Paris on my mind

Inspired by this post the lovely Katyboo, today I wanted to write something positive about Paris to counteract the awful images we’ve been seeing all weekend. A sort of projecting of light into the darkness, if you will. Luckily, it turns out that, although I blogged about where we ate, the Welcome to Night Vale live show we saw and an amazing bar, I never actually got round to sharing the other photos from our stay.

Much like this autumn has been, the end of October/beginning of November was unseasonably warm in 2014, and we were able to enjoy lunch outside and a stroll around some of the sights of Paris. We didn’t have much time, but that didn’t matter. It was a lovely two days spent with my boyfriend and a good friend. Paris will never be my favourite place (sorry, but no big city will ever take that honour – I’m more of a small, quaint places kind of girl), but I have good memories from the times I’ve been there. And that’s something no terrorist will ever be able to take away from me.

Here are a few photos from last year’s Paris trip:

My thoughts are with the people of Paris, and also of all those other countries that are experiencing acts of terrorism and war every single day, but rarely receive as much news coverage as Friday’s attacks did.

I’m linking up with Monday Escapes again this week. I think we could all use an escape from sadness and hate right now.

Packing my Suitcase

Le Dernier Bar Avant La Fin du Monde, Paris

One of the girls we met at the Night Vale event told us about this bar, and as soon as she did we knew we had to go! Those of you who understand French may have already realised why. For those who don’t, Le dernier Bar avant la Fin du Monde means “the last bar at the end of the world” and it’s exactly what it sounds like! Inside the bar, you can find various items relating to popular geek culture. For instance, on entering we were directed to go to the “second basement” because the upper floors were full. Arriving in the second basement, the first thing we saw was this:

Le Dernier Bar Avant La Fin du Monde

There was also a door made to look like the entrance to the TARDIS (I didn’t take a photo of that) – and the inside was indeed bigger than the outside made it look 😉
Here are some more random photos, some by me and some by Jan:

The bar is a cocktail bar, and also has a few interesting shots. There were four of us (me, Jan, K and the girl from Night Vale), so we decided to go for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles round of shots. I chose red which – as I’m sure you all know – is Raphael. Not because he’s my favourite turtle, but because that’s my favourite colour. And yes, they serve a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster cocktail. I didn’t try it because it’s a gin cocktail and I’m not into gin, but they also had one called 42 which contains violet and tastes like an alcoholic version of Parma Violets, except much, much nicer. (UK readers will know what I’m talking about).

The cocktails are fairly expensive, but no more so than other places in Paris, and personally I liked every one I had (I wasn’t too keen on one of Jan’s, but I knew I wouldn’t be just from the ingredients!). We were advised to eat beforehand because the food apparently isn’t all that great, although it is amusingly named. For example there was a lemon tart called Pac-Man (I wonder whether it was also shaped accordingly?) and an assortment of tapas going by the name Inigo Montoya. Just reading through the menu and seeing what we recognised was a lot of fun! According to Jan, there is also a video game in the urinal, but obviously I wouldn’t know anything about that…

If you ever find yourself in Paris and you’re into video games, anime, science fiction or basically anything that be considered in some way geeky, I recommend visiting this bar… and be sure to check out every room. There’s a lot to see! I didn’t recognise every reference, but that really doesn’t matter 🙂

Le Dernier Bar Avant La Fin du Monde is located at 19 avenue Victoria. The nearest Metro station is Châtelet.

Les Negociants, Paris

The day after the Night Vale live show, we were fairly slow getting up and ready, so we ended up skipping breakfast and going straight for lunch. We decided to head to a place that Jan and I had been to before – Jan twice and me once. We arrived at around 12 o’clock when the place was still pretty much deserted, and were able to grab a table outside. Despite it being November by that point, it was still as warm as summer! By the time we’d finished eating and left, the tables had all filled up and the place looked like this:

Paris

The first time Jan went to this restaurant was with a local when he was in Paris for some meeting or conference or something. He liked it so much that, the next time the two of us were in Paris, he wanted to introduce me to the place. And because I enjoyed it too, this time we decided to take K along.

For our main courses, K and I chose lamb. It was melt-in-the-mouth tender and came on a bed of mashed sweet potato. Mmmm! Jan had the pork, which was marinated in cider and served with chunks of stewed apple and a little pot of mashed potatoes. I trued his pork and the marinade was delicious!

Next up, the reason we had wanted to come to this place again… the desserts are to die for! Jan and I each decided on the Pain Perdu (sorry if that’s spelled wrong) – a French version of eggy bread/French toast. I’m told it means “lost bread”. The bread was soaked in a salted caramel sauce and came served with a scoop of salted caramel ice cream. Salted caramel is one of my favourite things in the whole world, and I savoured every last bite. K choose the apple tart, as the only item on the menu that was lactose free. I tried a tiny bite and that too was delicious.

