A Travellerspoint blog

malditos pájaros y la belleza del arte

(mals ocells i la bellesa de l'art)

sunny

barcelonaaaaaaa day two

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In Plaza Espanya whoop whoop ! Normally I would NEVER let a stranger touch my camera in Spain, but this chick was a tourist from Southern Spain and really nice so we took each other's without getting ripped off haha
In the metro on the way there three people asked me for directions; wtf ?? No sé, guys, No sé.

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Sweet old building times while ascending Parc de Montjuïc

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Barceloooonaaaa

MNAC is the fabulous Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya in the Palau Nacional; there are whole big wings for Romànic, Gòtic, Renaixement i Barroc art (I have faith you can translate that). You can see some of their most famous works here.

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Some dudes getting boiled

This whole wing of the museum was set up so entire naves and alcoves of old churches across Catalonia were brought in to be preserved so there were all these little rounded alcoves (the reverse side of the displayed church bits) everywhere
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Isma says even though it makes this museum's collection the best in world or what have you, the practice is controversial because it conserves the friezes from bombing, fire, random people BUT the little villages lose their sweet old churches and source of tourism.

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'Putting your medieval demon baby to sleep'

Then I wandered around Montjuïc and there were some beeeyootiful jardins, muy tranquilos...
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So peaceful. Moments later . . .
A PEACEFUL BIRD
YEP
GREEN-BROWN OOZY GOO

things it got: my bag - - my top - - my skirt - - my hair !!
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MALDITA !! Luckily dos mujeres de Argentina were passing by RIGHT as it happened and happened to have baby wipes and towels with them (PERFECTO what are the chances), and I was able to have a whole long groovy conversation with them as they cleaned me up from various angles (it got my back! and my front! and my bangs! EW EW EW OKAY) because they spoke South American Spanish and SI GRACIAS the kind of Spanish I know instead of this Castellano business. My heroes !

So I hadn't eaten anything except coffee and a granita all day and was staaarving so I went down to the supermercado in the basement of a huge department store (sushi: 14 Euro for four rolls nooo gracias) and MADRE ! They sold that dessert you made with the oranges filled with orange ice cream!! I bought one just to take its picture and then felt super awkward and did not take its picture so sad days, but it tasted just like yours :)

I also ate a ton of these super delicious potato-flour chips shaped like wagon wheels (although the package said they were 'Viking Shields' that were puffy and crunchy and tasty.
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Then my ankle hurt MUCHO and I was sad, and then this guy started following me yabbering in Spanish about how I should talk to him and I was like ladrón AAAAH and trying to get away so he switched to English like WHERE YOU FROM CMON TALK TO ME WHY WON'T YOU TALK TO ME I'VE BEEN WATCHING YOU
whoa say what

YEAH I'VE BEEN WATCHING YOU FIRST YOU WERE IN THE SQUARE THEN YOU ARE SITTING DOWN THEN YOU ARE ASKING THE INFO BOOTH FOR BUS DIRECTIONS THEN YOU LOOKING FOR A PLACE TO SIT THEN YOU ARE PUTTING ON YOUR SHOE THEN YOU ARE -

Yeah so this dude is reciting everything I had done for the last hour and a half to me, and just, WHAT EVEN CREEPY. So happily Bus 50 arrived and I literally FLED.
Then it was a bit like the Knight Bus since school had just gotten out and SPANISH AND CATALAN SCREAMING CHILDREN ALL OVER and I ended up just getting off somewhere random since I was getting a headache and also had to pee, and went into this warren of sprawling storethingies? And then just staggered to the Metro and collapsed at Isma's.

BUT THEN ! Fireworks on the beach at 10pm! We should go! And because I am a good adventurous couchsurfer I was like OKAY BUENO VAMOS
and we rode the bus for like an hour at night through to the beach and it was great; Isma is fun to talk to so not even awkward, and he packed sandwiches ! And I brought peach juice and chips sabor jamon which were insanely tasty and we had a

MIDNIGHT BEACH PICNIC

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I didn't take this picture - it's actually from the La Merce '11 website but you can see me in it (baaarely haha)...the farthest right. These dudes were fishing at midnight at the fireworks on the beach, which...what? And actually caught one ... the size of my pinkie. Ha.

