Saturday, September 23, 2006

Love at the Eiffel Tower...oh what a cliche!

How many romantic tales mention the Eiffel Tower? All these proposals and what not. Didnt Tom Cruise supposedly propose to Katie Holmes there? What a facade I thought...I mean, its just a building. How is a building supposed to be romantic? Please! So these were the thoughts I had in my head while I walked towards the Eiffel Tower my first evening in Paris. It was still light outside and a few minutes of walk from the station later the Eiffel Tower came into view...and did it shatter all my misconceptions and cause joy in my heart? Well, no! It was just a structure of dark metal that stood in front of me...Yawn! What a disappointment I thought...even though I didnt have too many expectations from it.

Anyway so we caught a boat from there for a trip around the river Seine. It was a really beautiful hour and a half cruise where I saw some truly remarkable buildings - Notre Dame, The Louvre and many more. Actually even the ordinary apartment buildings around the river looked amazing to me considering I went there from auckland, a city with not too much of a history unfortunately. In fact if there was one thing I had to point out about Paris that I truly was amazed with it has to be the architecture. The buildings are simply gorgeous.

So as the boat turned back and the Eiffel Tower came back into view I turned around to get a photo and froze. What a transformation! It was dark outside and the tower had been lit up and I finally saw why people go to Paris to see the Eiffel Tower. As I was staring at it, lights started twinkling and it was one of the most beautiful things I have seen in my life. For a while I couldnt even get myself to take a photo because I was just too mesmerized. But when I did take a few, I just couldnt capture the essence unfortunately. But the true picture is still imprinted on my mind.

After I got off the boat and stood on the road looking up at the Eiffel Tower all I could think of was I wish I was in the arms of the one I love right now. And there it was! Romance! Just a building...but it made me feel that way...and I cant explain why. So yes...the cliche is true...well I fell for it anyway! It truly is the most romantic building in the world!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Mind the gap

"Mind the gap" - I dont think you can go to London and not be stuck with this phrase in your head. You just hear it all the time while travelling on the tube, unless of course you are the Queen of England or David Beckham (cause apparently they are the only people who own a car there). Coming back to london, its simply impossible to go there and not fall in love with the city. Its just amazing. I cant describe quite why I felt that way but just being out in the city gives you this buzz. I dont blame some people for calling it the greatest city in the world. I'm not saying I would, but it really does give you a great feeling.

What I didnt like about london however is just how impersonal it feels. I know its just because of how big a city it is. I guess the bigger a city gets the less eye contact people make on the road (though I wonder why). Coming from a city like auckland it seems strange because here people smile at you on the road all the time but I never saw that there. The whole impersonal thing hit me the very first day I was there. After getting off the tube I hear an announcement in the station - "There will be delay on the so-and-so line because of a person under the train". Well that's what I thought I heard anyway but dismissed it immediately as a figment of my imagination or put it down to not being able to understand what she said because not a single person so much as flinched. Two minutes later my cousin asked me if I had heard the thing about the person under the train. So I was right! I asked how she could ask about it so casually and I guess spending time in london does that to you. She said it happens quite often (maybe there is a reason for the constant reminder to "Mind the gap" between the train and the platform) and the people are completely immune to it. The only reaction you will ever get is "Oh no I'm going to be late because of this". Still trying to get my head around this one.

Back to london. The city has so much culture, so much history that you cant help but be drawn to it. My trip started with a visit to Westminster Abbey and Big Ben. Great architecture, and well everyone has seen pictures of them so need I say more? Buckingham Palace was a bit of a disappointment. I went with a friend and we were looking for it after getting off the tube. When he pointed to a building of which we only had a side view and said "That is probably it", I dismissed him cause well it just didnt look like much. However upon investigation it did turn out to be Buckingham Palace. Its a big building but well nothing that stays with you after you're gone. Interestingly a set of statues that forms the centerpiece of the courtyard had a plaque that said "Gift of New Zealand". So that's what they are using our taxpayer money for!

Next on the agenda was the tower of london which was interesting in the aspect that we were living history. The best part of the tower of london however was the display of the crown jewels. To say I was dazzled and completely dumbfounded would be a huge understatement. The diamonds! Oh the diamonds! I'm not really one of those 'diamonds are a girl's best friend' people and actually turn my nose when someone says that. But you just cant help being drawn to the sheer size of some of those gems. The kohinoor (which the b*stards took from us!) is absolutely beautiful. But it wasnt the star of the show. That crown has to be taken by the Cullinan 1 -"The great star of africa" - a 540 carat diamond (as opposed to the kohinoor which was 104)!! It is placed on top of a sceptre and I just couldn't stop looking at it. Apparently when found as a rough diamond the Cullinan weighed more than 600grams but was then cut into smaller diamonds and polished. 600 grams!! All I can say is WOW!

I was dragged to the Museum of Natural History by a friend. I didnt really have any expectations but boy was I wrong! Its an absolute must see. The place has the most amazing fossils I have ever seen in my life. The stuff you only see on tv and marvel at it. I have had this thing for fossils ever since I was 7 or 8 and learned about them at school. I would spend hours walking around staring at the ground and turning over stones hoping to find even a small one. Yes yes i know its silly!

One reason I would love to go and live in london is the theatre! There is so much going on all the time. I would definitely want to go see every one of those shows. But well I obviously couldn't! I went to see the Phantom of the Opera and now I know why Andrew Lloyd Webber is Andrew Lloyd Webber. The title song had me completely mesmerised and did the whole show. One more big WOWWWW there!

My trip ended with a visit to Windsor Castle but unfortunately I wasnt quite invited to have tea with the queen (mind you, would I want to be!). Was quite interesting to see how royalty lives. What a life, what opulence. But I'm not sure I would want to be there. Any time you pick up a tabloid it is filled with pictures of the royal family. Not really the best thing is it!

What else did I do there? Well shopped of course! It is difficult however when your mind is constantly multiplying all the prices by three...shudder! Not that it stopped me from buying things! One interesting thing that did happen while shopping was spotting a small time hindi movie actress - Hrishita Bhatt - who I think I've only seen in one movie (Asoka) and dont think many people know. I guess it would have been more exciting if I had seen someone more famous but well I tell as I see...

So thats london. Well it probably isnt everything I saw and did but its most of what I remember anyway. There's part one of my mini trip to europe...Coming up...Paris, Rome and Madrid...