Ridin’ ‘Round Paris | Paris 2017

Previously on Paris 2017, we put our Paris Pass to use visiting a few art museums before celebrating our engagement with dinner at Auberge Nicolas Flamel.

Many photos incoming, Yelp reviews for the below spots to come soon.


Sunday morning, we woke up super duper early because we had a photo shoot scheduled at 8AM! While we ultimately wound up staying in a hotel, we did a lot of AirBnB browsing before coming to Paris and discovered that AirBnB offers “Experiences”. These range from tastings to bike tours to yoga on the beach, and one that caught our eye in Paris was a photo shoot. We had a great time with Alex, who took photos of us at the Louvre and the Palais Royale, which were both startlingly calm and empty in the wee hours of the morning before the museums opened up. We noticed during the evenings that Paris gets quiet very quickly at night and we learned that it stays quiet for longer than we would’ve expected.

5Z3A13655Z3A13785Z3A13925Z3A14065Z3A14305Z3A14405Z3A1449

DSC04920
Fooling around after the shoot ended and before the Palais Royale got swarmed by people

5Z3A14835Z3A1500

 

And that was just our first Paris engagement shoot!

After shivering through the photo shoot, as people swarmed on these picturesque spots (we saw another woman in a wedding dress being photographed), we strolled through the Jardins des Tuileries before stopping by Angelina (review soon) for breakfast and their famous hot chocolate!

DSC04943DSC04942

DSC04937
A raspberry pastry, a selection of breads and spreads, fruit salad, fresh-squeezed orange juice, and Angelina’s famously rich hot chocolate

DSC04935

DSC04940
Went a bit crazy and got truffled scrambled eggs, too

Breakfast really hit the spot and we were very hesitant to leave the toasty tea room but we wanted to do some more strolling though the expansive Tuileries before… going straight to lunch. (Spoiler, we were not nearly hungry enough for more food at this point.) Since we weren’t able to visit while we were in New York, we hit up the Ippudo Paris location and had a really lovely bowl of ramen. It reminded us why Ippudo was such an enchanting first-ever ramen experience that maybe remains our favorite. Also, it was fun to hear people switch between French and Japanese, and Ippudo was one of the few places where we heard Japanese being spoken (by both staff and diners) versus English and French.

DSC04945
Classic tonkotsu
DSC04947
Plus a pork belly bao and green tea because it was cooooold that day!

Completely and totally full at this point, we started walking our food off and decided to take our Paris Pass day to the hop-on/hop-off bus tour. For readers who remember my first Europe posts (I realize that I have now been back to Paris before finishing the recaps with London and Paris… but they’ll be out!), I am a huge fan and proponent of doing hop-on/hop-off as a first day/only day in a city way to explore. (I also like calling it a ho/ho bus but I don’t know if that’s catching on…) (I’m going to be calling it that in this blog post though.)

DSC04964
Back at the Arc du Triomphe

DSC04969

 

Ben was at first fairly lukewarm about the ho/ho bus idea but glad to have a place to sit and rest. He didn’t realize that the buses all come with a little audio tour, so we’re still engaging with the city as we ride around! We had been doing some fairly intense walking the past 3 days in Paris, so being able to just sit on our butts while still exploring the city was blissful. Having the little audio tour made that rest all the better because there is just so much to learn about this city. And one of my favorite things about ho/ho specifically is that you can get off, explore on foot, and get back on. Usually, I like to start my trips with ho/ho but ending with the bus tour was exactly what we needed.

DSC04951
Notre Dame
DSC04949
Back at the Louvre
DSC04959
Luxor Obelisk in Place de la Concorde
DSC04972
Holy Trinity Cathedral in the background with the Eiffel Tower
DSC04973
Flame of Liberty, replica of the one that the Statue of Liberty holds in New York, that sits atop the Pont de l’Alma tunnel, where Princess Diana, Dodi Fayed, and their driver Henri Paul died in a car crash. The site has become an unofficial memorial for Diana.
DSC04977
View from Trocadéro

DSC04981

DSC04982
Les Invalides

DSC04990DSC04985.jpg

 

 

 

We rushed to get back on the last ho-ho bus and high-tailed it to Sainte-Chapelle to see the famous stained-glass windows and squeeze more value out of our Paris Pass.

