Friday, July 9, 2010

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Portabella Road Market

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Hannah and her roommates live in Notting Hill. On Saturday morning John and Emma took us down to the Portabella Road Market.

Walking through the market- it's a good thing Emma and John are tall!

All sorts of random things to be found...

For all the Sherlock Holmes wannabes

Can't forget a pocket watch.

Lots of yummy fruit.

This might be the biggest pot of Paella ever!

I think these are hats... hat brims... ?

Definately hats.

So many good cheeses!

Cool vintage stuff.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Camera Magic and London Flat-life

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Amanda and I spent a week in London with Hannah’s flatmates, John and Emma. They were fabulous hosts and let us tag along with them various places throughout the week. After a week of being tourists in Paris, it was wonderful to relax and just enjoy life in London. We took one day to do a guided bus tour of London, so we got to see the major stuff. (The tour guides are hilarious- it’s totally worth it!)

Also, John gave us directions to camera street (alright, that might not be its real name…) where we tried to get both of our broken cameras fixed. My camera still wasn’t charging, and Amanda’s camera had fallen on its lens, which was now stuck open and crooked. We found a camera repair shop on the off-chance that it might be an easy fix. No such luck for Amanda’s camera, but maybe a new battery would solve my camera problem…. We found a store that carried Samsung and explained the situation. The guy put my battery on the charger for a while, only to confirm that the battery had been fully charged the whole time. It must be an internal software issue, the guy says, I could probably send it back to Samsung. Clearly, this will not solve the immediate problem of not having a working camera! We walk up the street a ways and try a different store. Although I am fairly certain that they won’t be able to do anything either, I explain the situation again.

Enter: magic-camera-man. He listens to my story, then takes my battery out, and puts a different one in. He charges the other battery, and then turns on the camera! And it works! He then takes out the other battery and puts mine back in. It still works!!! Fully convinced that this man is magic, we give him Amanda’s camera to fix as well. He does manage to straighten out the lens somewhat, although not completely. But, we have a working camera again!

Change of guard at Buckingham Palace.

Westminister Flying Buttesses

Peace protesters at Parliament Square
Apparently they had been protesting since the beginning of the Iraq War, but were evicted a few weeks after I took this picture.

River Thames, Parliament, Big Ben, and the Eye.

We rode the Eye.

It's the real thing! (although nothing fancy)

The Tower Bridge

The Milenium Bridge: otherwise known as..... the Harry Potter Bridge!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Back in the UK

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This time we made it to the train station in time, but the machine that took the tickets was broken which meant they wrote down everyone’s ticket number and we missed the train along with 35 other people. They put us all on the next train, but by the time we got into London, re-loaded Amanda’s oyster card, found our bus stop and got back to Hannah’s, everyone had left. When we left for Paris, we were in such a hurry, that we didn’t make the best plan for getting back. They were going to find us a spare key, but couldn’t find it…. One of Hannah’s roommates didn’t have to be to work until 10 or so… and a couple of David’s friends should still be there…

Except we got there at 10:08 to a locked door. Amanda looked around for a spare key, but we didn’t know if there even was one. Looking forward to a day to relax and do nothing, plus not wanting to carry all our stuff around, we decided to just hang out in case someone stopped in on their lunch break. No one came, and we did our best to keep ourselves entertained. We laid out a blanket and played a lot of crazy eights. Then Sudoku and solitaire. Then King’s corner. Then more crazy eights. We took turns walking up to Starbucks for food and bathroom breaks. We tried again to get Amanda’s blackberry to work with no luck. We looked for someone who was not wearing a suit or talking on their cell and asked to make a call. But Hannah didn’t answer. We began to recognize the people walking by and we were given the evil eye by quite a few of them. Eventually, we moved closer to the sidewalk and couldn’t help but look up one side of the street and down the other hoping to see John or Emma any minute. At one point Amanda set her camera on the ledge to take a picture of us… and the wind knocked it over, breaking her camera! :( After a couple more failed attempts to get a hold of someone, and the shops were beginning to close, it was certainly past time to get some more change for the phone booth and try again.

When I finally talked to Hannah, she told me the key was there, hidden for us. Literally hours and hours of waiting while the key was there the whole time!!!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sidewalk Amenities

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Before coming to Europe, I had, of course, heard of the legendary sidewalk cafes of Paris. I love the openness of outdoor seating and the opportunity to at least pretend to be a Parisian for an afternoon. I was however, quite surprised by the plethora of other conveniences that can be found on Parisian sidewalks. There were places to park your bicycle as well as places to park your car. (As in rows of parking within the sidewalk- didn’t get a good picture though) Who knew how many of your needs could be met without ever leaving the sidewalk?!

Fully- automated bathrooms! Even the soap uses a sensor.

It's hard to miss this recyling bin.

Should you be driving around Paris in an electic car, no need to worry about finding a charging station.

Who needs gas stations, when there are pumps on the sidewalk?!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Out and About in Paris

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Most of our time in Paris we were full-on tourists. Hopefully not too obnoxious, but we definitely filled our days with sight seeing. We got up early to avoid the lines, but weren't allowed back into our room until 4:00 because they were cleaning. That did make for pretty long days of walking in the sun... and Amanda complaining about walking in the sun. But we did a lot- we climbed Notre Dame to see the gargoyles, climbed the Eiffel Tower, went to the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo (we saw the antiquities and some other things too, but there were so many people it was hard to really enjoy it) walked the Champs-Eylsees , saw the Arc de Triomphe and the Chanel store, and also went to Montmartre and saw the views from Sacre-Coeur and Moulin Rouge. By the end of the week we had the metro system all figured out. (It's so convenient- every big city should have one)

Flying buttresses!

There are three front doorways, each incredibly ornate.

The center of Paris.

Our last day we took the Bat-o-Bus which was basically a ferry that made a loop on the Seine with hop-on hop-off stops at all the major tourist places. The genius part of this plan though was that we went back in time to catch the last run. It was light when we got on, but then we got an hour and a half boat ride at sunset. It was beautiful and we were amazed at the number of people sitting along the river. Couples young and old, groups of girls, groups of college students, they were all there with a picnic and bottle of wine. It's definitely a picture of Paris that will stay with me.

While there are some things (like the whole high fashion scene) that I would probably never really "get" about Paris, there are other things I love. Sitting at a sidewalk cafe watching all the people out and about whether they're on foot, on bicycles or a Vespa like some of the ladies we saw in suits and heals headed to work.... and of course ending the day watching the sunset along the Seine.

About 10:30 when it was finally dark enough, the lights turned on, and Paris was lit up. The bridges were all outlined by lights and the monuments were illuminated. Other more expensive boats had flood lights designed to light up everything as they went by, but I was quite content on the Bat-o-Bus. Our night cruise ended right at the Eiffel Tower.



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I can't speak in France. I don't know French. Not only do I not know French, but I cannot pronounce French words. It's quite frustrating to see a word, figure out what it means, but not be able to say it! Spanish pronunciation is so easy- you just pronounce everything! Not so in French, and while we were able to figure out some of the rules by the end of the week, most of the time I had no clue. Also, because I've spent so much time in Colombia, I still want to speak in Spanish! I'm so used to talking to waiters, cab drivers, grocery store clerks, etc. in Spanish- not English. And in Paris, it's like I know I shouldn't be speaking English, therefore Spanish!

Which leads me to saying something like this:

Un crepe con sucre por favor.
(long pause as I realize that I cannot say the French word for water, and I have accidently switched to Spanish)
And a water too, please.