If a picture paints a thousand words then this is going to be a novel. Because I’m doing both. Mainly pictures. I guess this makes me a prolific writer.
First things first: the flight. I LOVE long haul flying. You get to sit there and watch films and people hand you stuff. It’s basically my dream life compressed into half a day and with more threat of deep vein thrombosis.
We stopped over in Singapore which I was probably geekily excited about in itself, having heard nothing but amazing things. A cinema! Actually…that’s pretty much all I’d heard. And we didn’t end up doing that anyway. What we did do was go get our feet nibbled by semi piranha miniture fish. It was bizarre and slightly gross and completely amazing. I am seriously considering installing an aquarium at home.
Then the briefest of stopovers in Deutschland! I learned German in high school and loved it and have never had the opportunity to use it other than occasionally whispering the word “scheisskopf” under my breath at home. So I was delighted to have the chance to:
a) order “ein tasse Kaffee bitte!” and a german pastry (well, fine, it was actually Danish but whatever, we were in Frankfurt so technically it was german) and was doing amazingly well until she asked me a question. “Um….Englisch?” I said sheepishly. “Would you like a bag?” she replied. “Yes.” I said. Not even “Ja.” I buried my shame in my Strudel. It was highly effective.
b) to pose as Maria Von Trapp in front of a highly dodgy but amazingly touristy (= I loved it) photo of that magical castle. Yes, as one of my fb buddies pointed out, I know The Sound of Music was set in Austria but if this is as close as I’ll ever get to my bucket list item of singing “The Hills Are Alive” in the Austrian alps then I’m damn well taking it.
HOLY PRINCESS OF CAMBRIDGE, BATMAN.
It blew my mind. Specifically, because we had the most amazing tour guides in the world, aka my other half’s parents. Did I mention my partner is British? Well, he is. Meaning that:
a) he has that highly delicious accent;
b) he occasionally says things like “I shall make it so”;
c) he attempts on semi-regular occasion to get me to eat black pudding (unsuccessfully to date); and
d) his family is in the homeland, meaning they were able to come down to London for two nights to hang out with us and jam as much action into two days as is humanly possible.
It’s impossible to write all the highlights but here’s a pictorial essay to do the work for me.
It took my breath away over and over and over and that was without even seeing a fraction of the place. I can only imagine if we had more time I’d probably need to take an oxygen mask and possibly a defibrilator. Is that a thing? I’m pretty sure that’s a thing. I love big words.
We also met up with my other half’s brother, wife and kiddly-
winks who joined us for our final evening. Naturally upon meeting them, I seized the moment to suggest the obvious: fulfilling my Mary Poppins fantasy by going on a carousel ride. The sticks came off and we rode around Southbank and then busted out in “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” It was exactly as I’d hoped.
Then of course, the London Freaking Eye.
Oh London, I love you more than anything in the world. There shall never be another city that can ever compete for my affections…
…oh, except for Paris.
HOLY MARY ANTOINETTE, BATMAN.
I don’t even know where to begin. We didn’t know where to begin. We had exactly 23 hours and 45 minutes to experience this city, so a bus tour seemed the logical start.
So while we barely set foot indoors (though I did see the Louvre from the outside, all sixty-seven kilometres of it), we did manage a pretty damn good loop of the city itself, which seems to me to basically mean living inside one giant art-work. I went quickly from photographing every freaking building I could spy to going “meh, just another stunning piece of Parisian architecture” within an hour. It strikes me as so bittersweet that you can be in one of the most incredibly picturesque places on earth and take it for granted so quickly. On the other hand, I cannot imagine anybody ever taking a chocolate croissant for granted.
I spoke french! Seriously, I said “merci” about a hundred times and at one point “Je voudrais une absinthe si’lvous plait.” I never worked up the nerve to take up my father-in-law’s suggestion of asking a waiter “Je voudrais une raison d’etre” but hey, we’re in Marseille next so there’s still time.
The Eiffel Tower! Cheese! Baguettes! Montmartre (oh my Bowie, Monmartre…how I love thee. I wish I could bottle you and bring you home in a suitcase but then you wouldn’t be a cute little village anymore, would you? You’d just be dreams and hopes that have been quashed to fit in a pint-sized glass which would never do.)
Then as if it couldn’t be any more perfect, this gentlemen was on our final Parisian train today, playing “Que Sera, Sera” (one of the most significant songs ever to me, as my mum taught it to me when I was a little girl, literally weeks before she died). It could not have been a more magical farewell.
So jet-lag wise, probably trying to cram in as much as possible in two of the world’s most mind-blowing cities was not a terrific plan. However, I would not change a damn thing.
I think I’m about THEEEES (OMG I totes have a french accent already! Squee!) close to being on a European body clock which is bloody tops as the Writing Residency at Marseille Web Fest begins in earnest tomorrow.
I’m nervous. I’m excited. I’m blown away by how amazing this trip has been already even though it’s hardly begun.
Moia! Moia! Moia! (Oh hang on, that was meant to be kisses, but I just realised I actually typed “Me! Me! Me!” Which seems strangely fitting.)
Big love and hugs to you all, wherever you are. Please know that I am eating croissants for each and every one of you. It’s tough work.