Archive for August, 2010

I heard that Venice was sinking

August 28, 2010


…so I came to check out the situation.  Nope, still here!


On the Ponte degli Scalzi overlooking the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy

As long as I’m in Italy, though, I figure I’ll do some exploring.  I’m staying with my friend Pierina at her family’s beach house in Lignano Sabbiodoro (a seaside resort town about 45 minutes outside of Venice), and we plan to do a little travelling as well.

I’ll be back to Paris and more regular blogging next week.  In the meantime, I thought I’d share one of my favourite posts from the HiP Paris Blog. It’s a tongue-in-cheek description of the difference between French food standards and North American ones. It’s so hilariously spot-on, I wish I’d written it myself.

Cult of Quality: Meeting the French Standard

Happy end of summer everybody!

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31 Days Later

August 19, 2010


Store Window, Montmartre, Paris

les vacances – vacation
une fermeture – closure
la Mairie de Paris – Paris City Hall
un embouteillage –  traffic jam
le supermarché
– supermarket, grocery store
une fermeture exceptionnelle – unexpected or extended closure; an “exceptional” closure, outside of the regular operating schedule
l’Hôtel de Ville
– City Hall
la plage – beach
les quais de la Seine – the quays of the Seine

******

Do you remember the creepy opening scenes of the film 28 Days Later?  They caused a stir among critics and sent a chill down the spines of audience members everywhere because they depicted, in very realistic fashion, the always-bustling London landmarks, Westminster Bridge, Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Street, utterly devoid of human life.  The simple, surreal absence of people in such famously and characteristically overcrowded spots was eerier than anything Jerry Bruckheimer could have pulled out of his bag of over-the-top tricks.

Well, those famous scenes are kind of what Paris feels like in August.  Public spaces that are normally bursting to overflowing with people now appear vast and empty.  While passing through the central métro station Châtelet the other day, I could have sworn I heard the opening theme from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly playing as a piece of tumbleweed drifted by.

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Taking time to stop and… listen to the accordion?

August 16, 2010

From the archives. This entry was originally written for the internet blog I was commissioned to write at Astral Media, and posted on March 19, 2010. In the spirit of les vacances and all the travelling happening over here during the month of August, I thought it might make a timely addition to this one as well.

On a side note, while travelling through Spain earlier this month, I had a minor meltdown when it turned out that the train we wanted to take from Barcelona to Sevilla was sold out, unless we wanted to travel business class for 250 euro.  I was hot, sweaty, tired, achy, hungry, cranky, toting a giant backpack, and operating on about three hours of sleep, having woken up super-early to pack and make it to the station for 8:00 a.m.  Not exactly the ideal conditions for coping with unexpected bad news. Let’s just say that tantrums were had. In that moment, I could probably have stood to re-read my own writing.  However, after a much-needed nap and a bit of time to regroup, we decided to take advantage of our extra day in the city and see the Sagrada Família, Antoni Gaudí’s famous unfinished church.  And you know what?  It ended up being my favourite Barcelona sight.

The surreal exterior of Gaudí’s unfinished masterpiece, the Sagrada Família, was stupefying enough, but it was the interior, with its complex shapes and sophisticated interplay of colour, light and shadow that really took my breath away. I can’t believe I almost skipped it.


Much of Gaudí’s design work was based on shapes and forms found in nature, and the interior of the Sagrada Família was designed to resemble a great forest, with massive columns rising up like giant tree trunks to the ceiling, a canopy of leaves that the sunlight filtered through.

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