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Oooooh

So, Barcelona round two: TOTALLY AWESOME OTRA VEZ.

Posted by dodie.does 08:43 Archived in Spain Comments (1)

HOLA CATALONIA

day four: it's not spain, really

sunny

I was TERRIFIED of leaving London (my baby my boo) to go to Barcelona Land O' Ladrones, especially because I was actually almost as scared of the flight as of the place itself and of sleeping in a random dude's flat. EasyJet and its homie budget airlines - not the most friendly or cost-effective reputation, and STRICT luggage regulations I was super afraid of going over.

So I left Lola's (noooo) early early early in the morning and took the bus to Victoria, where it was SO worth it to get on the Gatwick Express train to the airport (THANK YOU MOM for making me take it/making me feel able to take it !!) and just get straight there, super easily and super fast (and reliable).

Of course there as soon as I got on the train and sat down and we pulled away haha WATERWORKS EVERYWHERE haha the poor ticket lady was super nice to me as I feebly tried to hold it together but I was just SOBBING EVERYWHERE. The trolley man gave me a bunch of napkins to blow my nose and such; it was pathetic. If you'd like to try not sleeping more than five hours a night for two weeks, losing your housing/employment, and leaving your favorite city heading to an unknown city full of thieves on a plane you may not be allowed on while PMSing, I recommend it highly! Except not.

BUT ! When I got there, the whole tone of the day totally changed - FLY THROUGH GATWICK, GUYS. Any chance you get.
It was like a party! The security check people were honestly so much fun (body scans? pat-downs? fun? OH YES) and super positive. The lady behind me and I both were referred to the head of their department to tell their boss how much we appreciated their attitudes, running around sock-footed and they were happy to have people telling their boss to give them raises so everyone was even more enthused, and anyway it was really bizarrely awesome for airport security.

Free airport wifi - not a thing here. Siiiiigh.

Then I flew to ===Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain!=== Yes I did!

The first hours were not so good. Catalan..ummm not really understandable to the Spanish speaker. Castellano Spanish....not really the same as Mexican/American Spanish. Also no wifi. Plus did I mention TERROR OF THE FAMOUS THIEVES OF ESPANYA.

So, I chilled with some old-timers feeding pigeons in Plaza Catalunya for like two hours, clinging to my luggage and its intense locks, sweating (so hot herrrrre), looking at everyone suspiciously, generally feeling super out of place. I had a wool coat I'd been wearing in cold, rainy, grey London, and here everyone's chillin' in fancy sandals and sundresses and tan and yep I was not super positivo.

McDonalds was SUCH A MADHOUSE SCENE (with armed security guards at the door!), and I forgot what ice cream cone was in Spanish when ordering at the counter as soon as the dude asked for my order in Catalan, and wasn't sure whether to say barbecue or bee bee cue or bey bey coo to order the 'BBQ Chickens Burger' so I was just like HELADO Y POLLO HAMBURGUESA POR FAVOR and it turns out it is bey bey coo sandwich and kitkat cono soooo I failed but oh well it was tasty and there was wifi, so VICTORY.

Then! To la casa de un chico se llama Isma ! I had Google Mapped it to hell (literally every step of the route) and written street-by-street directions, and I left Estacio Sagrera and got LOST AS HELL.

Like an hour later, I was soaked through from hiking in humidity dragging my humongo bags (eww I know), and forgot which apartment was his so I pressed ALL THE BUTTONS like a psycho (lo siento, other apartments). But one answered in English! And it was him. And there was no elevator. To the fifth floor. With my suitcase and backpack and boots and giant coat and yeaaaah as first impressions it was not the best I have given but he let me in anyway.

As it turns out, Isma is the raddest !! He knows more about American politics than I do ('Did you watch the Republican candidate debate at 3am this morning?' ummm no), loves 80's movies, and just quit his job to spend a year blogging his road trip to all 50 states.

