Sunday, November 27, 2011

Chapter Seven: Munich, London, Paris and The Love of Art

The past two weeks have been a whirlwind of travel and activity, which included a 3-night trip to Munich to meet up with Soyon and Tim, and 8 days of taking London and Paris by storm with Joy, Robert and Joe.

Munich in a nutshell: 25 degrees every day. Very clean. Very quiet. Beer is served by the gallon at every meal. Every meal also seemed to include some type of sausage meat. Home of the 1976 Olympics and the BMW headquarters and museum. We went to the Olympic Park, but passed on the museum. I slept a total of 10 hours in 3 days, because Soyon and I stayed up each night talking in bed. The last night, we didn't even bother going to sleep because we had to get to the airport so early. Unfortunately, we forgot that we aren't 24 years old anymore, and the lack of sleep completely wrecked us both. We also kept torturing each other with talk of Korean food and ramen every night.

London in a nutshell: Crowded. Jam-packed schedule. Not enough time spent at Liberty. Finally found a black blazer, at Uniqlo! A flat in an amazing location with an equally amazing mold situation on the bathroom ceiling above the shower. The wifi in the flat wouldn't allow the four of us to be online at the same time, so we all had to take turns. Really awful food, even at St. John's. (The bone marrow phenomenon perplexes me.) King's Cross moved Platform 9 3/4 to outside of the station, which was just really sad. Apparently, when I say "Panton Street", it sounds like "Penton Street" to British cab drivers, so one time, the cab driver almost took me to the wrong street, and the second time, the cab driver really did take us to the wrong street. Kept hoping to see a glimpse of Kate, as in Kate Middleton, but sadly did not.

Paris with the Lees: shopping in St. Germain, the Marais, and Galeries Lafayette. Convinced Joy to buy her first Louis bag. Went to seven different Comptoir des Cotonniers, looking for a coat for Joy. The Musee d'Orsay's remodel is finally done, so we were able to see the museum in all of its glory. Strolls along the Seine, through the Tulieries garden and along the Champs Elysses to look at the Christmas stalls set up. The Musee d'Orangerie was just as lovely as I had remembered it to be. Notre Dame, where Joe almost shed a tear. Eiffel Tower - 30 minutes to get our tickets and take the elevator to the top, almost 60 minutes waiting in line for the elevator to go down. Robert, Joe, Joy and I all had our own private panic attacks, relating to heights and claustrophobia. Great eating, thanks to Joy's friend's recommendations. Bike tour at night through the streets of Paris, which was so fun. The bike tour included a cruise down the length of the Seine, which was beautiful, but so incredibly cold. Watched a girl run into a pedestrian on her bike, which caused a domino effect of other people falling off of their bikes. Berthillon ice cream twice in five days, which beats Molly Moon hands down. Friendly cab driver who likes Miami and gave us all chocolates, which Joy and I didn't eat because we were afraid they were poisoned, but the boys scarfed down happily. Many hours spent in the flat eating France-only flavored chips, like roasted chicken with thyme, drinking good 5 euro bottles of wine, playing Battle Nations on our iPads.

I bought tickets for a Mozart/Pachebel/Schubert/Bach concert at Sainte-Chapelle tonight, and I was tempted to skip it because I was so exhausted from the past two weeks' worth of revelries, but I forced myself to go, and I'm so glad I did. I'm one of the ten Koreans in the entire world who did not grow up playing the piano or violin, so my classical music repertoire is quite limited, but Mozart, Pachebel, Schubert and Bach are all composers that I'm moderately familiar with. Especially Mozart, because I have been watching Amadeus every other day since I've been in Paris, because it's one of five English DVDs in the flat. When the soprano started singing "Ave Maria," I literally got goosebumps.

I had to take my iPad with me to the concert because I had an e-ticket and I don't have my phone yet. While everyone else was taking a picture of the chapel with their smartphones or cameras, I had to bring out my iPad. So embarrassing.

Part of the reason for my recent tiredness is that I have been staying up late for the past two nights reading our book club book that I was two months behind on: "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society." I borrowed the Kindle version from the library and the rental period expires today, so I finished it in two nights. It's a novel set right after WWII, about how the residents of Guernsey lived through the Nazi occupation of their island. I cried about once per chapter. Art, especially the literary arts, is a major part of the story, and in the acknowledgment section at the end, the author says, "...the love of art - be it poetry, storytelling, painting, sculpture, music - enables people to transcend any barrier man has self devised." This quote and this book perfectly captured how I felt at the concert today and during the bike tour last night. I am the least artistically inclined person I know, but in the past six weeks, I have been able to slow my life down enough to appreciate the artistic accomplishments of others - Monet's mural-sized water lilies, the Colosseum, the Duomo, how incredible the bridges over the Seine look at twilight, the Louvre Pyramid lit up at night, sitting at Sainte Chapelle, listening to an opera singer sing "Ave Maria" with a four-piece string orchestra accompanying her.

I was surrounded by 2-3 people every day all day for the past two weeks, and it's eerily quiet in the flat now (besides Amadeus playing in the background). I have no idea what I'm doing these next two weeks before Michelle and Anita arrive, besides continuing the ongoing flat black boot hunt and buying some long underwear, and it's kind of a nice feeling. An overnight trip to Nice to see the Chagall museum may be on the schedule.

Happy belated Thanksgiving to everyone!

Location:Rue Saint-Maur,Paris,France


  1. You stayed awake! ;-) Ah, Chagall! I think I have to go back to Europe to rid this nausea again. Soy

  2. And I'm surprised we even slept 10 hours in the 3 days we were in Munich. Can I use that as an excuse for the whole bag craze on the way to the airport? I didn't know whether to be grateful or embarrassed that you and Tim were blaming yourselves more (than blaming me) for the bag incident. Soy

  3. You didn't love the marrow at St. John???????!!!!!!! (shakes head) What do I expect from someone who loves orange chicken from Panda Express?


  4. Aw, glad to hear you and Soyon had some good quality time together :)

    Your London update was just too short, gonna have to get a recap in person!

    For the very reasons you mentioned, I passed on going up the Eiffel Tower before; and am totally good with giving it up again this time! Glad to hear that you all survived it :)

    I hope, hope, HOPE that it's not too cold/icy next week so that we can do the BIKE TOUR!!!

    Please introduce me to this Berthillon ice cream.

    What's your favorite ramen? What else are you craving or would like me to bring? I shall bring a care package :)

  5. I just laughed so hard envisioning you pulling out your ipad eticket at the front desk ticket booth. awesome! love your bravery :) and thanks for keeping up on your blog. it's been fun journeying along with you...