Stockholm, Sweden (and Paris + Amsterdam)
“Lunch kills half of Paris, supper the other half.”
Charles de Montesquieu
Greetings from Norwegian Air Flight DY 4532 bound for Stockholm. It has been a while since my last post and I have since given up on the idea of ‘being regular’ and would like to amend my stance on blog posting to that of the frequently infrequent ‘blogger’. It’s awful hard to commit to writing a blog let alone being frequent. It takes me quite a while to compose these things as a lot of checking, condensing/elaborating goes into these silly things. You don’t want to treat it like a journal because not everyone cares about how many times you went to the toilet on any given day, but at the same time you don’t want to be too brief and risk leaving out potentially interesting details.
Anyway, hurry up and get on to the facts s’il vous plaît.
Of all the places I’ve been to so far, Paris for me has had the most historical wow factor and ‘I can’t believe I’m here and seeing this’ moments. I’ve seen the Seine, The Louvre, The Saint Sulpice, Notre Dame de Paris, Arago, Pére Lachaise, The Eiffel Tower, Versailles and the Arc de Triomphe and a few more that I can’t remember (probably because they were crap).
Versailles for me was number 1 on the Agenda and it was everything I had hoped it would be and more. My interest in the French was subsequently born out of an exchange I went on at 16 years of age in year 11 to Vienna, Austria. I didn’t go to school much on that exchange, in fact I probably wagged school 70% of the time opting instead to intimately understand Vienna and all that she had to offer. One such discovery was the Royal Palace in Vienna -The Schönbrunn.
Not dissimilar to Versailles in its grandeur but a lot smaller in size, The Schloß Schönbrunn in Vienna was where I learned about Maria Antonia, or as you know her, Marie Antoinette. I spent the next 3 months visiting all buildings she occupied, rooms she slept in and gardens she sat in. In Vienna I started reading all biographies and historical texts on this woman and the everlasting footprint her existence and death alongside her husband Louis XVI had on France and the world over. I became so enthralled with her and her story that I chose to study the French Revolution as a core subject for my last two years at high school (VCE). By the end of my exchange and my study, I had a signature that mimicked Marie Antoinette’s insignia and a tattoo that read Liberté permanently etched on the back of my neck. What’s the point of that little screed you just read I hear you ask? The point was for me to convey just how much going to Versailles meant to me, it was a pilgrimage years in the making and I sure am glad I went. Here are some pictures and thanks for your patience.
OK so now that I’ve recovered from that little aneurism we can move on to the next couple of sights worth mentioning. I promise I will be as short and brief as humanly possible (please keep in mind that I am the narrator and being succinct is NOT my forte). I’m sure you’ve all aged significantly after reading that little novella about my unhealthy obsession with Marie Antoinette so here’s a picture of a wooden archway surrounded by greenery to put your mind at ease.
1. la tour Eiffel – She was very beautiful. We didn’t go up the top, opting rather to see her from bottom up as we didn’t want to walk the stairs nor pay $$ to get an elevator to the top.
Fun fact for you, when Nazi Germany occupied France, upon Hitler’s visit to the Eiffel tower, French guards cut the elevator cables so that he would be forced to walk all 1700 something steps to the top. Naturally he chose to stay on the ground.
2. Arc de Triomphe – just a big old round about with a magnet shaped arc built out of stone really. It was impressive i suppose in it’s enormity but with all the cars and tourist buses driving around it’s hard to be able to appreciate it.
3. La Pére Lachaise – Where do I even start? I feel like this blog is an homage to International Cemeteries. I promise I’m not a necrophiliac, a grave robber or a person with a sinister agenda, I just really like Cemeteries and I always have. I find them oddly calming and walking from headstone to headstone I like trying to discover the oldest possible grave. The older they are, the longer it’s been since someone has probably visited it, I pay my respects that way and I think there’s something in that logic. This cemetery is now home to people like Oscar Wilde, Honore de Balzac, Moliére, Abelard, Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf, Chopin, Modigliani and plenty more. The oldest identifiable grave dates back to 1142, a crown awarded to Monsieur Abelard, fact.
4. To The Louvre! It was spectacular. They have so much history in that one big place it should be illegal. They’ve got all sorts of antiqutites sourced from all over the world, East, West, North and South – you name it and they’ve got it. There are artefacts from Mesopotamia, remains of the original Louvre Palace under the new one as well as many Sarcophagi that span across all dynastic reign. The oldest piece in the Louvre is 9000 years old… 9000 years old… that, is insane. Of course they also have the Mona Lisa which was actually kinda small and surrounded by rabid tourists shouldering their way to the front like rugby players in a scrum.
Being a Maori, naturally I had an advantage over the iPad clad people around me. One Haka later and I was in, well almost – the Oriental Gentleman to your right is running away from me he was so scared.
All in all Paris was historically scintillating and enough to make any history buff faint from sensory overload.
Au revoir, Paris, à_bientôt.
I have uploaded all pictures from Paris onto the France tab on the main home page, simply click to view – there are plenty of sights and explanations ready for your perusal.
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AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands
“Some tourists think Amsterdam is a city of sin, but in truth it is a city of freedom. And in freedom, most people find sin.”
John Green – The Fault in our Stars
What a lovely respite from the fast paced, loud and thrumming city of Paris. After an 8 hour bus ride through the French/Dutch countryside, we arrived in Amsterdam just in time to see the sunset. The canals, cobbled pathways and old Dutch architecture are all interconnected by the throngs of cyclists that seem to own the city. It’s a tight knit city where all the buildings, both residential and trade, are all on top of one another. The beauty about this city is that you don’t even seem to notice how claustrophobic it is as the people are so lovely and for a city with no grass, it sure is lush with greenery. Everyone has plants and flowers growing out of their house, like it just sprung forth of it’s own volition – I can only imagine how the city would explode with colour come spring time with the infamous tulips. Everywhere we walked there were sunflowers growing out of pot plants and flowers hanging from terraces. It’s a charming city Amsterdam.
We didn’t really do much in Amsterdam as it’s been pedal to the metal since New York. We walked around the canals a lot, watched Freo thump the Swannies at an Aussie Bar, sat in front of the Anne Frank House and walked through Vondel Park. We ate a lot of nice food and were basically just complete hedonists for 4 days, if there’s any place to do that it would most certainly be Amsterdam.
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“I will slap you with the force of a thousand baltic winds”
When I started this post we were in transit to Sweden from the Netherlands. We arrived at the hostel at around midnight so we didn’t really see much. As I write this blog the clock sits on 45 minutes past 7 in the PM and the weather up here is a neat 5 degrees celsius with the mercury peaking at a lovely 7 degrees today.
Stockholm, may I begin by saying, is such a stunning city and for me the most beautiful by far on this little journey of mine. It’s a series of islands, each with their own personality interconnected by bridges and boats with old town medieval buildings and alleyways that further add character to this watery paradise. I’ve never had the pleasure of going to Venezia (Venice for you plebeians) but from what I’ve seen I can only say that Stockholm is probably it’s more regal, sophisticated cousin thrice removed. It is B-E-A-U-T-F-U-L.
After all, Alexander Skarsgård is from Sweden and he is a total babe.
I think you’ve all had just about enough for today’s post and not wanting to send you further into your coma, I will post more on Stockholm in the coming days. I will leave you with a couple of pictures, but as always, check the tabs of the places I’ve been so far for all the pictures that I have taken in various cities.
I must be off now, Alexander is waiting…