Day 9: Paris/London

I barely do mornings in America, I certainly don’t do them here in Europe. There is little chance for me ever becoming a morning person. I’m not sure if it’s something biological or a trained behavior, but I hate mornings. I’d much rather sleep in until nine or ten and stay up late. It’s better for my mental health. Getting up before the sun is just stupid. The ancients didn’t do it, why should I have to? I shouldn’t have to, but I did.

Today was our very last day in Paris and I dressed in my very best nautical inspired fashion to please myself and as a treat to my dear French Republic. You can be very fashionable with clothing from the Monoprix. The only place that we can do that back home is Target, but that’s rather hit or miss. Sometimes they have fantastic clothes and designers and other times you feel like you’re just a step up from Walmart. I actually have two decent shirts from Walmart now. Don’t tell anybody–cheers, thanks a lot. (Holla at the Patsy reference!) Karl used to design for Monoprix when he was just starting out. I think that’s pretty amazing. He’s always had his fingers in a million different pies, though, so it’s no real surprise.

I had been wanting to see Oscar Wilde’s restored tomb ever since Dita Von Teese tweeted a picture of it. It looked very nice cleaned up and since I have kissed his tomb myself and because I consider myself the reincarnated Oscar, I thought it would be nice to go and see “my” tomb and look around the place where someday I will be buried, too. There are many places I’ve considered as my final resting place, but I’ve stopped searching. It will be here. There are rules and regulations I have to work out first, but I don’t plan on dying for at least 75 more years, so I think I’ll have time. I don’t want one of the more modern mastaba looking tombs, I want a little mausoleum. Something with an Egyptian motif and covered in lichen. A marble interior and a handsome brass bust of myself. I want to get it completed long before my death so that I can visit once in a while and show it off to friends and my children if they were ever to happen. (Adopted twins from Brazil–I’ll put them straight into modeling.)

Paris was quiet and cold as Ma and I made our way to the cemetery. It’s getting to be second nature for me now to go here, I try to visit at least once on each trip. When I was here with Jessica last year, I can’t count the number of times I wandered around. You never could get bored. It’s endless and gorgeous and wonderfully macabre. There was the most gorgeous water fountain right outside the entrance to the cemetery. I didn’t bring along a water bottle, though, so I couldn’t fill up.

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The cemetery was as beautiful as ever. I absolutely love it here. If you ever get the chance to spend some time in Paris, this really should be on your must-see list.

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705161_4048307734308_149735392_oThere seemed to be more lichen then ever. I wonder if it thrives in this weather or something?

703594_4048311054391_1952229736_oI was, of course, obsessed with this one: it’s a freaking pyramid! But then I caught a look of this beauty and had a tomb-gasm:

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This is perfection. Exactly what I want.

463726_4048314174469_1093707251_oI’d never noticed tombs with  tiles before. This one in a state of disrepair was absolutely stunning.

478001_4048306494277_880757334_oI am so unbelievably jealous of this man’s surname. It’s Couture. Is that not the chicest thing ever? Well, I suppose having the last name Chanel or Lagerfeld would be equally chic. More chic, really.

703748_4048315174494_217178997_oI stopped by to see my old friend Édith Piaf. I just love her so much. You don’t need to speak French in order to love her music, it doesn’t need translation to be understood. Her gorgeous voice can put the meaning into music and you’ll be able to understand. I normally don’t post so much music in a row, but here are some of my favorite songs of hers. My favorites are always changing because she has such a massive catalog of music, but these are the best right now:

This one has always been my favorite, it’s about wanting the love of God, but I’ve always felt it was much more about the love of love. An absolutely beautiful song and if I ever finish writing my book Hôtel Ker Maria (working title), I will do everything I can to have this put on the soundtrack of the cinematic adaptation, as well as a few other favorites. Sans toi, tout semble amer, La terre est un enfer. Just gorgeous.

