Sunday, July 28, 2013

Looking Into Other People's Lives

I am both an avid reader and an Internet enthusiast, and for that reason I'm always looking for something new, exciting, or interesting to read on the world wide web. Sure, the bright screen and inability to hold the text in my hands kind of stresses me out, but if I want the latest and greatest it's gotta be off the internet.
I read a lot of blogs, like a lot of blogs (my "Other Bookmarks" tab is approximately 5 miles long), especially those that are written about fashion or interior design. But what I look for in a good blog aren't necessarily the typical OOTD posts or random collections of images from another blog without explanation, that's the stuff Tumblr was made for. What I look for are the blogs that show the writer's voice (or voices if there's more than one writer, which honestly a lot of the good ones have). If you're going to post a bunch of pictures of what you wore today, tell me about it! Because I really do want to know about it! I LOVE reading about other people's lives, especially in their own voices. This is why I'm so excited about the blog, Forty Days of Dating.
Forty Days of Dating is a blog created by two friends, Jessica Walsh and Timothy Goodman, who got tired of the single life and decided to try dating each other for 40 days straight just to see what would happen. The results are fantastic. After every date they each answer a series of questions that remain the same for the entire project, things like "Did you see Jessica today?", "What'd y'all do together?", "Did anything interesting happen?" and so on. I've only read up to day 7 and I can already see that this is an amazing project that I am definitely addicted to.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Club Monaco Fall 2013

It's been a wonderful and relaxing couple of days at home doing nothing but sleeping, P90X-ing the Parisian bread and cheese away, and catching up on online TV. But alas it's time to get back to the real world AND TALK ABOUT HOW GREAT CLUB MONACO'S FALL LOOKBOOK IS.

It's no secret that I think fall is the best season for so many reasons and as I struggle through this far too hot, far too humid summer all I can think about is fall fashion. I mean just LOOK at this stuff, it's the perfect combination of neutrals and prints with that random, glorious royal blue coat thrown in for good measure. It's these ankle boots, the fur, the black, the OVERALLS (which I think are super awesome but still don't know how to wear them), the edgy prep, the miniskirts, and the skinny trousers that are floating through my heat stroke dreams as I anxiously wait for cooler temperatures.

How perfect is every single one of these looks for that weird sort of cold sort of warm october weather? Club Monaco has clearly mastered the early fall layering outfit and is showing it off in their Fall 2013 collection. And also, I want to buy all of it, move to northern Canada, and wear it immediately.

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Final Paris Post

My last week in Paris was absolutely fantastic. Having my mom there sort of softened the sadness of having to leave such a wonderful place. We kept even busier than I had been during class time, running from museum to museum and boutique to boutique, stopping for delicious food at every opportunity.

On our first full day together we went to Angelina, a famous tea salon right next to the Tuileries. Everyone says you HAVE to get their famous hot chocolate, but we only made it a few sips in before getting overwhelmed by how sweet it was.

We also moved from my apartment at the Citadines in the 13th to a hotel right down the street from the Opera. I was sad to say goodbye to my home for the last few weeks, but knowing I would be so close to so many awesome things in the center of the city made it a little easier. You could just see the top of the Opera from our hotel room! And later, on July 14, we could see the edge of the fireworks at the eiffel tower.

So on the 14th we underestimated the extent of the Bastille Day celebrations and tried to go to the Musee de l'Orangerie which turned out to be not only closed, but also completely unreachable because of closed streets. While that was quite a frustrating way to start the day, we ended up at the Musee d'Orsay instead where we conveniently watched the parade from the rooftop terrace. In case you ever need to know, watching a parade from the top of a tall building across a river is DEFINITELY the best way to watch a parade. Plus, since all the tourists were over at the edge of all the Bastille Day action, the museum was nearly empty.

Monday was by far one of my favorite days of the entire trip. We took a train out to Chantilly, a typical quaint village in the French countryside with a big, beautiful chateau. No offense to Louis XIV, but I liked Domaine de Chantilly way more than Versailles. For one thing, it wasn't swarming with tourists stopping and starting to take pictures in every room and for another, it had a full on forest that was both beautiful and good at keeping people cool in the shade. The best part about Chantilly? THEY HAD WALLABYS. A WHOLE FIELD OF WALLABYS. We're still not sure why, but I don't even want to know why. All I know is I got to see some wallabys and I didn't have to fly for 30 hours to Australia.

