Location: New Zealand
Home now so this is the end of the site for now, if you want to see what I'm up to come and join me on facebook :-)
Location: Auckland, New Zealand
Well I'm back on terra firma now, had my first day back at work today which wasn't too painful fortunately. I think I can sum up my last few days in Paris pretty quickly so here goes...
Unfortunately my first day in Paris was a Sunday so nothing was open. However, it was nice and sunny in the morning so I dressed lightly and went off to have a bit of a walk around my favourite city, after the obligatory pastries for breakfast. Unfortunately by lunchtime a howling northerly had arrived and the temperature plummetted about 10 degrees. I beat a retreat up to Montmartre, hoping to find some nice warm bistro to hang out in for a couple of hours with the Times. I found a bistro, ordered my lunch, got my nice pichet of Bordeaux, only to find out that there was nothing left on the menu but veal or tripe (you can guess which I preferred). I didn't feel like moving somewhere else but once I got my lunch I kind of wished I had - what a rip off. At least the wine was nice. I did manage to kill a couple of hours though and braved the cold to have a look around some of the cute shops in Montmartre, which happily were open and centrally heated. I went back to the hostel to put my winter layers on before heading for a lateish dinner at a restaurant down the road, again it was pretty disappointing but c'est la vie. Back at the hostel I met Susan from Canada who was off for a walk along the Seine so I tagged along and got to see some of Paris Sunday night life which is surprisingly lively.
Monday was a big time shopping day on the Right Bank, spent most of the time trying to find the perfect pair of jeans in my price range and succeeded reasonly well I think. Monday night I grabbed dinner from the market down the road and didn't really do anything, my credit card was too sore!
Tuesday was the sad last day and ironically the sun came out. After yet more pastries for breakfast, I walked down to the Luxembourg Gardens which were under snow the last time I was in Paris. From there I took about 2 hours to get to the Seine via Boulevard St Germain and the surrounding streets, which is real classic Paris for me. Eventually I ended up at Le Bon Marche which is a posh department store and found a decent meal, yay, at the Brasserie Babylon next door. I decided to walk off lunch by heading for the Eiffel Tower via the Ecole Militaire and naturally got caught in the scrum of tourists at the Tuileries. On my way back to the metro station I almost got fleeced by a gypsy, unfortunately for her I worked out her trick (fake gold ring) pretty quick and she was off to try it on someone else. I caught the metro to the Marais which is a bit like the Ponsonby of Paris and therefore a fun place to shop and hang out. Eventually I headed back over to the Left Bank to meet Laurie near the University for a drink, which turned into dinner at a Peruvian restaurant and her almost convincing me to stay in Paris. I will be back again!
Location: Paris, France
Okay supershort update on my last 3 days in London then I can tell you what I have been up to in Paris.
Spent day in fabulous company of Susanna from Finland and we went shoe shopping and then to the Tate Modern for an art fix, had lunch at Cafe Rouge followed by a trek over to the Tower of London so I could be a tourist and take a photo. After discovering that 'Othello' at the Globe theatre was fully booked that night we managed to snaffle the last two tickets for the matinee on Friday. After a couple of hours walking around Camden town (I have never seen so much cheap tacky clothing in my life but it was still fun) we went back to Bayswater and went to a pub down the road for dinner. Several glasses of wine and lots of laughter later I fell into bed and had a seriously good sleep.
Went to Harrods and Harvey Nicholls in Knightsbridge in the morning to play pilgrimmage and had the most expensive coffee and muffin ever at Harvey Nicks but felt very posh doing so. Met up with Susanna again at the Tate Modern and we had a quick lunch before going to see Othello, which I can desrcibe in one word - amazing. I had a bit of a rush to get back to Oxford Circus to meet Rob at 6.00pm but I managed it. Rob and Charlene and I had a drink at a jazz bar followed by yummy dinner at a Moroccan restaurant, crazy flamenco death metal (literally) by Rodrigo y Gabriella at the Shepherds Bush Empire and then lots of alcohol in Soho. I got a pedicab home which was a bit of a surreal experience at 2.30 in the morning. A fun night!
Hungover in the morning so I wasn't much use for anything. Had lunch and a big catch up with Adrienne who I went to intermediate school with and we walked around a lot of London in the process. Went shopping. Caught Eurostar to Paris (pretty unexciting) and got here about 11pm.
So far Paris has been all about avoiding the rain, shopping and having pretty crappy food (have not had a good meal yet and I have tried really hard to find one). But only one more day left, waah!
Location: Paris, France
I know I said I wouldn't be writing anything until I got back but it is freezing and raining here, not great weather for walking around, and almost everything is shut because it is Sunday. So we are back to the London updates....