This is a rather recent discovery of mine. Here she is singing about Catherine, a sad girl whose fiancé has died. She’s crushed, but must try to forget about it in order to get along. But, Catherine can’t get over it and she floats on the water, pensive, and drowns to be with her lover. God, it’s tragic, but so lovely–classic Piaf.

This song is quickly becoming my new favorite and someday might replace Et Moi for the title, but not quite. In this song, she sings about the man of her dreams and how happy she would be if he were finally hers. She sings of the things that he would say and what they would do together and how happy it would be. But, as soon as she has her lover, all she can think about is the day she’ll lose him. *Sobbing.*

She has beautiful happy songs, too, of course, but it’s the tragic ones that I love.

Anyway, this was the only time that I’ve been alone at her grave. Normally there is somebody there–usually a crowd of people who have heard “La Vie en Rose” or watched the divine Marion Cotillard portray her in the film of the same name. I don’t begrudge these people the chance to pay homage to a legend, but if you don’t really know anything about her, move along please! I always think of the multitudes of people who have stood there looking at her grave. Marlene Dietrich was one of the first.

I’d never seen this before. Gorgeous.

After this, it was not far to my…I mean, Oscar’s tomb.

703643_4048317694557_1438258672_oI was repulsed the very moment I saw it. It now looks like utter shit! The glass panels that surround and protect it are now covered in lipstick, which isn’t horrible. But to try and prevent this, they have put up a barricade around the barricade. Debris is swept in, leaves are scattered, it just looks horrible and I couldn’t be more disgusted. I understand why they restored his tomb–it’s a cultural icon–but it’s just not the same. Kissing Oscar’s tomb is a tradition, a very sweet one. I know the chemicals will rot it away, but it was so much more him with the kisses. Hopefully, this situation will improve. I don’t approve.

We hurried back to the apartment, since we were due to check out very soon. We weren’t there for very long before the rental agents arrived and stood there awkwardly while we were putting the rest of our things together. I appreciate prompt service, but they were far too early. It was uncomfortable. They shouldn’t have been there twenty minutes ahead of schedule, it was quite rude and I was offended. It wasn’t a big deal, really, but just a basic kindness that they seemed to not care about.

Once out on the street with all of our bags, I made a decision to undertake a devilishly clever criminal act. I keep seeing ceramic McCafé espresso cups at the McDonald’s on the corner and I…I just have to have it. So, we took a break in the McDo, where I ordered an espresso with a very good raspberry macaron (so weird–I’ll never get over that) and looked around casually. As we stood to leave, I stuffed the whole thing into my bag and giddily skipped onto the rue de Rivoli. Did I feel bad about it? Honestly, yes I did, but now whenever I make espresso in it, I’m reminded of Paris and I smile and I like smiling. I’m sure they understand.

We still had a bit of time to waste before we needed to make our way to the Eurostar so we crashed in the Carrousel du Louvre. Jessica and I went over to Ladurée because there wasn’t much else to do and because they had one macaron flavor that I liked–green apple. Of course they didn’t have it. I had lemon-lime instead and it was horrible, tasted of marshmallow. To pass the time, Jessica and I wandered about the shops while Ma sat on the floor outside the Apple Store stealing a bit of Wifi. We sang the new Robbie William’s single to amuse ourselves. I’m quite bothered that it hasn’t caught on here because I’m in love with it.

The Brits know how to make music. They have got it all right now. I was quite annoyed when Robbie’s new album wasn’t on Spotify and STILL isn’t. #pissed. You know what else isn’t? Amy Winehouse at the BBC. I need this. I didn’t buy either of them when I was in Europe as I completely assumed we didn’t live in the fifties and that music (a digital thing) could easily be transmitted across the sea. Whatever. Still annoyed.

The time finally came so we made our way to the RER, which has still not been cleaned. It’s gross down there. What the hell happened? I used to love the RER, now I think somebody’s going to jack me for my bling. (Holla at the Absolutely Fabulous reference! Watch at the 5:50 mark.)