I finished my meal with a cappucino – it had got rather late the night before, after all!

If you ever find yourself in Paris, check out Les Negociants and be sure to eat dessert. I promise you won’t regret it! To get there, take the metro to Les Gobelins. You will find the restaurant on the corner of Blvd St Marcel and Ave des Gobelins.

Welcome to Night Vale: The Librarian

The entire point of our trip to Paris was to see a live show of the podcast Welcome to Night Vale. The title of the show they’re currently performing in Europe is The Librarian. I went with Jan and my friend K, who is the one that first got us into it. Amazingly I was the one who told her about the European shows though! All the performances in Germany were either too far away (Hamburg!) or in the middle of the week, but Paris is only 3 hours from us and the show was on a Friday, meaning only one day off was needed. Perfect!

For those of you who don’t know the podcast, a brief summary. Night Vale is a desert community somewhere in America (presumably the south-west – that’s where all the seserts are, right?). The premise of the podcast is that it’s community radio, so each podcast contains things like the community calendar, traffic, local news and announcements  about things that are happening in town, all read out by narrator Cecil (voiced by Cecil Baldwin). But all is not as it seems in Night Vale. For instance, there are angels… or at least beings claiming to be angels and a dog park that neither dogs nor humans are allowed to enter. Also, beware of helicoptors, librarians and hooded figures. Basically listen to it! It’s free to download, so at least go and get the pilot. If you don’t like it, you haven’t wasted any money.

As I’ve said, the show we went to see was entitled The Librarian. I won’t tell you too much about what happens because a recording will be released at some point in the future, and also the tour isn’t even over yet! I will, however, say this much: it all starts when the town council decides to renovate the public library and one of the librarians gets loose. Also, creator Joseph Fink shows up as new intern Joseph… and we all know what happens to interns! Seeing Night Vale live was an amazing experience. The shows are always good, but Cecil’s facial expressions and gesticulations added a whole extra dimension. In fact, everyone did a great job (other performers included former mayor Pamela Winchell, who called a press conference (what else?) right in the studio and Deb as one of Night Vale’s sponsors, played by Meg Bashwiner better known as the voice of the credits). Here are some photos of the show:

The weather was performed by Mary Epworth, a British singer-songwriter who I liked a lot.

There were quite a few people with the Night Vale moon drawn on them or extra eyes, but there were also some really good costumes. One of my favourites was an excellent girl scout! Unfortunately I don’t have a photo of her, although Jan did get one of a different girl scout. K went as the glow cloud, and was quite rightly hailed/worshipped all night. I think every single audience member wanted a photo either of or with her! I went as Tamika Flynn (as I’ve already mentioned) and was very disappointed by how few people actually knew what I was supposed to be! Especially considering Tamika is one of the few characters who is actually described even vaguely. And you would have thought the librarian head would have given it away! Most people only understood after I showed them my sticker chart, which had “my” name on it. One group of hooded figures actually thought I was supposed to be a librarian, which was a bit weird! Here are a few photos anyway (some taken by me, some by Jan). I have included one of K which I hope gives a good enough impression of her costume without revealing her identity too much (yes, I know it seems hypocritical to care about that considering I’m using photos of a bunch of strangers, but being strangers it’s less likely that people will figure out who they are via me!)

At the end of the show, we hung around for a bit waiting for the performers to come out. I bought a CD by Mary Epworth, which she signed for me, then eventually Cecil Baldwin and Joseph Fink showed up. I got them to sign my ticket (Cecil also signed my sticker chart) and got a photo with each of them. They were both lovely 🙂

After the show, we decided to go for a drink with two other girls we had met there. One we met in the queue (she came over to meet the glow cloud) and she ended up sitting with us and the other we met after the show when she wanted a photo with K. Appropriately enough, she was wearing a glow cloud T-shirt. All in all, it was an excellent night and I’m glad we went. It being on Halloween was just an added touch of brilliance. If there is ever another tour of Europe, I would definitely think about going!

You can download all the episodes of Welcome to Night Vale here or also on iTunes.

Friday letters en route to Paris

Good morning! As this publishes, I am hopefully on my way to Paris – fingers crossed for no delays please! We’re off to see a live show of the most excellent podcast Welcome to Night Vale (give it a listen if you haven’t already. It’s surreal and bizarre and highly amusing in a mental kind of way).