So we watched the opening ceremony of La Merce on his giant TV (lol Catalan speech no entiendo) and went out to meet a friend of his, and I did not bring my camera because remember THIEVES EVERYWHERE CONSTANT VIGILANCE !!11!!11! and also it was 239857 degrees at 8pm but off we went.
His friend was a totally super cool chica named Ana who also works in TV, and we walked around Las Ramblas y the old (super, super old) part of Barcelona for a bit eating our Turkish doner kebab-like whatever I had and learning about how Catalonia is awesome and Spain sucks and how to tell Cool Catalonians from Sucky Spaniards and other handy educational tips.

Everyone here is always very interested in how I know about Catalan and why I wanted to see Barcelona more than the rest of Spain - I just have this major thing about Catalonia, and it was hard at first to put into words WHY I do (and three people asked me the first day....'because it's awesome?' THERE HAS TO BE SOME REASON I ROMANTICIZE THIS PLACE). I then realized the two main causes:
1. Barça !! The best football team in the world, with a pretty intense history. I did this huge project for class in high school, and you had to make a local food and do a presentation and man, tragic Franco times and repression and cool language and also soccer; I was sold.
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2. El Cor !! Yeah so this one is a bit embarrassing but I was really sick some Winter quarter of college and while lying in bed decided instead of movies I would watch a Spanish Telenovela to practice mi espanol. 'Best telenovelas of Spain' yielded El Cor de La Ciutat, so off I went and was HORRIFIED to discover my Spanish suddenly was TERRIBLE - I could understand maybe a fourth of what they were saying clearly my spanish had totally dissolved and I was a failure at life
Haha El Cor is set in Barcelona, and is in Catalan.
Anyway, it's a Soap Opera, so ~~SUPER DRAMATIC~~ but actually pretty good, and Ummm Bernat Quintana, real talk, kind crazy hot.
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He's doing Romeo y Julieta right now but tragically I am not going (also I think it's in Catalan and not Castellano) BUT I did pass the cemetery they had to break into to pay off Iago's thug cronies by robbing a corpse of valuable jewels resulting in the tragic and untimely death of his mother !!

(Isma definitely laughed at me for this one - 'it's a show for old ladies sitting at home all day!' SHUT UP)

also of course
3. Stephen Maturin, weapons-grade part-Catalan separatist badass from the Master and Commander books. One of the main plot points of the whole first couple chapters where he and Captain Jack meet-cute and go out to dinner is that Jack orders in Spanish and Stephen of course is fluent and like lol no dude Catalan which is also fly and Catalonia fight for freedom blah blah and it's awesome.

Anyway the Barcelonians found this hilarious (Isma doesn't like soccer!! You are in the wrong city bro) but were super-psyched at my love of all things Catalan at the expense of Spain so it was fun times.

Wandering Roman, Romanesque, and Gothic narrow cobbled streets was magical times:
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If you walk backwards down Carrer del Bisbe under the skull impaled on a sword beneath this little bridge between (SUPER OLD) buildings, you get good luck/to make a wish !

Did I mention I'm here RIGHT in time for La Merce, the biggest festival of the year? IT IS INSANE
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Barcelona City Hall normally

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for La Merce !!

The projections onto the facade of City Hall were incredible (American dudes behind me just kept repeating reverently "dude, this is so well done"). People would appear and chase each other behind various windows, the columns would bend and stretch or turn into a giant harp, shutter would open and close and turn colors, the building was made of Legos and then gears and then painted Catalan flag colors and then a giant game of Pac-Man and WOW IT WAS AMAZING.
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Our White House seems suuuuper boring now.

SO ! Then this group of minstrels called "Ministrers del Camí Ral," who play only once a year, only for this event, played medieval tunes (SO GOOD) with their little hats and strange instruments (sounded like a mix between bagpipes and a recorder?) aaaand
the giants of the city did their dances!
Which sounds weird, and was, but also awesome.

