Monday, February 28, 2011

Paris, Je T'aime.

This is a long delayed post. I couldn't get over the hang ups of how to describe the city of love. The city that is always described, that you feel like you know even before you step onto it's streets and yet you are blown away because you feel everything that has been told to you over the years.
You walk through the streets, spotting the Metropolitan signs, the bakeries, the french people sitting outside, with coffee and cigarette in hand, speaking a mile a minute and you forget everything else. Paris seems unique in the world that's becoming a copy of a copy of a copy. Everywhere you go you can find the same things, you see a photo of Cambodia and you swear it's actually Thailand, that you've been there.

Paris lives up to everything. Then blows it away. You walk down the streets carrying a Baguette, trying to remember your french, wanting to feel submerged in the city rather than another tourist brought on my the mystique and magic feelings of Paris.

It's perfection, expensive, changing, immortal, ancient, modern and you fall in love instantly. You can't believe you are there. You're inside the Louvre, looking at the most beautiful statues when it starts snowing outside. It fills you with love, hope, promise.
You wind down the streets of Momontre, wanting to be swallowed whole by the city, planning the next time you'll come. Knowing you'd love to be here for a honey moon, as unoriginal it is, the city is drawing you in, entrapping you with it's illustriously seductive grasp.
Paris has hold of your heart. It's only been one day.

It snows when we're in the Louvre. It's more special, more amazing. SNOW IN PARIS! We yell, snapping a thousand photos. Wanting to be part of the city, but taking in every moment with our cameras, the tourists like the city has seen before us. We revel at the shirtless flame throwing man near Notre Dame, as we bundle up in scarves and gloves, freezing in the barely there snow.
We feel illuminated by the culture, saying outlandish things.
"If i were to get married in a church, it would be this (Notre Dame) one because of that window"

You're infatuated by the city already, the allure of the past, the promise of the future. Looking forward to Sacre Coure, Paris souvenirs, Musse D'Orsay, the shopping, macarrons and Arch of Triumph.
You walk past Champs D'Elises and travel through the christmas market stalls, getting hot cider, over priced crepe, buying french tea and imagining the perfection of the city year round. Missing it while you stand on it's streets adorned with the most beautiful balconies, that define the city and it's over powering lure.

You opt out of going to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Telling yourself you'll do that when you come back with loved ones. What's the fun of standing at the tower alone, asking tourists to take photos of you? When you wish you could pretend you're not a tourist. You don't want to acknowledge the other ones. You want to get lost in the city, throw away your map, have perfect french over night and get swallowed by the city. Who would miss you?

Vincent and Veronyka: A trip into the Museums of Paris.
Very Versailles: Japanese art invades the castle.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Perfect Padua

Padua was just what I needed. Though before I dive into describing the wonder that is the city of Padua, I must describe what I was needing.

The novelty of Italy had worn off. ( SIN, I know) and I was having troubles related to living situation, laws I didn't agree with, exams and (of course) the exam system. I was missing Vancouver and Victoria and Bangkok all at the same time. My mind would flash me to Siam Paragon, one of my favorite malls in Bangkok and I would hunger for a Starbucks from the UBC SUB basement, or imagine eating Cupcakes down Robson street in Vancouver.
Then I told myself that next year I will inevitably back in Canada and will be missing, regretting and wanting Italy. I decided a day trip to Venice would be the best way to get rid of the blues.
Who needs a man when you have a country?

However when I informed my friend about my blues, they immediately said we should go together. For weeks we've had the plan to go to Venice together. Finding that Padua ( the illustrious setting for Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew) was only an hour and a half away, I packed my bags, settled into bed at 1am and wondered how I would be able to sleep, let alone get up for 7 with all this excitement surging through me. I had decided a mere 20 minutes before.

I contemplated riding the train the whole way. An extra half hour and I could just get off at Venice. Since the conductor had already seen my ticket ( and tickets are rarely checked at that) and it would only be 3E extra. However, I opted to go to Padua, as I had planned, as I had purchased. Since I'm going to go to Venice in two weeks for CARNEVALE.


Padua is picturesque and idyllic. It's the epitome of an Italian city. It feels vibrant, with history and modern lifestyle surging through the winding streets. Tall buildings soar overheard, a young architects dream as street musicians play an accordion and clarinet of music that reminds one of the Romance of Italy ( as seen in old films).

Padua seems to capture the old, new, enchanted and romantic in a single way. A tiny city that still has the main shopping centers, miniscule streets that have been there for ages, marked with time and modernly artistic graffiti.


Fountain in the middle of a circular park, lined with a moat like river and statues.
Church of San Antonio
Graffiti man spotted all over the city.
Market stall of cheese.
River around the city.


In less than 2 hours, It was already my favorite city. I'm not sure if there's one reason for this, or just that it was exactly what I needed. It wasn't anything I hadn't seen before. Though after a while, the cities bleed into one and you can find candles that were sold as authentic Thai souvenirs in Bangkok in the Christmas market in Bologna or a free trade shop in Vancouver.

However, Padua was blissfull. Maybe it was the way the sun shone down or the way that I was completely exploring, adult and independent and yet child like at the same time. Running free in a place I had never seen before, a new culture, a new experience all for me.

The city is full of contrasts, with rich stores and giant markets with dozens of stalls selling clothes or fresh fruits. Perhaps it was the fact that Padua was so small it wasn't even mentioned in my guide book and I was completely on my own.
No map.
No prior knowledge of the place at all.
Just walking the endless streets, snapping photos and unable to rip the smile off my face.

Some people get a high from...well getting high. Others from shopping or playing sports.
Mine is definitely from traveling. I'm obsessed and addicted. It's costly but makes up for some great stories.

As long as you've got batteries in your camera, money in your wallet and a smile on your face.
You'll have a great time.

Sure you might be an annoying tourist and drive the natives insane. Worry about what they think, these people you'll never meet again, or you can always just enjoy.

Enjoy life and cherish these moments. Soon they'll just be memories.
Make them great ones.