DSC04992DSC05033DSC05009

Sainte-Chapelle tip: It is recommended to visit early in the morning for a quieter experience with morning light or at sunset to see the light come through the rose window. However, on overcast days, like the day we visited, the light comes through the windows more evenly so don’t despair!

DSC04995DSC05005DSC05006

From Sainte-Chapelle, we walked next door to the Conciergerie, which was originally part of a royal palace but is now famous for its role in the Reign of Terror, during which time it served as the main prison for those suspected of being enemies of the republic.

DSC05036DSC05037

Reign of Terror fact: During the 10 months that the Reign of Terror lasted, 2700 people were sent to prison in the Conciergerie, with most of them going to the guillotine. 1 in 5 people in Paris could find themselves going about their days, being charged and imprisoned in terrible conditions, and then being executed the very next morning.

DSC05038
A fraction of the names of folks whose executions were recorded

DSC05044

 

As we arrived near closing, I was really speed-reading the informational placards. (I always read every placard in every museum/gallery/aquarium/zoo I’m in.) (Or in this case, I try to.) This was a particular challenge because the sheer quantity of historical content for me to consume was enormous but also because half of the placards were written only in French and I read a lot slower in French than I do in English! (I also had to slow down a bit to make sure I could then give Ben a briefing of what I learned as he enjoyed things like videos and interactive exhibits.) It was pretty sobering walking through and seeing prison cells and artifacts from before Marie-Antoinette was executed.

DSC05039

DSC05040
A lock of Marie Antoinette’s hair

DSC05045

DSC05047
“All of Europe is at war against France”

DSC05050

 

From the Conciergerie, we hustled over to Notre-Dame even though the cathedral was closed, just to see it again, before hopping back on the very last ho/ho (close call!).

DSC05056

DSC05065
The hardest thing about these Gene Kelly homage poses is getting up on lamp posts that don’t have a spot for your foot to rest. I gave up on this one real quick.

Although it had been raining while we attempted to endure the open-top seats, the weather had cleared and we were enjoying just really beautiful scenes in Paris, where the trees leaned down to kiss our heads (and drop big spiky things, what were those?!) and a cool breeze blew through the open air markets and cobblestone streets. God, Paris is so beautiful. And before we knew it, we arrived near the last Paris Pass thing we wanted to do: the Bateaux Parisiens River Cruise.

DSC05067

DSC05069
Pont Alexandre III
DSC05071
Notre Dame

DSC05080

 

I really do have to recommend this river cruise, because you can see so many of Paris’s most famous and most iconic sights from the Seine. We loved going at night because the sun was setting and the monuments were all illuminated. It was pretty freaking dreamy, let me tell you.

DSC05086
The Louvre
DSC05087
Musée d’Orsay
DSC05088
Pont Alexandre III less than an hour later

DSC05091DSC05095

 

 

While the sun was barely setting when we set out on our river cruise, it was completely pitch black when the boat docked and we were super cold and super starving. With a quick internet search, we quickly became really interested in eating Moroccan food so we found ourselves at Essouira, which is about 2 blocks from Trocadero but was on a super quiet street.

DSC05104

The interior of the restaurant was incredible. We felt totally transported, especially when we considered that a few blocks away we were pushing through crowds and vendors trying to sell us things, thanks to the lush decor, the soft music playing, and the warm emanating from the smells, the music, the textures, the foods, and the people.