Gigantes y Cabezudos doin' their dances
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Mr & Mrs giant of the city of Barcelona in the daytime:
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Medieval beasties also parade around
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and BEST !! the demons who will later run through the streets aiming sparklers-on-steroids and fireworks at the crowd came out and danced, with this giant goat-headed demon and guys in hoods and robes and huge sparking torches and MEDIEVAL TIMES LET ME LOVE YOU
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SO ! Barcelona: So far, awesome.

Posted by dodie.does 05:08 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

london my baby my boo

KEEP RUNNING TO ALL THE THINGS

semi-overcast

21 September===~DAY THREE~===

London Stats Indicate it May Be Opposite Day:
Points at which had to ask for directions: about eight
Successful directions received: Four
‘Sorry, I’ve no idea’ Answers Received: Four (this includes ‘IDK where the British Museum is even though it is apparently within a block of my place of business’, ‘There’s a British Museum?’, ‘Er, it’s next to the Thames somewhere I think?’, and the like. Britons of London! This is your city!

Was asked for directions from passersby: six times.
Was able to give successful directions: Three of four. Britons, I am now batting a higher average than y’all; what is your deal!

Then I had an irish hobo on Monday and a rico suave Pakistani Londoner on Tuesday and an Israeli businessman this afternoon tell me my accent was ‘lovely’. Uhhhh wha. Although I have been pronouncing my Ts now and softening the A’s and R's a bit so mayhap I am a gentle Yank now. My hostess and the businessman told me I look like a Londoner, so I guess the topknot-with-trenchcoat-and-stoic face look gives everyone the wrong impression.

Anyway, today! I slept better (awww bunny curled next to my legs aww) and woke up to rain again (…London…)

It’s funny; now I feel no disdain for the tourists around. I’m like HI GUYS HI AMERICANS HI HEY KOREANS WHAT’S HAPPENIN’ HEY LET’S BE FRIENDS I AM ALONE it’s kind of hilarious and slightly sad but haha I’ve been meeting lots of random people which is nice.
ANYWAY!

So I got up hellza early this morning to try and jam EVERYTHING EVER IN LONDON into my last day.

GOOD MORNING SOUTH KENSINGTON

Natural History Museum…not open. Why did I race here??
V&A…not open. SERIOUSLY HERE GUYS.
So I ate my yogurt and cereal on a parkbench in the drizzle and people/bus-watched Kensington for 20 minutes.

V&A? Was much…smaller than I remember? I think all museums of that nature are melding in my mind; there was one in Denmark I think that I was mistaking for some rooms of this one and aaanyway it was still awesome and I skipped ALL the ‘materials’ halls which is like 60% of the museum which made me able to really hang out in the UNIMAGINABLY FABULOUS galleries of Britain.
They let you touch things!!! Old things!!! And there are rooms off to the side of each era where you try on a costume piece from that period, do an etching like one, write a saga, draw a monstrous beast, etc etc THE BEST.
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Me with monstrous gargoyle thing in awesome room of DIY history times!!

Also: they have headphone sets in each period where you can listen to groovy tunes – ex. there was an amazing GIANT music book from like 1200 (LOVE) and then they had recordings of the songs inside. This is how you do museums, people.

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Installation of squished brass instruments ! Me gusta!

Natural history museum haha did I see you nooot really but I swanned about the building for a bit like GOTTA GET BACK TO HOGWARTS~~ etc it is the most wonderful building ever and also I saw dinosaurs and an animatronic T-Rex that would roar at certain people in this room filled with dry ice.
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Then! I was supposed to meet Lola in Tate Modern. By 3:30. But it was 3:06 and I was across London and the appropriate tube station was closed and also I hate the Tate Modern? So I looked at my map (thanks mom and dad) like hm hm Baker Street? Hm hm what’s this OH

THE BRITISH MUSEUM
NO
HOW DID I FORGET YOU

So I leapt on the tube but then honestly getting there, what even; it was like hidden the hell away from everything ever and I wandered with this Israeli businessman for like forty minutes trying to find it which was kind of fun even though after talking for ten minutes he asked if I was English (???) and also did I mention lost.
Anyway we got the there and they closed in FORTY MINUTES. THE BRITISH MUSEUM. DREAM OF MY HEART LIGHT OF MY HISTORICAL LIFE. I about wept, for real. FORTY MINUTES NO BUT WHY THOUGH

But I got into gear and I saw that museum as it has never been seen; I was like LOOK OUT fast-forward speed demon times. It was actually kind of nice because I whittled so whittlingly that I only spent more than fifteen seconds on things that really spoke to me or meant a lot to me rather than just plodding along – like, the Parthenon? Okay, there it is, whatevs. Tiny gallery off to the side called ‘Life in the time of Alexander’? Slooow down.