When we finally made our way to the Eurostar it didn’t take long to get ourselves sorted. Jessica only flipped out once. She has a real complex when it comes to people in authority. I don’t understand why. They’re just people with day jobs. Just a bit later we were comfortably seated on the train. I am a total train convert–that’s the way to go. Convenience. You don’t have to take off your shoes or check your luggage. You just get on with as much liquid as you’d like and go. I brought along my tarts from Jacques Genin (only slightly the worse for wear after Jessica used them to catch her balance…) both were absolutely delicious. So there we were, sittin’, eatin’, relaxin’. It was heavenly.

I love everything about the Eurostar. The only real tragedy of it is that you never do get to see the white cliffs of Dover as you’re underground when you’re near them. And I couldn’t possibly talk about Dover without playing you a Dolly Parton song! This post is so musical!

I love Dolly so much.

You know who else I love? One Direction. I never really understood all the kids losing their minds for them…but I totally get it now. There’s just something addicting about them. Mainly Zayn. Have you seen him?

Excuse me for a moment…

…anyway, I totally understand what all the kids are talking about now. I happily discuss the latest rumors with them. We all hate Taylor Swift trying to tear Harry away from the band. Harry’s not my favorite, not by far, but he does have a nice voice and fascinating Mick Jagger-esque lips. [Update from 2015: Can you believe I said that? Harry is everything to me now. The others mean nothing. Zayn betrayed me. HARRY NEVER LETS ME DOWN.] The other guys are okay, too. They say I look like Louis, and I get that…but I totally emulate Zayn. I’ve got that hair. On Wednesday, I dressed exactly like he did at their recent concert at Madison Square Gardens. Don’t tell anybody, they might think I’ve gone too far. Nobody reads this thing anyway. Sometimes I do say a bit too much. Listen to these adorable young men:

Have you ever peed underneath the English Channel? I have. Well…there I go again.

Anyway, once we pulled into London, it was the usual mad dash to the exit and I was totally prepared for it this time. I flew out of that train and into St. Pancras station, which didn’t really do me much good since I had to wait in line for an Underground pass. It was still fun to be in front of everybody else, though. With my card, I hurried to the train and squeezed myself in. London was packed, stuffed, full to bursting with people. I’m not sure what happened. Finally the train cleared a bit, but then a huge group of Italian tourists shoved in and I was pressed awkwardly to the wall. When I finally had a bit of room to move, I tried to readjust my bags. The Italians, an ever helpful people, thought that I was trying to get off. My Italian is not that great. So, they took my bags and basically shoved me out the door thinking this is what I was wanting. I couldn’t think of any phrase, so I just smiled and said, “Grazie.” This delighted them and they started saying lots of Italian to me. I hurried to the next door before the train took off and stuffed myself back in. It was amusing to watch Jessica and Ma look around for me. I finally got their attention. That was stupid.

It was gloomy and grey and pissing with rain outside. Very stereotypical of you, London. Still beautiful in a way. I love that town. I love it more each time I visit. I will certainly have to spend more time there in the future. We had no trouble getting to the Trebovir hotel, a very nice hotel that we usually stay at. Jessica and I were absolutely appalled when we discovered that we would have to leave before breakfast. We adore their breakfast. They have the best croissants and swiss cheese. Also, their coffee is amazing. Grumpily, we mumbled mutinously as we made our way to the elevator and rode to the very top. We had a triple room, which seems to be the same size as a double room, except there’s another bed. Not much room at all and Jessica was pissed about it. She was also pissed about the temperature of the room. I thought it was rather nice, but she was screaming unpleasantly and threw off her pants before throwing the window open. Not at all chic.