The lion and the platypus, nature's most fearful predators.

Our last day was spent fitting in last minute tourist stops (Notre Dame) and souvenir shopping (not to worry, we didn't buy a single beret or anything shaped like an eiffel tower). Our most exciting discovery was a boutique/cafe called Merci near the Bastille. Out front is a big cafe lined with bookshelves (I died a little when I saw it) but if you walk through to the courtyard there's an entrance to a massive boutique filled with travel books, drawing supplies, collected clothes from all over the city, housewares, and beautiful jewelry. We spet the entire afternoon exploring the place. It was perfect.

After a tasty vegetarian dinner by Les Halles, we walked down to the Ile Saint-Louis for ice cream at Berthillion. We ate our ice cream on a bridge overlooking the sunset over Paris, the perfect end to the perfect trip.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Coming to an End

Once again I'm writing a long, delayed post, but this time it's to sum up my time in Paris (sort of). I finished my last busy week with my study abroad class and I'm now spending a few extra days playing tourist with my mom before heading home to the US. When we talked about it this morning she pointed out that it's as if I'm being a tourist where I live because I've spent so much time here at this point that it really does feel like I've lived here.

Our last week with Abigail was filled with long days and trips to exciting places. Despite the heat and constant walking we managed to keep up and stay conscious for class time, in addition to spending as much of our afternoons and evenings together as possible. On Monday we spent the day trekking between the many covered passages, or arcades, near the Opera area (think Nichols Arcade in Ann Arbor). It was nice to get out of the sun and even better to experience the shopping culture of the 19th century.

Tuesday we spent the day in Giverny, aka Claude Monet's country home. Obviously we were all thrilled to see where Monet lived, worked, and hosted other cool important people. Once again it was VERY warm, which despite the discomfort was preferable to rain because so much of the good stuff at Giverny is outside. Inside his house the walls were filled with Japanese prints, a few small paintings, and collections of things like porcelaine plates or vases. We hurried out of the house however, so that we could get another look at the garden out front and, more importantly, locate the lily pond. Everything was beautiful and I kept having those "Monet PAINTED HERE" moments.

The next day we made our last trip through the Musee d'Orsay (though not my last) and then quickly hopped in another bus to make our way out to the Barbizon School. The first thing we did was head into the Barbizon forest where realist painters like Millet and Courbet would go to paint landscapes and physically be out in nature. You could see why these artists would choose to work there, the light, the trees, the rocks, it all fell together naturally to form such beautiful scenes.

After that we visited Millet's studio which now exhibits some of the work, primarily Millet's, created in and around the Barbizon forest.

 Thursday we began with a guest lecturer at the Musee des Annees 30 (Museum of the 1930s) where we got to see some really cool 20th century art, appliances, and furniture.

After that we met Abigail at the Petit Palais to jump back and view their collection of 18th and 19th century French art. The juxtaposition between the art nuveau of the morning and the work at the Petit Palais was fantastic.

Friday was our final day with each other, our professor, and our lovely in country organizer, Judith. We started the day at the Musee d'Art Moderne which was essentially just a wandering exploration of the museum since Abigail knew very little about the art. We did however begin with the Dahn Vo show as a group and got to see some really interesting pieces relating to Vietnam, America, and McNamara.

Afterwards, we headed next door to the Palais de Tokyo for the best meal I've had since getting to paris. I started with a mango lassi to drink and a massive ball of burrata mozzarella on top of zucchini marinated in mint and garlic.

Next was a heaping plate of curried vegetables with a bowl of couscous and peas.

And finally a citron cheesecake with strawberry sorbet. Needless to say I've never felt more full nor more happy. I think Abigail was secretly trying to stuff us to the point of euphoria so that we wouldn't all start crying when we had to say goodbye (tears were shed anyway).

We finished up our time together with a relatively spontaneous trip to the pompidou center. Even if we barely covered contemporary art in our program, we all still wanted to go to spend a little extra time together and have a chance to listen to one last lecture.

I'm so thankful for the time I got to spend here and especially for the people I got to spend that time with. I've been given so many amazing, mind blowing opportunities while I've been here and I wouldn't want to have spent my summer any other way.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Respiratory Inefficiency Warnings

It's been a while since the last post, but at long last, I've visited Montmartre. Ever since learning about impressionism in class this year, I've been in love with the Parisian neighborhood and the history behind it. During the 19th century nearly every prominent artist, writer, and revolutionary were living, working, and hanging out together in Montmartre. Getting to be in the same place that all this amazingness was once happening was such a fantastic experience.