THEY HAD THAT BUST OF ALEX OKAY

I would have been clutching my pearls and fainting delicately if I had any pearls on at the time; the way it’s displayed is basically just towards the middle of a room at Alex-height with no barriers or glass or anything. I could have patted his hair or kissed him or grabbed his head and run off with it; it’s just…there. Tragically there was no Hephaestion (even though that one bust might not even be him but I take the paltry Hephaestion crumbs I can get) BUT STILL. ALEX. ALL UP IN MY GRILL.
The guard was this elderly man who was so cute; I couldn’t remember anything about what was or wasn’t in the British Museum (you know, since there are about 300 million things) and was like EXCUSE ME SIR Do you have the Alexander sarcophagus here? And he was so enthused about how enthused I was, yay historian bonding times.
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Duuude I could use super-macro settings I was so close, hey hey wasssup Alex

So making up for the lack of Hephaestion (if such a thing is possible right) came as I was racing unblinkingly through the Greco-Roman pottery galleries and there was…the Warren Cup !! !!!

See, the Warren Cup, you guys, I just. It’s kind of a big deal okay it is super old and SUPER well-preserved and also I read like sixteen books that used it as the main source for historical information and there it wasss.
It was up on this huge plinth display thing all like AND HERE, THE WARREN CUP! WALL OF INFOTEXT! CLICK YOUR HEADSET THING! And all these people taking its picture and you know what it is it is ancient roman silver gay porn is what it is. Which, haha the picture I took of one side with this tourist dude reading the big info plaque and his face was going more and more into this expression of grave concern (the plaque thing was hilarious; it was like ‘though these boys would be considered underage today, blah blah blah’) and the further he got the more uncomfortable he looked but solidering on in the name of This Is a Famous Historical Artifact and I will Be Cultured ahaha surprise gay porn in your tame little gallery of vases, stick that in your pipe and smoke it, tourists (as dame maggie dench would say).
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ha ha ha ha

And then the best part is in the big gift shop they have postcards of all the heavy hitting attractions and of course it’s there…and the view they used is seriously the ONE non-pornographic inch of the cup, oh my god I actually lol’ed a bit out loud like really British Museum? Really? This reflects like zero of the entire historical/ethnographic/artistic/point of the thing but ooookay then G-rated pointless postcard o k congrats on never being purchased.

Um I also saw ===PERSIAN STUFF=== which made me all introspective like, Why are these giant amazing friezes and sculptures and awesomeness almost empty and the Parthenon hall is packed? Who is teaching these historical traditions that value Greco-Roman history super far above an equally, arguably more epic and amazing civilization? Those gigantic winged bearded dudes! Cuneiform! I was never taught ANYTHING about Cyrus the Great, or even Xerxes really, and SAD. It’s so weird.
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Then I paid 3.50 to sit down and read about Tom Hardy while eating white chocolate yogurt and a spicy vegetable pasty, which I suppose is pretty good. Tom Hardy’s agent must have banged his/her head against the desk for a good while after that one, even if the giant bolded cover was his picture captioned with THE BRITISH BRANDO.

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i spy in lola's flat in vauxhall: can you find !
- deliciously shirtless tom hardy
- awesome paintings by talented lola
- bunny !

