It’s been so long. Sincerest apologies to Phil.
Let’s test my memory.
So Friday, April 26 was spent finishing up a time sensitive piece of writing and I’m happy to say I managed in the nick of time. Had a train to Oxford to catch! Also made that in the nick of time. There are a few trains an hour but I made the train as the doors were closing and didn’t have to wait half an hour for the next one. Didn’t get a seat until 10 minutes before the train got to Oxford, but that’s okay because I was listening to Florence and the Machine. Upon arrival, I walked to where I was staying and settled in and eventually made my way to shul. Chilled with John and Jean and shout out to Esteban! After dinner, the Oxford Belles (a capella group) performed. They were okay. I don’t LOVE a cappella, so I’m not easily impressed. On Saturday, April 27, it was still Shabbos, so the activities were pretty standard. And also a lot of walking. Sunday, April 28 was Lag Ba’omer, not really a holiday but a day of celebration that frequently involves open fires and live music so John and I did just that. After a walk around Oxford we went to a park not to far from the OJC for a BBQ. Didn’t set a hot dog eating record, but did sing a lot of Beatles songs. After singalong in the park featuring hot dogs, John and I watched You’ve Got Mail and then a bit of The Voice but not much of it because I was talking the whole time. And then it was time to go and I got the station about 30 minutes before the next train and then I may or may not have missed the train while standing at the turnstiles because I was distracted. 40 minutes later + more minutes later because the train was delayed, I was London-bound.
Monday, April 29. The trip I have been waiting for since last June. Paris in the springtime. May Day. GIVERNY! Took the 12:25 Eurostar from Kings Cross St. Pancras to Gare Du Nord. Took me a while to find my hostel because of Paris’s stupid urban planning but I did find and it was not a dump. Never stayed in a hostel in a room with a bunch of strangers but nothing got stolen so it was a positive experience and I’d do it again. Spent the rest of the day (at this point it was around 4 PM) organizing how I’d be spending the next three days and making a list of ten or so restaurants and their Metro stops. After my organizational activity, I went to a restaurant called Tib’s. Took a while to find it–not my fault, Paris’s fault–but fortunately I found someone who was without a doubt Jewish and I asked him if he spoke Hebrew or English and fortunately he spoke Hebrew and was able to direct me to the restaurant. Very good food, but I over-cheesed myself. Dinner for one, read my book, such a treat. Not the book, the book was terrible, the experience was a treat. Then I made my way back to the hostel and eventually went to bed.
Tuesday, April 30. First stop, Musee D’Orsay! Waited on quite a queue, but it moved fairly quickly. And then I got to go in for free. I just flashed my Slade ID card and they let me go through. Cool. Saw a lot of art. Saw many paintings by Caspar David Fredrich. Had one of his paintings (an original, obviously) in my dorm room. Love it. Lots of Seurats, Van Goghs, Degas’, Monets, Manets, Delacroixs, Corbets, Rodins…but I saw EVEN MORE RODINS at the Musee Rodin. Glorious. Divine. Makes marble looks as versatile as Play-doh model magic. I was entranced for many hours. Started a new sketchbook and sketched the same sculpture from every angle. Sigh. So beautiful. Then I tried out another restaurant, called Stella, which wasn’t supposed to open until 7:30 or something and I came earlier than that but when they saw that my alternative was waiting out in the rain, they let me in. Really good food. Had these fried mozzarella pancake things and mushroom cream risotto. Went back to the hostel and learned that I mistakenly booked my Giverny trip not for May 1 BUT FOR THE WEEK BEFORE. Thanks Dad, for averting that crisis. You are my hero. And then I booked a half day trip to Versailles for Thursday because if I came all this way I should probably go there.
Wednesday, May 1. MAY DAY MAY DAY MAY DAY THIS IS THE DAY I PLANNED MY TRIP AROUND. WHY? BECAUSE ON MAY DAY IN PARIS, THERE ARE VENDORS EVERYWHERE SELLING LILY OF THE VALLEY WHICH IS MY FAVORITE FLOWER. So I bought one huge bouquet and about 6 little ones. Also bought a potted one but left it in a shop by accident…but I think that could be a nice thing to find on a shelf in your store. Today was also the day I took a train to Vernon and biked to Claude Monet’s garden in Giverny! Almost missed the train because of some really bad directions to the train station, but upon arrival, I learned that because of MAY DAY MAY DAY MAY DAY the trains are all thrown off schedule and I had 2.5 hours to catch my breath, get something to drink and eat the lunch I took out from the restaurant last night. Perfect. Even came up with an idea for my final sculpture. But it was less like coming up with an idea and more being liked smacked in the forehead. In a good way. There was a piano in the middle of the concourse for anyone and everyone to play and fortunately it attracted many talented performers, so that was good company. Finally, it was time to board the train, where I met Bob and Kay, a couple from Seattle, and had a lovely conversation with them. The train to Vernon was about 45 minutes and when we got there the walked a block or two to pick up our bikes (I booked this trip with a company called Fat Tire Tours. Highly recommend it) and set off for Giverny. No words. None. The ride was just perfect. Everything about it. I would do it again and again. I wish that path never ended and Giverny was always at the end of it should I decide to make it end. AND THE GARDEN. THE GARDEN WAS NICE, TOO. The New York Botanical Garden replicated Monet’s garden last summer and I was so struck by it that I promised myself I’d go to Giverny if I got into the Slade. I did, so I kept my promise and the NYBG replica is nothing like the real thing. The real thing is like nothing else. I think most of the excitement it evokes in me is simply the way it is Monet’s painting in 3D, and not just 3D, but in real leaves and real flowers and real dirt and a real pond. It was perfect. Also, crazy, I bumped into people from Brandeis! How often do you bump into people you know in Giverny?! Shout out to Rachel and Harrison! So nice to see you! Hope Scotland was lovely! Had dinner at this restaurant near the Louvre. Can’t remember what it’s called but it was AMAZING. CAMEMBERT! BREAD! WINE! AH! And I got there about 40 minutes before they opened so I walked along that bridge (Pont des Arts?) with all the love locks.