We had a limited amount of time and wanted to make the very best use of it, so we headed to Harrods for dinner. I changed into a chicer outfit and we dashed down into the Underground. As we emerged, we were all, “What the frock?” You could not move. The street literally pushed and pulled you along. I could barely step one foot in front of the other as we waded towards Harrods through the impossible crowd. It was madness. Finally, we made it into the shops and before too long, I was separated from Ma and Jessica. This was not really a big deal as we had a plan and I wasn’t going to be eating with them. They wanted to go to a meat shop. A MEAT SHOP. Gross. I was dining at the Mezza Lounge, a Middle Eastern place that was relatively new. I fancy myself a fan of the Middle East, so I’m always intrigued when I get the chance to try new exotic nibbles.

I had a hell of a time finding the restaurant. It was impossible to get anywhere as there were hordes of people all over the place. I finally flagged down a staff member to help me as I was hopelessly lost. The place is a massive maze. She was happy to help–probably because I was dressed like a member of the aristocracy. I really need to work on that name change. She explained to me that this was the 10% weekend, which did not impress me at all. 10% is nothing. Do Europeans really not do sales? I love sales. I never buy full price unless there is no other option. I buy Tommy Hilfiger clothing in their shop for 60% regularly and I usually have a coupon, too. I couldn’t understand why everybody in London had lost their shit for a little sale. It didn’t even cover taxes. Fools! But, London is ridiculously expensive, so I suppose every little bit helps. (See what I did there? No? Hello…Tesco?)

I finally made it to the restaurant and was led to a very nice seat–much better than the corner I was put in at the British Museum. I’ll never get over that rude treatment. I looked over the menu and was tempted by a wide variety of things. I love tabbouleh and that sounded delicious, but I can make that at home. The falafel also sounded nice, but would it be better than the Pita Pit back home? Doubtful. That place is the best. So, I decided on the seven vegetable tagine, as I’ve never had anything cooked in a tagine before. I remember shopping once at Williams-Sonoma and asking what a tagine was. The shopkeeper just shrugged. That’s always made me laugh. It was her job to know what it was. Dummy. Anyway, I ordered a bottle of water, too, thinking it would be nice.

I had a bit of a laugh when I was given 250 ml bottle of Acqua Panna for £4.50. That’s like a cup and a bit. You can get a liter of Acqua Panna (four times as much) for a couple dollars at home at the HyVee. Whatever, I was still laden with cash. I really over saved for this trip, but it was nice to never have to worry about running out of money. This is what celebrities must feel like. They must really be happy. I wasn’t allowed to touch the bottle it seemed, as one of the numerous waiters and waitresses would refill my glass each time I took a sip. Eleganza. Dinner showed up quickly with a big bowl of couscous and a freshly grilled pita. Delicious.

463867_4048331334898_403602794_oThe vegetables in the tagine were kale, tomato, onion, okra, kale, chickpeas, and cauliflower. It was rather good, but it was nothing exceptional. I’m worried about how much okra I’ve consumed on this trip without being bothered. Do I like okra? What’s happening to me? I enjoyed my meal and scribbled away on my Moleskine while I watched the frantic shoppers rush by outside. There was an annoying couple next to me on a date. I felt bad for the lady, her date was obnoxious insisting on doing the ordering and waving at the waitress. It took forever to get the bill, but I finally managed to pay (way tooooooooo much, but it’s Harrods, so whatever) and left. I decided that I had lots of time to kill since the meat shop the others were at always takes an eternity, so I headed up one level to the Lavazza shop.

It was a nice place, but also so very busy. I had to sit on the strangest seat I’ve ever been in. My posterior just did not understand how to settle into the awkward shape. At least the coffee was really good. I ordered a doppio and here it was an actual doppio. I swear, back home, a double shot and a single shot are interchangeable. That always annoys me. This one though was a good size and well done. I enjoyed it. As I sipped my espresso, I wondered why everybody was buying little bottles of San Pellegrino and little glasses of orange juice. It seemed odd for a coffee bar. I assumed they were going to mix the two together to make a mimosa-like beverage, but nobody mixed. Weird.