SO YUP LONDON I LOVE YOU NOW TO EXPERIENCE BARCELONA I AM TERRIFIED BUT ALSO EXCITE AND WHOOP WHOOP WE SHALL SEE

Posted by dodie.does 03:32 Archived in England Tagged london Comments (0)

TRY TO SEE EVERYTHING: A SAGA

~~DAY TWO~~

semi-overcast

Woke up and it was raining and grey. Ah, London. It’s like I never left Seattle. But nice.
I had bought some bananas and groovy cereal at Tesco’s yesterday (half price shhh don’t tell) so we had those for breakfast along with full-fat unhomogenized milk from Derbyshire cows or something (yah man, cream on top and everything). Um I am used to Nonfat and ===WHOA=== that was some cereal times.

Then off we went to meet a friend of hers at a gallery in Green Park having a Russian Exhibition, of which I liked two cool things and the rest were outrageously overhyped by the hyperbolic and hyperventilating brochure write-ups. Her friend was THE poshest person I have ever, ever met; this impeccably dressed black gent studying art part-time who just enrolled in something called, like, the Royal Princess Academy School of Drawing.
When we were introduced he actually said ‘How do you do’, and later even he pointed out that his R’s were so weak he could sometimes prove difficult to understand. The combination of an immense vocabulary, eloquently intelligent discourse on a variety of artistic and political topics, an overall impression of tailored, gleaming cleanliness, and an accent like the King of England’s was umm yes I felt super dumb for like four hours. He said How do you do. In an accent. How do you social discourse.

But he was nice, and going to Mongolia, and researching borders (I am a wall person! Let’s talk! Only let’s not cos you are crazy eloquent and English!), and we saw nice art.

We flew though a sweet exhibition of Hungarian photographers – one of whom was the awesome photo of the tiny boy with a cello on his back!
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Recognizing works of obscure vintage Hungarian photography; oh yeah.

Anyway next stop was the National Portrait Gallery, where we actually saw very few portraits (which I did not mind; not knowing or caring who a great number of those peeps are tbqh…sorry portraits!) BUT there was this AMAZING rotunda end staircase mini-exhibit thing titled Only Connect (ohoho I hope you have all read the essay of the same name, because yes!). They had collected about…maybe forty portraits on three adjacent walls, and painted a web of grey lines between the portraits of people who were connected in some way. So there’d be an etching of Mendelssohn (YEAH), who had a line to a painting of a violinist chick, who had a line to a photo of someone who ran chamber music performances a hundred years ago, who had a line to Yuhidi Menuhin who had a line to….etc etc etc. === IT WAS BRILLIANT.===
As far as I’m concerned the entire National Portrait Gallery should be curated this way. I was psyched to see people I recognized, and I also cared vastly more about the ones I’d never heard of, since it was then explained how they had been important in each other’s lives, or influenced one another or what have you.
Cutest of all connections: fabulous colored pencil on navy paper sketch of viola de gamba player Karl Abel, with a line to a portrait of the sketcher, Sir Thomas Gainsborough. I was loving the sketch itself (viola de gambaaa holding the bottom with his feet aww):
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but then the explanation for the connecting line was just a quote from Thomas that was something about how angels are now listening to the beauteous early cello stylings of my bff basically they should have just painted Awwww over the grey line, seriously.

Then THE NATIONAL GALLERY WHICH IS FREEEE jfc London for real you lucky jerks. I went quite fast and skipped everything painted after 1800 and STILL was there for like four hours (feet, I am so sorry, forgive me, please) because TITIAN
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and THAT ONE SAINT SEBASTIAN and BANASTRE TARLETON whom I stood before for probably a creepy amount of time but life-sized historical hottie of my heart, TE AMO.

Oh right and then I was wandering for FOR EVER and ended up kind of crashing this London Fashion Week party where I would feel hella conspicuous taking pictures but just imagine the most bizarre Lady Gaga attends 20’s Berlin costume party outfits THIS PARTY YOU GUYS. CRAY CRAY OUTFITS

Anyhoo finally made it back. Currently typing while Lola paints something listening to Madonna and bunny hops about chewing baskets and things, aww.

So I’m alive, slightly spooked, super precarious, and prettttty broke. The rabbit is staring me down right now because I shook him off the duvet and I’m trying to wake up in time to hit the Natural History Museum and the V&A tomorrow morning and then meet Lola at the Tate Modern around 2 (haha leave the V&A? NEVER) so, to sleep.

