Cite des science et de l’industrie, Paris

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On our last full day we headed out to Cite des science et de l’industrie, which is the city of science and industry (the lack of capital letters in the name messes with my head a bit).  It’s a science museum.  Boyfriend had been before in the dark ages when he was young and wanted to check it out again.  He was disappointed with the museum overall though as it was too aimed at kids and the science wasn’t hard core enough.

Day 4

We arrived around 11am on Saturday morning and were surprised it wasn’t busier.  We thought it would be overrun with kids but it was a nice sunny day so maybe people were enjoying the sun.  It cost 12Euro each for the Explora Ticket which gave us :

Permanent and temporary exhibitions, planétarium, cinéma Louis-Lumière and Argonaute submarine included, upon availibility

The temporary exhibition that was on was on special effects in film which was quite fun and interesting.  We also got our free ticket for the planetarium purposefully picking the show that had an English translation, but no one offered us the headphones for the translation (or even told us that you needed them) and the whole thing was in French which was frustrating.

We didn’t try the cinema but went out to see the submarine and queued for so long we gave up.  The queue wasn’t long but clearly only a few people were being let on at a time and then everyone was being sweeped by security.

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We went downstairs to the little aquarium which was cute, and then out past the big ball!  That’s the Geode where you can pay extra and see 3D films, but we didn’t bother.  It was such a lovely day we headed away from the Museum along the canal to try to find somewhere for a drink that wasn’t packed out.

Day 41

 

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Cimetiere du Pere-Lachaise, Paris

Day 3

Our second full day in Paris was actually sunny and warm! So we headed out on a walk to the Cimetiere du Pere-Lachaise.  It’s the largest cemetery in the centre of Paris.  It was opened in 1804, there were 13 burials in this first year.  Now, there are one million people buried here.

I actually didn’t think it was still a working cemetery (for new burials) but we walked passed someone who had died in 2014.  But they had been added to the family plot, I don’t think they really have room for many more people.  And it’s apparently, a common practise for them to open a grave and add new coffins of family members.  They also have adopted a standard practise of offering 30 year leases which need to renewed by family members or the remains will be removed.

This may seem a fairly sombre tourist destination but Cimetiere du Pere-Lachaise houses the graves of many famous people such as Balzac, Chopin, Maria Callas, Edith Piaf, and Proust.  Lots of people you’ve heard of but can’t really pin down what they do!* Below are the graves of Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, and Rodenbach.

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I’d never heard of Rodenbach but he was a poet and I appreciated his grave.  Oscar Wilde’s tomb has long been a pilgrimage site.  People like to kiss it wearing red lipstick and, at one point, it was covered in kisses.  It has since been cleaned, and is covered in a perspex box with a large sticker asking you not to ‘sully’ the tomb with marks as the family pays for the cleaning. Fair enough.  Jim Morrison’s grave has also been slightly roped off, but this is to protect the graves around it which looked like they had been damaged as people had squeezed past.

It was a little odd to visit a working cemetery, but I did like how peaceful it was (there were other people taking pictures and ‘sight-seeing’ but not too many).  Paris is very busy with car traffic and people traffic, so it was nice to get away from the bustle a bit.

*Balzac and Proust were writers, Chopin a pianist, and Callas and Piaf were singers.

 

 

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From The Louvre to the Eiffel Tower, Paris

After our visit to The Louvre we headed off to find lunch, wandered around for too long, realised that places in Paris close at 2pm and it was already 1:30pm and finally found an Italian place to get pizza.  The day was pretty grey and I wasn’t feeling well but after lunch we decided to head back to outside the Louvre and walk towards the Eiffel Tower.  (Full disclosure we never actually made it to the Eiffel Tower as we were both tired and realised we had to walk all the way back too!)  We started in the Jardin des Tuileries which is a large formal garden with statues and fountains.  Walking through it we could see La Grand Roue (The Big Wheel) on Place de la Concorde and the end of the gardens.

