Rich details

After we saw the Hammershoi exhibition we checked out the rest of what Musée Jacquemart-André had to offer, and it didn't disappoint. It reminded me a lot of the Wallace Collection here in London; a fancy house with someone's (who was insanely wealthy and liked collecting art and artefacts) private collection now open to the public. It's so hard to imagine that people once lived there, as it does just feel like a museum when you're there. It's so awesome that the likes of me and you can now go and look at parts of cultural history whenever we want, and be transported to another world and life, and get a little breather from the here and now.


Good things come to those who wait

You know when you mean to go to an exhibition and you don't go straight away and think that you'll get round to it, and then you forget all about it, and as a result miss it? Well, Wilhelm Hammershoi's London exhibition about 11 years ago was one of those for me. I've waited and waited for a new one to come, with no luck, and then finally, a few months ago, I read that there one was coming to Paris this spring. Z and I had started dreaming of a Paris trip back in September when I was visiting her in Amsterdam, and reading about the Hammershoi exhibition gave us the time of year we should go. And, of course it didn't disappoint (although it was very busy). I came across my first Hammershoi picture here in London a couple of years ago at the National Gallery, and I think I wrote about it here that I actually started crying when I saw it (picture 5 here), which was a surreal experience, but I felt that picture so strongly. The stillness in it spoke to me, and seeing the subject (Hammershoi's wife Ida) from behind like that, made me think of how I never post the faces of my nearest and dearest, and as a result tend to shoot them from behind. I'm also a huge fan of paintings of domestic scenes, capturing everyday life, something that Hammershoi mostly painted. These paintings are quite small in real life, which adds to the non-grandness of them. They were mostly painted in the late 1800's, and Hammershoi painted mainly scenes from his own apartment, editing out most of the furniture and only painting what he thought necessary. A minimalist in other words... If you find yourself in Paris before the 22nd of July I urge you to go, and book the tickets in advance, as the queue was pretty long. I'm so grateful that I finally got to see a selection of his paintings, even if the wait was 11 years in the making.


Bear necessities

These bears were in loads of the shop/restaurant/bar windows in the 13th arrondissement where our hotel in Paris was. I think we saw at least 20 different ones, and there must have been plenty more of them, but I didn't think to take pictures of them all until it was too late. We could easily have asked the receptionist in the hotel what it was all about, but we thought it more fun to not find out, and just enjoy them at face value, completely out of context. A little mystery in this day and age can only be a good thing.


Bonjour Paris!

Blimey... this space seems to be turning into a travel blog! It's not my intention at all, but just a combination of me not bringing my camera with me every day, and a month where I went on three trips. I even squeezed in a very short trip to Stockholm between Venice and Paris, but I only took about 10 pictures, none worth posting here. Anyways, just before Easter I hopped on the train to Paris, whilst one of my favourite people, Z, hopped on a Paris bound train in Amsterdam, arriving 15 minutes apart in Gare du Nord. We were there for three days, just the two of us (walking over 83 000 steps!), seeing five exhibitions, eating lots of delicious food, taking hundreds of pictures and developing serious crushes on the French capital. It's been well over 15 years since I've been there properly, and so much has changed. It might be a case of me projecting here, what with Brexit looming and all, but Paris felt optimistic, buzzing, and full of life. There's also been a generational shift, so now pretty much everyone speaks English (and happily so), although I insisted with persisting with my now quite rusty French.

We stayed at Hotel Henriette, which was just as sympa as we had hoped it would be, so we checked in, dumped our bags and got our cameras ready.

On the way from the hotel to the metro we walked past a window into the past; hundreds of dusty lenses sitting in there, looking completely deserted. The shop itself was empty, but as I tried to look in I got a jump; there was a lady in there, sitting on a stool looking out, with nothing else around her. She stared right through me, and it felt really weird and so spooky, we quickly moved on.

In Le Marais we walked past this café - full of cats and customers. Maybe we'll stop by next time...

Salut! Ça va?

Apparently one of the must go to places in Paris is Merci, a three storey lifestyle shop in Le Marais, and had we been filthy rich or that way inclined, we could have shopped 'til we dropped. As it was, it was fun just walking around looking at things (and out of windows, because that's what we do), and I left empty handed. In fact, during the whole trip I just bought some postcards and a poster... For the past few years I've bought something ceramic as a souvenir from wherever I've been, but I couldn't bring myself to buy a very nice ceramic cup from Merci for 13 euros. Peak stuff is real yo!

Some things never change... I love how social the French are. I noticed that in cafés and restaurants people were not on their phones - they weren't even on the table. No one took pictures of their food and I only saw two people take a selfie the whole time we were there, and they were tourists. My kinda place!

On our way to our dinner we walked past this closed shop, that looked so cosy and personal. As we stood there looking in, one of the owners, Olivier, came back on his bike and told us off for taking pictures. Turns out he was only joking, and he let us in, and then told us all about how he'd gone to Japan for four months to learn how to make fresh buckwheat noodles. He served us some buckwheat tea, and showed us how he made them and how the buckwheat was milled in the shop with a turning stone mill. He was telling me all of this enthusiastically in French, and I couldn't take any more pictures as he was talking, but Z posted a little series of pictures on her instagram It was so nice to see someone so into their craft and passion, being able to share it, and taking the time to tell us about it - without trying to sell us any. 

After our little noodle chat we continued to Clamato for an insanely delicious seafood dinner, and the ambience was great, with super friendly staff and a handsome green wall that we couldn't stop looking at :)

And then, finally, we walked south across the Seine back to the hotel, glimpsing Notre Dame in the distance. The devastating fire happened two days after we left, and we didn't particularly look at it when we were there, taking it for granted - like one so easily does.


Venice people

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think her favourite colour is probably red.

Couldn't quite figure out what he was supposed to be doing (handing out flyers maybe and was on a break?), but let's just pretend he's just not a jeans and trainers guy, and this is how he dresses all the time

I wish I'd filmed this; she was writing someone's name super fast with a sewing machine, which was really impressive. And I made her smile taking her picture (see the note on the sewing machine) 😊 

Ahhhh, modern life.

These two ladies proved that you're never too old for a bit of sauce.

Look at this couple!! Rockin' it! I always thought it a funny concept that when we're the oldest generation alive, we won't be slow dancing in tea rooms, but we'll raving/moshing/breakdancing, reminiscing about Nirvana and Public Enemy and breaking out in Björk sing-a-longs.


From above

I'd read somewhere that to avoid the crowds at the bell tower at St Mark's Square and heading to the San Giorgio Maggiore tower opposite the main island instead, gave a better view of Venice and best of all - no queues. Very true. We got there just before 5pm, and the light was oh so pretty.

Hello Venice! What an amazing city you are. 

The bells chimed on the hour when we were up there and YES, IT WAS LOUD.

This couple, enjoying the view and a cuddle. Me, sneaking their picture.

Pretty picture perfect if you ask me.

Sadly that maze was closed - looked like a really good one too! And how cool is that glass brick snake-like sculpture? Very.

Luce perfetta! Which means 'perfect light' according to Google Translate. Maybe it does (I don't trust GT)?

On our way out, while they were on their way in.

And finally, Oomoo, having a moment to himself 💕