrounded by thousands of years of history and miles and miles of beautiful landscapes and monuments, and I find myself in Starbucks. You can take the girl out of America, but… What can I say? I longed for some familiarity- in any form. Even though the Baristas speak French and they serve pancakes drenched in nutella, but still. On my last day in Paris, I roamed around the city afoot once again, and saw the Pantheon. Well, I saw the outside of the Pantheon. I was going to attempt a fake British accent and claim to be a EU citizen under 20 to get in for free, but decided against it at the last minute. I wasn’t sure they’d believe I was a EU citizen. I then went and took a stroll through the Luxembourg Garden, which wasn’t much of a garden as its name would have you believe. I was hoping for more flowers. Nonetheless it was lovely watching the little French children floating their toy sailboats along the famous pond, and looking at all the fall colored leaves that enveloped the park’s trees.  Along the way to the garden, as I often do, I stopped a local on the street to ask for directions. My latest victim turned out to be a very nice native Parisian who offered to walk me to the gardens himself. I accepted. He asked me where I was from. When I told him New York, he expressed his love for the city and for its open-mindedness. When I asked him to expand on this, he explained that he believed that in NY, as opposed to Paris, one can walk down the street as they like, wearing what they like, and nobody would judge. Whereas in Paris, one was constantly being judged for his appearance and fashion sense. He said he wished Parisians would be more like NYers! Interesting point of view I thought.  Straight from the Parisian’s mouth.  Well, my time in Paris unfortunately had to come to an end and it was time to fly to London to catch my flight back to the states. Au Revoir Paris, we shall meet again! As I waited on line to check in at Charles de Gaulle airport, I found myself chatting with a nice little french guy, who  asked me to join him for coffee while waiting for our flight. Since we had time to kill and he seemed like a nice enough fellow, I said why not. The conversation was going ok- well, from what I could make out through his incredibly thick french accent- until I realized I must have missed a subject change. He was rambling: “I have come to realize the goal of life. And what I realized is that the goal of life is death. And now that I know that this is the purpose of life, I am no longer afraid to die. For example, if our plane crashes tonight…”  This was about the point where I interrupted him and excused myself while I popped an extra xanax. I was just beginning to overcome my debilitating fear of flying and this was not helping!! I explained my fear to my new friend and politely asked him to refrain from using the word ‘crash’ until we safely landed. He chuckled, apparently not realizing my seriousness in the matter, and continued his rant. Watching me nervously grip the armrest while I mentally flew the plane, he assured me, “Don’t worry. Nothing’s going to happen. And anyway, if we do crash, it’ll probably happen so fast that you won’t even feel a thing!”  “OKAY, YOU HAVE TO GO NOW!!”, I finally snapped. “What?”, my clueless friend asked. “You need to move. You  need to move your seat, now.” As I closed my eyes to block him out and let the xanax in, I let my mind wander back to the question that I keep asking myself over and over again: How do they find me??

Advertisements

London Bridge is Falling Down

October 11, 2009

After saying goodbye to my new friends in Ireland, I was off to London once again, where my friend Andreas (see June posting) would await me. Although I flew from New York into London, I had tried to avoid the city throughout my trip, as I have come here to temporarily escape the hustle and bustle of what I left behind, and to spend any time in London would be to defeat that purpose. However, during my short stay at the start of my trip I did make the acquaintance of one handsome Brit for whom I would decide Britain may be worth visiting once again. I decided that I would spend one week with Andreas and then head off to Spain where I would perfect my imperfect Spanish. The week would be one of relaxation, culture and personal growth (but we’ll get to that later on). Throughout my 6 days, I saw 3 very different plays. The first, a gripping drama by the brilliant playwright, Kieron Barry, entitled, “Stockwell” about the aftermath of the London bombings http://www.curtainup.com/stockwelllon.html Next we saw a one-man show written and performed by Mark Thomas, Britain’s own Michael Moore, entitled, “The Manifesto”, described as “a show that attempts to probe our collective creativity… The economy is bust, the environment broken and governments have run out of ideas, the only people who can save the day… is us!”, involving audience participation, where Mr. Thomas asks each audience member to submit one original idea or policy, social, political or economical, that they believe would benefit the world. Throughout the show, he reads out the audience’s ideas and at the end, the audience gets to vote on the winning policy. Being a socially conscious person, the ideas I came up with were along the lines of required licensing for the parenting of children, stronger penalties for child abusers, abolishing organized religion and replacing it with yoga (wouldn’t the world be a happier place?) However, my fellow audience members were a bit more creative (and a tad darker), proposing policies such as ‘hang one banker per day” and ‘bring back public stoning of hedge fund managers’. Bring back???! Other ideas included the forcing of people who shuffle their feet while wearing Ugg boots to sit and listen to the sound for an hour; having separate sidewalk lanes for fast and slow walkers and tourists who stop in the middle of the street to stand and stare at the buildings (Ironically, I used to despise those people and now I’m one of them); and everyone should be gay for 2 years. The winner was a tie between the following: 1. Set a federal maximum wage (Agreed!!!) and 2. Force potato chip manufacturers to fill the bags all the way to the top. Hm. It was an interesting night and I learned much about the Brits. My days in London were spent relaxing, site seeing and shopping. Speaking of shopping… my first full day in London, I spent walking along Oxford street, merely window shopping and fantasizing, until I found heaven. It was a place unlike any I had ever been to, It was called Primark. It was Bloomingdales meets Zara meets Sacs with the prices of TJ Maxx. Pure fashion heaven…backpacker style. It was moving. I could have shopped for hours. Well, actually I did shop for hours, but I could have shopped for days if I only had the time and the bank account. But alas, my spree had to come to an end. So, I made my purchases, gathered my bags and walked out onto Oxford Street where Andreas would be waiting to take me to the theater. On my final day in London, we decided to spend the day at a park just outside of London, where we saw herds of baby deer..little bambies, whom we were close enough to to pet. Afterwards, we picnicked under a blanket of clouds…. and suddenly…London didn’t seem so bad.