Sunday, September 4, 2011


So on the plane to Paris, they were playing the Woody Allen movie Midnight in Paris. I wouldn't call the movie great, but it was "cute" to see before actually coming here. One of the thematic elements was how romantical Paris is in the rain. Paris decided to be real romantical for us the morning we were leaving. It really is pretty like this though. Pretty like tiny marzipan vegetables. Pretty soon it was all memories and stories to tell and we were ready to depart to the next place. This is Gare du Nord. It's a really famous movie set where the movies like Oceans Twelve and the Borne movies were shot at. It's also were I ate my last high school French class word. This is a brioche. It tastes like fancy bread. After going though customs, we headed for our train. I was really hoping that this train would take us to Hogwarts or Narnia, but after speeding though the French country side and though some fancy tunnel (no pictures because I fell asleep), we arrived at the Olympics. Unfortunately, we were a year early so we decided to have breakfast instead.

Now if you've read my blog at all before, you know that I like food. I like eating food, talking about food, and taking pictures of the food that I eat and talk about. Paris was great for this because pretty much all their food is photogenic. We aren't in Paris anymore. Don't get me wrong, that Shepard's pie was tasty, least this bubble and squeak breakfast was a bit more visually attractive. Aston Martins are visually attractive, but even James Bond gets flat tires.

After breakfast, we got to our hotel too early to check in, so we decided to go shopping to kill time. Time is a very important part of this story. Nicole's favorite store is Anthropologie. We've been to them in pretty much every major city we've been to in America, but this one is special because it also has exclusive European designers (or so Nicole says). I say it's special because it has scenic little stools where I can sit and look at a waterfall while Nicole shops. More importantly, it has free wi-fi which was a rare commodity in London. While looking at said waterfall and enjoying the internet connection, I decided to research if anything there was anything of interest close by. There was. I got really excited because I found that John Singer Sargent, one of my favorite painters of all time, lived and worked a few streets from where we were (from 1901-1925). After finding the address, I started rushing Nicole so we could go see the house and take pictures of it. This did not go well. It's really not worth rushing a shopping girl. It went even worse when had to stop in this shop to look for an umbrella since it was raining. Finally, we were on our way and searching for the little plaque that tells you where famous people used to live. I asked Nicole if Olivia Wilde lived there too because I would also like to visit her house. This did not go well. We started to get close to the address and I started to get little kid excited. For Nicole and I, seeing painters' studios is a little bit like catholic people seeing all the churches we saw in Paris. As I was just starting to take a picture of this started to open up and the woman who now lives in the house came out. Through all my rushing Nicole, to umbrella searching, to exactly how quickly we were walking, all of this was somehow timed down to the second. Things get a little bit blurry at this point, because I got really really embarrassed for getting caught taking a picture of someones door. I kind of remember blurting out a string of nonsensical stutterings and stumblings asking if is was really S-s-sa-argent's s-s-st-tudio?! Somehow my nonsensical rant (and creepy long hair) didn't scare the woman too badly (probably because Nicole looks trust worthy), and she confirmed that we were in the right place. Even more amazingly, she told us that she would buzz her husband because he would probably like to come talk to us about Sargent. The next thing we knew, we were being invited into the house and up the stairs into their private residence to see Sargent's studio and living space. See the big framed sketch in the upper right? That's an original concept sketch for the Boston murals that he painted from 1895-1919. All the other paintings were by the current resident who was a very prolific and accomplished painter in his own right. These are paintings he made in various places all around the world. He was really the most hospitable and interesting person we talked to this entire trip. His wife was very nice as well, but he anecdotally told us that she normally isn't so friendly and often tells him not to talk to strangers. He was actually surprised that she let us in, but since she did, he was glad to tour us around the studio/home and showed us things like this palate that belonged to a very famous British painter, and this arch that was the property of John Singer Sargent. I don't think words or pictures adequately describe how totally surreal this experience was. We saw signed letters from Sargent and Prince Charles, heard about Sargent's ghost haunting the house, and stories (with magazine pictures as proof) about Princess Diana posing for a portrait in the very spot where we were standing. It's hard to describe, but seeing the light quality, it really just kind of made sense to have a studio in this space. It was like magic. Sargent probably mindlessly looked out this window all the time. Not wanting to overstay our welcome, we reluctantly went back down the stairs and left one of the most interesting and exclusive places I'll ever go in my entire life. And none of this would have happened if Nicole was even a few seconds faster or slower trying on dresses at Anthropologie. Thanks, Nicole.

As we were leaving it began to really set in that we were in London and surrounded by all sorts of historical British stuff that I has always heard about but never seen. See the factory down the tracks from our hotel? That's the factory from the Pink Floyd Animals album cover. We saw it every day for a week. No big deal. As interesting as London stuff is, I'm going to jump back to Paris stuff quickly and mention this little package. This was our last ration of cookie time. It got smashed up on the train from Paris, but they were still good. Really good. If anyone knows where to get these cookies around here, please let me know. Life hasn't been the same since finishing these last ones. Here's some more weird Europe stuff. This is very London stuff. We were going to take pictures inside of it, but it smelled like pee. More random London stuff. They just have buildings like that randomly in the mix. Here's a random Westminster Abby building not too far from our hotel. This sculpture reminds me of the Jay Z and Kanye Made In America song. Fancy. Really fancy. Look! British hippies Camping by a big clock!. Look at that clock and the moon. It's really pretty here at night along the big river. We walked along the river a lot this trip, but this was the first time going there for me. It was also the first time I encountered these. Then we encountered this eye and a random carnival. Nicole and I like carnivals. Especially carnivals that blast techno music like some weird carnival rave. We don't really ride the rides though. We mostly just eat the food. This is skateboard graveyard on the Thames. Speaking of eating, our search for food tricked us and looked like we were in Paris again. We chose Indian food instead. Sorry Paris.

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