The best part of the day was getting to watch a street performer juggle a soccer ball on top of a tiny pillar on the stairs leading up to Sacre Coeur. We watched his entire performance and I ended up with what I think are some of the best pictures I've taken in Paris.

 Last week started off with a day at the Louvre, aka an equally wonderful and claustrophobic day. We fought our way through to the Grande Galerie, passing Mona Lisa on the way (because who actually wants to struggle through a crowd of tourists when you can just safely look from 20 feet away?).

Tuesday, we met at Jeu du Paume at the end of the Tuileries. I was a little bummed we didn't actually go inside Jeu du Paume because it was the location of the famous "Oath of the Tennis Court" drawn by Jean-Jacques David, but just getting to be around it was still pretty cool. We popped into the Madeline while we were nearby and then took a break for lunch.

Later we met up at Buttes Chaumont, a massive park in the 19th arrondissement. Unlike a lot of the other parks and gardens in Paris, this one felt way more natural, even though it was mostly manmade. Imagine Central Park but a little smaller and much more hilly. We climbed up a cliff in the center of the park and got an awesome view of the whole city.

Wednesday, we spent the whole day at the Musee d'Orsay. Needless to say, that made it a pretty awesome couple of hours. I could move in to the Orsay and never leave and never want to leave. Again, no pictures allowed... but it's still an awesome place. I gave my presentation on the influence of photography on Impressionism on the crowded 5th floor during the second half of class. Periodically tourists would start to join our group and listen to me talk about Degas or Monet. I had the urge to stop and shoo them away but felt that might sidetrack the presentation.

After class I RAN home because my best friend Olivia arrived that afternoon from Austria. Eager to get our week together started, I planned a bread and cheese dinner on the Seine for that night... but the rainy Paris weather impeded that exciting trip. Instead we accidentally ate all my bread and cheese as an early dinner the second Olivia got in. That night we just explored and I showed her around my temporary home.

Thursday, Olivia joined us for class at the Opera where we got to see some insane architecture and beautiful ballet costumes. I'm hoping to actually go see the ballet, albeit from the ballet equivalent of the nosebleeds, when my mom arrives here this weekend! After we ended at the Opera, we moved towards the Musee de la Vie Romantique where they had an adorable cafe with tables in the garden. Like the Musee d'Orsay, you can't take pictures at the Musee de la Vie Romantique, but the best pictures were definitely of the garden cafe anyway.

Friday, we started off at the Catacombs which I was pumped about but ever so slightly less pumped about once we saw the line to get in. Luckily, our awesome professor speaks french more than fluently, especially when it comes to arguing with guards or getting us the best appointments. We jumped the line and walked in right away. On the way in Olivia pointed out a warning to people with "cardiac or respiratory inefficiencies", which is funny because why would you phrase it like that and because both my heart and lungs are relatively inefficient (but not in a dangerous way, the catacombs didn't kill me).

That afternoon we took a very long boat ride down the St. Martin Canal, which might have felt less long and more enjoyable had the sun not been so staggeringly hot. We saw some cool architecture and a really interesting park along the ride, and I'm now the proud owner of an awkward one shoulder sunburn.

Saturday, Olivia and I started the day at the outdoor market down the street in order to buy some food for dinner and splurge for a bouquet of peonies (some dark fuchsia for Olivia and some light pink for me). Later we went to Jardin du Luxembourg which was beautiful under the perfectly blue sky. We explored, found some bees, watched toy sailboats race, and took in the sunshine before we headed off to shop around the area. By 5 we were exhausted and we headed home for a rest and some homemade dinner.

Sunday, we woke up early to try to make it to the Musee d'Orsay by 9:30 since it was the free first Sunday of the month. We were sincerely worried about the length of the line when we arrived at the museum, but the line moved quickly and we were inside in no time. Despite the free admission, the museum was relatively empty as I lead Olivia around, talking to her about all my favorite paintings (which was most of them). To end her last day here, Olivia and I ate crepes under the Eiffel Tower, the perfect end to a quick visit from my bestie in Paris.