DSC05103
Bone-warming harira soup
DSC05107
Savory lamb tagine
DSC05109
Sweet chicken tagine

Except for the people sitting next to us. I have never felt my heart break so much for strangers I was so close to before. I don’t want to overtake this travel recap with this anecdote, but we were sitting next to a Chinese-American girl who was about our age and her mother. The mom would enthusiastically ask about certain sights and the daughter would just shoot her down repeatedly, venom with every single word she spat out. Even then, the mom kept trying to connect and get her daughter excited about something but the daughter was SO MEAN. And it was painful for us to hear because we could understand both the English and Chinese frigidness and pain, and for me it was extra painful because I know that sometimes I lose my patience with my parents and don’t sound too different from that girl. I really wish I had done something to comfort that mother, somehow, but it just wasn’t my place.

That experience aside, we had a really lovely meal and felt so warmed through that we went back out to Trocadero to take in some more Eiffel Tower sights. Trocadero is one of the best spots to get photos of the Eiffel Tower, so coming really early in the morning or really late at night will get you some amazing shots without too many people in the shot. There is a lot of room, though, so you may still luck out.

DSC05110

With that, our day ended and we headed back to the hotel, feeling so satisfied with how much we maximized that last day of Paris Pass value! Without having to run around too much to do it!


Do you get a thrill out of maximizing value like we did? The value of maximizing value is up there with the actual value of sightseeing we got out of this, no joke. It was so much fun and we felt really proud of ourselves, if a little exhausted at the end.

What are your favorite ways to cover a lot of ground when you’re sightseeing? I love love hop-on/hop-off, and I also really liked the river tour. I also got a kick out of hop-on/hop-off boat tours in the canals in Copenhagen. (That blog post will eventually come up!)

Have you ever intervened when you saw strangers in an awkward situation? Nothing really bad was happening but I felt like I wanted to do… something. It was just so not my place that I didn’t know how to do something, but I literally cried in the restaurant for a while after that mother-daughter duo left because I felt so sad for the mom and so sorry I couldn’t do anything for her and so sorry that I couldn’t make the daughter see how terrible she was being.

Anyway, the Paris recaps are coming to a close very soon! I am actually heading to New Orleans for RubyConf today and am so excited because New Orleans has been at the top of my list of American cities to visit for the first time for quite some time now! I will try not to drop the ball with the Paris recap update schedule.

Advertisements

Art & Alchemy | Paris 2017

Previously on Paris 2017, we actually left the City of Lights to visit the Palace of Versailles, where we sauntered around the residences of the French royal family before eating one of our favorite French treats – crêpes! (Famous Breton-style ones!) But we had learned to adjust expectations after Versailles…

Many photos incoming, Yelp reviews for the below spots to come soon.


With our two all-day trips (to the Louvre and to Versailles) checked off, Ben an I had 2 more days on our Paris Pass to enjoy sightseeing on our own schedule. But first, more Breizh Cafe crêpes.

DSC04746.jpg
We didn’t make the mistake of under-ordering this time: a savory crepe for each of us and a sweet one to share!

Bellies happily full of Breton crepes, we headed off to the Musée de l’Orangerie. Originally built to house orange trees, this beautiful art gallery is now home to impressionist and post-impressionist paintings. Most famously, the Musée de l’Orangerie features Claude Monet’s Nymphéas series, the famous impressionist water lilies.

DSC04757DSC04761DSC04762DSC04764DSC04772

Musée de l’Orangerie fact: The oval-shaped rooms that house the Nymphéas were, in fact, specially designed by Monet and architect Camille Lefèvre to utilize natural light and the plain, curved walls for these paintings.

The highlight of this museum is Nymphéas and the very striking rooms that house them, but the Musée de l’Orangerie is also home to other great works.

DSC04786
Picasso
DSC04788
I love paintings of Parisian landmarks like these
DSC04789
Around the world, female artists are not often featured in museums and Paris is no exception. The Musée de l’Orangerie features one female artist on their roster: Marie Laurencin
DSC04790
Renoir
DSC04794
A miniature recreation of the office of the art collector whose collection was on display?

From there, we went to our next museum that Ben was super keen to visit: the Musée d’Orsay.

