Our dirt bikes bring all the boys to the yard. Damn right, they're better than yours.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Dave = slightly less wrong than usually I give him credit for

Chris always gets to writing about what we've been doing before me, so I'm desperately looking for reasons to post. So desperate, in fact, that I'm going to admit something terrible: I like Paris. A lot.

Now, I'm not necessarily saying I like it better than London. Even if every Londoner in the city came up to me and punched me in the face before robbing me, I probably wouldn't admit that. But I have to say, Paris does have things going for it that London doesn't. I can definitely appreciate why people like it so much--it just feels more cultured, and "continental," in a way, than anywhere else I've ever been. It's like Italy, only with less sleazy men (or less overtly sleazy men).

I guess I just appreciate London more because I understand it better, which is a dumb reason to appreciate a city, in a way. Anyway, we have to go check on our laundry, but I just wanted to half-heartedly apologize to Dave for arguing with him all those endless months without really remembering anything about Paris, which I last visited when I was twelve.

But it's still no London.

english keyboards are normal.

Hey! As our laundry's currently doing time at the "laundrette" down the street, we've dropped into our local internet cafe, which is equipped with normal, easy-to-use, god-fearing English keyboards. Or, as the girl who just sat down next to me exclaimed to her friend, "American keyboards." There are a lot of Americans here, and they're not too hard to spot. They're seriously exactly like you'd expect them to be: loud, short-tempered, somewhat indignant that everything is just that little bit different from back home... hey, it angrys up the blood.

So shit, I guess we should update you all on what horribly cliched things we've been up to over the last few days, but now that I'm thinking of it, what horribly cliched things haven't we been doing? Two days ago we went and saw the Eiffel Tower (which contrary to my expectations, is actually brown rather than dark, iron-y black--but still really fucking tall. Like, taller than at least five or six cats), followed by a trip to the Louvre, which was awesome. Our seeing both the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo was expectedly anti-climatic--obviously, it's just a painting/busted sculpture, with boatloads of camera-horny tourists crawling over one another for the Perfect Shot. But is the Louvre huge? Yes. Yes, it is. And pretty.

Then, yesterday, we went down to Montparnasse to check out the catacombs... and they were totally closed, and have been so for months due to restorations. So we ended up strolling around down there for a while--went through La Cemitaire Montparnasse, lots of cool crypts, saw where Jean-Paul Satre was buried; saw Hemingway's favourite bar, now renamed Chez Papas in his honour--and then we caught the Metro back up to Ile de la Cite to visit Notre Dame cathedral. While pretty cool on the inside, the real attraction was climbing up to the bell tower for the most amazing views of all of Paris, and the gargoyles that overlook the city. Got some rad photos; can't wait to post them. After a little wandering around the Latin Quarter and a stop at a creperie (where I had a ham and cheese galette since, as Kristine mentioned, it's actually not possible to eat something here that doesn't have ham or cheese or both on it), we went out for dinner to a four-level (!) Mexican/Latin/Cuban restaurant in Bastille called Barrio Latino which, as Kristine said, had a giant mosaic of Che Guevara (who as far as I know, Dad, did nothing for France, but they probably like his revolutionary sensibilities or something). It was good; I had a dish with fried plantains and beef in it. It wasn't ham and cheese.

And today, we took the train out to Versailles to see the palace--and by "palace" I mean "the backs of a million tour groups' heads as they frantically crowded around anything of historical or aesthetic interest." But yes, you've heard right: it's really, really opulent.

Now, we should go check on our laundry. Tonight, we're out for dinner and then going to climb the stairs of the second level of the Eiffel Tower for one of those night views of this fine city. Talk to you all later.

french keyboqrds1

Man, this is crazy. If I typed that sentence like I would at home, it would look like this: "nqb, this is crqwy:" I knew the symbols/punctuation were in different places on French keyboards, but apparently the letters are too (we,d--I can,t find the apostrophe--been using English keyboards at an internet cafe down the street until today--this is the one in our hostel). Anyway, needless to say, this isn,t going to be very long, as it took me about 3 minutes to type that sentence (this is actually Kristine, by the way).

Quick impressions of France: people really like three things here--ham, crazy cartoon personifications of inanimate objects, and Che Guevera. Seriously, I haven,t seen this many representations of Che since high school. Even the restaurant we ate in last night had a giant mural of Che.

Okay, I,m running out of time.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Chris is letting me post!!!

So you're all probably getting pretty sick of hearing what Chris has to say, hey? Well, sorry about my lack of posts, everyone. I, uh, take a long time getting ready in the mornings, so I figured letting Chris play around on his "blog" would keep him amused. Also, I've been really sick the last couple of days.

But hey! I'm not anymore! And we're in Paris and things! We took this strange "train under the ocean" to get here--it was neat. Our hotel is quite nice, which makes me very happy that we decided not to stay at Peace and Love (the incredibly horrible sounding hostel we had booked previously). Our hotel is right by the Bastille monumemt, in an area that's known for its trendy shopping (which we've already taken advantage of) and nightlife (which we haven't, since I've been really lame for the last little while).