I'm casting my mind back to Wednesday and the weather was fab again so after breakfast I walked down the road to Notting Hill to see how the other half lives. It was very nice and peaceful too as the only other people walking around were Nannies and extremely pampered children. Eventually I got bored with the posh houses and gardens so I backtracked to Portobello Road and paid a pilgrimmage to the antique shops for Mum and looked at clothes and shoes for me. Despite much temptation I didn't find anything I really wanted so I got on the tube and went to Oxford Circus to meet Rob for lunch. We went to his favourite cheapie Thai restaurant in Soho and had a nice catch-up, unfortunately for me though it just made me want to stay in London even more hearing about him going to Glastonbury and the great life he has over here, sigh...After I left him I went to Covent Garden and had a bit of a look around before I met Arthur at the Cross Keys Pub for a drink. The drink turned into a bit of a walking tour of the area with Arthur as my guide, he used to live there many moons ago and we also went crap souvenir shopping at the Covent Garden market. For dinner we went to a fish and chip restaurant that is long established and apparently one of the better ones in London, certainly should have been for how much it cost, but everything is expensive in London and at least we had a good feed. Getting back to the hostel on the tube was a complete nightmare so I canned my plan of going to see DieDieDie on the bill at a club in Camden, way too hard, and chatted to some people at the hostel instead. To be continued...
Location: London, England
Have been having too much fun to write updates and you're going to have to wait a little bit longer as I had a pile of emails to reply to. In short I have had an amazing couple of days here and as much as I love Paris I would really like to stay in London a whole lot longer. I've got the bug and hearing Rob going on about all the festivals and gigs he is going to this summer did not help! Anyway this might be it until I get home as I am not planning on spending much time in internet cafes in Paris and anyway I will be home in a week which isn't that long, waah!
Like I said not much happened on our last day in Scotland but a long drive back to West Kirby so I got to see a lot of the British motorway system.
On Monday morning Bern and I were up not so bright but definitely early to drive to London. We stopped off at Stratford-upon-Avon along the way so that I could see Shakespeares birthplace and Anne Hathaway's cottage. Both were very interesting and had beautiful gardens, the village of Stratford itself was very picturesque too with plenty of Elizabethan buildings which looked like they were going to fall down at any minute. I liked Anne Hathaway's cottage best and it was neat to see the roof being rethatched.
It was sad to say goodbye to Bern at Heathrow because I had such a lovely week with her and Richie, they spoiled me thoroughly. I got caught up in the madness of the tube system on my way into London - my train ended up being delayed for an hour due to a 'passenger incident' whatever that means! Once I got to my hostel and dropped my stuff off the rain had set in but I pressed on and walked to Oxford St. My main mission was to buy a pair of pyjamas as I left my scungy old ones behind in the hotel in Edinburgh (accidentally). I bought the poshest and most expensive pair I have ever owned in my life at Marks and Sparks but it was a fun experience, which pyjama shopping usually isn't. I walked down Oxford St as far as Regent Street, with a bit of a detour into the madness that is Selfridges on the way, and headed down into Soho to find dinner. As soon as I hit Piccadilly Circus I ran in the opposite direction - too many tourists and craziness. I knew I had struck gold when I found a chinese restaurant full of chinese people with slightly dodgy decor and music playing in the background. The food was great and their house wine was a sav blanc so I was a happy girl. I had my first 'sardine' experience in the tube on the way back to the hostel - not something I am going to miss about London!
Yesterday the sun came out and I was determined not to go to any museums. I had to go to Waterloo in the morning to change my Eurostar booking to Paris, I am now going on Saturday night which gives me a whole extra day in London - nice! From there I randomly wandered out of the station and found myself staring at Big Ben and the houses of Parliament. I had to ingratiate myself amongst a hoard of tourists to get some photos but I managed. I went past Westminster Abbey but was too hungry to stop until I got to St James' park. After walking around the (very nice) park for about half an hour I finally found some overpriced sandwiches to eat and plonked myself down with a timeout and didn't move for an hour and a half. Feeling sunburnt and lazy I backtracked across the park to Buckingham Palace (ma'am wasn't in) and down the Mall past Clarence House and St James' Palace to Trafalgar Square. By this stage it was really hot and I detoured back to the hostel for some more summery attire. I caught the tube back to Westminster and hiked along the Thames as far as the Millenium Bridge, with a quick peak at St Pauls and then crossed the river to the Tate Modern. I had an ice cream stop before heading back down the other side and was seriously footsore when I got back on the tube. After a bit of a rest I went to an Italian restaurant down the road for dinner and spent time doing some rough planning for the next few days because I have a lot I want to do. I had a great day today catching up with people and I should be up to date with these entries tomorrow.