DSC04876

Musée d’Orsay fact: Built in a former train station, the Musée d’Orsay is home to the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist pieces in the world and is one of the largest art museums in all of Europe.

DSC04875DSC04800

It’s a good thing we visited l’Orangerie before d’Orsay, because that collection is completely dwarfed by the volume and breadth of the collection at this gorgeous, gorgeous museum.

DSC04813DSC04814

DSC04824
A piece featuring several of the artists featured in this museum!

DSC04837

We were able to see the Cézanne exhibit, which was a really cool, in-depth look at this impressionist painter and his life and his career. (I didn’t take photos because I wanted ot just enjoy the exhibit, but also I was starting to feel a little hangry at this point and I took that out on Paul Cézanne, I am sorry.)

What got me really excited was seeing pieces by my favorite artist, Edgar Degas. Here is just a sampling of the many works they had by the man responsible for my love of both impressionism and the visual aesthetic of ballet.

DSC04804DSC04825DSC04826

DSC04816
I was so excited to see Little Dancer of Fourteen Years again after seeing her at the National Gallery of Art

DSC04822

 

Degas fact: Petite Danseuse de Quatorze Ans actually has 28 copies, and you can see her at 14 art museums around the world. Ten of her are privately owned. She is the only sculpture that Degas ever showed and it garnered an intense amount of negative criticism. I actually really love Degas’ raw “unfinished” sculptures, maybe as much as I love his gorgeous paintings.

From d’Orsay, you can get a really fantastic view of Sacré-Cœur Basilica in the distance.

DSC04809
Spot the 🌈

DSC04823DSC04833

DSC04835
These views weren’t half bad either

As the museum started to get ready for closing, Ben and I found ourselves really regretting not dedicating more time to this vast collection and beautiful building. We sped through Van Gogh…

DSC04850DSC04851DSC04854

… took in the building itself and a few sculptures…

DSC04874DSC04867DSC04855

… and found this ballroom that somehow put Versailles to shame?

DSC04840DSC04843DSC04846

And then, just like that, we were being asked by security to please get out.

DSC04863
I just wanted to share this painting of a cat with extremely long legs and I had no good segue for it, here it is

DSC04864The sun was out for a rare moment, so we were grateful to be able to stroll along the Seine with blue skies overhead for once.

 

DSC04878

DSC04880
My favorite bridge, Pont Alexandre III

DSC04887DSC04889

DSC04892
If we had a dollar for every wedding gown photoshoot we saw… we’d have a lot of dollars, lemme tell ya…

And then it was time for dinner!

For this trip, we didn’t want to be restricted to too many reservation times to worry about and potentially be late for, but we did make one reservation for a celebratory dinner at Auberge Nicolas Flamel.

DSC04915

Nicolas Flamel fact: YES, this is the same Nicolas Flamel that J.K. Rowling credits with creating the philosopher’s/sorceror’s stone. He is the only character in the Harry Potter universe that is based on a real person. The real Nicolas Flamel is associated with a pre-HP reputation as an alchemist. And yes, the restaurant offers a “Harry Potter” kids prix-fixe meal.

After some disappointing eats, we were worried that this restaurant wouldn’t live up to the hype, but after walking past a lot of super trendy art show lines (people were lined up around the block for shows featuring risqué photos and abstract paintings), we enjoyed one of the best meals of the entire trip.

DSC04899
Complementary amuse-bouche
DSC04901
Foie gras
DSC04902
Lobster ravioi beneath a yummy foam
DSC04904
Veal
DSC04905
Fis
DSC04912
Yuzu soufflé with ice cream
DSC04913
Complementary lemon madeleines

Nicolas Flamel fact: Auberge Nicolas Flamel is the oldest stone house in Paris, commissioned by Flamel and his wife Pernelle to offer food and lodging to workers. Their generosity was granted with just one requirement, which is still inscribed above the doors today:

DSC04914
‘We men and women laborers living at the porch of this house built in the year of grace 1407 are requested to say every day a paternoster and an ave maria, praying God that His grace forgive poor and dead sinners’

It was such a beautiful meal to end a beautiful day that I will always, always remember.
Because on that beautiful day, I got engaged.