Let me tell you a little about my week. On Saturday, Jan, K and I went to a drag queen competition in Karlsruhe (“Karlsruhe sucht den Superdrag”). It was a lot of fun, and I want this contestant’s hair:

drag queen

I admit it doesn’t look like much in the picture, but in real life it was really pretty! And yes, I’m aware that this is a wig, but if I grew my hair, dyed it and invested in some curlers I could achieve that look… right?! Also, this was one of the judges. How awesome is this costume?!

drag queen contest

Terrible picture, but in case you can’t tell, she’s a snake!
Other than that, my week has consisted of work, work, work. While some of my German colleagues haven’t had as many translations to complete as usual, I’m practically drowning in them! I even have a huge one that isn’t due until mid-December, so I’ll be kept busy basically until we close for Christmas. Definitely not complaining – I much prefer this to no work! But I have to admit I’m glad I’ve got this long weekend to break things up a bit (and also that I applied for the day off back in August – any later and it might already have been impossible!). Now let’s have some letters:

letter box

Dear Paris. See you in a few hours!

Dear French food. Can’t wait to eat you! (And I’m so glad my stomach seems to be my friend again.)

Dear November. I can’t believe you’re already here! I’m not ready for it to be the penultimate month of the year!

Dear Christmas. I suppose I’m actually going to have to start seriously thinking about you now if I want to get all my gifts bought in time! (And yes, it is possible to not think about Christmas while cross stitching snowmen and robins.)

Dear blogspot bloggers. I wish more of you would have the Name/URL options for comments! If I select the WordPress option, I always end up commenting as “confuzzledom” instead of Bevchen. I’m aware that’s partly my own fault for selecting differing user and blog names, but it’s still really annoying!

Dear everybody. Happy Halloween! I hope you have a great night, whether you choose to celebrate or not.

I’ll be back on Sunday and will answer any comments then. In the meantime, have a great weekend!

Gastroscopy and Friday letters

Hi all! Well, as you may or may not know, I had a gastroscopy last Friday – i.e. a doctor shoved a tube down my throat and into my stomach then used a camera to look at my insides. I was sedated during the procedure, so the last thing I remember is being asked to bite on a plastic thing with a hole in the middle. The next thing I knew I was waking up, still feeling a bit groggy and slightly sick, but that soon wore off. In fact, the worst part of the ordeal was having the needles put in for the sedation – the first assistant couldn’t get them in, so she tried once on each arm before going and fetching her older colleague. I ended up with matching bruises on both arms!Thanks for that, assistant woman. So if you’re ever told you need a gastroscopy,don’t worry – it’s not so bad! As for findings. Well, my stomach is (or was) slightly irritated but everything else looked normal and I didn’t have any of the usual signs of refulx. However, I’ve been given some tablets (blue and white ones which I’m referring to as Smurf tablets!) and either they’re helping or it’s coincidence and I would have got better by myself anyway. Hmm. Either way, I seem to be able to eat most foods again now. I even had some American-style cheesecake yesterday (made by a colleague) and it was delicious!

And now on to Friday letters… I know that’s what you came here for 😉

lettersDear weather. On Sunday, I went out without a jacket, this morning it was 6°C and foggy. What is going on?!

Dear work. You have been incredibly busy again this week, which is admittedly better than having nothing to do, but I’m glad I have next Friday off!

Dear Paris. I shall be seeing you next Friday! I hope you’re kinder to me than last time I went.

Dear “Welcome to Night Vale”. You are the reason we’re coming to Paris. I hope you live up to our expectations!

Dear winter reading challenge. I can’t wait for you to start! I already have a few of my books and it’s taking all my willpower to resist reading them before 1st November!

Dear #Take12Trips. I haven’t forgotten about you, honest! My final Taiwan post will be up very soon…

That’s all from me for today. Have a great weekend everyone!

~ Linking up with Kate (formerly of The Lotus Creative, now blogging at Relokate) for Daily Diaries. ~

Look Up, Look Down – Paris

Every Thursday, Travel With Intent posts a photo to go with the theme Look Up, Look Down and invites readers to do the same.
For this week’s entry, I’ve chosen another old photo. Jan and I went to Paris in April 2009 to meet up with my family. My mam and my aunt had said they would take my Grandma to Paris for her 80th birthday. What she didn’t realise was that it wasn’t only the three of them going… most of her children (including my aunt who lives in New Zealand) and a few of the grandchildren had gathered there to surprise her.

My first photo was taken from the top of the Arc de Triomphe.

Paris from above
Paris from above

As you can see, the weather wasn’t exactly brilliant! But Jan wanted to go ahead and climb the thing anyway, so we did.

Here’s another photo from the same occasion:

Spiral staircase at the Arc de Triomphe
Spiral staircase at the Arc de Triomphe

The spiral staircase is the route back down to street level. I had to wait quite a while before the crowds of people going down died down enough for me to get a photo!

To see how other people have interpreted the theme and post your own entry, check out Travel With Intent’s blog post.