Location: London, UK
It was a hot sunny beautiful day in London today so perfect for walking around and taking lots of photos, but according to this page I am still in cool windy Scotland so I'll take up the trail there.
Bern, Richie and I made it to our hotel in Edinburgh despite the satnav having a few issues and we were pretty much blown in the door by the howling gale. After a quick freshen up, a bottle of wine and a gawp at the palatial (at least compared to what I'm used to) surroundings of my newly renovated room we headed around the corner to a posh cocktail bar which was situated on the top floor of a building with a great view over Edinburgh. We had yummy cocktails and nibbles and an hour was easily spent people watching and speculating over the private lives of our neighbours (so nosy but fun). We then braved the gale again to go to dinner at a French restaurant called La P'tite Folie (at least I could remember the name of this one). Despite my outing of the French accented waiter as not being able to actually speak French we had a great meal and another bottle of wine so it was a merry walk back to the hotel. I then had a bath in my beautiful bathroom so needless to say I slept extremely well that night.
The first highlight of Saturday was our visit to Edinburgh castle. Granted it would have been better if the wind hadn't been blowing quite so hard but we had an interesting time anyway and the view of Edinburgh was amazing! The crown jewels were a disappointment, especially after we had to walk painfully slowly through a pretty naff exhibit on Scottish royal history in order to see them. We also missed out on seeing the proverbial jewels despite several close battles between the kilts of the castle guards and the wind. Better were the Great Hall, the Scottish Military museum and the excellent chocolate brownie I had at the cafe. We also got to hear and see the Orangemen on parade through Edinburgh, religious bigotry brought to life unfortunately but it was atmospheric nonetheless. After a spot of shopping, which was a useful way of avoiding the rain showers, we piled back into the car and headed for picturesque West Berwick which is on the east coast to stay with David (Daisy), Sarah, Jessica, Tom and Splodge (the dog), who are friends of Bern and Richies. This was the second highlight of the day, particularly for the excellent and extensive dinner that Sarah prepared for us and the lovely walk on the beach afterwards. It was a very entertaining and enjoyable evening and I got to see the end of the FA cup final.
Yay, onto Sunday which was mostly spent driving back to West Kirby after a delicious brunch courtesy of Sarah and another walk on the beach. Will continue the update tomorrow...
Location: London, UK
Yay here I am in mad old London. I will attempt to catch up on the last few days before letting you know what I have done so far here, which isn't much anyway!
On Thursday Bern, Richie and I packed up the car and headed north to the Lake District. After marvelling at the fantastic scenery in Yorkshire, our first stop was Hebden Bridge where Bern and Richie went shoe shopping but I managed to resist because they didn't have the pair I liked in my size. We also had a nice lunch despite the inept waiter. Next was Haworth which is famous as the home of the Bronte sisters, who happened to write two of my favourite novels. Bern and I left Richie to wander the village while we visited the church where the sisters worshipped, which naturally has a memorial chapel and is surrounded by a spooky graveyard complete with crows. Just around the corner was the parsonage where the family grew up and pretty much all died of TB (not surprising given the extremely unsanitary conditions in the village at that time, the life expectancy was about 28!). This gave an interesting insight into life at that time. To give Richie a break from the girlie stuff (which I think he quite enjoyed actually :-)) we went to a posh pub on our drive through the lakes and stupid me didn't take any photos of the beautiful scenery, because of course it rained the whole next day! After leaving the Drunken Duck pub we went to Hawkshead, another beautiful Lakes village, where we stayed the night at the Kings Arms pub. We had dinner there (my first English curry) too followed by a walk around the village which we discovered was also the place where William Wordsworth went to school, so we had a very literary day! I then beat Bern twice at cribbage (not really fari considering the difference in experience) and I went to sleep in my very pink but very cosy bed. My god that's only one day this is going to take ages!
So onto Friday when the rain came. Richie said it's not called the Lake District for nothing and he is right! Despite the threatening weather we decided to drive up the Hard Knott Pass to see a Roman fort that is up there. Well we ended up seeing it from a distance from the car because it was too wet to get out but the drive up there was pretty spectular, desolate landscape and lots of hairpin bends in the road, scary with cars coming the other way. To warm up we stopped off at another pub for coffee, where needless to say we were the only visitors. However we did see an amazing number of people determined to continue on with their trekking plans despite the horrible weather. Naturally the sun came out as soon as we left England and headed up into Scotland. We ended up going via the coast so I got to see the Sellafield nuclear power station in all its horrible glory. I can't for the life of me remember the name of the village where we stopped in Scotland for lunch but I felt immediately at home there because I just love the Scottish accent. Driving on through the border country also reminded me a lot of NZ so it was a nice afternoon. Sorry going to have to finish this later...