Friday, October 23, 2009

Four Hours to Paris

This has been a very adventure-packed week. On Monday I went to Covent Garden (hello Eliza Doolittle…) to see “Dirty Dancing” with Jeff and Kelly. It was sort of cheesy but definitely very fun and the dancing, as you might guess, was great… or dirty? Before the show we saw a bunch of people who were sitting around us trying to take a picture of something or someone. It happened again during the intermission so I asked the girl sitting next to me what was going on and she told me that Craig Revel Horwood was in the audience. He is a judge for their “Dancing with the Stars” equivalent, “Strictly Come Dancing,” and the girl next to me said he is a very harsh judge. He was there because Monday night marked the three year anniversary for “Dirty Dancing” in the West End. I had strawberry ice cream during the intermission.

Tuesday I went to the BBC Television Centre in White City for a tour with my media class. It was so much fun! Our tour guide, Ian, showed us around Television Centre including the news room which was literally out of a movie or TV show. The room was massive with tons of casually-dressed people drinking coffee and looking at computers or TV screens while typing. The room had purple swivel chairs and accents of the BBC’s signature color, red. We got to see this room via a one-way mirror, and my favorite part of the tour was when I saw one guy get up and offer chocolate chip cookies to his colleagues. Another fun fact from the tour was that Jennifer Lopez refused to walk 20 feet to the entertainment entrance from the parking lot, so she illegally asked her driver to drive her to the front door. Only the Queen and this one guy from “Top Gear” had ever driven down this circular driveway. Whatever JLo. I also liked playing fake weather girl in front of a blue (not green) screen for the people in my group. I put on the worst possible British accent that I could in order to describe the weather, and I’m sure the British people on our tour thought I was a total lunatic. Oh well.

After the tour we went across the street to the Westfield Mall, which is the largest mall in Europe. While the mall itself has two floors on which you could walk, each store has two levels which made for extremely high ceilings. The food court was absolute gorgeous insanity. From salads to British pies this place had everything, but it’s not your mother’s food court. The place was chiq and sophisticated with low lighting, neutral tones and modern seating. I opted for an Indian food stand where I purchased chicken tikka masala with thinly-sliced cucumbers and mango-chutney, all wrapped in naan, with some sort of herbal-infused yogurt on the side. Absolutely delicious and beautifully placed on a square white plate with rounded edges.

After lunch I went to the Buttercup Bake Shop stand (did you really think I was going to pass out on dessert…) where I picked a passion fruit cupcake; think vanilla cake but a bit sweeter with a distinctly passion-fruit buttercream frosting. My style all the way. We unfortunately had to leave this wondrous haven of food (who cares about the clothing stores!) to go to our next tour at the Globe Theatre and also get another great view of St. Paul's Cathedral from the Millennium Bridge.

The Globe Theatre was as beautiful in the day as it is at night, although certainly more charming when the smell of bear and hot chocolate is in the air. We got to go on stage which was awesome and I pretended to die several times to honor the late, great William Shakespeare.

Our tour guide was very theatrical and just spout out Shakespearian sonnets and prose at the drop of a hat. One of the most interesting things that he taught us was that the actors at Shakespeare’s original Globe would be given a scroll with just their lines and line cues on it. This scroll could roll up into a roll creating the “role” as we know it today. After the Globe, we walked a minute or so over to the Tate Modern to pick a picture which we will later discuss in our British Life and Cultures class. I chose this drawing of a hamburger drawn by Andy Warhol that was blown up and therefore made grainy to show the immediacy of fast food. The Warhol room was covered with a bright yellow and pink wallpaper print he had made of a cow and was an eye-popping piece against the otherwise white walls. The Tate was followed by Tuesday night yoga, which was followed by an amazing dinner by Emily of sliced sausage, penne, whole canned tomatoes, onion and red and yellow pepper. The secret? Fennel seeds and a splash of red wine. Absolutely delicious.

Wednesday was a pretty lazy day. I woke up, did some homework and watched “The Sweetest Thing” before heading over to class. Theatre class was cut short so that we could get to the Soho Theatre on time to see the play “Orphans.” Before the play, Jeff, myself and our friends Ashley and Lauren went to this Italian sandwich shop called Café Deco on Gloucester road to sit down for a sandwich and dessert (I had a salad with an Italian meats sandwich and a slice of lemon loaf). Our uplifting dinner could not uplift the evening, however, as the play was very dark and depressing. We decided that this depression could only be cured through a Fruli (strawberry fruit beer) and some chili rice crackers at the Queen’s Arms which is conveniently situated directly across from my dorm room window. The four of us then studied for our theatre final and headed to bed. The following afternoon I took my theatre final (I think it went well), walked to the gym through my favorite backstreets and ate a chicken and vegetable stir-fry with plum sauce prepared by myself and Jeff. After dinner I watched “Glee” and nearly died. I know it is probably very lame, but I genuinely like watching that show and I think it’s pretty clever. Well except for that little “Thong Song” bit… Anyway, today I finished a paper for my British Life and Cultures class, handed it in and ran several errands on Kensington High Street. For dinner Emily made a very rich macaroni and cheese with lemon broccoli and halibut. We walked over to the Queen’s Arms for a Fruli, stood outside like all good Londoners do and discussed our plans for the next week.

Tomorrow (AKA in four hours) I will be traveling to Paris with Jeff, Rebs, Emily and Brian. We are going to be in Paris until Wednesday when we (just myself, Jeff and Rebs) fly to Barcelona until Saturday to be back just in time for Halloween! I think tomorrow we’re going to check out a museum or two because the weather says rain, but for the rest of our days in France we are going to be enormous tourists, do a walking tour, possibly a river cruise and (hopefully) go to Versailles. As for Barcelona, Jeff’s mom lived and studied there for a while so she gave us a bunch of places to visit such as Las Ramblas and La Sagrada Familia, but also told us about some less touristy sorts of things. In general I plan to eat and smell as much as I can, and hopefully document every bit of it well enough so that I can convey what is sure to be the beauty of Paris and Barcelona to all of you. Until then, au revoir, adiós!

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