We did, however, go to a cafe last night where we saw several people order a dish that consisted of a cow's leg bone, cut in half, with bread to eat the marrow with. Very strange. And, therefore, very French.

Anyway, it's kind of cool being here, at least for me, since I haven't been since I was twelve and barely remember it. I don't really have a good impression of the city yet, but it seems pretty "rad," as the French say. Although not as rad as London, right Dave? It's also been fun being reminded of how terrible our French is as we refuse to just give in and speak English to everyone--it makes me scared of living in Quebec City for a month. Uh, yeah. Chris just told me I "should wrap it up soon," whatever that means. We're off to the Eiffel Tower now, and then the Louvre. More totally rad updates to follow.

Oh, also: sorry Dave. I don't have my Canadian Oxford Dictionary on me, but I'll take your word for it. I guess we were the ones doing it wrong all year. Duh.

imagine me laughing like a Frenchman.

hohn hohn hohn! Tous en Paris sont tres belle, non? Oui! Except that it's really, really dirty here. Like, surprisingly so. Still, all the dirt in the world couldn't cover up the fact that it's Paris. Actually, I guess all the dirt in the world probably would bury Paris completely. Fuck. I hope nobody ever does that.

Anyhow, yeah! Our last night in London was a nice one (despite Kristine still being fairly sick in that energy-sapping kind of way--but she's fighting through it, trooper that she is); we did end up going out to dinner at Lazeez in South Kensington--great food, beautiful neighbourhood, and I learned thanks to a window display at a real estate office that only people rich enough to live in a terraformed hydrodome on the moon could ever hope to afford even a refurbished two-bedroom flat within 100 kilometres of Hyde Park. Seriously--most one-bedroom flats were in the 375-600,000GPB range, but a few two-bs managed to crest the 2,000,000GBP mark. Which is, of course, absurd. And it's not like this is the exception to the rule, either; everything in London costs this much. It all begs the question: where the fuck is all this money coming from? How many rich people are there in the world? And it's not even like the only people walking in and out of these things are millionaires with monocles and top hats; they're just normal-looking people, some around my age, casually strolling out of their multi-million-dollar flat in Bayswater. I once thought I'd love to live in London someday, but I now realize that I could probably only afford to live on a park bench.

After dinner, we went over to the Nag's Head in Knightsbridge (which, you may recall me saying earlier, was called London's most perfect pub by Time out Magazine), and yeah, it was fine. Tucked away in a little mews (which is what they call alleys with houses in them here), really small, really old... had a couple pints of Adnam's Bitter, it was... it was all just fine, but nothing spectacular. I don't know what I expected. Maybe a few more guys with pipes and Sherlock Holmes hats or something. Ah well.

After that, it was to bed and then to Paris, where I'm now writing you from. The area our hostel is in is really nice--lots of shopping, bars, cafes; very busy. But our room's window faces a courtyard, so we don't get any of the street noise--just the noise of people apparently throwing garbage cans as hard and as high against the walls as they possibly can. It must be a custom or something. Anyhow, Kristine'll fill you in on the Paris thing. Talk to y'all soon.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Sniff-a ...

HEY EVERYONE!!! This post is just to confirm that I am, in fact, alive. I only have five minutes before my time at this computer runs out, but I'll do my best to convince you of this fact. First off, I don't have strep throat as Chris wrote earlier--just a totally annoying cold that's making me, and particularly Chris, sad. Don't worry though, we're still seeing lots of "neat" things, which Chris has already told you all about, probably (what, you think I read this piece of crap?). Anyway, the highlight of today, at least for me, was seeing Fleet Street, the place where all London's journalists used to work and drink. We checked out a pub from 1667 called Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese where, among others, Samuel Johnson used to drink, which was pretty rad. Unfortunately, it was closed because it's a bank holiday.

Okay, I'm running out of time, but one more thing: DAVE BERRY: "MASTERS" DOES NOT HAVE AN APOSTROPHE IN IT, YOU RETARD.

do they have spellcheck in Europe?

Upon reviewing some of my posts, it has come to my attention that I often read like I've had a stroke; I assure you, however, that this is not the case. Rather, the computer in the hostel bar has a particularly shitty keyboard, most likely to due years' worth of slopebrowed Americans furiously hunting and pecking. As such, the R and S keys don't work too well. Also, I keep running out of time so I don't check anything over.

So yeah, that's why I sound like an idiot. BUT I'M NOT.

Great story, hey? It's totally true. So how goes things in Edmonton, people?

huh!

First off, hey Mom and Dad! Wrote you guys back in the comments to two posts ago, but I guess you didn't see that. But yep, got your message, and nope, we won't be posting pictures until we get back, as we don't have the software for it on us. But once we get back, we will.