While I would definitely highly highly recommend visiting the Musée d’Orsay, I would only suggest going out of your way for l’Orangerie if you are really intent on seeing the Nymphéas. The collection is significantly smaller otherwise, but Monet’s waterlilies are quite spectacular. It’s also a good stop if you don’t want to visit a really overwhelming art museum. Of course, if you have the Paris Pass, there’s no reason you can’t visit both!

Who are your favorite impressionist artists? I am really partial to impressionism largely because of Degas but also because of Monet’s gorgeous waterlilies. I’m not sure how I feel about post-impressionism, but it is growing on me!

Do you have a favorite art style/movement? I’m not sure I do. I like impressionism, but… it’s so hard to pick a favorite art movement as a whole and I’m not sure I consume enough art to make that call just yet.

And yes, I’ll tell you about how I got engaged really soon!

 

Gold & Galettes | Paris 2017

Previously on Paris 2017, we hustled around the Louvre and walked down the Champs-Elysees to alight the Arc du Triomphe, where we took in a breathtaking view of the City of Lights. We only had one sleep to let our feet recover before another day of abundant walking…


Ben and I woke Friday morning ready for another all-day excursion to the Château de Versailles, aka the Palace of Versailles. We fueled up by stopping by the little café next to our hotel, Les Petites Canailles,  for some viennoiseries (aka croissants) (hmu Great British Bake Off fans) and coffee.

We were actually a bit nervous about getting to Versailles because it required us taking the RER (Réseau Express Régional, or Regional Express Network, a commuter line that extends out of Paris) rather than the metro that we were pretty comfortable taking.After a bit of a struggle trying to figure out if our Paris Pass included RER (the pass booklet said it did but we weren’t able to figure out how to make that work out) and narrowly missing our train because only one machine was dispensing tickets due to repairs on the others, we finally made it to Versailles!

DSC04610

Versailles tip: The RER line C will take you to Versailles Château Rive Gauche, so get yourself to a metro station that will let you transfer to RER line C (we went from St. Michel-Notre Dame, which may be the only station where line C stops?) and buy yourself a round trip ticket for 7,3€ (3,65€ each way). The ride takes about 40 minutes and Versailles is the last stop. From the train station, the walk to the palace is a little over 10 minutes over flat ground.

DSC04611

Unfortunately, it was yet another rainy day for us. (Again, we had rain every single day that we were in Paris.) While the sky was grey and tones were muted, it was still pretty dazzling to see how freaking glam and glitzy Versailles is. For all the European royal opulence that I’ve had the opportunity to see, it is still a sight to see every time, that all-gold-everything life.

DSC04612
The Royal Chapel
DSC04631
Based on the Holy Chapel in Paris
DSC04650
I love these rich sumptuous tones

DSC04646

DSC04654
Hall of Mirrors
DSC04659
aka Galerie des Glaces

DSC04665

DSC04680

DSC04682
Our ticket through the Paris Pass included the audio tour

Versailles tip: The audio tour is informative but fairly slow-paced. It forces you to slow down a bit to listen and learn, which can be good or bad depending on how you want to go through Versailles.

DSC04685

DSC04690
♥️

DSC04692DSC04694

 

DSC04695
Galerie des Batailles aka Gallery of Battles

DSC04700

DSC04705
The Battle of Yorktown (The world turned upside down…) is a featured victory
DSC04710
Hall of notable French figures

DSC04714

 

DSC04718
The Mesdames’ Apartments, where Louis XV’s daughters lived
DSC04722
I loved hearing about the kinship between Victoire and Adelaide, sisters who outlived the rest of their siblings and never married

DSC04723DSC04724

Both of us, Ben in particular, wanted to visit the gardens, but it started pouring when we left the palace and we were then told that our pass did not include tickets to the garden. While our pass did include tickets to Trianon, we weren’t really freely allowed to walk over since we had to bypass the gardens to get there. Feeling a bit defeated and, frankly, very damp, we decided to end our Versailles trip early and take the train back to Paris.

