rebness: (Famille)

Aww, this time yesterday I was wandering through the Musee d'Orsay with [livejournal.com profile] wickedmanifesto. Today, there's no Toulouse-Lautrec but I've been reading a really funny story in The Guardian about how France is apparently America's Major Ally now. Everyone's spitting feathers but it seems to be that I'd rather have a friend who would tell me when I was doing something foolish rather than one who went along with absolutely everything. I still think Sarkozy's a prick, though.

Anyway, I really enjoyed Paris. I just love getting dressed up to go there and -- I know a lot of women hate it but bear with me -- the attention I got really was an ego boost. I've lost a lot of weight in the last six months and to just be dressed up in my nice new slimmer!clothes was lovely. I can't wait to go back there - in all of two weeks! It'll be great to just wander around and take in all that beauty and life. This city is like an injection of seretonin to me; nice to feel the dull grey of January fade away so easily.

Unfortunately, my camera wasn't working properly and I didn't manage to get a replacement memory card until I was at the airport last night. [livejournal.com profile] wickedmanifesto took some great photographs though, so shall post some here once she uploads them. :D 

'Allo 'allo

Dec. 1st, 2010 06:13 pm
rebness: (Liberty)
I've considered the world and then some for my upcoming (ohgodwhy) 30th birthday in January. I was thinking of South America, or some far-flung Eastern bloc destination on Ryanair's loco flight list but instead opted for... Paris.

Ah, Paris. My first travel love. It's familiar and beautiful and I don't feel obliged to rush around seeing the monuments for the thousandth time, so it's all good. I'm even thinking -- here my twenty-year old self chokes with disgust -- of visiting Disneyland whilst I'm there.

To quote Kevin Spacey in Swimming With Sharks:

Look, it's like they say, if you're not a rebel by the age of 20, you got no heart, but if you haven't turned establishment by 30, you've got no brains.

Anyway, that's a short time away. I am still young and smooth-skinned and in my twenties, so let's turn to stuff I was reading up on Paris today while bored at work. See, one mistake I made when I first visited as a fresh(er)-faced twenty-year-old was to try and find Les Innocents graveyard (I was stanning Armand at the time) . Well, it doesn't exist anymore. Er, hasn't since the 1700s. Who knew! Today I idly wondered where the old site of the graveyard was and found it was at Les Halles. But! Look at this history:

Les Innocents burials rose in number with the religious fervour of the early 13th century. The doctrine of the time tended towards fire and brimstone, which was all the better to increase the flow of the defunct faithful into consecrated church property accompanied by a sizable burial fee.

The church's income from Les Innocents must have been enormous, as they pointedly ignored the sanitary problems their cemetery created. Their coffers were overflowing with the product of the enormous burial rate, but unfortunately, so was the earth; the skeletons of decomposed cadavers went to the charniers, but their fatty residues remained in the earth. The plague of 1418 poured 50,000 dead into Les Innocents over a five-week period, and the hundred-years war brought more. The air of central Paris must have been already putrid then.

In spite of this, the church insisted on the "flesh-eating" quality of Les Innocent's soil, which "justified" their burying a body for only a few weeks before moving it to the charniers. A funeral was almost a parody then: the defunct would be placed in a coffin over the pit for the duration of the ceremony, after which he would be dropped through its trap door bottom. Other stories tell of gravediggers who, after a day of funeral ceremonies, dismembered any cadavers and sent their torsos only into the pit below, which made yet more room for more burials; the resulting pile of arms and legs were burned, and their bones went directly to the charniers. Les Innocents was already saturated by then as well as the many other churches in Paris, but the clergy's power over both the commoners and the nobility assured the continuation of these unsanitary practices until well into the 18th century.

By the late 17th century, the ground of Les Innocents had become a greasy mound incapable of decomposition, and the residents of the Les Halles quarter were a constant source of complaints. The Crown made many attempts to coerce the clergy into halting or slowing burials in overcrowded church cemeteries, but to no avail. The only modification the church would make was a rise in the price of their funeral services.

[...]