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Place de la Concorde is the largest public square in Paris, delightfully it was the site of many executions during the French Revolution.  Now it is more famous for the Egyptian obelisk that once marked the entrance to a Luxor temple and was gifted to the French by Egypt in the early 19th century.   Of course your view of this is obscured by the big stupid wheel some idiot put in the way.  Also it is surrounded by a lot of crazy traffic, we witnessed a car crash (no one hurt) and a lady shouting at a taxi driver who was trying to turn in the space of about 10minutes.

Day 2

We kept going to the Flamme de la Liberte, a small replica of the torch of the Statue of Liberty, the full statue obviously gifted from France to the US. (Remember the days when countries would give each other giant statues instead of threatening to bomb each other?)  It was smaller than I expected, and I honestly wouldn’t go out of your way to see it.  It is also an unofficial memorial for Princess Diana as it overlooks the spot where she died so people have left photos of her and copious amounts of graffiti.  I can’t say I cared for it personally. Day 21

From the Flamme de la Liberte we could see the Eiffel Tower, took a few selfies, and then basically headed home.  Maybe it would have been nice to get a closer look, but we have both been to Paris before and I’ve been up to the top so I didn’t feel the need to do it again.  It was quite a miserable day weather wise and by this point it was after 4pm and we had over an hours walk back to our hotel.  So we headed back tired but not defeated!

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Visit to The Louvre, Paris

20180405_104134On our first full day in Paris we headed to The Louvre.  We booked our tickets online the night before, it was 17 euro each for a standard ticket (without entry to the special exhibition).   You get a timed slot starting from 9am, but the earliest one available to us was 10:30am which was actually perfect as it gave us time to walk there from our hotel.  I was feeling pretty awful that morning so needed a little extra time to get going!

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It was a grey, rainy weekday so not very busy.  A great day to spend inside a museum! We were quickly ushered through the initial security at the glass pyramid (a bag check and through a metal detector) and into the large underground foyer. I remember (sort of) when the pyramid was pretty new and hearing some unconvinced opinions on it.  But as we rode down the escalator, looking up through the glass ceiling with natural light coming in I liked it.  In the foyer there are some toilets, and some escalators up into the museum proper.  At this point they actually scan and check your tickets.  Top Tip: the toilets in the foyer are pretty busy, wait until you go through into the museum where they are quieter. Collages12

We entered the sculpture area first (by chance, we never managed to get a map!) I wandered around in a bit of a fog to be honest as I wasn’t feeling great all morning. But I do like a bit of sculpture and enjoyed looking around.  There was a lot to see from different periods and areas.  It did remind me a lot of The British Museum, and we are a bit spoilt having free museums in London (although London is far away and expensive).

Day 21

Of course no visit to The Louvre would be complete without seeing The Mona Lisa, so here it is!  As you can see it was quite a busy gallery space filled with boring paintings, filled with people taking photos of a famous painting they can get 100 different reproductions of in the gift shop around the corner.  I judge, yet I too took the obligatory photo and bought the obligatory book mark…P1050205

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Packing For My Paris Trip

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Day Trip To Hull

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I went to Hull on a cold, but sunny Saturday at the end of February with my mum,  We mainly went to visit the Ferens Art Gallery but we took a little stroll around town first.  Hull was UK city of culture in 2017, and as soon as we had stepped off the train we were greeted by Philip Larkin quotes in the station.  There were 100 mosiac birds on the wall of the station, and we saw some fishing themes arts by the Marina.

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We walked in the icy wind to the Marina, and in the direction of the Minerva Hotel for lunch.  This is a pub hotel not a fancy hotel.  Due to high tides they had some drain issues and the smell on entering was very toilety.  But we moved to a different room and it was fine.  I had a very nice but unhealthy Broccoli Bake (lots of cheese and potatoes), and chips.  After lunch mum wanted to see ‘the old town’, and directed me towards the Wilberforce Museum which was the opposite direction and the other side of a big horrid road.  So we sort of meandered along and found the Hull Minister and some cute olde time looking streets nearby and found some vintage shops.

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Through my very careful navigating/luck we ended up at the art gallery without too much effort.  By this point the wind had died down and it was a lovely sunny, clear day.  This is Hull Town Hall I believe.