DSC04726
At least the rain stopped as we walked back (without my umbrella, the wrong day to take it out of my bag) and we could walk through this lovely tree tunnel

When we got back to Paris, we were famished, having not really eaten lunch at Versailles. (Oops. In our defense, we did try to get lunch but the Angelina in Versailles actually ran out of lunch items!) So, we set out to try the super famous crêpes at Breizh Café (review), which had only just reopened after being renovated!

We really lucked out, as there was one teeny table next to an open window available when we arrived. (People had to wait thereafter, for quite a while!) We were able to enjoy the cool rainy air while still being served delicious Breton-style buckwheat galettes. Since Britanny is known for its galettes, oysters, and hard cider, but the weather was just a little too miserable for us to enjoy oysters, we nommed on crêpes and sipped cider. It was kind of exactly what we needed.

DSC04733
Dame Fruits Rouges: strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, buttermilk ice cream, whipped cream
DSC04734
Lambaillaise: raw compté cheese, spinach, peas, fresh cilantro cream, turnip, duck breast
DSC04735
Cider of the day

We walked in the drizzle back to our hotel but found ourselves really regretting not ordering more crêpes, so we ventured back out to eat more food and found ourselves at Au Passage (review) for some late night tapas.

DSC04738
A salad with escargots

DSC04740

DSC04742
They were supposedly out of duck breast so we were given pigeon instead

If I’m going to be honest, I don’t think Versailles is worth the hype, especially if you have been visiting other luxurious palaces/museums (e.g. the Louvre, the Summer Palace). To tell you the truth, I didn’t want to visit initially, but Ben’s parents told us it was a must-visit. I don’t agree. It’s nice to visit, and definitely interesting if you are interested in the royal family before the revolution, but it didn’t blow my mind and I would recommend skipping it in favor of visiting other places first if you have limited time in Paris.

The gardens may be worth it, as I’ve heard they are spectacular, but on a dreary rainy day, Versailles just doesn’t glimmer as much.

What do you think, would you want to visit Versailles?
What are your favorite royal residences?

What regional French food do you like? We really liked the Breton-style galettes, and were able to try other regional specialties at a French food festival later in our trip!

 

Pour L’Art et Les Vues | Paris 2017

Previously, on Paris 2017, we arrived fresh off a red-eye flight from New York, settled into our hotel in Le Marais, and went straight to eating before exploring our neighborhood. The real exploration, though, was about to begin…


Warning: A lot of photos incoming!

While planning the previous day, we decided that our first full day in Paris would be dedicated to the most famous and oldest art museum in the world: Le Louvre. We’d spend as much time as possible in the museum, not worry about seeing any “famous” pieces that we weren’t personally interested in (no Mona Lisa for us!), and just taking it all in, nice and steady.

That morning, we decided to walk to the Louvre and get breakfast on our way. It is a longer walk, with a grey and drizzly sky overhead. (Spoiler alert: It rained every single day that we were in Paris. Paris is beautiful in the rain but I don’t know how many places are beautiful when the sky can’t commit to really raining… Still, it was hard to be upset!) After getting a great head start on our steps, we stopped by La Couleur des Blés for coffee (thank you, time difference) and pastries. I later learned that this is a really popular shop, but there was only one man in the teeny tiny shop when we stopped by. We walked away with some croissants and a little hot coffee for Ben.

Etiquette tip: When you enter a shop, make sure to greet whoever is working with a “Bonjour!”  Also, make sure to say “Merci” on your way out; saying hello and thank you are very important and it’s considered rude not to. 