The act that closed the fate of the Parisian cemeteries came after a prolonged period of rain in springtime of 1780. On the 30th of May, a cellar wall in a property bordering Les Innocents gave way under the weight of excess burials and humidity, spilling a mess of decomposed bodies and infected mud into the room. The building was evacuated until repairs could be made; but even the thickest masonry over the cellar wall couldn't keep them from sweating a substance that smelled of the rotting flesh that had filled the cemetery since a thousand years.

Fantastic! I love you, Paris omg
rebness: (Amelie: Sans Toi...)

This post is one I have savoured even uploading. It is a post with the pictures as we entered Louisiana and New Orleans, and the first day there. I am so grateful to [livejournal.com profile] annemariewrites for such an amazing journey and for sharing in and totes understanding the obsession and the excitement I have for this city. 
rebness: (RDJ: Artiste)

I have so much to do! So many things to organise! Of course, the logical thing would be to go and do these things and stop procrastinating. The totally illogical thing to do would be to upload my holiday snaps. Yes. )
rebness: (YS: O hay)
 So the last major bout of American awesomeness before I head home kicks off good style tomorrow: the 4th of July. 

I am excited and don't care how much ribbing I'll get about it (guy selling fireworks giving me a sombre 'God bless America' when learning of my nationality for one) or how different it is, it's going to be great! [livejournal.com profile] wickedmanifesto has bought a load of fireworks (alas, not rockets - illegal in this city/state - [livejournal.com profile] annemariewrites can correct me on this one) and, you know, I love an excuse for a barbecue and alcohol, so it's all good. 

Unfortunately, my timing is absurd and I have to leave for my flight at 6am the next morning. Argh! As I am also spectacularly bad at planning, I managed to book my trip down to London to go to the Japanese embassy the same day that I arrive, so it'll be a jet-lagged dash down there hours after the plane lands. 

It'll then be Stratford-upon-Avon with top marra [info]saffronlie  for a couple of days before I'll be back home and full of tales of all those states and people and rad times. Huzzah! :D 
rebness: (Amelie: Sans Toi...)
"If you post, I'm going to read all of it. And then things that make me angry... I'll punch you." - [livejournal.com profile] annemariewrites *

Okay, so I have to make a somewhat cens0red post until I can get away from that ho above, so bear with me.

We're staying in this cosy** hotel on Chartres in the French Quarter. It at least has air conditioning, which is the raddest thing ever when stepping outside into what is akin to a sauna. Despite that, and the sunburn despite slathering on factor 50 sunscreen, it's still more bearable than the heat in Barcelona becaues of the air conditioning of a night. Represent! 

I was a little apprehensive about New Orleans if only because the more cities I see, the more jaded I become. It seems all cities have their Pleasant Little Square and their Dangerous Area, a shopping district and arty district, etc, etc. [livejournal.com profile] annemariewrites said we'd need to have words if I disliked the city, but she can rest easy.

I. love. it.

I love the sultry heat and the gorgeous architecture and the ineffable friendliness of the people and the ornate plantations and the mouth-watering food. I've tried gumbo and etoufee, drinking on Bourbon Street and beignets at the Cafe du Monde (to die for). We've wandered Oak Alley plantation and enjoyed the life on Royal Street (you'll always be Rue Royale to me, bb). We've sat in Jackson Square and listened to jazz, gawked at the Mississippi and imagined so many different stories here. It's fantastic.

I am also under a threat to write original fiction from my awesome travelling buddy, though we may end up suing each other over a fabulous idea we had at the same time during a visit to Oak Alley. >:D


*She is a speed demon. She sings Katy Perry songs until my eyes are like popping out of my head. She accuses me of beating her up in the night, when I'm only kicking her. A little. She'll save children, but not the British children. I may have retaliated by explaining The Human Centipede to her.

*small.
rebness: (Amelie: Sans Toi...)
Hokay. So we found a shady motel just down the road from Graceland for the night. The air is thick and balmy and it kind of stinks in this motel, but: 

* Kansas was AMAZING and I love it and we saw the world famous Prairie Dog Land and Lawrence in particular was just beautiful

*  Missouri was fun

* Arkansas passed us by in a dark haze, mainly because the sun had set

* I've just seen the Mississippi in the...uh... flesh, for the first time ever. I AM EXCITED. :D 

Tomorrow, more Tennessee and Mississippi and finalement New Orleans. I love this place! >:D 

rebness: (Amelie: Sans Toi...)
I feel...