I started heading downstairs to find the Krispy Kreme (I know, how demode) to meet Ma and Jess. I wandered through the small electronics and admired the kitchen appliances. Then I ended up in the Christmas world. No idea how. There were really, really, really, like really expensive Christmas crackers. I’m dying to know what’s in them.

622274_4048319494602_898448374_o£599 for six! I need them!

There were so many people on the elevator that I couldn’t fit in until the third car came. When it finally arrived, it was stuck between two levels for a few minutes. I was sure I was going to die there. At least I looked good. We all stumbled out, gasping for fresh air. It was pandaemonium. Finally, I fell upon Ma. Krispy Kreme is long gone. We never would have found each other. Thank goodness we did. I’ve decided to get a SIM card the next time I go. I hate being disconnected from the world.

We were exhausted, but didn’t want to waste the last night in Europe. Jessica decided to go back to the hotel, but I was determined to finally go on the Jack the Ripper walking tour. I’ve been meaning to do this since 2007 and never managed it. When I stayed in London for a few days in 2009, I was planning to go…but there was a new episode of Paris Hilton’s British Best Friend so I stayed in the hotel and watched. It’s a real thing. It’s amazing. I loved that show. Then I was going to go the next night, but Eddie Izzard was at the Apple Store on Regent Street, so I never got around to it. Tonight, though, I would!

The Tube was absolutely ridiculous. The trains here make little sense. They aren’t laid out well. In Paris you can’t go more than a couple blocks without stumbling on a stop and a bakery and a pharmacy and a lovely bistro. Here, you could walk until the end of time and starve to death before finding an Underground. It drives me insane. The train we took tonight only went so far before stopping so you had to transfer to like three different trains all on the same line to reach your destination. Absolutely ridiculous. I definitely would have to learn how to use the buses if I were to live here.

The tour was easy to find and we paid. I was jealous that we weren’t in the tour group with the guy who was dressed up like a Victorian with a top hat, but in my research, I found that the group I had selected was one of the best, and it was quite good. It was a bizarre thing, too. So much has changed since Jack was ripping people apart (see what I did there?) that many of the locations of his crimes are long gone. It was weird then to have our tour guide standing on random street corners and entryways talking about a murder that happened a couple hundred feet away. It seemed quite lackluster when it came to location. There was only one place where the spot was still there. I stood on it. Always wanted to do that. It was drizzly and cold, but it was very atmospheric.

I enjoyed walking through the streets, but it was definitely an area that I would not like to tour on my own. It had a menacing atmosphere that would have been there even if I hadn’t known about the murders. Creepy people fighting. Threatening looks. A strange man that walked slowly by in a cape. Another man with a top hat. I was glad to be in a group. The guide was very friendly. Crazy hair. I think we were his favorites. That always happens. We’re just so damn lovable. The tour lasted about an hour and a half and was well worth the £9. I enjoyed myself thoroughly, though I was upset to see how much London is changing. They seem to have the same problem we do of paving over the old to make way for the new. I wish that we as a people had more respect for our architectural heritage.

We headed back to a big Underground station where I had a delicious cheese and onion pasty. I freaking love those things! They’re amazing. I need to make them more often here. Actually, I’ve only made them once. I think I have some puff pastry in the freezer, too! I ALSO HAVE CHEDDAR CHEESE AND ONIONS. Now I know what’s for dinner tomorrow.

I was past being tired, so I decided to go and visit my good friend, Elizabeth. She was home, but it felt rude to call on her so late. She and Cami (what Camilla insists I call her) were so pissed later that I didn’t come in for a glass of gin, but I had to get ready for my flight in the morning. (I often have these wonderful fantasies.)

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We were starving, so we tried to eat at the pub across the way, but its kitchen was closed. So we went to Zizzi’s, which always makes me laugh because of the excellent comedy Dead Boss. 

Zizzi’s kitchen was closed, too. What is that about? Rude. So I had to eat a watercress sandwich with crisps from a corner grocers. The indecency.

Well. I seem to have written a novella. Good evening.

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