Ordering tip: Ordering “un café” is not the same as a regular drip coffee in the United States. It’s more like ordering an espresso, and it will come in a teeny cup. Asking for a “café alongée” will get you an Americano: espresso with hot water added. 

From the boulangerie, we walked about 2 blocks to the Louvre and parked ourselves on some benches to dig into our croissants. (The only problem with them was that we didn’t have more of them!) And then it was time.

Louvre courtyard
Our view from breakfast
Not pictured: Crumbs all over my face and coat

Because we purchased the Paris Pass before our trip, we were able to wait in the shorter line for pass holders and didn’t have to wait in an additional line to purchase tickets to the museum. Time and time again, the Paris Pass proved to be a real timesaver for us, even without considering the value of the tickets that we would have otherwise purchased without it. After descending down the escalator below the famous glass pyramids….

DSC04517

… we arrived. Please enjoy some of my favorite photos from our visit interspersed with fun facts about the Louvre.

Nintendo Audioguide
The Louvre’s audioguide is provided on Nintendo 3DS XLs. You can also download the free museum app.
DSC04379DSC04383DSC04417
I have so many photos of the ornate ceilings and mouldings at the Louvre. Always remember to look up. (But take breaks or your neck will cramp up.)
DSC04392DSC04495DSC04415DSC04390
Me in a Nook
After walking around this enormous museum, I frequently found solace in little nooks between gallery walls
Some of the art was delightfully weird…

Read More »

Infinity Rooms, Disco Fashion, & An Assassination| week in review

Happy Revenge of the Fifth and Cinco de Mayo for the people of Puebla. Please be sure to observe respectfully and enjoy the magic of Star Wars on this lovely Friday.

This week has been one of my more eventful weeks, especially as I’ve been doing a lot of DC things and exploring parts of my base city that I haven’t in the past. (I arbitrarily posted on Instagram every day in April, and most of those were San Francisco latergrams, so many people reached out to me thinking I had moved to SF. Nope! I just hadn’t gone out very much in April. 😅)

INFINITE KUSAMA // I cannot believe that I was able to see Yayoi Kusama’s exhibit at the Hirshhorn a second time, and this time it was through my own tickets! I’ve been trying to get tickets literally every single Monday since the ticketing system opened up, but every week ended with disappointment. BUT I finally was able to get them AND they were for an early morning slot, so I brought Ben and my friend Vivian to see Kusama for the last time on Monday, as her exhibit will be leaving DC and headed to the next destination for her tour. I’ll try to put together a dedicated post with photos and a video if possible, but if you’re able to catch Infinite Kusama when it comes to your city, I highly highly recommend it. It’s a bit stressful with the lines and the short time limits in each room, but it is really accessible art and I find a lot of peace in the patterns that helped calm the artist’s mind.

18274853_10212893070865206_7970185016888938460_n
“All the Eternal Love I Have for Pumpkins” – Yayoi Kusama, 2016

TIM GUNN & DISCO FASHION // On Tuesday, the Library of Congress hosted Tim Gunn to talk about the fashion of disco as part of their month-long celebration of disco fashion, history, music, and culture. I got there early because my ticket had some nonsense about “ticket does not guarantee admission, we recommend arriving 30-45 minutes before doors open” but almost bailed because I was not in the mood for that nonsense, ya know? I don’t even watch Project Runway! I was thinking this and singing a little bit under my breath (I think it was “Till There Was You”, if you were curious) and it was an absolutely perfect day, weather-wise. The Library of Congress is this gorgeous building, and I was glad to see there was no line winding outside yet, so I started hurrying towards the entrance. As I walked up the steps, I noticed a few meters in front of me were a man and a woman. As I got closer and closer, with my hustlin’ pace, I realized:

I was walking about 10 feet behind Tim Gunn.
To go to see Tim Gunn speak at an event.