As for London, we ended up only going down the street to the Black Lion Pub in Bayswater for some roast beef and lamb fo dinner; Kristine's come down with a pretty bad cold, so our plans have had to change in the evenings a few times, but no big deal. Today we went to St. Paul's Cathedral, which is gigantic, despite how modest most pictures make it seem; we took the stairs all the way to the very top of the dome (something like 400 feet above the street, where there was a tiny observation deck from which you could see the whole city. Pretty rad. Followed that up with a walk down Fleet Street, the old heart of London's print journalism, along with a stroll down a few neat little alleys. Didn't get to do much shopping, though. There's a lot of pollution in the air here, and after a while, your eyes really start to sting. It's actually pretty bad.

But also, really beautiful. It's a fantastic city, and I can't believe we're already leaving tomorrow. Oh well--I'm sure Paris won't be too much of a letdown. So yeah, until then!

If anyone wants me to bring them back a pocketful of roast beed from London, you'd better tell me now. Don't know if I'll be able to get any hoseradish through cutoms, though.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

mummies!

Hey. Kristine's sleeping, so I have a few minutes. Today, we went to the Tower of London--while the tour was a little unrevealing, those sure were some real old-like buildings. 12th century? I think we can all agree that was a long time ago.

But even older was the Egypt wing of the British Museum. Mummies! Tons of them! It was amazing. And man, the Egyptians mummified everything! People, cats, bulls, dogs--we even saw two falcons wrapped together into some kind of two-headed Super Falcon Mummy, as well as a mummified fish and some boxes for mummified eels. Seriously. They probably mummified their old shoes when they bought new ones, too.

But we got there late, and we were kicked out after half an hour. Then we went on the tube, which is currently seriously fucked. The vital, vital Circle Line has been out of commission all weekend, causing us to have to transfer all ove the goddamned city--or worse, take the bus. But on top of that, the District Line's down right by our hostel, as is the Central and Hammersmith And City. Today, we spent at least twice the amount of time that we did at the sites just getting there. It was a little stressful. Hopefully, tonight will be easier. After dinner at an Indian place in South Kensington called Lazziz or something, we're off to a Kensington pub called The Nag's Head, which Time Out called the most perfect pub in London. Heady words--but likely not heady enough to keep the place from closing at 10:30 just like everywhere else tonight. Sigh.

Right! Tomorrow: St. Pauls and shopping in the east end. Word, sir and girlsirs. Word.

HEY DAVE A!

We have a suspicion that they don't actually let you see anything cool at the Tower at all (as in, anything that's inside a building), which might make for a crappy story. But if it does blow, we're thinking about heading to this reconstructed 18th-century operating theatre by London Bridge, which has apparently been opened as a musuem dedicated to the times of surgery before anesthetic. IF that sounds like something you're interested in, let me know asap. gotta go!

things!

Alright, so Monday first thing we did was go check out Westminster Abbey, which predictably, was amazing. So many incredible memorials, and the actual resting places of every king and queen of England since 1066, right there in front of you? Crazy. But even though we were at arm's length from the crypt that holds the body of William the Conqueror, the most incredible thing for me were the 800-year-old frescos in the Abbey's Chapter House and the bodies of monks just casually buried off the the side of the hall in the oldest part of the building, marked with worn stone deathmasks from the 12th century. It was aweing, really.

After that, we walked through St. James Park up to Piccadilly and joined the swarms of people wandering around doing god knows what. We were only apssing through, though, on our way to Leicester Square to get some cheap theatre tickets (which, at £37, weren't really that cheap); we ended up going to see Death of a Salesman on Saturday at the Lyric Theatre, starring BRian Dennehy and some woman who was in Hellraiser 4. It was a lot better than I make it sound; incredible, actually.

Before that on Saturday, we spent the day in even more throngs of people walking through the market on Portobello Road. Lots of antiques, touristy crap, but a fair bit of cool clothes shops and artwork. We resisted the urge to buy things because we're really scared of running out of money, but considering how much we've been saving by having the bars kick us out so early (seriously, it's really annoying), we might go back.

But now we gotta go; we're off to the Tower of London and the BRitish Museum today--and also a doctor's office, as Kristine is coming down with a case of strep throat, she thinks. So now we have to roll. Until next time.

look, we've been busy, okay?

Hey all! So yeah; turns out that London's a pretty big city, and it can keep you moving pretty much nonstop if you let it, so I apologize for not posting yesterday. Rest assured we've been partying constantly. If by "partying" you mean "walking."

And you know, on the subject of partying, here's a dumb thing about London: when they say all the pubs close at 11pm, they're not fucking kidding. It's like, strike of 11, lights on, everyone get the fuck out, no last call, just leave. And after 11, well, that's kind of it, really; unles you're a big fan of standing in huge lines to get into some Soho dance club with that goddamned "Crazy Frog" song blasting over the speakers, you're kind of screwed. Kristine and I have been going to the St. James just off Piccadilly Circle the past two nights when we find ourselves unceremoniously kicked into the streets; we know it's lame to keep going to the same pub, but it's the only pubby place we've found around Soho that stays open till 1am (provided you pay the door five pounds after 11) and isn't packed with screamy jackasses. Oh yeah--they have those here too. Except they like to smash eachother over the head with beer bottles in the street as well.

Anyhow, almost out of time, but I'll relog on and talk about what we've been doing.