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Feren’s Art Gallery, Hull

I went on a trip with my mum to Hull, primarily to visit the Feren’s Art Gallery.  The gallery itself isn’t very big which was fine as we only had a few hours to spend in Hull.  It’s a free gallery, with a cafe and shop.

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The shop is fairly small, and the staff in the cafe were all slightly bored weekend teenagers.  Also the awesome looking pink doughnut I got had weird pink (strawberry?) goo in the middle of it which was a disappointment.  I would also like to be on record as querying the sense of sticking a bunch of kids toys in a small gallery where kids were charging around screaming with no adult supervision apart from their useless parents (there were toys on top of sculptures that I had to remove because I used to work in an art gallery).

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The art was mainly the old ‘European Masters’, I saw they have a Bagpuss exhibition upcoming which would have excited me more.  The temporary exhibit was The Open, which was a range of pieces submitted by amateurs and professionals.  So it was a range of styles, subjects, and medium.  There was rows of tiny bottles in shades of grey, photographs of the sea, and a painting of Captain Picard.  It was quite cool to see.  The Open is on until the 22nd April.

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Travel Books- Big Sur by Jack Karouac

Big Sur is a stretch of California’s coast between Carmel and San Simeon. Driving along the State Route 1, known for winding turns, seaside cliffs and views of the often-misty coastline is quite captivating. I visited California in 2014, on a long awaited trip to the USA.  Part of the plan was always to drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco along the coast, stopping off at a few little towns along the way like San Simeon and Monterey.

Monterey has literary fame as it was once a major player in the ‘canning’ industry (canning fish), and written about by Steinbeck.  Now it’s holiday town, full of gift shops, restaurants, and people jogging along the beach.  I loved Monterey.  I didn’t care so much for ‘Of Mice and Men’ by Steinbeck though!

Before we went to America, a friend lent me Big Sur by Jack Kerouac, mainly for his description of the terrifying bridge high up over the water.  Well, in the end it was dark when we drove through much of it, and I never got around to reading the book.  Well actually, I tried but got bored quite quickly.  But it was on my to-read pile so I tried it again…I was right the first time!

books2Kerouac’s stream of consciousness style was hard to follow at times (especially as his consciousness was drunk most of the time).  Tired of his Beat fame following the success of ‘On The Road’, he decides to spend a quiet six weeks in his friend’s cabin in Big Sur.  Things don’t go to plan right from the start, as he fails to secretly return to San Fransisco as he ends up loudly announcing his arrival and going on a bender.  His self-destructive nature is, I suppose, what makes him interesting to people, I found it tiresome.

He does spend three quiet weeks alone in the cabin, feeding squirrels and writing boring poetry about the sea.  But the isolation offers him too much time to think and he starts to crack.  He heads back to the ‘gooky city’, meeting his friends again and heading out on another bender.  He gets word from his mother than his cat has died, a cat that he strongly associates with his late brother and he is plunge into a fresh depression.

He ends up heading back to the cabin but this times with friends and their kids.  Before they have to leave for a children’s play which Kerouac gets them thrown out of for being drunk.  But his friend Cody doesn’t mind and takes him to meet his mistress.  Which brings me to the misogynistic undertones running through the book.

…beautiful blonde wife of his in her tight blue jeans that makes Dave say ‘Yum yum’…

The book was written in 1963 and so is a product of it’s time, sure I get that. But all the men have mistresses, and share their women about.  Cody encourages some young idiot to join him wife on the beach, much to her general irritation about having men and sex forced on her.  There are a few nice stories about dancing girls.  I just felt a wave of sadness for the women in this book, stuck in marriages to drunken, idiot, philanderers.

Anyway, Kerouac meets Billie (the mistress) and they have an immediate mutual attraction, although he finds her equally fascinating and boring it would seem.  He spends the days sitting in her arm chair smoking and drinking while she is at work, and they spend the nights having sex.  She has a young son who occasionally wanders into the bedroom and she thinks it’s fine for him to watch.  Karouac, to his sort of credit, is a bit creeped out by this, but goes along with it anyway.  Later on, they go back to the cabin and the poor child tries to pull his mother of Kerouac so she takes him outside and beats him.  Good, cheerful, stuff.  She also has a delightful friend, who creeps onto little girls and threatens to kid nap them.