Thursday, May 2. Got to the pick up location on time. Not just on time, an hour early. So I went for a walk in Jardins des Tuileries and then sat in a cafe (outdoors, because that’s what you do when you’re in Paris. And anywhere if the weather permits. But especially in Paris) until it was time to go. A pretty short ride later, I arrived in Versailles along with every other tourist in the entire world. I’m glad I went, but not my kind of palace or garden. The gardens were too crop circley for my taste. Much prefer Giverny. The tour guide was knowledgeable and interesting and the palace was nice, but there were so many people around that it was distracting. Then it was time to go and upon my return to Paris I went to the Musee des Arts Decoratifs, which happened to be right across the street from where I was let off the bus. Saw the most inspiring exhibit I’ve seen in a very long time (Rodin Museum does not count). It was a retrospective of the work of Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec. Look their stuff up and you’ll see why I loved it. Afterwards, I made my way to Le Marais and got shwarma from that world famous falafel place on Rue des Rosiers. Ate it in 8 minutes. A new record, I think. Then I found some actual kosher macarons and wandered around Les Marais until my feet decided it was time to get on the metro and head back to the hostel.
Friday, May 3. HAPPY BIRFDAY MUZZAH!!!!!!!! I WON’T TELL THE ENTIRE BLOGOSPHERE HOW VERY OLD YOU ARE!!!! WISH I COULD HAVE CELEBRATED WITH YOU IN PERSON! Took the train back to London, but first I had a baguette because you can eat the bread anywhere in Paris. Let’s move to Paris. And eat bread. All the time. Slept the entire time, woke up, felt kind of like a zombie, went home and dropped my stuff off. Was supposed to go to the Slade to help set up for the degree show but my left heel has been sore since the last day in Paris and I didn’t think being on my feet for a bunch of hours would help it so I unpacked and cleaned up and met John nearish to Paddington Station. It was a gorgeous day and Shabbos comes in late now, so we went out with the intention of finding a cafe with outdoor seating, but everyone had the same idea, so we walked and walked instead. Then Shabbos is coming we’re so happy so we went home got ready for shul and made our way to Western Marble Arch. Had dinner at Chabad. Shout out to the NYU crowd! After dinner, John and I walked towards the flat and then kept going to the canal behind Paddington Station and walked along side a bunch of boats but no ducks for a while. Then it was late and cold and we called it a night. Night!
Saturday, May 4. Pretty standard Shabbos morning and afternoon followed by an evening of quality youtube videos and curly fries.
Sunday, May 5. The day began with a quest for DDs sandwiches. Fail. So we got bread and peanut butter and sat in Starbucks for a bit. Then we wandered around East London. Bad idea. Too crowded. Not the Versailles crowded. Not the Puerto Rican day parade crowded. Something in between. The kind of crowded where you can’t really carry on a conversation because there’s so much going on around you. We didn’t stay very long. Found an art supply store where I got clay for my sculpture, then we headed back to the flat, sat around a bit, tried to decide on a movie to download (Argo) and then went to NW to get PIZZA! Walked to Hampstead Heath to get the Tube and when we got back and tried to watch the movie, the sound wasn’t loud enough and that wasn’t really working for us, so the evening became a part two of sorts and we watched even higher quality youtube videos.
Monday, May 6. Today I had to be at the Slade to help Jess set up for the degree show. Will explain more about that in a later post. But because it was a Bank Holiday, John had the day off and stuck around a while. When I finished for the day, we walked to Denmark street where there is a plethora of guitar stores and had fun there for a while and then walked home stopped at CAFFE NERD and ate PIZZA.
Tuesday, May 7. Helped Jess. Had a break. Read lousy book. Ate a sandwich. Came back helped out. Another break. Rest of day off. Nap. Wake up. Sculpt. Eat. No hot water. No shower. Sleep.