Travel theme: Hidden

When I saw that Ailsa’s travel theme for this week was “hidden” I knew immediately that I wanted to join in. The only question was did I have any suitable photos? After going through all the albums on my computer, I discovered I did. And here they are for your viewing pleasure.

I have posted this first photo before, but it was just perfect for the theme. Hidden among these leaves there is a bird, almost perfectly camouflaged.

Bird among the leaves
Bird among the leaves

The next two photos were taken in Paris. Hidden beneath the streets of the city are the Catacombes de Paris, an underground ossuary (cemetery). The first picture shows a sculpture of France’s Port-Mahon fortress, created by a former inspector when these tunnels were still part of a stone quarry.

Paris catacomb sculpture

The second photo is more what you would expect from an underground graveyard… bones! Apologies for the quality of the photograph – flash photography was not permitted and it’s pretty dark down there!

Paris catacombs

Cynics might say that this next sight is a familiar one in Scotland! The sky and the tops of the mountains in Glenfinnan are almost completely hidden behind the clouds.

Glenfinnan

And finally, just to prove that the weather isn’t always bad in Scotland, here’s a photo taken in Glen Nevis later that same day. This time it’s the sun that’s hidden, behind some trees.

Glen Nevis

Visit Where’s My Backpack for more interpretations of the theme and to join in yourself. The weekly challenge is open for entries until Thursday.

Paris – Third time UNlucky

My plan for today was to write a post extolling the virtues of Paris. I wanted to tell you how I finally tracked down the Statue of Liberty in Luxembourg Gardens (the first time I was in Paris, I had read about it but couldn’t find it, leading Jan to think I was imagining things. The second time I discovered the place it was meant to be, complete with a sign telling me it was currently on display somewhere else. This time it was there, but without its torch). Instead, I am going to tell you about how my purse disappeared somewhere between paying to get into the Catacombs and going out for a meal to discover my brother’s 21st birthday.

I have no idea how it happened. I spent most of my time holding the zip of my handbag firly closed with one hand while being alert for suspicious looking people at the same time. The only time I wasn’t holding my handbag closed was when I needed both hands to take a photograph, and then I checked that there was nobody near me first. ANd ye somehow, somewhere, my purse disappeared. To make things even more mysterious, my purse was tucked down at the side of my bag. So a pickpocket would have had to pull up the velcro flap, unzip the handbag, entirely ignore the bag containing Jan’s medication and my camera, which were lying on top (at least if it was taken while the camera was in the bag. If I was taking a photo the camera was obviously in my hand) and then rummage around until they got their hands on my purse. I have no idea how anyone could have done that without me feeling it. The alternative is that I dropped the purse at the catacombs, thought I had put it in my bag and walked away down the stairs leaving it behind. But if that was the case, both my sister and her boyfriend (who were behind me) must have missed it and the purse must have been taken from the floor before any member of staff noticed it and picked it up – Jan called the catacombs the next morning (he speaks French) and they didn’t have it. Neither did the bar where we went for a drink pre-meal or the restauarnt where we ate said meal. It is gone. Disappeared off the face of the Earth. So today I worked from home so I would have the chance to go to my bank ebfore it closed (at 4pm, would you believe!) and order a new card. You have to go in personto show them your ID and sign a form. They also let me take money out using my passport. Actually, it was kind of cool. The woman asked me how much I wanted, programmed the amount onto a card then I had to go to a cash machine. The card was eaten and the amount I wanted came out. Much better than standing in a queue for one of the two counters that was open! My new card could take up to 10 days to arrive, but I can get more money out using my passport any time, as long as the bank is open.

Slightly more annoying is the loss of my card for the train. I was hoping to get a temporary paper one while I waited for the replacement to arrive. Unfortunately, there is no such thing. Instead, every time I get on the train, I have to go to the ticket inspector, tell him my BahnCard is lost and get a receipt. I then have 14 days to take the receipts, along with my replacement card, to a counter at the train station where I will have to pay €7 per journey. The replacement card could take anywhere between 5 and 10 days to arrive. And I also pay a €30 fee for the replacement itself. I don’t even want to try to add that up right now – it’s too depressing. But even without doing the actual maths I know it’s going to be a lot.

But even that is not the worst part. No, the most devasting part is that my purse contained a photo of my step mam – one of three I actually own, and the only one I had in Germany with me. It wasn’t a particularly special photo – just one of those taken in a photo booth, showing her and a friend. But it was hers. She had 2 copies and her friend had the other 2. About 2 years after she had died, we found her 2 copies in her old vanity case, and my dad let my sister and I keep them. And now, my copy is gone. My sister thinks she has lost hers too, but she’s going to have a look for it and see if she an scan it in for me. But even if she does find it, the scanned copy won’t be the same. It won’t be the actual photo that belonged to Shirley. And so I shall mourn its loss, just for a little while.