- Enraged at our score in the England vs USA match

- Kind of sick because I have just parted with a lot of money for two paltry flights

- Kind of excited because those flights are to America

- Really excited because I am FINALLY going to New Orleans! HELLLLLS YEAH ROAD TRIP!

I still hate your football team, America.
rebness: (La Nuit Etoilee)
Okay, here are some pics from Amsterdam. None with me in, sorry. I only ever upload photos of myself to Facebook. On the plus side, LJ people know how I really think, so good trade-off? Yes?

Schtop! These photos are ready now.  )

I am deadly serious about moving to Amsterdam. I've talked it over with my flatmate and I'm aiming for August, as I need to give my job a year and I should have one last mosquito-ridden summer in Spain. I hope I can stick with it - I'm tiring of Spain and want the comfortable trappings of northern Europe again, but I'm really enjoying my job at the moment and learning a lot. Should one stay just for a job? I dunno.

Also! I read in The Guardian a couple of days ago that cauliflower sales are plummeting, on account of them looking like dalek brains [sic] and tasting like rubber. I myself have had a terrible aversion to them for my entire life, hating their pasty vegetable complexions and their boiled, tired presence in my parents' cooking.

I was inspired to give my arch enemy another whirl, picking one up for 90 cents. I threw some into some pasta one night, some in a curry the next and tonight I tried the dreaded cauliflower cheese. Reader, it was awesome. I finally had the guts to make a roux and bechamel myself (are you impressed, [livejournal.com profile] saffronlie?) and made the tasiest damned cauliflower cheese I have ever tasted. Granted, it was one by way of France (bleu d'Auvergne) and India (spices and a cheeky pinch of curry powder), but....mmm. All is forgiven, cauliflower. :D 


rebness: (Snufkin)

So hay, I’ve been back a couple of days from the Netherlands and Andorra, but delayed updates is how I roll.

 

Andorra was… a giant airport lounge. It looked like Montreal, but without any sense of history or awesomeness. Duty-free prices that are not all that free, with about five thousand perfumeries and fur coat (bitches) shops. The Pyrenees were huge and beautiful and completely non-walkable, so I instead took myself to a spa for the day. It was 30 Euros for four hours – I was lolling about in the pool for the first hour and a half, getting increasingly annoyed. This is never going to work, I growled to myself. I swam to the outdoor! Hot! Pool! with the amazing views of the snow and the mountains around.

 

Four hours later, I emerged from the spa completely relaxed, very happy and with my skin smelling and feeling divine. Oh bb, I am going to Andorra again as soon as possible.

 

Now, Amsterdam:

 

Amsterdam, I owe an apology to you. You were everything a city should be: beautiful, lively, fun and sad. 

 

We did all the usual things: rented bikes (I fell, hard, twice… the bruising is awful), ate at wonderful restaurants, visited museums. The Resistance museum was very informative – er, I hadn’t even known that there had been a Dutch Resistance during the war. The Van Gogh museum may be a cliché, but by God… I cried. I don’t know what it is about his art that reduces me to tears, but it’s only when I see the original paintings and can see each brush stroke.

 

We also visited the Anne Frank house, which was as horribly depressing and as awful as I thought it would be. It was worth it, for it truly brought the horror of what happened and some sense as to why, in that oppressive atmosphere, betrayal was almost inevitable, but it was also enraging. There were stupid people on their mobile phones: “YEAH. I’m just in the Anne Frank house. It’s okay. A bit bare. YEAH LET’S GET STONED LATER,” and then a moronic debate/exhibition thing where 56% of people there  honestly thought that we should censor all satire of religion and politics in Europe, without even the slightest trace of irony given their location.

 

There’s also the inevitable, boring thing that Chris and I ended up trying out. We refused to smoke cannabis because… well, I’m not going to debate it here. I just don’t like smoking; let’s leave it at that. The space cake, however, was not off-limits. We tried it, sat there complaining for two hours about how there was no effect and left the café. And then Chris said something or other and I just couldn’t stop laughing.