No one paid me much mind? They didn’t ask me to back up, and I feel like if I wanted to, I might have even been able to just walk through the staff-only door that he and his handlers went through. There was a funny incident at the security check, where the security guard asked for a handshake from Tim Gunn because he and his wife were fans… but I had my arms out waiting for him to wave the metal detector wand over me… and it was a wee bit awkward. (Also awkward: me trying not to bother Mr. Gunn because celebrities are people too, so instead of asking for a photo or anything I just said “thaaaank you…. and hiiiiiiiii~” when he held the door open for me.)

He was SUPER hilarious. While he only briefly talked about disco and how the fashion was a very logical progression from the 60s and how important disco was for people in terms of finding acceptance no matter what, I learned a lot about Tim Gunn like:

  • He comes from a background in academia, and didn’t even study fashion in school.
  • He hates leggings as pants.
  • His feelings towards the Kardashians? Disdain.
  • Ditto for the current White House administration.
  • He and Anna Wintour are arch-nemeses and he is not ever invited to the Met Gala because he once told the New York Post that the most outrageous thing he ever saw at a fashion show was Anna Wintour being carried down 5 flights of stairs. To be clear, he wasn’t trying to imply that she couldn’t work a Manolo and understood that this was the quickest way for her to get to the next show without waiting for the elevator, as no one in 6-inch Manolos can beat security guards down 5 flights of stairs.
  • He once met Vivian Vance at the FBI headquarters when J. Edgar Hoover was the director. Later, when it came out that Hoover was a cross-dresser, he realized that he never met Vivian Vance…
  • He adores Heidi Klum. But not his other Project Runway judges.

He was so well-spoken and charming and funny and thoughtful and kind. I really have a greater respect for how honest and genuine Tim Gunn is and will keep an eye out for his future endeavors for sure! In the meantime, disco on.

18278667_10212903221158957_9208130720660911951_o
Also I was OBSESSED with that white skirt in the background. I spent half the interview staring at it.

HISTORY ON FOOT – LINCOLN ASSASSINATION WALKING TOUR // I was invited by my Instagram friend Albert to an instameet at the Ford’s Theatre. It’s a walking tour that takes you through downtown DC to several key locations that are settings for the conspiracy that was President Lincoln’s assassination. I cannot recommend this tour enough, as it’s led by a fantastic actor who does all these great voices for different people’s testimonies of the evening, and the walk itself is really lovely. I learned so much about Lincoln’s assassination and US history in general like:

  • The General Post Office building (now the Hotel Monaco) was the first all-marble building constructed in DC and housed the first public telegraph office.
  • The term “lobbyist” was coined in the lobby of the Willard Hotel, from which you can see the White House, the Capitol, and the Washington Monument.
  • While Mary Surratt was the first woman to be executed by the federal government for delivering a package for John Wilkes Booth (the man who shot Lincoln), her son, John Surratt, who was one of the lead conspirators, escaped trial and execution twice and died at the ripe old age of 72. Tsk tsk.
  • The Treasury Building’s basement is meant to survive an attack on the capital in the event of an emergency. It is where the president and other high-ranking government representatives would have been evacuated to.
  • Tad Lincoln found out about his father’s assassination a few blocks away, while attending a different show at a different theater, when someone burst into the theater in the middle of the show and shouted that the president had been shot.

There was so much to learn but I don’t want to spoil all the details of the assassination for you. If you have an interest in US history and especially if you’re interested in Lincoln’s assassination and the conspiracy surrounding it, book this tour. (It’s a little over 1.5 miles, 2 hours, at $17.)

18278381_10212917470155173_999720346742464472_o
Adjacent to Ford’s Theatre is Star Saloon, where John Wilkes Booth stopped for a drink right before shooting President Lincoln

That was my week! I’m wearing my Star Wars shirt today and listening to a lot of John Williams at work. Have a great Friday and weekend everyone!

What do you have coming up this weekend?
What are some DC things that I should do next?
I really felt a deep love for the District this week because of the beautiful weather and the amazing fun events I got to do here that I can only do here.
Do you take advantage of the unique fun your town/city offers? (Tell me how if you do!)