Basically, I would just really hate to be stuck in a lift with any of them…I was very curious as to how much of this actually happened.  Like, really, how messed up is the little kid in the book now, and does he enjoy reading about he flaky mum’s affair with Jack Kerouac? A quick google tells em the names were changed, but it also tells me the characters real names so screw you anonymity!  I assume he took some liberties with the truth as this is a ‘fictionalised autobiography’.  I don’t think Beat literature is for me.

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Stuff from Dubrovnik

Doing a bit of a sort out I found a bunch of stuff from some old trips, this is leaflets, receipts, and old tickets.  I have already scrap booked my trip to Dubrovnik, Croatia so I don’t really have much use for them anymore.  So I thought I would do a little blog post and reminisce.

Dubrovnik was an amazing trip, it was relaxing but we did lots of activities.  The most exciting was probably the scuba diving we did with Blue Planet Diving Centre.  It was a little terrifying initially, the thought of putting your head underwater and just ‘breathing normally’ so I had a little moment but after that I really enjoyed it.  Since it was our first go we barely went 5m deep!

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We also walked along the Old Town walls (in the baking mid day sun with a million other tourists) which gave a great view of the Old Town.  And also a view of a few of the bombed out remains of little houses from the Croatian War of Independence.  We also took a gondola to the top of the hill to see the lovely view from up there, we felt that it was a waste of money really as we just walked down the hill to get back. There was also a little museum at the top which gave some more insights to the War, although not much was in English unfortunately.

It was also a trip of Island hopping.  We heading out to Mljet where most of the island is a National Park, we hired bikes and toured the park, we also swam in a picturesque lake which was lovely.  That ended up being a more expensive trip than anticipated though (cost of boat there, the cost of the bikes, and lunch).  We also took a little trip to a smaller island called, Lokrum where there were loads of peacocks.  This was the day after we had been out kayaking and I got very sunburnt on my legs and feet.  So every step in Lokrum was agony.  Good memories!
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Stuff From Shanghai

I found a bag full of ‘stuff’ from a couple of trips I had taken a while ago.  I had already scrap booked these trips and I didn’t really want to hold onto to all of it but it did bring back a few memories.  This is the stuff I found from the trip I took to Shanghai, China in 2009.20180204_174518Above- My sister took me on a little trip to visit a place she liked to go to buy little cups.  I can not remember where that was, but we did indeed buy some tiny, handmade, cups.  The kind without a handle, that you can imagine drinking green tea out of, they were wrapped in the orange Disney paper you can see top left.  Whisk was a fancy place we went for lunch, I remember getting a chocolate torte for dessert.  I remember significant things.  I think the white business card in the middle was for a lottery or gambling, the blue blob of toothpaste on it is Haibo.  Haibo was, obviously, the mascot of the Shanghai Expo and he was EVERYWHERE in Shanghai whilst I was there.20180204_175209Above- We went to a small Art Gallery, and the only thing I remember is my sister making me and her boyfriend (now husband) stand in a very hot window, in full glare of the sun as she spent 20mins trying to take a picture.   The photo, top left, shows where we were standing.  On one day we went to a shopping centre and I felt compelled to buy something.  You can’t really browse without a sales assistant insisting on helping which was interesting given that we were speaking totally different languages.  When I’d picked my item I went over the till to pay, she took my leggings and gave me a receipt and sent me to another till.  At the other till I handed over my money and was given another receipt.  I took this back to the first till and got my leggings (with the delightful orange mushroom label pictured).  Seemed like convoluted way of doing things but that’s the style in China.   20180204_175250Above- I took and used my Lomography fisheye camera.  How I wish I’d been able to take a better analogue camera, the fish eye thing got really old really fast!  Top right is an exciting photo of the TV screen in the taxi (like the future) which instructed me to ‘please do not forget the things you take’.  We went to an English language bookshop on my last day and I obviously bought something, wrapped in the brown paper.  I think it was something odd like Frankenstein, and the font had been printed so small I never actually managed to read that copy!

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