 

We wandered Amsterdam in a kind of haze. I said that I couldn’t feel my legs properly and Chris said that he felt as if his knees were stumps and we were walking on stilts. It set me off and was frightening to lose control, but we kept laughing and laughing despite it not being funny. It wasn’t hardcore or awesome. It is nothing to brag about, but it was interesting in retrospect. I don’t think I need to try that again for another six years. Actually, I doubt I’ll ever try it again.

 

After that, we left for the airport train, which had to be recalled due to a power failure at the airport itself. Made my flight with twenty minutes to spare, curling up on my seat sleepily as snow began to fall. Amsterdam, you were amazing.

 

I’ve thought it over and talked it over with various people. I’m going to try for some jobs there. Wages are higher in the Netherlands, it’s northern Europe without the endless chavs and EastEnders and well, why not?
 

ETA: Thank you all for birthday wishes, by the way! Sorry I wasn't around to thank you, but it was lovely to see them! Special thanks to [livejournal.com profile] pigeongirl99 for the birthday cake! :D
rebness: (Howl: Life Ruined)
Chris and I have just booked to go to Amsterdam for my 28th birthday. Originally, we were aiming for Latvia, but the prices had gone up crazily and it was just too much trouble to get there from Barcelona - I would have had to go via Brussels and Venice en-route and that's too tiresome for a long weekend.

Not to be disparaging about a place I've never visited, but Amsterdam has never really caught my attention. I don't know if it's because it's too close to the UK, but then France excites me. Maybe it's the pathetic braying of teenagers and young adults about OMGZ how many drugs they're going to take when they're there, but I dunno. It's one of those places I should have seen years ago and there is at least the Van Gogh museum, so yay.

For my birthday itself, I think I'll take a trip to Andorra. I know very little about the place, so that'll be exciting enough and less hassle than getting to Toulouse or Madrid, so why not? 

I've been very bad today; meaning to write and failing. Meaning to read and failing. I tidied up, then messed the flat up again. Perhaps it's this depressing damned novel I've just finished, but that can wait for the reading catch-up post. Hmph. Ennui, I has it.
rebness: (Esmeralda and Djali)
My brother linked me to this today. It caused a deep aching in my soul and makes me want to just sling on a backpack and go off on me travels. World, why are you so beautiful? Look at the Italian Alps. Dear God.

I really, really need a bloody holiday. I'm going to Austria and Greece in September. Hopefully, that will curb the gnawing beast for a while. I'm looking for work in Amsterdam or Germany or anywhere. I want to explore more.

In Yurpean news, some asshat in work keeps stealing food from the fridge and from peoples' desks. As I am The Only Scouser in the office, my colleagues think it's funny to blame me. I don't just mean the UK team, but those French and Germans, as well. It's not funny. >:
rebness: (Fatty and Spotty)
Okay, so Mostar was pretty rad, too. Again, there'll be a full recap later, because I want to go into detail about that but can't upload from my own camera here (these pictures were taken by Chris) but have a picture of the bridge for the time being - the original, dating back to the 1500s, was destroyed by Croatia in a random shelling attack during the siege in Bosnia.





We also ended up on a pilgrimage to Medugorje, which was the place in Bosnia and Hercegovina where, back in 1981, six children said they had encountered visions of the Virgin Mary. I should point out that the Catholic church has not recognised these supposed miracles, but it was a pleasant enough place and the chapel was filled with pilgrims from across the world. But there were all these people grabbing at the legs of a statue of Christ. We watched them, puzzled, but it turns out that one of the legs was 'weeping' and people were collecting the water. Yes, we did touch the water. :p



After that, onto Montenegro, where we are now.

It was a four-hour bus ride from Mostar to Dubrovnik, which wasn't so bad except for the horrible man next to me who did not appreciate the etiquette of elbow space. After eleventy gazillion passport controls and lots of passport stamping (guyz, just join the EU plz), we arrived in Montenegro and commenced a three-hour trip around one of the most beautiful bays I have ever seen in my life, all crystal-clear water and massive mountains. Budva is apparently the jewel in the crown of Montenegro's coastline, so as we passed increasingly beautiful quaint towns and villages, our hopes increased.