Also: Did I mention that Barcelona, next on the itinerary, is the pickpocketing and petty theft capital of Europe! Stay turned! Please look forward to it!

Posted by dodie.does 08:33 Archived in England Tagged london Comments (0)

the 'this is crazy what are you doing' trip: day one

london town! maybe.

semi-overcast

oh now it's 10:30 pm haha I switched my clock into the right time finally :)

Ohhhhh my god, am I ever going to have a chill, mellow trip again in my life?! What is my luck, seriously.
Okay, so here’s the background recap: I was supposed to embark on Sunday morning a three-month exchange teaching program. On Saturday at around 11, I got an email from the family saying, in effect, Actually, we’ve changed our minds; can you come in November? Also we might hire this other random dude instead. Bye!

YEP.

Cue housewide freakout. I’m already EX.TREME.LY. nervous about this trip because it’s my first couchsurfing journey – I’m staying for a week in the apartments, flats, and couches of complete strangers, some of whom aren’t great with English, some of whom are the opposite gender. Dude, usually having to interact with strangers for two hours is exhaustingly awkward for me; 72 hours in his house?? THIS IS HARD FOR ME OKAY HOW DO YOU SOCIAL.
Also, since last we saw the lone ranger this whole big ankle surgery thing happened, for which I still have another six months on the recovery clock. How am I to frolic in the fields of Europe hauling a heavy backpack (and/or run away from scary people!!)?

So, Day One: Issue with housing/work unresolved, off I go on airplane to Calgary, Alberta, where I have a six-hour layover that is actually extremely nice (hellloooo starbucks, armchair, and free wifi, let me love you). Then plane to London (!!!!, right) which was slightly upsettingly nice since this is the direction where you really need to sleep and this plane was the polar opposite of the last international flight I took (which if you may recall was a plane with twelve seats across and one black-and-white 90’s TV set showing the same Korea film subtitled in Mandarin Chinese for the 13 hour duration). We each had a TV set! There was a jack for jump drives if you had your own movies on it (um, this is so amazing), which you would never need because there were about 450 movies to choose from. The flight was only seven hours! I needed to sleep!

Of course I was powerless to the siren call of Michael Fassbender weeping in Edwardian costume (Jane Eyre mmm not thrilling? But like hey Fassy cry alllll you want in that cravat good sir) but first they had HANNA !! Which I have been DYING DYING to see and was basically as amazing as I expected/everyone had told me. Action film that nearly doesn’t pass a REVERSE Bechdal test !?? Mind. Blown. Also the soundtrack was pretty groovy, and there were ass-kicking ladies, and, yep. Then I tried to watch Pirates of the Carribean 4 but I needed to maybe sleep like three hours at least ugh and also I didn’t entirely approve of a number of directions that movie was going sooo
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Then we arrived! How nice! Hello good morning London! HA HA HA NO. Got my luggage and bopped off to customs and immigrations – yeah you know that card where it says ‘Legal Registered Address in the UK’…yeah I didn’t get that from the couchsurfer I was supposed to be heading off to stay with. The only two addresses I know by heart in London are Number 10 Downing Street and 221b Baker Street, which I feel like they would find slightly suspicious.
So I am the worst secret agent spy ever obviously because I couldn’t, like, make one up that would sound convincing or pass being run through a computer, and I didn’t feel like ‘Somewhere in Vauxhall’ was really legit, so I put nothing. NOTE TO YOU, READER: DON’T DO THIS. PUT AN ADDRESS IN THAT ADDRESS BLANK, Y’ALL.

Sooo I got to the counter and the quite poshly accented Asian man says ‘What’s the address?’ and I had to say Yeah um I actually don’t know the exact street address but a friend of mine is picking me up and I’m staying with her and it’s in Vauxhall?
Yeah ha that did not really fly. Awkward interrogation story short, he told me didn’t care if the Queen of England was picking me up, it was illegal for me to enter the UK without a valid legal address and he could just put me ‘right back on the plane home’. To be honest, at that point (recap of that point: still having no idea what’s happening or where I’m sleeping in two weeks, scary Barcelona flight + scary robbers of Barcelona + scary stranger couches all in the immediate forcast) I was not entirely opposed to fleeing rapidly back towards Seattle (plus, more movies, right?). I think they make you pay for your own deportation, though, sooo maybe not.