Then we rounded a corner, and we were in a sprawling urban mess. A concrete jungle of Hilton hotels and holiday apartments. 1970s architecture. A speshul hostel where the staff are friendly and perky and in your face until you just want to kill them ("Let's all go out together! Get pissed on the town!") Damp on the walls. Mould in the shower. Nine thousand people in one room. One has to laugh and wait to return to Croatia at the end of the week - it's that or hit all these annoying 'travellers' with their oh-my-gosh amazing life experiences right in the face. With an iron.

Still, we have free internet. :p

ETA: Though my, we visited Kotor today and it is beautiful.
rebness: (M)
I'm going to do a proper photo post when all this craziness has blown over and I can have a nice cup of tea and a sit down, but I leave Sarajevo tomorrow for Mostar and want to share a few pictures with you before I go.

This city is like none other that I have seen; it is scarred by bullets and mortar holes in the concrete of the pavements. The graveyards are full of an inordinate amount of young people who all died in 1992 - when Serbia attacked Bosnia in retribution for declaring independence. You can't walk on vast parts of the terrain because so many of the land mines remain undisturbed.

But that's not the whole of Sarajevo - it's a desperately friendly place, where the locals seem to bend over backwards to show you the strengths of their city, to ask you if everything is okay, do you like it, do you think Bosnia is beautiful?

Well, yes. I do. But let me just give you a couple of photos to sum up the paradox of this place:



This is called a Sarajevo Rose - it's a concrete scar in the pavement caused by a mortar shell explosion, later filled in with red resin to represent any mortar explosion that is known to have caused one or more deaths. These symbols are scattered about the town.



...But it's a beautiful region, nonetheless.

Anyway, there'll be a full post about all this when I get back to England. Onto Mostar!
rebness: (Default)
Gracias a todos for the birthday wishes!

I had a really nice day yesterday, despite now being decrepit and cranky. There was only one cure for the birthday evilness...



Yes!!1 Francia always makes things better. Except if you're a king, sheesh. Anyway, I went to France in the morning and visited a gorgeous little village to soothe my fragile 27-year-old soul, before returning to Barcelona for tapas with my friends.


rebness: (Father Ted)
I turned twenty-six at the weekend, an event I've been dreading as the evil thirty figure draws ever closer. I wasn't in much of a mood to celebrate that, so on Saturday, I was in Dublin celebrating my last day of being twenty-five and awesome. I was with family and friends in a bar comfortably away from the chaos of Temple Bar where there was a live band. I had lots of fun, let my hair down (literally and metaphorically) and had a rendition of Seven Drunken Nights dedicated to me.

My first act upon turning twenty-six as the hours rolled into Sunday morning was to go to the loo and vomit. Classy, huh? My only defence is that I was trying to relive my twenty-first birthday. Incidentally, I am twenty-one forever, now, and don't you forget it.

Work's been more gentle this week than usual, so that's pretty good. Attended Russian class yesterday and was horrified at all these absurd grammatical rules suddenly assailing the class (as [livejournal.com profile] hobbitblue predicted).

I'm just coasting along this week, looking forward to an arty day out in Liverpool on Saturday with [livejournal.com profile] jaffacakequeen and [livejournal.com profile] kristoferllama. I've dropped alcohol from my diet (well, till Saturday) and I'm eating pulses and fish and all those boring things. It must be my age. >:
rebness: (Libertie)

Alsace and Germany next...
rebness: (Leon)
I really enjoyed my last trip to the Continent, except for Switzerland, which I fully expected. Stupid place. Anyway, here is a recap of some of the places I visited. First and foremost,


More pics  coming soon!

rebness: (Infanta)
My boss today asked me what star sign I was. 'Aquarian,' said I.

'I knew it!' she shouted.

Hmm. What did it? My standoffishness, dreaminess, or general weirdness? I just stared at her with my enigmatic Aquarian disdain. (I bet birthday!twin Elijah Wood doesn't have days like this.) >:

OMG look what finally came in the mail today, guyz!!12:



My life is complete. And very French during August. >:)

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