Anyway, after I showed him my return ticket (dated…December 22) and my ticket to Barcelona (THANK GOD MOM PRINTED THAT FOR ME) he let me through.
Of course then my flight had been an hour early, and the girl picking me up was a half-hour late, and so we completely missed each other for like an hour and a half and I had to buy gummy farm animals to get change for 10 paltry minutes of internet to look up her phone number, and then go to the pay phones and pay another pound for two minutes on the phone, and it was extreme suck but we finally found each other and she is the bomb diggity so all was pretty well.

She lives in Vauxhall! Near where James Bond works, and right by this bus station:
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Went to the ===Museum of London=== – I feel like this wasn’t here last time I was? At any rate it is fantastically brilliantly awesome and traces the whole history of the site of London from prehistoric fossils to Roman ruins on to the present; so basically my ideal museum yes.
They have a big reconstruction Victorian street lined with shops and scary Victorian bicycles with the GIANT and super-tiny wheels (those things looked hella dangerous okay no thanks early bike riding) which I joyously wandered going YES HELLO JOHN WATSON and OH MAMA BUT THIS DRESS etc etc.
Also, you know how the Victorians and Edwardians loved their garden strolls ‘n’ parties? Of course you do. Anyway they also have this whole dark room that’s an indoor garden with two video-screen walls and a bunch of wire figures and manikins in their historical garden-party finest WHICH INCLUDED Philip Treacy’s Galleon Hat !! I have lusted after this hat for many, many moons, people. I probably took more pictures of that hat than anything else in London BUT IT’S SO FABULOUS.
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Meanwhile on the two video screen walls various historical garden parties are occurring, with fancily-costumed Edwardians critiquing one another’s fashion choices, bitchily eating crumpets, etc the whole time you’re strolling. Lol I love this museum basically.

Of course when the Museum closed I ended up getting dinner at Tesco’s and trying to get on the tube at rush hour (NEVER AGAIN) which was idiotic frankly.

Then I came out of Westminster Tube station basically reenacting whatever movie that is where you rise out of the station at night and Big Ben is all lit up and everything’s glowing with holy London light etc ad nauseum; anyway it was magical and about a billion other people were there feeling similarly because tourism so then I caught a bus back to Vauxhall like Bedtime!

But it was not bedtime because host girl who we shall call Lola was like a friend is coming over! And then we can go to a bar! Er okay because I am a good couchsurfer and also social you know so that’s totally fine no problem!
So I took a bath that was awesome in the dark with candles followed by a heated towel (Lola’s flat is literally the size of my kitchen but super deluxe, man!) and got into new clothes and then a dude with a seriously impressive mustache appeared and we walked off into the night.
I should mention that the night before I left (that is, back in Bellingham) I was watching this movie called Clapham Junction, which I do not recommend but had Rupert Graves and James Wilby hooking up twenty years after Maurice which is all very Polari Thesis and London Times; ANYWAY its whole central plot point is the savagely violent murder that takes place in Clapham Junction.

Now it is time for you to guess where this bar was!
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Hahahaha.

But it was fun and the bartender friend of Lola’s was a Canadian squatting in Camden (!) and her former couchsurfer-now-boyfran was from Turkey and awesome also, and we had peach tea so it was good fun and we were also not savagely murdered.

THEN to sleep on the floor with a large bunny who I think is called Shadower? Who enjoys all things plastic and leather and also toes for nibbling purposes, plus I was still worrying about Barcelona and my flight etcetc but I got to sleep, and am alive, and yes.

THUS ENDED VERY LONG DAY ONE AND I AM STILL ALIVE

Posted by dodie.does 08:23 Archived in England Tagged london Comments (1)

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